Economic apartheid: The ongoing ethnic cleansing of central Auckland

Daphne Lawless is a writer, musician, political activist, football player, e-cyclist and mother living in Tāmaki Makarau / Auckland. She is the content editor for this issue of Fightback.

This article will be published in Fightback’s magazine on Urban Revolution and the Right to the City. To subscribe, click here.

In any country with a past as part of one of the Western empires, you can’t sensibly talk about any part of society without discussing the ongoing legacy of white supremacy and racism. Urban geography and the right to the city is no exception. The most famous examples of racism in urban geography are of course the legalised segregation carried out under the names of apartheid in South Africa or Jim Crow in the United States, where white and non-white peoples were separated by law and by force. But the destruction of the Pasefika communities of historic central Auckland by a combination of motorway madness, economic segregation and gentrification is also an example of how capitalist racism feeds into how our cities are built – and how the Pākehā middle-class have benefited at the expense of other sectors of society.

Pasefika migration

Aotearoa of course began its colonial era with the forcible removal of tangata whenua from most of their land by the armed forces of the British Empire. For a long time, the cities were more or less restricted to Pākehā of various social classes, due to an informal “white New Zealand” immigration policy which was almost as effective as Australia’s more formal version.[i] This changed after the Second World War, when the economic boom meant suddenly New Zealand’s industries were short of labour. This not only led to the migration of younger generations of Māori to the cities looking for work, but government and business also targeted the peoples of the Pacific Islands – Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, and elsewhere. Generally speaking, the jobs these new migrants were those that “a self-respecting British immigrant or Kiwi wasn’t prepared to do” – unskilled and low skilled jobs in expanding manufacturing industries and on the wharves.[ii] The Pasefika population of New Zealand climbed from 3600 in 1951, to nearly 94,000 in 1981, and was 266,000 at the 2006 Census[iii].

At that stage in history Auckland’s industry was clustered around the central city, and cars were a luxury which only the upper classes had access to. At the time, the well-to-do population of Auckland were using this new mobility to head towards the new-built “outer” suburbs of the slowly spreading urban sprawl. So, the suburbs that the new Pasefika migrants settled in were the working-class suburbs of those days – Grey Lynn, Ponsonby, Newton, Herne Bay, Freemans Bay, Parnell – which were within easy tram or bus distance of inner-city factories. These suburbs offered “cheap rental housing, much of it consisting of run-down old villas and workers’ cottages with no hot water or inside toilet.”[iv]

Someone who’s not familiar with Auckland’s history might be amazed at that list of suburbs, most of which are now on Auckland’s “most overpriced” list. Just recently, Herne Bay’s average house price reached a staggering $2 million. And it’s no coincidence that its Pasefika inhabitants are mainly long gone.

Motorway madness

The Pasefika community of the inner suburbs quickly put down cultural roots which still make their presence felt today. Today’s huge Pasefika presence in New Zealand rugby, for example, began with the first all-Samoan rugby team playing for the Parnell and Ponsonby clubs.[v] Many of the churches which were the centrepieces of Pasefika communities, and offered valuable social support to those “fresh off the boat”, are still visible in the area.

All this began to change in the mid-1950s, when the first parts of Auckland’s motorway network – including the Harbour Bridge – were built. By the mid-1970s, the suburb of Newton – between the Karangahape Road ridge and Mt Eden – had been almost totally destroyed for the creation of the Central Motorway Junction, aka “Spaghetti Junction”, the heart of the new motorway network. Meanwhile, half of Freemans Bay was replaced by a motorway connecting the CMJ to the Harbour Bridge – perhaps a lucky escape for Ponsonby Road, which was an option initially considered for this route.

As Chris Harris says, there was no need for a Central Motorway Junction at all – Adelaide, a city about the same size as Auckland, gets on fine without one.[vi] It would have been more efficient from a traffic point of view to build a motorway route from Manukau north around the western end of the Waitemata Harbour, avoiding the urban area altogether – something which will only happen this year with the opening of the “Waterview Connection”. Instead, all northbound traffic was sent over the inadequate Harbour Bridge – and right through what used to be Auckland’s working-class and Pasefika suburbs. Quite aside from the impacts on these communities, Auckland has paid the price for these short-sighted decisions with decades of traffic congestion and sub-standard public transport.

In 1951, the Government of the time declared that 96 hectares of Freemans Bay was to be “totally cleared and redeveloped”.[vii] Originally the plan was to replace the old slum housing with modern high-density developments. But as the 1960s and 1970s wore on, it became clear that the ideology of Auckland’s local and national planners was to clear the existing working-class communities from the central city altogether, towards peripheral suburbs along the motorway network. From 1976 to 2008, the Pasefika proportion of Auckland’s inner suburb dwellers fell from 23% to 10%.[viii]

Gentrification

The expansion of the motorway system meant that factories no longer had to be near the CBD to transport goods to and from the wharves. The manufacturing jobs which used to sustain the inner-city Pasefika community began moving to the city fringe as well, to places such as Penrose or East Tamaki. Understandably, many of those Pasefika communities displaced by motorway madness followed their work southward – where, it must be said, the new houses being built were usually of higher quality than the old Newton slums.

This new housing was built on what was then the southern fringes of the urban area: Mangere, Ōtara, Papatoetoe, and other areas which were part of what was known (before the “Super-City” amalgamation of Auckland) as Manukau City. Meanwhile, with Newton gutted by the CMJ, Karangahape Road – which used to be its prosperous shopping strip – began to decline. The big department stores and the Pasefika churches began to disappear, their place being taken by strip joints and sex work establishments – the origins of “K’ Road” ‘s reputation as a “red light” district.

But the decay of Newton and Ponsonby was also the beginning of the process of “gentrification” of the city fringe which gave us the million-dollar suburbs of today. Gentrification is “a socio-historic process where rising housing costs, public policy, persistent segregation, and racial animus facilitates the influx of wealthier, mostly white, residents into a particular neighborhood.”[ix] Ponsonby and nearby suburbs thus had their Pasefika population replaced by young Pākehā “who began to buy and renovate the relatively cheap houses available … to the west of Auckland’s CBD. They have been described as ‘young, socially liberal, tertiary-educated Pakeha’ whose motives went beyond the relatively cheap housing to include a desire for ‘new ways of living’ in an area which had an ethnically diverse population, and a reputation as a centre of counter-cultural lifestyle.”[x]

The “counter-cultural lifestyle” meant, in part, access to inner city nightlife and drugs brought in from the wharves. Notoriously wild-living rock bands such as Dragon or Hello Sailor got their starts on the streets of (what Dragon called in one of their songs) “Rock’n’Roll Ponsonby”. The gay community – social outcasts at the time – were also a vital part of Ponsonby and K’ Road’s new community.

What happened as the hippie era ended and the Rogernomics era began, though, was very different for the Pasefika and Pākehā populations of inner Auckland. As the long post-war boom ended and unemployment began to rise, suddenly Pasefika labour became surplus to requirements. “Overstayers” on temporary visas who were tolerated while jobs were plenty suddenly became the targets of “dawn raids”. The Polynesian Panthers – inspired by the Black Panther Party in the United States – were founded in Ponsonby and became the spearhead of resistance to this increasing tide of racism.

Meanwhile, as the level of owner-occupiers in inner Auckland increased, renters were squeezed out – there was an increasing level of “discrimination against Pacific people attempting to rent a house and many were forced to relocate to state housing in peripheral suburbs”[xi]. Conversely, owner-occupiers who held on until the revival of Auckland’s CBD from the 1990s onwards made massive capital gains as the housing market exploded. A villa in Grey Lynn which might have been available for sale in the mid-80s for something like $50,000 would fetch something in the range of $1 million these days. Thus – without even having to move house – the drop-outs and hipsters of the 1970s became the extremely asset-rich upper-middle class dominating Auckland politics today.

Apartheid

The upshot of all these social changes – caused both by world-wide economic trends and the specific housing and transport decisions of New Zealand’s and Auckland’s rulers – has been economic and ethnic apartheid. The old inner-city suburbs that survived motorway madness have become extremely valuable and sought-after residences for professionals. While 40 years ago Ponsonby Road was a grimy suburban shopping strip catering to the counter-culture and the remnants of the Pasefika communities, today it is upmarket, glitzy and dominated by privileged Pākehā. (Even the gay community, with the exception of what’s known as the “pink bourgeoisie”, have been largely priced out.) A house that a Samoan wharfie might have lived in in 1975 is now likely to be a million-dollar investment property owned by an older Pākehā person – who might never consider that their unearned wealth is the product of a whole ethnic community being displaced.

Meanwhile, the newer Pasefika suburbs south of the Manukau harbour have become a byword for poverty and social decay – 1970s Ponsonby without the rock’n’roll chic. Auckland’s manufacturing base remains in south-eastern Auckland; but in the modern, de-unionised and deregulated economy, manufacturing jobs are no longer associated with security, income and pride. The area of big employment growth is in technical and communications work – which, inevitably, is increasingly based in the central city and the old inner suburbs.

Chris Harris argues that Auckland’s geography combined with its perpetual transport bottlenecks (signs of the failure of the motorway project) have surrounded the central Auckland isthmus between Avondale and Ōtahuhu with “a kind of moat”, which the inhabitants of South and West Auckland find it very difficult to cross. In the current economy, this means that these communities are “isolated from the opportunities offered by good jobs, which are mostly in areas they cannot reach because the transport to get there is non-existent, too crowded or too expensive”[xii].

