Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Asset Sales? Renationalise, Without Compensation.

  Renationalise, Without Compensation.

Joe Carolan from Socialist Aotearoa and John Minto from the Mana Movement put forward the radical line against Asset Sales, at the protest outside Mercury Energy's HQ.




Monday, June 25, 2012

The thieves must be stopped

In the last few hours as National pushed its asset sales through parliament activists mounted a picket of Mighty River Power in Auckland, the first electricity company due to be privatised.

On Saturday 14 July we need to get out in the streets across Aotearoa and march against the theft of our assets. This is the winter of dissent. HamiltonPalmerston North, Christchurch and Auckland are organising. Join them.

The lie being repeated in the newspapers and the television from the Prime Minister is that these asset sales are about reducing government debt. This debt lie is at the heart of the austerity programme being bulldozed ahead by National. Beat the lie, defeat the government. The privatisations are rich people stealing the assets and natural resources of the people of Aotearoa.

The majority of New Zealanders are opposed to asset sales. But we can't leave it to petitions and the 2014 election to win this.

It's when thousands of people are marching together in the streets against the government's lies and telling the truth - the government and the rich are thieves - they get the confidence to take the next steps.

The union movement needs to rally its membership on the streets again. Mana, Greens and Labour need to be pushed to re-nationalise stolen assets without compensation next time they are in Government. The ANFS movement needs to consider mass direct action to disrupt the sales.

 -Socialist Aotearoa
















Sunday, June 17, 2012

Is Marxism a pakeha ideology?

Nga Tamariki o Te Kohu, a Tuhoe group, carried out a 64-day occupation at Lake Waikaremoana in 1998, supported by others including the Socialist Workers Organisation. In the 1970s and 1980s Tame Iti was a prominent member of the Communist Party. 
One criticism of Marxism that is often levelled is that it is a Pakeha ideology or "Eurocentric". Marxism, the argument goes, was developed by Pakeha in Europe and therefore looks at the rest of the world through Pakeha eyes.

Since the dominant attitude of Europeans towards the rest of the world (especially Asia, Africa and other colonial areas) was imperialist and racist some of these attitudes rubbed off on Marxism, it is said.

Moreover, Marxism's claims to universal global validity are just part of a wider claim by Pakeha thinkers for the universal validity of Western culture. Other cultures, such as Maori, are seen as invalid or inferior.

It is also suggested Marxists take concepts developed in the context of European history and society and mechanically impose them on non-European societies where they do notfit reality.

It is indeed true that all ideas and theories are social products. They do not fall from the skies into the minds of "great thinkers" but arise from specific historical circumstances and respond to specific social needs.

Validity 
Therefore every theory, including Marxism, is marked by its conditions of origin. It does not, however, follow that the validity of a theory is limited to the time and place of its formulation.

Copernicus discovered that the Earth went around the sun in the 16th century. This did not mean cease to be true in the 17th or 18th centuries. Newton discovered the law of gravity in England. That does not make the law inapplicable in Japan or Australia.

Arab mathematicians invented the zero and the Chinese invented gunpowder. This has not inhibited the use of either in Europe, North America, or Aotearoa. These examples do not prove that the basic principles of Marxism are of international validity, but they do show they could be.

In fact the core ideas of Marx's theory of history - that the driving force of history is the development of the forces of production and the class struggle - were derived not just from European history but from the totality of world history.

That includes the history of pre-antiquity communist societies, which Marx and Engles much admired. Also it is wrong to depict Marxism as part of the dominant 19th century European outlook.

It developed in opposition to that outlook. Part of that opposition was internationalism and opposition to racism and imperialism. There was already an antiracist, anti-imperialist tradition in the working class movement before Marx. Marx deepened that tradition with his call, "Workers ofthe world, unite", his defence of Irish and Polish self-determination and his support for the north in the American Civil War.

In the 20th century Marxists like Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky developed it further with their analysis of imperialism, their opposition to the First World War a their support for revolution in the colonies.

However, the most important argument against notions of "Eurocentrism "is what has happened to capitalism and the working class. Marxism is the theory of the working-class struggle against capitalism. It arose first in Europe because the working class appeared first in Europe.

A global system
But even as Marx was writing, capitalist production was spreading to the rest of the world.

Marx understood this process with complete clarity. In the Communist Manifesto he wrote: "The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie [capitalists] over the whole surface of the globe...'

'It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois [capitalist] mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, ie to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.'

Marx's words describe perfectly the process of colonisation in Aotearoa, through which capitalist relations were forced on Maori and Pakeha workers alike.

And today we can see that what Marx predicted has indeed come about all across the globe, perhaps more completely than he ever imagined.

Today there is no country that is not caught up in the net of the world capitalist market, no country where capitalist relations of production are not the dominant relations.

We live  in a world where capital rushes to invest in south China, where Pepsi sells in Vietnam, where BP operates in Colombia and Shell in Nigeria. Marxism as a theoretical guide to workers' resistance to the power of capital and to international workers revolution has relevance and resonance in every corner of the globe - including Aotearoa.

-John Molyneux, first published in Socialist Worker (NZ) in 1997.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Workers create all the wealth under capitalism

Barricades go up in Spanish mining areas as workers rebel against bailout conditions that will result in thousands of job losses. Their resistance and militant defiance of the police poses a real challenge to the power of the European capitalists. 
There's a powerful myth, promulgated by John Key and David Shearer,  and in most of the media. It is that businessmen are "wealth creators". Without them, we're told, there would be no investment, no jobs, an economy in a spiral of decline.

Under feudalism, using the same logic, without the lords there would be no land. The peasants would just float in the air, starving.

What is true in current-day society is that the means of wealth creation are in the hands of a small class of capitalists. They own and control the major means of production-the factories and offices, the roads, railways, docks and airports, and so on.

Often - indeed increasingly, through "privatisation" - they own them privately. Sometimes nation-states own them. In either case, access to and decision-making control over these facilities is out of the hands of the mass of the population.

What about the rest of us? A minority still own the means to make a living-small farmers and shopkeepers, the self employed, independent craft workers. The old term for these is the "petty bourgeoisie". A few of them earn quite well, but most scratch along putting in long hours and earning no more than average wages. Often, they move in and out of the working class.

The majority - the working class - can only make a living if they work for someone else, in return for a wage or salary.

The working class are the key wealth creators. They produce most of the goods and services society needs - in workplaces that they neither own nor control.

In principle it makes no difference whether they work for private corporations or the state. In either case, they work under bosses they don't choose, and they earn only enough to live from one month to the next.

