World War One: the Fight against Conscription

Maoriland WorkerAmidst all the patriotic furor this centenary, the real history of the war is all too easily forgotten.  The government and the opposition alike cry crocodile tears for the fallen and mouth “Never again!”, while daisy cutters are dropped on Afghanistan and the history books are (re)re-written.

In high-school classrooms and history-books, we are taught a version of the war in which a well-fed, well-bred (and mostly white) nation proudly sacrifices its sons for the lofty ideals of “God, King and Country”.  The little mention made of wartime dissent is limited to a few footnotes about ‘conscientious objectors’ who are presented as a tiny minority of isolated idealists, and perhaps a few comments on the rising cost of living.

This version of history was written by the ruling class, for the working class, to create a placid and pliant society that allows the prosecution of future wars.  The real history of the war is somewhat different.  In New Zealand, there was a great movement against the continued prosecution of the war, and for peace.  It wasn’t a minority, and it wasn’t isolated.  Hundreds were jailed, and thousands condemned the war in public meetings, in their workplaces, and on the streets.  This article tells just part of that story, the fight against conscription. [Read more...]

Anzac Day: Against the Carnival of Reaction

mobiliseagainstthewarOn Anzac Day 1967, at the height of New Zealand involvement in the ‘American War’ in Vietnam, with New Zealand troops taking part in the suppression of the Vietnamese struggle for national liberation, members of the Progressive Youth Movement in Christchurch tried to lay a wreath following the dawn service in memory of those killed by imperialism in Vietnam. They were arrested and charged with disorderly behaviour. Feminists a decade later faced down a media-driven public outcry when they laid wreaths to the victims of sexual violence during war.

Lest we forget? It’s more like lest we remember. Anzac Day serves as a carnival of nationalist reaction, a day of public ritual aimed at promoting forgetting: forgetting the real legacy of New Zealand imperialism and militarism in favour of a sentimental nationalism, an anti-political celebration of national unity. [Read more...]

New Zealand Imperialism in the Pacific

Soldier_editSixty years ago, on the 17th of August 1953, Hector Larsen, the resident commissioner of Niue, was murdered. Larsen’s rule over the people of Niue – he had been commissioner for a decade at his death – was “by most accounts,” as a Radio New Zealand documentary from 2009 puts it, “not just paternalistic but brutal.” The radical historian Dick Scott wrote a book about the incident – Would a Good Man Die?- and depicts Larsen’s death as a symbol of New Zealand-Niuean relations. The three young Niueans responsible for Larsen’s death felt “they were ridding their land of a tyrant.”

This might seem like old history, a misunderstanding from a past era. But the involvement of New Zealand imperialism, alongside Australia, in meddling with, dominating, and interfering with the peoples of the Pacific continues. [Read more...]

Marching against the TPPA: What really happened

21667_4913989296597_804125970_nBetween 200 – 300 people marched in Auckland yesterday against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the latest ‘free’ trade agreement designed to give maximum gains to New Zealand business and pain to workers globally. The negotiations – conducted in secret conditions making a mockery of democracy, as Jane Kelsey points out – were going on at SkyCity’s convention centre: if there wasn’t any democracy inside, we were determined to remind the government of the democracy of the streets.

 

[Read more...]

Stop Imperialism! Stop The TPPA!

TPPA ProtestThe TPPA began life as a proposal for a free-trade pact between four Pacific nations that are relatively insignificant on the world stage: Brunei, Chile, Singapore and New Zealand.  The entry of the United States and Australia into the negotiations in 2008, along with other nations transformed the TPPA from a small, regional deal to one of substantial geo-political and economic importance.

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ANZUS? No going back

There was a flurry of news recently about the US and NZ building “better relations” as Leon Panetta, the US secretary of Defence, visited the country. There hasn’t been such a visit since NZ was suspended from the ANZUS military agreement because of the ban on nuclear warships docking in NZ ports. Panetta wants to station US troops in NZ.

Whenever there is discussion about ‘better military relations’ we must wonder who will these relations be better for? Will closer military relations benefit working people or will it benefit the wealthy?

[Read more...]

Fiji: The Coup and Colonialism

Strikebreakers: In 1920 British authorities in Fiji requested help in restoring order during a strike and riots by Indian labourers and sugar cane farmers. Prime Minister William Massey responded by sending 60 soldiers (pictured) as members of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

The coup in Fiji is the latest sign of serious instability in the Pacific. From Timor Leste to Tonga, poverty has gone hand in hand with mounting political crises. New Zealand politicians talk about development and democracy but the bottom line is economic control.

[Read more...]

History catches up with Tongan King

Tonga, once a sleepy island kingdom sunk in tradition and religion, was rocked by riots on Thursday 16 November 2006, as frustration with the royal government hit boiling point. Almost overnight, Australian and New Zealand troops appeared on the scene patrolling the scarred streets of the capital Nuku’alofa and controlling its airport.

 

[Read more...]

The Solomons: Australia & NZ’s new colony

Australian and New Zealand troops and police moved into the Solomons in July, 2003, supposedly to “restore law and order” and “end the conflict.” In reality, our rulers care about helping the Solomon Islanders about as much as George W. Bush and Tony Blair care about helping Iraqis. The Solomons are now effectively an Australian and New Zealand colony.

[Read more...]

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