Showing posts from June, 2012

Asset Sales? Renationalise, Without Compensation.

  Renationalise, Without Compensation.

Joe Carolan from Socialist Aotearoa and John Minto from the Mana Movement put forward the radical line against Asset Sales, at the protest outside Mercury Energy's HQ.

The thieves must be stopped

In the last few hours as National pushed its asset sales through parliament activists mounted a picket of Mighty River Power in Auckland, the first electricity company due to be privatised.

On Saturday 14 July we need to get out in the streets across Aotearoa and march against the theft of our assets. This is the winter of dissent. HamiltonPalmerston North, Christchurch and Auckland are organising. Join them.

The lie being repeated in the newspapers and the television from the Prime Minister is that these asset sales are about reducing government debt. This debt lie is at the heart of the austerity programme being bulldozed ahead by National. Beat the lie, defeat the government. The privatisations are rich people stealing the assets and natural resources of the people of Aotearoa.

The majority of New Zealanders are opposed to asset sales. But we can't leave it to petitions and the 2014 election to win this.

It's when thousands of people are marching together in the streets a…

"Oh Council of Bastards" - Bring down SCAF




Is Marxism a pakeha ideology?

One criticism of Marxism that is often levelled is that it is a Pakeha ideology or "Eurocentric". Marxism, the argument goes, was developed by Pakeha in Europe and therefore looks at the rest of the world through Pakeha eyes.

Since the dominant attitude of Europeans towards the rest of the world (especially Asia, Africa and other colonial areas) was imperialist and racist some of these attitudes rubbed off on Marxism, it is said.

Moreover, Marxism's claims to universal global validity are just part of a wider claim by Pakeha thinkers for the universal validity of Western culture. Other cultures, such as Maori, are seen as invalid or inferior.

It is also suggested Marxists take concepts developed in the context of European history and society and mechanically impose them on non-European societies where they do notfit reality.

It is indeed true that all ideas and theories are social products. They do not fall from the skies into the minds of "great thinkers" …

Workers create all the wealth under capitalism

There's a powerful myth, promulgated by John Key and David Shearer,  and in most of the media. It is that businessmen are "wealth creators". Without them, we're told, there would be no investment, no jobs, an economy in a spiral of decline.

Under feudalism, using the same logic, without the lords there would be no land. The peasants would just float in the air, starving.

What is true in current-day society is that the means of wealth creation are in the hands of a small class of capitalists. They own and control the major means of production-the factories and offices, the roads, railways, docks and airports, and so on.

Often - indeed increasingly, through "privatisation" - they own them privately. Sometimes nation-states own them. In either case, access to and decision-making control over these facilities is out of the hands of the mass of the population.

What about the rest of us? A minority still own the means to make a living-small farmers and shopk…

'Only the hood can change the hood'

Justice and freedom in education, health, poverty wages and justice were the key themes of a march by 2000 Pasifika people in Auckland city this morning.
To the beat of Cook Island drums under the flags of Pacific's many nations thousands of Pasifika people protested unaffordable education from ECE to varsity, institutional racism in the justice system, a minimum wage you can't live on and a health system not working.

Speakers at the march celebrated the struggles of Pacific peoples in Aotearoa and beyond like Samoan independence and halting the dawn raids of the 1970s.

There was anger at the National Government and also at Len Brown for ignoring the problems of Pasifika people. 'We scrub the toilets and work on the factory floor. We give this city it's colour. We helped build this city and yet we can't afford school uniforms for our kids.'

The march stopped outside Auckland University to protest fees and discrimination. It stopped under the shadow of the Skyt…

Stop the theft


Turn up the heat

We are being robbed: Student allowances cut. Prescription charges up. Hospitals and schools underfunded. Benefits under attack. Assets being sold under urgency. Workers' rights for sale. A secret bill of rights for multinational corporations being negotiated. Our natural resources pillaged and our environment polluted.

People are fed up: For the first time in ages National is slumping in the polls. Confidence in the Government is at its lowest level since National was elected in 2008. The tide has turned; less than half of those asked think this country is going in the right direction.

A world in struggle: 90,000 outraged students on the streets of Mexico City. 8000 angry miners fighting running battles with police in Spain. In Syria more towns are falling into the hands of the rebels. In Greece big hospital strikes have beaten further cuts and angry anti-fascist protests took the streets in a show of unity against Golden Dawn. In every country and on every continent are people resi…

Why the frack?

Hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’ as it is more commonly known, is a controversial method of gas and oil extraction. Due to its high-risk nature and alleged environmental repercussions it has come to be a point of contention and an issue of critical debate both in New Zealand and overseas.

Fracking involves a high-pressure process where a concoction comprising water, chemicals and sand is forced into the ground, resulting in the release of gas and oil that could not otherwise be reached. Essentially, the solid rock formations housing gas and oil are cracked open beneath the surface of the earth, allowing these elusive deposits to be collected and piped to groundlevel. Large and easily accessible reserves of hydrocarbon are now relatively hard to come by, and fracking is being turned to as an answer.

