The Cruel Irony of Pride

No Pride in Prisons

Image credit: No Pride in Prisons

By Marc Inzon

I sat down to talk with a couple of No Pride In Prison (NPIP) members as they tried to get a respite from their scrum with the police. One of them tells me “pride has historically been a protest and to deny protest for the rights of queer and trans people where it began in New Zealand is ridiculous.” Behind us, we hear more chants of ‘The police are violent, we won’t be silenced.’ Another round of pushing shoving with the police had begun while the pride parade carried on.  [Read more…]

Making the Zika threat worse

20160109zikamosquito0658a1452886866.sm_aby Rebekah Ward and Nicole Colson

IMAGES OF Black and Brown people suffering an epidemic viral disease are flooding television screens yet again. This time, however, it isn’t Ebola but the Zika virus that is the culprit.

The current outbreak of the Zika virus evokes similar racist fears to those surrounding the 2014 Ebola epidemic–but more than that, the explosion in Zika cases has a special impact on reproductive freedoms and speaks to the rotten core of a system that puts profit above human needs.

The Zika virus, first reported in humans in 1952 in Africa, is related to the West Nile, Yellow Fever and Dengue viruses, and is carried in mosquitos from host to host. Since it was first reported, it has spread across Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, mutating and therefore changing its potential interaction with human hosts along the way. While most people are never aware that they have contracted the virus, the estimated 20 percent of those infected who experience symptoms report joint pain, fever, rash and conjunctivitis (red eyes). [Read more…]

When Black Workers Organized Against Jim Crow

hammer and hoeHammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists during the Great Depression by Robin Kelley.

Reviewed by Martin Gregory

 

A twenty-fifth anniversary edition of this wonderful classic work of workers’ history was published last year. Robin Kelley has magnificently brought to light the little known struggles of communist party-supporting workers and sharecroppers, the majority of whom were black, under ferocious conditions of repression in Alabama, USA. This chronicle takes place against the background of the 1930’s depression, Communist Party politics and the segregationist regime in the Deep South where black resistance ran the risk of lynchings. Communist advocates of “social equality” were liable to beatings, arrests and jail-time.

It was not until 1929, the year of the Wall Street Crash, when the American Communist Party (CP) attempted to organise in the south. The Party sent a couple of organisers to Birmingham, Alabama, an industrial city on the fringe of the cotton-growing black belt. After their first public meeting the home of one of the Communists’ speakers was fire-bombed. [Read more…]

Nationalist poison no medicine against the TPPA

TPPA 1by Dougal McNeill

There are plenty of good reasons to oppose the TPPA. It’s part of U.S. imperialism’s strategy against China in the Asia-Pacific, working in the economic sphere as the ‘tilt to Asia’ does in the military. It gives greater powers to capitalists, and will be used to water down labour rights and environmental protections. It threatens public health provisions.

These threats are international, and face workers in all the countries that are set to sign up. So our opposition needs to be international, and internationalist. Pala Molisa’s excellent speech at the end of today’s rally in Wellington stressed just this kind of connection.

[Read more…]

The Poison of Nationalism

By Shomi Yoon

Anti-Asian racism - such as this 'Truth' cartoon from 1907 - disfigured much of the twentieth-century labour movement. Let's not let it infect the twenty-first's.

Anti-Asian racism – such as this ‘Truth’ cartoon from 1907 – disfigured much of the twentieth-century labour movement. Let’s not let it infect the twenty-first’s.

“What we need is an outright ban on foreigners owning land or houses in New Zealand.”

“This 3rd great [Chinese] colonisation could finally be a bridge building event between Pakeha and Maori.”

You’d be forgiven if you thought these quotes are from a National Front website.  Building a bridge for a coming race war? Foreigners out? New Zealand for the New Zealanders? This has the same tone and paranoia of the Yellow Peril rhetoric that comes out of the racist Right.

These quotes are actually from veteran activist John Minto and union-funded blogger Martyn Bradbury. Far from attacking Labour’s race-baiting of Chinese foreigners based on shonky statistics, they’re both in agreement with this anti-Chinese, anti-foreigner rhetoric.

