Thursday, May 31, 2012

Home Brew - The Avondale Dialectic

Home Brew's materialism: "Cut this fucking act dreaming about being rich. lady luck she can suck my realist dick."
If John Key's right-wing, authoritarian Government weren't in power its possible that Avondale hiphop outfit Home Brew could be writing whole albums about smoking weed and drinking booze on a Creative NZ junket that never ends. Rappers however do not write their rhymes as they please; they make it under circumstances not of their own chosing.

Home Brew's self-titled, debut, double album is political and personal in equal measures. In the 21 tracks listeners are treated to a description of the unity of opposites that Marx and Engels called dialectics; the world as, 'a complex of processes, in which the things apparently stable no less than their mind images in our heads, the concepts, go through an uninterrupted change of coming into being and passing away'. Grappling with dialectics forces us to see the world as a constantly morphing place where everything is slowly turning into something else - its opposite. Happiness is alienation. Wealth is poverty. Love is loss.

Home Brew's album is a lyrical descent into the depths of these contradictions.

The themes of thesis and anti-thesis, negation and the negation of negation, are structured into the album - 'One side, light. The other, dark.' This is the Avondale dialectic - a beer foaming, bud burning, dole day spending exploration of the beautiful and the ugly side of life in Auckland in particular and in John Key's 'brighter future' in general.

Alienation
The starting point of the light disk and the album are three songs about alienation - Dedicated to, Benefit, Alcoholic-  'This is for the shelia with the bung eye and too much pride to let her son see his mum cry. For the has beens that had dreams. The fucks ups and crack fiends. The drop outs and drag queens. For the last kid picked and the first kid picked on.' As Joseph Choonara writes, 'The theory of alienation is Karl Marx’s account of how capitalist society distorts human relationships – both between people and between themselves and the world around them'

Aufheben
Aufheben - to abolish, to transcend, to supersede. Aufheben of alienation is the next waypoint of the Home Brew album with two tunes about high times in the city - Yellow Snot Funk, Datura/White flowers. 'Are you going to live or what? You've only got one live it up. What you got drunk? Let's sniff it up. Who gives a fuck? Because every single shitty club in this shitty city's shut. So live it up. you may as well get liquored up.'

Contradiction
Contradiction of extreme wealth and capitalism alongside extreme poverty and misery. Of ideology and material reality. As Marx wrote to Engels, 'the contradictions of material life, from the existing conflict between the social productive forces and the relations of production'. In Everybody, 'See in my country the suicide rate as high as a junkie. it's funny because we are the ones who invented the Bungie'. In Last Day, 'It's hard to be a man and a sneaker fan holding kicks made in Vietnam...Sick of wearing crusty jeans with busted seams, so fuck my dreams...' Jarring juxtapositions haunt these two songs as Home Brew explores the contradictions inherent in actually existing, consumer capitalism - 'Is this reality? Or a parody. Apparently, I need some money. That's what I am told. So I'm selling my soul. Well I'm telling my olds I'm going to be somebody. But I probably won't.'

Unity of opposites
The last three songs on the Light Disc are about the unity of opposites. About some order, stability and reassurance arising from a city of turbulence and of growing up in capitalist modernity. In Time Don't Wait, 'I ain't got no money but I'll be ok.' In Basketball Court- 'I smell the tar seal burning in the summer sun and melting bubble gun mixed with burning rubber from my bike's back tyre.' In Radio, 'Everything will be all right when I get home and put a record on. Cause that's just what I do. Like ever since I was a kid I would play my music on my radio cause that's all that I knew.'

The psychogeography of Auckland 
The first five songs on the dark disc explore life in Auckland with the most dystopian of twists. Jobs that don't pay. Relationships that fall apart. Loneliness. Drug abuse. Depression. Suicide. The most haunting elements of life and death are illuminated by Home Brew in a psychogeographical animation of post-crisis Auckland. Guy Debord - alcoholic, marxist, writer, situationist -wrote of this, 'People can see nothing around them that is not their own image; everything speaks to them of themselves. Their very landscape is animated. Obstacles were everywhere. And they were all interrelated, maintaining a unified reign of poverty.'

Dark Intro - 'I've forgot how long I've been broke for. It's just normal now... Just work at the same old job until you fuck your back. Cut this fucking act dreaming about being rich. lady luck she can suck my realist dick. Dictatorship that we're living, you can sell the system, I'll be selling tickets to the crucifiction, up to working class people who don't ever get  a break. Working 14 hour shifts for $11.38 with no rise, stuck in coal mines, for their whole lives, working overtime till their soul dies.'

State of Mind - 'Prison is a state of mind, doing time. Misery is a a mate of mind. Sometimes I feel as if I'm doing life, but am I really alive or just surviving. it's like solitary confinement. I've had these bars so long i can't tell what's behind them. Plastic Magic - 'Don't want to let her in, but I can't get rid of her. I need my medicine because I'm about to snap.' The truth is ugly - 'All I rally know is neither of us want to die alone.' 55 Stories - 'Walking through the night, kicking puddles...Dark clouds blacking all the stars out. Deep down I'm feeling beat down.' 'Someone to share my 20cent piece with. Instead I throw it to that guy with the harmonica, because when he tips his hat at me, I feel like he's acknowledged my existence.' Bourbon & Coke - 'Sitting on that same park bench where we once hung. Trying to chop down that fucking tree where you hung from.'

Class consciousness
Listen to us and Good God are leftist and atheist anthems par excellence respectively. Listen to us - 'Fucking Prime Minister ain't even got the time to talk. Cutting off the dole, trying to justify why we are poor'. Good God  - 'Don't give me all that shit about you working in mysterious ways. That's some bumber sticker shit for fools who believe in lies and spend their rent paying 10% weekly tithes.'

Love songs
Fungi/Absence - 'I think that I want to keep you', and Space - 'Take my ring and let me be your Saturn...you knock me off my axis, now all I can do is drift through the blackness',  are love songs that provide no comfort to those looking for a happy ending in this album. Emotional bleakness and passion, mixed with a wikid amount of illegal chemicals, these songs drip with raw emotion. This is perhaps the only criticism that can be made about Home Brew, by the end of listening to the album, you'll feel emotionally exhausted. This album connects to the listener by generalising Home Brew's alienation, the listener of this album 'annihilated in estrangement; it sees in it its own powerlessness and the reality of an inhuman existence.'

