Istanbul to Brazil: neoliberalism, democracy and resistance

turkey mcdonalds

From a talk given by Andrew Tait. Originally printed by the International Socialist Organisation (Aotearoa).

Three weeks ago, police moved in to clear a protest camp out of an inner-city park, to make way for a shopping mall.

The protesters were a mixed bunch: leftists, environmentalists, even architects,who felt they had no other option than direct action to stop the destruction of another piece of history, another park, another shared social space. The police moved in with brutality, with near-lethal force. Images of their violence were shared on the internet and instantly sparked outrage from hundreds of thousands of people, especially youth. After three weeks of demonstrations and counter-demonstrations, the police have managed to clear and hold the city square and protests are quietening down. But after the police moved in, council workers followed, planting trees and flowers – a sign perhaps that the mall development has been abandoned.

Elsewhere, a demonstration against public transport fare rises was attacked by the police, sparking an outpouring of anger and copycat protests and riots. In one city, a police facility was burned and the City Hall was attacked. The government backed down and the price hikes were scrapped, but protests are continuing – now against the spending of billions on hosting a sports event instead of funding health and education.

The first country is Turkey and the second is Brazil. The same events could have taken place in almost any developed country – in Auckland, Jo’burg, Paris, Beijing. Although each country has its own culture and history, there is a massive political convergence underway from Istanbul to Brazil.

One reason often suggested for this convergence is the internet. The ability to share not just messages but images, movies and music has eroded the traditional boundaries between young people in different countries and has broken the stranglehold of monopoly media.

But important though this new technology is, there is a deeper reason: neoliberalism has globalised production, meaning work and wages are similar across more countries than ever before, and neoliberalism has deprived democracy of real content because “there is no alternative” to the market and austerity. There are more supposedly democratic countries in the world than ever – but the range of political choices and citizen engagement is declining.

Both Brazil and Turkey are “new democracies”, which only emerged from military dictatorships in the 1980s. Both have booming economies. Brazil has emerged from Third World semi-colonial status to become the seventh largest economy in the world. It is often cited, alongside Russia, India and China, as an emerging power. Turkey, although smaller, has also enjoyed double digit GDP growth recently but the benefit of this growth, as in Brazil, has been unevenly shared. It is now one of the most unequal countries in the OECD. [Read more...]

Iceland: Become Part of the Heard

This article by Jessica Ward was submitted to Fightback, in response to an article published in the April issue (Iceland’s “peaceful revolution” – myth and reality, A reply to Jessica’s article can be found here.

In today’s world it is easy to become disillusioned. It is too easy to concede to the idea we are incapable of changing the world, to give into the apathy that plagues our generation. We are not the flower children of the 60s, we misguidedly believe that unlike days gone by noone else is angry, noone else is enraged by the disparity of wealth and incensed by politics, economics and the injustices of society. We are alone. We are all alone. Aren’t we?

Today I had the opportunity of listening to Hordur Torfason at the Dunedin School of Art. It may seem a strange place for and activist and leader of the Icelandic Revolution to give a talk but all becomes clear when listening to the ideas and attitudes of this artist. Torfason stressed in his talk the need for creative solutions, the importance of art as a way of activating people and bringing them together and of protest as a form of performance, as a way of intriguing an audience of public and media.

Torfason believes that it is the role of the artist to criticize society and remember the importance of the unseen forces that dictate us, our feelings. Art has the ability to move us, to affect us, in the words of Torfason to activate us.

We live in the age of the internet: a tool to both communicate and organize. We are the 99% and we have a way of communicating, coming together and organizing action. In a world where the media is a tool owned by the 1% to systematically ensure their wealth the internet is our tool to counter it. In the age of information there is no excuse to not have a voice (given you have access to the internet of course). Communication is also highly important in the organization of revolution or protest. It is important to ask the people what they want and to listen. [Read more...]

“Up with workers, down with the government” – largest strike in world history

Al Jazeera reports on mass strike in India (video).

Seasonal exploitation by Kiwi capitalists

Yesterday marked 5 years of Vanuatu’s participation in the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme. The RSE scheme allows New Zealand employers in the horticulture and viticulture industries to bring in labour from the Pacific to fill seasonal jobs. Vanuatu is one of the biggest contributer countries to the scheme and RSE income is now the Melanesian nations second largest income earner. the Department of Labour’s National Manager, Recognised Seasonal Employment, Emily Fabling said in a press release “RSE has been an absolutely wonderful scheme for our horticulture and viticulture industries, in terms of ensuring they have the labour force they need at specific times of the year. And of course we are delighted at the benefits the scheme brings to Vanuatu and other Pacific nations.”

This view ignores some of the more brutal realities of the scheme, which has seen migrant workers mistreated and exploited in rural New Zealand. In 2009, Workers Party activist Byron Clark spoke to Lina Ericsson, a Swedish political scientist who conducted field work among N-Vanuatu workers in the Bay of Plenty.

You can listen to the interview here:

Filipino progressive leaders to tour NZ Oct/Nov


Luis Jaladoni and Coni Ledesma


Luis Jalandoni is the International Representative of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF,, a post that he has held since 1977, and since 1994 he has been the Chairperson of the NDF’s Negotiating Panel for peace talks with the Government of the Philippines. The NDF is the coalition of several underground groups, including the Communist Party of the Philippines and its New People’s Army, which has been waging a war of liberation throughout the Philippines for more than 40 years, making it one of the longest running armed struggles in the world.