Karlo Mila has the grim figures on what this has meant for the Pasefika communities of Auckland:

72% of Pacific people live in the most deprived neighbourhoods (deciles 8-10) and only 7% in deciles 1-3. 40% of Pacific children live in poverty… A high concentration of the Pacific population is clustered in overcrowded, substandard housing in low-income neighbourhoods…

The creation of concentrated low income neighbourhoods has had social consequences for the people who live in these locales, and particularly for the young people who form their expectations from the world they see around them… One-third of the Pacific population lives in the area that was Manukau City. There, every ward has the lowest level of community resilience possible and the highest community need. Local council surveys show that fewer than half of Manukau City residents feel a sense of pride in the way their city looks and feels…

More than a quarter of Pacific female high school students feel unsafe in their neighbourhoods. A quarter of all students in Manukau City leave school without achieving credits for basic numeracy and literacy… The Pacific population has the highest growth rate of any ethnic group, with 38% of the population under 15 [while] no groups are as unwanted as Pacific and Māori young people.[xiii]

Although Pasefika people moved from the slums of 1960s Newton in search of a better life, clearly not much has changed – except that privileged white folks no longer have to pass through their deprived suburbs on the way to the CBD. The workings of the market and government policies have therefore shifted Auckland’s working-class Pasefika community “out of sight and out of mind” of the central-city chattering classes, almost as efficiently as South African or American legal segregation did. Moving social problems away makes it much easier to pretend that poverty, drugs and urban decay are someone else’s problem – a particular pathology of a racialised “South Auckland”, rather than the outcome of the same social changes which have massively enriched other sections of the population.

Ironically, since many Leftists opposed it, the Auckland “Super City” may help Pasefika communities to regain some ground. Representatives of South Auckland now once more get a say in the affairs of the parts of town from which their previous generations were excluded.

Our lessons

The lessons for leftists in this are:

1) Housing and transport are exactly the same issue. Choices about what kind of houses we build intimately reflect the kind of transport we build. Quarter-acre single-dwelling houses sprawling across former farmland go along with motorway madness, and vice-versa. On the other hand, dense housing built around urban centres and places of employment encourages public transport, cycling and walking, and vice-versa.

2) It must be our priority to fight social apartheid. It would certainly be easier to build high-density, eco-friendly housing in the working-class suburbs where land is cheaper. But this will do nothing to help working-class communities break out of their geographical isolation from the central areas of town which are richer in cultural, educational, and employment opportunities, and will in fact reinforce economic apartheid. Affordable high density housing must be built in the pleasant, liveable, central suburbs, while rapid public transport links must be built to connect these places to outer working-class suburbs, so that all can benefit from the increased wealth and opportunities that the rebirth of central Auckland brings. The City Rail Link taking 10 minutes off the train journey to West Auckland – and also enabling another light or heavy rail link to the airport, connecting Mangere and Onehunga to the CBD – would, as Chris Harris says, “repair part of the broken social contract with south and west Auckland”.

3) Likewise, we must fight the stranglehold that the beneficiaries of central Auckland’s gentrification have on the politics and development of our city. Daniel Older argues that gentrification is in fact “violence couched in white supremacy… the central act of violence is one of erasure” of working-class communities and their history. In this way, it replicates the colonial expropriation of Aotearoa which set up New Zealand’s unequal and racist society in the first place. The asset-rich beneficiaries of this deeply unfair and exploitative process now self-righteously stand against any developments which might re-open the central city to young people and workers. They must be politically defeated.

4) We must also support the actually-existing organisations in the new working-class suburbs – the spiritual descendants in many ways of Ponsonby’s Polynesian Panthers. Community groups in Glen Innes have been at the forefront of resisting the dispossession of State house tenants and the forcible gentrification of their suburb; while the “Respect Our Community” coalition, based in Mangere, have not only blocked a new motorway extension which would have demolished many houses, but are leading the fight against turning ancestral Māori lands at Ihumatao into more housing sprawl. Older argues that a central narrative of gentrification is a “discourse that imagines neighborhoods of color as pathological and criminal, necessitating outside intervention for the good of all.” But initiatives like the above prove that working-class communities in notorious “South Auckland” can fight back.

[i]               Misa, Tapu. “Auckland: The Pacific comes to Auckland”. New Zealand Herald, 2010 August 27. Available at: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1andobjectid=10667079

[ii]              Mila, Karlo. “Only one deck”, in Rashbrooke, Max (ed.) Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis. Wellington: Bridget Williams Books, 2013. pp. 91-101

[iii]             Misa, op. cit.

[iv]             Misa, op. cit.

[v]              Misa, op. cit.

[vi]             Harris, Chris. “A divided Auckland?” in Rashbrooke, Max (ed.) Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis. Wellington: Bridget Williams Books, 2013. pp. 102-4.

[vii]            Friesen, Wardlow. “The demographic transformation of inner-city Auckland.” New Zealand Population Review, 2009, 35:55-74.

[viii]           Friesen, op. cit.

[ix]             Older, Daniel José. “Gentrification’s insidious violence: The truth about American cities”. Salon, 2014 April 9. Available at: http://www.salon.com/2014/04/08/gentrifications_insidious_violence_the_truth_about_american_cities/

[x]              Friesen, op. cit.

[xi]             Friesen, op. cit.

[xii]            Harris, op. cit.

[xiii]           Mila, op. cit.

Is zero-fares public transport the answer? A debate

ZeroFare-Rt.-1

Source: Mountain Line.

This article will be published in Fightback’s upcoming magazine on Urban Revolution and the Right to the City. To subscribe to the magazine, click here.

YES (zero-fare public transport is the answer): Roger Fowler  is a community activist and organiser at the Mangere East Community Centre, South Auckland, and editor of farefreenz.blogspot.co.nz. He is also co-ordinator of the Respect Our Community group and of the Palestine solidarity group Kia Ora Gaza.

Seniors can show the way to get Auckland moving towards a modern, expanded public transport network for Auckland, that is fully integrated, publicly owned and free at the point of use. Why not extend the SuperGold Card to open up zero-fare public transit for all citizens?

A fresh approach – a total modal shift

The serious traffic congestion, chronic fossil-fuel wastage and pollution issues that plague Aucklandcan only get worse, as currently over 825 cars are added onto Auckland roads every week. it’s time to consider a truly sustainable public transport policy that offers a fresh approach to city-wide mobility for all. A total modal shift is required that upholds public transport as a vital public service, like education, libraries, health services, sanitation and water supplies.

To achieve this goal, we need big new incentives to change the entrenched mind-set of dependency on private cars and oil. Although recent improvements have increased patronage, we need a radical incentive to effectively get the bulk of commuters out of our cars and into public transport and end Auckland’s costly daily gridlock.

The SuperGold Card has had a dramatic effect in getting seniors out and about on free public transport. Instead of creating obstacles, Auckland Transport should expand the Super Gold Card success to open up free public transport to all citizens – not just restricted to senior citizens. The solution is free transit for all passengers at the point of use – with the immense benefits and costs shared by all.

Rather than building more and more extravagant motorways, tunnels and flyovers that merely encourage more traffic congestion, the Government should urgently divert funds from big roading projects into efficient user-friendly public transport and decent walking and cycling facilities.

Overseas cities adopting free public transit

Free public transport is not a new concept. Many cities overseas are adopting, or seriously considering, fare-free transit, coupled with a raft of new citizen-focused initiatives, as an innovative solution that can be appropriate for New Zealand cities, especially Auckland.

In January 2013, the capital of Estonia, Tallinn, (pop nearly 500,000) introduced free public transport for all residents, which has already brought about dramatically positive changes in city life, increasing mobility while seriously cutting congestion and pollution levels. The city’s mayor reports that the experiment has ‘surpassed all expectations’ with passenger numbers up by 10% and cars on the streets reduced by 15% in just 3 months. Other Estonian cities are likely to follow suit.

Free buses introduced last year in central Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichaun province in South West China, have resulted in similar stunning transformations. The formerly hopelessly-gridlocked Belgium city of Hasselt has flourished since 1997 when their visionary council stopped extravagant road building plans and embraced free buses and bicycles, and tree-lined boulevards. Not only did ridership soar by 1300%, but rates went down! However, a subsequent more conservative council later introduced some modest fares.

Citizens of many other smaller cities in France (such as Aubagne, and Chateauroux) and the USA (notably Chapel Hill and Clemson) have also benefitted from free public transport. Other large cities in Europe, such as Brussels, Leipzig in Germany, and Riga (capital of Latvia) are considering introducing free transit. The city of Zory in Poland introduced unconditional free public transport in May 2014, and hosted the 2014 International Conference on Free Public Transport. The municipality of Avesta in Sweden hosted last year’s FPT forum.

Kuala Lumpur and Penang cities have expansive popular free bus services. Bucharest, the capital city of Romania is currently planning to introduce free public transport. Many smaller cities in France provide free bus services. Many cities offer targeted free transit, such as for children under 14 in Barcelona, and on CBD routes in a large number of cities, such as Perth and Sydney. Big cities such as Paris and Los Angeles often enforce free public transport and ban cars on days when pollution reaches dangerously high levels.

Public transport – a vital public service

User-friendly free transit has also proved to foster social cohesion, inclusiveness and civic responsibility. Public transport should be publicly owned and operated as an important public service, just like libraries and rubbish collection – it would be ridiculous to expect householders to pay on the spot for each rubbish bag collected.

Zero fares are just part of a whole new modal mind-set that needs to be phased in.

But it’s not just a matter of making public transit fare-free. The cities that have successfully adopted free public transport insist that there needs to be a whole new emphasis and modal mind-set change: firstly, there needs to be a planned transition period to allow for building up the increased stock of modern zero-emission buses, trams, trains and ferries and expanded infrastructure. A promotional campaign could keep people fully informed about the changes and benefits, and change the prevailing car-dependent mindset into a realization that decent, well-patronised public transport is best for all. Removing all the obstacles (such as fares, proximity, accessibility, inefficiencies etc.) will help change engrained attitudes from “I’d be crazy to go by bus” into “I’d be crazy to go by car.”