-- 

Avondale, is a working class suburb that faces both inwards towards the city center and up to the inner-west areas of Grey Lynn and Kingsland but also out towards the Waitakere ranges which encircle the city. It looks in to a sprawling city built over and around volcanoes. It looks out over suburbs marching into the rainforest clad hills. It embraces the positive and the negative forces of history and society that are embodied in this album.


Home Brew's debut album is an attempt to join up the dots between what Tom Scott sees, thinks and feels in this city, suburb, country. Listening to the album can take us close enough to touch the dialectic forces that does, undoes and redoes Auckland and its people every single day.

-Omar, SA.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Auckland’s new ‘riot folk’ outfit Myth of Democracy is about love and rage

Debts may climb, devils may care, For clean water sky and health care,
Penance for past sins, kill for cash, Mark our forheads with the ash of our loved and dear departed,
Beg forgiveness from free markets, We took the greatest care while our cluster bombs fell from the air,
'Guns, Abuse and Belief', Myth of Democracy
 -----


An interview with Matt Billington aka Myth of Democracy, whose album Humans Piss Me Off is out now on Bandcamp. 


What’s your new album all about Matt? 

It’s an acoustic, punk rock album. It’s punk rock to me, I don’t give a fuck whatever any other cat calls it. It’s a punk rock album. I’ve tried to capture the spirit of the first punk rock I ever heard which was my friend Craig playing a battered, old, acoustic down at the lake front in Rotorua and writing songs about his friends, and the world and how he felt treated by everything. And it was just this blatant honesty and it was really inspiring. So it’s kind of a homage to that. And hope that I can capture that spirit. It’s a really honest album.

What about the theme, Humans Piss Me Off? 

Humans are responsible for a lot of, well all the terrible shit in the world. The title track is based on what I read by an author, Chris Hedges, and it is about, we cannot escape human nature as it is. We have certain impulses we are drawn too. And it is humans and their attempts to control these. And it just can’t be done. We can’t control these impulses. We need to recognise these impulses, recognise human nature and go from there.

Everyone hates motorways but everyone loves motorway overpasses. The overpass is this weird thing where you can feel like you are above the world. You’ve written a song about one. Why? 

I worked for ten years in hospitality, every night I would finish work at this pub on Vulcan Lane and I would walk home to Grey Lynn. I would always stop on this overpass. Christ I don’t know the name of the fucking road but I did it for years. I could see towards the North Shore, and see the bridge and see the traffic and it was a still part of the night. I would always invariably think of my friends and where I’ve come from and wonder what they were doing now. One of the themes of the album is love for the people that are around you. That song is just a love song for the people that have influenced me in life. I think about them all the time. There is a lyric in the song, ‘There is much to build, destroy and fight, but don’t forget our time together is finite’. We’ve only got so much time on this earth. You’ve got to enjoy the people around you.

You’ve got another song about late nights, Why Go Home

It’s very much about just being with people you love. It came from many, many nights just walking drunken home, walking home smashed as, not knowing what’s ahead of you. Just out for fun, looking for something and trying to find it in every place you go to.

Guns, Abuse and Belief is one of the centrepiece songs on the album, is it your favourite? 

That song came about when nurses were on strike and John Key stood up and said, ‘Nurses need to live in the real world. There is no money for more pay.’ It comes down to economic priorities. A lot of the political lyrics are traditionalist punk because they are about waking people up from apathy. If you go into the history of punk rock in my favourite albums where talking about why things went wrong and how to change them. There as much an expression of emotion as a political cry. The message that you’re getting from people who control shit, ‘This is how things are and this is the real world’. That song is a response to that. Punk rock for me should be a rallying point for social change. That should be where people get together, we are not in front of the telly, we are out there together, we are all pissed off, we’ve got music to celebrate with. You’ve got that but it has to have the next steps. Where do you take the rage? Where does it go to from here?

How do you think the punk scene is today?

I think punk rock is slowly again waking up to the fact that it has nothing to do with the corporate world and what I’ve noticed in the last few years is that it is getting back to its roots, people putting on their own shows, and it is getting its activism back. We are in an exciting time now because the borders between genres are breaking down. You can see Tourettes playing with Shit Ripper. Punk and hip hop are blurring.




You’ve been described as a modern day Joe Strummer. Playing benefit gigs for striking workers? What’s the link between your music and activism? 

My personal political plan for change is that it has to come from below. The bigger picture is important don’t get me wrong, but people need to start taking concrete steps in their own little lives. People say change comes from the individual that’s a little hippy for me. Change has to come from people stepping up and starting to look at the most vulnerable members of society and start standing up for them. At the moment it happens to be locked out meat workers, it is people in Glen Innes losing their homes, it is our homeless situation, people with mental health issues. These are the most vulnerable people in society that the attacks are coming to. And with my music I hope to get people to take more of a humanistic view on the world. I support Socialist Aotearoa because it isn’t all theory, it’s not all talk, it is actually some concrete actions on how we can stop these things happening. Throughout history there are people like that. You look at the Berrigan brothers for example, Philip and Daniel they were a couple of brothers, priests, in America, who went to prison because they busted into a draft office and burnt the draft cards, they went into a nuclear plant and threw paint over the nuclear warheads. They were active. I will support anyone who will support the most vulnerable. When I started doing Myth of Democracy, the plan was to take awesome community organisations like Socialist Aotearoa, like Global Peace and Justice Auckland like the Glen Innes community and take it to the punk shows. So it’s not all lyrics screamed over the mike. So there is a concrete movement people can get involved in.

What next for Myth of Democracy? 

I’ve been jumping on the internet and firing off emails. I fly into Seattle in July, I fly a few shows in Canada and then going down the West Coast of the States playing shows in people’s houses and basements. I can’t fucking wait. It’s like going into the belly of the beast.

Listen and download for free or koha at http://mythofdemocracy.bandcamp.com/


Matt Billington, second from left, facing the camera. On the frontlines in Glen Innes.

Capitalism is crisis



Across the world, ordinary people are raging at the bankers. And it’s no wonder.

As the rest of us suffer the effects of the economic crisis, these fat cats are still raking in billion-pound fortunes.

In the years since the banking system came to the brink of collapse in 2008, people have clearly identified them as the ones who bear responsibility for the crisis.

This has fed the sort of class rage socialists should encourage. It’s certainly better than putting the blame on migrants, unemployed people, or public sector workers.

But it is also important to acknowledge that the underlying causes of the crisis capitalism finds itself in are more long-term and complex.

