Letters — Issue 77

Striking back

Your reviewer of Revolution: The 1913 Great Strike in New Zealand, edited by Melanie Nolan (NZB, December 2006), rightly stresses agency among workers, as I have frequently done. But this does not alter the fact that the state decided in 1913 (as at other times in history) to use its coercive mechanisms in an attempt to smash organised labour. To brand an analysis of the evidence on this in terms of “compliant state”/“capitalist conspiracy”/“victims” is to oversimplify to the point of grossly misleading your readers. The Crown-worker interface is a complex one, and the lessons that might be learnt from examining such a serious matter as the nature and strength of the state and its coercive mechanisms are not assisted by caricature.

 

Richard Hill
Wellington

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