Sunday, May 31, 2009
It’s time to stand up for your community, and against the destruction of your homes, your parks and your environment.
Join the Tunnel or Nothing march along the proposed SH20 surface motorway route on Saturday June 6.
The march will start at 11.30 am at Waterview Park (between Cowley and Herdman St's), travelling along Great North, Blockhouse Bay and New North Roads and finishing at Alan Wood Park on Hendon Avenue. People are welcome to join the march anywhere along the route that follows the proposed tunnel.
Even if you can’t make the march, be sure to gather at the entrance to the No. 1 field, Alan Wood Park, at 2.30 pm for a rally with speakers and entertainment.
This march and rally both start and finish in community parksthat will be lost by the SH20 extension through to SH16
Visit www.tunnelornothing.org.nz or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Report by Cameron Walker
On May 25th at least 10,000 people took to the streets of Auckland to protest against the National-ACT Party plan to incorporate all of Auckland’s local authorities into one ‘Super City’, without any Maori seats. The date of the march marked 31 years to the day that police violently evicted Ngati Whatua from the occupation from their Iwi’s land at Bastion Point in 1978. The crowd at the hikoi included a wide range of people, Maori, Pakeha, Asians and members of Auckland’s very large Pasifika community. Many came to oppose the Crown refusing to include Maori seats in the proposed Super City, others came because they are angry that a Super City structure will leave Auckland’s water services, port and other public assets open to privatisation.
Socialist Aotearoa was there because we are concerned about both of these issues and the destruction of the ability of local communities in Auckland to democratically decide their future. We marched with our banner declaring ‘Trade Unionists for Tino Rangatiratanga’ and carrying red flags. Some funny incidents happened while we were marching. Some hikoi participants handed Socialist Aotearoa leaflets asked if our group had something to do with Black Power because both of our organisations use the raised fist logo. Labour MPs Shane Jones and Parekura Horomia walked past our contingent, looked at our banner and then pulled the thumbs up and said “good stuff”. The socialists holding the banner were too stunned to say anything!
At the end of a very spirited march up Queen Street there were speeches by Joe Hawke, a well known Ngati Whatua man who led the occupation of Bastion point in the 1970s, Pita Sharples and Hone Harawira from the Maori Party, Willie Jackson, John Tamihere, Len Brown (mayor of Manukau), Andrew Williams (mayor of North Shore), Bob Harvey (mayor of Waitakere) and a local Pasifika church minister. Smashproof and Herbs then gave a very spirited performance. King Kapisi gave a shout out to the working class and then gave an incredible performance that had the whole crowd dancing, including older folk. The rally and concert finished off with a performance by Sons of Zion and the MC, asking for a young person from Ngati Whatua in the crowd to give a little speech to finish the day’s events.
The hikoi was an inspiring event to be part of and left all of us present even more enthused to resist National and ACT’s rich man’s Super City.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Thousands of Aucklanders defied Transit and Police barriers and took direct action to cross Auckland's Harbour Bridge. Socialist Aotearoa talked to one of them, environmentalist campaigner Tane Feary.
Tane, what were today's protests about?
Action was taken for cycle and pedestrian access to be made available on the bridge to have access to the North Shore. Other people also had signs protesting the SH20 Motorway, and it was a huge symbolic protest of the transport policies of the current National-Act Government.
How did the direct action begin?
The cycle group had talked with the police beforehand to take care of safety concerns, and they were negotiating with the head of the NZ Transport Agency, who was refusing to listen to what the public wanted- access across the bridge. The Agency had made a fence to block public access across the bridge, and once it was apparent that negotiations were going nowhere, people voted with their feet and walked around the ends of this barricade. The first people were told to go back, but then people started chanting "Let Us across!", five bikes charged across. Then more people started going either side of the barricade and the police line melted away.
What did it feel like?
The mood of people as they crossed the bridge was estatic, enthusiastic. A sunny day, people feeling upbeat, people feeling their own power and that they could control their own bridge. Heaps of kids and families, many on bikes. Others on unicycles and skateboards, a real party atmosphere.
Do you think the turnout represents some kind of sea change in the mood of Aucklanders?
It's very clear that people are willing to take action to change the transport direction of Auckland city. The mood was one of not being told what to do by bureaucrats and motorway lobbyists. There was a large mix of people who were interested in other issues outside of cycling advocacy and sustainable transport- examples including people who are opposed to the new State Highway 20 through Mount Albert which will destroy people's homes and disrupt a community.
