Wednesday, November 30, 2011
"Old people will die alone"-
Local Unite organiser Joe Carolan- "Young workers will never have a house"-
Tory tells the people- "Sit down and be quiet"
Bureaucrat Graham goes to the Markets- PPP behind social cleansing
Evil Tory is a "Change manager"- if you want jobs and houses, you need to upskill
Evil Tory Bureaucrat Part Two
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
In 2001, Tech released his debut album “Revolutionary Vol. 1” which was completely self-funded by his rap battle triumphs. In 2002 The Source magazine featured him in their “Unsigned Hype” column. The following year, he released “Revolutionary Vol. 2” and became the only unsigned rapper to feature in The Source’s “Hip Hop Quotable” column for his song “Industrial Revolution”. In 2008 Tech paired up with DJ Green Lantern to release “The 3rd World” – Urb magazine gave it 4 out of 5 stars and XXL magazine termed it ”Pure, unadulterated rebel music”.
Over his career, Technique has worked with the likes of Mos Def, Chuck D & Public Enemy, KRS-One, Brother Ali, Ill Bill, and more recently featured on the title track of Pharoahe Monch’s latest album.
Released as a free download, Techniques latest project, “The Martyr” boasts a stellar line-up of collaborations which includes Dead Prez, Styles P, Vinnie Paz, Joell Ortiz, Mela Machinko and Professor Cornell West, with production credits byTech himself, DJ Green Lantern, Southpaw and the late J Dilla.
A cross between Che Guevara, Chuck D and Fela Kuti, his lyrics focus on controversial issues in global politics. The views expressed are predominantly commentary on issues such as class struggle, poverty, religion, government and institutional racism. He has donated his time and influence to many causes, including building an orphanage in Afghanistan, and more recently has been a vocal part in the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Joining Immortal Technique on his Australian/NZ tour are his partners-in-rhyme, Akir and Poison Pen. Tech’s label mate, Akir (acronym for Always Keep it Real) is a producer and songwriter known for his complex lyrics and social-political content. The Brooklyn born and raised, son of a preacher man, Poison Pen is one of the founding members of the rap indie click Stronghold, alongside Breez Evaflowin’, C Rayz Walz and Immortal Technique.
The (R)evolution of Immortal Technique (Official Trailer)
www.viperrecords.com :: www.twitter.com/immortaltech
But below the surface appearance of the next Parliament, with its tiny majority for National-Act-United Future and Maori Party are some interesting trends. These are the numbers behind the numbers that activists should understand.
The numbers behind the numbers
"A million eligible New Zealanders did not bother to vote in Saturday's election, producing the lowest turnout in percentage terms in 120 years. Turnout dropped by just over 90,000, from 79.5 per cent of those on the rolls in 2008 to 73.8 per cent." This must be influenced by the fact that 100,000 New Zealanders have left for Australia in the last three years as well as by increased depoliticisation.
If special votes fall on the same lines as the votes did on election night there will be an 84,000 vote swing against National, Act, Maori and United Future parties. Government parties lost 7% of their votes 2008-2011, although a 0.6% swing to centre right parties overall. A modest swing against the Government and a swing against the centre left.
Voter turnout went up in all South Auckland Labour held seats. e.g. Mangere up 2406 voters. The increased voter turnout went to Labour. The $15hr message and No Asset Sales did turnout the working class (Pacific/Pakeha/Asian) vote for Labour. This increased left vote in South Auckland will only go up again in 2014 as youth rates and energy privatisation kicks in. Labour held up its party vote better in areas where it has an electoral machine (capacity to doorknock, phonebank, process information and ferry the vote on election day). However the Labour vote has been decimated by emigration to Australia and the Christchurch earthquake. centre-left strongholds all saw huge drops in voter turnout: Wellington Central -4365, Mt Roskill -2021, Hutt South -897, Christchurch East -6390, Dunedin North -3080.
Green Party eroded both Labour and National support in the middle class and tipped over 10%. This is clear from the affluent, liberal suburb of North Shore, where support for National/Act and Labour is down and the Greens will be up 1000+ votes (after specials come in). Greens also continue to do well in the inner-city, suburban seats where they are beginning to look likely to overtaking the Labour vote.
Much more tactical voting on the right and the left in electorate seats sees Epsom retained by Banks, Ohairu by Dunne, Labour retake West Coast and cut into National's majorities in Auckland Central and Waitakere.
The Conservative Party is a dead duck at the moment. The Christian right, focused in the bible belt of Rodney, is not yet strong enough to be a national electoral force even with the war-chest of Colin Craig. It may yet merge with Act. Act has essentially been wiped out and already Banks is floating the idea of rebranding Act and merging it with the Conservatives.
