Showing posts from July, 2012

First we take Quebec

Meet one of the leaders of "The largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian History" next Wednesday.

Small victories adding up

If we truly lived in George Orwell's 1984 then there would be no point fighting for a better world. Orwell's dystopian novel portrays a cowed and submissive working class afraid to even think a subversive thought and constantly monitored by Big Brother. In such a world the possibility of resistance, let alone revolution, is reduced to nothing.

We know we don't live in 1984because not only are there workers' struggles and community protests; sometimes they win.

In the last month we have seen a temporary concession to the state house residents in Glen Innes who have been fighting tooth and nail against the privatisation of HNZ properties and the gentrification of their neighbourhood. Some eight months after the first protests against evictions began.

We also saw community protests stop the closure of maternity services at Whanganui hospital. 24/7 maternity care at the town's hospital is not negotiable, says the health board.

Gay marriage and fair adoption laws are f…

Why we support the Syrian Revolution

The past few days may have seen the balance of forces tilt decisively against Bashar al-Assad and his regime. Paradoxically, a significant section of the Western left seems to have tilted as decisively in their favour.

Simon Assaf writes for Socialist Aotearoa.

Take, for example, a widely circulated interview with Tariq Ali, where he claims that the struggle in Syria is part of “a new process of recolonisation”. Although I have great respect and affection for Tariq, I think this is nonsense.

Undoubtedly, the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 did lead to the country’s temporary recolonisation, under a “Coalition Provisional Authority” headed by a Washington-appointed neoconservative.
But the resistance to the occupation meant this project badly rebounded on its authors. The new regime created by US military power ultimately forced it to withdraw its forces from Iraq.
The idea that Syria is being “recolonised” implies that it is a long-standing Western priority to remove the Ass…

Six month delay a victory in the battle for Glen Innes- Minto

socialist aotearoa activists supporting tenants in GI
 "A six-month delay in the first stage of the Glen Innes redevelopment is a victory for the gutsy tenants of this war-torn suburb who have resisted the social-cleansing of their community every step of the way" says MANA Vice President John Minto.

  Earlier this year the first group of "affected" Housing New Zealand tenants were told they could expect final eviction notices in May 2012. However in an email from Housing New Zealand to MANA Vice-President John Minto this has now been put back to "... late-2012 or even early-2013 depending on how the project progresses "It's clear to us the government doesn't want scenes of Maori and Pacifika families dragged from the homes they have lived in for decades and for which they have paid the equivalent of a mortgage several times over".

 Meanwhile the developers are worried they face another Bastion Point. "This is the last piece of waterfro…

The Ghost of Harry Findlay

In 1996 a Kaitaia man called Harry Findlay took a stand against the National Government's income and asset testing policy for elderly people receiving long-stay care in public hospitals. Harry refused to pay a $56,000 bill to Kaitaia Hospital for the treatment of his Alzheimer's suffering wife Ila .

Harry's stand came to symbolise all that was rottern about income and asset testing of elderly patients in public hospitals.

A history of asset stripping
On 1 July 1993 the National Government brought in for the first time income and asset testing, referred to by most pensioners as 'asset stripping', for those elderly requiring care in public hospitals. If you were a single elderly person in care the public hospital system could bill you for treatment if you had anything more than $6500 in cash assets left (including your family home). If you were a married couple and one of you was in care the threshold was $20,000 (it excluded your family home).

It was one of the most…

Support the political prisoners

Details are at facebook here.

God Bless America? - The meaning of Aurora

Two nights ago I watched a film called God Bless America - a paradoxical title for a violent though thoughtful reflection on our society where the alienated are pushed to breaking point and hatred, xenophobia and fear mongering are rewarded with obscene salaries and fame on a colossal level. Frank Murdoch hates his life. He find himself with his job lost because he sent flowers to a co-workers house when she was having a bad day, his daughter hating him for not pressuring her mother into buying her an iPhone, his neighbours harassing and abusing him and the tumour in his brain growing. He is alienated, in the very truest sense of the word. So he reacts – by killing those he holds responsible for leading society into a time of unparalleled baseness and non-sensical competitiveness. In one scene he shoots cinema goers for talking during a film.

And two nights ago James Holmes walked into a theatre, not as a patron, but with a ghastly plan for a Wednesday evening involving the 6,000 ro…

Voices of Aotearoa- Not for Sale, J14.

Joe Carolan from Socialist Aotearoa, Jai Bentley from the Student Movement, and Sue Henry and Yvonne from Glen Innes tenants fighting evictions.

Helen Kelly from the CTU, John Minto from the Mana Movement, Julie Anne Genter and Russel Norman from the Green Party, and Phil Twyford from the Labour Party.