[Read more…]

Chinese are not to blame – a New Zealand Housing Crisis

Cartoon by Vincent Konrad

Cartoon by Vincent Konrad

By Joshua O’Sullivan

Auckland and Christchurch are in severe housing crises due to a lack of supply among other things. In Auckland, according to Fiona Rotheram in The Listener, the average house price is now $776,729 as of February and is at its highest since before the global financial crisis. An Auckland house now worth $1,000,000, earned $2200 a week last year just from rising prices. The average increase in valuations of housing in Auckland rose 13% last year.

If these numbers seem ludicrous it’s because they are. Out-of-control house prices have massive effects throughout the economy and for working class lives. Auckland and Christchurch are anomalies; the rest of the country has had mild to low growth in prices. Christchurch real estate is buoyed by a lack of supply due to the earthquake destroying the housing stock. Auckland is another story. Auckland‘s supply issue is due to a combination of factors: property speculation and lack of central planning. [Read more…]

Māori and Communism in the 1930s

Workers WeeklyBy Dougal McNeill

The miseries of the Great Depression hit Māori workers particularly hard. Mass unemployment, poverty, slave-labour like conditions in relief works, poor housing and slumlords profiteering from renting out hovels – this was the fate of many hundreds of thousands of workers across the country. Māori workers, still concentrated in rural areas and in some of the most isolated and deprived parts of the country, suffered particularly intensely. And, in addition to their economic hardship, they had to face open discrimination and racism from the state and its agencies.

Cuba Street riotUnemployed workers fought back, and the early 1930s saw pitched riots in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin. Crowds smashed windows and fought with police in Queen Street and up Cuba Street. Labour’s first victory came in these years, followed by its second, more emphatic win on the back of social reforms. How the Communist Party of New Zealand responded in its paper, the Weekly Worker, to the racism Māori faced offers a fascinating insight into how organised militant workers can take up the question of oppression. A few articles from the paper in 1934 and 1935 give a snapshot of the Party’s organising.

[Read more…]

Northland: No Win for Workers

Winston-peters-1200

By Martin Gregory

The preliminary election result excluding special votes yet to be counted give Winston Peters a commanding win: 15, 359 votes (54% of the vote) over National’s Mark Osborne’s 11, 347 (39.9%). Labour’s Willow-Jean Prime received 1, 315 votes (just 4.6% of the vote), and no other candidate scored more than 107 votes.

Northland and its predecessor electorate has been won by National in every election from 1943 until this election and has been thought of as a safe seat. At last year’s general election Mike Sabin had 53% of the vote and a near 10,000 vote majority over Labour. New Zealand First has not put up a candidate here since 2005 when Jim Peters, brother of Winston, came fourth with only 8% of the poll. [Read more…]

A Letter from the Inside (I)

OCF We received this submission from Socialist Review reader RWK, currently a prisoner in the Otago Correctional Facility. We’re proud to print it here. Socialist Review subscriptions are available free to all prisoners on request.

 

Back in ’95, when I started coming to jail, prison officers were more confident in their role as wardens. Nearly all of them at that time had been wardens ten, twenty, or thirty years. They were more approachable, and more able to answer questions about policy or procedures. And if they were ordered to take a course of action they didn’t think was justified, they had the strength and conviction to refuse the order and advocate on behalf of the inmates. There were also committees run by the inmates that would liase between inmates and officers. These would help improve the day-to-day running of the prison for both officers and inmates. [Read more…]

Call Mr Robeson

locandina

Call Mr Robeson

The Moorings, 31 Glenbervie Terrace, Wellington

Until 1st March.

Tickets $18/$14 0800 BUY TIX

http://www.fringe.co.nz

Reviewed by Daniel Simpson Beck.

Call Mr. Robeson is written and performed by Tayo Aluko. Through monologue and song, he brings to life the memory of a man who the American ruling class would rather we forgot.

Paul Robeson, born in New Jersey, USA in 1898, was a man who excelled in many different areas; athletics, law, singing, acting and languages to name but a few. He won a scholarship to Rutgers University and was one of only two black students thoughout his four years there. He excelled in his studies and became one of the best footballers of the time. But it was singing and acting, in movies such as Show Boat in 1936, that brought him worldwide fame. He was one of the world’s leading concert singers in the 1930s and 1940s. He starred in Othello in what became and remains the longest-running production of a Shakespeare play on Broadway. So why were his name and achievements omitted from countless books about the history of American musicians and actors? In Call Mr. Robeson we learn that it was his passion for politics that lead the ruling elite to try and obliterate him from the history books. [Read more…]

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