After the march, people were very keen on knowing where to go next, where to take this energy for change. The Hikoi tomorrow and the upcoming protests organised by the SH20 Tunnel or Nothing community group will be one such outlet. And there's a protest on Wednesday morning 8am May 27th outside SkyCity Convention Centre in Federal Street But there's also talk of taking the bridge again next Sunday.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Demand the right of Tangata Whenua to elect Maori seats
We stand shoulder to shoulder with Tangata Whenua in demanding directly elected Maori seats on any new governance for Auckland City. It is a disgrace that the National and ACT government have dropped this part of the Royal Commission's proposal. Socialist Aotearoa calls on all Aucklanders to oppose any future governance for our city that does not acknowledge the partnership between the Crown and Maori that is laid out in te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Demand local democracy
The National and ACT government's plans for our city trample on the rights of Maori to elect their own representatives, and remove the democratic rights of people all across Auckland. Throughout the region people have been attending public meetings to raise their anger over the destruction of local councils, and the reduction in locally elected representatives on the new council. Community boards with no fundraising powers will be powerless to represent the views on the lives of the people who elect them It is less than two years since the people of Auckland elected their local councils, but their ability to carry out the projects they have been selected to undertake has now been removed. A Transition Agency has been announced that has sweeping powers to prevent any spending on the projects that matter to the people of our region. The proposed Supermayor will have unfettered executive powers to make policy for the whole region, requiring no local mandate.
No to privatisation, no to service cuts
The government's agenda is clear - to take away local democracy and local services and deliver the whole of the Auckland region into the hands of big business. The announcement that Mark Ford the current head of Watercare will head the Transition Agency should ring loud alarm bells. We need focused opposition to any attempts to use this process to privatise essential utilities or to cut back on services to our communities.
How we can stop them
We should all unite to stop the corporate takeover of our local democracy. The hikoi on 25 May is the first step, and a great chance for all of us to show the government that the people of Auckland oppose their plans. We need to keep up the fight with more protests, public meetings, strikes and direct action to ensure our voice is heard.
One Solution, Revolution!
Socialist Aotearoa is a revolutionary, socialist, anti capitalist group.We support the struggle for Tino Rangatiratanga and self determination for Maori in Aotearoa, fully aware of the bloody history of the New Zealand state's past and the dispossession of Maori today.
The working class movement is the force we believe will change the world. As demonstrated by many mass movements, general strikes and revolutions throughout the decades, it has the power to shut down the system and replace it with a better world based on sharing and direct democracy.
We believe in socialism from below, system change not climate change, and Rosa Luxemburg's battle cry that "Revolutionaries are those who fight the hardest for reforms in the here and now!". Join us now. Kia Kaha!
To contact Socialist Aotearoa: mobile/ txt: 021 186 1450 email: email@example.com website: www.socialistaotearoa.blogspot.com
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
We, the Justice for Tamils Students Association (JTSA), are a group formed with the purpose of campaigning for the rights of the Tamil peoples of Sri Lanka. The urgency of their plight due to the recent escalation of the Sri Lankan government military campaign compelled us to begin ongoing demonstrations: a 24hour vigil at the University of Auckland on 18 May 2009, and as of midnight 17 May 2009, the JTSA President, Stu Colquhoun began a hunger strike in protest against the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka.
We write to respectfully ask for your expression of solidarity with JTSA for this cause.
JTSA stand first and foremost for justice for the Tamil peoples. While we acknowledge that both parties to the internal conflict in Sri Lanka have acted in contravention to International Law, we support the following statement of Walter Kalin, UN Representative on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, issued on 15 May 2009:
“Even if one party to the conflict is deliberately using civilians as human shields, the other party is still prohibited from carrying out attacks that are indiscriminate in their consequences or result in a disproportional loss of civilian life”.
We condemn the actions of the Sri Lankan government and military for the following acts:
• The Sri Lankan military is indiscriminately killing Tamil civilians.
• The Sri Lankan government is prohibiting international aid and humanitarian organisations from the affected area.
• The Sri Lankan government is under reporting the number of Tamil civilians in the conflict area, and the number of Tamil civilians casualties.
• The Sri Lankan government is prohibiting independent sources from providing information to the international community.
• Internally displaced Tamil people are being forceably detained in internment camps by the Sri Lankan government.
We call for the following:
• The cessation of all killing of Tamil civilians.
• The granting of access to NGOs and UN agencies into the affected area to provide aid to Tamil civilians and provide accurate monitoring and reports of the situation in the conflict area and the internment camps.
• The release of all Tamil civilians from internment camps.
While we acknowledge the root causes of the conflict must be resolved meaningfully to ensure a lasting peace, the urgent humanitarian crisis of the Tamil people must be addressed immediately.
Our vigil and hunger strike is for the following:
• To honour and mourn all victims of the genocide.
• To express solidarity with Tamil diaspora in Aotearoa and worldwide in standing against all the atrocities committed against their people in their homelands.
Our representative, Stu Colquhoun is on hunger strike to call for the following:
• To raise awareness of the urgency of the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka.
• To encourage the student body to act as a matter of conscience in appealing to those in a position to influence the Sri Lankan government. In particular:
o To call on the New Zealand government to demand the Sri Lankan government open the conflict zones to UN agencies and NGOs;
o To call on the New Zealand government to impose sanctions on the Sri Lankan government until the above demand is met;
o To call on the New Zealand government to call for those responsible for the genocide of Tamil peoples to be held accountable under International Law;
o To call on the New Zealand Cricket Association to boycott the Black Caps tour of Sri Lanka scheduled for later this year;
o To contact their local MPs requesting the above demands are called for in Parliament.
