Archive for the ‘Cultural resistance’ Category

by Don Franks

It was a stinking hot afternoon down at Fords Lower Hutt assembly plant when one of us deliberately smashed a new truck windscreen. The truck trim line was a small non-automated section where four or five painted cab shells got fitted out each day, their windows fixed in place by skilled use of a big rubber hammer.

A worker would tap around the edges of the glass, on this occasion whacking it hard in the middle so it shattered. This meant work in the area had to stop until a cleaner’s union guy was located, had made his dignified way across to us and methodically swept up all the pieces. That process took a good twenty minutes, during which we were able to enjoy a break.

Of course we didn’t pull that stunt too often or it would have looked suspicious. There were other, less dramatic ways to get a break.

This time as we sat watching (more…)


Being arrested for union organising, Minneapolis 1934

One of the most important battles fought by workers in the United States in the 1930s was waged by the Teamsters Union in Minneapolis.  Through a series of fights, Minneapolis was converted into a union town and the Teamsters were able to spread organising across the Mid-West.  At the heart of the working class struggle in Minneapolis were a group of teamsters who were union militants and Marxists.  One of the most prominent of these was Vincent Raymond Dunne (1889-1970).  Dunne later spent 16 months in jail for opposition to WW2.

Recently, long-time left-wing activist Howard Petrick, a former anti-Vietnam War GI, produced a play on Dunne and his life. 

by Barbara Gregorich

Howard Petrick’s one-man play, Fight for 52 Cents, is set in 1969, with Vincent Ray Dunne speaking to a meeting. With this as the framing device, Dunne tells his younger-generation audience about his life — the lessons he learned in helping lead the working class in its struggle for better living conditions and why he became a communist.

Howard Petrick as V.R. Dunne

As written and performed by Petrick, Fight for 52 Cents is a well-structured play that treats the audience to the story of Dunne’s life: what events were significant to him, and why; how these events helped shape him and allowed him to stand on a strong foundation.

Childhood experiences

The first event Dunne speaks about is that when he was five years old, his father, who was a street-car conductor in Kansas City, fell into a hole and broke both legs. Because of this accident, his father was not able to work. There was no such thing as workman’s compensation in 19th century United States. Dunne experienced this grave injustice first-hand: the five-year-old child saw that his father was injured and as a result the company he worked for dropped him from existence. The Dunne family was forced to (more…)

by Daphna Whitmore

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Ahed Tamimi in a military court yesterday remains in detention without legal representation or charges

So, Lorde has been invited to a meeting with the Israeli Ambassador to New Zealand after announcing she would cancel her concert in Tel Aviv. Mr Yitzhak Gerberg wants to tell Lorde that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and to discuss the the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Sure, Israel is a democracy of sorts for Jewish Israelis. There are anomolies, such as religious intermarriage being outlawed. This does contravene the notion of basic freedoms and resembles the old segregation seen in the Southern States of the US and the former apartheid regime in South  Africa. There are also no civil divorce rights in Israel – only religious bodies can rule on divorce – and there are numerous other democratic shortcomings, but for Jews many of the features of a democracy do exist.

For the 1.4 million Palestinian and other Arab populations in Israel, however, the democracy is very second rate. They face discrimination that is among the worst by Western standards. But all the limitations of democratic rights in Israel pale in comparison to the brutal military occupation carried out by the Israeli state for the past 50 years over the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank.

Will Ambassador Gerberg explain what sort of democracy it is that imprisons children? There are currently 400 Palestinian children in Israeli prisons. This week the case of 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi highlighted the situation when she was seized in the middle of the night by Israeli soldiers after video footage showed her slapping two Israeli solidiers who were on her family property, just hours after a 15-year-old cousin of Ahed had been shot in the head by soldiers. (more…)

The article below was written a little over nine years ago.  Since then the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in relation to Israel has grown significantly and caused some real headaches to the Israeli state.  Nevertheless, some on the left oppose BDS.  While this is essentially a capitulation to the pressures of imperialism, there are also some genuinely left-wing people who remain confused about the nature of the Israeli state and the political forces within it and the role of BDS.

In the article below, one of the founders of BDS, Omar Barghouti, takes up the left and liberal critics of BDS.

Since the launch of the Palestinian boycott movement a few years ago, we have experienced an awkward phenomenon that demands urgent comment. Several organizations known for years — in some cases, decades — for their tireless Palestine solidarity work stood firmly against the Palestinian civil society Call for Boycott, Divestment and SanctionsBDS, issued on 9 July 2005, for various reasons. Some said such tactics were “harmful” to the Palestinian struggle. Others opined that BDS would undermine the so-called Israeli “peace” movement. Others, still, stated that boycotting Israel would invite accusations of anti-Semitism and betrayal of the Holocaust victims, thereby setting back Palestine solidarity work in a substantial way.Many other arguments were (more…)


The following is the text of a talk delivered by veteran journalist and film-maker John Pilger at the British Library in London last Saturday (Dec 9).  His talk was part of a festival called “The Power of the Documentary” organised by the Library.  The festival was held to mark its acquisition of the archive of his written work.

by John Pilger

I first understood the power of the documentary during the editing of my first film, The Quiet Mutiny. In the commentary, I make reference to a chicken, which my crew and I encountered while on patrol with American soldiers in Vietnam.

“It must be a Vietcong chicken – a communist chicken,” said the sergeant. He wrote in his report: “enemy sighted”.

The chicken moment seemed to underline the farce of the war – so I included it in the film. That may have been unwise. The regulator of commercial television in Britain – then the Independent Television Authority or ITA – had demanded to see my script. What was my source for the political affiliation of the chicken? I was asked. Was it really a communist chicken, or could it have been a pro-American chicken?

Of course, this nonsense had a serious purpose; when The Quiet Mutiny was broadcast by ITV in 1970, the US ambassador to Britain, Walter Annenberg, a personal friend of President Richard Nixon, complained to the ITA. He complained not about the chicken but about the whole film. “I intend to inform the White House,” the ambassador wrote. Gosh.

The Quiet Mutiny had revealed that the US army in Vietnam was tearing (more…)

Launching ‘Echoes of Isolation’ in Gaza

Echoes of Chains is the new book by imprisoned Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) general-secretary Comrade Ahmad Sa’adat and printed by Dar al-Farabi in Lebanon.  The book was launched in the Gaza Strip with a large event on November 13.

Comrade Allam Kaabi, a member of the Central Committee of the PFLP, delivered a speech on behalf of the Front. He was joined by the long-time struggler Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and Abdel-Nasser Ferwana, a researcher on prisoners’ affairs.

Comrade Kaabi began his speech by saluting the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, the martyrs of the prisoners’ movement and the families of the prisoners, especially the family of Comrade Sa’adat.  He noted that the importance of the book stems from its basis in the reality of isolation experienced by Sa’adat from 2009 to 2012, and reviews the history of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement as well as methods of torture and policies of isolation.  Furthermore, he said, the book is distinguished because (more…)

A group of artists are continuing the conversation Metiria Turei MP started – demanding a more compassionate social welfare system. They asked artists who have been on a benefit in NZ (DPB, sickness, invalids, jobseeker, whatever) to draw a picture of themselves, and write a couple of sentences next to it about their experiences.
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