NZ First voters were its traditional Grey Power support base as well as probably a section of Labour voters who thought if NZ First could hurdle the 5% buffer, Key would lose his majority. This seems to be confirmed by the surge in the polls that NZ First rode on the backs of the Nats dipping. The mobilisation of the elderly is interesting. They could prove a political roadblock to attacks on the welfare state. The rapid growth of Grey Power in the early 1990s came as they organised protests against hospital closures, attacks on superannuation and privatisations.
Voter turnout huge drop in Maori seats 2008-2011: 3034 in Te Tai Tokerau, 3157 in Waiariki, 3471 in Waikato, 3647 in Ikaroa Rawhiti, 3934 in Te Tai Haurauru, 4520 in Tamaki Makaurau, 5264 in Te Tai Tonga. The stronger the Mana candidate, the higher Maori voter turnout in general. Mana came from nowhere to come second in two Maori electorates. Sykes put in the best performance and will likely trounce Flavell in 2014.
Mana's party vote outside the Maori roll was tiny. However its strongest showing outside the modest South Auckland vote it received was amongst radical students and intellectuals, Dunedin North 150, Auckland Central 184, Wellington Central 175. 154 in lefty liberal Mt Albert, home of Unite Union's HQ and encompassing Western Springs and Kingsland. It did not get more than a tiny few of the working class vote. Mana failed to create an identity that broke out of the Maori world. This must change before Mana will broaden its appeal.
It is clear that the declining level of struggle in Maoridom has adversely affected the Mana vote. Mana did well in Waiariki and Tamaki Makaurau, both places engaged in struggle with the Government in the last three years. Waiariki against the terror charges laid against Tuhoe and Tamaki Makaurau for Maori seats on the Supercity. The highpoint of Maori struggle was the 2004 movement against the FS&SB Act and as this struggle has gone into decline there has been a corresponding drop in political militancy and activism amongst Maori.
This drop could not be reversed in the six months Mana had between the Te Tai Tokerau by-election and the general election. It can be reversed in the next three years. A radicalisation of Maori against deep sea oil drilling, mining, climate change and for the return of stolen land could take place and mass struggles could give well to significant gains for working class Maori and Pakeha.
Let’s look at five good parts and five bad parts of the Mana campaign.
1. No central party campaign co-ordination. Branches like Auckland central fell apart. Candidate selection took too long. No central media message and volunteers and activists were not integrated well into a larger campaign and message. Campaigning was often focused around high-profile candidates and not around the party vote. For example in the South and West Auckland. This is counter-intuitive under MMP.
2. No vote machine in electorates. Labour have a sophisticated apparatus for collecting and gathering votes based on door knocking, phone canvassing and getting identified supporters to the polls. We need a similar machine if we seek to displace them in working class areas.
3. Too much Maori branding in general seats cost votes as people saw us as another Maori party. Tino rangatiratanga billboards, te reo leaflets are not necessary for people to know we believe in tino rangatiratanga. We needed branding that cut across the whole class.
4. Little relationship to local issues. In contrast with the Greens which took their rivers message around the country, Mana often failed to gain traction in urban areas as promoted policy existed at an abstract level from peoples lives, i.e. the financial transactions tax.
5. Not enough candidates. Candidates in every area could have significantly lifted the profile of our campaign. These should be chosen two years in advance so they can begin the process of weaving together local organisation and profile.
1. Gave left wing ideas a national hearing on billboards and in the media.
2. Shows significant appetite in Maoridom for a radical party.
3. Annette Sykes. She will win in 2014 easily.
4. Hone’s win. The North voted for revolution.
5. 1% isn’t nothing. It takes a while to build a party. 1% is decent, it’s a start that we have to use to get up to 3% by 2014.
For those who do not believe that 1% is a viable base to work from, they should consider the experience of the left in Ireland and in particular of SWP activist Richard Boyd Barrett who is now a sitting MP for the United Left Alliance in the Irish Parliament. Minto got a lowly 1.7% of the vote on his first run in Manukau East but it is now clear that Labour will deselect the invisible man before 2014. This is a good win for Minto and Mana but we must continue to deepen roots into the community.
2012-2013 - A campaign for Auckland
In Auckland our struggle will be to reach out to the thousands of Pasifika, Pakeha and Asian workers who liked our message but weren’t ready to break with Labour. Mana turned the language of socialism into the Tax the rich, Feed the kids and Abolish GST. We talked about a higher minimum wage, building more state houses and getting the parasites of poverty out of the hood.
But the collapse of strong Maori protest movements, militant trade unionism, beneficiary action or other forms of community organising did not stop at the ballot box. Only 1% voted for the Mana revolution and that tells us that only 1% are ready for revolution. We have to expand our influence and the numbers of people committed to the struggle for socialism here in Auckland. The only way we can do that is by involving people in local struggles that they can win and from there drawing out the connection with general ideas. In the English city of Liverpool in the 1980s as one of the original gangsters of neo-liberalism Margaret Thatcher commenced the first round of attacks on the post-war welfare consensus, a left wing city council kept the flame of socialism alive in their city.
