National’s disarray – the Emperor has no clothes

coughlan

A road to nowhere?

By Ewan Tavendale

This year’s local body elections probably won’t enlighten us as to which direction the public, or more correctly the various social classes, might be heading politically. Certainly, there is nothing so far to suggest that the local elections will herald a Labour Party revival. However, the local elections are not without interest. The
mayoral election campaigns so far in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch have already confirmed one

Phil-Goff-215x305

Style without substance: You’d better get a better slogan.

thing: the emperor has no clothes. What I mean by that is that these elections are exposing just how weak the National Party really is as an organisation.

You imagine that National and Labour are well-organised with membership strengths at local level in keeping with the parties’ standing in Parliament. This is not so. The reality is that the status of these parties in the public eye, the two main pillars of the political system, is not founded upon masses of members in communities or workplaces. Both parties are totally dependent for their image on the say so of the mass media.

This state of affairs is not grievous for National, which can generally rely on the friendly support of the media owning corporations. The current government gets an easy ride, and that will not change any time soon.   [Read more…]

The origins of the Labour Party

The Waihi Strike set the scene for Labour

The defeat of the Waihi Strike set the scene for Labour

By Martin Gregory

 

I might state that the museum up on the hill known as Parliament House has little attraction for me but if that machine can be used to benefit the working man and foster industrial organisation, I am in favour of it.

W E Parry, January 1913,President of the Waihi Worker’s Union 1909-1912, Minister of Internal Affairs 1935-1949

 

The party named the New Zealand Labour Party came into being at a meeting on 7 July 1916. This event was little more than a name change of the Social Democratic Party, whose annual conference began the day before. In May the SDP National Executive had recommended the change and to invite the right-wing remnants in the Labour Representation Committees, who had hitherto remained outside the SDP, to join. Eleven out of thirteen of the first Labour Party Executive, and the top officers, were SDP members. The Labour Party formally came into being in 1916, but its real political origins, as the SDP, go back to events of 1912 and 1913. [Read more…]

Introducing Gramsci

GramsciBy Josh Parsons

Antonio Gramsci was an Italian Marxist, active in the 1910s and 20s before his imprisonment by the Italian state under Mussolini. It was while he was imprisoned that Gramsci made his most well-known contributions to Marxist theory, including the key concept of hegemony.

Gramsci’s contributions are valuable not only theoretically, but for the many practical lessons that can be drawn from his life and writings.

Hegemony, the most well-known of Gramsci’s contributions, is at its essence the idea that the ruling classes are dominant in more than a purely economic sense. Not only do the classes at the top control vast amounts of wealth and the power of the state, but the ideas, theories, and values that come to be accepted by all as ‘common sense’ and ‘normal’. Through everyday life in the capitalist system – working for a wage, paying for one’s necessities, competing with fellow workers or businesses – and through the constant barrage of capitalist economics and theories in our schools and media, the capitalist system becomes naturalised. It is assumed that competition, individualism and economism are values shared by all, and that this is simply the way things are. This, in short, is the capitalist hegemony. [Read more…]

How do we win the Living Wage?

Deborah Littman

Deborah Littman – razor-sharp advocacy and articulate analysis. But what of the strategy?

By Casbean Lee

 

On July 6th, Living Wage campaigner Deborah Littman spoke to an assembly of faith groups, unionists, students and other activists gathered at Saint Peter’s Church in Wellington. Much of what Littman presented was encouraging. Her experiences as part of successful living wage campaigns within London and Vancouver offer hope to New Zealand activists struggling to achieve similar goals. However, while in agreement with many of Littman’s essential points, the author would like to offer some brief, critical and hopefully constructive reflections. [Read more…]

Resisting the pro-police backlash after Dallas

Marching in San Francisco after the police murders of Philandro Castile and Alton Stirling (Josh On | SW)by Nicole Colson

THE POLICE KILLING of two Black men–Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, a suburb of the Twin Cities in Minnesota–last week horrified people around the world and brought protesters into the streets in large numbers across the country to proclaim that Black Lives Matter.

Yet just as quickly, in Dallas, a man who shot and killed police officers as BLM supporters were demonstrating–killing five officers and wounding several more before being killed himself by police–provided the means for the media and law enforcement to shift the spotlight away from the epidemic of police violence and blame those who have risen up to protest. [Read more…]

Making history or maintaining the status quo?

by Elizabeth SchulteHillary Clinton

THERE’S NO denying that women could use a “historic” breakthrough. We could use quite a few, if anyone is offering.