We believe that it is the responsibility of all global citizens to respond to the atrocities affecting the Tamil peoples. We implore your organisation to stand with us in voicing the concerns of the Tamil peoples, that they not only be heard, but realised as a matter of urgency.
Justice for Tamil Students Association
Monday, May 18, 2009
Battle Plan for a Global Day of Action on Climate Change.
a response to Chris Trotter's critique of the Climate Camp gathering in Parihaka.
The latest photographs of accelerated melting of glaciers in Greenland, the increased feedback loops in Methane emanating from melting permafrost in Siberia and the opening of the Northwest passage through Arctic waters north of Canada, point to the frightening fact that Global Warming events predicted to be 30 or 50 years away, are now occurring. Many climate activists now insist that we have 100 months left to save the planet before mass species extinctions and millions of human lives are at stake. In this context, an increased urgency to create the beginnings of a mass movement to change our economic and industrial systems is required before an irreversible tipping point is crossed. The need to expand the climate movement beyond the eco-ghetto is a key requirement of any successful GDA.
STAGE ONE- BUILDING THE MOVEMENT
Coming from a background in the Anti War and Global Justice movements, one key aspect that I see lacking in the movements of Aotearoa is a serious commitment to pre-planning campaign events. From peace to union demonstrations, the same two or three hundred people can be relied on to turn up to Aotea Square, listen to the speeches, and then head off down the road to Britomart, completing their duty. Very little effort is put into trying to broaden the appeal of these events, with the notable exception of the SupersizeMyPay campaign that involved a few thousand people.
The first major task of the volunteering crew for a GDA is preparation, movement building and promotion. Movements can be built as a united front from above- in 2007 we had a core of Greenpeace, Oxfam and Forest and Bird, well supported NGOs with thousands of supporters in their databases. Movements can also be built from below- by the volunteers forming crews to spread the word about the event in different sections of NZ society. Such an approach is necessary so that, in the words of the original 2007 planner, the GDA does not become the exclusive property of “middle class liberals from Ponsonby”.
As such, the work for the GDA begins three months before the day itself, as the volunteers organises posters, leaflets, promotional material, badges, stickers and displays for action stalls that will recruit and build different groups of people to participate in the day. This requires disciplined time and space management- the movement would draw up a battle plan, complete with giant maps of both Auckland and Aotearoa, physically locating prime areas for GDA stalls that would compliment a roster of available crew on specific dates and times.
How would these action stalls operate? One approach is just to drive out to the Otara markets with our leaflets and stickers and dish it out to the people there. If that’s what has to be done, then we can do it. But how many people who get a leaflet or a sticker on a market day will show up later? Here, trying to organise outreach stalls with relevant community leaders in tandem is preferable. For example, rather than turning up to Manakau Institute of Technology uninvited, we would instead build an alliance with the Student Union there, involving them to co-host the stall with us, so that they take ownership of the event after the volunteer crew moves on. They promote it through their student magazine and website, and organise busses from Manakau into the city centre, if that’s where the GDA takes place.
This model is replicated when it comes to Pasifika outreach. Receiving a leaflet from a Pakeha-Irishman in Otara markets is one thing- but when its part of a Saturday event with respected community leaders like Reverend Mua, Che Fu, King Kapisi or the Bro Town crew, possibly with a little music :) then it takes on a different dimension. Auckland is now the capital of Pasifika, and this would be a key group that we should involve in any GDA- it’s the people of Tuvalu who are the world’s first eco-refugees, and they’re here now, living with us. As such, people such as Fala Hualangi, a Tuvaluan organiser with the Service and Food Workers Union and host of a flagship current affairs programme on Niu FM, could help us build the event with Pacific Island communities most threatened by rising tides. We might find the Volunteering crew doing stalls outside church services, or even being invited to speak after sermons inside the churches about the importance of the GDA- developing our volunteers as communicators and thought activists as well!
There is also huge potential within the trade union movement in Aotearoa for climate justice issues. Organisations such as the EPMU, NDU and Unite are some of the largest democratic organisations in NZ and have memberships in the tens of thousands that they regularly communicate with. Unionists already have a commitment to seeking change and equity, and as the effects of rising prices for fossil fuel and food impact their members, will seek collective solutions to these social problems. Volunteer crews can leaflet or speak to union conferences, stopwork meetings and Hui, as well as liaise with union organisers to mobilise for the GDA. Again, developing co-ownership of the event that sees allied organisations using their own resources to mobilise for the event after the volunteer crew leaves is a desired outcome. Public transport workers organised in the Tramways union would also be a key ally, as the need to create cheaper and more frequent public transport options for New Zealanders becomes more urgent as petrol becomes more expensive.
So, building the event through action stalls with allied organisations such as Student Unions, Trade Unions, Churches and Pasifika community groups would strengthen the volunteer base, as well as recruit more people to the organisation. These volunteer groups would also do CBD street stalls, postering runs, leaflet other progressive events and music gigs etc. A week before the GDA, our message should be in every student and union magazine and website, Bfm, Niu FM, C4, as well as on street posters. Budget permitting, this could be supplemented by corflute billboards at key traffic intersections and advertising on busses.