As every slave knew, being a wealth creator doesn't make you wealthy. The goods and services that workers produce belong not to them, but to their bosses. In the very process of producing things, the working class also reproduces the wealth of the capitalists.

Microsoft workers don't just develop software, they also develop Bill Gates's immense riches, and his power over themselves. Workers' daily activity under capitalism reproduces the ruling class, its profits and its control.

That's what the term "exploitation" means. Workers produce vast surpluses, which end up in the hands of those who rule over them, in the economy and in the state alike. The more they work, the richer and more powerful their exploiters become.

Capitalism is a system that depends on this daily robbery, carried out in every workplace every minute of every day. At its heart is the activity of the working class.

The working class, in this crucial sense, has continued to expand as capitalism has developed across the world.

At the time that Marx and Engels wrote The Communist Manifesto, back in 1848, the working class was still a tiny proportion of the world's population, chiefly concentrated in a few countries in Western Europe.

Today, the working class in just a small country like South Korea is probably bigger than the world's working class a century and a half ago.

Sometimes you hear it argued that the working class is shrinking, because "manual work" is declining.

What a weird argument! "Manual" means "by the hand" - but somehow it's supposed the nurses and computer operators, people in offices and call centres don't need hands! It's not the colour of a person's collar that determines their class, but their relationship to the means of production.

Nor do consumption patterns determine class. If they did, then we'd have to agree with the 19th century Lancashire commentator who sighed that the working class was disappearing because shoes were replacing clogs!

Capitalism is the most dynamic system of production in history, and it constantly changes the make-up of its own workforce.

In 19th century New Zealand the biggest sources of employment were agriculture, textiles and coal. In the 20th century manufacturing grew and factories rose up around the country. In turn, these have been partially displaced by new, electronics-based industries. But the changes haven't meant the working class has shrunk-it's continued to grow.

As the key exploited class in capitalism, the working class also possesses immense potential power, not just to halt capitalist production, but to transform society. That power is the key to the possibility of socialism.

-Adapted from Socialistworker.co.uk

Friday, June 15, 2012

'Only the hood can change the hood'

Justice and freedom in education, health, poverty wages and justice were the key themes of a march by 2000 Pasifika people in Auckland city this morning.

To the beat of Cook Island drums under the flags of Pacific's many nations thousands of Pasifika people protested unaffordable education from ECE to varsity, institutional racism in the justice system, a minimum wage you can't live on and a health system not working.


Speakers at the march celebrated the struggles of Pacific peoples in Aotearoa and beyond like Samoan independence and halting the dawn raids of the 1970s.



There was anger at the National Government and also at Len Brown for ignoring the problems of Pasifika people. 'We scrub the toilets and work on the factory floor. We give this city it's colour. We helped build this city and yet we can't afford school uniforms for our kids.'


The march stopped outside Auckland University to protest fees and discrimination. It stopped under the shadow of the Skytower to rally against pokies.


There was lots of dancing and singing and even a group gymnastics to start the march followed by chants of 'Hey Auckland listen up! Pasifika people are standing up!' and 'When Pacific people are under attack, stand up fight back!'.



'Our people did not come to Aotearoa to die of Type 2 diabetes!' yelled Efeso, one of the main organisers to the crowds of people who had come in mostly from south and west Auckland. There was good support from Labour, Greens, Mana, Socialist Aotearoa, trade unions and church groups for the demonstration.

-Socialist Aotearoa

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Turn up the heat

Miners in Asturia, Spain block highways to protest austerity cuts.
We are being robbed: Student allowances cut. Prescription charges up. Hospitals and schools underfunded. Benefits under attack. Assets being sold under urgency. Workers' rights for sale. A secret bill of rights for multinational corporations being negotiated. Our natural resources pillaged and our environment polluted.

People are fed up: For the first time in ages National is slumping in the polls. Confidence in the Government is at its lowest level since National was elected in 2008. The tide has turned; less than half of those asked think this country is going in the right direction.

A world in struggle: 90,000 outraged students on the streets of Mexico City. 8000 angry miners fighting running battles with police in Spain. In Syria more towns are falling into the hands of the rebels. In Greece big hospital strikes have beaten further cuts and angry anti-fascist protests took the streets in a show of unity against Golden Dawn. In every country and on every continent are people resisting the rule of the bankers.

Turn up the heat: The National Government is under pressure but they will be hoping they can spin their way out of this slump. They'll be hoping to use their annual conference at SkyCity on the weekend of July 20-21 as a publicity blitz. Blame the beneficiaries and talk up the asset sales. Corrupt snouts in the trough of casino capitalism inside SkyCity's banquet halls. National's conference is a focus for the resistance. We should take the growing mood of anger there this Winter.

-Socialist Aotearoa

Why the frack?

Fracking is just one aspect of a short-sighted energy strategy that sees corporations benefit from the exploitation of New Zealand’s resources while public interest becomes a secondary consideration. 
Hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’ as it is more commonly known, is a controversial method of gas and oil extraction. Due to its high-risk nature and alleged environmental repercussions it has come to be a point of contention and an issue of critical debate both in New Zealand and overseas.

Fracking involves a high-pressure process where a concoction comprising water, chemicals and sand is forced into the ground, resulting in the release of gas and oil that could not otherwise be reached. Essentially, the solid rock formations housing gas and oil are cracked open beneath the surface of the earth, allowing these elusive deposits to be collected and piped to groundlevel. Large and easily accessible reserves of hydrocarbon are now relatively hard to come by, and fracking is being turned to as an answer.

Fracking is occurring currently in the Taranaki region, and until recently, without resource consent. However, an inquiry by the Taranaki Regional Council into the potential implications of fracking concluded that the process could result in contaminants reaching groundwater aquifiers even with precautions being taken and the method being executed without fault. Those in opposition to this uncertain form of extraction point to instances where fracking has been responsible for poisoning farmland and sources of drinking water, resulting in the death of animals and chronic health problems for residents in communities where it has been permitted overseas. Rural residents of Taranaki have definite reason for concern; the community is heavily dependent upon healthy dairy stocks, and farmers living nearby fracked sites have in the past complained of issues with their water.

With a government determined to bolster New Zealand’s economy at any cost, fracking has been largely advocated as a safe and sustainable measure. Yet these assertions that fracking poses no potential harm to communities are largely unjustified. In the United States alone fracking has been the cause of flammable tap water, where gas and chemicals have met with water supplies, as well as various explosions, toxic air pollution, the alleged mass deaths of birds and fish and increases in small-scale earthquakes. Seven of the ten countries that previously allowed fracking have now banned it either regionally or at a national level.