The crisis has shifted between different parts of the economy as the years have gone by. The bank bailouts left states holding the can, in the form of so-called “sovereign debt”.

This debt is in turn owed to banks. And they’re nervous the states won’t be able to pay it back. So the stronger economies have “bailed out” the weaker ones, again to shore up the banks.

Now that has caused the crisis’ latest manifestation—the ruling class’s turmoil over resistance to austerity in Greece and the possible collapse of the euro.

All this did not just arrive out of nowhere. The crisis was caused by underlying trends in the capitalism system.

The revolutionary Karl Marx identified the reasons why capitalism goes into crisis.

In the short term, it goes through frequent cycles of boom and bust. But this is a symptom of a far deeper problem—a tendency towards overproduction.

As capitalists compete, they battle with each other to produce enough goods to dominate the market, buying ever-better machinery to do so.

But as other capitalists rush into the same markets, more is produced than can be sold. Crises of overproduction break out as unsold goods pile up and firms go bust. This, together with long-term falling profit rates, causes capitalists to look for short cuts.

Neoliberalism, with its emphasis on letting the financial markets rip, was a way of trying to restore bosses’ profits by squeezing workers. But it only partly managed this.

And at the same time the growth of finance, a sort of gambling den for the ruling class, has added to capitalism’s chaos.

Prospect
Capitalists pile in behind everything that looks like a hot prospect—whether it’s dot-com firms or sub-prime mortgages—creating huge financial bubbles.

Stock market chaos is a symptom of crisis in the “real economy”. It can also aggravate this root crisis.

It was a financial bubble bursting that sparked the latest round of crisis. And as capitalism ages, these crises get longer and deeper.

Many suggested solutions have been targeted at reining in finance. This has included calls for stronger bank regulations, breaking high street banks off from investment banks, and banning financial wizardry like “short selling” and “derivatives”.

But just putting the bankers on a leash won’t end the crisis. They are part of the problem—but not the root of it.

We want to make the rich pay, not the working class. We want to take that bailout money back and spend it on useful services for all.

But it’s the bosses’ whole system that has caused this. We need to get rid of it all.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

From Quebec, with Love...



Family, friends, allies on the west coast and elsewhere;

I'm writing you almost a week after close to half a million people gathered in Montreal to mark the 100th day of the student strike, and to express their anger and rage at the passing of the Loi 78 in Quebec. Many of you have asked me for information about what is going on; it is also a time of need for students and their allies. My apologies for the length - there's a lot to say, and this barely begins to cover it.  

There so much to tell about what's been going on that I'm not sure where to start. First off, though the rest of Canada only seems to really be noticing now, students have been on strike for months. There have been hundreds of demonstrations-- easily one every day for the entire period of the strike, and often more. Since March, there have also been dozens and dozens of economic disruptions (blocking of bridges, of the world trade center, of major banks, occupations of government offices, shutting down of the metro system, and so on). For three months running, there have been massive marches-- the first at about 200,000 people, the second at 300,000, and this latest estimated to be around 450,000-500,000 people. This past week, neighbourhoods starting showing their solidarity with students and against Loi 78 by holding their own 'pots and pans', or 'casserole', demonstrations-- for an hour every night, entire neighbourhoods march, or sit on their stoops, banging pots and pans. In my neighbourhood (a fairly small one), there have been marches of around 3,000 people every night since Tuesday (here's a vid with some familiar faces).

This resistance to the tuition hike and to 78 have been met with intense repression and police violence. I have dozens of stories of my own, and of my friends, but for the sake of brevity I'll defer to the words of a friend who works with the Legal Committee of the largest student association in the province, CLASSE. He writes:

"As of May 18th, 2012 our committee has documented and is supporting 472 criminal accusations as well as 1047 ticket and penal offenses. One week in April saw over 600 arrests in three days. And those numbers only reflect those charged with an offense, without mentioning the thousands pepper sprayed and tear gassed, clubbed and beaten, detained and released. It does not mention Francis Grenier, who lost use of most of an eye when a sound grenade was illegally thrown by a police officer into his face in downtown Montreal. It does not mention Maxence Valade who lost a full eye and Alexandre Allard who clung to life in a coma on a hospital bed for days, both having received a police rubber bullet to the head in Victoriaville. And the thousands of others brutalized, terrorized, harassed and assaulted on our streets.  Four students are currently being charged under provisions of the anti-terrorist laws enacted following September 11th."

Since Max wrote this a week ago, another 900 arrests have been made, and several more people have entered into critical condition as a result of their treatment by the police. Much of this is the result of new laws (both provincially and in the city of Montreal) in place. The city bylaws make a number of actions associated with protest (wearing masks, for one) illegal, and the offences come with fines of about $630. The second, Loi 78, is being described as 'draconian' and 'fascist', is widely considered to be in violation of the Charter (particularly freedom of expression and assembly), is currently the target of the largest constitutional challenge in Quebec history, and has made for easy comparisons to the periods of grande noirceure in Quebec. Again, from Max:

"Among other draconian elements brought forward by this law, any gathering of 50 or more people must submit their plans to the police eight hours ahead of time and must agree to any changes to the gathering's trajectory, starttime, etc. Any failure to comply with this stifling of freedom of assembly and association will be met with a fine of up to $5,000 for every participant, $35,000 for someone representing a 'leadership' position, or $125,000 if a union - labour or student - is deemed to be in charge.  The participation of any university staff (either support staff or professors) in any student demonstration (even one that follows the police's trajectory and instructions) is equally punishable by these fines. Promoting the violation of any of these prohibitions is considered, legally, equivalent to having violated them and is equally punishable by these crippling fines.

In addition to these criminal and penal cases, of particular concern for those of us involved in the labour movement is that anti-strike forces have filed injunctions systematically from campus to campus to prevent the enactment of strike mandates, duly and democratically voted in general assemblies. Those who have defended their strike mandates and enforced the strike are now facing Contempt of Court charges and their accompanying potential $50,000 fines and potential prison time. One of our spokespeople, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, will appear in Superior Court under such a charge for having dared say, on May 13th of this year, that "I find it legitimate" that students form picket lines to defend their strike."

At the same time as thousands of students, including many of the people around me, are facing severe injuries, court charges, and massive tickets, the last few months have also been inspiring and wonderful and exciting and full of hope and bravery. I think part of why this has been able to occur in Quebec is because there is a long history of social solidarity that has been less affected by neoliberal policies and austerity measures than elsewhere in North America. At least in my neighbourhood, this sense of social solidarity and support is what people are talking about rebuilding and strengthening. In a community assembly yesterday afternoon, people spoke about creating systems for legal and psychosocial support for people being arrested, having regular community picnics and BBQs to support each other and as a space to talk about resisting the neoliberalization of the province, and discussed plans for working towards a general strike. 

