The Diary of a Scottish Muslim Woman After the Christchurch Massacre

By Smina Akhtar

[This article was written following last week’s attack. We have edited it lightly to remove the accused’s name, following the wishes expressed by leaders in the Muslim community in this country. It first appeared on the website of the Marxist network in Britain rs21.]

Today I feel broken. I woke up around 7am and checked my phone as normal and discovered that a white supremacist, a fascist had shot and killed 50 people at two Christchurch mosques in New Zealand. This massacre happened thousands of miles away from Glasgow but I cried and I’ve been crying for most of the day. I generally don’t cry a lot. I was horrified at what had happened but not surprised, this was waiting to happen in a world where anti-Muslim racism is now the dominant form of racism practised by the state, the media and the far-right not just in New Zealand but in Europe, America and of course Britain.

I still couldn’t stop the irrational thoughts and questions, questions that I already knew the answers to, such as, how did we get to a point where Muslims like me are hated so much? I attended the evening vigil called by the Muslim Council of Scotland in Glasgow city centre, it was an extremely cold evening which worked in my favour because I could tell people that my eyes were watering when in fact, I just couldn’t hold back the tears. It was some time afterwards that I felt the overwhelming urge to express my fury and tears in words.

[Read more…]

Stand with Muslims – No to Islamophobia! Down with White Supremacy!

International Socialist Organisation National Committee Statement

2212590391_5b9013e916_z

It is almost beyond comprehension. Fifty people are dead. Another fifty are injured. Hundreds, probably thousands, of people face grief, unimaginable loss. This was an attack on Muslims as Muslims, targeted at their holy places, carried out on their holy day. It was an act of terror. Our starting point is solidarity: with those hurt and killed, with their families and loved ones, and with all Muslims and migrants in these islands. This terrorist violence – a race massacre – aimed to divide us. We unite with those hurting.

The barbarity of this act defies belief, but it has a political logic. This was an act of calculated terrorism, drawing on fascism and Islamophobia. There is no great mystery here, and Muslims leaders have been speaking out for years about the normalization and mainstreaming of Islamophobic hate. Every politician, every columnist and talkshow host, every intellectual and media celebrity who has played a role in normalizing anti-Muslim bigotry bears some responsibility for this tragedy. Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ and the War on Terror globally have set the scene, but local figures have contributed their part. Stuff and New Zealand Herald columnists lined up last year to defend the ‘rights’ of fascists Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern. Jordan Peterson, who has called Islamophobia a ‘propagandistic’ word, received widespread coverage earlier this year. At one event, Peterson was seen smiling alongside a fan wearing a “Proud Islamophobe” t-shirt. Simon Bridges, Judith Collins and the National Party have flirted with alt-right and far-right rhetoric around the UN. It is socially and politically acceptable in mainstream circles to talk about Islam and Muslims as a problem or an issue to be dealt with. Hundreds rallied in Auckland last year against “Sharia law”, and ACT’s Stephen Berry was there to support them. Fascist groups in Christchurch disrupted election meetings in 2011, and Muslims, Jews and other visible minorities have reported graffiti, harassment and abuse at their gathering places across the country for years. All this while most commentators would have us believe that “identity politics” and the decline of free speech are the issues of the day. This is the context that grew fascist violence. [Read more…]

Why is Labour starving NZ Post?

1544652765193By Andrew Tait and Martin Gregory

 

New Zealand Post has raised the cost of sending a letter, again – to $1.30 from July. Last year, they increased the postage from $1.00 to $1.20. In July 2016 it went up from 80 cents. They are raising prices, they say, because of the drop in volume.

[Read more…]

Who gains from Capital Gains?

Simon-Bridges-Nation-1120

Simon Bridges is prepared for the working class to make every necessary sacrifice to defend his Kiwi way of life.

by Guy McCallum

The Tax Working Group, set up by the Labour-led government in 2018, has released its first volume of findings. This is where the government’s proposed capital gains tax is beginning to take shape, and a useful analysis underpinning the work of this group is important to understanding the broader political narratives arising from the working groups’ recommendations.

But first, what is a capital gains tax (CGT)?

Capital gains are the profits produced from selling an asset at a higher price than it was worth when it was first purchased. Thus a capital gains tax is levied on the value that was produced by doing nothing other than selling the asset when the time was right to make a profit.

Despite National’s hyperbole about the CGT being a ‘raid’ on landed wealth, the potential revenue of a capital gains tax has been estimated to be around $6 billion annually but it will take ten years to get to that level of return. Just under half of that revenue will be from residential investment, the rest will come from commercial, industrial or rural sales (which are typically much higher than residential sales). [Read more…]

Beating Budget Responsibility Rules Restraint

eight_col_20190129_083605

Resident doctors striking outside Wellington Hospital, with solidarity from NZNO members, February 2019.

By Martin Gregory

 

Public health and public education, for countries that have them, make the two great calls on government expenditures, and for that reason they are at the core of the central contradiction in the character of the Ardern government. The boost in spending on these services that Labour seemed to offer in 2017 is confounded by the Budget Responsibility Rules policy that the Labour and Green parties concocted, carried through into government and have since held as an article of faith. The effect of the Rules, broadly, is that government spending is kept within the parameters inherited from the former National government. Government expenditure is pegged as a proportion of GDP and paying down government debt is prioritised over spending. The Budget Responsibility Rules are a declaration of Labour’s fealty to capitalism. As a result of spending restraint, health and education have been the flashpoints of much of the industrial action by expectant, but frustrated, workers that occurred last year and continues this year unabated.