A ‘step-by-step’ transition period

This transition period could coincide with a phased fare reduction to, say, a flat $1 per trip, and a moratorium on all big roading projects. Free transit could be introduced in stages, firstly for disabled passengers and school students to join the senior citizens, followed by tertiary students who show ID, then lastly all other adult riders. This gradual process would allow for the infrastructure to be developed throughout the city at a reasonable pace over, say, a three or four-year period.

Developing new improved infrastructure

The new people-focused mobility infrastructure should include:

  • Greatly expanded fleets of buses, ferries, trams and train carriages. It is estimated that this would need to be gradually increased up to about three or four times the current capacity to adequately cater for the increased demand. All new vehicles should be no (or low) emission, modern and comfortable.
  • Extended bus lanes and bus-only traffic signals on all bus routes,
  • Expanded networks of safe cycle ways, more open green spaces, walkways and car-free boulevards and malls,
  • Expanded park and ride facilities, and feeder services at all key nodal points.
  • Ample passenger shelters at each stop, that effectively protect people from the weather,
  • Limit inner city parking facilities.
  • New redesigned and direct bus and tram routes should be colour-coded, criss-crossing the city and easily linking up for maximum mobility.
  • All bus, tram, ferry, light rail and train services and timetables integrated to allow for easy transfer from one mode to another.
  • Strategically placed transport information centres offering simple colour-coded route maps, directions and advise.
  • All services should be frequent and reliable.
  • The introduction of free transit needs to be accompanied by a high-profile promotion of the benefits of the new public transport services.
  • Free wifi on all public transport and passenger facilities.
  • Clear signage to make public transit easily understood by all. More electronic passenger information signs at bus stops and train stations.
  • All services should use modern comfortable vehicles that can easily accommodate wheelchairs, shopping bags and cycles.
  • Wide doors, with lowered ramps, at front and rear for easy and rapid alighting and egress for all.
  • ‘Public transport ambassadors’ engaged to assist passengers and deter anti-social behaviour – similar to Māori Wardens. This will free up the drivers to focus on getting their passengers to their destinations safely.
  • All public transport services should operate 24/7. This will allow for the safe travel of increasing numbers of late night/early morning workers and nightclub patrons etc., and a practical alternative to drink-driving.
  • Mini-buses to link isolated suburban pockets to the main public transport network.
  • Like many European cities, free bicycles could be available for loan at strategic locations. Hasselt in Belgium even offers free bike maintenance depots.
  • Reintroduce trams along main arterial routes – modern trams are comfortable, and easily accessible.
  • Rail should be actively encouraged as the main means of transporting the bulk of freight, with expanded facilities. This will get a large number of heavy trucks off the roads and severely cut road maintenance costs. Heavy rail services to the airport and beyond should be urgently installed – with zero fares.

How will it be paid for?

Everybody will share the benefits of a big switch to decent public transport and an end to traffic congestion – so everyone should share the costs, instead of expecting the users of public transport to pay.

Most of the funding could come from diverting the huge government funds earmarked for planned big roading projects, into decent public transport. Also, direct income from: road and fuel taxes, inner city parking fees, and selling the extremely expensive fare collecting and ticketing systems. The vast tracts of land already purchased for more roads could be sold releasing extra funds for public transport. A new tourist ‘carbon-footprint’ tax could help offset carbon costs and be channelled into the new transit system.

Businesses will be the greatest benefactors as productivity soars and transport related costs dramatically drop. Huge fleets of company cars would become unnecessary, and the need for extensive car parking space would be heavily reduced. A differential rates system could be reintroduced, or a special levy on business could also be applied.

Advantages:

  • Dramatic reduction, or end, of traffic congestion.
  • Greatly reduced costs in road maintenance due to less wear and tear.
  • Substantial reduction in traffic related pollution levels, road accidents, deaths and injuries.
  • Increased fitness with encouragement and confidence due to safer walking and cycling opportunities.
  • A big reduction in the massive amount of time and productivity potential lost stuck in traffic each day.
  • Huge reduction in associated health costs: respiratory conditions, hospital admissions due to road accidents, stress related illnesses, etc.
  • Cut noise pollution.
  • Reduction in ‘road rage’ incidents; fuel usage, waste and costs; insurance claims and costs.
  • The finances and mobility of low-income people will be greatly improved, giving greater access to jobs, health facilities, etc. by removing cost constraints and coupled with better services.
  • Faster boarding times – no more waiting for each individual transaction.
  • Reduce the number of school children currently being dropped off at school by car with expanded free services.
  • Surplus taxi drivers can be offered jobs as bus drivers or rail or ferry staff.
  • End of assaults on bus drivers who will no longer carry cash boxes.
  • Emergency vehicles can get through without traffic congestion problems.
  • The increased number of buses and trains will be available to be quickly seconded to rapidly evacuate large numbers of the population in event of an earthquake or other civil emergency.
  • Abolish expensive ticketing and fare handling systems – fares only comprise a modest percentage of current income for public transport.
  • End all problems of ‘fare dodging’ and ‘over-riding’ and disputes over fares. No need for teams of ticket inspectors and punitive measures.
  • Public ownership and control will reinforce PT as a vital civic service focused solely on the mobility needs of the public.
  • Rates will fall as the city becomes far more user-friendly, mobile and genuinely ‘liveable’
  • The new innovative free transit system is likely to become a major tourist draw-card – think of Melbourne and its popular trams.
  • Auckland could become a world-leading ‘liveable city’ renowned for transforming chronic gridlock into sensible urban mobility.

Disadvantages … well, can YOU think of any?

NO: Patrick Reynolds is a contributor to transportblog.co.nz.

(The following is expanded from Twitter comments.)

The cost of public transport is a very important issue. But is free always the best answer? This is unclear. There are several problems with the zero-fares option for public transport:

  1. Possible overloading of services;
  2. Fairness: it is fair that the user contributes to the costs of service. How much of course matters hugely! Zero fares would mean the capture of public transport services by those more than able to pay (such as myself).
  3. Expansion: Zero fares would make more sense in a static city which already had great public transport and didn’t need to expand. But how would we fund expansion and improvements, such as the City Rail Link?
  4. The quality of service is likely to plunge without a source of funding. In Auckland, 50% of transit operating expenses are paid by fares, 25% by other road users (through the fuel tax) and 25% by property owners (through rates). Without income from transit users, how will we pay drivers, let alone fund service expansion? Would more taxes for this purpose be likely to be politically acceptable?
  5. If people don’t pay, they may be less likely to respect the service. So possibly, zero fares may lead to more vandalism, more abuse of drivers – the social contract between PT and riders might break down.

The zero-fares argument also assumes that the poor are time rich, which is not true. Those working two or more jobs might be more interested in a fast, high-quality public transport experience than a zero-fares option.

What all working people really need is great, safe, efficient, reliable service. On the model of the current SuperGold scheme it would better to target fare relief to the young, the old, and the poor, and to offer discounts for off-peak travel to shift the load from overburdened peak-hour services.

We need to stand for Niki, because she is standing up for you

niki

Source: Stuff.

Vanessa Cole is a member of the Tāmaki Housing Action Group.

This article will be published in Fightback’s magazine on Urban Revolution and the Right to City. To subscribe, click here.

Elderly tenant Ioela ‘Niki’ Rauti has made headlines for refusing to be moved from her house on Taniwha Street, Glen Innes. While she has received support from many people, the backlash from some commentators have tried to derail her struggle by framing her as selfish for holding on to a three-bedroom home during a housing crisis. Niki’s struggle is not an individual struggle, but a struggle of people against the processes of capital accumulation and its manifestation in the state-led gentrification of Tāmaki.

In The New Zealand Experiment, Jane Kelsey shows New Zealand’s historical habit of blindly following economic ideas that had never been trialled elsewhere in the world. The Tāmaki experiment is much the same – adopting urban planning and privatisation which have failed internationally. The transfer of 2,800 state houses in Tāmaki (Panmure, Point England and Glen Innes) to the Tāmaki Redevelopment Company (TRC) is privatisation by stealth. The insidious language used by the TRC frames this transfer as urban ‘regeneration’ – a grand project which will see the building of more homes and the revitalising of a community which embodies the problems associated with the geographical concentration of poverty.

The experiment in Tāmaki is a well-orchestrated campaign. The reality of these policies, without the spin, is mass privatisation of state housing, the displacement of the poor through state-led gentrification processes, and destruction of working class communities by private developers into a desirable and attractive landscape for an incoming middle-class. If Tāmaki was the experiment for the rest of Auckland, and for the rest of New Zealand, then it is a failed experiment. While the redevelopment has received public attention and criticism, the discourses and myths produced by the Government are powerful in justifying and dampen the violence of dispossession.

Paula Bennett promised that freeing up public land by removing state homes in Tāmaki and building more houses will help alleviate the exorbitant increases in house prices and build more houses for those in need. Yes, more houses have been built, but providing public land to private developers has led to exploding unaffordability. The median land values in Glen Innes, one of the first areas to be redeveloped, have increased from $400,000 to nearly 1 million since the redevelopment begun in 2012. The housing market in Tāmaki demonstrates that increasing supply and density of housing does not necessitate affordability. One reasons is that our existing affordable housing (state housing) is being replaced by a large amount of private housing, and property developers are not interested in the reduced profits of “affordability.” State housing once functioned to stabilise the housing market in particular areas, meaning that surrounding rental properties were cheaper. Very few people will be able to rent an affordable house in Tāmaki once this project is completed, particularly if landlords continue to capitalise on the increasing land values in the area.