The "pots and pans" demonstrations have also made more visible what has been true for a while: this struggle is about more than tuition hikes; it's about more than free education; and it's about more than students.  In the last few weeks, we have seen a solidarity strike from public service employees, a huge upswell of resistance against 78 from hundreds of unions and community organizations, and the highly visible presence of non-students and workers as part of the movement. It looks more and more like people are actively working to move this beyond a student strike with fairly specific demands and towards a broader social struggle. On a more quotidian level, the ongoings in the province are the only thing anyone talks about, and the only thing anyone does; at this point, almost everyone I know spends almost all of their spare time supporting and participating in this movement.

There is so much more to say and know about what is going on, and a huge barrier to that happening outside of Quebec is the dismal english media coverage. English media, both inside and outside of the province, has been terrible (including the CBC, Al Jazeera, etc-- absolutely terrible!). In the past few weeks, we have started to see some articles coming out in English with a much better analysis, so I've included some of them here. One of the first good ones was this article by a Montreal freelance journalist which gives a very basic overview of what is going on. More recently, the Montreal Media Co-op (generally a great source of information) posted this article ("10 Points Everyone Should Know about the Strike"), which is much more detailed and pretty great, though I think there's still a lot more to add.

This article out of New York offers a more chronological perspective, and adds details about the new law (Loi 78), which aims to criminalize the student protests specifically. Here is a more brief analysis of Loi 78. Lastly, for those of you who are 'numbers' people, this outlines the changes in Quebec tuition over the last forty years, in relation to other university fees and fluctuations in minimum wage. This article-- also by an involved Montreal organizer-- addresses some of the reasons why there is little to no coverage in the English media, and offers some other resources as well. If you're interested in keeping up to date more regularly with English media, Rouge Squad, this page and this page are all amalgamating or translating English media (of varying quality). Open File Montreal, the Montreal Media Co-op - both community media sources here - are offering some of the best coverage so far form on the ground. If you want to watch the protests live, every night, go to the Concordia University TV Livestream.

As well as wanting to give some of you an idea of what is going on here, I am also writing in part because there is a lot of need for outside support. We need people to be writing articles and doing radio shows that are well informed and supportive (as I mentioned above, the CBC coverage, as one example, has been astoundingly inaccurate). There is a need for pressure from outside of Quebec on the provincial Liberal government, particularly with regards to the repression and violence they are perpetrating. This is a need for solidarity actions, particularly economic disruptions, that put real pressure on governments and institutions. There is also a need for money. For those of you who have some, or who work for organizations or unions who might, here are a few places to start.

The CLASSE legal committee, as I outlined above, is fighting hundreds and hundreds of criminal cases, tickets, and other infractions with extremely limited resources. As they put it,  "Not only must we help those being unduly criminalized and facing injunctions undermining their right to associate, but we must act now and make sure that the criminalization and judicialization of a political struggle does not work and set a precedent that endangers the right to free speech and free assembly. You can send you donation directly to the order of "Fonds de défense légale 2012" to the following address: Att.: F. Dupuis-Déri, Dépt. Science politique, UQAM, Case postale 8888, Succursale Centre-Ville, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3C 3P8). Donations may also be made online using Paypal via the following address: http://www.fondslegal2012.org/index-en.html 

CUTV (Concordia University Television) has been the only media outlet providing live coverage of almost every single demonstration to date; they work tirelessly and have caught some of the most important footage of the strike to date. In response, they have been beaten, arrested, and harassed almost every night. Their camera equipment has been broken and smashed by the police on numerous occasions. If you want to support community media, they're a very good place to start. Go to http://cutvmontreal.ca/ 

The Maison de la Greve, one of the central organizing locations for the student strike, pays their rent and other costs entirely through donations. Their support page of here; if any of you need help navigating the site in french, let me know. https://maisondelagreve.boum.org/maintenant/nous-soutenir/

A few friends and I are getting together an ongoing program to train people in First Aid and emergency medical responses during demonstrations, something that is currently sorely lacking. Though we will be able to provide the training for free, we need to finance the actual first aid kits - so if any of you are interested in supporting this venture, let me know.

Most importantly, of course, there is a need for people to struggle in their own communities, on their own issues, and I would love to hear about that work from you as well. If you have any questions or thoughts, I would love to hear them.

With love and solidarity,

Kira


Stuff raising the retirement age, tax the rich instead!

Last week student protesters in Auckland called for education to be funded by taxing the rich.  Taxing the rich can fund national superannuation for all as well.

The recent headlines tell the story, 'Pressure for John Key to raise retirement age', 'Shearer: Superannuation 'status quo is unsustainable'' and 'Labour challenges National on retirement age'.

The Labour Party has spotted the gap between Government income and expenditure which will occur in decades as New Zealand's population ages. Desperate to appear in the media as financially sensible and prepared to manage the Government's budgets once again the Labour Party want to raise the retirement age to 67. The debate is couched in hysterical terms by some pundits, 'New Zealand's superannuation bill last year was $8.8 billion. Fastforward four years and this bill will be about $12.3b.'

Yet the wealth to pay for retirement is there. Despite the rhetoric of hard times and squeezed books the rich are doing better than ever.
  • Mana Movement Vice President, John Minto points out, 'The richest 150 New Zealanders (Prime Minister John Key included) last year increased their collective wealth by $7 billion – and most of that was untaxed.
  • The big Australian banks took $3 billion in profits out of this country last year as their profits increased a massive 18% on last year! 
  • CAFCA points out $10.3 billion net left NZ in the year to September 2011 - 'Their profits are NZ's biggest invisible export.'

The rich, the corporations and the banks have all enriched themselves at workers expense. The Talley's family have a wealth of $300 million which was created by workers in industries like fish processing, vegetable processing and the AFFCO meatworks. The Aussie banks make their profits through extortionate mortgages that many working people will spend their lifetime paying off and by paying low wages to bank workers. The transnational corporations like the supermarket giant Progressives make their profit from the labour of thousands of low paid New Zealanders.  The local super rich, the Aussie banks and the transnational corporations all get rich off the labour of workers as sociology lecturer at the University of Auckland Campbell Jones points out,

Wealth is not created out of nothing. Wealth is not produced merely by the ideas or actions of isolated individuals. We produce things of value through our action on the material world and through the application of science and technology and the skill of social cooperation to that action. And as anyone who works knows, we work with others and for others in order to produce things of value.

