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Friday, January 14, 2011

New Years Revolutions – 2011 Activist Calendar

“If you go to one demonstration and then go home, that's something, but the people in power can live with that. What they can't live with is sustained pressure that keeps building, organisations that keep doing things, people that keep learning lessons from the last time and doing it better the next time.” -- Noam Chomsky

As 2011 kicks into gear here are some picks for what will be the highlights for lefties and activists as the earth completes another orbit of the sun.

But before we do it’s worth reflecting on some of the political lessons from 2010:

  • Mass mobilisation can defeat the Nats

Look no further than the huge anti-mining demonstration that rocked Auckland on May Day and the Government’s subsequent back down on mining schedule 4 conservation land as proof in the pudding.

  • High profile electoral campaigns can give left issues a national stage and organise the community

Matt McCarten’s campaign in the Mana by-election showed the potential of the left to raise demands like full employment, no GST and more and better state housing at a national level but also engage hundreds of people in the community – the angry unemployed, local union activists and long dormant socialists.

  • A quick and furious response is worth a thousand postcards

Why wait for the political committee to be set up and the postcard to John Key’s office drawn up? Just get stuck in at the front gate and hope that by storming the Tory’s conference to protest new work laws or banging on the doors at TVNZ to kick the bigots out you’ll achieve the desired result. Don’t wait around for mediation with the bad bosses – call nationwide pickets of their burger joints and then see how they react!

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March – O week re-orientation

A new batch of university students will hit the campuses this year, the first cohort who will face the new research based funding regime that restricts entry too many previously open entry tertiary courses. This batch of students won’t remember the long struggles against fees, and will only dimly remember interest free student loans coming in and what the “knowledge economy” ever was. With the job market sluggish and the wave of student revolts overseas first priority for late Feb and early March will have to be giving students the information they’ll need to be not just the new technocrats of the world but able to handle the social, economic, environmental and political catastrophes that the country faces. A decent sized publication and a round of meetings and debates on campuses will be a good way forward for March.

April 1 – New employment laws come into force

Plans are already being put in place for April Fools Day actions by unions as April 1 heralds not just the coming into force of the 90 day fire at will law, the removal of rights to sick leave and the attack on union access to workplaces. It also will be the date any lift in the minimum wage in 2011 comes into force. Likely to be a meagre $0.25 if the Governments past actions are anything to go by. After the massive October 20 demonstrations around the country can the union movement maintain the rage against the Nats or will everything fizzle? This isn’t 1991 when the country’s award system was being destroyed but reforms that are likely not to hurt unionised workers. But with a bit of oomph and a decent plan we could get not just another series of big rallies but maybe a series of workplace occupations, sit-ins or a march on the Parnell mansion – “Get the filthy rich out of the Beehive!”

May 30 – Urewera Show Trial begins in Auckland

With the High Court deciding that the fifteen October 15 arrestees are to be sent to a show trial in May without a jury there is guaranteed laughs here as the Crown takes on the role of judge, jury and executioner to guarantee convictions and exemplary sentences for those who’ll land in Court. Will Maoridom and Tuhoe stand by and watch the state once again wash salt into the wounds of a hundred and sixty years of colonial oppression? Or will the cracks in Maoridom widen bringing a new generation into the struggle for tino rangatiratanga? As neo-tribal capitalists lose their mana within their iwis will a new wave of Maori activism against state oppression kick off against the dramatic back drop of Tame Iti becoming a political prisoner?

Winter - Palestine BDS campaign targeting Veolia, Superfund & Rakon

Expect to see sparks fly over Palestine as activists around the country renew their commitment to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel that has already taken a victory with Shahar Peer’s non-appearance at the ASB Tennis tournament in Auckland. Winter makes sense for a campaign targeting Rakon, Veolia and the Superfund, but we will see...

September – Pacific Islands Forum

With the Pacific Islands Forum coming to Auckland in September there will be angry recriminations, stormy protests and dramatic rhetoric. And that’s just what will happen inside the forum. Outside the conference we can expect climate change activists, unionists, West Papua solidarity activists and assorted protestors to put in a strong appearance as a rainbow coalition unites for climate justice, fair trade and indigenous self-determination.

September - October - RWC

Unite has already promised to turn the Cup into a showdown over the pitiful wages hotel & service workers are paid. But with the world’s media attention focused on the shaky isles, no doubt there will be plenty of rebels in for a slice of the action. The grand final show down between the Nats and a new political force – the Unite Union – over the promised “brighter future”?

October 7, 2001 – Afghan war 10 year anniversary

Sadly October 7 will mark ten years of imperialist war and occupation in Afghanistan. Ten years of murder and torture. Ten years of brutality and bribery. Ten years of quagmire. With New Zealand’s SAS and regular forces still deployed to help prop up the US occupation while public opinion at home wants the deployment ended it’s up to all of us to get out on the streets, to face up to the warmongers and take direct action – Troops Out Now!

November – Election

The country will go to the polls sometime in November. The big question at this point isn’t who wins but what the issues will be. Radicals should focus on putting the rising crime rate and prison population, low wages and high unemployment, education (night classes and ECE) cuts, unfair taxation and climate change to the top of the agenda. With a series of good interventions. Labourites seem to think that labelling Key “smile and wave” is some substitute for actually offering up a serious critique of neo-liberalism or giving us a decent policy alternative past Cunliffe’s support for public private partnerships. Fuck the millionaires and technocrats, Tory scum and lazy Labour who have run the country too long let’s get stuck into them now before they turn Aotearoa into a ruined country. Until we can radicalise a critical mass of the working class to get organised politically to run the country we’ll always have this lot causing trouble from their Parnell mansions and Oriental Bay penthouses.

December – Last chance for the biosphere in Durban

2011 is do or die year for the planet. If the Kyoto emissions negotiations go the same way as the Doha development round and end as one commentator in “impasse after impasse” then we can surely expect half a planet too hot for humanity in 300 years. In Aotearoa that means not just renewing the same old slogans about climate justice but will require all of us getting out and fighting for what is needed. Cut emissions by 50% by 2020. Anything less is a joke. If this generation is serious about giving our children and grandchildren a chance of peace, happiness and a stable environment then building a massive popular movement for environmental sustainability must be a top priority for all radicals in the year ahead. Direct action against the polluters, support for green no-carbon alternatives and continuing pressure on the politicians must continue.

All in all a big year ahead, so get off the internet and we’ll see you in the streets!

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