Archive for the ‘Occupy New Zealand’ Category

by Philip Ferguson

Class, we are often told these days, does not exist.  Or certainly not in New Zealand.  That’s when it’s mentioned at all.

It is certainly not, we are told, a useful category through which to approach the study of society, let alone the problems of society.  And it is especially not a useful category upon which to base a perspective of fundamental social change.

It’s fairly obvious why the ruling class don’t like to talk about class, at least not in public.  After all, their wealth derives from the exploitation of the working class.

But many people who would see themselves as progressive-minded and supporters of a more equal society don’t like to talk about class in New Zealand either.  For instance, take the current concern about child poverty.  Which class do these children belong to?  Is it just them who are poor, or are their parents poor as well?  Since these are working class kids and their parents are also poor and working class, then the issue of poverty is an issue of class not age.  Yet the campaigns that exist around this poverty are child poverty campaigns, not campaigns against unemployment, low wages and benefits for the children’s parents.

The discussion around the misnomer of ‘child poverty’ and around issues like poor educational outcomes in many working class areas also use terms like ‘deciles’: decile-one schools, decile-one areas and so on.  Or even more confusing terms, like ‘the lowest quintile’.  But what are involved are actual living, breathing, struggling human beings and they are not so much members of a decile or quintile as members of a class: the working class.  Terms like decile-one or ‘the lowest quintile’ are gobbledegook for what is really the poorest section of the working class.  So why don’t commentators, officials and anti-poverty campaigners say “the poorest section of the working class”?  Moreover, the poorer one section of the working class is, the lower pay rates in general will be.  So it is a class issue and, indeed, an issue for the entire working class.

The desire to use almost any point of reference other than class has also been evident in the Occupy movement.  Since New Zealand has had the least political (more…)


First the West bombs them and then engages in ‘reconstruction’. This village was bombed by NATO in 2007, killing nine people in one house – four generations of the family

by Philip Ferguson

On Saturday, August 4, two more New Zealand soldiers were killed and a further six injured in Afghanistan by the resistance movement against Western-led occupation of the country. Responses to the deaths in the mainstream media and among the main parliamentary parties reflect widespread illusions that there is something ‘different’ about Western intervention in Afghanistan to the intervention in Iraq. The father of a NZ soldier killed there in 2010, for instance, told the Dominion Post, Afghanistan, unlike Iraq, is probably a war that they’ve got to win.”

What is also striking is the consensus between National, Labour and the Greens on the issue of imperialist intervention and New Zealand’s role as part of it. Prime minister John Key spoke of “the danger faced daily by our forces as they work tirelessly to restore stability to the province. It is with enormous sadness that I acknowledge that these soldiers have paid the highest price.” Labour leader David Shearer, who played a direct (albeit civilian) part in imperialist interventions such as Afghanistan before being handpicked for a Labour Party career, declared, “We are very, very saddened to hear of the loss of two lives.” The NZ Herald noted, “The latest deaths did not make him reconsider whether New Zealand troops should remain in the country.” They also quoted Shearer as saying that the NZ forces were seen as a “model” and that “We have to acknowledge the great work that our personnel have done in Afghanistan, and in Bamiyan in particular.” Greens co-leader Metiria Turei described the deaths as (more…)

by Don Franks

Most mornings over the last few weeks I’ve jogged home from work via the waterfront, passing the Civic Square occupation on the way.

The guys sitting there in the sun would languidly look up and wave from their sofas and sometimes sing out “keep it up old fit guy”.

This morning I was stopped at the foot of the steps by two security guards.

“You’ll have to go over the other bridge or cross the road down at the lights.”


“We’re getting rid of the protestors today”.

A lady behind me also trying to cross the bridge asked: “Has someone died?”

“No madame, nothing like that.  We’re just cleaning out the protest.”

To effect this project the authorities had commandeered an area many times the size of the occupation.  Dozens of hi-vis yellow security manned barriers all around the site, uniformed police wandered among them.  I wondered what (more…)

In the United States, where it began, Occupy is very uneven. In some places, like Oakland, it seems to have connected directly with wider working class struggles. In some other places, however, it has had the look more of hippy encampments. This was certainly the case with Occupy sites I saw in in Ireland and Britain (Belfast, Dublin and Brighton), as well as here in NZ (eg Christchurch). In London, the Occupy folk are camped  outside St Paul’s cathedral, with the blessing of the cathedral authorities.

