The Vete Association takes direct action to reclaim their customary lands from the Vanuatu Government and foreign investors, occupying vacant lands and graffitying on 'private property'. 85 of their members are currently summoned to court as yet without charges, and plan to contest based on Vanuatu's constitution article 73 which states 'All land in the Republic of Vanuatu belongs to the indigenous custom owners and their descendants.
Thanks to Engage Media


Raising Up Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe

This post is in honour of the passing of my brother & comrade Ridwan Lahers' father Ahmed Laher, read Ridwans moving tribute to his father here. Arohanui.

By Petika Ntuli

Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe belonged to that rare breed of men, like Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Amilcar Cabral and Nhamdi Azikiwe, who believed deeply in the possibility of achieving a renascent Africa.

Their beliefs transcended narrow national borders to embrace a vision of a continent and its diaspora. A lay Methodist preacher, academic, intellectual and consummate political strategist, Sobukwe combined the fiery oratory of a preacher with the discipline of an academic.

He understood that pass laws were enacted to circumscribe the lives of black people and to reduce them to mere cogs and wheels in the machinery of oppression to generate wealth for the white minority.

In conceiving the positive action campaign that led to the massacres in Sharpeville and Langa, he understood that the conquering the fear of arrest and of prison was at the door to the emancipation of the African mind.

For Sobukwe, the PAC was part and parcel of the winds of change that were blowing across Africa and part of the stampede to freedom that could not be halted, as stated by the then British prime minister, Sir Harold Macmillan.

Slogans like Izwe Lethu I-Afrika, Forward then to independence, to independence NOW! And tomorrow, the United States of Africa exemplify the vision of a renascent Africa.

In his valedictory speech in 1949 as he was leaving Fort Hare University, he made allusions to the notion of the African renaissance. He urged his fellow graduates to go back to their communities and help them develop. He recognised early on the need for “organic” intellectuals if Africa was to be reborn.

He believed in the motto: Service, Sacrifice and Suffering, Strategy, Structures and Systems to combat oppression as opposed to self-seeking, self-delusion and self-enrichment.

Sobukwe combined humility with defiance of injustice. He was always respectful of others and appreciative of the good others had given to him.

As a linguist, Sobukwe ­understood that to take up a language was to take up a culture; to take up the world that language describes and defines.

That it was to take up the history and heritage of defiance, innovation and to realise a land where citizens would be free, secure and ready to redress the evils of the past, to reposition Africa in world affairs and to strive for moral renewal. For him an African was anyone born and bred in Africa and owed their only allegiance to Africa.

There is no better tribute to Sobukwe than the one by AP Mda, one of South Africa’s greatest intellectuals. Mda’s assessment of Sobukwe, whom he mentored in the early phases of the ANC Youth League, comes in seven succinct points all pointing to his humility, clarity of mind and vision and deep affinity with the downtrodden.

He found him to be “totally free of any tinge of racism or anti-whiteism but inflexibly opposed to white domination”.

Sobukwe was very clear in his mind that laws made ­exclusively by whites to dominate black people could not be just.

He knew any power that positions, fixes or frames others; that names provinces, mountains, rivers, streets and airports after its own leaders and obliterates the names of heroes of the land was narrow minded.  How ironic that our new dispensation has taken a leaf from the apartheid warlords not to honour Sobukwe, Rosett Ndziba, AP Mda, AB Ngcobo, ZB Molete, the charismatic Josias Madzunya and others.

As we speak and dream of the African Renaissance let us remember Robert and Veronica Sobukwe and all those silent heroes known only to their immediate communities who contributed to the struggle in the spirit of service, sacrifice and suffering.

Ntuli is an independent political and cultural analyst.


International Parliamentarians for West Papua

Artists: The OPM
Published Date: 2008
Copyright: © Free West Papua Campaign UK
Producer: www.vonplanta.net
Duration: 00:05:29
Genre: Tribal / West Papua
Keywords/Tags: West Papua, Independence, liberation, self-determination, OPM, London, IPWP, Freedom, liberty, Indonesia
Dimensions: 470 x 270 pixels 16:9
Description: On 15 October 2008 the Free West Papua Campaign UK, launched with supportive parliamentarians, from around the world, the International Parliamentarians for West Papua where they all signed a declaration in support of self determination for West Papua at UK Parliament in London.