Tony Mulhearn, one of the '47' Liverpool councillors from 1983 to 1987 described how they defied Thatcher 20 years ago.
Then we campaigned to meet these aspirations. We translated socialism into the language of jobs, housing, and social services. We were elected in 1983, increased our majority in 1984 on these policies and implemented them.
We started more apprentices in our four years than had been started in the previous 40 years. We built more houses than all other councils in our time in office.”
With the Auckland Council under a centre-left administration we have a chance to push for the council to build council houses, fund more public transport works like the inner city loop through a tax on corporations and implement the breakfasts in schools policy.
A struggle here in Auckland around those three priorities will strengthen the Mana Movement politically and lead into standing a slate of candidates at the local level of city politics- community boards and endorsing councillors in the 2013 elections. Struggles at a local level over the next few years will feed into a larger campaign for Mana in 2014.
2014 Displacing the Maori Party, Making wider gains Electorally
The opportunity in 2014 will be to make gains electorally for Mana. This will involve standing strong candidates in the three Maori electorates where sitting MPs are stepping down. Tariana Turia, Parekura Horomia, Pita Sharples are all gone burgers. Mana will be in a good position to challenge and win these seats and we should support these challenges. Annette Sykes will also be well positioned to win Waiariki and thus destroy the Maori Party as a political force.
The campaign for these seats will have to begin early next year and not let up until 2014. It will mean detailed, well organised campaigning in the Maori seats.
Socialist Aotearoa will also seek to build a new movement in the unions through Mana Kaimahi Network by encouraging union activists who support Mana’s war on poverty to up the ante in their workplaces, calling for a wave of strikes in the new year for $15hr and a 5% wage increase.
In the community we need to support the struggles around state housing especially in GI. When land occupations break out we need to be there to support them.
We also need to focus on building out the strength of the revolutionary organisation. In a revolutionary organisation there are no rank’n’file members. Everyone should be a leader. We need to broaden our reach into the community, workplaces and universities. More good quality journalism, analysis and reviews going onto the blog makes it easier to get out Anti-Capitalist's quicker. We can use the Anti-Capitalist to link up the struggles, radicalise thousands and educate new activists who will come into the movement.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Wages are very important. Almost three-quarters (74 percent) of average household income in 2011 was from wages and salaries. Wages and salaries are the main way the great majority of New Zealanders get to share the income this country generates. Unfair wages and salaries contribute to the highly unfair levels of income inequality that have grown in this country over the last two to three decades. We have far too many children living in poverty – a quarter of them or 270,000 by one measure – and two in five are from households where at least one adult is in full-time employment
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Army officer greeted by crowds. He leads the chants "down with the Scaf"Nearly a year into our glorious revolution, the regime of oppression and corruption led by the SCAF has not ceased to impose itself by force, attempting to erase traces of the revolution and to prevent the impoverished, toiling masses from reaping the fruits of their great struggle.
The regime of repression that is protected by the military had imagined that the revolution was buried and ended, and that the people that rose up last January and destroyed the massive machines of oppression would today submit in the face of tear gas canisters, cartridges and live ammunition.
The multitude now facing death in the name of rescuing the revolution, in confronting remnants of the criminal regime shall triumph as they have triumphed before. And the tools of oppression that were smashed on 28th January will be destroyed anew at the will of the revolutionaries.
The regime has proven beyond a doubt that it is but a deformed continuation of Mubarak's obsolete rule. Our reclamation of those companies stolen by privatizationunder Mubarak's rule is being resisted by the regime today. Those privileges endowed by Mubarak on the elite class of investors continue to be protected by the military regime. The minimum wage that workers called for in the name of a dignified life is being circumvented by Mubarak’s loyalists.
The cold-blooded murder of revolutionaries at the hands of Mubarak's butchers continues with patent debauchery at the hands of the military rulers. Workers stepped forward last February to rescue the revolution, as labor strikes spread to all corners of Egypt to support the uprising, setting Cairo, Mahalla, Suez and Alexandria ablaze; workers in all of Egypt's governorates and its factories and institutions both public and private committed to the struggle.
The dictator was forced to step down when workers’ strikes paralyzed the joints of the regime and threatened its collapse, the regime chose to rescue itself by sacrificing its head. Today the revolution will not be cheated once again and will not be pacified with sedatives. The working class that delivered the revolution to victory in February will not be late to rescue the heroes of the revolution that today hold their ground steadfastly in the face of the regime of corruption and repression.
The companies occupied in January workers will return to occupy soon again and the workers that made their way to the squares of Tahrir, el-Shoun and el-Arba' in will go there once more; the working class will reawaken with their heroic struggle to erase — at the side of the revolutionaries — the remnants of Mubarak'sregime and build a revolutionary path on the basis of justice and freedom.