At the same time as the Labour Party talks tough about wanting to put up the retirement age for workers it says nothing about taxing the rich and redistributing wealth more fairly in society. The wealth is available to pay for pensions for all but it is being stolen by the local super rich, giant offshore corporations and the Aussie banks. As Hone Harawira said in his budget speech, Tax the rich and free the poor, 'Rich people pay a lower tax rate here than in France, Australia, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, the UK & even the USA';
MANA’s response is to say tax the rich and free the poor.
1 Reverse National’s $2 billion of tax cuts to wealthy New Zealanders.
2 Lift the tax rate for the super rich from 33% to 45% like in Australia.
3 Establish a proper capital gains tax where all income, regardless of where it comes from, is taxed at the personal tax rate.
4 Replace GST with a financial transactions tax, which will put money straight into the hands of the poor, reduce speculation on the Kiwi dollar, and increase our export earnings.
The silence of Labour MPs on their parties policy of raising the retirement age show that their MPs do not think nor care about the working people, young and old, whose support they rely on at election time. Raising the retirement age will mean more unemployment for young workers as older workers are forced to keep working. The raising of the retirement age will also hurt Maori more than anyone else. Last election Mana's policy was that the retirement age for Maori should be lowered to 60 until such time as statistics prove Maori live as long as non-Maori. Currently Maori life expectancy is ten years shorter than it is for Pakeha. As Hone Harawira said,
On current trends, 19 out of every 20 Maori will pay taxes all their lives and then die before they get the pension, That’s a criminal bloody outrage that no society should accept, and yet by raising the retirement age from 65 to 67, Labour will ensure that even fewer Maori would live to get superannuation.
As the retirement debate continues we need to call as socialists for the solution to be found not in raising the eligibility age for national superannuation but in taxing the ultrarich, the banks, the corporations. Raising the retirement age means more youth unemployment, more workers who die before they get to retire and is part of the post-1984 consensus between Labour and National that workers should pay for the regular economic crises that upset the Government's budgets.

Stuff that! It's time to tax the rich!

-Socialist Aotearoa

Teachers' strikes would inspire us all


This winter strikes by teachers in defence of quality, public education could break the National Government and their attacks on youth and education.

How appropriate it would be to see this greedy government humiliated and smashed by education unions and those guardians of childrens' future - teachers. After all the Nats have done to education it would be a beautiful sight to see the Coalition finally splinter under pressure from education unions. But already the Rats are backpedaling as principals and teachers line up strike action in school after school across Aotearoa. They know the teachers will win a fight and they're eager not to lose another confrontation after the debacle of National Standards.

In the news over the last four years have been the repeated cuts to education funding and attacks on public education – night classes, kohanga reo, playcentre, cutting the education training incentive for DPB recipients, National Standards and now the cuts to student allowances.

A teachers strike would inspire us all. It would show the technocrats in Treasury who really runs this country and who has the power to shut it down. It would show other groups attacked in the budget - university students, pensioners and child workers - that the Nats austerity budget can be broken. It would show other workers that they need to have a go! There's no point waiting around for things to get better. A Government relying on the support of the corrupt John Banks for its support doesn't care about this country. This Government is for the rich and by the rich. School strikes can bring it to its knees.

-Socialist Aotearoa

Monday, May 28, 2012

Taking lessons from the Greeks- Episode One

The Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand, Bill English, advised the student movement to take some lessons from the Greeks. Over the next few weeks, www.socialistaotearoa.org will present a short course in General Strikes, urban uprisings, mass civil disobedience and the construction of mass parties of the radical and revolutionary Left, to do our bit to respond to the social crisis Bill and his National Party mates want to inflict on Aotearoa. Lesson One is from Greek revolutionary socialist Giorgos Pittas

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Anti-Capitalist Winter 2012



At times of extreme crisis the challenge to those who stand on the sidelines is to state that they're either with the movements fighting for a new Aotearoa of justice and liberation or standing with the Government and its oppression, exploitation and poverty. There is no middle ground, you can't be neutral on a moving train.
Read the article online here: Stay in the streets.



Never doubt that a mass movement in the streets can defeat a right-wing government and change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Read the full article online here: Citizens' initiated insurrection

Stay in the streets



The National, Act, Maori Party coalition is under pressure. On the streets they are increasingly feeling the heat over their new attacks on the working class, students and the environment.

It is clear that the mood of frustration and anger at asset sales seen in the  Aotearoa is Not for Sale hikoi and the protests in Te Ika a Maui along the route have spilled over into an increased confidence to challenge the National Party and corporate interests.

Iwi are increasingly taking a more assertive approach to fighting fracking, mining and oil drilling. In the far north Ngati Kahu have said they will use 'reasonable force' to remove mining prospectors. Hapu in Taranaki are coming into increasing conflict with Shell Oil over fracking. Dayle Takitimu of East Cape iwi Te Whanau a Apanui told the Aotearoa is Not for Sale hikoi in Wellington 'Our resistance will not stop here. There will be no drilling on the coast... This is the time for the uprising!'. Iwi from Kaipara harbour are prepared to defend the ecologically sensitive area where Maui's dolphin live from turbines.

An intervention by iwi leaders in the AFFCO dispute has seen a partial victory for 900 meat workers locked out for 12 weeks by the arch-capitalist, Talley's family. The resilience of union members, their families and the mobilisation of rural communities and iwi in defense of these workers was key to stopping the attack on wages and conditions but also the deunionisation of this industry. The SFWU has launched a Living Wage Campaign and this shows there is a growing sense amongst some union leaders that more needs to be done to fight low wages.

In Glen Innes there has been a number of vicious street battles in the night between police removing state houses and local protesters. It now requires a major operation of scores of police to escort trucks carrying the houses out of the neighbourhood. It is becoming increasingly unlikely that the empty sections will be sold as community resistance builds and still many tenants are refusing to leave their homes.

Student activists led a well organised, militant, protest against the budget on Thursday and over four hundred blocked a key arterial route for over six hours. This student strike has catalysed plans to develop a fightback especially from post-graduate and medical students most affected by the cuts.

Auckland Action Against Poverty's stormy picket of a speech by John Key to the 1% at the Langham Hotel has kept the rising levels of unemployment and poverty on the public agenda and the government looks like it is under siege.