Summary of Stage One
- GDA seeks to broaden the coalition, identifying new potential allies, eg-
(a) Student Unions,
(b) Trade Unions
(c) Pasifika and island communities under threat from rising tides
(d) Religious and community groups
- organise Action Stalls, properly equipped with badges, posters, stickers, displays and recruitment leaflets. Action stalls rostered day by day, run in tandem where possible with site specific allies. Action stalls recruit to the organisation, build the GDA and provide a focus for volunteer activity and team building in the run up to the GDA. Will run in the City Centre and busy markets closer to the day.
- Volunteer crews also go on postering runs, advertise the GDA through student and union magazines, the blogosphere, a mass texting campaign, and outside other progressive events and musical gigs in a three month run up period.
STAGE TWO- THE ACTION ON THE DAY
A well planned event requires delegation and a division of responsibilities amongst our volunteer crew. Major fields of activity would be-
(b) Visuals- Setting up the street theatre , props and banners
(c) Music- stage management, site prep, set up and take down
(d) Recruitment- talking to people about the campaign and the organisation
(e) Power and Clean Up- ensuring the event is as carbon neutral as possible!
Depending on the theme of a GDA, different levels of action may be taking place in addition to the entertainment and educational aspects. For example, New Zealand has more than 9 million cattle and 40 million sheep, which account for about half its total greenhouse gas emissions - a higher percentage than any other country. A GDA based around Methane Denial and the disastrous effects of the Dairy Industry on Aotearoa might involve a street theatre protest with a huge Trojan Cow approaching Fonterra headquarters, being pulled on rope by hundreds of student ‘slaves’ from Auckland Uni’s Quad along Princes Street. A Global Day of Action should involve action that is inclusive, democratic and that has been pre-agreed by all allied sponsoring groups- from a banner drop to a mass sit down.
(b) Visuals and Street Theatre
Volunteers would also have been involved as part of a street theatre crew, manufacturing props using papier mache, chicken wire, paint etc. Banners that they would have painted should be pre-hung at visually arresting sites close to the location of the GDA. Tons of melting ice to symbolise a disappearing Arctic need to be transported. Exploding papier mache nuclear reactors need smoke bombs inside. A dedicated street crew needs to prepare, enact and clean up after these props are used.
(c) Music and Stage Management
Music is a great political tool to mobilise people, as witnessed from campaigns such as Love Music, Hate Racism to Live Earth. Music media such as C4 and Bfm have a progressive position on climate change, with C4 promoting the Live Earth event for weeks before 07/07/07. Many artists and musicians in Aotearoa’s creative community could lend their names and mana to a GDA event if the proper levels of stage management and equipment were provided, which could significantly boost the numbers in attendance on the day. Here, the campaign has to balance costs with outcomes, and decide how much they want to invest.
If the purpose of a musical event is to raise money for the organisation, then the most cost effective way is to have a few DJs. With bands come the added demands of equipment, amplification, transport and stages. There is also a huge amount of physical labour in setting all this up, as we discovered when we organised the Big Pay Out in Myers Park during the SupersizeMyPay campaign. But if the right artists support the GDA on the day, it could see numbers in the thousands rather than the hundreds, and if this is a desired goal, the investment could be worth it. This would have significant demands on our volunteer base to strike up and strike down the area, in addition to us having to provide toilets, liaise with police, and acquire proper consent from the City Council etc.
Sometimes volunteers and activists can get lost in the excitement of the action in a GDA, perhaps sticking with their friends or peer group. If so much effort has gone into attracting a group of a thousand plus people, it is vital that we then try to involve these people as much as possible with future activities of the movement. Thus, we need volunteers to circulate as part of a recruitment team, already armed with leaflets about the next upcoming event or action, striking up relationships with people who have never been to a Climatecamp initiated event before. We need to collect a huge amount of mobile numbers and email addresses for the mass text outs and egroups of the future, as well as generate hundreds of new APs.
(e) Power and Clean Up
It shouldn’t be the role of the organisation to get involved in catering. However, in the key areas about how the event is powered and what kind of carbon footprint it leaves to be cleaned up, here the GDA can incorporate our approach to these facts of life to show desirable solutions as part of our process. For example, it would be great if power for the event was provided through renewable sources- solar, wind and pedal power! Volunteers may be required to help set this up on the site early morning hours before the GDA begins.
We should also leave the site in better nick than we originally found it. Clear up and recycling of all materials used in the event is a must.
Summary of Stage Two-
· Effective pre planning of the agreed Action on the GDA.
· Transportation set up and take down of Props, Street theatre and banner material.
· Music- Stage management, site prep, depending on budget and live music / DJs.
· Recruitment teams circulating- building the movement on the day.
· Next event already to go- leaflets and advertising ready to be launched on the GDA.
· Carbon Neutrality- from powering the event to recycling our waste on the day. Creating an example of how to do it.
STAGE THREE- REAPING THE REWARDS
If all goes well, what will the outcome be for the organisation and our volunteers?
We should not underestimate a volunteer’s ability to give, create and communicate. A disciplined and dedicated volunteer is one who will stuff the envelopes until 2am every night the week before a key submission deadline is due. But there are many other kinds of potential volunteer that we will have recruited and engaged with if everything goes to plan.