The Revolutionary Socialists, Egypt
21 November 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Being here at Kia Maia for MANA’s State of the Nation address recalls a relationship forged 75 years ago between Ratana and Labour, when Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana and Michael Joseph Savage charted a path to give succour to te pani me te rawakore – the poor and the dispossessed.
Back then NZ was coming out of the Great Depression – times were tough, Maori and the poor had suffered hugely, and the state responded with job creation schemes, state housing programmes, a quality education system and solid healthcare programmes built by Savage, and endorsed by Ratana.
And underpinning everything was a call to honour the Treaty of Waitangi to bring equality between Maori and Pakeha.
That Ratana / Labour alliance continued right up until the 1980’s when Labour launched an asset sales programme which led to massive employment, gave tax breaks to the rich and increased taxation on the poor with the introduction of GST.
Labour’s economic policy of the time was called Rogernomics. Its leader was Roger Douglas and one of its greatest cheerleaders was Phil Goff.
Ever since then Maori have struggled, the Ratana / Labour alliance has fallen away and today Labour holds only 2 of seven Maori seats.
National’s philosophy of helping the rich get richer at the expense of the poor, and of using blatant racism to promote its legislative agenda, has had an even greater impact on our society.
Rob Muldoon was notorious for a racist arrogance which gave birth to land occupations at Bastion Point and Raglan from where MANA drew two of its candidates, Kereama Pene and Angeline Greensill, and the Springbok Tour protests led by MANA’s John Minto.
Muldoon was followed by Jim Bolger under whom the nation was burdened with the “Mother of all Budgets”, a vicious attack on the foundations of the welfare state that led to the privatisation of our health system, the commercialisation of our housing sector, and the reneging on promises in superannuation and education.
Bolger’s term saw MANA’s Waitakere candidate Sue Bradford arrested on numerous occasions for fighting for the rights of beneficiaries, and MANA’s Waiariki candidate Annette Sykes accused of sedition for daring to challenge the state.
And that’s why I am proud to be part of MANA’s leadership team … because I stand alongside people who are heroes in the struggle for Maori rights, for human rights and for the rights of Pacifica, of workers, beneficiaries and the poor; I share the stage with people who have stood against both National and Labour governments’ attacks on the marginalised and the defenseless.
And if ever the country needed a movement to redress the devastation caused by 25 years of free-market economics under both Labour and the current right-wing government of National, ACT and the Maori Party, then now is the time and MANA is the team.
The country is crying out for a new direction, a direction away from the broken belief that the market will provide, and that capitalism will lift us from the quagmire of destitution, and the facts are simple – 25 years of prancing down the capitalist road has given us staggering levels of unemployment, third world diseases in communities of the poor, huge increases in the price of food, electricity and petrol, an ever more costly health system, and an education system designed to keep the poor from ever achieving success.
AROHA AND AUSTRALIA
One option for many Maori and the poor is to skip the ditch to Australia – 100,000 Kiwis have given up on NZ and gone to Oz in the last 3 years alone in search of a decent days wage for a decent days work.
And nothing quite reflects this trend like the story of Norman Kirk and a young Maori boy walking hand in hand at Waitangi in 1973, an image that remains imbedded in the minds of those old enough to remember, and then seeing John Key trying to recapture that aura by strolling through Waitangi with Aroha Ireland in 2008, after first meeting her at an election photo opportunity at McGehan Close, a poor neighbourhood in Mt Albert.
Aroha’s story is a typical one – not long after the photo shoot she was kicked out of school, spent time in CYFS care, and left the country because New Zealand offered her nothing and because more opportunities existed for her in Australia – a scenario too many of our whanau have become accustomed to.
The root cause of this exodus is the failure of successive governments to deal with the issue of poverty and the growing gap between the rich and the poor, particularly ironic given that the English came here to escape the pain of poverty and sent their convicts to Australia … and now we’re running away to Australia and those who stay are increasingly more likely to wind up in the new jails being built every year to house the poor and the oppressed.
THE STATE OF THE NATION
And that is the primary issue that defines the State of the Nation today – poverty – which is at record levels right now – at exactly the same time that the rich are experiencing record levels of wealth; when the top 1% has more wealth than the bottom 50%; where the gap between the rich and the poor is worse than in most developed countries; where poverty has become the norm for much of the country; and where we have 270,000 children going hungry every day, suffering from bad health, and picking up diseases that we thought only existed in the third world.
Let’s just take a moment to think about that statistic – 270,000 kids living in poverty, right here in Aotearoa. How many of you thought you would ever hear those words spoken about how NZ treats its children? What has gone wrong with this country’s consciousness, with our sense of right and wrong, with the moral obligation that says we will ensure that future generations are provided with better opportunities than we had?