Fracking is occurring currently in the Taranaki region, and until recently, without resource consent. However, an inquiry by the Taranaki Regional Council into the potential implicatio…

The working class at the centre

Under capitalism the working class has a great political advantage compared with all previous exploited classes.

Capitalism, for its own purposes, has concentrated workers together in great cities and towns. It has forced them together into factories and offices. And it has educated workers far beyond the average level of culture even of previous ruling classes.

As a result, it has made the modern working class a force that can organise itself quite easily into unions, parties, co-operatives, and other bodies and networks. Never has any exploited class in history had such a capacity to take over and run society.

The very people whose lives are currently dominated by the fact that they produce the wealth and power of capitalism are the key to its transformation.

Socialism involves the great majority seizing back, under their own control, the wealth they already produce. No vision of "socialism" is worth a bean if it leaves out the working class, actively organising itsel…

A sick budget and dangerously understaffed hospitals

The oldest universal public health system in the world is under attack by National's austerity budget. New Zealand's public health system, once a model for the whole world, is being run down, underfunded and slowly prepared for privatisation.

Education unions won an inspiring victory against National, against Treasury and showed us all that the cuts can be fought and reversed. Now it is time for health workers and patients to step up the resistance to National's attacks on the public healthcare system.

The nurses union, NZNO described the 24 May Budget 'A sick budget'. NZNO CEO Geoff Annals said, "The bottom line is that there has not been enough money spent on health to retain the services we already have, and to pay for new initiatives."
"Nurses are expecting to see user pays charges, cuts to services and jobs, and poorer, sicker patients arriving at hospital with the diseases and illness of poverty. We are in for a tough year. It will be especial…

Special needs units being cut in schools

The parents of Ranui special needs unit collected over 10,000 signatures to protest its (and others) proposed closure 2013. We presented the petition on Friday 8th June at the Ministry of Education office. The MOE is simply the venue. The MPs from Greens, Labour, Mana and NZ First will present the petition to parliament and then facilitate the process of the issue being taken up by the education select committee. United Future and the Maori Party have indicated that they may consider supporting the concept of direct funding of special needs teachers attached to units or centres at this stage. So there is a chance the select committee may recommend this to the Minister/Government.

-Meredydd Barrar - Teacher and NZEI activist in West Auckland (Abridged)

What do we mean by a workers’ revolution?

As resistance to austerity and the cuts grows, more people are involved in activity and experiences that make them open to the idea that we need a completely different kind of society.

But many can be intimidated by the idea of revolution. After all, aren’t revolutions violent, with a few leaders exploiting the “mob” to seize power?

The ruling class promotes this scary image of revolution. But it is far from the truth.

A socialist revolution is first and foremost a vast expansion of democracy. Socialism is about the transfer of economic power—away from a tiny, greedy elite, and into the democratic control of the majority, the working class.

Revolutions are about the mass entry of ordinary people onto the political stage, as they actively attempt to shape their own futures. No more war and poverty, no more slums and palaces, a world where everyone's needs are met.

Millions upon millions of people, including many who have never been on a protest before or even voted in an electi…

How can we stop climate change?

Climate change is real—and its effects hit ordinary people hardest.

But people from all sections of society are concerned about the environment. That has been shown on mobilisations like the 50,000-strong protests against mining in Auckland in 2010, which brought together environmentalists, trade unionists and students.

However many mobilisations since have been much smaller. Across the world the scale of protest doesn’t match the urgency of the problem of ecological destruction. So how can we build bigger demonstrations? And what kind of movement can win change?

Environmental destruction flows from the system we live under. Capitalism is built around the competitive accumulation of profits—each boss is competing to make more money than the rest.

This leads to the plunder of the planet’s resources for short-term gains. The long-term implications for the planet are always less important than keeping companies profitable.

We can win reforms and force the bosses back over specific issu…

Tony Cliff's legacy in Cairo, Athens, London

'The most unforgettable person I’ve ever met in my life,' is how one socialist described Tony Cliff.
Tony Cliff (1917-2000) was a fantastic man by all accounts. Cliff is best remembered as the founder of Britain's largest revolutionary organisation, the  Socialist Workers' Party (SWP) and the International Socialist Tendency which co-ordinates between similarly aligned revolutionary socialist organisations around the world. Socialist Aotearoa is a member of the International Socialist Tendency.

Cliff's autobiography, A world to win, and his biography A Marxist for His Timeare both clever and amusing journeys into the history of post-war left politics in Britain and the ebbs and flows of the class struggle from the Vietnam war protests in 1968 to the great battles of miners against Margaret Thatcher's Tories in 1984-5.

Cliff's praxis is socialism from below, 'The working class, not the party, makes the revolution, but the party guides the working class..…

"A barricade made of ideas"

"A barricade made of ideas," is how one student activist (English literature) described the silent, study-in last night at the University of Auckland library.
Instead of closing at 10pm as usual 45 students and one lecturer held a study-in until 12.01am on the top floor of library. holding the library open for the next day, and the next generation. A large banner hanging from the 6th Floor window reads 'EDUCATION FOR ALL' - don't turn the light out on education!