The Mana Movement has been at the core of all of these struggles and from the provincial towns of the Bay of Plenty to the inner-cities of Auckland and Wellington, Mana has shown itself as an important unifying force binding unionists, socialists, students and Maori and allowing effective resistance. Mana is the party of the social movements and it can expect its support to grow in the next few months, especially as the jailing of Tame Iti and Rangi Kemara, will harden more Maori opinion against the Government.

The protests and resistance is having an effect. The polls show support for National has dropped to 44.5% and if an election was held today a Labour, Green, NZ First coalition would find it easiest to form a Government. With a weak and divided Labour Party support for an activist and energetic Green Party has grown to 15%. The public is shifting left and the far-right Act Party is now as good as dead.

The key political argument right now is to maintain the mobilisation in the streets through the Winter months and also to broaden the scope of organising against the austerity policies being pushed through. If the political will is there a broad coalition around Aotearoa is Not for Sale could lead a national day of action against National's attacks and marching for an alternative drawing in environmentalists, the CTU over new attacks on unions, students facing allowance cuts, pensioners facing higher prescription charges and educations unions facing over a thousand redundancies.

People are fighting back and resisting all over the place but there remains the potential to draw in thousands more students and workers in mass actions. We need to be encouraging workers and students to take part in political action as much as they can. The attacks are only going to increase as the global economic crisis deepens and we must remind working people of  the obligation of solidarity at the heart of Paulo Freire's words, 'Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.' At times of extreme crisis the challenge to those who stand on the sidelines is to state that they're either with the movements fighting for a new Aotearoa of justice and liberation or standing with the Government and its oppression, exploitation and poverty. There is no middle ground, you can't be neutral on a moving train.

We can point to the many global examples of resistance such as the struggle by students in Quebec and draw lessons from their experience.  As one of their activists said recently the global challenge is to, "Build on the popular discontent that you have built on before with the Occupy movements for instance and build broader mass movements to direct contradict the rise of neo-liberalism."

This is an important time for revolutionaries as hundreds of millions of people engage in movements challenging capitalism and the 1% around the world. Revolutionaries must work with all those battling austerity and fighting for the environment but at the same time argue for a revolutionary, socialist alternative to capitalism and convince people of the necessity of building that alternative from below in workplaces, communities and campuses.

Bill English has encouraged anti-austerity protesters in Auckland to look to Greece for inspiration. We agree that Greek workers and students are showing the way but the inspiring lessons of the revolt against bankers are not so much in the petrol bombs hurled during demonstrations but in the mushrooming of workers' struggles against the bankers including occupations and worker's control. This didn't happen altogether spontaneously though. The revolutionary left including Antarsya has convinced a significant chunk of the working class that the solution to austerity lies not in elections but in ongoing workers' struggle and ultimately workers' power - “No one wants to be governed like before,” says Costas Katarachias, a doctor and union rep at Agios Savvas cancer hospital in Athens.

The barbarity of capitalism lies exposed for all to see on a global scale. We need to unite to maintain the fight and build out the resistance against National over the Winter months. We also need to win workers to a revolutionary, socialist alternative to the deepening economic and environmental crisis we face.

-Socialist Aotearoa

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Montreal comes to Auckland

The Student Movement exploded again  onto the streets of Auckland on Budget Day, blockading one of the city's central systempunkts in outrage at the Government's austerity attacks on education, workers and the poor.  Strong speeches were passionately received from nearly all of Auckland's radical community- anarchist, socialist, Maori, union and academic activists joined with students speaking for the first time in an assembly that continued for over five hours of direct democracy, behind the barricades.





Sunday, May 20, 2012

Defend Glen Innes

In 1997 an elderly Maori man died after being taken off the renal dialysis treatment programme at Whangarei Hospital.

His name was Rau Williams.

The denial of treatment to Rau Williams undertaken in the name of the rationing of public health resources sparked a heated political debate over the shape of the neo-liberal reform of Aotearoa. As one commentator remarked of New Zealand's new medical austerity, ‘This is where it was leading: A man who is condemned to die. State euthanasia.’

The architect of the rationing system used to deny Rau Williams for treatment was a woman called Lee Mathias.

Today she is the Chair of the Tamaki Transformation Project.

Defend Glen Innes.

Home Brew to play Student Strike Thursday



Students plan 'strike' against loan, allowance changes

Auckland University students are planning a demonstration against the Government's changes to loans and allowances. Activist group 'Blockade the Budget' is calling for students to gather outside the library at 1pm on Thursday next week for a "strike" against the changes, announced ahead of this year's Budget – also scheduled for Thursday. The changes include increasing the rate at which loans have to be paid back and freezing the parental income threshold for allowance availability to under-25s.

But it's the capping of student allowances to a maximum four years of study that has brought the most anger. The group says it will "result in only the most wealthy students having access to occupations such as medicine, law and engineering, and means that students who may wish to pursue an academic career in the university will be unable to do so".

"By limiting student allowances to only four years of study, we're saying that only those who already enjoy a privileged position in society are invited to contribute to the continued improvement of this country," says student Brendon Steen.

"The impact that this will have on post-graduate study is significant. It's those people who dedicate a significant period of their lives to higher education who are going to be the leaders of tomorrow - particularly in science, technology and engineering."

The protest has been endorsed by the Auckland University Students' Association. Student loan debt is carried by around 500,000 New Zealanders, totalling over $11 billion – more than doubling in the last decade. Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce says the changes will save the Government at least $60 million a year. Source: 3NEWS

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Glen Innes calls for Solidarity from Aotearoa is Not For Sale.


State housing activists in Glen Innes are calling for support from the Aotearoa is Not for Sale coalition. The Tamaki Housing Action Group has been defending their community from privatisation since late last year. Our National led government wishes to make a large section of state owned land in Glen Innes available for private development. This is the front line of asset sales in Auckland at the moment.

Phil Twyford from the Labour Party has been vocal in his criticism, saying:

“National need to go back to the drawing board. This development project breaks every rule of urban planning. It’s a disaster.”

Housing New Zealand has already scared off many long term community members, many of them elderly, with threats of homelessness if they didn't comply. Around 40 state homes are currently empty and contractors protected by large police squads have already begun the process of removing houses from the area.

The other night police brutalised and arrested protestors who stood staunch in front of a house removal truck, including well known social activist John Minto. Local resident Yvonne Dainty who recently appeared on “Think Tank” finished the night in hospital after suffering multiple seizures during the police assault.