I am sure that many people tuned into TV3’s documentary “Inside Child Poverty” last night, and I congratulate the producers of the show for forcing us to confront our ugly reality; I thank the Child Action Poverty Group for their efforts in bringing this reality into our living rooms; I feel for young Mathias who has to go to hospital every few months for an illness that could have been prevented; I struggle to accept that in this land of milk and honey one in every five kids lives in poverty; and I find it hard to believe that in a land of such wealth, NZ has the third worst child health statistics in the OECD after Mexico and Turkey.
But the truth is that successive governments since the mid-80s have driven us down the path of selfishness, where those in power have been preoccupied with chasing the dollar and ignoring the pain.
And this election campaign itself has been highlighted by a refusal to accept the reality of child poverty in our homeland, promises of an economic turnaround that nobody believes, and a media show about a meaningless cup of tea in Epsom; when our focus and attention should be on our countries inability to deal with the fact that 270,000 of our children are going without proper food every day.
MANA doesn’t have all the answers – not by a long shot – but we are committed to putting forward policies that help the poor, putting an end to policies that enrich the wealthy, and if necessary mobilising the people to fight for an end to poverty in Aotearoa.
We need to stop tinkering around the edges, and we need wholesale and radical change or we will continue to lose generations of talented NZers to Australia and beyond.
We need to look to progressive countries like Sweden for models, we need to work with the Child Poverty Action Group to create solutions and we need to look to our history for answers to our problems, because the user pays model has failed us miserably and those who have suffered most have been the children of the poor.
CROSS PARTY ACTION
MANA takes the view that the most important issue of this election is poverty, and in particular child poverty. The poor need help – not excuses, not belated promises, but action – now – and we will work with anyone to address this issue.
And we don’t care who claims they’ve said it first, we don’t care who says they’ve got the best policies and we don’t care who wants to be the lead speaker – this goes deeper than political posturing and the hope of securing a few votes here and there.
We need to park our politics at the door, commit to listening to the experts like CPAG, and we need to agree upon a course of action that delivers immediate and positive change for the children of the poor.
We need a formal commitment to a plan to eradicate poverty and we need to work together on legislative change regardless of who the government might be.
We need to commit to doing something now – not next month, not next year – but now, before poverty becomes normalised in our lives.
The world is in deep trouble with the European economy on the edge and America struggling to repay its debts, and unless the world switches on to a financial transaction tax to lessen the pressure on the poor, we are going to be staring a full-blown global recession in the face where poverty will become a way of life for even more of our people.
And having allowed ourselves to be locked into the global economy without safeguards, we need to accept that when economies start going down the toilet, nobody is going to care about our exports or about our economy or about our people – it will be literally every man for himself.
That’s why we need to act now, and we need to act together to push through the policies that will turn our economy around to cater for those in need, before those in need join their rebellious comrades in wreaking havoc around the world right now.
Failure to act is simply not an option. We call on all those who profess a love for our country to join with us in a war on poverty before it’s too late.
MANA’S PLAN TO ERADICATE POVERTY
But it’s one thing to identify the problem; it’s another to offer solutions. MANA’s policies are geared towards eradicating poverty, and here is our plan to improve the nation.
Cost of living
1 Abolish GST to ease the financial pressure on those on low incomes
2 Get rid of pokies, loan sharks, and liquor outlets in poor communities
3 A free high quality education system because that is the best investment a country can make in it’s future
4 Free meals for children at schools because every child deserves the opportunity to learn and to start the day with a decent meal regardless of their circumstances
5 Provide jobs for everyone on the unemployment register – in schools, marae, hospitals, old peoples homes, kaumatua and kuia flats and community facilities – because a working family is a better family
6 Increase the minimum wage to $15 to put more money into the hands of workers and more money back into the economy
7 Make the first $27,000 tax-free to give people more money for the basics in life such as food, power, petrol and rent
8 Commit to building 20,000 new state houses to reduce overcrowding and health problems, and to provide the basis for thousands of apprenticeships and jobs in all of the building trades
9 Set state rentals at 25% of a family’s income
10 Free healthcare for all because paying to keep a nation healthy is cheaper than paying to fix a population suffering the many illnesses of poverty
There are other ideas but this package would immediately reduce the level of poverty by increasing incomes, reducing prices, and providing people with jobs and homes.
PAYING THE BILL
Our ideas aren’t rocket science, and we can pay for them with a simple savings and tax plan – saving money by giving no more tax cuts to the rich, no more tax breaks for big business, no more bailouts for failed finance companies, cancelling the construction of new prisons, no more subsidies for private schools, and no more public monies on millionaire yacht races – and a simple taxation plan based on the Hone Heke Tax, a real Capital Gains Tax, an Inheritance Tax, and a Progressive Income Tax.