School kids as a means for profit

The National-ACT coalition formed last year has been nothing but disaster, after disaster, after hollow promise, after disaster. They are hell bent on selling off everything that the public owns. State housing occupied for generations, built as a promise for the people of Aotearoa, the land we stand on so that they might mine it away, the minerals under the land our homes are built on, the ports that bring in millions of dollar in revenue that is reinvested in our roads, public parks, museums, art galleries etc.... and now even the right to a decent education. They now want to privatise the schools for profit. These new schools -"charter schools" as they are called – are the newest development in the government’s plan to socialise the cost of raising a generation and allowing the privatise enterprises to keep the profits, gleaned from the pockets of the tax payer.

Charter schools have been nothing but a disaster from their inception. They originate out of Augusto Pinochet&…

All roads lead to the Nats conference

Four thousand people marched on Queen Street, a thousand in Christchurch, 200 in Wellington, 70 in Dunedin and in ten other centers around the country marches and rallies were held against asset sales. Timaru to Raglan, Napier to New Plymouth it was a wintery blast of protest sweeping the country on Saturday.

Every protest, every action is important in building peoples experience and confidence in resisting the Nats. Protests like last Saturday's that bring new people onto the streets are important. Protesting is the first thing people want to do when they are angry and it's where we rally and inspire them to take the next steps.

Next weekend sees the National Party bring their conference to SkyCity Casino to rally their support for another year of selling out Aotearoa and ruining our country. Plotting more attacks on Aotearoa and quaffing champagne while we suffer.

This week students flood back into the lecture halls for Semester 2, and next Saturday will flood back into the…

Where are the churches?

Saturday's nationwide protests against asset sales received good support from the trade union movement and the political parties of the left. In Auckland teachers marched together under PPTA banners , students around the big red square. In Christchurch fast food workers carried Unite flags and railway workers brought their RMTU banner. But where were the churches? Not one Christian or other religious organisation has backed the Aotearoa is Not for Sale campaign.
Aotearoa is Not for Sale is not just an anti-privatisation campaign, it is a social justice movement for the 93% of New Zealanders with less than $2000 in their bank accounts, for those who already can't afford their power bills. If there was one cause worth of support from the churches it would be the ANFS campaign

Christian left
Churches and left-wing Christians have played an essential role in social justice campaigns in New Zealand history.

Kate Sheppard, the leader of the campaign for votes for women in the 1890s,…

Austerity - what it is and how to fight it

Since the 2008 economic depression began and the election of the John Key’s National Government began its programme of attacks one word has hung ominously in the air at all times – austerity.

As Wikipedia tells us, ‘In economics, austerity refers to a policy of deficit-cutting by lowering spending often via a reduction in the amount of benefits and public services provided. Austerity policies are often used by governments to try to reduce their deficit spending and are sometimes coupled with increases in taxes to demonstrate long-term fiscal solvency to creditors.’

The John Key-led Coalition since 2008 has embarked upon an austerity programme although they seldom use the phrase austerity. Instead Key and his sidekick, Bill English, refer time and time again to ‘Balancing the Books’. The other phrase on repeat in the last four years has been ‘Getting back into surplus’, referring to a notional goal of reducing the government’s debt.

Austerity measures, we have been repeatedly told i…

Spain's new civil war

Police are shooting miners again in Madrid. Yesterday, rubber bullets were fired at a 150,000 strong anti-austerity protest in support of the coal miners fighting for their jobs.

As part of the Eurozone drive for austerity and connected to a bailout of Spain's banks the right-wing Government is seeking '£50 billion of “savings”—including a VAT hike, cuts to unemployment benefit and public sector wages, and privatisation of ports, airports and rail assets'.

There are also deep cuts to education, health and housing.

The extraordinary scenes of coal miners in the Asturia's region using rockets and barricades to defend their jobs and communities from the bankers recalls the Spanish civil war (1936-39) which saw the fascist General Franco lead a coup against the Spanish Republic. Franco, aided by Hitler and Mussolini defeated the left-wing Spanish Republicans. The war and the workers' revolution which accompanied it are often remembered for the 40,000 international vol…


We need more rail workers and trains not less. Kiwirails' plan to fire 220 workers and sell off Dunedin's Hillside rail workshops must be fought.

The job cuts will save $14 million, a tiny fraction of the $1.8 billion spent bailing out failed finance company South Canterbury Finance.

The company could save $820,000 by sacking its overpaid CEO Jim Quinn not the workers who are repairing the tracks around the country.

At least $500 million of public money was spent propping up the Rugby World Cup. Now when its the country's rail network, not a cent can be found.

Supporters of a publicly owned, rail network should get out on the streets on Saturday 14 July as part of the national day of action against asset sales and corporatisation.