Inevitably, those who have a vested interest in the extraction will play down the risks that are of concern to the public and try to discredit those who remain in opposition to it. Yet at a grassroots level, people are not convinced. The anti-fracking movement has gathered considerable support both in New Zealand as well as overseas. In recent months protesters have flocked the streets of Auckland and Wellington and to the steps of parliament to demand a moratorium on fracking. Hundreds of people have gathered in small towns across the country to put a voice to the issue. Iwi and hapu including the people of Parihaka Pa oppose the fracking. The movement has received endorsement from various environmental organisations including Forest and Bird and been compared to the anti nuclear movement of the 1980s. Christchurch has been the first place in the country to impose a moratorium, yet despite this, fracking is being increased within New Zealand as a whole. Currently, the National government plans to extend fracking to the East coast, with interest also being shown in areas of the South Island.

Even if fracking were a safe and environmentally secure measure, the issue remains that consumption continues to increase while finite resources are steadily depleted. The government is doing all it can to exploit that which is available at present as it sees gas and oil as a quick economic fix. But the environment is not merely a commodity to recklessly exploit for the sake of the economy; it should be respected and guarded for future generations. When measures such as fracking are being turned to in light of the fact that easily accessible fossil fuel deposits are becoming ever scarce, it begs the question of why clean energy alternatives are not being adopted instead. Fracking is just one aspect of a short-sighted energy strategy that sees corporations benefit from the exploitation of New Zealand’s resources while public interest becomes a secondary consideration.

We cannot put a monetary value on clean drinking water and healthy people, yet this is what appears to be at stake when high-risk practices such as fracking are condoned. Unpolluted air and the guarantee of safe water supplies should be of primary importance to any government that values the health of its people. Similarly, protecting farmland and surrounding environments should not be factors that the government is able to overlook at its own discretion. The interests of people and the environment must be prioritised over those of the gas and oil industry.

It is imperative that continued pressure is put on parliament to ensure that fracking is perceived as unacceptable to the New Zealand public. To avoid future health risks and potential environmental detriment it is critical that New Zealanders do not lapse into a state of complacency over this issue. Severe regulations must be demanded with regard to fracking, and ultimately legislation that will disable the proposed expansion of it within New Zealand.

-Paloma, SA Auckland


Sources: Forest and BirdNZH, PlanetSave, Earthjustice, Listener, 3News, Stuff, Stuff 2, Stuff 3, Credo

The working class at the centre

Spanish miners march against austerity in June 2012. A message to the European ruling class "If my children go hungry, your children will shed blood".
Under capitalism the working class has a great political advantage compared with all previous exploited classes.

Capitalism, for its own purposes, has concentrated workers together in great cities and towns. It has forced them together into factories and offices. And it has educated workers far beyond the average level of culture even of previous ruling classes.

As a result, it has made the modern working class a force that can organise itself quite easily into unions, parties, co-operatives, and other bodies and networks. Never has any exploited class in history had such a capacity to take over and run society.

The very people whose lives are currently dominated by the fact that they produce the wealth and power of capitalism are the key to its transformation.

Socialism involves the great majority seizing back, under their own control, the wealth they already produce. No vision of "socialism" is worth a bean if it leaves out the working class, actively organising itself, taking control of the means of production from the capitalist class and setting out to remake society on the basis of real human need.

The road to socialism and the goal of socialism are inextricably linked. We utterly oppose all those "top-down" accounts of the way to achieve socialism that suppose that some small group of clever people-intellectuals, party leaders, MPs, guerrilla army leaders, etc-can emancipate humanity from capitalism.

Socialism cannot be achieved by acts of parliament or any kind of dictatorship or minority action.

Socialism is only possible when millions upon millions of ordinary working people - women and men, black and white, gay and straight - organise themselves democratically "from below" and set out to take all forms of decision-making power away from the minorities who rule us today, and to impose their own collective power over every aspect of social and productive life. The founding principle of a socialist society is the most extensive democracy, going far beyond the limited principles of "parliamentary democracy" today.

In order to secure and extend its rule the working class needs the active involvement of the masses of people who are currently excluded from decisions about the matters that shape their own lives.

Capitalism has a combination of two drives, both of which are direct obstacles to democratic popular control over social, economic and political life. The first is exploitation. The second is competition. Exploitation - the extraction of surpluses from the labour of the majority by a minority - necessarily rests on hierarchy and lack of democracy. To maintain the flow of profits to a few, the social power of private and state property over us is upheld by whole armies of supervisors, foremen, managers, police, jailers and (ultimately) soldiers.

Replacing production for profit with production aimed directly at satisfying human need means breaking these hierarchies and substituting direct democratic control over society's means of production.

Capitalism, though, is not only marked by class exploitation. Its other core feature is "the market" and the necessity of competition between rival companies and states. Indeed, that competition compels the capitalist class to seek, constantly, to step up the rate of exploitation and to devise ever new methods of keeping control over labour. Competition drives capitalists to accumulate, to exploit.

Competition and the market also produce a world that nobody controls that develops through convulsive crises. Private profit dominates, and general interests take a back seat - as a result the capitalist class has no effective answer to ecological threats like global warming.

Capitalist production, driven by competitive accumulation, rips the heart out of established communities, and today threatens the very existence of life on the planet. It prevents the rational collective harbouring and development of resources.

The sole practical alternative to the anarchy and destructiveness of capitalist competition and exploitation is the development and extension of cooperative and democratic planning.

How, in the end, can human needs and wants be decided unless human beings themselves choose - democratically - what their needs and wants are and where their priorities lie?

How else can plans be sensibly evaluated and changed unless the majority can engage in debate and decide how to alter things?

Such a world only becomes possible when workers organise themselves to take that world back from their ruling exploiters and place it under their own collective power.

-Adapted from Colin Barker's column at Socialistworker.co.uk 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A sick budget and dangerously understaffed hospitals


The oldest universal public health system in the world is under attack by National's austerity budget. New Zealand's public health system, once a model for the whole world, is being run down, underfunded and slowly prepared for privatisation.

Education unions won an inspiring victory against National, against Treasury and showed us all that the cuts can be fought and reversed. Now it is time for health workers and patients to step up the resistance to National's attacks on the public healthcare system.

