Fightback Conference talks online now

In January 2021, Fightback hosted a series of online public talks as a part of our annual conference. Recordings of these talks are now all online at the Where’s My Jetpack podcast:

Unfortunately, the audio files from our most popular session on union and workplace struggle were corrupted. However, you can find interviews with the two speakers on our blog here:

Fightback Conference Report 2021

While 2020 was a year that many would rather forget, there were a number of political developments that were overshadowed by the COVID 19 pandemic. These were the subject of an online educational conference organised by Fightback, held on 23 January. The event attracted a number of participants from Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, the US and Europe. 

International speakers included Jade Saab, a Lebanese/Canadian writer and activist, on the second wave of revolutionary struggle following the first “Arab Spring”, particularly in North Africa and West Asia. Rocio Lopez, a Mexican-American socialist living in Los Angeles, spoke on the increased climate of racism under Donald Trump, and the strengths and limitations of Bernie Sanders and other “left-wing” contenders in the 2020 elections. 

Erin Matariki Carr (Ngai Tuhoe, Ngati Awa), a lawyer and co-manager of progressive think-tank New Zealand Alternative, spoke on Aotearoa New Zealand’s Makite Mai movement for indigenous-led constitutional change.  She described how poverty in Aotearoa New Zealand is linked with the colonisation process and the need for indigenous values to be incorporated in the legal system.

Following on, Byron Clark spoke on the history and nature of the Far Right in Aotearoa New Zealand, based on his extensive research, writing, and social media platforms, which include YouTube videos challenging the conspiracy theories and ideology of the alt-right.

The session on unionism was, for many, a highlight. Chloe Ann-King from Aotearoa New Zealand spoke on her experiences as a hospitality worker and how they led to her founding Raise the Bar, which is moving from being a campaigning group to registering as a union. Tilde Joy, from Australia, also worked in hospitality and was a founding member and, until recently, national president of the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union. Both speakers gave an insight into a new way of organising workers who traditionally have been overlooked by the established union movement.

The final speaker of the day was long-time activist and former Green MP Sue Bradford, speaking on the challenge of building new mass organisations to fight the ongoing crisis of capitalism.

The discussion was generally respectful and constructive, however, the conference was subjected to a co-ordinated troll attack that took the form of unidentified people, using false names, making claims that Fightback’s “IT guy” (who doesn’t exist) also works for the Action Station organisation. Action Station organises and supports progressive campaigns through online petitions and other actions, similar to organisations like Avaaz, Change.org and Sum of Us. According to the trolls, it is funded by the CIA, via the National Endowment for Democracy, a US non-government organisation. There is no evidence that this is the case and Fightback has no connection with Action Station beyond supporting most of the issues they campaign on. This troll attack was successful in briefly shutting the online conference down, although it was able to resume shortly afterward. 

Because the troll attack was anonymous, no particular organisation can be held responsible. The assertion that legitimate social movements are funded by the CIA/NED is common to both far-right organisations and ‘tankies’ (socialists who support so-called ‘actually existing socialist’ states such as China or ‘anti-imperialist’ states such as Iran). Wherever it originated from, it is an unwelcome development. According to Daphne Lawless, one of the conference organisers, the attack “demonstrated how dangerous conspiracy theories are to Left groups, even from people on the ‘Left’.”

Despite the unwelcome interruption, the overall success of the conference has inspired the organisers to plan further online events (with better security). The next one is scheduled for April and will look at how to make cities more environmentally friendly, without placing the burden of cost on workers and the poor.

We will also continue to produce our quarterly magazine, which you can subscribe to here.

Event: Syria Speaks

syria peaceful revolution

NOTE: This event was delayed due to the Christchurch shooting.

March 15th is the anniversary of the Syrian revolution.

Hear Syrians in New Zealand speak against the uprising about the Assad government, the violence that has followed, the role of foreign governments in the conflict, and what New Zealanders can do to help. An informational meeting supported by Organise Aotearoa (views of speakers do not necessarily represent OA).

Speakers:
ALI AKIL came from Syria as a teenager and has lived here for two decades. His father was an activist against the Assad regime who was imprisoned, tortured and narrowly escaped execution. Ali was the founder of Syrian Solidarity NZ, which was established in 2011 in response to the dignity uprising in Syria.
(others TBA)

6pm, Friday March 15th
The Peace Place, 22 Emily Place, Auckland, New Zealand
[Facebook event]

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.

Fightback changes structure to prioritise media work

On January the 16th-17th 2016, Fightback members convened at Tapu te Ranga marae in Wellington, to discuss the future of the organisation.

This was a crucial conference for Fightback. Recognising how thin we are on the ground, Fightback members opted for a constitutional restructuring, dissolving the national representative committee and branches, in favour of a media project with a socialist programme.

This decision was not taken lightly. Fightback members continue to seek the formation of a broader socialist organisation. However, we have decided to prioritise necessary areas of work. Our crowdfunded Women and Gender Minorities issue in 2015 was a success we aim to build on.

This does not mean an end to political activities. As individuals we are involved in trade unions, feminist organising, anti-war action, and various forms of work. As a collective, Fightback develops propaganda that seeks to link this wider work with a socialist programme.

While social media platforms are useful for rapid and wide communication, we continue to publish a magazine in order to develop a socialist constituency and local analysis. In 2016, Fightback is moving to a quarterly magazine schedule, with the following issues planned:

  • Neoliberalism and the Left (March issue), edited by Daphne Lawless
  • Youth Issue (June issue), edited by Kassie Hartendorp
  • Pasifika Issue (September issue), edited by Leilani Viseisio
  • Capitalist Elections and Socialist Strategy (December issue), edited by Ian Anderson

We will also launch original pamphlets, concerning Socialism and Māori Sovereignty, Mental Health and Capitalism, and finally Queers and the Capitalist Media. We will hold launches for these publications in Wellington and Auckland, and establish a Patreon for ongoing crowdfunding. Please get in touch or subscribe if you want to support this work.