As for the argument that “mixed-tenure communities” will provide better access to resources for the poor and solve the social problems facing unevenly developed communities. Most of the international research suggests that this new urban planning logic does the complete opposite. The logic of social mixing is built on classist ideas of middle-class neighbours teaching the poor how to behave and providing aspiration for mobility. This is a logic which ignores the economic processes which occur when capital moves into low-income communities, processes which lead to displacement and social cleansing.

Developers in Tāmaki have to build a certain proportion of social and affordable houses as part of the deal of buying and accessing cheap public land. Their main goal, however, is to profit from speculating on land value increases. While the TRC have promised tenants that they can remain in the area, this was a reluctant concession following years of community resistance, and does not account for other forms of eviction through the Social Housing Reform Programme (SHRP) which begun in 2013.

The establishment of a social housing market by means of transferring state housing to Community Housing Providers (CHPs) is occurring under the rhetoric of efficiency. Tāmaki Regeneration, a company set up to regenerate and redevelop Tāmaki, is now one of these new ‘social’ landlords, given 2,800 households to manage. As part of the company Tāmaki Housing Limited Partnership manage the tenancies, and Tāmaki Regeneration Limited are in charge of redevelopment. The Government will argue that this is not privatisation as the TRC is currently owned by the New Zealand Government (29.5% Bill English, 29.5% Nick Smith) and Auckland Council (41%). The TRC, however, was set up in the interim period to manage the properties and the tenancies. Soon, however, the tenancies will be transferred to various different social housing providers and the land will eventually be sold to developers and investors to build the mixed tenure housing.

If we look to the UK, this process of transferring management of public housing stock to private organisations lead in many cases to privatisation. Without sufficient subsidies to support management of properties, private developers are the only organisations that can withstand the costs. The Salvation Army have already backed down from taking on state housing stock for this very reason. The most concerning issue here is the foreshadowing of large scale privatisation in which the private market is held as the sole supplier of the basic human right to housing.

While we are promised to reap the benefits and efficiencies of privatisation, history has shown that the private market does not provide affordable and secure housing for the working class and unemployed. Housing is a right, and an essential material need. To sell it off to private developers or transfer it to private housing providers is to commodify something that should be for living. When Niki is standing up against the redevelopment of her home, she is standing up against the economic processes by which capital dispossesses the poor for the profit of the rich. We need to resist the narratives of the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor, and fight for the right of all to affordable, secure and public housing. We need to unite to dispel the myths of regeneration and to fight the historical and continual dispossession of people by capital. We need to stand with Niki, because she is standing for you.

Build bridges, not walls: How to make Auckland a more equitable city

 

Peter Nunns is a contributor to transportblog.co.nz.

This article will be published in Fightback’s upcoming magazine on Urban Revolution and Right to the City. To subscribe to the magazine, click here.

As an economist specialising in urban issues, I spend most of my time analysing and debating how transport and housing policy can make society wealthier, healthier, and happier. But it’s important to keep equity, exclusion, and politics in view as well: When the average person’s fortunes rise, is everybody better off, or are some people left behind? And if some people feel excluded from society’s good fortune, will they react by building up an alternative, or by tearing down what’s already there?

In this article, I want to step back from purely economic concerns and ask how we can build a city that is more equitable and inclusive, rather than simply more efficient. However, in saying this, I don’t want to give the impression that we must sacrifice economic outcomes to improve equity, or vice versa. On the contrary, many of the housing and transport policies that will benefit us economically will also contribute to a more equitable society.

The problem of scarcity

Urban space is fundamentally limited. A person on a bike cannot occupy the same space as a truck – or, at least, it would be very unwise for them to try it. Two people cannot build houses on the same plot of land – unless they stack their homes and call it an apartment building. Consequently, access to many urban amenities, like coastal views or convenient commutes to a range of jobs, are also limited to those with the right and the means to occupy desirable places.

In a market economy, access to these amenities is usually rationed by price. People with the ability to pay for a nice location get to enjoy living there, and others must go elsewhere. This isn’t to say that non-market allocation systems will necessarily produce a fairer outcome. For instance, in the Soviet Union the best dachas, or holiday homes, were reserved for political and technical elites. However, it does suggest that, to get a more equitable outcome, we need to overcome the scarcity of housing in nice locations and the scarcity of good transport choices throughout the city.

Good urban policy can overcome scarcity. For instance, survey evidence shows that Aucklanders value their natural environment, including beaches, coasts, and public parks. However, a piece of research that I led last year found that home-buyers in Auckland pay substantially more to live near the coast but not to live near regional or local parks.

The difference is that coastal locations are in scarce supply, while parks are not. Because councils chose to build many neighbourhood parks and preserve major green spaces like the Waitakere Ranges and Maungawhau / Mt Eden, very few homes are more than a kilometre from the nearest park. Because there are many parks, access to them doesn’t have to be rationed by price.

Capital accumulation and Auckland’s housing affordability crisis

In Limits to Capital, geographer David Harvey observed that capital tends to seek a ‘spatial fix’ through investment in urban housing and infrastructure that promises a deferred (but potentially large) return. While we could debate aspects of Harvey’s narrative, it is clear that house prices have experienced a structural increase in most places since the 1960s. This reflects increasing allocation of capital to housing, and in turn results in rising wealth inequality.

This is happening in Auckland, too. Capital has flowed into Auckland’s housing market for a variety of reasons, including falling global interest rates and tax preferences for residential property investment. By and large, the money hasn’t been put to work building new homes. Instead, it’s bid up the price of existing housing. As Stu Donovan pointed out in an article on Transportblog[i], we’re living in a topsy-turvy world in which the best way to make money off housing isn’t to develop it, but to own it and speculate on future price increases.

capital gains

Rising house prices may be appealing in the short run, but in the long term they add up to a social catastrophe. For one thing, the benefits of rising prices aren’t shared equitably, as home ownership is falling and wasn’t evenly distributed to begin with. Effectively, rising house prices represent a transfer of wealth from young people to older home-owners and investment property owners. If this persists for generations, young people without inherited wealth may never catch up.

For another, rising prices compel people to do a range of undesirable things to economise on housing costs. For some, this means staying in overcrowded or unhealthy accommodation because there isn’t anywhere else to go. As a result, Aucklanders suffer unnecessarily from preventable diseases like rheumatic fever and asthma. For other people, it may mean saving money to buy a home rather than starting a family or a business. You can see the effects of these pernicious trade-offs throughout society.

Fixing Auckland’s housing problems

David Harvey also points out, in The Right to the City, that it is possible to enlist capital inflows to benefit society, rather than to benefit private speculators. He focuses on the role of taxation in reallocating capital, but I’d like to generalise the point a bit further and discuss a few ways that current capital inflows can be put to work to overcome Auckland’s problems of scarcity.

As discussed above, when nice things are in scarce supply, prices tend to rise until some people give up and go elsewhere. We can see that effect clearly in the market for coastal property, but it’s also very real for housing in Auckland in general. We don’t have enough housing to meet the needs of the people who are living here, or who would want to live here. So prices have risen, which has induced a few people to leave, either to elsewhere in New Zealand or overseas, and forced others to cram into overcrowded or unsafe housing. Some people have no home at all.

Scarcity of housing in Auckland isn’t immutable, like a physical law. It’s true that land is scarce in Auckland, as the city sits on a few narrow strips of land in the middle of a large ocean. But if we do things differently, we can house more people in the space and break our vicious cycle of housing speculation.

The first and most important step is to ensure that urban planning rules allow more housing to get built, in the right places. Some people have sought to build walls of rules around neighbourhoods or entire cities, to keep them from growing and changing. But there is another way to achieve good urban outcomes: planning rules that enable more to be done and ensure that what’s done is done well, with good attention to the interface between buildings and the street and the long-run quality of neighbourhoods.

Design is important, but location is even more important. In Auckland, there are a number of amenities that are concentrated in a small number of locations. For instance, people value coastal living and they value the consumer amenities and good employment accessibility that are concentrated near the geographic centre of the region. Rules that limit new housing in these areas will result in an inequitable city, in which nice locations are the exclusive preserve of the well-off.

Auckland’s urban planning rulebook has come a long way in recent years. As I wrote on Transportblog last year[ii], the final Unitary Plan has roughly tripled the number of homes that could be built in Auckland, which gives us room to ease the housing shortfall.

feasible

With luck, this will change the property game in Auckland, tilting the incentives away from speculative investments (i.e. buying and holding for capital gains) and towards socially beneficial investments in new housing. But it may not be sufficient on its own, because private developers aren’t going to continue to build homes if prices start dropping. The data on building consents and house prices makes it clear that they, too, are in a boom-bust cycle: When prices fall, or stop rising as rapidly, developers pull back the number of homes they build.

consents

This is where state housing, a long-standing progressive solution to housing equity issues, can play a vital role. The government (or the council) doesn’t necessarily need to build most of the new homes, or even more than a small share of them, to improve the fairness of the housing market. If it simply commits to stepping forward when private developers step back, it will help to stabilise boom-bust cycles in home construction. This will in turn ensure that the people at the bottom of the ladder don’t fall off the ladder when the next boom comes around.

Inequalities in Auckland’s transport system

So far I’ve talked mainly about housing, but transport is the other side of the urban equation. This, again, is an area where Auckland has a number of inequalities that could be addressed by redirecting a bit of the capital that’s sloshing around.

I want to focus on three specific aspects of transport inequality. The first is cars. Due to a set of choices that we made over the last 60 years, Auckland has a transport system that is heavily reliant upon cars. It’s possible to get most places in the city, most of the time, by car, but not necessarily by public transport or cycling.

This has its benefits, except when everyone’s trying to drive at the same time or when there’s a crash on the motorway, but they aren’t evenly distributed. Census data shows that over one in five low-income Auckland households lack access to a car, meaning that they face significant difficulties in reaching destinations.

no cars

This is linked to unequal levels of accessibility to jobs and education from different parts of the city. This measure reflects the combination of where people live and work and how easy it is to get around. The Auckland Transport Alignment Project recently looked at this, as shown in the maps below. Over the next decade, working-class suburbs in West and South Auckland are expected to experience declining accessibility to jobs by car and, with the exception of areas around Auckland’s rail network, relatively modest gains in public transport accessibility.