The nurses union, NZNO described the 24 May Budget 'A sick budget'. NZNO CEO Geoff Annals said, "The bottom line is that there has not been enough money spent on health to retain the services we already have, and to pay for new initiatives."
"Nurses are expecting to see user pays charges, cuts to services and jobs, and poorer, sicker patients arriving at hospital with the diseases and illness of poverty. We are in for a tough year. It will be especially tough for New Zealanders who have chronic illness and are poor, and the wider budget unfairly targets young New Zealanders."
The underfunding of health has left Auckland hospitals understaffed by about 120 nurses and last month 'a baby stopped breathing and almost died at Starship hospital because there were no nurses on its ward, according to a nurse who says chronic staff shortages are putting lives at risk'.

There is a concerted assault on New Zealand's good quality, universal, public health system. Prescription charges rose $2 in the budget and as Kaitaia GP Lance O'Sullivan told Newstalk ZB he's already seeing patients who struggle to afford their prescriptions and now it will be harder for them. "The harm from that is people are going to go untreated and that's going to result in increased cost through people getting unwell to the point requiring hospital admission."

National's attacks on class sizes were beaten back by a mobilisation of teachers and the community. Health workers can mobilise and win too. It's time to step up the struggle.

-Socialist Aotearoa

Monday, June 11, 2012

Special needs units being cut in schools


The parents of Ranui special needs unit collected over 10,000 signatures to protest its (and others) proposed closure 2013. We presented the petition on Friday 8th June at the Ministry of Education office. The MOE is simply the venue. The MPs from Greens, Labour, Mana and NZ First will present the petition to parliament and then facilitate the process of the issue being taken up by the education select committee. United Future and the Maori Party have indicated that they may consider supporting the concept of direct funding of special needs teachers attached to units or centres at this stage. So there is a chance the select committee may recommend this to the Minister/Government.

-Meredydd Barrar - Teacher and NZEI activist in West Auckland (Abridged)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

What do we mean by a workers’ revolution?

“Revolution is necessary not only because the ruling class cannot be overthrown in any other way, but because only in a revolution can the class overthrowing it rid itself of all the muck of ages and fit itself to found society anew.” - Karl Marx
As resistance to austerity and the cuts grows, more people are involved in activity and experiences that make them open to the idea that we need a completely different kind of society.

But many can be intimidated by the idea of revolution. After all, aren’t revolutions violent, with a few leaders exploiting the “mob” to seize power?

The ruling class promotes this scary image of revolution. But it is far from the truth.

A socialist revolution is first and foremost a vast expansion of democracy. Socialism is about the transfer of economic power—away from a tiny, greedy elite, and into the democratic control of the majority, the working class.

Revolutions are about the mass entry of ordinary people onto the political stage, as they actively attempt to shape their own futures. No more war and poverty, no more slums and palaces, a world where everyone's needs are met.

Millions upon millions of people, including many who have never been on a protest before or even voted in an election, take to the streets, take over their workplaces—and start debating how society should be organised.

They go much further than events like the Arab Spring in 2011 and other movements for democratic reforms that are often hailed as revolutions.

Workers' councils
Revolutions that really shift power from one class to another look very different.

New institutions are created to express the new democratic power of the masses: elected councils of workplace delegates, who decide the way forward for the revolution.

Remarkably, similar structures appear again and again, each time under a different name. In the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1971 they were called “soviets”. In Germany in 1918-23 they were called “rate”. And in Chile 1972-73 they were known as “cordones”.

They are much more democratic than capitalist parliaments. Instead of ordinary people only voting every few years and then leaving things to the politicians, the delegates represent the workers and can be instantly recalled.

They are paid no more than other workers, and are easy to replace with a new representative who better expresses the views of a factory or office as the revolution develops.

Ordinary people discover a new sense of confidence and power. Other groups from students to peasants who begin to identify with the revolution elect their own delegates.

And the mood can infect the rank and file of the army—and they can elect delegates too, challenging the authority of the officers.

Revolutions are “festivals of the oppressed”, as the Russian revolutionary Lenin put it.

Oppressions used to divide us under capitalism—from racism to prejudice against disabled people—are challenged and start to fall away.

People’s intellectual horizons are vastly expanded, as life no longer seems cramped into the narrow drudgery of work and poverty.

But surely there would be some “violence”?

Power
The real violence in every revolution comes from the old order, as it desperately uses every weapon it has to try to cling onto power.

That’s why we are not pacifists. It’s necessary to be ready to use violence to defend ourselves and our revolution against counter-revolutionaries. The ruling class has proven over and over again to use violence in defense of their interests. The 'shock and awe' bombing of Baghdad in 2003 to the beating of peaceful protesters the real violence in society always come from those in power.

Revolutions have to go further than setting up workers' councils. These new forms of democracy cannot exist side-by-side with the capitalist state. The new aims of these councils, to redistribute the goods and wealth in society so that no children are hungry while supermarket freezers are full or to end ecologically destructive oil drilling, collide immediately with the aims of the capitalist class to make profit for themselves.

Workers in a revolution have to overthrow and dismantle the state—or the old ruling class will eventually use it to destroy the revolution.

It sounds like an impossible task—but it can happen. Ideas that before the revolution were only held by a minority of socialists become accepted by millions of people. But this is a process—it doesn’t happen instantly.

As Karl Marx put it, “Revolution is necessary not only because the ruling class cannot be overthrown in any other way, but because only in a revolution can the class overthrowing it rid itself of all the muck of ages and fit itself to found society anew.”

The capitalist society we are all brought up in makes any argument for revolution difficult to win. The idea that we could overthrow not just one hated boss, but that ordinary people could take over and run society themselves, runs completely counter to the dominant ideology.

That’s why socialists who are clear about the need for a socialist revolution and to push forward the revolution when it begins have to be organised—to win the debate and make sure the old order is swept away before it can regroup.

To do this effectively, socialists needs to be organised now, into a revolutionary party.

Adapted from Socialistworker.co.uk

Saturday, June 09, 2012

How can we stop climate change?

"No one is going to save the planet but us, the ordinary people of the earth."
Climate change is real—and its effects hit ordinary people hardest.

But people from all sections of society are concerned about the environment. That has been shown on mobilisations like the 50,000-strong protests against mining in Auckland in 2010, which brought together environmentalists, trade unionists and students.

However many mobilisations since have been much smaller. Across the world the scale of protest doesn’t match the urgency of the problem of ecological destruction. So how can we build bigger demonstrations? And what kind of movement can win change?

Environmental destruction flows from the system we live under. Capitalism is built around the competitive accumulation of profits—each boss is competing to make more money than the rest.

This leads to the plunder of the planet’s resources for short-term gains. The long-term implications for the planet are always less important than keeping companies profitable.