The country desperately needs peace with justice and security, so resolving this people’s war is central to that. Luis will be accompanied by his wife Coni Ledesma, who will also be speaking. She is a member of the NDF Negotiating Panel for peace talks; and is the International Spokesperson of MAKIBAKA, a revolutionary women’s group which belongs to the NDF. Luis and Coni are both veteran leading figures in the Philippine revolutionary Left. He was a Catholic priest in the 1960s and she was a nun.  Both were founders of Christians for National Liberation, a member group of the NDF. [Read more...]

“PFLP Solidarity Campaign interviews Leila Khaled, Palestine’s leading revolutionary woman”

Date: 30/09/2010

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Solidarity Campaign is happy to announce the release of the first part of an interview with Leila Khaled. PFLP Solidarity Campaign co-ordinator Mike Walker conducted the interview via Skype with Leila at her home in Amman, Jordan on the 6th April this year.

Leila Khaled is often referred to as a terrorist by her enemies, the United States and the State of Israel. But in the Occupied Territories, the Gaza Strip and the countless refugee camps scattered throughout the Arab world she is a revolutionary hero, a freedom fighter and the embodiment of the Palestinian militant struggle against Zionism and Imperialism in the Middle East and for freedom and self-determination.

Leila Khaled and the PFLP shot to international attention when Leila became the first woman to hi-jack a commercial airliner on August 29th 1969. Leila made the pilot divert the plane over Haifa, where she was born but has never been allowed to visit, eventually allowing the plane to land in Damascus, Syria. The passengers were disembarked and the plane was blown up in front of the international media. Golda Meir had stated that June that “There was no such thing as Palestinians”, but Leila Khaled and the PFLP had put the Palestinian struggle firmly onto the world stage, where it could no longer be ignored.

Today Leila is a core member of the PFLP and serves on its Politburo, dealing primarily with the ‘right of return’ for Palestinian refugees. Walker stated that “Leila is a true revolutionary woman that has dedicated her life to the struggle of Palestinians for their right to self-determination, and to return home.” “Leila is an inspiration to us all,” he continued.

Leila Khaled finished the interview by stating that she had “a message for the New Zealanders.” She then warned that we should all “beware Zionism. Nazism caused humanity twenty two million casualties and the destruction of Europe. What do you think that Zionism will do, do we need a third world war? We have to stop the expansion of the Zionist ideology and policy.”

The interview is available at

A full transcript or audio is available on request.

David Rovics Palestine benefit gig

The Workers Party on Campus in conjunction with the the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Solidarity Campaign presents a Palestine benefit gig, featuring David Rovics and Don Franks.

Its all happening on Friday the 20th of August, Bentley’s Bar, Canterbury University. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. with door sales available on the night or pre sales available via Paypal at

You can check out info about other shows David is doing in New Zealand at

David Rovics grew up in a family of classical musicians in Wilton, Connecticut, and became a fan of populist regimes early on. By the early 90s he was a full-time busker in the Boston subways and by the mid-90s he was traveling the world as a professional flat-picking rabble-rouser. These days David lives with his family in Portland, Oregon and tours regularly on four continents, playing for audiences large and small at cafes, pubs, universities, churches, union halls and protest rallies.

He has shared the stage with a veritable of who’s who of the left in two dozen countries, and has had his music featured on Democracy Now!, BBC, Al- Jazeera and other networks. His essays are published regularly on CounterPunch, and the 200+ songs he makes available for free on the web have been downloaded more than a million times.

Most importantly, he’s really good. He will make you laugh, he will make you cry, he will make the revolution irresistible. David provides his songs free of charge from

In Christchurch he will be joined by folk stalwart Don Franks. Addressing issues relevant to people in New Zealand today, Franks builds on the tradition of political folk, adding an air of spontaneity and healthy dose of tounge-in-cheek humor. Listeners will be treated to a selection from Franks’ sizeable repetoire, including hits from his 2009 album ‘Safer Communities Together Blues’. The gig is being held in conjunction with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine SOlidarity Campaign.

David Rovics had the following to say about the PFLP: “The criminalization of the PFLP and other organizations by various governments is sheer hypocrisy. These same governments are signatories to UN conventions that make it clear — the PFLP and the Palestinian people generally are not criminals. They are resisting a criminal occupation — it is the militaristic, apartheid state of Israel which is the criminal here, which needs to be treated as such, not the PFLP.” – David Rovics, singer-songwriter So come along and show your support for the Palestinian struggle against the Zionist state of Israel, and be treated to a night of entertainment by two of the best ‘rabble rousers’ around

In solidarity with the Greek people’s resistance against austerity

Joint statement from Asia-Pacific

May 13, 2010

[If your organisation would like to sign on, please email]

We, left and progressive organisations from the Asia-Pacific region, express our solidarity with the resistance of the Greek people against the harsh austerity being imposed upon them by the governments of the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The proposed “rescue package” for the Greek economy by the IMF-EU has triggered a huge struggle that will have worldwide ramifications for working people. [Read more...]

Support the struggle for democracy and social justice in Nepal

The following joint statement of solidarity has been signed by a number of left and progressive organisations in the Asia-Pacific region. If your organisation would like to sign on, please email

On May Day, international workers’ day, a huge demonstration of between 500,000-1 million people took place in Kathmandu. Called by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M), people came from all over Nepal to make their voices heard. It was the largest demonstration since the fall of the centuries-old monarchy and was the culmination of a growing series of mass demonstrations and strikes aimed at restoring civilian supremacy and democracy. [Read more...]

Protest against India’s state terror

One of India’s leading Maoists Kobad Ghandy is facing charges under India’s repressive laws which have been denounced by human rights activists.

Kobad is a campaigner for liberation against Indian state terror.

Join the demo to free Kobad Ghandy and protest against Operation Green Hunt, India’s war on the poor.

12 midday Thursday 29 April

High Commission of India, 180 Molesworth Street, Wellington


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 863 other followers