Fascism: then and now

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Mass mobilization of workers, socialists, communists and Jewish workers groups beat back fascists in London in the 1930s

Josh O’Sullivan gave this talk to the Auckland branch of the International Socialists in September.

 

This talk is both a reflection and a call to arms. Political movements around the world are growing and although people are clamouring more and more for an alternative to capitalism, so to are people looking to the most backward elements of society to prevent any challenge to the status quo – to even thrust society backwards to darker times.

The political and institutional framework that has regulated and stabilized capitalism since the end of World War Two is facing concerted challenges that threaten to tear it apart. In much of Eastern Europe, far right parties have swept into government and gained a heavy foothold in Western European countries. Russia, under the authoritarian rule of Vladimir Putin, has begun to reassert itself as a reactionary force on the world stage. Then there is the dramatic rise of China,wWith now possibly lifetime President Xi Jinping. Most dramatically, the U.S., still the world’s most powerful state, is headed by a president who openly champions fascists and ultranationalists and is attempting to tear apart the liberal play book.

This is the context in which we find ourselves in, capitalist society in a continuing recession with no answers, resulting in a deepening polarisation between the left and right, with radicalisation on both sides. Socialist organisations, anti-capitalist movement and trade unions have swelled with the realisation that capitalism can offer no answers to our plight. But at the same time fascist organisations and sympathisers are growing, developing international links, supported by the racist rhetoric by those in power and emboldened by the growing support they have received.

In the wake of the emboldening of the far right globally, far right speakers have now made it to Aotearoa. This makes it all the more important to learn from the lessons of history and the links between the far right, fascism and its relation to capitalism.

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An Act of Cultural Resistance

downloadThe Last Earth: A Palestinian Story by Ramzy Baroud (Pluto Press, London 2018)

Reviewed by Andrew Raba

Ramzy Baroud’s The Last Earth is a collection of eight narratives told by ordinary Palestinians who have, in their own way, struggled against the violence inflicted upon their country by Israel over the past one hundred years. The book bears witness to the immense bravery of Palestinians and to the scale of violence that has taken lives, torn families apart and displaced entire populations across the world. Baroud’s book comes at a time of sharpening tensions within Palestine. In March, Donald Trump issued a provocative signal of the United States’ commitment to Israel by opening an embassy in Jerusalem. At the same time, New Zealand pop star Lorde decided not to play in Israel marking a significant victory for the BDS movement. Most significantly, the past months have seen mass marches of Palestinians demanding the right of return on the seventieth anniversary of the 1948 Nakba.

The Last Earth contributes to the struggle today by foregrounding the humanity of the Palestinian people. The book contains stories that range from present-day Gaza, to the impact of the Balfour Declaration of 1922, from the refugee crisis of 2012, to the lives of Palestinian families living in Melbourne, Australia as part of the international diaspora. By drawing on the stories of individuals Baroud cuts against the reductive presentation of Palestinians as either militants, victims or grim statistics on a lop-sided score board. Moreover, by collating these stories into a single volume Baroud is able to draw out the common experiences that determine a shared Palestinian history. Above all, each account is marked by a deep sense of displacement. The forced exile of Palestinians from their homeland creates, in Edward Said’s words, “a rift or a barricade, ‘between the self and its true home’, restraining the person from residing in a place of comfort.” In each story we find a version of this unease and longing for home. It is this longing that fuels their struggle for a free Palestine. Yet, it is also this longing that runs through Palestinian lives as an open wound. [Read more…]

Kua tae te wā: it’s time to escalate our strikes

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Just a part of the huge crowd outside Parliament.

by Martin Gregory

 

On my way into Wellington this morning I wondered how many primary teachers and principals would heed their union’s call to take part in the area march and rally at Parliament, and how many would take the opportunity for a well-deserved day of relaxation. I need not have worried about the level of commitment, the turnout was huge. Stuff reports over 4,000, and I can believe it. Before marching to Parliament the union held a mass meeting in the Westpac Stadium. Two alternatives for further action were put to the members. The first was a programme of rolling strikes, area by area; this was received coolly. The second plan was far better, a national two-day strike; this was received rapturously. Support in the union ranks for the campaign is unmistakable.

 

The march had a joyous carnival atmosphere, similar to the mood at recent actions by the health workers and government staff at the Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. All the teachers carried something: either a union ‘Kua tae te wā – It’s time’ placard or a home-made sign or banner.

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Nurses show the way

fistRank and file nurses, midwives and health workers across the country have showed us the way forward. By speaking out – via Facebook, in face-to-face meetings, by all sorts of media – by marching in protest and, above all, by taking strike action in July, the first in over twenty years, they made health a major public topic. And they gave a lead to all of us by showing how you can win improvements in pay and conditions. The government is on notice. Equal pay, understaffed hospitals, overworked and underpaid nurses: these are issues that have not gone away. And they will not go away, because nurses will keep organising.

 

NZNO members have voted to accept the latest offer from the District Health Boards. This offer, compared to what was on the table in October last year, represents a real step forward. Health workers on the tops of their grades will get pay rises of 3% in phases over 2018 and 2019, totalling between 12 – 13% by the end of 2019. New pay bands have been created. A lump sum of $2000 will be paid. The DHBs have agreed to set up a national framework around staffing safety, a major issue raised by nurses during the dispute. The government has announced 500 extra nurses, a plan not connected to the negotiations by inconceivable without the pressure striking nurses exerted. There is extra funding available to work on safer staffing, and the DHBs have committed to pay equity by the end of next year. The union will need to hold them to account to make this happen.

  [Read more…]

Far Right Routed in Auckland

TAFA 1Attempts by far right hate groups to organise a movement in Aotearoa have suffered a heavy blow after the united efforts of the radical left and concerned community groups this weekend. A speaking event by alt-right personalities Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux was cancelled following protests, and a rally for supporters of the British right-wing extremist Tommy Robinson was dispersed by counter-protestors only a day later.