This reflects the scarcity of non-car transport options in these parts of the city. Where it exists, Auckland’s rapid transit system plays a key role in supporting accessibility by all modes. Busways and rail lines speed up public transport journeys, benefitting those who do not own cars. And by giving people the option to get out of the car if the roads are stuffed, they also moderate traffic congestion. But unless we take measures to reduce the scarcity of rapid transit options, these benefits will not reach all Aucklanders.

jobs

Finally, there are serious inequalities in health outcomes related to physical activity. Although obesity rates are an imperfect proxy for physical activity, they point to some serious differences in the accessibility and safety of walking and cycling options between different parts of the city. In North and Central Auckland, obesity rates are below the national average. In South Auckland, obesity rates are 26% higher than the national average for adults, and 70% higher for children.

People living in places where it is easier and safer to walk and cycle tend to walk and cycle more. In addition to saving people money, this can reduce the burden of preventable illnesses for individuals and communities. But this will not happen if walkable neighbourhoods and safe cycling facilities remain in scarce supply.

 

Abundant access for Aucklanders

To fix the inequities in Auckland’s transport system, we must move from scarcity of transport choices to an abundance of choices. We can build a city that has what public transport expert Jarrett Walker calls “abundant access”, in which:

The greatest possible number of jobs and other destinations are located within 30 minutes one way travel time of the greatest possible number of residents.[i]

Jarrett’s concept of abundant access focuses on accessibility via public transport, but similar goals could be outlined for all transport modes. For instance, we should also aim to ensure that:

  • It is safe for all Aucklanders to walk to school or the shops
  • People of all ages, from 8 to 80, feel comfortable cycling to a range of destinations.

Delivering abundant access will not necessarily be easy. It will require us to make some hard choices about how to deploy scarce resources, ranging from transport budgets to road space. It may require some capital to be reallocated towards infrastructure development. But it is possible, and, if we want Auckland to become a more equitable city, it will be essential.

Space for new politics?

This article has been primarily focused on policy, not politics. However, it is often the case that new forms of politics are needed to deliver policy change.

As I’m an economist rather than a political organiser, I won’t pretend to know how to catalyse new political movements. That being said, I hope that this article has offered some useful suggestions for shaping a progressive political agenda. First, it’s important to recognise that many of Auckland’s social and spatial inequalities are driven by scarcity – in particular, scarcity of housing, especially in desirable locations, and transport choices.

Second, we must react to scarcity by building bridges, not walls. In an urban context, progressive politics must respond to scarcity by delivering abundance. If people don’t have places to live, build more homes. If people can’t get around, provide them with abundant access. In a city, we are all citizens – we have a right to the place where we live.

[i] http://humantransit.org/2013/03/abundant-access-a-map-of-the-key-transit-choices.html

[i] http://transportblog.co.nz/2016/07/29/developer-profits-and-capital-gains-on-housing/

[ii] http://transportblog.co.nz/2016/08/31/zoning-reform-is-the-unitary-plan-any-good-2-of-n/

Eco-villages, transition towns and gardens cities

eco city

Source: BBC.

Tāne Feary is an eco-activist who lives on Waiheke Island, Tāmaki Makarau / Auckland.

This article will be published in Fightback’s upcoming magazine issue on Urban Revolution and the Right to the City. To subscribe to Fightback’s magazine, click here.

This article introduces the Transition Towns movement and looks at eco-villages, exploring some possibilities for the future. The focus is on cities, and our increasingly urban existence.

Transition

The Transition Towns concept originated in Totnes, UK. Since the first project in 2006, Transition Initiatives have spread to multiple countries and countless regions around the world: Oamaru, Grey Lynn, Sydney, United States and the list goes on. These projects can be carried out on a small or large scale, and include villages, regions, islands, towns or cities.

Transition Towns are set up to address two challenges: peak oil and climate change. Modern Industrial capitalism uses vast amounts of fossil fuels; oil is the lifeblood of the modern industrial economy. Peak oil is not new. But it is not an issue that gets a lot of attention. NZ had oil shocks in the 70s, when we had carless days; but we are not prepared for a future of carless cities.

What would happen if the oil stopped flowing? No food in supermarkets, no cars, no flights. No gas to cook dinner. Power? Shops? Airports? Petrol stations? What else?

Transition Towns has been working on the local scale. But work is also being done on a larger scale – for example, Sweden has declared it will be a fossil fuel-free nation. Fossil fuel-free cities are also being discussed. The Transition Towns concept may not have translated to places like China, but other approaches are being tried.

Eco-cities

Ecological civilization is a term that is not new, but is now getting backing at senior levels. Growth is no longer the only mantra in China. Eco-cities are also being developed in China, such as Tianjin Eco-city.

Peak oil is an issue for cities. Smog is an issue. Food security is an issue. Most cities import a lot of food. Clean water is a must. Extracting fossil fuels can be very destructive, and then there is the issue of waste. Put simply, cities face a lot of challenges. Some cities have been in decline. Detroit is not unique.

More extraction. More burning of fossil fuels. More mines. More Standing Rocks, more vulnerable island nations. More of the same will yield more of the same results. What does a different approach look like? Transition Towns explores what a transition away from fossil fuels looks like. Permaculture is another concept that offers answers. Permaculture is a term that was devised and developed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. (See the website link at the bottom of the article to learn more about permaculture in NZ). Permaculture doesn’t need to be a rural activity. Urban farming is a modern form of permaculture.

In New Zealand, a village was designed with transition values in mind. Will it work? This particular village in the South Island has so far fallen into debt and has been highly problematic. Many of the commune projects from the “back to the land” phase some people went through in NZ no longer exist. Many people in NZ, however, maintain connections to the land. Community gardens are thriving in NZ. Setting them up is easy, but keeping them going requires another set of skills. “Back to the land” was followed by back to the city. People shift to the cities to find jobs. This is not unique to NZ.

Perhaps what was lacking most in many of these recent and not so recent experiments was community. Many people don’t have farming backgrounds. Other skills were also lacking. That explains some of the mistakes made when people attempted to set up communities in the countryside. Isolation was also an issue. This can be avoided by placing farms in cities. Golf courses could be put to other uses. Lawns or grass verges can be replaced with productive gardens. Placing food production closer to dense populations reduces travel time. Gardens in schools is another way permaculture can be applied in cities. Roof top gardens, vertical gardens… a design rethink opens up vast possibilities. Wellington City has a small productive urban farm placed right next door to its hospital.

Cities are growing. Emissions are growing. More people, more cars. More smog, more pollution. Some blame people, population, migration. I don’t see immigration as a problem. The struggle for a just transition away from fossil fuels includes the struggle against borders which lock people into appalling conditions – increasingly, as a result of climate change. As climate change worsens, migration will increase. If we are to live in cities in large numbers, we need to learn to live well. Cities need to create less waste and generate more energy. Tomorrows cities don’t have to use vast amounts of resources and fill up endless landfills, exploiting and despoiling. Cities don’t have to be coal powered. The eco-city approach offers ways to reduce energy use and create more closed systems inside the cities. When this happens, the city is not a drain on the countryside or a health hazard for its residents.

Food security

In New Zealand, a lot of food is imported and exported. New Zealand traditionally had a lot of farms and exported a lot of dairy products. It still does. This is being done by irrigation and intensive farming. Factory farming.

The current mantra is: The more stock the better. Large volumes, large profits. The downside is large volumes of effluent. Of course, our cities also produce large volumes of effluent. On the small scale, composting is a solution when it comes to food waste. Large scale solutions also need to exist, since large scale problems exist. The conservative government of New Zealand has been trying to push a model that is focused on short term profits: cut down forests, export logs. Blow up mountains, export coal. Pollute rivers, export milk powder. Then there is the motorway mania. Air quality suffers, water quality suffers, and over time – quality of life too.

Some cities are starting to address the issue of food security. Urban farming and community gardening is taking off. Old vacant parking lots of unused land can be put to new uses. Detroit, the poster city for urban decline, is also the poster city for urban farming. Mass migration to the countryside is not on the cards. Urban renewal is a more realistic response to challenges facing urban populations. Eco-villages don’t have to be located far from population clusters. What would an eco-village in the heart of a city look like? Closer to home lessons can also be learned from Christchurch Garden City. A city with a thriving grassroots spirit; a city with a future.

An ecocentric approach as opposed to a capitalistic development model is one that explores permaculture land management and design, Eco-city urbanism and expands on the Transition Towns concept. Can cities have fresh air? Quiet spaces, clean water and clean air? What kind of city do you want to live in?

For more information:

http://transitionnetwork.org/

http://www.transitiontowns.org.nz/

https://permaculture.org.nz

 

 

Migrants are welcome – Leftist xenophobia is not

refugees-migrants-welcome-here

By Daphne Lawless

When I was a young Alliance activist in Wellington in the 1990s, I knew Frank Macskasy well as a staunch colleague in the fight against the neoliberal assault on workers. It’s very sad to see him now promoting the xenophobic agenda of Martyn Bradbury’s The Daily Blog, known as the “Breitbart of the NZ Left”.

TDB is part of the current which I’ve called the “conservative left” – those activists who have taken a “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” attitude to the rise of Right-wing populism worldwide, including the Brexit movement in Britain and the Trump movement in the US. I’ve argued that many activists, having spent so long fighting neoliberal globalization, have ended up in a position where they think that anything neoliberals want must be bad. Most unfortunately – in the NZ context – this has turned into a belief that since neoliberals want more immigration, the Left should want less.

