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…]

Equal Pay for Women: the Long Struggle

SFWU member Kristine Bartlett - a campaigner for the whole class

SFWU member Kristine Bartlett – a campaigner for the whole class

By Dougal McNeill

Kristine Bartlett is a hero. Her case put the question of equal pay back at the centre of politics. Bartlett has been employed for twenty years doing socially vital work as a carer for the elderly, and yet she was paid an insulting $14.46 an hour. This, Bartlett and the SFWU argued, breached the Equal Pay Act (1972) — her pay was less than men would get for work of the same level of skill. She won. The court ruled for the first time that the Act applied to comparisons between predominantly women’s jobs and men’s. This win makes clear the point that true equal pay must involve pay equity. Because low-paid women are concentrated in female-dominated industries such as cleaning and care, it’s not enough to look at pay differences within single industries.

[Read more…]

The Anzac Spectacle: Gallipoli, Peter Jackson and the politics of forgetting

"The masters who make history their private property, under the protection of myth, possess first of all a private ownership of the mode of illusion" (Guy Debord)

“The masters who make history their private property, under the protection of myth, possess first of all a private ownership of the mode of illusion” (Guy Debord)

by Tim Leadbeater

This year New Zealand and Australia commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign. One hundred years ago thousands of Allied troops invaded what was then the Ottoman Empire on April 25th 1915. The ensuing eight month battle was a grim and bloody affair fought within a tiny section of the Mediterranean coastline. Casualties were heavy on both sides, with the number of Turkish and Arab deaths being by far the highest. It was the first major battle the newly christened ‘Anzac’ soldiers had been involved in, and the large number of deaths had a profound impact upon the people of New Zealand and Australia. The following years of battle took an even heavier toll, but this first shock assumed a sort of mythic status, and now the date of April 25th is the focus of WW1 commemoration in New Zealand and Australia.

[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…]

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…]

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