 

Southern and Molyneux had been booked to speak at the Bruce Mason Centre on Auckland’s North Shore, before this event was cancelled by Auckland Council’s venue organiser on security grounds. Driven underground, they were forced to reveal their plans only at the last moment, on Friday afternoon. Any chance of them speaking was finally scuttled after the PowerStation, a popular music venue, cancelled their event as soon as they became aware they were the intended hosts.

TAFA

Southern and Molyneux are key media figures in the alt-right movement, and their presence in Aotearoa only serves to give succor to local right wing activists who hope to spread vile ideology. Both a virulent racists and Islamophobes. Southern has made a name for herself on the alt-right for her rants against multiculturalism, feminism and Islam; while Molyneux specialises in attempting to revive discredited race science – claiming that Hispanic and Black people are less intelligent that than Whites and telling his recent Australian audience that Aboriginal Australians are “the lowest rung of civilisation.”

[Read more…]

Molyneux and Southern: These racists are not welcome here

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Caroline and Neville Kirk lead a demonstration against Southern in Perth. Photo credit: Ross Swanborough / Perth Now

 

by Emma Mud

 

 

The past few years have seen the far right increasingly pick up the mantle of “free speech” in response to any and all criticism of their ideas. Absurdly, we are informed that us telling them they’re wrong in their racism is an attack on freedom of speech as opposed to a simple exercise of that freedom. Yet the absurdity of the far right’s whining and complaining should not drive us into complacency. The left must be steadfast in our defence of freedom of speech: it is a democratic right that has been won against the state and against the ruling class and as with all rights it rests upon the willingness of the oppressed and working class to fight for it. Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern have thrown this issue up once again in Aotearoa. Their disgusting rhetoric screams out to be countered and resisted. The question is by who and through what means?

[Read more…]

Celebrating The Māori Organisation on Human Rights

MOOHR Peoples Voice

Image credit: People’s Voice 1968

When we honour the great revival in Māori struggle that burst out in the 1970s, the Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland-initiated Ngā Tamatoa – with their dramatic protest actions and Black Panther-inspired flair – are the group who most often come to mind. They deserve all the recognition they have got, certainly, but we should remember also the myriad other protest and campaigning groups that emerged across the country in the 1960s. There was Te Hokioi, a newsletter publicising cases of injustice and grievance. And, coming out of Wellington, there was the Maori Organisation on Human Rights (MOOHR), a pioneering educational and agitational grouping. MOOHR’s story shows how the fight for Māori liberation is at the heart of working-class history and organisation in Aotearoa.

 

 

In the decades following the Second World War there was a boom in the New Zealand economy, and businesses found themselves with labour shortages as they tried to keep up with rapid economic growth. This led to big growth in cities and urban centres, and a huge migration of Māori from the countryside to the city. It was a massive, and rapid, transformation. Young Māori found themselves in unfamiliar cities, separated from whānau and familiar ways of life, and concentrated in the lowest paid and most difficult work. The experience was both alienating and exhilarating. Alienating, as ties of language, iwi connection and identity were torn away in the racist city setting. And exhilarating, as young people found friendship connections, sometimes money, and new independence in urban life.

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Strikes are Back: Victory to the Health Workers!

nursing-union-members-protest-outside-auckland-hospital-on-thursday-ahead-of-potential-strike-action-photo_jason-oxenham_nzhBy Martin Gregory

After a long slumber, the working class is awakening. In the first half of this year there was a smattering of industrial action, more than for years. The stirrings are hesitant. The actions, typically, limited to just hours or days. What more could we expect when it’s been decades since the unions used their now atrophied muscles? But this is the start of a revival. Young workers are tasting their power for the first time. They don’t carry the baggage of our defeats long ago. Today’s workers are learning valuable lessons from their first tentative actions that they will put to use tomorrow in bolder, more resolute strikes; strikes that win.

 

There has not been a strike at the Inland Revenue for 22 years, but on Monday PSA members there and at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment struck from 1pm to 3pm. This was a nation-wide strike involving over 4,000 workers. The biggest concentration was in the capital where about 500 marched. All around the country there were marches and rallies. The demands: across the board pay rises and an end to unfair pay systems that give management control over an individual’s pay. Another 2-hour stoppage is planned for 23 July. The PSA is currently handling a big increase in membership applications.

[Read more…]

José Carlos Mariátegui

mariateguiBy Romany Tasker-Poland

José Carlos Mariátegui was born in Perú in 1894. While his father was of an old, elite family, José Carlos was raised in relative poverty by his mother and grandparents. Having had very little schooling, Mariátegui was apprenticed as a printer’s assistant at age 15. From these humble beginnings, he would go on to become a leader of the Socialist movement in Perú during a time when crucial political questions were playing out across the globe.
In the early 20th Century saw rebellion across Perú. The growing working class launched mass strike movements in 1912 and 1918 for the 8-hour working day. In 1919 there were mass protests against food shortages caused by WWI. There were rural uprisings of the indigenous people, such as the 1915 uprising against landlords that briefly declared an independent Indigenous state. In the same period, a student movement demanding reform of the medieval, elitist universities was launched from Argentina and spread across South America. These student movements converged with workers struggles, and later established popular universities where workers attended free lectures.
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Retail workers deserve a Living Wage

35123910_1933549366656599_6536482093235437568_nBy Tara Dalefield

 

First Union members braved the chilly weather to attend simultaneous picket lines outsider Farmer’s stores in Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin and Christchurch last week. The dozens of workers who showed up to the Queen Street on Farmer’s made their demands quite clear: a living wage, and an end to performance pay.

  [Read more…]