Anzac Day: Against the Carnival of Reaction

mobiliseagainstthewarOn Anzac Day 1967, at the height of New Zealand involvement in the ‘American War’ in Vietnam, with New Zealand troops taking part in the suppression of the Vietnamese struggle for national liberation, members of the Progressive Youth Movement in Christchurch tried to lay a wreath following the dawn service in memory of those killed by imperialism in Vietnam. They were arrested and charged with disorderly behaviour. Feminists a decade later faced down a media-driven public outcry when they laid wreaths to the victims of sexual violence during war.

Lest we forget? It’s more like lest we remember. Anzac Day serves as a carnival of nationalist reaction, a day of public ritual aimed at promoting forgetting: forgetting the real legacy of New Zealand imperialism and militarism in favour of a sentimental nationalism, an anti-political celebration of national unity. [Read more…]

ISO Hui-a-tau 2013 – Learning together, fighting for socialism

ISOfistMore than 40 members and supporters of the International Socialist Organisation met at Waipapa Marae, in the heart of Tamaki Makaurau/Auckland, last weekend for the revolutionary socialist organisation’s third national conference, and first-ever Auckland conference.

A quarter of all children in New Zealand grow up in poverty. Austerity, cutbacks and exploitation remain the ruling-class agenda in Aotearoa and internationally. A sharp sense of the need for a socialist alternative united members and supporters from as far afield as Otepoti/Dunedin for two days of intense discussion and debate.

The whare Tane-nui-a-rangi, carved by Pakariki Harrison, combines in one house the tupuna and whakapapa of many iwi. We are grateful to the iwi kainga of Waipapa Marae for welcoming our people, who descend from Nga Puhi, Ngai Tahu, and Te Arawa, as well as from Haiti, Ireland, Scotland, England, China, Korea, Sri Lanka, Iran, Japan and South Africa together under the one roof of Tane-nui-a-rangi. During the powhiri, our kaumatua Paul De Rungs paid respect to Nelson Mandela and all the other freedom fighters of South Africa. Moe mai ra e te rangatira.

Thirty to forty people slept together in the wharenui, ate together and talked together, and though speech may be the food of chiefs, food was not neglected. A hakari on Saturday night was the highlight of the conference – complete with roast pork, tofu steak and aubergine (for vegetarians), and pavlova. We had tamariki as young as 3 all the way up to kaumatua as old as 78 participate in the hui-a-tau.

A high level of engagement and lively discussion marked the conference. Participants debated in sessions on national politics; the Arab revolutions; and Queer struggles after marriage equality. Educational sessions considered recent debates on socialism and feminism and the relevance of Trotsky in the 21st century. [Read more…]

Rediscovering the 1949 Carpenters’ Strike

Fighting Back CoverThe following was delivered as a talk at the International Socialism Day School 2013 by Kevin Hodder.

The 151 day waterfront lockout, and its eventual defeat, of militant workers is legendary, and widely recognised as the beginning of the end for one period of union militancy in New Zealand. Its story is widely known in political circles.

The 1949 Auckland Carpenters struggle, an epic battle prefiguring the 1951 dispute in many ways, has been almost completely hidden from history. It is an important part of New Zealand labour history, and yet its story – and its political lessons – are almost impossible to find out about now.

I had never heard of this struggle, or even of this union, prior to being asked to look into this particular dispute. It was, then, to my great surprise to discover that what happened in 1949 would easily be considered one of the defining struggles of New Zealand unions in the ongoing fight between labour and capital, between workers and bosses. [Read more…]

Yes to revolution, no to intervention!

7494c64b7b3539b180c3f296050e9111_XLWe Stand Behind the Syrian People’s Revolution – No to Foreign Intervention

Over 150 thousand were killed, hundreds of thousands injured and disabled, millions of people displaced inside and outside Syria. Cities, villages, and neighborhoods were destroyed fully or partially, using all sorts of weapons, including warplanes, scud missiles, bombs, and tanks, all paid for by the sweat and blood of the Syrian people. This was under the pretext of defending the homeland and achieving military balance with Israel (whose occupation of Syrian land is, in fact, being protected by the Syrian regime, which failed to reply to any of its continuing aggressions).

Yet, despite the enormous losses mentioned above, befalling all Syrians, and the calamity inflicted on them, no international organization or major country – or a lesser one – felt the need to provide practical solidarity or support the Syrians in their struggle for their most basic rights, human dignity, and social justice. [Read more…]

Labour’s Leadership Battle

labour-guysWe wished good riddance to David Shearer. It’s a good thing he has resigned – he was useless and bumbling against Key when issue after issue offered opportunities to attack the government for its anti-worker record. The common wisdom seems to be that Shearer was a ‘nice guy,’ but in truth he was happy to scapegoat beneficiaries, pander to anti-Chinese racism, and suppress dissent in his Party. He was, in other words, a thoroughly nasty part of the right-wing Labour machine.

Now his Deputy Grant Robertson is standing to replace him. There’s a lot of talk about what a nice guy he is too. What about politics? [Read more…]

Imperial hypocrisy to justify an assault

Barack Obama and John Kerry answer reporters' questions (

Barack Obama and John Kerry answer reporters’ questions (

EVIDENCE OF a horrific chemical weapons attack by the Syrian regime against civilians has revived liberal calls for “humanitarian” intervention by the U.S. military–despite the U.S. armed forces’ own recent record of mass death and destruction in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond.

For example, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson wrote that President Barack Obama should “punish Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s homicidal regime with a military strike” because “any government or group that employs chemical weapons must be made to suffer real consequences. Obama should uphold this principle by destroying some of Assad’s military assets with cruise missiles.” “[S]omebody,” says Robinson, “has to be the world’s policeman.”

The New York Times editorial board cautioned against an open-ended intervention, but said that because Obama had made the use of chemical weapons a “red line” that would trigger a U.S. response, the president now had to “follow through.” In other words, the credibility of the U.S. empire is now on the line, so a military strike is unavoidable, according to the Times. [Read more…]

GCSB bill passes – Resistance continues

GCSB-Waihopai-Valley-Spy-Base-Schutz-via-WikimediaThe GCSB bill has passed. This is a big deal. In the past, activists sometimes like the idea of the secret police taking an interest in our work. In a career that is effectively public service with no official recognition, an oversized SIS dossier can be flattering. But that relaxed attitude to surveillance belongs in the past.

After Helen Clark’s 2007 “terror raids” in the Urewera, no-one in New Zealand should be surprised by the criminalisation of dissent – or by the racist nature of state surveillance. The raids were all about terrorism – state terrorism.

There are limits to the powers of the surveillance state however and the turn towards repression is a sign of the increasing weakness and desperation of governments.

The GCSB bill is part of the “war on terror” a war that is in reality a comprehensive, international attack on civil liberties by states. This attack is, in turn, part of the continuing, now hidden, now open, civil war that constantly exists between rulers and ruled.

This is not an article about the detail of the GCSB and TICS bills, and there is a reason for this. If you think you are looking at an anomaly, you study its detail. If you think it is part of a pattern, then you are more interested in how it fits into that pattern, and how that pattern can be changed. The GCSB legislation is outrageous but not exceptional. As the saying goes: “If you aren’t outraged, you aren’t paying attention.” [Read more…]

History catches up with Tongan King

Tonga, once a sleepy island kingdom sunk in tradition and religion, was rocked by riots on Thursday 16 November 2006, as frustration with the royal government hit boiling point. Almost overnight, Australian and New Zealand troops appeared on the scene patrolling the scarred streets of the capital Nuku’alofa and controlling its airport.


[Read more…]