I began this address by talking about the alliance between Labour and Ratana and the bond they formed to serve their people. Today, we face an almost identical set of circumstances. We are in a financial storm that threatens to get worse before it will get better. We have an ever-growing population of poor people in desperate need of employment, housing, education and health.
Ratana and Savage’s foresight saw a new dawn in the politics of this country – the creation of the welfare state and a set of priorities that ensured that those less fortunate did not go without; a revolution that protected those on the very edges of society.
Today we need another revolution – one where people give a damn about the 270,000 kids who aren’t getting enough to eat every day; where society commits to housing those living in inadequate and overcrowded housing; where we find the money to put everyone into work; and where we pass legislation to eradicate poverty.
We need to turn our priorities on their head, and reorder our world to put our people before profit and our children before everything.
This Saturday voters will have an opportunity to back a party who have identified eradication of poverty as a primary goal, of voting for a party that chooses to walk away from the same-old way of doing politics, of choosing a party of activist leaders with the best record of all candidates in stepping up to the plate in defence of the poor and the defenceless, and of supporting a party like we haven’t seen since the Labour Party of the 1930’s.
MANA has no other agenda except the restoration of Maori rights, Pacifca rights, human dignity and reaffirmation of the rights of the workers and the poor.
We wish all candidates well over the next few days, but in particular we wish a new world for te pani me te rawakore, where everyone’s mokopuna can grow up in a world that is a far better one than we live in today.
Past week has been challenging and invigorating for the Occupy Wall Street movement. On Tuesday morning protesters were evicted from Zuccotti Park, on Thursday over 30,000 people marched over the Brooklyn Bridge. From New York mayor Mike Bloomberg’s attempted death blow, to a resounding “hell no!” This Sunday I was outside Bloomberg’s residence on the Upper East Manhattan (no, not where the poor live) taking photos of demonstrators on one side beating their drums, and police on the other side holding their batons. In between I noticed an older women holding a sign that read: “We didn’t start the class war”
Indeed, it is only “class war” when the majority from the bottom starts complaining, but when the tiny minority (aka 1%) plunders with impunity, it is just free market capitalism. In the country where people are still traumatized by McCarthyism and the Red Scare, it is very easy to discredit anyone seeking social justice by accusing them of being communist. After all, there are many enemies out there, somewhere, constantly scheming against our freedom. Recently the Republican Party presidential nominee Herman Cain said OWS are trying to destroy America! With that kind of rhetoric and corporate media’s representation of OWS, no wonder police have been given green light to shut it down.
The news of arrests and eviction echoed around the US, but many knew it was just a matter of time before the troops were sent in. It was a calculated attempt to disrupt the movement that has been growing in popularity ever since its inception.
Timing and execution of the New York raid was carefully planed and coordinated.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, nonchalantly told BBC in an interview prior to the raid that she was on a conference call with mayors of 18 US cities with Occupy demonstrations. I bet they were not discussing Thanksgiving plans. We all remember scenes from Oakland clashes where one of the protestors was shot by a police projectile. New York, where it all started, was left for the grand finale.
Hours after the arrests and eviction, New Yorkers woke up to the internet SOS inviting them to descend on Canal St in downtown Manhattan. Once people gathered, emergency general assembly was held, and the consensus was reached to march back to Zuccotti Park. “Lets go home!” some of the marchers screamed.
When the march reached Zuccotti it was already occupied - this time by the police and security from Brookfield Properties, the company that owns the park. I spoke with one of the demonstrators who wondered about their demands. Will they put up tents and hold a general assembly? Other demonstrators were carrying copies of a signed court order, stating that the people will be allowed back into the park. Marching around the park with the legal piece of paper in the air, demonstrators shouted to the police that they are breaking the law. “You don’t have to follow your orders,” someone screamed.
No one from the police agreed to be interviewed.
If anything, Bloomberg has done OWS a favour. With winter galloping in and conditions at Zuccotti becoming increasingly difficult, Bloomberg has forced the protesters into other spaces, thus spreading the infection. And has also saved OWS from choosing a possibly humiliating retreat from the park due to harsh winter conditions. This way, instead of capitulation, they have been given resolve to fight a forced eviction while in strategic dispersal.
On Thursday the 17th, a Day of Action was planned to mark a two-month anniversary of Occupy Wall St and respond to the recent repression of the movement. By 7am already over a thousand people gathered. I remember it being very cold, and very difficult videoing with a takeaway coffee, lit cigarette, photo camera hanging off my neck and an umbrella hanging off my arm. I clearly didn’t look like one of the organisers, so I was confused when an older man asked me in which direction will the march proceed. I didn’t know, so I just replied that plan was to shut down Wall St and disrupt the opening of the stock exchange.