Frank’s TDB post harps on the idea that the National government is encouraging immigration as an easy way to “artificially stimulate the economy” (an argument heard recently out of the mouth of New Zealand’s master of xenophobic politics, Winston Peters). The first obvious question should be: if it were that simple to grow the economy, what would be wrong with it? What is wrong in principle to allow anyone willing to come here, work hard and be part of our community to do so? In particular, no Pākehā New Zealander should have the bald-faced cheek to suggest that migration to this country should be treated with suspicion.

Frank skates over the contradiction between the idea that immigration “stimulates the economy” and the idea that it’s problematic “at a time when unemployment was still high.” A stimulated economy means more work available… right? Leaving aside this little problem, Frank goes on:

“The downside to high immigration has been to put strain on critical services such as roading and housing, and reduce demand for locally trained workers to fill vacancies. There is a downward pressure on wages, as cheaper immigrant-labour is brought into the workforce.”

Both Frank’s links go to NZ Herald articles. The first is a column concerning the last Budget, which contains the comment:

“The rise in net migration, on top of natural increases, is putting pressure on the health system, schools, housing and transport.”

I’ve underlined the bit that Frank seems to have missed out. The issue is that population growth is putting pressure on our infrastructure. In Auckland in particular – despite the scare stories from the xenophobic Left and Right – “natural increase” (that is, people having babies and not dying) is a significantly greater contribution to population growth than migration. So where is Frank’s worry about that section of population growth? Why is he not calling for a Chinese-style one-child policy, if the issue is really just about “more people” – rather than the murkier issue of “more people not born here”?

Frank’s second link goes to a report on advice given by Treasury – not generally considered a reliable source of good economic advice by Leftists (except when it confirms their prejudices?) There is of course a real problem with cheap migrant labour. But it’s nothing to do with “New Zealanders being priced out of low-waged jobs”. Firstly, just like it’s always been in this country, migrants tend to do the low-status jobs that New Zealanders don’t want to do – fast food workers or security guards, who might be qualified professionals in their own country, can tell you about that. Secondly, the reason migrant labour is cheap is because of employers cheating the system. We’re talking about migrants having their passports confiscated, and forced either into virtual slave labour, or work of a kind they never wanted to do (such as sex work).

These are real problems. But they are not problems caused by migration. It is caused by migrant workers not getting a fair shake on the basis as all other workers in this country. Get rid of the incentive for human trafficking provided by the current immigration scheme – by giving all those who want to work here the legal right to do so, cracking down on unfair labour practices, and encouraging migrant workers to join unions and fight alongside all other workers for their rights.

Frank and his colleagues at TDB are irresponsibly stoking the forces of racism and xenophobia in this country. Some may be doing so out of nostalgia for a simpler, less culturally diverse New Zealand of the pre-neoliberal era. Some may be doing so out of cynical calculation that migrant-bashing is a way to defeat the hated National government. But it’s a slowly growing sickness on the Left in New Zealand. The Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign has been set up by socialists, unionists and migrant communities who want to stand up and say unashamedly that we are pro-immigration, and pro-worker, and we can’t allow the conservative left to speak for the rest of us.

On Conservative Leftism: A Conversation between Daphne Lawless and Gregory W

Reprinted from the Communist Rupture blog.

Gregory W.: In the article, Against Conservative Leftism, you suggested that “21st century revolutionary classes will not look like those of the 1840s or even the 1980s,” and that “the left should seek to build on the new social forces and ways of living that neoliberal globalisation has thrown up, to create a post-neoliberal, post-capitalist future.”

This part of the article jumped out at me as being particularly important. It seems that the article is peppered with references to new or emerging revolutionary subjects. But I would like for you to elaborate on this point and maybe give some examples that are shaping your thinking.

 

Daphne Lawless: Right. During the changes of the last 40 years – the neoliberal/globalization era, or the “post-Fordist production” era, whatever you want to call it – traditional working-class communities and institutions in the advanced capitalist countries have atrophied and dissolved. The social-democratic parties have become hollow shells and the labor unions have become increasingly “professionalized”, run along the same lines as NGOs by full-time organisers. BUT: if you still find the Marxian critique of political economy useful, this does not mean there is no more proletariat in the Western countries.

You have a disorganized proletariat of service workers, or what’s sometimes called “the precariat”; and then you have a more privileged layer of workers in technology-based industries. Neither of these are going to behave or see the world in the same way as a unionised auto worker of the 1950s. But by Marxist definition they are still proletarian, or in the process of being proletarianised. And you can see emerging radical and reactionary tendencies in both of these groups.

To take the tech workers for example, the “open-source” communities were one prefiguration of how communist labor relations might work. Then you had the brief flowering of Anonymous as a “meme”, an idea, a method of organising among technological workers, which took off at more or less the same time as the Arab Spring, Occupy, etc. Of course after the defeat of those radical movements you had the swing to the reactionary sides of those movements – the neo-reactionaries, alt-right, 4chan /pol/ kind of thing.

But one hallmark of what I would call the “conservative left” is the assumption that the radical workers’ movements of the 21st century will look like those of the past. You have this tendency towards LARPing, to try to recreate forms from the past. It simply won’t work. New forms of capitalist exploitation and oppression require new forms of organisation, and a Left which doesn’t keep up with the actual formations crystallising RIGHT NOW is an irrelevant circle-jerk.

Gregory W.: I find this whole aspect of your analysis very compelling.

I’m reminded of the speculative science question, “if we were confronted with alien life, would we recognize it when we see it?” It seems like there’s something similar going on when it comes to recognizing radical political breakthroughs because we’re expecting things to look a certain way.

There has been some promising stuff in the U.S. in recent years with service industry workers organizing and going on strike. That in itself is an example of working class movement, or even of a proletarian subset, which doesn’t fit the conventional mold. Still, it’s on a spectrum with labor struggles that we’re apt to recognize.

But there’s stuff that’s even more alien. We may rightly bemoan the fact that there hasn’t been a general strike in the U.S. in a long time (and it’s not even clear what that indicates, given that France has them pretty often and yet things aren’t going so well over there). But in 2016 we had a historic, nation-wide prison strike with solidarity actions in some prisons internationally. What does that mean?

The prison system is a huge part of the neoliberal economy in the U.S., arising with the war on drugs and the rollbacks on social guarantees. The vast majority of prisoners were workers in the outside world. In prison, many continue to do low-wage work and on top of that, they are generating value just by being housed, to the benefit of a whole web of corporate and state bureaucracies.

What does it mean that prisoners were able to coordinate such a strike? And you also have to think about the fact that most prisoners will eventually be released, and will likely be employed at low-wage jobs, and/or work in the informal economy. What does it mean if someone who was involved in a nation-wide prison strike now works at Wal-Mart? What insights and skills could that person bring to organizing outside of prison? If I were developing a revolutionary cadre organization, I might want to recruit some of these people, or else connect up with them in some way – talk to them, work in a coalition with them, or whatever.

     Inmate labor at Louisiana State Penitentiary. Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP
Daphne Lawless: Oh, certainly. Of course the prison-industrial complex in the US is reasonably unique, so I’m loathe to try to talk about it in any detail, but there are similarities in New Zealand – whereas 50% of the prison population in the US is African-American, so 50% of the prison population in NZ is Māori. But from what I gather prison labor is far more widely used in the US – though I don’t know in what areas of the economy it is important. The paradox is the more important prison labor becomes, the more potentially powerful labor organising in prisons becomes.

I know that some people from the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist tradition have made organising among prisoners a top priority. I don’t know how close you are to that.

As to the service industry workers, yes, we’ve had great strides forward in this country in that. Basically, the UNITE union was founded by social-democratic political veterans who had been excluded from the neoliberalized Labour Party and their compliant trade-union apparatuses, and started with the goals of (a) rebuilding a base for social democracy; (b) bringing Seattle-era social-movement methods of organisation to unionism. They also scored a coup by recruiting organizers from young communist groups – people motivated from ideology will work harder and sometimes for less pay!

So by those means, UNITE have been effectively able to organise workers at many fast food chains, and other overlooked workers such as security guards, casino staff etc. However, the price for this is a certain institutionalisation, rapprochement with the older unions/Labour Party etc. And the problem with giving committed revolutionaries a “day job” doing labour organising is that you risk turning into an NGO-model, where it becomes all about the young educated radicals (who by virtue of being union organisers are inherently middle-class from a Marxist point of view) as the protagonists rather than the low-paid precarious workers they’re organising [Ben P from UNITE writes: This contains important falsehoods which I think should be clarified: It implies that Unite is built purely around young radicals, rather than members of the class. This is untrue. Of the 14 current organisation staff at Unite, 9 started off their political involvement as shop-floor members of the union. A third are Māori, another third are from migrant/Pacific backgrounds. 10 are women. I’m not 100% sure, but I believe less than 6 of them have a tertiary degree or higher. The article implies that the organisers are middle class highly educated types at a distance to our members. This doesn’t correlate to the actual demographics of our organisation. All organisations face political problems as they develop, grow and evolve, and Unite is not immune to these problems. But Unite’s problem at present is not that we are overloaded with over-entitled campus Marxists.]

So to some degree, as long as the basic economic structure remain the same, it’s “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”  – attempts to REPLACE the old reformist labor structures will lead to becoming SIMILAR structures. You can see this with what happened in Greece – the radical SYRIZA replaced the neoliberal PASOK, at the price of becoming neoliberal themselves. These are the limits of working for reforms within the system – you will get reforms and nothing but.

Gregory W.: First off, I am interested in learning more about organizers who are prioritizing things like prison work (also, immigration as a fault-line)…You bring up a lot of good points. It is interesting to hear about the differences and similarities between New Zealand and the U.S. What you’ve said underscores my overall feeling that we are still in a very difficult period in terms of devising radical strategy, with so many of our previous verdicts turning up short. At the same time, masses of people are on the move and we need to be in the midst of it, learning from these developing struggles.

