Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Red and the Green

The latest issue of Red and Green, the journal of left scholarship and discussion founded in 2002, arrived in my letterbox yesterday morning. Issue six includes my take on Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution, a new piece by Brian Roper, the long-time leader of the embattled Marxist minority in Otago University's Political Science Department, Len Richards' fascinating, archaeological study of the layered histories of the Otahuhu railway workshops, which were known for good reason as 'New Zealand's working class university', a memoir about the legendary waterside workers' leader Toby Hill, and much else besides.

The one rotten apple in the box is Matthew Stephen's gravely misinformed history of the movements against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which is too full of redbaiting and self-congratulatory liberal waffle to deserve a place in a socialist journal. A reply is on the way, comrade.

Here's the full line-up:

RED & GREEN: New Zealand Journal of Left Alternatives #6



The Council of Trade Unions and the struggle against the Employment Contracts Act
Brian Roper

The engineer, the Wobbly and the scribe
Len Richards

The post-September 11 Anti War Movement in New Zealand
Matthew Stephen


Toby Hill (1915 - 1977)
Gerry Hill and others

Remembrance: Men and Women of ‘51
Len Gale


Human rights on the agenda in Philippines
Rod Prosser

Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution
Scott Hamilton


National exposed: Wayne Hope reviews The Hollow Men by Nicky Hager (2006)

Lest we forget: Len Richards makes additional comments on The Hollow Men

The power of speaking truth: Chris Trotter reviews Speaking Truth to Power

The ‘War on Terror’ and the class war at home: Jason Schulman reviews Blood in the Sand


Let the “underclass” roar: Jill Ovens

Swap Treaty rights for human rights: Bernard Gadd

The curse of nationalism: Don Franks


Haven on earth? Don Franks

Available by return email (cost $12.50; 162 pages: Subscription $25 for two issues).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You got contact details for the mag? I couldn't turn then up on search.


10:33 pm  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

I worked in the Otahuhu Railway workshops in 1969 and 1970 - I could write a book about my experiences there and working at Hellabies (where in fact my father was in the Head Office as an Architect-Engineer) and sometimes Westfield.

That picture could be the large building that they called the Wood Wagon where I worked - the wagons were lifted so that the buffers could be then taken by crane to the blacksmiths and we also used to change the wheels - taken to be machined or tested - and the brass bearings and the "yokes" that held the buffers in place and also the springs etc. The axles were also tested electronically - many people learnt valuable trades there.

Hone Tuwhare - I met him once at Uni - and he worked there in 1929 -now we bothtalked about writing in chalk on the sides of the wagons -he wrote poems and one days someon e asked "Who do you think you are - Shakespear?" He replied: "Who's Shakespear?" ! We both laughed over that - since then he hs extended his reading considerably!

He was influenced by the Marxist and poet R A K Mason who my father knew (also Fairburn and Sutch) through the WEA - as a poet and academic rather than as a communist
- but he bought one or two of my father's paintings in about 1929 or so. Butmy father belived stonglyin heirarchies and despied the working classes - he saw Mason as a poet. Sutch's ideas appealed to him but I think he became disillusioned and took a high paying job rather than languish in the mire...The Depression time was a tough time.

There I also met Ray Goff who leant me "Rape of Vietnam" which virtually converted me to Marxism - atleast I realised the vicious natureof US Imperialism -it opened my eyes and changed my life. I copied the whole book out by hand. About 200 pages.

Charlie Baker the Marxist ex-British army Seargent and Scottish intellectual (self-taught) who read huge books such as "The Arms of Krupps" and books by Sartre etc

Bill Lee (he was a fitter ad turner) was there -he had organised a major strike which obtained shorter hours for apprentices. He later became the main (and charismatic) leader of The PYM.

So I met some interesting people there, including some extraordinary people, and some equally extraordinary eccentrics and also Marxists of various ilks. I used to see Bruce Jesson on the train coming from there reading books on Marxism and revisionism and so on... The Railway Workers Union was strong.

1:26 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry for not including the contact details for R and G. Try:

6 Wedgwood Ave
Mangere East
Auckland 2024

e mail Len Richards at

Interesting stuff Richard. Len's (unfinished) PhD is on the workshops - he's uncovered a massive unpublished manuscript by a guy called Doug Crusado (a thousand page history of the 1969(?) railways strike that begins in 1840!) in the Turnbull library, and is working from that, I think. You should e mail him and share some of those dodgy stories you have...

10:07 am  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

The workshops were a fascinating place. I must remember to email Len Richards. My friend Frank was an Engineer for the Railways. I was there as a labourer - in fact I was designated a "Lifter" as the wagons were lifted by an electric crane and we then hooked the wheels up and so on. I also first heard the "hare Krishna" song there - beautifully sung a young Indian man - by a native Indian - way before the Hare Krishna's came here as such - I was haunted by that. I had never heard it until then.
And I met friend there who believed he had had a vision revealing God! I used to visit him a lot as his story fascinated me - actually I still have one poem he wrote inside a book of poems by Mallarme - the first time I had heard of him and this fellow - Steve Boreham (most of the men in the family had been seamen) - also "introduced" me - to Faulkner and Steinbeck. I always wanted to believe in his vision being true but the "Marxist" (or scientific or what you will) side of me argued against it but I was also fascinated by it...

Some interesting memories.

I will email Len Richards.

10:29 pm  

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