Contrary to those who argue that we live in a post-feminist era, where sexism is a thing of the past, women are still, by almost any measuring stick, unequal to men in U.S. society. Wages, access to health care, domestic violence, sexual assault and the justice system’s failure to bring any semblance of justice in these cases–all reflect that deep-seated inequality.

So yes, we could use a few historic victories. But Hillary Clinton’s nomination as the first woman presidential candidate of a major party isn’t one. [Read more…]

Debating the Brexit

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Farage’s farrago

by Martin Gregory

 

Around the world socialists are digesting the outcome of the UK referendum vote to leave the European Union. British socialists, and their international co-thinkers, were divided on the referendum question both between and within their organisations. The debate continues here. Martin replies to Tom Bramble’s analysis in Red Flag.

 

Tom Bramble’s analysis of the British referendum result is wide of the mark. Tom sees a working-class, anti-austerity vote that has struck a blow against capitalism, although he concedes that “many Leave voters were motivated at least in part by opposition to immigration.”

[Read more…]

After the Brexit: Fighting Racism

Rally 1Kevin Hodder sent these notes from London:

 

I awoke in London to a shock. Travelling from New Zealand and only briefly abroad, I only had a relatively tenuous grasp on the debates going on in the UK around the “Brexit” vote.

 

The details of these debates are not for me to cover. Irrespective of why many people voted as they did, one thing that is known is that the racist elements of the Leave camp (embodied in the most familiar faces of the Leave campaign – Nigel Farage, leader of the racist UKIP party, and former London mayor Boris Johnson) will be substantially emboldened by this result. It is reasonable to expect increased attacks on migrants, refugees and anyone viewed as “foreign” in the coming months.

[Read more…]

Should workers in Britain vote to Leave the EU?

Geldof Farage

The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable: racist buffoon Nigel Farage of UKIP smirking for a Leave, and Bob Geldof and sundry Hooray Henrys and Henriettas braying for Remain

by Martin Gregory

The referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the EU takes place on Thursday 23 June. Aotearoa has been touched by the referendum in a couple of ways. Winston Peters has not hesitated to give the British the benefit of his advice. Rightwing, anti-immigrant populist that he is, Peters is for a Brexit. On Saturday 18 June this country’s news media widely reported an interview given to TV3 by the right-wing, anti-immigrant, ex-Tory Nigel Farage, the head of the UK Independence Party (UKIP). Farage said Commonwealth people such as New Zealanders will benefit from easier emigration to Britain if it leaves the EU. He argued that at present, under the EU, New Zealand migrants are disadvantaged by competition with southern and eastern Europeans to whom Britain’s borders are open. What Farage means by New Zealanders and the Commonwealth is, of course, the “kith and kin” White Commonwealth and those within it who can prove their descent from Britons. [Read more…]

Demanding better disability stories

 

Disability Stories 1.jpgby Daniel Simpson Beck

“Rights, not tragedy!”

“Assistance to live, not assistance to die!”

These were some of the chants of around 30 disability rights protesters outside the Embassy’s preview screening of Me Before You on Wednesday night. The rally was one of many around the world calling for a boycott of the Hollywood romance, a film that plays on the tired trope that disabled people lead tragic lives and are burdens on society. Protest organisers Esther Woodbury and Paula Booth call it as it is, “offensive, clichéd bullshit, which has denied disabled people the opportunity to tell their own stories to mainstream audiences”. This repetitive stigmatising of disability by the media is incredibly damaging. It helps to reinforce the view that disability should be avoided at all costs, and the abhorrent idea that disabled people are better off being killed. Internationally, many disabled people are furious at the release of yet another stereotypical, offensive, ableist story. As Robyn Hunt of Arts Access Advocates puts it, this is the straw that broke the camel’s back. On Wednesday night in Wellington, some of that anger was expressed. Protesters held placards and a banner with slogans such as:

“Demand Better Disability Stories. #survivethemovie #getlaid #notyourinspirationporn”

“#Spoiler. Hollywood kills Will because he is disabled; Will doesn’t get laid.” [Read more…]