Earlier we talked about new and emerging revolutionary classes and how that relates to your analysis of conservative leftism. The basic idea is that capitalism is a dynamic system. It changes. The advanced neoliberal capitalism we face today—with global markets and no actually-existing socialist blocs—is very different from what movements faced over the course of the 20th century. As you said, a defining characteristic of the conservative left is to assume that today’s radical working class struggles will look like those of the past. You suggest that this is not an adequate orientation, and is in fact doomed to fail.

We discussed some examples of emerging forces that break with previous patterns. We discussed recent attempts to organize service industry workers in both New Zealand and the U.S., and how the dynamics of that differ from the organization of 20th C. industrial workers in the advanced capitalist countries (e.g., unionized auto workers). We also discussed the significance of prisoners organizing in the U.S., as the prison industrial complex is a key feature of contemporary U.S. capitalism, arguably having a much greater weight than it would have at any time in previous decades.

That being said, your critique of conservative leftism seems to cover multiple levels. I’m not sure how you would want to characterize the “level” I summarized. It has to do with our forces on the ground, radical organization, and the like.

Another level we might call geopolitics. Is that fair? You discuss how the left orients itself to changing global configurations—for example, how the left positions itself in relation to the Syrian civil war. I personally find this whole piece of the analysis more difficult to grapple with. My hope is that you could provide a sketch here of some of the broad problems, tackling the question of why we are finding the current geopolitical situation so disorienting, and how we might position ourselves in a way that’s forward-looking and effective.

Daphne Lawless: Right. I think what you’re getting at is what I categorize as “campism”. This is when the Left replaces the class struggle with a geopolitical struggle as the centrepiece of its analysis – that the fight is between “good” and “bad” nation-states. There were historically two Left-wing versions of this: the Stalinist version where what was good for the USSR/Eastern Bloc was good for the workers of the world; and the Maoist version where what was good for China and its “non-aligned” allies was best for the oppressed peoples of the world. The former had Leftists cheering as Soviet tanks went into Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan; the latter had Leftists supporting the rapprochement with Nixon, supporting counter-revolutionaries in Angola, the Shah of Iran, or even Khmer Rouge.

Simply put, it’s a left-wing gloss on Nixon’s apocryphal comment about Somoza – “he’s a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch”. I wrote about this in an article before the concept of conservative leftism coalesced – https://fightback.org.nz/2015/11/05/against-campism-what-makes-some-leftists-support-putin/

In the first Conservative Leftism article I mentioned “Cleek’s Law” – that modern conservativism is simply the opposite of whatever liberals want. Given that, Conservative Leftism is simply the opposite of everything neoliberalism wants. Similarly, “campism” means reflex opposition to whatever one geopolitical “camp” wants. Up until the Trump era, for most of the Left, this of course meant a simplistic attitude of “US imperialism bad, every target of US imperialism good”. That might be more difficult to intellectually justify that Trump is trying to build an alliance between US imperialism and its Russian counterpart, its historic opponent.

The high point of the current incarnation of the global Left was 2002-3; the opposition to Bush/Blair’s wars of conquest in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, the thing was that this brought together several different strands of opinion on the same side. Liberals objected to an “illegal war” fought on a humanitarian pretext. Old-school socialists opposed US/UK imperialist power in general. Conservative “realists” objected to the “destabilisation” of the Middle East by removing the dictator Hussein. Conservative “isolationists” objected to the US getting involved in overseas interventions of any shape and form. Worst of all, fascists supported the “national sovereignty” of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and ranted about the evil Islamic hordes which were being held back by his “secular” dictatorship.

The problem came when the Left – due to the poverty of its own analysis – started internalising Right-wing arguments (realist, isolationist or fascist) as its own. The isolationist or fascist arguments also coincided with the old Cold War campism which assumed that everything which the neoliberal global order was attacking must be a good thing. Soon after the Iraq debacle, the theory of “colour revolutions” started gathering adherents on the Left.

According to this, apparent democratic movements in countries which were being stubborn in the face of neoliberal global orders were actually puppets of the CIA, or possibly George Soros, seeking not freedom but to destroy national sovereignty and surrender to neoliberalism. This flattened out the difference between countries attempting a Left opposition to globalisation (Venezuela, Cuba) and shitty kleptocratic dictatorships – such as Zimbabwe, Turkmenistan, or of course, most of the Arab countries.

This meant when the Arab Spring hit, much of the Left turned its back on democratic movements struggling against dictatorships on the streets as agents of neoliberalism and sided with their dictators – Qadhafi, Assad, recently al-Sisi. The logic ran: “neoliberalism doesn’t like this shitty dictator; therefore this shitty dictator must be supported; therefore the demonstrators are enemies of the people”. To this, in the Arab context in particular, was added a huge dollop of Islamophobia uncriticially inhaled from the fascist-Right, the idea that secular dictators were preferable to democratic forces where men wore beards and might say Allahu Akbar occasionally. Here’s a message a comrade of mine sent recently:

“spent my saturday night fighting with a tanky for hours
and holy shit i was trying to channel your good self, but to limited effect but the underlying theme was that US imperialism was wrong, therefore anything they attack/undermine was right.
fucking mad binary
Gadaffi was a good guy
super good guy
even when shelling his citizens in the city he was a great guy, best guy”

Simply put, then: the campism which leads to apparent Leftists supporting Syria’s regime bombing and gassing its own people, and the horrible regimes of Iran and Russia giving it their full support, is the exact analogy of conservative leftism, in that it simply assumes that any shitty dictatorship which stands up against the neoliberal global order is to be supported – that is, it can no longer tell the difference between socialism and fascism. This uncritical embrace of nationalism is echoed in Europe by the fascist and conservative-Left alliance pushing for the breakup of the European Union.

It is fundamental to my analysis that – just like capitalism as a whole – neoliberalism is CONTRADICTORY, that it has a progressive tendency as well as an oppressive tendency, and that socialism for the 21st century will build on that progressive tendency (globalisation, the breakdown of the nuclear family, networked rather than hierarchical forms of power) rather than try to turn the clock back to the era of nation-state autarky. To do otherwise is opening the door to fascism.

So basically I want to revive that good old slogan of Third Camp revolutionaries: “Neither Washington nor Moscow, but International Socialism”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_camp

Gregory W.: If we wanted to put this in a formal-theoretical way, we might say that class struggle and geopolitics are relatively independent of one another. There is a disjunction between the two, or a gap between two levels of activity (and therefore two levels of analysis). We have to be able to think through the ways that these two levels intersect and condition one another, but it can’t be in an automatic or unchanging way.

And building on what you’ve said, I would also like to emphasize the importance of epochal shifts. One thing that’s clear is that, after the Russian revolution and the consolidation of the Soviet state, the gravity of world revolution shifted to the anti-colonial struggle or movements for national liberation. There were all kinds of forces interacting in this context on multiple continents: socialists, communists, liberal modernizationists, kleptocratic opportunists, billions of people with countless hopes…everything from the Bandung forces to guerrilla insurgencies were caught up in this huge wave. Communist revolution tended to combine with this anti-colonial struggle. And within a couple decades, classical colonialism was defeated almost everywhere.

As you’ve pointed out (here and in the article on campism) there were shifting international alliances, the two main revolutionary poles being those of the USSR and China. Both countries absolutely did back revolutionary and progressive movements all over the world – so there is a real basis for some of the strategy of this era – and both backed reactionary regimes and movements at different times. My concern would not be to go through every realpolitik decision that these regimes and movements made, saying yea or nay. I just want to emphasize that there was an epochal context for these decisions, and that the context is now over.

The 20th century form of anti-colonial struggle is over and both the Russian and Chinese revolutions have been defeated. It is odd to see some on the left discuss the foreign policy of these countries as if they were still socialist and backing world revolution.

I want to bring up the book, The End of the Revolution: China and the Limits of Modernity, by the Chinese “new left” thinker, Wang Hui. In that book he discusses the post-Mao reform era in China, and how “the old socialist stance of internationalism gradually faded from the scene.” He says that, “there is nothing that demonstrates this problem better than the 1999 NATO (American) bombing of the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia: in the extraordinary meeting of the United Nations discussing the bombing, not only did the Western alliance stand together, but the traditionally sympathetic Third World alliance was unwilling to voice support for China.” This was almost 20 years ago and the whole thing had already fallen apart.

Daphne Lawless: “the gravity of world revolution shifted to the anti-colonial struggle or movements for national liberation.” – well, you know, I might argue with that. You can say that was part of the process, in that there was a shift away from the struggle of the organised industrial working class in the advanced capitalist countries. BUT the advanced capitalist countries also saw an eruption of struggle from youth, women, oppressed ethnicities/races, and the queer communities. And that has had pretty earth-shattering effects, we have to admit.

Part of conservative leftism is running down these movements, suggesting that – for example – gay marriage, limited recognition of indigenous peoples, even women being allowed to get credit cards in their own name means nothing alongside the neoliberal demolition of traditional working-class organisation. But the hard thing to recognize is precisely that traditional working-class organisations were complicit in the oppressive features of the post-war social democratic consensus. Let’s give all credit to the pro-Soviet CP in the US who were the only white people seriously pushing for desegregation in the 1930s. But the mainstream workers’ movement (in NZ as in the US) was no more woman- or queer-friendly or less dominated by (unacknowledged) white supremacy until the social movements forced them in that direction from the 60s onwards.