OWS activists upset over the eviction and corporate media’s attacks on them, vowed to take it to the man. “Enough of this economy that exploits and divides us – It’s time we put an end to Wall Street’s reign of terror” said an announcement on OWS web site. OWS hoped to confront Wall Street with stories of people who have suffered most, who have been on the frontlines of economic injustice. Taking their stories to the powerful, who are “too big to fail”, who have caused the crises that has left millions in dire circumstances. To send a message to traders that people are watching, that people are gathering outside their doors.
Once the march began, demonstrators were constantly reminded to stay on the footpath, and any attempts to get onto the streets were dealt with quickly by the NYPD. In order to disrupt the traffic on Wall Street and confront those working at the stock exchange, demonstrators split into different groups and proceeded to occupy different intersections. I spent some time at one of the intersections with about 60 or so activists, and just as many (if not more) police officers. Circle was formed and activists started sharing their stories of why they are here. Occasionally someone on the way to the bank would shout, “get a job!” to which someone would reply, “I have a job, I’m a teacher.” I listened to some stories, watched some angry striped suits push their way through, and decided to move on.
Rubbing my shoulder I wondered what laws did I break. Why was I thrown against the building? Oh that’s right, I was taking a video! Thursday’s police actions were particularly disproportional and unnecessary. It was clear that they wont allow the disruption of Wall Street getting on with its business. It didn’t matter why were the demonstrators there, that they were carrying American flags, and were repeating, “this is a peaceful protest!” I think “get out of here” quote encapsulates the day.
With the police above me pushing everyone away from arresting officers, one of the demonstrators pulled me out of their way. I don’t recommend being on the ground under the advancing police. Well, just don’t recommend being on the ground under anybody’s feet.
At that stage I was bit upset, just a tiny bit, so all sort of crazy thoughts raced in my head. I pictured people siting in their homes watching the events in Egypt and Syria and shaking their heads in disapproval. Thinking how superior we are in the West to have freedom and democracy. Watching the president speak against the violent repression of peaceful protests and reminding their regimes about freedom of expression and rights to protest.
What is the difference here? Seriously, take the level of violence (in the Middle East police and the army are using real bullets, here rubber bullets, batons and pepper spray) and historical context aside, what is the difference? So you have the freedom to purchase any type of short skirt or flat screen TV you want, you have the freedom to insult the president or use profanities in art, but if you question the system, question the legitimacy of the ruling elite, you will be dealt with. If you video the police, you will be dealt with. If you call for a strike, you will be dealt with. If the authority has no arguments left and the popularity of the protest grows, they will resort to brutal force. Which is why in recent weeks the police was ordered to break up occupations in most US cities.
Regardless of what criticism one might have of the OWS movement, and there are many, the fact remains that the movement was born out of desperation. People want accountability and a justice system that holds corrupt bankers, Wall Street speculators and hedge fund managers responsible for the mess they created. They’re asking for accessible healthcare, affordable education, and not massive tax breaks for gigantic corporations and endless money poured into failed wars. Can I hear an “Amen”!
By the evening everyone regrouped and marched on to Foley Square. Along the way I was surprised to see numerous people hanging signs of support out of their windows, and pedestrians clapping at the procession. I was surprised because the corporate media is doing a real good job discrediting the movement, and unnecessarily large police presence and numerous arrests are giving them endless material. Police over-reactions are implying that the protesters are dangerous, and that all the disruptions and police cordons are protestors fault. The fact that no private property was damaged since the beginning of the Occupy movement, and no one has ever attacked a police officer is irrelevant. We can’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.
“Obama is a liar!” read a sign held by a thirty-something man wearing a blue shirt and a red tie. Further down the road, “Bloomberg beware, Zuccotti is everywhere!” said the poster in the window of NYU New School that was now “occupied”. As the procession moved pass the NYU’s New School students behind the windows raised fists and held up “Occupied” posters.
Once I arrived to the Foley Square, thousands of people already gathered there. I wondered if all of them are trying to destroy America? Are all of them communists? I didn’t see anyone communist-looking to ask so I just joined the march. Plan was to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, which made me a little bit uncomfortable, since I was once already arrested on it. This time there were around 32,000 people marching, so it seemed foolish to try and arrest so many.
Once the procession reached the bridge everyone started shouting, cheering and pointing to my left. I could swear someone shouted, “bat-signal!” Tired, wet and with pain in my back, I was ready for everything, even seeing Batman himself. I turned around and saw a huge “99%”projected on a Verizon building to the left of the bridge. “Now that’s a bat signal!” someone commented. “Don’t be afraid” it read, then it changed to “We are unstoppable, another world is possible,” Crowd exploded in a frenzy of excitement. Reading the projected words I cursed my camera for running out of batteries, and thought of New Zealand.
