May 2014 issue of Fightback now online

may 2014 fightback cover

This issue of Fightback magazine comes out in preparation for our Capitalism: Not Our Future conference, to be held in Wellington over the first weekend of June 2014. Please check out the programme here.


If capitalism is not our future, what is? The bureaucratic states of Eastern Europe were a far cry from the endless possibilities of a post-capitalist future. But “the collapse of communism” means that it’s almost impossible for the average person to envisage any kind of future which doesn’t entail production for private profit, mindless consumption, and the steady erosion of both human civilisation and the ecosystem itself.


The Marxist answer is that the answer can’t be known in advance – it can only come about through the struggle of the working people. And this forms the centrepiece of this month’s issue. Auckland writer Dean Parker takes us through the history of May Day, the international working people’s holiday. Fightback’s own Ben Petersen discusses why we still need worker organisations today, while our comrades from the Committee for a Worker’s International (CWI) give a perspective on where the New Zealand union movement can go from here.


If there’s any part of modern society which shows clearly the truth of Marx’s insight that forces of production outrun relations of production, we can see it in the “digital economy”, where the increasing sophistication and speed of the Internet has meant a crisis of existence for the music and video industries. Fightback’s Byron Clark looks at why Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party resonates for so many people – even those who “can’t afford a computer”.


The “utopian” side of Marxism is further explored in the notes from a recent talk by Wellington Fightback member Joel Cosgrove on the nature of socialism. “Democracy, freedom and imagination” are not words that most people would have associated with the old Warsaw Pact nations. But they’re words which capitalism has taken and twisted, turning dreams of self-realisation into alienation and the massive accumulation of useless commodities. Socialists will have to re-learn this language to appeal to the digital outlaws and precarious workers of the 21st century.


Finally, we have a couple of snapshots of how hard the struggle for this better world is in the here-and-now. In Venezuela, a revolutionary government struggles against all odds to peaceably move to a post-market future, despite right-wing uprisings and corruption within the state. Meanwhile, China continues to push forward to becoming the dominant capitalist power on the globe – with its attendant costs in human misery and environmental catastrophe – while still claiming to promote “socialism”.


The fight for a post-capitalist future is therefore, in large part, a fight to determine what “socialism” means in the 21st century. If you’re interested in making that happen in the coming months and years, join us in Wellington on Queen’s Birthday weekend.


2014 May Fightback V3

April 2014 issue of Fightback now online

Welcome to the April 2014 issue of Fightback (Aotearoa/NZ). Fightback stands for struggle, solidarity and socialism.

In the last issue, Fightback covered the formation of the Internet Party. This party is more or less a front for millionaire Kim Dotcom, who has faced repression for breaching copyright law with his online service Megaupload. The Internet Party’s politics are extremely vague and no candidates have yet been revealed. Fightback concluded that “while progressives may share some common ground with the Internet Party, there is no sign that it represents a progressive force.”

Since that article went to print, the MANA movement – of which Fightback are members and supporters – entered talks on possible co-operation with the Internet Party. Kim Dotcom spoke to MANA’s AGM, which broadly supported the continuation of these talks.

Commentators in mainstream and social media quickly portrayed a potential alliance between MANA and the Internet Party as a done deal. However, MANA leadership has made no definitive statements, instead saying any deal would have to be approved by the membership.

Fightback participates in the MANA Movement, as a movement seeking rangatiratanga for the poor, the powerless and dispossessed.We believe that Dotcom does not have these interests at heart. He has supported right-wing politicians including John Banks, and he told the MANA AGM that he opposed MANA’s tax policies which would lift some of the burden on working people.

While we might have unity with Dotcom around some policy areas, Fightback opposes any close ties between the Internet Party and the MANA Movement. Fightback also opposes MANA entering a coalition government with pro-capitalist parties (p6-7).

However, whatever MANA decides on this issue, Fightback will continue to belong to and support the movement, as long as policies and principles are not sacrificed.

If MANA can hold firm to its principles, while also building a base for the party vote and Maori seats, it can play an important oppositional role both inside and outside of parliament. This oppositional role is necessary to forming a long-term movement that can imagine and build a new society, based on principles of self-determination.

2014 April Fightback

February issue of Fightback online

Fightback February 2014 cover - mandela

Welcome to the February 2014 issue of Fightback, monthly magazine of Fightback (Aotearoa/NZ).

Established in February 2013, Fightback is now entering its second year. While the group may seem modest, we believe that a combination of community and working-class forces is necessary to overturning this system. With our publication, and with our wider work, we aim to play a critical role in these struggles.

Mike Treen, Unite Union General Secretary, argued in a special feature on the Daily Blog (now Aotearoa/NZ’s most read left-wing blog) that “inequality will be the key issue for 2014” (reprinted p21-24). Treen argues, “there can be no lasting attack on inequality without also attacking its source,” an exploitative capitalist system. While also conducting education, debate and reflection, Fightback will continue to play an active role in class struggle over the next year.

Over a protracted capitalist crisis, in the wake of global upsurges in Europe, North America and the Arab world, with even many capitalist thinkers reflecting on the failure of economic orthodoxy, and with a Pope emphasising the social justice aspects of Catholic doctrine, (p18-20) the ground may be shifting for revolutionary socialists and others who want to see an egalitarian world.