Browning the Green movement is an important contribution in a multi cultural nation such as Aotearoa. Recruiting more activists from amongst Maori and Pasifika and maintaining our climate change campaign with both Tangata Whenua and Pacific Islanders on the rising tides frontline would be extremely important, as one of the consequences of Global Warming will see more eco refugees coming to these shores. Racism could rise in the future as a result, which is why a wide ethnic diversity of volunteers is crucial in the here and now.
Middle New Zealand is actually Working New Zealand, and as ordinary workers get more frustrated with rising fuel and food prices, the need for cheaper and more frequent public transport and localised food production solutions will increase. Building alliances with NZ’s largest democratic organisations, the Trade Unions, and winning their activists and leaderships to co-sponsor our campaigns is necessary to create a truly mass movement against climate change.
Repoliticising the Campus- every decade has seen the international student movement step up to the frontlines to push for progressive change- whether it was against war in the 60s, poverty in the 70s, racism in the 80s or globalisation in the 90s. There is a huge ideological gap in the present decade- the next hundred months requires a new movement on all the Universities, High Schools, Institutes of Technology, Wanangas and Academies to give this generation its most important cause. Here, the movement should help set up campus groups, tour high profile speakers, organise forums and screenings and win official support and mobilisation from student unions for Climatecamp actions in the future.
Creativity, Art and Music- we will not build a mass movement and recruit hundreds of new volunteers if our promotional material is drab and grey, or our events are lacklustre and pedestrian. We should involve local artists and musicians to lend their mana to our campaigns, and have action stalls at all major gigs and progressive events. Volunteers will be encouraged to use their creative skills, whether it is organising poetry/singer-songwriter/ nights, DJ-live music fundraisers, or as part of a street theatre design crew that enacts imaginative and visually memorable events for our Days of Action.
An Army of Greenwar- to make a beautiful statue, you need a functional hammer and chisel. The tool should not be confused with the work of art it creates. Through involving volunteers in events like a GDA, we should develop inter personal communication skills, the ability to effectively argue and debate ecological issues convincingly, and to recruit to the organisations financial and volunteering base. In house educations, film screenings and forums can help consolidate Volunteer’s knowledge and confidence on the important issues.
STAGE FOUR- BUILDING A NATIONAL CLIMATE JUSTICE MOVEMENT
Moving beyond the urban centres- for example- the ability to regularly service localised groups of volunteers and campaigners from an Auckland centre is achievable if they are based in Hamilton, Whangerai, Rotorua and Tauranga, but gets stretched if they are down in Wellington, Palmerston North or the South Island.
Thus, a plan to liase with groups autonomous and outside of Climatecamp nationally probably reflects this fact. A roadshow building up to a GDA is one option, but a screening / speaking tour organised in tandem with local political branches, iwi, student unions, trade union centres or other ecological and community groups, could also kickstart local Climate Justice alliances that could either organise people to come to a national event, or organise local action stalls to build a local demonstration / street happening that local media could be invited to.
When I lived in Hamilton I was always struck by how many people were in the broader progressive community, and how interlinked they were compared to people in larger cities. When we organised the Make Poverty History banner signing in Garden Place, for example, we were assisted by local trade union branches, Greens, Trade Aid, Waikato Student Union and the alternative rock community, and got extensive media in the Waikato Times, Tainui FM, the Htown website and Prime TV. Thus, getting heard and recruiting people to causes in a smaller goldfish bowl is probably easier than in a city drowned by white noise.
Building a national climate justice movement is a necessity, and I would look forward to exploring the strategic possibilities with other comrades.
WISHLIST BUDGET FOR A GDA- A very Rough Budget!
Having organised two Reclaim the Streets events with the Climaction coalition on a shoestring budget, here's the bare minimum needed for a successful street event.
· PA, music and amplification- $200
· Two tons of Ice- $200
· Banner material and paints- $100
· Polar bear suits, props, street theatre material- $200
· Paper leaflets, posters (nothing flash)- $200
· Bumper stickers and circle stickers- $200
· Badges- $200 (best for fundraising- less capital outlay than T shirts)
· Venue hire for après GDA fundraiser- $0 (a good deal from Tom Forde)
· Tin cans to collect koha and donations- $50 well spent
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Socialist Aotearoa comrades living in Mount Albert will be supporting local residents in a campaign of direct action against the controversial SH20 Motorway. The project will destroy hundreds of homes, and shows the National Party's contempt for working Aucklanders who were promised their houses would be safe and that a tuneel would be built underneath them.
Socialist Aotearoa argues that the billions of dollars spent on this motorway would be better spent on free and frequent public transport- the problem with gridlock is people using cars- build more motorways and they become instantly congested, merely getting you to the traffic jam quicker.
Direct action and civil disobedience can stop this Raupatu. Parties seeking votes in the local by election such as Labour and the Greens should be asked to physically support future blockades and actions.