We can win reforms and force the bosses back over specific issues. So, a mass campaign could win more investment in public transport, for example.

But that won’t remove the profit motive at the heart of the system. The world’s most powerful companies make billions by polluting the planet. Stopping that requires more than appealing to their better natures—we need to challenge them.

Sometimes the scale of what’s required can seem overwhelming. But ordinary people have shown time and time again that they have the power to change the world.

Movements
Movements of ordinary people won the vote for women in New Zealand and ended apartheid in South Africa.

But some environmental campaigners see change coming in a very individualistic way and this can end up weakening the movement.

Nobody would seriously suggest that a myriad of individual actions alone can stop a war. But some say that if enough people recycle, don’t drive a car and fly less, we can save the planet.

We can’t accept moralistic arguments that stress individual sacrifice. They blame people for things they have little control over and allow the big carbon‑intensive companies to continue polluting.

Most working class people can’t afford to properly insulate their homes and cut energy use.

But the government could begin an emergency insulation programme. It could invest in public transport to encourage people not to use cars.

Fighting climate change is a social question, not an individual one.

Many campaigners think that because we all depend upon the planet for our survival we can successfully appeal to those in power to act.

But, even though a nuclear war would wipe out the rich and powerful as efficiently as it would workers, our rulers have stayed committed to building up ever bigger nuclear arsenals to defend their competitive edge.

Survival
Bosses risk the planet’s future not because they want to, but because they are driven to in order to survive.

Ordinary people can see it is logical to make society greener, but those who profit most from using dirty energy sources on the cheap want to squeeze every last drop out of them. They won’t scrap them and risk their competitive position by investing in wind turbines instead.

The revolutionary Karl Marx described how, even when those in power can see the destruction they are causing, they will continue and hope others pay the price.

As he put it, “Apres moi le deluge! [After me, the flood!] is the watchword of every capitalist and of every capitalist nation.”

If we don’t challenge capitalism, we end up accepting capitalist “solutions” to climate change—that poorer countries industrialising are the problem, for example. These set workers against each other and leave the bosses unscathed. The widespread feeling that climate change must be tackled is a good basis for building mass campaigns. Linking them to class demands will strengthen them.

We should take the demand for a hundred thousand climate jobs into every union branch and use it to put pressure on the government. We should link the fight to save the planet to the Aotearoa is Not for Sale campaign and other anti-cuts initiatives.

We live in a world divided between a tiny minority who will trash the planet to make a quick buck and the rest of us who will pay the price.

We should remember that class divisions can’t be transcended in a joint fight for the planet. We have to smash the class interests of the bosses to win a world where the environment is protected.

-Adapted from Socialist Worker.co.uk

Friday, June 08, 2012

Tony Cliff's legacy in Cairo, Athens, London

Tony Cliff speaks to a meeting of miners during the 1984-5 strike. Cliff's talks to workers and socialists, recalls Richard Seymour, left people 'confident and optimistic'.
Gigi Ibrahim, a leader of Egypt's revolutionary socialists used blogging, facebook and twitter to spread the struggle against Mubarak.
'The most unforgettable person I’ve ever met in my life,' is how one socialist described Tony Cliff.

Tony Cliff (1917-2000) was a fantastic man by all accounts. Cliff is best remembered as the founder of Britain's largest revolutionary organisation, the  Socialist Workers' Party (SWP) and the International Socialist Tendency which co-ordinates between similarly aligned revolutionary socialist organisations around the world. Socialist Aotearoa is a member of the International Socialist Tendency.

Cliff's autobiography, A world to win, and his biography A Marxist for His Time are both clever and amusing journeys into the history of post-war left politics in Britain and the ebbs and flows of the class struggle from the Vietnam war protests in 1968 to the great battles of miners against Margaret Thatcher's Tories in 1984-5.

Cliff's praxis is socialism from below, 'The working class, not the party, makes the revolution, but the party guides the working class...The revolutionary party must be built'. He tirelessly built, first by himself, and then with thousands of others the SWP and the IST. He wrote ceaselessly including biographies of Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky & Rosa Luxemburg and influential works on the capitalist economy in the West and the state capitalist Soviet world during the Cold War.

His legacy is not just theoretical in terms of forging a pragmatic and vibrant revolutionary socialist analysis   and perspective of capitalism and revolution in the wake of reformism in the West and Stalinism beyond the Iron Curtain.

Cliff's legacy lives on in the hysterical newspaper headline of the British Daily Telegraph in February,
'Tiny band of left-wing radicals bring jobs policy to its knees', in reports on the Arab Spring like 'The “Brave Kids” of Egypt' and comments given to an Al-Jazeera journalist in Greece, 'George, a 19-year-old journalism student at Panteion University who wouldn't give his last name, said he planned to vote for ANTARSYA, but thinks the election was not as important as direct action.'

Cliff's life's work was to build a revolutionary organisation in Britain and support ones being built overseas also.

For Cliff building a revolutionary party was 'About having an organisation which could bring together all the best activists, to pool their experience and learn from the past. That way, the party could be the memory of the class, win respect inside the movement and strengthen the ability of workers to win.'

Revolutionaries needed theory but you couldn't build a revolutionary party with dogma. Cliff's famous quote cuts crisply here, ‘If you sit on Marx’s shoulders you see far, but if you sit on Marx’s shoulders and close your eyes, you don’t see very far at all.’

Cairo, Athens, London
The leading role played by the Revolutionary Socialists(RS) in Egypt, the Greek Socialist Workers' Party (SEK) in Greece which is part of ANTARSYA, and the SWP in Britain in the struggles against austerity, fascism, war and dictatorship shows the strength of Cliff's analysis and his activism.

All of these organisations share a similar commitment to building workers' struggles, confronting fascists on the street and to extra-parliamentary campaigning. The roots of this commitment come from the lessons learnt by Cliff and the SWP in the late twentieth century, fighting for a better world.

In Cairo, 'In 2007, [the Revolutionary Socialists] were the first to call for independent unions, after spending cold winter nights in front of the finance ministry in support of striking property tax collectors. When the strike ended, the first independent syndicate in Egypt was established, which later became the Independent General Federation of Workers.' The RS influence in Egypt grew from the student movement in Cairo to the workers' movement in Malhalla by following the praxis of Cliff and the revolutionary socialists in London in 1968 who were 'known for the line of taking students off to the picket line and factory gate' to help develop intellectuals into revolutionaries Cliff says in A world to win, 'The most important thing for the development of the students (as well as our implantation in the working class) was for the students to learn from direct contact with the workers' movement.'