[Read more…]

Socialists support trans rights

whanau1

Image credit: Gender Minorities Aotearoa

by Romany Tasker-Poland

In 2008 the Human Rights Commission (HRC) reported that trans people faced “pervasive and entrenched barriers to the enjoyment of the same rights and responsibilities as other New Zealanders.” What a diverse range of people had had in common was “the struggle to come to terms with who they are, to have others accept them and to be able to live fulfilled lives in the sex they know themselves to be.” Respondents reported discrimination, harassment and abuse.

 

What gains have been made since 2008 in legal rights, access to healthcare, employment rights and positive representation in the media have been thanks to trans people’s own tireless organising and self-advocacy. Trans people have been their own advocates in the health and education systems, organising in their own defence, to counter, as one trans man submitting to the 2008 report put it, “headlines that display us as frauds and freaks.”

Bigots would have us believe that the increasing visibility of trans people and their struggle for dignity is a product of “trans ideology”. The supposed aims of this agenda are variously to enforce a particular set of views about sexuality and gender, to convert the young and vulnerable to “transgenderism”, or to aid and abet predators. In reality, trans people are active across the political spectrum and have at least as broad a set of views on gender and sexuality as any other section of society. But the struggle for trans rights, in challenging the institutions which enforce and maintained gender norms, throws up broader political questions. Socialists support this questioning and this struggle. Hitting back against misrepresentations of “gender ideology”, Judith Butler recently described “gender theory” as seeking “a form of political freedom that would allow people to live with their “given” or “chosen” gender without discrimination and fear”. That freedom is at the heart of the socialist project.

[Read more…]

Why we protested Jordan Peterson

Jordan Peterson protest

We take our inspiration from activists in Canada, such as the University of Toronto Student Union, who oppose Peterson.

by Shomi Yoon

 

The Pōneke branch of the International Socialist last night joined the wave of protests against Jordan Peterson, as he tours New Zealand and Australia promoting 12 Rules for Life.

 

Peterson is not a philosopher-king or an intellectual. He’s an egg spreading reactionary ideas.

 

He is a best-selling misogynist, a transphobe, and is regularly courted by the far-right.

 

That’s why he shouldn’t be spreading his message without visible opposition.

 

That’s the job of the Left.

[Read more…]

Pride is Politics, Solidarity and Joy

1549690736242

Union banners were visible at Pride, including the NZNO and TEU    Image credit: Abigail Dougherty / Stuf

 

By Emma Mud

Pride. The atmosphere was absolutely amazing. So many people said so. It was grassroots, there was genuine appreciation that the LGBT community can fight for itself. We don’t need corporations to do it for us. This wasn’t a parade being put on to entertain straight people: it was a march for ourselves and for solidarity.

The ISO marched as part of a radical left contingent, chanting, “Brick by brick, wall by wall, we will make these prisons fall.” We had been at the counter-demonstrations of previous years, so this weekend felt like a real victory. We – the community, the left, working-class queers, Māori, trans, young queers – put up a democratic challenge and we won. This march was both a victory in itself and a celebration of that victory. There was joy in that celebration all around us. [Read more…]

Lessons from the nurses’ dispute

NZH0557882398Since our beginning twenty-one years ago, Socialist Review has been dedicated to trying to build workers’ power on these islands. That has meant taking a realistic look at the state of our forces. And, for most of our existence, a realistic look has been a sobering one: low strike levels, union membership shrinking, workers’ confidence decreasing. The job of our magazine, much of the time, has been to document a retreat and to make arguments for how we might rebuild.

 

That situation has changed. The mass strike of health workers last July – backed up by huge rallies and marches in Auckland and elsewhere – was the inspiration for a growing wave of strikes through 2018. Health workers took strike action for the first time in almost thirty years and, although they fell short of winning all their needed demands, they have made resolute industrial action thinkable again. And they have put the government on notice around crucial questions: pay, staffing, equal pay. Nurses have changed the reality of industrial relations and, most important of all, they have made strikes part of the popular imagination again. It is hard to believe that the primary teachers’ strikes in 2018 would have been as successful had the nurses not already set out along that road.

[Read more…]

Rebel Lives: Walter Benjamin

benjaminBy Andrew Raba

Walter Benjamin was a German-Jewish writer who was born in Berlin in 1892 to a wealthy family with a background in banking and antiques trading. In 1912 he enrolled at university where he studied philosophy and developed a lifelong interest in Romantic literature and poetry. It was also at university that Benjamin first encountered the ideology of Zionism; a feature of Jewish political life that he had been sheltered from by his liberal upbringing. Benjamin arrived at a position which valued and promoted the spiritual depth and cultural value of Judaism whilst rejecting Zionist politics. His commitment to the reality of spiritual Judaism would remain a central feature through his life and writing. Then, in 1924, Benjamin made two discoveries that profoundly affected his philosophical and political thought. The discovery of Lukács’s History and Class Consciousness (1923) and his introduction to Bolshevism via the Latvian theatre director and Bolshevik Asja Lācis, led him to place Communism and later historical materialism at the centre of his thought.        [Read more…]