Monday, May 11, 2009
It took five years for Mussolini to crush the Italian working class and get away with incarcerating its leaders. At Gramsci's show trial in 1926, the fascist judge sentenced him to 20 years gaol. In a reference to the tremendous impact Gramsci had had on the engineering workers while editing L'Ordine Nuovo and his subsequent leadership of the Communist Party in the 1920s, the judge declared: "we must stop this brain working for 20 years". Gramsci spent the last 11 years of his life in Mussolini's gaol.
The Revolutionary Ideas of Antonio Gramscione of a series of meetings about Marxist revolutionaries
Thursday, May 14, 2009
7:00pm - 9:00pm
Room (short name): 105-029 Room (long name): ClockT029
Clock Tower Building off Princes Street
Auckland, New Zealand
To maintain the societal status quo and thwart revolution from below, Capitalism developed a “consensus culture”, wherein, the working class (proletariat) identified their best interests with the best interests of the (ruling class) bourgeoisie; besides force (arms) and power (coercion), Capitalism retains control via the hegemonic culture determining the substance of the social institutions (press, radio, Churches, labour unions, et al.) who propagate the ruling class’s ideology (values, myths, beliefs) that the working class accept-adopt as their own “common sense” view — the world as it is and should be.
Socialist Aotearoa hosts a series of meetings on Marxist revolutionaries- this week we look at the great Italian revolutionary Antonio Gramsci and the ideas of Cultural Hegemony.
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Today marks the beginning of Unite's Campaign for a Living Wage to get an immediate raise in the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
The first part of the campaign is to collect over 300,000 signatures within 12 months on our Citizen's Initiated Referendum Petition. After the petition has been presented to Parliament every voter in New Zealand will get the chance to vote in a referendum. Unite's Supersizemypay campaign successfully saw the elimination of youth rates and substantial rises in the minimum wage. We can do it again!
The referendum question is:
"Should the adult minimum wage be raised in steps over the next three years, starting with an immediate rise to $15 per hour, until it reaches 66% of the average total hourly earnings as defined in the Quarterly Employment Survey?"
The current adult minimum wage is $12.50 an hour - $500 a week. We believe that an adult in a full time job should have a reasonable standard of living without getting into debt or relying on charity or income support. $15 an hour - $600 a week - is a good start.
Unlike superannuation or benefits the minimum wage is not automatically increased each year. By making it 66% of the average wage (the same as the married rate for superannuation) it will keep the lowest paid New Zealand workers out of poverty.
Join the Campaign for Living Wage
Sign up for the campaign newsletter here
You can download the petition form here.
You will need Adobe Acrobat reader to view the form. If you do not have Acrobat you can download it for free by clicking here
There are some simple rules for people signing the form:
1. They must be enrolled to vote on 7th May 2010 when the petition closes.
(only those over 18 years old can be enrolled).
2. They must put their signature on the form.
3. Their name and address must be able to be read clearly.
4. Don't put other comments on the form.
We are asking people to give us their phone and email contact details so we can keep them informed about our campaigns - but this is optional.
Simply return the petition to the freepost address on the form. It doesn't need to be filled up to send back - but the more the better.
8:30am - 9:30am outside Auckland High Court
The October 15th defendants will be appearing in the High court on May
15th where they will once again have to plead guilty or not guilty. The
court case has been moved to the high court as the police are charging
several of the defendants with "participating in an organised criminal
group". The police are doing this in an attempt to salvage some
credibility after the original terrorism charges were not allowed to go
forward. This will also be exactly one and half years since the state's
'terror' raids and invasion of the defendant's homes and the community of
Ruatoki in 2007. The October 15th Solidarity Group in Tamaki-Makaurau are
calling for a morning solidarity picket. This is will the only time (as
far as we know) when all the defendants will be up in Auckland this year.
Remember the state terrorism and support Tino Tangatiratanga and Te Mana
Motuhake o Tuhoe! Show your solidarity at the Auckland High Court, Waterloo Quadrant, Auckland CBD at 8.30am Friday May 15th.
Please bring banners, placards and flags.
The struggle continues! Ka whawhai tonu matou!
Friday, May 08, 2009
The latest downward spiral for the occupation cannot be solved by sending in more troops or spreading the war to Pakistan, writes Simon Assaf
The Hydra in Greek mythology was a beast with nine heads. When one was cut off another two would grow in its place. This is an apt description of the West’s dilemma in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Some eight years after the battle for “hearts and minds” in Afghanistan was supposedly won, the occupation is spinning into a deep crisis.
The Pakistani Taliban, insurgents who are allied to the resistance in Afghanistan, triggered global panic last month when they took control of Buner, a region some 60 miles north of Pakistan’s capital Islamabad. An offensive by the Pakistani army was able to them drive out, but not before Hillary Clinton, the new US secretary of state, warned of an “existential threat to Pakistan.”
The deepening malaise of the war is laid bare here. A key battle for Afghanistan is now being waged on the edges of Islamabad.
Clinton’s comment reflects the deep fear that the war is now in danger of destroying Pakistan.