Some students took the opportunity to write essays, some to cram for exams and many to read radical and revolutionary books!

Student left peacefully at 12.01am and in a positive and peaceful mood. The protest has breathed renewed strength into students. At the end of the study-in protesters gathered together to share why they were there and what they had achieved.

'Some people say students should be studying instead of protesting, but tonight we did both!' said one student.

'This is my first p…

Winter rebellion breaks class size cuts

A winter rebellion in schools over class size cuts has completely broken National's budgeted removal of teachers from primary, intermediate and secondary schools.

Anna Lee, a West Auckland teacher and activist  in the New Zealand Educational Institute toldSocialist Aotearoa, 'There is a euphoric mood in the teachers' union today but there are still many issues to address. The backdown on class sizes does show the strength of combined action of parents, the teaching profession and wider community.'

'The government are saying that their changes are to help the least successful children. But their increases to class sizes, closing special schools like Westbridge, cutting specialist subjects at intermediate school and terminating the learning support teachers jobs will do nothing but harm the children who find it most difficult to learn at school.'

'The current government's policy on education like national standards, performance pay, league tables, charte…

Revolting pages


Stopping snatch squads and breaking kettles

This article is about staying safe during demonstrations and making sure the police are unable to violently and illegally repress protest movements by targeting activists and corralling protests. It gives people lawful options for resisting unlawful state repression.

There has been some online discussion about police tactics on Friday's student protest. It is clear the Auckland police are adopting two tactics learnt from overseas - snatch squads and kettling.

Kettling was used as student protesters marched near the Business School. It is an extremely effective way of stopping protesters from exercising freedom of expression. There are serious legal questions that hang over the lawfulness of kettling peaceful protesters exercising fundamental human rights. Some police forces worldwide have banned the practice. Friday's kettle was lightly policed, overseas riot cops have shields and batons, and future kettles may not be so soft. The video below shows how to effectively and non-v…

The Hydra- Taking Lessons from the Greeks, Episode Two.

The Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand, Bill English, advised the student movement to take some lessons from the Greeks. Over the next few weeks, will present a short course in General Strikes, urban uprisings, mass civil disobedience and the construction of mass parties of the radical and revolutionary Left, to do our bit to respond to the social crisis Bill and his National Party mates want to inflict on Aotearoa.

Lesson Two is from SA's Joe Carolan and Mana's Lisa Gibson, uniting the struggles and making the links between the student movement, the union movement and the community movement out in Glen Innes.  Attempts to bully these movements off the street with brutality and mass arrests bring to mind the Greek monster, the Hydra.

Chop one head off, and ten more will take its place.

Bfm interview HERE

Book review: Springtime - The New Student Rebellions

As student protests engulf Auckland's streets and the adrenaline that comes from hours of physical confrontations with the police streams through our veins, it's worth picking up a copy of Clare Solomon and Tania Palmieri's excellent 2011 anthology Springtime - The New Student Rebellionsto read somewhere between exams and protests.

Through over 60 short contributions with students, activists, lecturers and revolutionaries Springtime tells the story of student rebellions in the UK, Italy, California, France, Greece and Tunisia.

The anthology is an excellent overview of the various tactics available to student movements fighting the corporatisation of higher education from Book Blocks to library study-ins and dance parties. There is also plenty of practical advice such as this from a Californian student - 'To speak of barricades is therefore not, first and foremost, a hearkening back to a language of street-fighting and revolutionary situations. It is a practical issue:…



Plato versus the Police.

Eyewitness to Police Brutality, from Linda M, Socialist Aotearoa.  
This report is based on what I personally observed. I was present for the entire protest and recorded much of it. I have also seen recordings of other parts I did not directly witness, and spoke to many students involved, from the very start, all the way to the concluding meeting in the Quad after 7PM.

To make it absolutely clear, I saw no violence or provocation from the students whatsoever at any time during the protest. I do not consider shouting and moving about to be violent or provocative, but are natural to protests. The students were severely provoked, but they kept it together, and were incredibly disciplined. I was very proud of them and their good conduct.

Initially, there were more than 1000 students, though only a quarter were actively participating in the action. The rest were just observing. Though the police were surrounded, the students were not menacing the police in any way.…

Auckland shakes with a new student uprising

It started with 300 students marching up Symonds Street with signs that read 'I thought that anyone in NZ could become a doctor. Rich or poor' and 'Since when did we have to riot to be heard?'
A swarm of police then descended on Symonds Street to kettle the student protesters before dragging sitting students out of the crowd one by one. 43 students didn't go lightly to the cells. For every arrest made four or five cops were required to wade into protesters, punching and shoving at the crowd who were sitting with linked arms, chanting  'No ifs, no buts, no education cuts!'
For over an hour police snatch squads smashed into the protest, grabbing anyone with a megaphone, or a flag, but they didn't win every time and on Symonds Street a thousand students watched as cops dragged young nurses, social workers and teachers away by their necks. By the time the police had arrested enough law students, Elam majors, PhD candidates and sociology tutors to clear the…