Below, we present three views of Occupy from liberal and radical commentators. The liberals are Simon Jenkins of the Guardian and Francis Fukuyama; the radical is Tariq Ali.

Jenkins devoted his column in the Guardian of October 28 to making the point that “The street protests of western capitals are no Tahrir Square but mere scenery”. He writes:

“Street protest ‘against capitalism’ appears to have nowhere to go. The rioters of Athens and Madrid, the marchers of Milan and Frankfurt, the squatters of London and New York can grab a headline and illustrate a story, but then what? With no leaders, no policies, no programme beyond opposition to status quo, they must just sink into the urban background.

“Travelling this week from the protest camp at St Paul’s in London to Occupy Wall Street in New York, I found the message as thin as the attendance. These are not the mass movements that have briefly upheaved the Arab world, let alone (more…)


Posted: October 27, 2011 by Admin in Occupy New Zealand, Protest

by Anon

Imagine there’s no politics, it’s easy if you try
No votes or angry tones of voice
No red flags in the sky
Imagine all the people – consenting to everything

Imagine there’s no parties, it isn’t hard to do
No need to study Marxism, no dairy products too
Imagine all the people – eating free tofu

Imagine no demands at all, I wonder if you can
No goals or accountability, no boycott, strike or ban
Imagine all the people – imagining social change

You may say I’m authoritarian
The wrong sort of Lenin, spelled with ‘i’
it’s just I can’t see the point of
This new weird space you occupy

by Colin Clarke

“The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.”

Antonio Gramsci. From the Prison Notebooks.

The beginnings of the ‘Occupy’ movement

In July this year, the online magazine Adbusters called for an occupation of Wall Street by 20,000 people to protest against the greed of corporate bankers and the lack of influence ordinary people have over the growing economic crisis that they’re being forced to pay for. As it happened, on the 17th September around five hundred people marched into Wall Street and eventually ended up in Zuccotti Park nearby.

From these small beginnings, the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protest has caught the imagination of people all over the USA and the World. Partly inspired by similar events in Spain and the earlier occupation of Tahir Square in Egypt, the protests are focused on pointing the finger of blame for the current economic crises at the greed of bankers and those involved in the global financial system. Many of those involved have called for President Obama to set up a commission to look into ways that the influence of the bankers can be diminished. Most of all though, the whole protest is fueled by a righteous anger at the state of the world and the fact that the majority of people have to shoulder the burden for the benefit of the bankers.

As the first official statement of the occupation put it: ‘We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice and oppression over equality, run our governments’.  The message of the protest is centred on making the case that the majority of people in the world don’t benefit from bankers making millions from financial deals. The key slogan that has been taken up in New York and worldwide is ‘We are the 99%’. Throughout the weeks that Zuccotti Park has been occupied, thousands of people have been involved, both in the park itself and on supporting demonstrations.


Over the next day or so, we will publish a longer article analysing the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement and its global offshoots but, in the meantime, here are some impressions of what has been happening in New Zealand. The pieces have been written since the 16th October so don’t necessarily give an up-to-date picture of the current situation.


Occupy Wellington

Don Franks writes:

A friend of mine went on the Saturday, the first day of the event and told me later that the majority were young hippies, smoking dope and drumming.

Two of us looked in on the Sunday morning. At the top of the bridge there was just a row of placards and no people, but they were there round the corner.

One the small grassy space beside the top of the bridge was a ring of five or six pup tents with an inner circle of twenty young hippies on mats, deep in discussion. For a former hippie like me it was like being suddenly transported back to 1971. The only difference between today and our old Jerusalem commune was what they were passing round. We used to circulate a number, or else an ordinary tobacco cigarette. These folks were passing a small blue plastic baseball bat which served them as a talking stick.

They were quite uninterested in our appearance and we stood a bit awkwardly for a minute waiting to be called onto their marae. Then a slightly older guy got up and came over to greet us. We had a bit of a yarn with him standing apart from the circle.