Racism in New Zealand

by Romany Tasker-Poland

The rise of the far-right globally is a frightening development. In the U.S. and Brazil, far-right politicians are the heads of state. Far-right parties have swept to power in Eastern Europe and have gained footholds in Western Europe too, promoting a return to “traditional” family roles, attacks on sexual diversity, antisemitism and islamophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment and extreme nationalism. Violence against migrants is increasing the world over, from Trump’s border wall to the Australian refugee camps.

The hideous attack in Christchurch is one example of the influence of the global far-right reaching New Zealand. The terrorist responsible used the insidious meme-rhetoric of the online Alt Right—a movement whose ideas have been promoted around the world by a variety of public intellectuals with connections to the far-right. When some of these figures—Stefan Molyneux, Lauren Southern, Jordan Peterson—visited New Zealand, they were given excessive airtime, fawned over by right-wing pundits, and even had “free speech” coalitions formed to defend them.

New Zealand politicians have also promoted far-right talking points. Last year ACT party candidate Stephen Berry addressed a rally in Auckland opposing “Sharia Law.” Hamilton Councillor James Casson has labelled Arab refugees “scum.” And in the aftermath of the attack, the National Party shamefacedly removed a petition against the UN Migration Pact, the subject of racist conspiracies stoked by the far-right.

It is not surprising that far-right ideas and violent racism can flourish in New Zealand when so much of the mainstream political discourse validates it. During the 2017 election, NZ First and Labour participated in anti-immigrant scaremongering. Labour blamed the housing crisis on “foreign speculators” and the Greens argued for immigration caps. While National tried to pose as the pro-immigrant party, they had been introducing anti-immigrant policies for years. [Read more…]

Greater Spy Powers no Solution to Right-Wing Extremism

By Cory Anderson

Since the March 15 terror attacks, calls have slowly been increasing to grant New Zealand’s spy agencies greater powers and resources in the name of fighting right-wing extremism. A royal commission of inquiry has been established to probe intelligence failings and recommend future “improvements” and the National Party has gone on the offensive, suggesting the GCSB and SIS need more powers of mass surveillance. Socialists however, should be cautious about joining such calls. Intelligence agencies worldwide have done much to promote the very Islamophobia the far right feeds upon and rather than adding to their powers, we should be returning civil liberties that have been stolen from Muslims and ending racism everywhere it is found.

The violence right-wing extremists are just one element of a wider culture of Islamophobia, fueled and stoked by the capitalist elite. Politicians and the media have set the tone. ACT Party candidate Stephen Berry wrote in a 2013 post about the “Islamic poison spreading across Europe” and NewsTalk ZB’s Christchurch host wrote a 2017 column questioning “Does Islam have a place in public swimming pools.” Winston Peters is well known for his anti-immigration and Islamophobic tirades, delivering a speech in 2005 entitled “The end of tolerance,” which he still refuses to apologize for. After a brief pause following the Christchurch attacks politicians and media commentators have resumed business as usual, the Weekend Herald publishing a column by talkback host Leighton Smith connecting “Neo-Marxism” and supposed favoritism towards Islam with a global “war on Christianity”. [Read more…]

Socialism from Below

by Andy Raba

Mass protests in Algeria now show the power of ordinary people.

Following the financial crash of 2007-08 the world has seen an explosion of interest in socialism. There is a growing consciousness among millions of people that the capitalist system is unstable, inhumane and environmentally disastrous. As a result, for the first time in decades people are looking for a socialist alternative. In the UK, the leftward surge has been expressed in the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, a socialist politician with a background in activism, anti-war protest and class struggle. In the 2016 US elections, self-described socialist Bernie Sanders launched a serious challenge for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. In 2018, democratic socialist Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez beat the incumbent Democrat Congressman Joe Crowley in a New York district primary and went on to easily win the seat in Congress: a remarkable feat for a country with a history of anti-socialist persecution. In 2015, online dictionary Merriam-Webster reported that socialism was its most searched-for word; and new publications, such as Jacobin magazine, have helped a global revival of socialist ideas.

[Read more…]

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

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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?

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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…]

Socialists support trans rights

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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

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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…]