I strongly argue that neoliberalism would have had a tougher time destroying the Western workers movements if they had worked WITH the social movements, rather than against them, using the familiar “but muh white working class” rhetoric you still hear from conservative leftism today. That the neoliberals were smart enough to eventually co-opt indigenous, feminist, queer, even trans struggles just shows that they were smarter than the traditional workers movement, not that there was anything inherently neoliberal about those struggles. So we need a better mass workers movement today.

Anyway, back to the rest of what you were saying…!

Gregory W.: What you just said is a good argument against theoretical overstatement, which you see in the programs and agitational material of many groups (e.g., “U.S. imperialism is the main enemy in the world today”). We should be more careful.

I do agree with your analysis above. I definitely had in mind eruptions like the Algerian war, which are such a big part of the post WWII story. But it should also be borne in mind that sweeping radicalization in the western countries happened at the same time. These are interrelated at every level. And I think it is wrong to say, for example, that the western ‘68 wasn’t revolutionary. The things you mention are a big deal. And maybe that’s even more apparent now than it has been in some time, precisely because so many gains are under attack. And we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be blackmailed into a class vs. “identity politics” dead end.

Daphne Lawless: Hah, that particular overstatement leads you directly into supporting Assad, Putin, Mugabe, Qadhafi, Kim Jong-Un, any sleazy exploitative dictator.

Of course “identity politics” can’t be separated from class politics. What proportion of the working class are actually white, cis-het, male, able-bodied, speaking the dominant language, etc? Well less than 25%, I’d wager. Class struggle has to be intersectional or it’s simply social-chauvinism.

“It is odd to see some on the left discuss the foreign policy of (Russia and China) as if they were still socialist and backing world revolution.” – precisely. It’s debilitating nostalgia, even LARPing (live action role-playing). The ability to analyse the world as it is has been replaced by a dogmatic adherence to categories from the past. This is how you build a religion or a sect, not how you build a global movement. One is reminded of the Byzantine Empire in its last days, whose poetry described the encroaching Turks as “Persians”, referencing a war from 2000 years previously that the Greek-speakers won. It will never be 1917 or 1949 or even 1975 again. We need a new internationalism for the globalised era.

Gregory W.: Indeed and without that new internationalism, we get new Strasserism. “Sad,” as Trump would say.

workers-of-the-world-unite

 

On the Oscar-nominated White Helmets Documentary

Reprinted from The Syria Campaign

Khaled Khatib is a White Helmet volunteer who worked on Netflix’s ‘White Helmet’ movie. It’s been nominated for an Oscar, results are announced on Sunday 26th. This is his story.

Dear Fightback,

I was 16 when the revolution started. In the first few years of the uprising I saw a lot of foreign photojournalists and TV crews come to document what was happening in my city of Aleppo. I watched them dreaming that I could do that: tell the story of my city and my people. When I saw the work of the White Helmets, I knew that was the story of Syria I wanted to tell to tell the world.

The White Helmets have a motto taken from the Quran: “to save a life is to save all humanity”. I started to document their work as a volunteer to show the world that everyday Syrians were pulling humanity from the rubble of bombs.

When the bombs fall I follow the teams to the scene. I watch as they use diggers, cranes, the drills, their hands — anything that can help rescue those trapped. It is my job to remain calm, to capture the reactions from people recovering from the shock of seeing their homes, families, lives buried under rubble. I try to focus on capturing their stories.

The media is so important for the White Helmets and other humanitarian groups working in Syria. We want people to see and understand what is happening: who is doing the killing and who is working for peace. I do this work because I believe if the world understands the suffering of my people they will be moved to stop it; to stand with us on the side of life.

In November 2015, the director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara contacted us about making a documentary. They had seen the rescue missions we shot and wanted to tell our story to the world. We watched their other films and understood they are people who know how to tell the stories of heroes. I hoped that we could work together to create a film that would tell the true story of the White Helmets to people around the world.

I worked with the team in Adana while they were shooting at the White Helmets training ground. I learnt a lot from the cinematographer Frank Dow about how to shoot, to edit, to tell the story. By the end my notebook was full.

Khaled At Work

It is so important that people see the film. It is important that people understand that Syria has people who want the same things they want: peace, jobs, family, and to live without the fear of bombs. This is what I hope the film does.

I plan to travel to LA next week for the Oscars where the film is nominated for an award. If we win this award, it will show people across Syria that people around the world support them. It will give courage to every volunteer who wakes up every morning to run towards bombs.

If I cannot enter the US, I will not give up: we know that we have many friends in US, that there are people that share our humanitarian values. I look forward to meeting them all one day.

When this war is over I dream of going back to study film — we Syrians have many, many more stories to tell.

In peace,

Khaled

PS. If you want to send a message of support to Khaled please hit reply to this email and we will pass them all on.

PPS. Not watched the Netflix film? Click here.

Fightback 2017 summer conference report

Over the 14th and 15th of January, Fightback members converged in Wellington to plan our activities for 2017.

On the first day, Fightback and members of the wider community met to form a migrant and refugee rights coalition, aiming to intervene in the 2017 General Election in opposition to migrant-bashing. Watch this space for more information, and please email fightback.aotearoa@gmail.com if you would like to keep in the loop.

Over Day Two, Fightback held an internal meeting, and made the following commitments:

Electoral politics: Although Fightback remains open to the possibility of electoral alternatives, none of the current options are convincing. While Labour and the Greens each have a leadership captured by the right, MANA lost a lot of ground and credibility with 2014’s Internet Mana campaign.

Fightback disaffiliates from MANA, and does not collectively endorse any party in the 2017 New Zealand General Elections. Individual members may support parties on their own volition.

As previously mentioned, Fightback is initiating a broad coalition to challenge parties on migrant and refugee-bashing.

Syria: Fightback endorses the Syrian revolution, against the Assad regime and imperialist intervention, and for self-determination for the Syrian people, including the Kurdish struggle.  Fightback will investigate ways we can support Syrian solidarity in New Zealand, particularly through the magazine and website..

Programmatic unity: Fightback acknowledges the encroachment of right-wing populism since the Global Financial Crisis, and emphasises the following points of unity:

i) internationalism, in the sense of solidarity with ALL the oppressed (including all indigenous struggles) as opposed to picking sides in disputes between various oppressive capitalist states or trying to piggyback nationalist/xenophobic movements;

ii) pro-urban, pro-technology ecosocialism;

iii) egalitarian skepticism; authoritarianism and what used to be called “obscurantism” go hand in hand. Conspiracy theory is essentially elitist in that it appeals to a hidden secret truth known only by the In Crowd. Converely, respect for rights of ethnic/religious minorities, and for spiritual views where they don’t infringe on the rights of any group

iv) pro-queer, pro-trans, pro-sex worker, pro-sexual expression feminism.

Magazine: Fightback reached our goal of 100 subscribers in 2016. We will continue with quarterly schedule, publishing these issues in 2017:

Autumn magazine – Urban revolution and the right to the city – Daphne Lawless (coordinating ed)

Autumn pamphlet: What is Fightback? (coordinated by Ian Anderson)

Winter magazine – International issue – Ian Anderson (coordinating ed)

Winter pamphlet: Syria and the left (coordinated by Daphne Lawless)

Spring magazine – Tangata whenua issue – Kassie Hartendorp (coordinating ed)

Spring pamphlet: Migrant and refugee rights (coordinated by Ian Anderson)

Summer magazine – Electoral politics in 2017 – Ian Anderson (coordinating ed)

Summer pamphlet – What is Conservative Leftism? (coordinated by Daphne Lawless and Ian Anderson)

To subscribe and receive these publications for $20 annually, please click here.

Pasefika Issue Editorial + Contents

Editorial by Leilani Viseisio, coordinating editor.

Tena koutou, Talofa lava

O lo’u ingoa o Leilani Angela Visesio.

O lo’u tina o Antonina Sasafala Visesio.

O le tina o lo’u tina o Vitolia Tomaniko Fa’atili, e sau mai le nu’u o Matatufu, Upolu.

Afio mai le ali’i o aiga

Afio mai le uso ali’i

Afio mai le matua ia Tapu

Afio mai alala maota

Mamalu ile falefa o Salepaga ma le Ituala

O le tama o lo’u tina o Visesio Ioane I’iga, e sau mai le nu’u o Lano, Savai’i.

Afio mai le Falefa o Alo o Sa Vui,

Vui Umumalu, Vui Tafilipepe, Vui Seigafolava, Vui Alafouina.

Susu mai lau susuga I’iga o le Maopu

Afio maia lau afioga Falenaoti

Afio alo o Va’afusuaga- Lutu ma Ape ma lau susuga Su’ a.

Maliu mai lau fetalaiga Malaeulu le Matua Fetalai

Maliu mai Salemuliaga, o le faleupolu o

Muamua lava ou te fia fa’afetai Fightback mo le fausaga opea, aemaise Ian Anderson.

O lona lua, ou te fia fa’afetai i latou uma oe na fesoasoani i le lomiga o le Pasefika mo latou loto, mafaufau,

upu lototele ma galuega.

Lona tolu, Kassie Hartendorp mo lou lagolago le maluelue ma fautuaga.

Mulimuli ma mautinoa lava, e fa’avavau itiiti – Fa’afetai i le Pasefika Epiphany Trust

mo Aganuʻu Samoa ma i loʻu tuafafine Samoa Liz Ah-Hi, Savali Andrews, Emma Josephine Koko,

Tina Setefano ma Sia Toʻomaga.

Fa’afetai lava mo le avanoa.

Contents:

  1. The Unbearable Lightness, Faith Wilson
  2. Decolonisation Unplugged: My meeting with West Papuans in Indonesia, Shasha Ali
  3. Untitled, Anon
  4. In/Visible, Luisa Tora
  5. Two Poems by Tusiata Avia
  6. Half Cast Away, Anonymous
  7. Pacific Panthers and International Solidarity, interview with Teanau Tuiono