Kiss for freedom

Gay rights campaign group LegaliseLove are holding kiss-ins at Lush cosmetics stores across the country on Saturday to sign a petition 'calling on the New Zealand government to take the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill or the Marriage (Equality) Amendment Bill, out of the member’s ballot and through the parliamentary process'.
Levi Joule, LegaliseLove Auckland's co-chair and the Queer Rights Officer for the Auckland University Students' Association told Socialist Aotearoa, 'We are going to gather out Lush stores, kiss and talk about why we support gay marriage for same sex couples. Lush stores are also going to be campaign hubs for the next week where people can get material, buy a fundraiser Bubble Bar and sign petitions to the Prime Minister.'

'The campaign for marriage equality is important because it gives everyone equal marriage rights regardless of who they love. Adoption laws currently discriminate solely against same sex couples in …

A Red Square Uprising!

On Friday the 6th July, the Auckland student movement held a fundraising gig to help raise money for the coming semesters activities, and to help bring to New Zealand a student representative from the radical Montreal student Union CLASSE. Over a hundred people attended.

CLASSE is at the forefront of the student strikes involving 180,000 students that have seen the resignation of the education minister Line Beauchamp, and seen hundreds of thousands of people marching almost daily for over 100 days.

The symbol of the Montreal student movement; the red felt square, has crossed the Pacific and is helping to symbolise the crippling amount of debt that students face in this country, because students are squarely in the red! 

Auckland's Khuja lounge played host to a range of music from Reggae (Riddim Tim, Bob Shop, and Chur Bo) to Rock (Mason Clinic), with a smattering of Hip Hop and electronica (Dave Seeka, Lowquid, and Nico Mezcal).

But the highlight of the event was the involvement …

Revolution 2.0 - Social Movements and Social Media in Egypt

Hossam El Hamalawy on social media and movements at  #marx2012 festival

Join the Socialists


NZ's union bureaucracy today

"We will support the officials just so long as they rightly represent the workers, but we will act immediately they misrepresent them. Being composed of delegates from every shop and untrammelled by obsolete rule or law, we claim to represent the true feelings of the workers. We can act immediately according to the merits of the case and the desire of the rank and file."

This statement by the Scottish Clyde Workers’ Committee in November 1915 is a guide to the role of socialists within the trade union movement. The Clyde Workers' Committee was a rank and file organisation composed of hundreds of delegates who led struggles and met weekly in Glasgow to represent workers interests in the factories and mines and co-ordinate solidarity actions. In 1919 it was these rank and file committees that led the British general strike, won major increases in wages and conditions for workers and took Britain to the edge of social revolution.

The Glaswegian workers' statement is wo…

Teach-in - Dangerous Ideas

A half day teach-in on the dangerous ideas at the heart of the revolutionary politics of Socialist Aotearoa. Sunday, 15 July - 1pm until 6pm with dinner provided. At Unite Union, 6a Western Springs Road, Kingsland.

The teach-in will cover three main themes - the intellectual, historical and activist traditions of revolutionary socialism - through the writings and experiences of some of the darkest and brightest points of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

From the science fiction of China Mieville and the Marxism of Tony Cliff to the radical ecology of Mike Davis the first session will explore how socialists spread dangerous ideas.

In the second session we will cover the history of the International Socialist Tendency from the police murder of New Zealand teacher and socialist Blair Peach during the struggle against the Nazis in London in the 1970s, the experience of socialists like Eamonn McCann in the Irish struggle for independence, and the Revolutionary Socialis…

Council cash for car crashes not for kids

The National Coalition is deleting the role of local councils to look after the wider social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of communities through the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill.

The Bill, currently before Parliament, is about making councils focus on their core business - ‘good quality local infrastructure, public services and regulatory functions at the least possible cost to households and business’.

The problem, the Coalition tells us, is 'councils setting targets for NCEA pass rates, greenhouse gas emission reductions and reduced child abuse in their communities' and overspending.

John Key says in an age of austerity councils spending money attempting to support school children, environmental measures and abused children is wasteful.

At the same time the National Coalition is teaming up with Mayor Len Brown to spend $12.7 million on bringing a once a year car race to Pukekohe. $2.2 million comes from central government and the rest from lo…

Asset sales protests planned in twelve cities

Twelve protests are planned across Aotearoa for 14 July against National's privatisation and corporatisation programme.

Thirty protesters auctioned off John Key's mansion this afternoon as street theatre and creative opposition spreads. There is continuing pressure in the courts from Iwi after a landmark Supreme Court decision that the Crown does not own the riverbeds on which the dams of the hydropower schemes sit and does not own the water that flows through their turbines.

The national day of action against the theft of assets has been endorsed by Helen Kelly for the Council of Trade Unions, Phil Twyford for the Labour Party, the Green Party, Hone Harawira for the Mana Movement.

The protests are also endorsed by We Are the University (Auckland), Unite Union, the EPMU, the Public Service Association, the Service and Food Workers Union, the Maritime Union of New Zealand, New Zealand Nurses Organisation, Equity, Citizens Against Privatisation and Socialist Aotearoa.

The foll…