While the masses demonstrate in this Mecca of capitalism against deregulation, calling for the restructuring of American economy, John Key talks about selling off state assets and cutting public spending. At the time when public services are already struggling and thousands of jobs have been lost, one would expect the government to be more cautious, and not follow the ideologies that might fail as they have in other countries. Who knows, maybe John Key knows better than Professor Farrar, John Stiglitz, Jeffry Sachs and numerous other academics around the world, after all they could secretly be communist!
Last projection I remember seeing on the Verizon building read “Occupy Earth.”
As somebody said, this is a marathon, not a hundred meter race. Protesters’ tents are out of Zuccotti, but the movement isn’t dead, on the contrary. Not here, not in New Zealand, not in Egypt. Today OWS protested outside the Egyptian Consulate in solidarity with Egyptians fighting the military interim government. The similar actions are planed in San Francisco and other towns. I remember a sign held on Canal St last Wednesday, “You cannot evict an idea whose time has come”.
-Emir Hodzic, an Aucklander participating in OWS. All photos by Emir.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
The police search warrants and threat of raids on media organisation that do not have copies of the tape just out from an election brought condemnation from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 131 countries.
International Day to End Impunity is a call to action to demand justice for those who have been killed for exercising their right to freedom of expression and shed light on the issue of impunity.Whether or not the taping was intentional or not, legal or illegal, Key's complaint and the police search warrants put the freedom of the newsroom and the safety of journalists under fire. If agents of the state do raid the newsrooms of this country then the international journalist community can add New Zealand to the long list of countries where the powerful intimidate the media with impunity.
Every day around the world journalists, musicians, artists, politicians, and free expression advocates are being silenced, often with no investigation or consequences to their persecutors.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
160 families are facing eviction from their homes in Glen Innes, as the working class face social cleansing to enable private property developers build luxury villas where state houses once stood. It's the age old battle of poor people on rich land- and the greed of property developers and yuppie gentrifiers who want beautiful views of the Bay comes before the needs of poor Maori, Pasifika and Pakeha families.
The Mana Movement sings the old Civil Rights song- "We shall not be Moved". At a time of a massive housing crisis, where many are homeless and jobless, and workers on pverty wages spend over half of their income on rack rents, its time for us to build a massive new 20,000 State Houses over the next two years. This will create jobs, reduce rents and provide shelter for all our people- all of which are basic human rights.
When it comes to the point of eviction, Mana argues for direct action. Houses will be occupied and defended, as Auckland's rent rebel Len Parker did a decade ago with the State Housing Action Collective. G.I. will be occupied, Bastion Point style, and no one will be left without. Housing is a right, not a privilege.
After 20 years missing in action the local MP for Manukau East failed to appear last night at the first candidate forum in the electorate. When it was announced that Ross Robertson was a “no show” (non appearance and no apology received by the organizers) members of the 60 strong audience held up signs (see pic below) asking where their MP has been for 20 years.
Prior to the meeting Mana Party candidate John Minto said publicly he would call for the MP to resign at the forum. “Ross Robertson is an epic fail as an MP” said John Minto “and now doesn’t have the courage to show his face. Sitting MPs normally stand on their record but Ross has no record to stand on."“It’s an outrage that the MP for one of the lowest income electorates in the country can spend 20 years in parliament, draw a huge salary and yet remain invisible on any of the issues facing the struggling families he is supposed to represent.
“I searched the internet for ANY sign this MP has spoken out on ANY issue facing the predominantly Maori and Pacific Island electorate in ANY of the past 20 years but drew a complete blank.“It’s hard to believe the Labour Party has supported this gutless, useless MP for so long.”
Socialist Aotearoa says- John Minto takes on the Invisible Man, the Labour MP for one of the poorest areas of New Zealand, Ross Robertson. The Invisible Man has no record of fighting for anything when you google him, and he doesn't bother to turn up for local husting meetings in working class Otara. The people of Manakau East need a fighter, not a tea drinking yes man.
Vote for Minto, vote for Mana, the Movement of the People.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
Socialist Aotearoa activists joined with the Otara branch of the Mana Movement early Saturday morning, blitzing the market with thousands of new stickers. Whilst "Feed the Kids" and "Abolish GST" were massive hits, the surprise favourite of the day was the bolshie "Tax the Rich" sticker. Working people, the poor and Maori are sick of being ground down by the selfish greed of the 1%, and in a land of high prices, high taxes on the poor and low wages, many Otara shoopers went one further, asking why stop at just Taxing the Rich. :)
The Rich are the ones who have attacked our unions, lowered our wages, disrespected our Tangata Whenua and stolen the wealth we have created. They have had it all their way for many decades now, but internationally, their reign is coming to an end. Its good to see some working class pride and healthy disdain for the ruling class alive and well in South Auckland- SA and Mana activists will be working hard in the constitunecy to win as many votes as possible for John Minto and the Mana Movement in the last week of this campaign.
Tax the Rich.
Until they bleed. :)