AKL Event: Fightback Climate Crisis Magazine Launch

2015-11-29 16.01.34

None of New Zealand’s current political parties are willing to do what it takes to put us on the path to climate safety and justice. All of them –including the Green Party – are wedded to capitalism, prioritising profit over people and planet.

“Market forces” are what got us into this climate mess and market-based mechanisms like “emissions trading” are only making it worse. The ETS just means rich countries “exporting” their polluting industries to low-wage countries such as China and India. But it has no impact on the consumer economy which drives polluting technologies.

We need green, liveable, sustainable cities, agriculture and natural areas. We need a sustainable future and “green jobs” for all people who want them. We need an end to motorway madness and fossil-fuel addiction. We need our water and power taken back into public hands. And we need partnership between Māori, Pākehā and immigrant communities to make this happen.

Fightback is a nationwide socialist group seeking to build a nationwide Ecosocialist Network, to discuss and promote a post-capitalist, sustainable future for Aotearoa/New Zealand.

7pm, Monday December 7th
Grey Lynn Community Centre, Auckland
[Facebook event]

ecosocialist network march

CHCH Fightback Reading Group #6: The Limits of Utopia

limits of utopia

This week our reading is a piece by fantasy author and marxian socialist China Miéville – “The Limits of Utopia.”

If you prefer listening to reading, the piece is based on this speech.

The piece discusses on the one hand, the need for utopian thinking in an era of ecological devastation – but also the dangers of environmentalism that can empower those who profit from the exploitation of the planet’s resources. Miéville’s language is a bit verbose, but in a creative rather than technical way so hopefully people will enjoy some of the more bombastic passages.

“The stench and blare of poisoned cities, lugubrious underground bunkers, ash landscapes… Worseness is the bad conscience of betterness, dystopias rebukes integral to the utopian tradition. We hanker and warn, our best dreams and our worst standing together against our waking.

Fuck this up, and it’s a desiccated, flooded, cold, hot, dead Earth. Get it right? There are lifetimes-worth of pre-dreams of New Edens, from le Guin and Piercy and innumerable others, going right back, visions of what, nearly two millennia ago, the Church Father Lactantius, in The Divine Institutes, called the ‘Renewed World’.”

We thought this reading would be beneficial in as it’s a couple days before the People’s Climate Parade in Christchurch which Fightback is supporting. The need for anti-capitalist analysis of the climate crisis is essential, especially while the vast majority of Enviro orgs rush to court the middle ground – and are unwilling to challenge the structural causes of ecological degradation.

-Koha appreciated
-Food provided
-All welcome
-Reading beforehand encouraged but not required

6:30pm, Thursday 26th November
59 Gloucester Street, Workers Educational Association, Christchurch
[Facebook event]

Christchurch Fightback Branch Launch + Potluck + AGM

fightback banner

Fightback in Christchurch has been operating smoothly in an ad hoc way for a while now but it’s time to formalise a branch in order to have processes to keep our organising, activities, and upcoming events going smoothly.

We’re opening this event up to non-members and close contacts who are interested in coming along, having some discussion and sharing some food. We’ll have information about what Fightback is and does available, as well as copies of our magazine.

Agenda:
1) Election of branch positions
-Branch organiser
-Secretary
-Treasurer

2) People’s Climate March discussion.

3) Discussion of Internal Conference to be held in Wellington, 16/17 of January.

4) Discussion + brainstorming of Educational Conference to be held in Christchurch 15/16/17 July, 2016.

5) General discussion of activity to pursue in Christchurch

We’re also including a potluck element so bring food to share if you are able – but don’t worry if not, plenty will be provided by the (soon to be) branch.

Attendees are under no obligation to join – the AGM is a necessary process of the organisation but we thought it’d be a good opportunity to open up some discussions about what we can be doing in Christchurch.

Hope to see you there!

TONIGHT (Thursday October 29th), 6:30pm
59 Gloucester St, WEA, Christchurch
[Facebook event]

Christchurch: Fightback study group

revolutionary fist

Fightback Christchurch would like to welcome all those interested to be involved with our recently formed, regular, radical study group. Fightback is acting as facilitator for the study and discussion of radical theory – both leading and presenting discussions, and inviting participants to recommend and lead study of ideas they have found useful or profound.

We meet fortnightly at the WEA Canterbury Workers Educational Association (59 Gloucester Street) starting from September 24th at 6.30pm [Facebook event]

All are welcome to attend, and reading ahead of time is not required to be involved as we will cover key elements of the reading in our sessions. As many of us lead busy lives and attending meetings like this can be difficult, we are also providing food to make attendance easier. We also aim to make our events child friendly and welcome any advice to make for a more accessible and nourishing environment.

Koha is greatly appreciated to help with the cost of room hire. We will also have our magazine ‘Fightback’ available at all meetings for purchase.

If you would like to be involved, included on emails about events in Christchurch, or want to know more about the events contact: fightback.chch@gmail.com or 021 155 3896

Theory is a tool for our collective liberation, and if you are interested in learning and discussion please join us!

Audio: Where To For The Left (AKL event)

Panel discussion with Sue Bradford (Left Think Tank), Michael Treen (UNITE Union), Daphne Lawless (Fightback) and Jonathan King (Auckland Action Against Poverty)

Sue Bradford:

Mike Treen:

Daphne Lawless:

Discussion: