The flag is symbolic, imperialism is real

Victoria university members of the Workers Party are facing charges of serious misconduct after burning the New Zealand flag. This leaflet explains the political background to the act.

Why burn the New Zealand flag?

The New Zealand flag is a symbol of imperialism. This is most obvious in its design, a tribute to the British Empire. This design was adopted after the Second Boer War, which devastated South Africa but resulted in a surge of Kiwi patriotism.

Lest we forget

Lest we forget

A simple re-design, while reflecting our emergence from the shadow of the British Empire, would not change the imperialist nature of the flag. It’s a tool of the ruling class, inseparably linked with militarism. From the Boer War through WWI and II, right through to armed involvement in Vietnam and Afghanistan, the flag has marked New Zealand’s presence. Flags mark military conquest, the subjugation of nations.

Flags and borders divide the working majority. ANZAC soldiers had more in common with their Turkish counterparts than with the bureaucrats who sent them to Gallipoli. The working majority has interests in common worldwide, including an end to imperial war. Ruling class nationalism is a barrier to recognising this.

What purpose does ANZAC day serve? [Read more…]

Obama – managing the US war effort

John Edmundson

During the lead-up to the 2008 US election, Barack Obama made much of his plans to end the war in Iraq. His bold declaration – that “on my first day in office, I would give the military a new mission: ending this war”. Across the world, many people pinned their hopes on this promise.

Obama’s policy was never really about ending America’s imperialist war policy. It was always about managing the US war effort more effectively. [Read more…]

Middle East politics

For indepth background analysis of the conflicts in the Middle East check out back issues from our MidEast Solidarity and Liberation journals:

MidEast Solidarity Spring 2001 mideast17

No to West’s war of terror

The West’s mass murder in Iraq

Israel’s war on the Palestinians

From Zionism to socialism

One year of the new intifada

Fear of fundamentalism

How the West made Bin Laden

Labour wages war on workers and poor

The problem is capitalism

Towards an anti-imperialist movement

MidEast Solidarity Autumn 2002 mideast22

Black Hawk Down actor speaks out

United Nations – friend or foe?

Peace is not good enough – against the invasion of Afghanistan

Palestine – solidarity urgently needed

Behind the wars on the Palestinians

Deir Yassin massacre

Who is in Palestine?

Liberation Spring 2002 liberation11

Liberating ideas and the movement we need to oppose the war on Iraq

Depleted uranium – another weapon of Western terror

How the West strangles the Middle East

One year on in Afghanistan

Represssion and resistance in Turkish jails

Spark Audio: Three talks on the Middle East

The following talks recorded at forums in the first half of 2008 have just been added to the Spark Audio archive.

John Edmundson
What future for Palestine?

Phil Ferguson
Iraq five years on

Nick Scullin
The present war in Afghanistan

Condoleezza says thank you

– Daphna Whitmore

Condoleezza Rice just called in to say thank you.

Thanks for the “long history of partnership”. Thanks for New Zealand’s military participation in wars in Korea, the Pacific and more recently in Afghanistan.

Hang on a minute, isn’t Helen Clark supposed to be a  peacenik camouflaged in a power suit?

[Read more…]

Marxism 2008: check out some of the talks

Hear John Edmundson at Marxism 2008 on Afghanistan’s long-running resistance

New Zealand has been at war in Afghanistan since the beginning of that war, but people could be excused for not realising this. While the war in Iraq has made the news, Afghanistan is more or less ignored and New Zealand’s involvement is even less reported on.

Yet at the same time, Afghanistan is portrayed as “the good war”, in contrast to “the bad war” in Iraq. Whatever coverage there is is almost exclusively of one type; the good work New Zealand soldiers are doing in Bamian. With the embarrassing exception of the troops sent home recently for drug offenses, the only other story to make the news, and it was huge, was the awarding of the VC to Corporal Apiata.

For New Zealanders, the war in Afghanistan should be big news. Soldiers from this country are over there participating in this brutal occupation. We should be hearing about this and we should be opposing it. Instead, it is completely below the radar. (Saturday 31 May 10am)

The dialectics of nature and nurtureDaphna Whitmore challenges mechanical approaches to genes and the environment

The debate over what influences the development of an organism most – genes or environment – has largely been treated in a mechanical way. The pendulum has swung back and forth as to which plays the bigger role but few scientists take an all-sided view.

Drawing on the work of scientists Lewontin, Levins and Gould, who use the dialectical method, Daphna makes a case that there’s more to development than genes and environment.

It is 55 years since the structure of DNA was revealed and it is time to ask why gene therapy not progressed beyond the trial stage. Daphna argues that DNA doesn’t play quite the determining role that is commonly believed and that genes are irrelevant for some characteristics.

Daphna contends that ‘genomania’ has a social context which is holding back progress.

Likewise, our concept of the environment is shaped by current ideology. “Preserve the environment” is a catchy slogan but nonsense in biology, says Lewontin. Do organisms “adapt” to their environment or is adaptation a misused metaphor? Just how much is science guided by social thinking rather than objective exploration? (Saturday 31 May 4.15pm)

Join the discussions at Marxism 2008 Queens Birthday weekend Grey Lynn Community Centre, 510 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn Auckland. (See full programme here)