A round-up of interesting links and articles from March.
National Party Scumbags – Fancy Dinner Edition
Auckland Action Against Poverty held a protest outside the Young Nats’ ball early in April – see our report here.
Judith Collins’ web of lies and deceit around her dinner with Oravida in China this month have finally started to disintegrate. As with every other time John Key has vehemently defended one of his cabinet members, the National Government as a whole have been shown to be lying through their teeth. Right Wing shill for the Nats, David Farrar also leapt to Collin’s defence, saying that it was perfectly fine for the Minister to ‘have a glass of milk’ (that included members from NZ companies, Chinese companies and ministers from the Chinese government). As Michael Timmins points out, this is a blatant advert for Collin’s partner’s company, using her position as an MP to promote it.
But why should we be surprised? The ruling class of Aotearoa acts in its own interest, not the interests of the majority. Collins using her position to make life just that bit more profitable isn’t some massive aberration – it’s business as usual, and we shouldn’t let the ‘scandal’ let us forget that similar and worse abuse of power are going on all the time.
National applies one standard to the ruling class and one to organised workers, of course: Richard Wagstaff of the PSA makes the case that public servants have the right to political opinions, in an op-ed for the Herald here.
(The capitalist class the world over are a grubby bunch: see David Runciman’s profile of the odious Richard Branson)
Two Pieces of Good News
Teina Pora has been granted parole.
His case highlights what’s criminal about our criminal justice system: see the Free Teina group website for further information on the case.
Early in April the courts ruled against attempts to take prominent author Patricia Grace’s land for roading projects. David Williams exposed the “cruel irony of a Maori land grab to build an expressway”, linking this latest threat to Maori land with historical Crown actions.
Tim Hazeldine argues in the Herald that universities don’t need tinkering, just adequate funding. A Dominion Post article carries good commentary from VUWSA President Sonya Clark and TEU member Teresia Teaiwa on the threat to democracy posed by National’s attacks on student and staff representation on university councils.
Diane Ravitch’s blog piece for the New York Review of Books shows up what’s wrong with charter schools in the US – essential reading as they are introduced here.
Students in Taiwan are leading protests against a free trade deal, and for greater democracy on that island: Hsiao-Hung Pai profiles the movement. The “textbook wars” fuelled by nationalist politicians in East Asia are heating up – see this Hankyoreh report.
The ISO and activists around the country have been busy over the past month: rallies were held against the TPPA , anti-racists outnumbered Nazi demonstrators in Christchurch; trade unionists gathered in Wellington to remember Ernie Abbott, and the NZEI held demonstrations in support of a Living Wage in education.
For Lent, why not give up judgement? An excellent comment piece by Marama Davidson skewers anti-abortion bigotry.
The UK classicist Mary Beard faced a barrage of misogynist abuse on twiter last year after appearing on BBC’s Question Time: her lecture on the public voice of women takes a long view of women’s marginalisation from politics
International, History, and Theory
Alex Callinicos’ “Imperial Delusions” surveys ruling-class responses to the crisis in the Ukraine, while James Meek’s reportage for the London Review of Books on “Putin’s counter-revolution” offers historicising background.
Ella Habiba Shohat’s “reflections of an Arab Jew” presents a more complex picture of race, religion and gender in the Middle East than mainstream accounts allow.
It was 30 years this March since the start of the National Union of Miners great strike in Britain against pit closures and job losses. Robin Turner remembers when the gay community stood up for the miners.
Rjurik Davidson reviews the late Daniel Bensaid’s memoirs for Overland here, while Stephanie Converey’s thoughtful piece on the problem with “trigger warnings” is another important Overland post.
Finally, Ian Angus writes in Monthly Review on capitalism’s threat to the oceans and the environment.