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. Sean Plunket promoted Jordan Peterson 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.

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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.

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Why we protested Jordan Peterson

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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.

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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…]

Lessons from the nurses’ dispute

NZH0557882398Since our beginning twenty-one years ago, Socialist Review has been dedicated to trying to build workers’ power on these islands. That has meant taking a realistic look at the state of our forces. And, for most of our existence, a realistic look has been a sobering one: low strike levels, union membership shrinking, workers’ confidence decreasing. The job of our magazine, much of the time, has been to document a retreat and to make arguments for how we might rebuild.

 

That situation has changed. The mass strike of health workers last July – backed up by huge rallies and marches in Auckland and elsewhere – was the inspiration for a growing wave of strikes through 2018. Health workers took strike action for the first time in almost thirty years and, although they fell short of winning all their needed demands, they have made resolute industrial action thinkable again. And they have put the government on notice around crucial questions: pay, staffing, equal pay. Nurses have changed the reality of industrial relations and, most important of all, they have made strikes part of the popular imagination again. It is hard to believe that the primary teachers’ strikes in 2018 would have been as successful had the nurses not already set out along that road.

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1968 in Aotearoa

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A New Left made new media, such as the radical journal Red Spark from students at Victoria University.

It is fifty years since the world was shaken by events of 1968 such as: world-wide student demonstrations; a general strike in France; the Tet Offensive in Vietnam; liberalisation, and its crushing, in Czechoslovakia; the assassination of Martin Luther King and the iconic Black Power salutes by Tommy Smith and John Carlos at the Olympic Games. Against this global context New Zealand history can seem unassuming. But 1968 reverberated here, and the rebellions of that year spurred a decade of resistance: movements of newly-urbanised Māori; the Women’s Liberation Movement; anti-racist campaigning against apartheid; and, energising all of these, the biggest upsurge in strikes in the country’s history.

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Labour sells out workers’ rights

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Striking Manawatū workers show the spirit we need. Labour is watering down its commitments to workplace rights.

While the Ardern government has delivered tangible reforms in favour of ordinary people, a good part of the promised or announced reform programme has not been put into effect. It’s either delay – the subject area has been farmed out to a working group – or the reform entails legislation that has not yet gone through the parliamentary process.

 

Both theory and history tell us that reformist parties like the Labour Party cannot be trusted. As the reformists believe in working within the capitalist system, reforms are conditional on what the system “allows”. Incoming reformist administrations quickly lose their initial radicalism as the weight of bourgeois opinion, particularly of business people, bears down on every progressive proposal. The reformists begin to backslide on, or altogether abandon, electoral promises to the working class.

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Politics at Pride, not police!

5283ca016a3cf5731f8338cda26d37e3By Emma Mud and Josh Sims

Pride is political again! All wings of the LGBTQ community seem to be in agreement on that. Calls to put debates to one side and delegate decisions to a “board” or to common sense are gone, replaced with hui in which the issue of cops at our parade can be discussed in lively detail. Not all is perfect. Far from it; one Māori woman prominent in PAPA was spat on by a member of the pro-police contingent, a frightening reminder of just how close behind civil debate outright violence can be. But we should take heart! Whereas three years ago it was lamented that protests lead by NPIP (now PAPA) were making Pride political, now our relationship to the police is opened up as a topic for acknowledged debate. People have to pick sides. Spiralling out of these arguments come questions regarding the nature of both corporations and the military.

 

Capitalist power isn’t facing the guillotine yet, but court is in session. What then, is the prosecution saying?
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