Thursday, April 29, 2010

Justice for Blair Peach

31 years after his murder, the London Metropolitan Police Force admits it's murder of Blair Peach. Joe Carolan now argues- it's time for the murdering coppers of the SPG to pay for their crime.
Listen to the Bfm interview HERE

Monday, April 26, 2010

Venezuela at the crossroads: Voices from inside the revolution

Luke Stobart

In recent years Venezuela has been the centre of attention for much of the international left, since mass mobilisations defeated a military coup and oil industry lockout, and left wing President Hugo Chávez famously launched his plan to create “socialism in the 21st century”. However, previous analyses in this journal have shown the revolution is at a key junction, with increased disenchantment in the population due to corruption, bureaucratisation and the slow pace of change which has reopened the door to victory for the right wing opposition in referendums and regional elections.

These reverses have led to a far-ranging and important debate among those who identify with the leftward process in Venezuela. While recently living and working in Venezuela, I interviewed some respected revolutionaries to discover their visions of the achievements and contradictions of the Bolivarian revolution and the tasks ahead for revolutionaries.1

Gonzalo Gómez is a co-founder of the website Aporrea,2 created in the heat of the attempts to overthrow Chávez in 2002, and whose information and debates on the revolution have attracted 250 million hits. Stalin Pérez Borges is a national coordinator of the National Union of Workers (UNT). Both are leading members of the radical left grouping Marea Socialista, a current actively participating in Chávez’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). In a separate interview, I talked to Roland Denis, a longstanding activist, libertarian and ex-vice minister for planning and development.

Continued in full here at International Socialism

Climate politics after Copenhagen

Jonathan Neale

The global economic crisis of the last two years has transformed the nature of climate politics in two ways. The turning point was Copenhagen.

First, the economic crisis has changed the nature of climate politics at the top. From 2005 to 2008 the most influential position on climate among world leaders was that greenhouse gas emissions must be slowly reduced by 60 to 80 percent over the next 40 years. This was to be achieved within the limits of the “free market”. With the economic crisis the pressure of competition between the different corporations and national blocks of capital became severe. The dominant position at the top became that in the next decade the different blocks of capital could not afford the cost of beginning those reductions. The result in Copenhagen was that the US, assisted by China, effectively wrecked the process of international negotiation towards slow but deep cuts in emissions.

But something else has happened as well. There has been a global movement for climate action for some time. The central thrust of that movement has been to lobby governments. That shifted in Copenhagen. The left and the social movements joined climate politics. We saw a mass demonstration, and then a coming together of the more radical NGO activists with anti-capitalists in direct action that not only challenged the police lines but demonstrated inside the corridors of power.

After Copenhagen that movement faces both a crisis and a great opportunity. The crisis occurs because much, but not all, of the leadership of the big NGOs has bent to the new “reality” and is moving away from serious engagement with climate politics. Among much wider layers of activists there is a debate raging between demoralisation and engagement with a more militant movement, which could unite radical environmentalists with the social movements.

The economic crisis has also transformed the political space for this new movement. Fast, effective reductions in greenhouse gas emissions require an enormous investment. On a global scale this requires something in the region of 100 to 200 million new jobs. Even two years ago this would have appeared visionary. But the economic crisis has discredited neoliberalism, making it clear that governments can intervene with enormous sums when they want to. Also mass unemployment has returned. It is now possible to campaign seriously in the unions and among workers for massive government intervention to create climate jobs and save the planet. This creates the possibility of averting catastrophic climate change in this generation.

In this new situation what the left does globally and in each country is suddenly critical. The left cannot effect these changes on its own. But we can mobilise old and new activists to take the argument for climate action into the unions and the working class. And the working class can change everything.

To do that we have to build a climate movement that does not argue for sacrifice but for decent living standards, jobs and growth of a very particular kind towards a sustainable planet. We have to persuade that movement that the main fault line is not between rich countries and poor, but between capitalism and workers in every country, north and south.

Continued in full here at International Socialism Journal

Thursday, April 22, 2010

From people’s power to workers’ power

Revolution is back in the news.In Thailand heavily armed cops are shown retreating under a hail of missiles being thrown by demonstrators.

Meanwhile in Kyrgyzstan crowds commandeer tanks to help bring down a corrupt regime that has presided over misery. A new government, led by people associated with the revolution, is now in charge.

In both countries thousands have taken to the streets in an expression of popular will against corrupt, dictatorial elites. Protests of this type are often labelled as “people power” – recognition that they involve people of all classes and many political ideas.

And, if the revolt is so serious that it topples the existing order, it has become a “democratic revolution” – a means by which ordinary people can reassert their right to elected government and the rule of law.

Every socialist is in favour of basic democratic rights. After all, they provide us with the space to agitate and organise. But do recent experiences in countries like Ukraine and Georgia prove that democratic revolutions are self-limiting events?

They often end with changed faces at the top, while conditions for those at the bottom remain the same.

Can a fight for basic rights ever go beyond the trappings of parliamentary democracy?

A glance at the leadership of these movements might suggest this is unlikely. They are generally drawn from opposition figures thought to have the necessary credentials for running the state.

It is rare for workers to display the confidence necessary to play this role themselves at the onset of crisis.

But just because workers are not leading a social movement from its inception, it does not follow that class differences are not present within it.

In order to remove the existing order, those who want to take control of the state require the backing of much greater forces. They can seek to harness the power of the working class.

In almost every revolutionary situation it is workers that put their lives on the line in the storming of parliaments and palaces. And only workers have the economic strength to shutdown the country.

The way the issue of what constitutes “democracy” can become a class question is illustrated by events in Thailand.

Supawadee Khamhaeng has always been poor. “But that was all right in past times,” she told The Age newspaper. “My family had some small land, we grew enough rice and, besides, that was the old years.

“It can’t be like that now; they always rich, we always poor.

“That is not democracy.”

For millions of people in countries like Kyrgyzstan and Thailand the price of accepting that any revolution be restricted to purely “democratic demands” is a life permanently on the brink of poverty. Meanwhile, a tiny minority enrich themselves.

Sometimes the spirit of the revolution is so strong among workers that failure to meet their demands can result in renewed conflict.

Friedrich Engels, writing about the revolution in Germany in 1848, noted, “It is the fate of all revolutions that this union of different classes… cannot subsist for long.

“No sooner is the victory gained against the common enemy than the victors become divided amongst themselves… and turn their weapons against each other.”

Engels pointed out that the process of revolution contains the possibility that the working class will raise its own demands.

Beating back the forces of the state requires organisation and confidence that workers do not have in ordinary times. But revolutions are not ordinary times.

Suddenly the most downtrodden can find themselves in meetings that plan how to spread strikes and build barricades. A feeling of power starts to flow into the working class that can overcome decades of force-fed subjection.

This newfound freedom often marks the beginning of independent political organisation that can act as an alternative source of power, and, under certain circumstances, even replace the existing state.

Old certainties – like the inevitability of being ruled by “your betters” – can start to breakdown.

And the new institutions created for the purpose of removing one discredited ruling class can be used against those that replaced them.

Those who answer the question of who runs the factory with cries of “We do,” can start to ask the question of who runs the state.

Whether or not workers can start to provide their own solutions to any crisis are largely dictated by its scale and the extent to which they have built independent organisation in advance of the revolution.

That is why the construction of revolutionary organisation remains the central task of all those who want a complete transformation of society.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Behind the Wire- This month's AntiCapitalist bulletin

Each month Socialist Aotearoa publishes an AntiCapitalist bulletin. Here is the April 2010 leaflet for you to download, print and distribute.

Download it HERE

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Stop Bullying and Exploitation of Chinese Workers

Hollywood Bakery largely employs Chinese workers. There have been complaints about low pay, bullying and exploitation. Some workers report they have not had proper holiday pay, sick pay or secure hours.

We want to send this company a message.

Respect your workers- pay them what they are worth.
Any incidents where a worker was not properly paid for hours done will be investigated and pursued. You will be liable for backpay for all holidays and hours not properly paid for.

Bullying of workers is unacceptable. Workers are entitled to proper procedures and representation.

We will protest this Saturday at 1pm at
Hollywood Bakery
Atrium on Elliot Foodcourt, F1,
Elliot ST, City

then move to
Hollywood Bakery, 54 High St

Hollywood Bakery, 38 Wyndham St

Called by the NZ Chinese Workers Association
Supported by Socialist Aotearoa and the Unite Union

Facebook event HERE

a Grave Threat to Democratic Rights

Search and Surveillance Bill a Grave Threat to Democratic Rights

Dougal McNeill, Socialist Aotearoa (Wellington)

Powers of search extended for a range of government bodies, from the
police to WINZ. Assaults on core democratic rights like the right to
silence. Extending police powers around ‘organised crime’ (which can
mean an “association of three or more persons”) and powers into the
future to force us to cough up documents and computer files we have or
may have in the future. These are just some of a range of chilling
provisions included in the Search and Surveillance Bill, an
anti-democratic piece of legislation supported by the whole of the
political establishment. Labour set this attack on our freedoms in
motion, National’s continuing it and, with the honourable exception of
the Greens, no parliamentary party has opposed its erosion of
democratic rights.

The October 15 so-called ‘terror’ raids show us what police will do
with their existing powers, and the thought they may gain more should
alarm every trade unionist and activist, as well as anyone who wants
to hold on to their privacy in this age of the surveillance society.

The Bill must be opposed and last night Wellington saw one stage in
that resistance. Over 70 people came along to a public meeting on the
Bill and engaged in debate and discussion around its implications. The
audience included trade unionists, CTU and union officials, peace
activists, Greens, anarchists and socialists. Chaired by Sandra Grey,
an activist in the Tertiary Education Union, the meeting heard from
veteran campaigner Annamarie Thorby on the Bill’s implications for
democracy and dissent, while Michael Bott from the Council for Civil
Liberties provided legal background.

The next step is action. On Saturday 24th April there will be a
protest march in Wellington, assembling at Cuba / Manners Mall to
march and picket the National Party offices.

When Chapman Tripp law firms, hardly a bunch of radicals, claims that
a plan “radically extends…unprecedented invasiveness” you know
something worrying is going on. It’s up to ordinary people to resist
and assert their democratic rights. The Bill must be opposed.

For more information visit the Stop the Search and Surveillance Bill

Monday, April 05, 2010

$15ph Living Wage Strike!

From 1pm to 2pm on Friday 9th April workers at JB Hi-fi in Wellington will be taking strike action. We’ll be picketing the store at the corner of Willis Street and Willeston Street.

We need your help. In this country when low paid workers unionise and ask their corporate bosses for a modest wage increase and get turned down we don’t have many options. Either we wait a year or two for the bosses to flick them some crumbs or we decide to take action.

When a group of workers takes action, it’s important that other workers stand with them in solidarity. It’s the only way we’ll win. This Friday’s action is only the beginning but it’ll be the first ever strike at a JB Hi-Fi store. So we’d love to see you on the picket lines with us.

Most JB Hi-Fi workers are paid 75 cents above the minimum wage. Australian electronic retail giant JB Hi-Fi’s net profit after tax is expected to be A$117 million to A$120 million this year.

JB Hi-Fi has told employees in New Zealand they shouldn’t expect a pay rise this year. Yet over in Australia JB Hi-Fi workers earn nearly twice as much as New Zealand workers.

Unite members in JB Hi-Fi are taking action on Friday in support of a $15hr wage for experienced retail workers. It’s not a lot to ask for when you think that last year the CEO of JB Hi Fi was paid over A$2 million.

For the last six months we’ve been circulating a petition for a $15hr minimum wage as part of our Campaign for a Living Wage. It is a demand that’s getting a lot of support from people all over this country. And if we stand together and fight for it, we’ll win it. That’s why this Friday we’re taking action.


“We've been told that our next opportunity for a pay rise will be next year. That means that the majority of us will have been here two and a half years with no raise.” – Shanna, JB Hi-Fi Wellington.

“JB have a great Wellington team, yet most are living week by week without being able to put money aside for their future. $13.50hr is not enough!”– Tony, JB Hi-Fi Wellington.

“JB staff feel an intense loyalty to our employer. We're taking this action because we feel that loyalty is not reciprocated.” – George, JB Hi-Fi Wellington.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Living Wage campaigners- Queen Street Flying Picket

photos: thanks to Paul Rees

Living Wage campaigners, low paid workers and socialists in a flying picket of Queen Street's lowest paying multinationals, on the April Fool's day John Key's government throws 25 cents off the table to 100,000 on the breadline.

Hollywood Bakery- persecuting Chinese workers

A shocking case of persecution and exploitation of a CHinese worker has come to light recently in Auckland. Socialist Aotearoa, Unite Union and the Chinese Workers Association will be protesting outside their outlets next Friday. More to come...