The stakes could not be higher. The US, Nato and their allies in the Afghan government hold little sway over Afghanistan outside Kabul. Now even sections of the capital are beginning to slip away from their control. Any support the occupation enjoyed during its early years has melted away. Heavy casualties from air strikes fuel growing anger, as do “night raids” – assaults on villages suspected of harbouring resistance fighters.
This anger is translating to tacit support for the insurgents.
The isolation of the occupation inside Afghanistan has become further complicated by the fact that the foreign troops are hopelessly surrounded. Afghanistan is landlocked and dependent on supplies that are shipped through Pakistan. This route winds through the insecure insurgent areas in the north of the country. In recent months insurgents have attacked supply columns, hijacked scores of armoured vehicles and set fire to military stores in the port city of Karachi.
The occupation has had to turn for help from Afghanistan’s neighbours such as Iran – which has some influence in the west of the country. This region is home to Shia Muslims, who are hostile to the Sunni Taliban. Some Nato countries, such as France and Germany, want to tempt the Iranians into letting them use their ports to resupply the Nato troops. But any such deal would come with a hefty price tag. Iran is in conflict with the West over Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon, economic sanctions and its nuclear programme.
The alternative is to look to the unstable states of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan on Afghanistan’s northern border. Here Russia holds sway. It did get the governments to open supply routes. But it can always choose to close them again. So Russia holds a powerful tool to use against the US and the European powers when it comes to key issues such as the accession of Georgia and Ukraine to Nato, or the missile defence shield along Russia’s western frontiers. To avoid such pressure the coalition is desperate to resolve the situation on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which has been given the unfortunate tag of the “Af-Pak war”.
The new US strategies were unveiled by Barack Obama in March. He is attempting to pour more troops into Afghanistan in the hope this will buy time to strengthen the Afghan army. But there is a limit to what the US can supply and, as Bush discovered before Obama, Nato is reluctant to commit large numbers of troops. Its leaders are coming to realise that it will take more than greater troop numbers to turn the battle around.
There are currently about 60,000 US and 58,000 other international troops in Afghanistan. The extra 20,000 soldiers the US is sending are too few to make any lasting military impact. At the height of the Russian occupation in the 1980s there were 150,000 troops fighting alongside a 132,000 strong Afghan army. By contrast this occupation is struggling to maintain the local force of 80,000 soldiers.
Obama’s strategy also involves abandoning Afghan president Hamid Karzai, and opening negotiations with the “moderate Taliban” – local insurgent organisations. Karzai, however, is proving stubborn. He has called snap elections in August in an attempt to head off plans to unseat him. He has been granting concessions to Islamists as an attempt to boost his standing.The latest compromise involves dumping what few rights are enjoyed by Shia Muslim women. His negotiations with elements of the Taliban, sponsored by Saudi Arabia, have so far failed to produce any real breakthrough.
Now any chance of winning over sections of the local resistance has been put in danger as many of the new troops will be used to destroy the vast opium poppy plantations. This is seen as vital in “cutting the lifeline of the insurgency”. But the occupation is taking a big risk by opening up a new front on Afghanistan’s desperate farmers – many of whom have joined the resistance as a way of defending their crop.
The success or failure of the Af-Pak strategy is hostage to the biggest gamble of all – spreading the war into Pakistan in the hope of wiping out the insurgents’ sanctuaries. The recent events near Islamabad are a testament to how badly off track this approach has become. The current occupiers of Afghanistan face the same dilemma as all those that came before.
To secure control over the towns the occupation troops must push into the farmlands, mountains and valleys. This has been the pattern of fighting over the past seven years. This strategy of “hot pursuit” was successful at first. But it came to a halt when the resistance fighters began escaping across Afghanistan’s long and porous border with Pakistan. So the US sent in unmanned Predator drones armed with deadly payloads of missiles to hunt them down.
According to The News newspaper in Pakistan only ten of the 60 drone attacks so far have found their target, killing 14 insurgent leaders. The rest have hit civilian areas and killed at least 687 people.
The popular revulsion at the use of these drones embarrassed Pakistan’s government at first, and quickly fed support for a nascent insurgency in the tribal regions. As this rebellion grew, the US and its allies pushed Pakistan’s military to move into the border region, breaking a long standing if uneasy truce.
The military forays ended in disaster. Defeat undermined Pakistan’s dictator Pervez Musharraf and has seriously compromised the government that replaced him. Many young men have joined the ranks of the insurgency. As one tribal elder explained, “Our youths have become bitterly angry. The courageous among them have joined Taliban, no matter whether they agree with their philosophy or not.”
Now the US wants to expand its range to the vast and volatile Baluchestan region of northwestern Pakistan. These attacks could stir the region, which also spills into eastern Iran, to join the growing insurgency. In reference to an increase in the use of drones, Obama recently declared, “We will insist that action be taken, one way or another, when we have intelligence about high-level terrorist targets.”
The spillover of the war has come to represent a serious destabilisation of Pakistan. As the Pakistani Taliban grew with the revulsion at the US war, so did the range of its demands. It built on longstanding anger at central government corruption and revived the demands of the secessionist movements that once held sway in the regions. By adopting the Af-Pak strategy, Obama has made the war his own.
