Marching Against the TPPA

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TPPA, No Way! We’re going to fight it all the way! Chants like this were booming nationwide against the government’s commitment to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement – a secret agreement between 12 countries that will be so “beneficial” that the government has not disclosed a single iota of what will negotiated.

Today organizations and groups like the Greens, Mana Party, Greenpeace, members of the Labour Party, Oxfam and more, including us in the International Socialists, came out to protest against the government’s trade deals.

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Millionaires, Mana, and the Poverty of Politics

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What the hell was Mana party boss Gerard Hehir thinking? When German millionaire Kim Dotcom picked up his Swarovsky crystal cellphone and dialled Hone Harawira, why didn’t Hone just hang up?

If Mana aims to represent the poor, is a deal with a millionaire going to build the “brand”? Mana struggles to be taken seriously in the media: is a rapping, super-rich videogamer really going to help?

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Daniel Bensaïd’s Slow Impatience

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Daniel Bensaïd, An Impatient Life, trans. David Fernbach (Verso, 2013)

This absorbing, affecting memoir is a beautiful testament to a richly productive and dignified life. Daniel Bensaïd spent over forty years as a partisan of the revolutionary left in France, writing, campaigning, organising and agitating. Drawn into Communist politics as a young man and then radicalised, along with a significant section of his generation, by anti-colonial struggle abroad and the events of 1968 at home, Bensaïd was a leader and theorist in the Ligue communiste révolutionnaire, a Trotskyist party that emerged, as a libertarian, free-thinking and inventive gathering together of the best of 1968. He represents so much of what is admirable about the militants of his generation. As well as being a fine writer, if David Fernbach’s elegant translation is any indication, Bensaïd was a thoughtful and reflective strategist. Too many memoirs of 1968 grub about in complacent nostalgia; Bensaïd’s interest was always in our possible future.

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ISO Hui-a-tau 2013 – Learning together, fighting for socialism

ISOfistMore than 40 members and supporters of the International Socialist Organisation met at Waipapa Marae, in the heart of Tamaki Makaurau/Auckland, last weekend for the revolutionary socialist organisation’s third national conference, and first-ever Auckland conference.

A quarter of all children in New Zealand grow up in poverty. Austerity, cutbacks and exploitation remain the ruling-class agenda in Aotearoa and internationally. A sharp sense of the need for a socialist alternative united members and supporters from as far afield as Otepoti/Dunedin for two days of intense discussion and debate.

The whare Tane-nui-a-rangi, carved by Pakariki Harrison, combines in one house the tupuna and whakapapa of many iwi. We are grateful to the iwi kainga of Waipapa Marae for welcoming our people, who descend from Nga Puhi, Ngai Tahu, and Te Arawa, as well as from Haiti, Ireland, Scotland, England, China, Korea, Sri Lanka, Iran, Japan and South Africa together under the one roof of Tane-nui-a-rangi. During the powhiri, our kaumatua Paul De Rungs paid respect to Nelson Mandela and all the other freedom fighters of South Africa. Moe mai ra e te rangatira.

Thirty to forty people slept together in the wharenui, ate together and talked together, and though speech may be the food of chiefs, food was not neglected. A hakari on Saturday night was the highlight of the conference – complete with roast pork, tofu steak and aubergine (for vegetarians), and pavlova. We had tamariki as young as 3 all the way up to kaumatua as old as 78 participate in the hui-a-tau.

A high level of engagement and lively discussion marked the conference. Participants debated in sessions on national politics; the Arab revolutions; and Queer struggles after marriage equality. Educational sessions considered recent debates on socialism and feminism and the relevance of Trotsky in the 21st century. [Read more...]

Alienation: The philosophical basis of Capitalism

alienLoss of control is the fundamental expression of alienation. Popularly, and particularly among psychologists, alienation is understood almost exclusively as a psychological state. It refers to a variety of disorders, including anxiety, despair, loneliness, apathy, meaninglessness and powerlessness.