In Athens SEK have recently had their offices raided by fascists and police and ANTARSYA is the only left organisation that openly supported and built the nationwide anti-fascist rallies against Golden Dawn yesterday. As A Marxist for His Time makes clear, Cliff and his comrades since the 1960s always advocated a strategy of both 'Fists against fascism' and building a large united front to fight neo-nazi organisations. In 1977 the SWP initated Anti-Nazi League stopped the National Front marching in Lewisham, London. Some comrades were jailed for their role in the street fighting in Lewisham and in 1979 an east London teacher and SWP member from New Zealand - Blair Peach - was killed by the police in an anti-fascist protest.

In London the SWP initiated Right to Work campaign allowed a small organisation of revolutionaries to smash a scheme that would have allowed large corporations to use slave labour. Having an organisation geared towards extra-parliamentary struggles to austerity gives socialists the ability to mobilise the power of workers and students to confront the ruling class in the streets. As the Telegraph told the story,
It is the Government’s flagship employment policy, designed to bring jobless youngsters back into the workplace. Signed up to help were some of Britain’s biggest high street chains, among them Tesco, Waterstones and TK Maxx.  
But in the course of only a week, high-profile protests have dealt a series of damaging blows to the multi-million-pound scheme to get people into jobs through unpaid work experience. 
What is astonishing is that the demonstrations, which at first glance appeared to have a groundswell of popular support, are being orchestrated by a small number of highly disciplined Left-wing revolutionaries.
It can be revealed that a cabal of no more than half a dozen people are at the heart of those protests.
The protests may have been small but they drew on the experience and support of a revolutionary organisation of thousands of members with decades of experience and the financial and organisational resources to campaign on various fronts at once. As the SWP noted,
Right wing columnists attacked us for being “placard-toting obsessives” who had “zero impact”. Yet at the same time they accused us of orchestrating an anti-workfare conspiracy that had lured in the BBC and even the Mumsnet website. The Sun newspaper made us their “villain of the week”. And the Sun knows a bit about villainy.
In any movement whether it is the trade union movement or the anti-austerity citizens' and student movements there will be people new to the struggle or those with more conservative views, a revolutionary organisation unites experienced activists to discuss and plan a way forward. Cliff's view of a revolutionary organisation was that it must be democratic, whereby all members get a say over the strategy, but must also have some centralism, that allows for an executive to co-ordinate the broad range of activities of the party over long periods of time (years and decades) - education, union work, anti-war activism.

Looking ahead
Tony Cliff, was an important revolutionary and there are many lessons to be learnt by young activists from A world to win and  A Marxist for His Time. He made plenty of mistakes but his central success is confirmed in the strength and contribution to the struggle organisations like the SEK, RS and SWP are making around the world. We are entering a new stage of the economic crisis that throws up new challenges and opportunities for socialists. Learning from the experiences of Cliff will be crucial to advancing the struggle in the coming year. His experience gives us confidence in our work building Socialist Aotearoa and the movements we are involved with. His excitement and enthusiasm for fighting for an alternative to war and capitalism are inspiring and energising. In 1994 Cliff told the SWP,
'Today we face a weak government which is forced to take on all workers - through tax rises and wage controls. It makes workers angry, but cautious about taking action, particularly in opposition to union leaders. It is a period of working class recuperation where we must inject socialist politics.'
Today in Aotearoa things are much the same and across the world Cliff reminded us in his autobiography that the relevance of revolutionary socialism for workers grows,

The contradictions of capitalism today are much deeper than they were when Marx died in 1883, contradictions that appear in deep mass slumps, wars that go on and on in one country after another, etc. The working class is much stronger today than in 1883. As a matter of fact the working class of South Korea is larger than the total working class of the world when Marx died. And South Korea is only the eleventh economy in the world. Add to them the American, Japanese, Russian, German, British workers, etc, and the potential for socialism is greater than ever.

-Omar, SA

Thursday, June 07, 2012

"A barricade made of ideas"


"A barricade made of ideas," is how one student activist (English literature) described the silent, study-in last night at the University of Auckland library.

Instead of closing at 10pm as usual 45 students and one lecturer held a study-in until 12.01am on the top floor of library. holding the library open for the next day, and the next generation. A large banner hanging from the 6th Floor window reads 'EDUCATION FOR ALL' - don't turn the light out on education!

Some students took the opportunity to write essays, some to cram for exams and many to read radical and revolutionary books!

Student left peacefully at 12.01am and in a positive and peaceful mood. The protest has breathed renewed strength into students. At the end of the study-in protesters gathered together to share why they were there and what they had achieved.

'Some people say students should be studying instead of protesting, but tonight we did both!' said one student.



'This is my first protest and I was a bit scared at the start but this was awesome tonight!'

'I'm worried I won't have the option of post-graduate study and I don't understand why education is being attacked when it is so important,' said another student.

Some of the twitter messages show the effect of the action within the student movement.

  • 'Positive stuff coming through #blockadethebudget lets keep it up!'
  • 'Proud to be part of a movement where students value and care about education's future.'
  • 'Succeeding In Keeping The Lights On For Our Education Im PROUD Of The Auckland Students Gives Me Something To Strive For'
  • 'Proud of the students doing a study-in at Auckland University's library tonight, power to you guys. We need to see more'
  • 'Thank you to all the students who protested tonight, there's a lot of us who appreciate what you are doing for us #blockadethebudget'
  • 'I was cynical at first, but those #blockadethebudget kids at the University of Auckland seem to be getting some traction...'
Auckland University Students' Association President and Keep Our Assets campaign leader Arena Williams joined the study-in, tweeting, 'I'm inspired by the students who studied in peaceful protest at the library tonight. Don't cut our tertiary education.'

The struggle continues!

-Socialist Aotearoa


Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Winter rebellion breaks class size cuts

 Teaching support staff campaigning for pay increases in 2009.
A winter rebellion in schools over class size cuts has completely broken National's budgeted removal of teachers from primary, intermediate and secondary schools.

Anna Lee, a West Auckland teacher and activist  in the New Zealand Educational Institute told Socialist Aotearoa, 'There is a euphoric mood in the teachers' union today but there are still many issues to address. The backdown on class sizes does show the strength of combined action of parents, the teaching profession and wider community.'

'The government are saying that their changes are to help the least successful children. But their increases to class sizes, closing special schools like Westbridge, cutting specialist subjects at intermediate school and terminating the learning support teachers jobs will do nothing but harm the children who find it most difficult to learn at school.'