Inequality is inseparable from struggles against oppression, and for liberation, generally; feminist struggles, queer struggles, the struggle for self-determination. Nelson Mandela, a leader and symbol of the struggle against apartheid, died late last year. Fightback covers his complex and contradictory legacy from p13-17.

In Aotearoa/NZ, 2014 is an election year. Fightback has no illusions that we can simply vote socialism in, or that going into coalition with capitalist governments will provide a short-cut for socialists. However, by bringing wider community struggles to parliament, we aim to play an oppositional role that can point the way to a democratic socialist world.

Fightback will be supporting the MANA Movement in the general elections. MANA has a proven leadership, both in community struggles and in democratically bringing the voice of the movement to parliament. We aim to take every opportunity in 2014 to advance the struggle for a new, just society.

2014 February Fightback pdf

December-January issue of Fightback online

december-january fightback cover wei

Welcome to the final issue of Fightback for 2013.

Fightback does not take money from the state or big business, and sustaining a monthly anti-capitalist publication during this period is no easy feat. For these reasons we thank our buyers, subscribers, and everyone who has contributed to Fightback over the last year.

In November, Aotearoa/NZ saw a nationwide day of action against rape culture, which Fightback supported because we see the struggle for gender liberation as essential to the struggle for socialism. Thousands gathered in Auckland and Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Palmerston North and Hamilton to voice their opposition to both sexual violence, and the system that enables it/

In the lead-up to the rape culture rallies, the self-titled ‘Roastbusters,’ teenage boys who carried out a series of sexual assaults and then boasted about it on Facebook, had found mainstream media attention. Crucially, it transpired that not only had the police known about the boys for two years, and received four complaints, they did nothing to investigate the case; one of the boys was an officer’s son.

While the state and other reactionary forces used this opportunity to call for greater surveillance power, feminist, socialist and progressive forces highlighted how this was not an isolated incident. Rather, the police cover-up illuminated the wider problem of ‘rape culture,’ an ingrained system which justifies and denies sexual violence.

Sexual violence exists throughout society, even in nominally progressive organisations. Challenging this violence is necessary to human liberation. Fightback covers perspectives on rape culture, gendered violence and the Roastbusters case from pages 4-11.

Meanwhile in the USA, Socialist Alternative candidate Kshama Sawant was the first openly socialist candidate to win a Seattle City Council seat in decades. While this is a modest victory, it shows both a shift in consciousness in an environment historically hostile to socialist politics, and the benefits of sustained work in the community.

In her council position Sawant will have little power to implement her policies such as a $15 minimum wage, however she is using the platform to promote socialist politics. At her election night party, Sawant took the opportunity to call for workers’ control of factories owned by Boeing, which is the biggest employer in the state, currently threatening to move jobs out of the region. Fightback reprints more detailed coverage of Sawant’s campaign from pages 12-14.

We’ll be back next year.


2013 December Fightback

November issue of Fightback online

2013 November Fightback Cover (Russell Brand)

Welcome to the November 2013 issue of Fightback.

In mid-October, the Walk Free Foundation released the first Global Slavery Report. Drawing data from UNICEF and the US State Department, the report estimated that around 30 million people are enslaved world-wide.

No report is unbiased, and it is worth noting that the Walk Free Foundation was founded by Andrew Forest, an Australian mining magnate who has made billions through exploitation and ecological degradation. The report defines slavery as “the condition of treating another person as if they were property — something to be bought, sold, traded or even destroyed,” and also includes forced labour defined as “work taken without consent, by threats or coercion.” Arguably the threat of poverty and starvation works as a coercive measure even in cases of legal wage labour, as practiced by Forest in the mining industry.

However, just as no source is unbiased, it’s important to draw from a range of sources. The report is illuminating from a socialist perspective.

The highest-ranked nations were majority-world nations, exploited by the minority world. India, China, and Pakistan are the highest-ranked in absolute terms. Contrary to narratives of abolition and progress, the United States has as many as 67,000 slaves.

Aotearoa/NZ also entered the spotlight for slavery at sea, with foreign ships (contracted to local companies) using slavery and forced labour. This approach by employers ultimately works undermines conditions for all workers, and can only be overcome by demanding full rights for all workers; including local and migrant workers.

With 30 million enslaved worldwide by the Walk Free Foundation’s definition, and the majority of the world’s population enslaved by a revolutionary socialist definition, the global situation looks pretty dark. It’s worth noting the irony of one glimmer of light in late October, celebrity Russell Brand calling for revolution on a widely circulated Jeremy Paxman interview (available on YouTube).

Critics have noted Brand’s record of sexist behaviour, (discussed further on P8-14) and sexism must be opposed along with all forms of oppression. However the significance of Brand’s challenge is in its resonance with thousands of people; over 10,500 people liked the Facebook page “I Support Russell Brand’s Call for Revolution” within a couple of days.

A Facebook page is not a revolution, but it captures a social moment. Capitalism sows the seeds of its own destruction, and Fightback aims to play a part in that creative destruction.

2013 November Fightback