Some if not all of these problems will be intimately familiar to us, but are these just psychological problems? If alienation is a state of mind then there is an implication that it exists only within the individual. But we do not live in a vacuum. Feelings of powerlessness result not from the individuals, but from the organisation of society.

Alienation, to put it simply, is the idea that an “alien” force confronts individuals, overruling their aims and designs and subjecting them and their lives to its initiatives. This force affects all human activity from everyday labouring to the creation of art. It is the loss of the power to choose what we produce, how it is produced and what it is used for. [Read more...]

Syria: No to Assad, No to US Imperialism

Syria-Civil-WarThe Syrian civil war has come about as a response to the rule of Bashar al-Assad who succeeded his father in the year 2000, coming into presidency with strong support of the people and with aspirations of democracy and secularism. However, as his presidency unfolded, not much changed for the Syrian people. The economy was still strongly controlled by the authorities and any signs of uprising or Arab Spring type movements were not met “democratically”.

This crackdown began by heavy monitoring of the internet, which led to nationwide detainment, torturing and killing of political dissidents. The official civil war didn’t begin until early 2011. Many people, inspired by the Arab Spring, felt it was time to protest for reform and demanded Assad resign. The regime was met with the biggest protests in decades – their response was to mow these unarmed protesters down right across the country. [Read more...]

Yes to revolution, no to intervention!

7494c64b7b3539b180c3f296050e9111_XLWe Stand Behind the Syrian People’s Revolution – No to Foreign Intervention

Over 150 thousand were killed, hundreds of thousands injured and disabled, millions of people displaced inside and outside Syria. Cities, villages, and neighborhoods were destroyed fully or partially, using all sorts of weapons, including warplanes, scud missiles, bombs, and tanks, all paid for by the sweat and blood of the Syrian people. This was under the pretext of defending the homeland and achieving military balance with Israel (whose occupation of Syrian land is, in fact, being protected by the Syrian regime, which failed to reply to any of its continuing aggressions).

Yet, despite the enormous losses mentioned above, befalling all Syrians, and the calamity inflicted on them, no international organization or major country – or a lesser one – felt the need to provide practical solidarity or support the Syrians in their struggle for their most basic rights, human dignity, and social justice. [Read more...]

Labour’s Leadership Battle

labour-guysWe wished good riddance to David Shearer. It’s a good thing he has resigned – he was useless and bumbling against Key when issue after issue offered opportunities to attack the government for its anti-worker record. The common wisdom seems to be that Shearer was a ‘nice guy,’ but in truth he was happy to scapegoat beneficiaries, pander to anti-Chinese racism, and suppress dissent in his Party. He was, in other words, a thoroughly nasty part of the right-wing Labour machine.

Now his Deputy Grant Robertson is standing to replace him. There’s a lot of talk about what a nice guy he is too. What about politics? [Read more...]

Imperial hypocrisy to justify an assault

Barack Obama and John Kerry answer reporters' questions (WhiteHouse.gov)

Barack Obama and John Kerry answer reporters’ questions (WhiteHouse.gov)

EVIDENCE OF a horrific chemical weapons attack by the Syrian regime against civilians has revived liberal calls for “humanitarian” intervention by the U.S. military–despite the U.S. armed forces’ own recent record of mass death and destruction in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond.

For example, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson wrote that President Barack Obama should “punish Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s homicidal regime with a military strike” because “any government or group that employs chemical weapons must be made to suffer real consequences. Obama should uphold this principle by destroying some of Assad’s military assets with cruise missiles.” “[S]omebody,” says Robinson, “has to be the world’s policeman.”

The New York Times editorial board cautioned against an open-ended intervention, but said that because Obama had made the use of chemical weapons a “red line” that would trigger a U.S. response, the president now had to “follow through.” In other words, the credibility of the U.S. empire is now on the line, so a military strike is unavoidable, according to the Times. [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...]

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