'The current government's policy on education like national standards, performance pay, league tables, charter schools, public private partnerships can only be detrimental to New Zealand's quality public education which is currently fourth in the OECD across literacy and numeracy.'

'Today's victory shows that teaching professionals, academics, parents and the wider community have the capacity to stop these attacks which are detrimental to all children and an affront to tax payers who will be paying for private profit not for children to learn and flourish.'

-Socialist Aotearoa

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Stopping snatch squads and breaking kettles

Kettling of student protesters. They eventually broke out and ran through student areas to reform in Albert Park.
This article is about staying safe during demonstrations and making sure the police are unable to violently and illegally repress protest movements by targeting activists and corralling protests. It gives people lawful options for resisting unlawful state repression.

There has been some online discussion about police tactics on Friday's student protest. It is clear the Auckland police are adopting two tactics learnt from overseas - snatch squads and kettling.

Kettling was used as student protesters marched near the Business School. It is an extremely effective way of stopping protesters from exercising freedom of expression. There are serious legal questions that hang over the lawfulness of kettling peaceful protesters exercising fundamental human rights. Some police forces worldwide have banned the practice. Friday's kettle was lightly policed, overseas riot cops have shields and batons, and future kettles may not be so soft. The video below shows how to effectively and non-violently break out of a kettle.



Snatch squads were used repeatedly to pull out activists with megaphones throughout the demonstration on Friday. They are not a new tactic, last year we saw snatch squads target predominantly Maori student protesters. However they are increasingly being used by the police. In Glen Innes against activists like John Minto and in the universities. The main snatch squad people are focusing on is when some 10 to 15 police charged the kettled crowd to pull out Omar. A number of sergeants and senior sergeants had already led snatch squads that failed to apprehend target protesters on Friday. They were stopped because there was a tightness of organisation and enough people pulled arresting officers off the target. This is extremely successful and it worked at Occupy Auckland last year when a snatch squad pulled out a protester. A hundred youth gathered around the police and just physically removed them from the protester.

If a melee is not successful in stopping the snatch squad arresting a protester it can still succeed in winning a 'de-arrest'. In Wellington protesters successfully de-arrested an anti-war protester in 2005 by forming a human barrier between the police and the police car. This tactic was tried in Auckland last year at the Business School when cops illegally snatched an activist out of the crowd. It could have worked if protesters had blocked the car with more people. This is legal. Judges have repeatedly ruled that it is lawful to try and stop an unlawful arrest.



These tactics are options for people to study, practice and consider. They will not beat the police in and of themselves. The only thing that can beat the police repression is increased numbers of demonstrators. This requires attention to detail in learning how to mobilise and organise openly and successfully against the attacks on education. As Quebec's uprising against anti-protest laws show, police will not enforce repressive laws if it would require the arrests of tens of thousands of people. Our main task is to mobilise thousands of people and we have to remember we are primarily engaged in a political fight with the government, not a street fight with the police. Mobilise!

-Socialist Aotearoa

After sergeants and senior sergeants had failed to lead snatch squads against activists, a full blown Inspector commands the snatch squad which was ultimately succesful.

The Hydra- Taking Lessons from the Greeks, Episode Two.



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 Two is from SA's Joe Carolan and Mana's Lisa Gibson, uniting the struggles and making the links between the student movement, the union movement and the community movement out in Glen Innes.  Attempts to bully these movements off the street with brutality and mass arrests bring to mind the Greek monster, the Hydra.

Chop one head off, and ten more will take its place.


Bfm interview HERE

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Book review: Springtime - The New Student Rebellions


As student protests engulf Auckland's streets and the adrenaline that comes from hours of physical confrontations with the police streams through our veins, it's worth picking up a copy of Clare Solomon and Tania Palmieri's excellent 2011 anthology Springtime - The New Student Rebellions to read somewhere between exams and protests.

Through over 60 short contributions with students, activists, lecturers and revolutionaries Springtime tells the story of student rebellions in the UK, Italy, California, France, Greece and Tunisia.

The anthology is an excellent overview of the various tactics available to student movements fighting the corporatisation of higher education from Book Blocks to library study-ins and dance parties. There is also plenty of practical advice such as this from a Californian student - 'To speak of barricades is therefore not, first and foremost, a hearkening back to a language of street-fighting and revolutionary situations. It is a practical issue: if the doors are not blocked and controlled by those inside, occupiers will - and did -shortly find themselves removed, beaten and arrested.'

There is a striking diversity in the political ideology and rhetoric of the contributions and many of the more insurrectionary anarchist influenced manifestos published in this collection jar with the more strategic calls for unity with workers and other sections of society attacked by austerity government. Telling students not to make demands of the government might sound radical, but it can severely limit the ability of students to build the initial momentum to mobilise amongst a yet to be radicalised student body.

Important lessons can be learnt from the contributions. One article addresses the Greek education upsurge in 2006-07 that saw university student occupations and teachers strikes break out at the same time against the privatisation of universities and classroom austerity  - 'As 2006 approached its end, there was optimism on the part of the students. The occupations of May-June 2006 and the teachers' strike offered the possibility of a broad front of struggle across education that might alter the balance of forces, and possibly lead to a wider popular movement against neo-liberal policies.' The article also covers the education movements victory, 'The government had been defeated, the image of its ability to implement whatever policies it chose had been tarnished... The political scene was becoming unstable, and young people were becoming the uncontrollable variable that made an easy return to normality rather difficult.'

The historical significance of student and youth revolts today is well made in the last section which covers the Tunisian revolution, 'Today's social revolts in Tunisia and Algeria were triggered by the same socio-economic discontent, which mainly affects young people who are poorly integrated into the economic system.'


Springtime reminds us that irrepressible student rebellions are a very real threat to the ability of the capitalists to push through attacks on working peoples living standards under the guise of 'austerity'. Springtime is an excellent and readable contribution to the sociology of student movements and should be on the reading list of all those fighting capitalism's assault on students and the needs of the market for universities that 'subordinate intellectual creativity and discourage individual initiatives'.

Austerity


Plato versus the Police.


Eyewitness to Police Brutality, from Linda M, Socialist Aotearoa.  
This report is based on what I personally observed. I was present for the entire protest and recorded much of it. I have also seen recordings of other parts I did not directly witness, and spoke to many students involved, from the very start, all the way to the concluding meeting in the Quad after 7PM.

To make it absolutely clear, I saw no violence or provocation from the students whatsoever at any time during the protest. I do not consider shouting and moving about to be violent or provocative, but are natural to protests. The students were severely provoked, but they kept it together, and were incredibly disciplined. I was very proud of them and their good conduct.