More recently there was a battle between protesters on police on Lyndhurst Street. More than 50 police were called in to forcibly remove the group that had assembled in front of the removal truck. Many were left with cuts, bruises and torn clothes after an evening of being pushed, shoved, punched, strangled, kneed and thrown to the ground by police. However it took the police 2 hours to move the house 50 metres down the road.

 
More than 50 police were called in to forcibly remove the group that had assembled in front of the truck.

 Jimmy O'Dea was hospitalised by officers who threw him backwards onto the curb. This officer rolls his eyes as the community tries to call an ambulance.

Four people were arrested including John Minto, Omar Hamed, Malcolm France and a local man. John Minto accused the police of arresting who they perceived to be leading the demonstration. Clearly the police are unable to understand the concept of people thinking for themselves. They are yet to release that any attack on our movement only increases our numbers, our resolve and our experience.

 John Minto accused the police of arresting who they perceived to be leading the demonstration.

This was highlighted when MPs Hone Harawira and Phil Twyford joined over 100 people to protest against police brutality outside Glen Innes police station the day after police had assaulted community activists. The anger at the blatant injustice was tangible as the group marched and chanted up the street.

Protester Marion Peta said the clashes had galvanised them, adding it was now "more serious". "I felt our group grew last night because of that," she said. "The march from the police station up to Torrington was amazing. There were flags and people everywhere."
We have since been able to physically stop the removal of houses on three occasions now using only our bodies, our voices and our cameras. The Battle at Lyndhurst shows we are beginning to understand the need for direct action in this situation. The vast opposition to these developments has been exposed and now is the time for us to find the most effective tactics in this struggle.

The situation is becoming increasing embarrassing for both the police and the government. National have been under fire from opposition parties over their total incompetence in dealing with the housing crisis. A report by the Housing Shareholders Advisory Group in 2010 found there was a 70,000 house shortfall across the country. Instead of addressing the issue the government has made it more difficult to get on the state housing waiting list in an attempt to hide the problem.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said the housing crisis was ''a ticking time bomb''.

"We urgently need to increase the supply of housing to cover the 70,000 house deficit we have in New Zealand. At this pace it will take decades. Families were struggling with high-cost, low-quality, overcrowded housing while some families didn't even have housing," she said. ''There are still many thousands of families out there in need."

Housing Minister Phil Heatley recently announced $25.3 million of the social housing unit growth fund had been allocated for 16 new projects in the Auckland region. Labour's housing spokeswoman Annette King said Heatley's announcement ignored the fact non-government organisations had put $170 million into social housing. ''To say that $25.3 million is going to make a lasting contribution is laughable.''

The Aotearoa is Not For Sale coalition is a very exciting opportunity to create a united front in opposition to asset sales. Everyone can and should get involved. There's still a lot of work to be done if we want to be successful with our campaign to Keep our Assets. Whether your skills are in media design, music, journalism, engineering or rugby, whether you're an eco-warrior or a trade unionist, a worker or a student, everyone makes a valuable contribution. 

If we can learn to work together on a common cause I believe there isn't a force in this country that can stop us. After all there's nothing that beats the winter blues better than creating a wave of political change that sweeps across the country.

If you would like to subscribe to the text alerts for Glen Innes text your name + defend gi to 0212080218.

A useful info sheet on the situation in Glen Innes:


Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Battle of Lyndhurst - Police clash with protestors as another state house in Glen Innes is removed.

May 10th 2012 - 9-11pm

Massive Police Brutality tonight in Glen Innes as the state stole another working class house. John Minto, Omar Hamed, Malcolm France and a local man arrested. Jimmy O'Dea thrown to the curb by the cops, knocked unconscious, sustained head injuries and taken away in an ambulance. MANA Glen Innes can't win this fight by themselves. We need to mobilise a force that cannot be moved. Next time the pigs come to remove a state house we need to meet them with thousands. When G.I. is under attack. Stand Up. Fight back.

Joe Carolan captured the following videos...




Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Fire from Hawaiki; Water from Tongariro

State-owned Nga Awa Purua Geothermal Power Station is not for sale
Iwi threatens lawsuit to halt power-asset sales
Central North Island iwi Ngati Tuwharetoa is threatening legal action to halt the partial sale of Mighty River Power and Genesis Energy unless it is given a share of the private sector profits to be generated from the use of its land. 


 Prime Minister John Key was yesterday downplaying the prospect of court action but Greens co-leader Russel Norman said a legal challenge from Tuwharetoa could at least delay the partial asset-sales programme. Read More

Asset sales protests spark unlikely partnership
An unlikely partnership has formed to fight the Government's partial asset sales, with Grey Power and the New Zealand University Students Association launching a petition aimed at getting a referendum on the issue. Read More


The fires of Ruaumoko were summoned from Hawaiki by the early Maori explorer Ngatoroirangi as he lay close to death on the peak of Tongaririo. The fires have to this day been a blessing on Ngatoroirangi's descendants and since settlement the geothermal power has been harnessed for the people by state-owned power stations.

The waters that flow through the hydro-electric power stations of the central North Island come largely from the snow-capped volcanic peaks that sit in the centre of Tongariro National Park. Te Heuheu Tukino IV gifted the peaks of this park to the Government in 1887 to protect them for the people of New Zealand.

The privatisation of these power stations will turn the ahi of Ngatoroirangi and the wai of Te Heuheu's gift over to control by super-rich  individuals and transnational corporations. Those who would privatise the fires that come from Hawaiki and the waters that run from the tapu peaks of Te Ika a Maui have stirred up new challenges from tangata whenua to the privatisation and exploitation of the mana whenua of the volcanic plateau.

If a legal challenge delays the privatisation plans for the Governments' SOEs the National Government the protest movement on the streets will be encouraged to step up action against the asset sales. Legal challenges will give investors pause but what will really destabilise share prices and the ability of the Government to sell off shares will be mass, direct action, occupations of  power stations around the country.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Dining with the Devil


Sky TV chief executive John Fellet was also present at a private dinner party attended by Opposition leader David Shearer at the home of Sky lobbyist Tony O'Brien, the pay-TV company has confirmed. Read More


Watch Outfoxed, a documentary about the Sky TV, Fox Media empire online.




