Our ‘work ethic’ is not the problem

unnamedBy Andrew Tait

John Key came out this week and said it: New Zealanders are just too lazy or drug-addled to work, so we have to bring in migrants to “do a fabulous job” harvesting fruit and veges.

It’s a meme that has done the rounds on the media, slyly suggested by employers, farmers and politicians but never before as baldly stated by anyone as prominent as the Prime Minister. The truth is employers in agriculture are so addicted to profit they refuse to pay their workers a living wage. [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…]

Demanding better disability stories


Disability Stories 1.jpgby Daniel Simpson Beck

“Rights, not tragedy!”

“Assistance to live, not assistance to die!”

These were some of the chants of around 30 disability rights protesters outside the Embassy’s preview screening of Me Before You on Wednesday night. The rally was one of many around the world calling for a boycott of the Hollywood romance, a film that plays on the tired trope that disabled people lead tragic lives and are burdens on society. Protest organisers Esther Woodbury and Paula Booth call it as it is, “offensive, clichéd bullshit, which has denied disabled people the opportunity to tell their own stories to mainstream audiences”. This repetitive stigmatising of disability by the media is incredibly damaging. It helps to reinforce the view that disability should be avoided at all costs, and the abhorrent idea that disabled people are better off being killed. Internationally, many disabled people are furious at the release of yet another stereotypical, offensive, ableist story. As Robyn Hunt of Arts Access Advocates puts it, this is the straw that broke the camel’s back. On Wednesday night in Wellington, some of that anger was expressed. Protesters held placards and a banner with slogans such as:

“Demand Better Disability Stories. #survivethemovie #getlaid #notyourinspirationporn”

“#Spoiler. Hollywood kills Will because he is disabled; Will doesn’t get laid.” [Read more…]

Workers can run the world

NUW workers in Australia occupying a Dandenong factory, 2015

NUW workers in Australia occupying a Dandenong factory, 2015

Gowan Ditchburn gave this talk to the Auckland branch of the International Socialists in May.

Let us examine on of my favourite things on Earth, Democracy. No, not that silly parliamentary kind where you vote every few years. I mean real democracy. Control by the people. Actual control not sending people to parliament to argue like children for three years and pass a few laws which change very little. I mean getting to decide how everything is done. From the Economy and the distribution of goods and resources, to the planning of our cities. All this placed in the hands of the people. My aim is to bring you an interesting look at a different, better and much more democratic way of doing things. [Read more…]

Greece and the international situation

Greek journalist chant anti-austerity slogans during a protest in central Athens, on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. Greek journalists have walked off the job ahead of a general strike set to disrupt services across the country to protest pension reforms that are part of the country's third international bailout. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Greek journalist chant anti-austerity slogans during a protest in central Athens, on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. Greek journalists have walked off the job ahead of a general strike set to disrupt services across the country to protest pension reforms that are part of the country’s third international bailout. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

The following was presented at the ISO national conference in November 2015

By Andrew Tait

We are living in historic times. As if in the blink of an eye we have seen revolutions sweep the Middle East, only to descend into bloody civil war, the devastation of the Greek economy and the emergence in Greece, within five years, from obscurity to power of the most far-left political party since the 1970s – and now its apparent capitulation to the Diktats of the EU and the banks. We have seen the movement of refugees, already enormous, grow a hundredfold in Europe, where they have been met, yes, with barbed wire but also, by others, with open arms. Closer to home, the hell holes designed by Howard to hide “boat people” from human rights have now also become home to New Zealanders awaiting deportation from the Lucky Country. Legal norms are stripped away by the war on terror, and overarching all this looms the possibility of catastrophic climate change.

Why study the international situation? My workmate told me what no doubt many people feel, that she could not bear to know too much about the horrors of the world that lie beyond her control. We on the contrary, understand that however weak we are, history is made by people but not in conditions of our choosing. In this talk I aim to outline the shape of the world, and draw out some practical conclusions for our work. [Read more…]

Why voting Democratic hasn’t preserved choice

The Clintons on parade for Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1997 (White House)

The Clintons on parade for Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1997 (White House)

Elizabeth Schulte makes the case that a woman’s right to choose abortion won’t be defended by subordinating our struggle to the needs of the Democratic Party.

DONALD TRUMP gave abortion rights supporters a frightening glimpse of what an administration he commands might do when he told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews earlier this month that “[t]here has to be some form of punishment” for women who have illegal abortions. [Read more…]

Māori struggles and the TPPA

WaitangiBy Joshua O’Sullivan


Earlier this month the blessings of Ranginui washed the hikoi as it made its way to the powhiri at Te Tii Marae at Waitangi in the midst of pouring rain. Around 200 people assembled. Some had made the long march from Northland to Auckland and back, others, like us, joined after the massive anti TPPA demonstrations. Our hikoi was welcomed by the Ngā Puhi elders, who spoke on the marae about the challenges facing Māori today.

Māori sovereignty and all indigenous rights were raised by the speakers: that only Māori and the Treaty of Waitangi are mentioned specifically in the agreement was a scandal.  The Ainu of Japan, the Aboriginal peoples of Australia, Hawaiians, the Mapuche of Chile, and the first nations tribes of Canada and the US are not mentioned at all. Ratana elder and former Mana party leader Kereama Pene said Māori had to represent on an international level: “The whole world is focused on Māori, we were a big part of writing the U.N. Declaration of Indigenous Rights, Māori are the one to win this and if we fight we will have the support of all indigenous people.” [Read more…]

Guy Fawkes: Myth and Reality

guyfawkes_1401691aRemember, remember, the fifth of November, Gunpowder Treason and Plot. I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot.

We all know these words. For centuries they’ve been handed down through the generations, first as a nursery rhyme sung by English children, and more recently popularised by the film ‘V for Vendetta’. David Lloyd, the artist behind the original graphic novel, has written that the Guy Fawkes mask his character wore has become “a common brand and a convenient placard to use in protest against tyranny”, and a quick glance around the world today reveals widespread use of it in everything from Anonymous to the Occupy movement.

The tale of Guy Fawkes and his attempt to blow up Parliament remains an integral part of our culture, and one at times associated with revolution and social change… but has this always been the case? And do we truly remember all that we should about the fifth of November? [Read more…]

A Short History of New Zealand Imperialism

Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III and other Mau leaders and activists - heroes in the struggle for a free Samoa

Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III and other Mau leaders and activists – heroes in the struggle for a free Samoa

By Daniel Simpson Beck

From New Zealand’s earliest attempts at increasing its territories in the Pacific right through to today’s economic imperialism, the local capitalist ruling class has had imperial ambitions. It was New Zealand’s local leaders – the Governors, the Premiers, the Prime Ministers – who were calling for a New Zealand Empire in the Pacific. Likewise we shall see that New Zealand makes its own imperialist manoeuvres today. It is not the dominant empires that pressure New Zealand into such moves. The New Zealand ruling class are neither a lapdog to the US now, nor were they to Britain 175 years ago.


  [Read more…]

Marketing Poverty: the Question of Fair Trade

Fair Trade CoffeeBy Kevin Hodder

Capitalism is a system based explicitly on the exploitation of the many by the few. Throughout its few short centuries of existence, it has extended massive inequality to every corner of the globe. The supposed “free market” has pushed that process to the extreme, especially between the exploited countries of the global “south” and the global “north”. The extreme poverty of the people living in countries which produce luxury goods such as tea, coffee and cocoa is both inescapable and well understood by western consumers. Consequently, there have been a number of schemes set up with the supposed goal of reducing the suffering of exploited peoples, principal among them is Fair Trade.

[Read more…]