Initially, there were more than 1000 students, though only a quarter were actively participating in the action. The rest were just observing. Though the police were surrounded, the students were not menacing the police in any way. The sit-down was very orderly, and when police drew perimeters, the students respected them, even going so far as to walk around the block to cross the street. The students were in no way a threat to the police.

The peaceful intentions of the students were very clear from the start. A large sound system was brought, and Dr. Campbell Jones attempted to deliver a teach-in on Plato. However as soon as Dr. Jones began to read, the police moved in on the students, which caused an immediate ruckus, and Dr. Jones' lecture was drowned out. That appeared to me to be a deliberate move by the police to disrupt the event.

The students were systematically arrested one by one for "blocking the road", yet it was the police vehicles which were blocking one half of the road, the half where the students were. On the other half of the road the students allowed traffic to continue, and for a time buses and cars traveled down the road, but the police stopped them. Cones could have been set up earlier and traffic directed around the students. There was no need to block off the entire street. At no time did the students block both sides of the road except when trying to cross Symonds street en masse. Even afterward, after they went onto Queen Street, the students remained respectful of drivers. Students brought traffic cones with them to help keep good order on the roads and prevent drivers from being confused. That showed a lot of intelligence and foresight on their part.

From the outset, until they finally decamped, a minority of police officers were very aggressive, making it appear as if the majority were violent. Two officers in particular were throwing dangerous punches, and one young woman, Rachel, the first to be arrested was being choked as she was dragged off. She had not been aggressive or provocative in any way. This incident was recorded.

I would also like to say I was particularly distressed to see Omar punched in the throat the way he was. He did not retaliate in any way, he just shrugged it off, but he could have been very seriously injured.

Tom also got punched from what I could see, but he did not respond in kind either.

Nico was also bleeding from the forehead, though I did not see that incident, I understand it was due to having his head pressed into the street with excessive force.

The police were just over the top. There was no need for that. Their violence did not accomplish anything except energize the students and make them more determined.

Had the police allowed the teach-in to take place, I believe that the students would not have left the area, and would have drifted off before 5. Instead, the students were very agitated after the high number of arrests and the attempts by the police to thwart their activities. Driven away from Symonds street, they went searching for an outlet for their energies and to protest in other locations. However, though there was a lot of running and stopping and blockading, there was no property damage or aggression at any time throughout their procession. The students protested at Central Police Station, twice in Queen Street and at Sky City without incident. I do not believe a single public complaint has been filed against them.

The students are to be commended for their discipline, in spite of severe provocation. I am sure that provided the Police do not do worse next time, the students will continue to be peaceful in their campaign. The students have a right to protest, they have genuine grievances that need to be heard, and they should be allowed to hold their blockades without fear of being injured.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Auckland shakes with a new student uprising



It started with 300 students marching up Symonds Street with signs that read 'I thought that anyone in NZ could become a doctor. Rich or poor' and 'Since when did we have to riot to be heard?'

A swarm of police then descended on Symonds Street to kettle the student protesters before dragging sitting students out of the crowd one by one. 43 students didn't go lightly to the cells. For every arrest made four or five cops were required to wade into protesters, punching and shoving at the crowd who were sitting with linked arms, chanting  'No ifs, no buts, no education cuts!'

For over an hour police snatch squads smashed into the protest, grabbing anyone with a megaphone, or a flag, but they didn't win every time and on Symonds Street a thousand students watched as cops dragged young nurses, social workers and teachers away by their necks. By the time the police had arrested enough law students, Elam majors, PhD candidates and sociology tutors to clear the road something had changed - the student community had lost their fear of the police. The question now being asked on social media is, 'Why did the cops lose the plot?' 

So when the student protest marched away from Symonds Street it had quadrupled in size. The police brutality hardened the resolve and determination of the students protesting. More importantly students who were watching were inspired by the courage of those in the street prepared to resist the police. It might have been hearing students singing the national anthem as young students were kicked and hit by the police. Or it might have been the haunting chants that cut the air, 'Mubarak, John Key - they're all the same to me', 'Quebec to Auckland - we fight for education' and 'The banks get bailed out, students get sold out'. But by the next time the cops kettled five hundred protesters outside the Business School they needed ten cops to make one snatch arrest. 

Students learnt quickly and broke out of police kettles to march on Queen Street, through a mall, disrupting the casino, blockading the street outside the Town Hall, picketing the police station. There will be no return to the 'students these days are apathetic' saying; students are leading the resistance to austerity. 


It's clear the protests around education are having an effect, there are new signs of strain within the ruling coalition over class sizes and a backlash is building against the National Party who cut student allowances and technology teachers for public schools while increasing funding for elite, private schools.

As the university study leave and exam period begin some students will want to hide in the library and cram, and studying is important, but we need to maintain the momentum coming out of the last two weeks. The strength of student and worker movements against neo-liberalism is in numbers and steadfastness, and our most effective tactic once mobilised is to say mobilised, spread the struggle from the UoA to all of the university campuses, the schools and the trade unions, go for broke and look to shut down the city with blockades and occupations until the Nats give in.

Teachers are at boiling point, their union leaders need to give the green light to industrial action and join with students on the streets. The TEU and SFWU members will have to join us when the date is named for a mobilisation in the campuses. We need a response from the NZNO when a young nurse is taken to the cells bleeding from a cut to the head.

A critical argument we need to win is with those students who are yet to join the protests. We need to convince them that students can beat these attacks with more protest. We can and we will beat the Nats. The pamphlet Students and the Education Factory, written in 1999, contains some of the history of student power,
Massive resistance by students and staff succeeded in knocking back some of the attacks. In 1979, the National government of Robert Muldoon was forced to back down over its plan to cut university funding by $3 million after protests by students and teachers. A storm of protests in 1989 defeated Labour's plan to bring in a student loans scheme. Student protests in 1994 killed off "Option B" of the Todd Report, which would have seen fees double what they are today. And the wave of anger over the 1997 Green Paper (which became the the Tertiary Review White Paper a year later) sank National's plans to appoint boards of directors to run tertiary institutions and levy a "capital charge" which would have pushed university fees higher still.
We also have to continue to build the widest possible resistance to the Nats. Aotearoa is Not for Sale has tentatively named a date of Saturday 14 July for a nationwide day of action. Students need to help build the largest coalition possible to back this and get people out on the streets marching against asset sales, against attacks on students and workers, against oil drilling and pollution and marching for our future.

-Socialist Aotearoa