“Most humble day”: the Murdoch empire on the defensive
John Newsinger, International Socialism


Rupert Murdoch’s enforced appearance before the House of Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport on 19 July 2011 was an unprecedented humiliation. It signified the eclipse, at least temporarily, of his political influence in Britain. And this was at a time when his power seemed to have become greater than ever. While both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown had willingly subordinated themselves to Murdoch and tailored their policies to fit his business agenda, under David Cameron it looked as if his influence was about to climax. The coalition government was all set to wave through his takeover of BSkyB, savage cuts had been imposed on the BBC at Murdoch’s request and he was to be given entry into the potentially extremely lucrative area of state education with a planned academy (hilariously specialising in “journalism”) in Newham. And, of course, at Cameron’s elbow was his Director of Communications, the former News of the World editor Andy Coulson. Even Mark Thompson, the BBC director general, not someone exactly renowned for standing up to the government, felt driven to publicly warn of the danger of “a concentration of media power in the UK that’s unheard of in British history and unheard of anywhere else in Europe…extraordinary power”.

Britain seemed well on the way to becoming a fully-fledged “Murdochracy” on the Australian model. The hacking scandal has wrecked all of this and put the Murdoch empire on the defensive.As the criminal activities of Murdoch’s newspapers were exposed to the light of day, politicians who had once courted the man ran for cover. They either condemned his influence (although without ever acknowledging its full extent) or, more usually, remained silent and refused to come to his aid. David Cameron, for example, actually sent an emissary to apologise to his good friend, Rebekah Brooks, for his inability to stand by her. Even David Blunkett, who had always found Murdoch “very reasonable”, failed to come to the defence of his benefactor. When Blunkett was forced to resign from Blair’s cabinet in November 2005, he went straight to a meeting with Murdoch for “a pleasant drink”. Murdoch offered him a consolatory column in the Sun worth £150,000 a year! Read More





Workers' voice?

The union movement isn't just old, white men in the Labour Party anymore.
CTU funded TV show The Union Report is into its third episode and still has yet to have a single union member or delegate on its show.

One of its most recent commentators has even been washed out Labour Party hack Mike Williams. Yawn. What a ratings killer.

There isn't anything wrong with what union officials have to say. Many have quite interesting things to say. But shows stacked with officials and "commentators" doesn't make it a union report, it makes it a union bureaucrats report. What people want to hear are the voices from the coalface, voices from the shopfloor. We want to see horny-handed miners talking about safety in mines. We want to see the face of a nurse who has seen twenty years of hospital work. We want to see the man mountains who work in the about to be privatised energy companies. We want to hear what primary school teachers have to say about how they bet  back national standards.

The union movement and the union members who pay for the CTU and all its activities deserve much, much better than Mike Williams and Chris Trotter as their spokespeople.

Here are some possible guests to have on the show:

  • Talley's meatworkers locked out for 60 days.
  • Firefighters who narrowly voted to ratify a controversial new agreement.
  • Hillside rail workers who face their workshop being closed down.
  • Pregnant workers on parental leave campaign.
  • Teachers on charter schools, national standards and performance pay.
  • Cinema workers who have begun industrial action for a pay rise.
  • Seafarers on the slave ships now in our waters.
  • Nurses or doctors affected by understaffing in hospital wards.
  • University workers on the changes to tertiary education.
  • Diplomats on public service cuts.
  • Caregivers at Oceania on their dispute.

-SA
The working class. What they look like. What they sound like. Found on picketlines around Aotearoa.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Exit the eurozone or exit capitalism?


In Greece's elections the radical left coalition SYRIZA appears to have 16.6% of the vote. SYRIZA's leader says, "The Greek people didn't give them the mandate to take those decisions [about austerity]. In the birthplace of democracy, there is no democracy. The time has come to return democracy to the place where it was born."

 In France social democrat François Hollande sees off Sarkozy for the Presidency. he's promising to bring home troops from Afghanistan and bring in a 75% tax income above one million euros. On Hollande's flank is Jean-Luc Melenchon's Left Front calling for a citizens insurrection and winning 11% of the vote, nearly 4 million people, in the primary round.

Tens of thousands of people across Spain protested Sunday against education and health care spending cuts as the country slides into its second recession in three years.

As Richard Seymour of leninology.blogspot.com says, "For now the radical Left has siezed the initiative, upended the electoral system, and torn apart the austerity script so painstakingly drafted by the ECB, the presidency and the finance ministers."

Yet in the darkness rises a new fascist threat - Le Pen in France, Golden Dawn in Greece, the EDL in the UK 

How can we make sense of the accelerating political turbulence? What does it mean for the global anti-capitalist left?

Join Socialist Aotearoa for a discussion on the breaking news from Europe's anti-austerity rebellion.

Where: Unite Union, 6a Western Springs Road, Kingsland. When: 7.00pm, Thursday 10 May.

Dayle Takitimu - "This is the time for the uprising"



Dayle Takitimu of Te Whanau a Apanui tells the hikoi "This is the time for the uprising!".

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Solidarity with Palestinian hunger strikers

NEARLY 1,600 Palestinians in Israeli prisons began an open-ended hunger strike on April 17, which was Palestinian Prisoners' Day. An additional 2,300 took part in a one-day hunger strike that day, meaning that over three-quarters of the 4,700 Palestinians held in Israel's jails refused food for at least 24 hours. -- Read More

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"Every escalation by the Palestinians must be answered by an escalation from within the imperialist countries who are ultimately to blame for the condition the Palestinians find themselves in. The Israeli state could not survive economically were it not for the direct financial and diplomatic support of Britain and the U.S." -- David Jamieson



Letter sent to Murray McCully today from Global Peace and Justice Auckland:
Kia ora Mr McCully,
Battle of the empty stomachs
We urge you to speak out on behalf of New Zealand in support of the approximately 2000 Palestinian prisoners now on hunger strike in Israeli prisons.
The prisoners want an end to the cruel and harsh treatment they receive and an end to detention without trial. During the last year there has been a 50% increase in “administrative detention” and it is well recorded that conditions for prisoners have seriously deteriorated over that time. New Zealand has a poor record of opposition to Israeli occupation and theft of Palestinian land.
Your government has also been silent on the oppression of Palestinians under Israel’s apartheid policies. This must change. Israel has a long history of ignoring international law and thumbing its nose at United Nations resolutions. It is therefore time this country weighed in on the side of justice and human rights for Palestinians.
This hunger strike gives the government that opportunity. Please give urgent consideration to this request as every day the situation for these prisoners is growing more serious. We look forward to hearing from you shortly.
Yours sincerely,
 GPJA