But one of the new president’s dilemmas is inherited from George Bush’s administration. To retreat would be a recognition of the greatest military disaster for the US since Vietnam. To remain and try to win the war risks not only losing Afghanistan, but also Pakistan – a loss that would be deeply troubling for imperialism. It is for this reason that the war has become, in the words of Neil Abercrombie, the head of the US Congress’s Armed Services Subcommittee, a “colossal geopolitical blunder”.The following should be read alongside this article:
» Stalemate in Helmand
» Guy Smallman's photos: Misery in Kabul
EPMU members at Air New Zealand subsidiary Zeal 320 Ltd are currently taking industrial action over a disparity of pay that sees flight attendants at Zeal paid tens of thousands of dollars a year less than those employed directly by the Air New Zealand.
The 240 flight attendants at Zeal crew Air New Zealand's A320 fleet, which services part of the airline's Trans-Tasman and Pacific routes as well as a small number of domestic flights.
These workers do the same work on the same routes, wearing the same uniforms as staff directly employed by Air New Zealand. The only difference is that Air New Zealand employs them under a wholly-owned subsidiary on lower terms and conditions.
The union has been in negotiations with Air New Zealand for seven months to try and resolve the issue but has been unable to persuade the company to start addressing the disparity.
As a result, Zeal staff began low-level industrial action on March 28 involving a breach of uniform policy and refusal to fill out some paperwork.
Since April 1 workers have been refusing standby duty. This means the company is having difficulty filling crew requirements at short notice.
From May 7 workers will begin four days of full strike action. If satisfactory progress with the airline is not made we will consider notifying a further four days' action.
The airline's response to the industrial action has been to make constant legal threats and threats of damages to the union and its members, to grossly mislead the public and other staff members about Zeal workers' wages, to attempt to engage strike-breakers and to threaten to "sack and replace" the Zeal staff if the strike action continues. The airline has also issued a lockout notice for the period of the four day strike starting May 7.
Air New Zealand has been attempting to engage the flight attendants it employs directly to strike-break against Zeal and has publicly boasted that it has 100 ready to go in the case of full strike action.
The company has also published large three-colour advertisements in major newspapers advertising for replacement staff to crew its A320 fleet.
Strike-breaking is technically illegal under the Employment Relations Act, however we suspect Air New Zealand will use a loophole in company law to claim that its subsidiary Zeal is merely contracting for the work, and therefore the airline can man the planes itself if Zeal is unable to fulfil its contract.
All the Zeal crew want is for Air New Zealand management to treat them the same as every other flight attendant working on Air New Zealand planes. It's a matter of basic fairness.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Auckland's Mayday march up Queen Street led by the Wharfies from MUNZ. Staunch trade unionists joined socialists, anarchists, and representatives of oppressed nationalities, but the big unions had a pathetic turnout. No sign of the more prominent union leaders in Auckland.
The Anti Capitalist Red and Black Blocs were boisterous and noisy. SA also invited along our comrades from the Tamil community, who spread word about the oppression of the Sri Lankan government and made vital union contacts.
Internationalism was the theme of the Anti Capitalists, in response to the shameless scapegoating of migrant workers from the Labour Party's president, Andrew Little, who also heads up the largest Kiwi union, the EPMU.
Labour Party speakers got a deserved heckling, Tamil speakers got a righteous reception. Next year, anti capitalists should organise a serious mobilisation, as the Labour Party's union leaders have patently abdicated building and celebrating this international day of struggle.
View more HERE at Auckland's new Protest Library.
Friday, May 01, 2009
The Camp for Climate action Aotearoa Gathering brought together activists from across Aotearoa and beyond to Parihaka for an inspiring three days of workshops and collective strategising. Afterwards many people accepted an invite to support a local iwi [Maori community] in their occupation of sacred land designated for destruction by a gas pipe line.In keeping with the project's aim to build 'A Peoples Movement Addressing the Root Causes of Climate Change' a diverse collection of individuals converged to bring together trade unionists, socialists, permaculturists, direct action focused ecologists, quakers, anti mining campaigners, indigenous pacifica focused activists and Tino Rangatiratanga activists seeking self determination for the indigenous peoples of Aotearoa. This is what a peoples movement should look like and no better place to get one started than at Parihaka, a Maori settlement with an incredible history of resistance to colonialism stretching back to 1840.
We spoke of colonisation, industrial dairy farming, collective denial, wetland destruction for coal mining, emissions trading scams, patriarchy, anthropocentrism, overconsumption fuelled by overproduction, and a myriad of false solutions that are getting in the way of collective confrontation of the root causes of Climate Change. We also spoke of community resiliance, movements from below, indigenous resistance, building bridges between movements, direct democracy, direct action and how the time is right for people to stop looking up to their glorious leaders for answers and start to look across to one another instead. Local groups have been set up all over the country to build the first 'Camp for Climate Action Aotearoa' - target, location and dates TBC.
We have a long way to go on our path to Climate Justice but with a start like this anything is possible!
A Peoples Movement to Address the Root Causes of Climate Change
Movements from Below
Photo op on the way to Otaraua
Occupation Camp at Otaraua
Gas flaring at Otaraua