Elections: why bother?

The Workers Party is supporting Mana this election, after standing down from national elections. But why do 1 in 4 young people choose not to vote? Isn’t that a rational choice given the options? Can a capitalist Westminster system really represent the majority?

A socialist perspective on why we participate in elections, followed by kai & korero.

Tonight (Friday) 7pm

Newtown Hall (opposite Mediterranean Food Warehouse)

Occupy Wellington: what is the 99?

Sunday: 13/11/11 2:30pm

Location:
Free University,
Jack Illiot Green,
Civic Square
Wellington, New Zealand

What is the 99%?
Who is the 99%?

Possibly the best agitational slogan to come forward in the past 30 years from the left, too often in the occupy upsurge this idea has been taken at face value, something which undermines the slogan itself. The 99% represents decades of struggle and thinking around the idea of the haves and the have nots, workers and capitalists, the many and few. If we are going to make full use of the powerful potential contained within the idea represented by the 99%, then we need to know what it means, to discuss and understand the connotations and challenges that are summed up in such a pithy statement.

This is a public workshop as part of the Free University being held on Sunday.

Occupied Dominion Post: first sitting of the People’s Parliament

Originally published in Issue 3 of the Occupied Dominion Post.

Friday 11.11.11 is the first sitting of the Participatory Peoples’ Parliament at 5:30pm.

It’s about democracy for the people, by the people. So join the G7 Billion!

Followed by a weekend of:

Saturday
2:30: Global Occupy Rundown
3:30: General Assembly
5:30: Music

Sunday
Real free-trade
11am: Revolution in the Middle East (Tali Williams)
Midday: The Situation in Africa (Yilma Tasere)
1pm: What is the 99% (Joel Cosgrove)
2pm: Occupied Europe (Paco)
3pm: Music

Solidarity against CMP lockout, Auckland fundraiser, Christchurch picket

On October 29 we reported on the current CMP meat industry lockout and fundraising efforts (see article here). We enourage all Auckland readers of this website to attend the upcoming fundraiser at Trades Hall, which appears to be organised by Socialist Aoteroa members and other progressives. We encourage all readers or sympathisers in Christchurch to join the picket against CMP at its head offices initiated by Occupy Christchurch.

The details of these events are below, slighlty adapted from the November 2 Global Peace and Justice Auckland newsletter. Donations are still encouraged and requested so please donate to Disputes Fund (name of account) 38-9007-0894028-08 (account number)

Auckland Fundraiser: 6pm, Friday, November 4, Trades Hall, 147 Great North Rd:

SOLIDARITY WITH LOCKED OUT MARTON WORKERS http://www.facebook.com/groups/211101752294033/ 6pm, Friday, November 4, Trades Hall, 147 Great North Rd, Auckland: Friday fundraiser for the locked out Marton Meat Workers: 6pm, Fri Nov 4, Trades Hall, 147 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn. Music from Lubin Rains (Vietnam War) and Caoimhe Macfehin (Drab Doo Riffs, Heart Attack Alley). Paul Brown, Scottish folk musician$10 donation on the door. All cash raised going to feed the families of the locked out meat workers. Don’t let them get starved back to work. http://socialistaotearoa.blogspot.com/2011/11/friday-fundraiser-for-locked-out-marton.html


CMP picket line

Christchurch – Picket CMP Head Office, 2pm, Saturday, March 5, 100 Carmen Rd:

(The following was part of a statement made by Occupy Christchurch)

At 2pm on Saturday 5th November Occupy Christchurch along with unions, workers campaign groups and local solidarity networks will take to the streets to bring some much needed attention to the plight of the 111 locked-out Canterbury Meat Packer workers. On Saturday 5th November, from 2pm ANZCO Foods Australasia & New Zealand Meat Marketing Office on 100 Carmen Rd will be the stage for an act of solidarity and opportunity to gather some much needed funding for those effected.

CMP is a subsidiary of the multinational corporation ANZCO which supplies New Zealand meat throughout the World. “For almost 2 weeks the unionised workforce at CMP’s Rangitikei’s lamb plant have been locked out by their bosses. Their crime? Not accepting up to a 30% pay cut and a significant decrease in hours.

The 111 workers and their families are now being starved out until they either accept the deal or with the support of the people of Aotearoa beat these disgusting acts of bad faith!” Stated Union Organiser and participant of Occupy Christchurch, Matt Jones. An urgent fund has been set up and money is beginning to pour in – “however with so many mouths to feed there is still a lot to do.” Continued Mr Jones.

“International pressure on this group will also be paramount for the future of our brothers and sisters in Rangitikei. Networking and campaigning in solidarity against big business who put profit before people and hold entire communities to ransom is something the Occupy Movement, combined with unions and the various workers rights campaign groups has the potential to smash and put into the history books ” Concluded Mr Jones. Occupy Christchurch has been based at South Hagley Park for more than two weeks. In support of the Occupy Wall Street phenomena the group hold open daily general assemblies, weekend ‘free markets’ and have been busy networking with community groups and organisations. More information on this picket and updates can be found at http://www.occupychristchurch.org.nz and by using the search term ‘occupy christchurch’ in Facebook.

