Solidarity for Sanctuary – no deportations!

1486938549883by Sam Snell

Unionists and members from the wider community came together last Saturday afternoon in a show of solidarity with 9 Indian students facing deportation. The students, many of whom have finished their studies, face deportation as it was discovered that agents in India had falsified documents without their knowledge.

The students were lured to New Zealand under the pretense of being able to live and stay in New Zealand and with the guarantee of a one year “Student job search” visa. With information from websites such as www.studyplus.co.nz telling students that “You don’t have to come back to India if you successfully complete your studies in New Zealand.” Past, present and future students are being sold the idea of being able to live and work in New Zealand if they only pay extremely exorbitant fees to dodgy tertiary institutions, Visa agents and the New Zealand government.

[Read more…]

Lyttleton port workers strike

families-matterBy Martin Gregory

 

Pushes from the bosses for greater ‘flexibility’ – the idea that workers should be available whenever their employer pleases, without the ability to plan for family and personal time – are coming in all sorts of industries in New Zealand. Maritime Union members in Lyttleton are resisting this at their work, and their cause should be supported by all workers.

 

Members of the Maritime Union are flexing their muscles at Lyttleton container port. They took strike action on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 January, and the union has given notices of further strikes from Friday 3 through to Sunday 5 February and on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 February. The International Socialist Organisation wishes the port workers well and that they win their demands in full.

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Socialist Summer Reading – the Best of 2016

We asked writers, activists and intellectuals to offer picks from their reading and watching this year for others over the summer.

Laura Toailoa

three-wise-cousins

If Moana is the example of the commodification of Pacific cultures by a multibillion dollar multinational conglomerate, then Three Wise Cousins is in contrast, what happens when a Pacific film crew pull every last dollar together and hope there’s enough relatives between them to fill a hired-out cinema.

 

Three Wise Cousins directed by Stallone Vaiaoga-Ioasa (credited as “SQS”) premiered on Monday 21 December 2015. High ticket sales kept the movie in NZ cinemas for 5 and then took it to the Pacific, Australia, and the USA.

 

This hilarious movie follows one New Zealand Samoan’s journey to discover what it means to be a “Real Island Guy”. This is a movie explores the sense of belonging and identity in a very moving way, wrapped in comedic humour that I’d grown up with but hadn’t seen before on the big screen.

 

The off-the-cuff dialogue and perfectly timed visual comedy had me in fits of laughter, the brilliant soundtrack by Andrew Faleatua is perfect for the summertime and the moments of reflection had me looking inward to ask, am I a real island girl?

 

Laura Toailoa will be co-editor of Salient in 2017.

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Rallying for Syria

syria-rallyby Josh O’Sullivan

Around 80 people gathered in Aotea square today in Auckland representing different groups supporting the free peoples of Syria and condemning the barbaric and brutal attacks of Assad and his Russian backers. In Wellington on Friday 30 people held a rally outside the Russian Consul to protest Russia’s involvement in the bombings. The crimes in Eastern Aleppo are nothing short of genocide, with Assad’s government forces clearing out the rebels with the help of Russian bombs to attempt to stop the democratic revolution in Syria that have been fighting for their freedom for the last 6 years.

The Syrian uprising began with the rest of the Arab world in 2011, in a wave of revolutionary uprising where dictators were toppled from Tunisia to Egypt. but as we have seen over the past few years the forces of counter-revolution have smashed these popular movements for democracy. In Egypt, the activists and community leaders languish behind bars and suffer the torment of the military dictatorship under El Sisi. The same story can be seen in Syria, Assad met these peaceful protestors demanding democracy with bullets and jail cells. These assaults on the Syrian people split the Syrian army as many units supported the peoples cause.

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Making sense of politics in 2016

key-and-english

Key ‘framed his face to all occasions’. Will English be able to do the same?

Andrew Tait gave this presentation to the International Socialist Organisation Hui-a-tau in Auckland last month.

 

2016, in New Zealand, has not been marked by major struggles or economic disasters or booms. The Key crew, masters anyway of administering sleeping gas, have managed to avoid major scandals or divisions. On the contrary, one of the worst of a bad lot, Judith Collins, has been rehabilitated after the Oravida scandal and retaken her place on the front bench. Bill English and Paula Bennett inherit a remarkably stable and strong government.

 

Although overshadowed by National, the reformist left have made some interesting moves – promising first to work together to replace National (a position the Greens have long avoided taking before an election) and then cementing that with a double-pronged attack on immigration tailor-made to dovetail with New Zealand First, the likely third party in any post-Key government.

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NZ First – no party for workers

petersWhy does anyone ever discuss NZ First as a part of the centre-left? That fact the question even needs asked shows what a sorry state we’re in. And yet it keeps coming up. The mainstream political commentators routinely speculate on Labour-NZ First deals. But more worrying is the way this association has crept into the union movement more widely and the activist left. NZ First was a presence at the anti-TPPA rallies over the last few years, and has been welcomed as part of that campaign’s generally nationalist colouring. The party is capable of giving left colouring to itself from time to time, and Andrea Martin in Education is often more coherent and compelling than Labour. But we need to clear – this party is no force for the working class. NZ First is a classic example of right-wing populism, appealing to the unorganised and disenfranchised in the working class, the rural working class in particular, but taking as its base the petty bourgeois. Its programme – anti-immigrant rhetoric and nationalism in the service of local business – is toxic.

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Blame the bosses – not migrants!

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Indian students fight deportation in Auckland. Migrant workers are part of the struggle – not victims to be pitied.

by Dougal McNeill

So this month saw the end of Planet Key. Bill English’s ascension gives us an opportunity to survey political possibilities for our movement. There is plenty for workers to feel angry about, and plenty about which the Government has nothing but the feeble excuses. From the housing situation in Auckland to the recent embarrassing back down in the face of union opposition to further education ‘reforms’, the last year has not gone all the government’s way. What has been missing, as usual, is any sort of concentrated opposition. There is the grounds to organise a credible opposition to National – just look at the inequality, poverty, and job insecurity that is the norm in New Zealand at the moment. But, shamefully, Labour have decided to pursue an anti-immigrant line. This is not helping them electorally, with September registering some of the worst poll results for Labour in a long time, and, more dangerously, it threatens to pull the whole 2017 election in a racist direction. This will be a disaster for working people. Instead of rejecting Labour’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, too many leaders in the trade union movement have accepted its logic.

 

Immigrants are not to blame for workers’ problems, and that we need to focus our political fire where it belongs – at the capitalist class and the National government.

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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…]