November issue of The Spark

Read the November issue here

At the end of this month New Zealand will hold a general election. While current polls might lead us to be cynical about voting, we need to remember that our right to vote was fought for by previous generations and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Woman gained the right to vote in this country though a massive popular movement in the latter part of the 19th century. We should be aware that Kate Sheppard believed “All that separates, whether of race, class, creed, or sex, is inhuman, and must be overcome” and saw the gaining women’s’ suffrage as part of that struggle.

We should also remember that in addition to women being denied the vote, there was a time when most men were too.  Originally voting was a privilege reserved for land owning men,  a democracy only for those who made up the capitalist class.  In New Zealand in the 19th century, this excluded Maori who owned land in common, and most of the largely itinerant working class- miners, shearers, sailors- who often had no fixed abode, let alone their own land.

The right for working class men to vote in this part of the world was won by a rebellion of miners at the Eureka Stockade in Victoria, Australia in 1854. Fearing that a similar rebellion could take place on this side of the Tasman, the colonial government enacted Victoria’s suffrage laws, and working class men could now vote. Perhaps it’s fitting then that this issue of The Spark puts a focus on miners.

Marking the one year anniversary of the Pike River Mine disaster and the on-going official inquiry, we are publishing an abridged article from the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers Unions looking at the safety concerns at the mine. Labour historian Jared Davidson writes about the role miners have played in the New Zealand labour movement and we examine the position of the West Coast- a region largely dependent on mining- in the context of capitalism.

Also looked at this month is the Occupy Movement, which began in the US (though no doubt inspired by events that began in North Africa) and in October spread around the world. We print the press releases from the occupations taking place in New Zealand cities and an article from the Socialist Party of Australia, looking at the police repression of Occupy Melbourne. It seems a century and a half from Eureka those who right for democratic rights will still be met with state repression. Further coverage of the Occupy movement will appear in our next issue.

Elsewhere in these pages we cover the Rena Oil Spill, the New Zealand tour of S’bu Zikode, a leader of the shack dwellers movement in South Africa, the death of Steve Jobs, and the right to strike.  The October issue, which features an article on each of the parliamentary parties  as well as an article about the importance of retaining MMP in the referendum, will  continue to be circulated between now and the election, and is available wherever you get The Spark.

 - Byron Clark, November issue coordinating editor.

 

 

Against conspiracy theories: Why our activism must be based in reality

The text of a talk given at Occupy Wellington, New Zealand, on October 27 2011. Around 55 people attended the talk, organised to try to counter the prevalence of conspiracy theories amongst the local wing of the Occupy movement.

"Some conspiracy theories, such as many of the shadowy financial cabal conspiracies, only serve to mystify capitalism and falsely suggest a level of control that doesn’t actually exist."

Kia ora kotou, thanks everyone for coming. Firstly, a brief run-down of how this workshop will work: first, I’m going to give a brief talk, followed by an open discussion which anyone can contribute to. I also want to make it clear that I’m not here today to debunk or debate any specific conspiracy theory. I’ve got no interest in doing that, I don’t think its particularly productive. What I want to be doing is talking about the title of the workshop is – why our activism must be based in reality. So we’ll be talking about the whole conspiracy world-view, we’ll be talking about what I think is a much better alternative to that, but I’m not going to sit here and argue with you over whether the Government is secretly poisoning us from the skies, or whether shape-shifting reptilian lizards are controlling our lives, or whether or not you can cure cancer with baking soda.

First up, who am I? For those of you who don’t know me my name is Asher, I’m born and bred in Wellington, though I have also spent a few years recently living in Christchurch. I’ve been involved in activism and radical politics for around about 7 years, in a variety of different campaigns and struggles.

If we’re going to talk about conspiracy theories, the first important question is obvious: what is a conspiracy theory?

Now, if you go by a dictionary definition, a conspiracy is just a group of people who get together to plan something, and don’t tell others about it. If I’m organising a surprise birthday party for my friend, then I am conspiring with others. But that’s not a particularly useful definition for the purposes of a discussion like this.

So, for this discussion, the way I’m defining a conspiracy theory is thus: a conspiracy theory is a theory based in supposition, one that flies in the face of evidence or science, often one that claims its correctness can be shown by the paucity of evidence in favour of it, in the sense that ‘this conspiracy goes so far that they’ve even buried all the evidence that proves it!’ Conspiracy theories often encourages an ‘us few enlightened folk versus everyone else’ world view. This creates an atmosphere where conspiracy theorists look down on people, or sheeple as they are often called, and ignores the fact that people, by and large, are actually pretty intelligent. In and of itself this world-view is hugely problematic for as I will discuss later, mass social change requires the participation of the masses and therefore, we have to have faith in the ability of people to decide things for themselves, to come to correct conclusions and ultimately to change the world. [Read more...]

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