To learn more, see: www.FreeWestPapua.orgwww.FreeWestPapua.de & www.IPWP.org

A film by Claudio von Planta www.vonplanta.net
rtsp://rains2.europe.fiber5.com/rains2/ipwp_launch_08_MP4-AAC_noresize-s.mp4 for streaming in Real Player



Critical Resistance Beyond the Prison Industrial Complex, Part 1 Visions of Freedom

Visions of Freedom by Neal Morrison and Luana Plunkett and the Critical Resistance Production Collective.This program is an emotional and inspiring look at a growing movement of activists, artists and intellectuals who are mobilizing against the against the prison industrial complex. This tape highlights scenes from the historical Critical Resistance Conference held in Berkeley, California in September, 1998. With Angela Davis, Fred Ho, and others. Filled with music, art, poetry and words from today's leading critical minds, this tape reveals the passion and conviction of those who wish to end the lockdown. This movie is part of the collection: Deep Dish TV 

Anti-Olympic Torch Light Parade, Feb 12th, 2009

Some 200 people participated in the Anti-Olympic Torch Light Parade marking the 1-Year Countdown to the 2010 Winter Games on Feb 12, 2009 in downtown Vancouver.

After rallying at Victory Square at 6PM, where a 'Torch of Resistance' was lit and used to burn a Canadian Olympic flag, the demonstration marched to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, where a 2010 'Countdown' concert was taking place and dozens of police were assembled to stop any possible disruption. From there, the protest moved up Georgia St. to Burrard, stopping at various corporate sponsors, including the Hudson's Bay Company, Royal Bank of Canada, Bell, and CTV.

Representatives from the Olympic Resistance Network (ORN), Downtown Eastside Women's Center Elder's Council, and Stopwar.ca addressed the crowd. Among the banners were the anarchist's 'Sabotage the Systems of Social Control' and 'Communities not Olympics'.

About a dozen torches were lit on the protest route, which ended at the 'Countdown Clock' located at the Art Gallery. Several targets were hit with paint bombs, including the clock as the rally ended. There were no arrests.

Resist 2010 ! No Olympics on Stolen Native Land !

The Prison-Industrial Complex and the Global Economy

by Eve Goldberg and Linda Evans
Posted at globalresearch.ca 18 October 2001

Over 1.8 million people are currently behind bars in the United States. This represents the highest per capita incarceration rate in the history of the world. In 1995 alone, 150 new U.S. prisons were built and filled.

This monumental commitment to lock up a sizeable percentage of the population is an integral part of the globalization of capital. Several strands converge â€" the end of the Cold War, changing relations between labor and capital on an international scale, domestic economic decline, racism, the U.S. role as policeman of the world, and growth of the international drug economy â€" creating a booming prison/industrial complex. And the prison/industrial complex is rapidly becoming an essential component of the U.S. economy.

Prisons are Big Business

Like the military/industrial complex, the prison/industrial complex is an interweaving of private business and government interests. Its twofold purpose is profit and social control. Its public rationale is the fight against crime.

Not so long ago, communism was "the enemy" and communists were demonized as a way of justifying gargantuan military expenditures. Now, fear of crime and the demonization of criminals serve a similar ideological purpose: to justify the use of tax dollars for the repression and incarceration of a growing percentage of our population. The omnipresent media blitz about serial killers, missing children, and "random violence" feeds our fear. In reality, however, most of the "criminals" we lock up are poor people who commit nonviolent crimes out of economic need. Violence occurs in less than 14% of all reported crime, and injuries occur in just 3%. In California, the top three charges for those entering prison are: possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance for sale, and robbery. Violent crimes like murder, rape, manslaughter and kidnaping don't even make the top ten.

Like fear of communism during the Cold War, fear of crime is a great selling tool for a dubious product.

As with the building and maintenance of weapons and armies, the building and maintenance of prisons are big business. Investment houses, construction companies, architects, and support services such as food, medical, transportation and furniture, all stand to profit by prison expansion. A burgeoning "specialty item" industry sells fencing, handcuffs, drug detectors, protective vests, and other security devices to prisons.

As the Cold War winds down and the Crime War heats up, defense industry giants like Westinghouse are re-tooling and lobbying Washington for their share of the domestic law enforcement market. "Night Enforcer" goggles used in the Gulf War, electronic "Hot Wire" fencing ("so hot NATO chose it for high-risk installations"), and other equipment once used by the military, are now being marketed to the criminal justice system.

Communication companies like AT&T, Sprint, and MCI are getting into the act as well â€" gouging prisoners with exorbitant phone calling rates, often six times the normal long distance charge. Smaller firms like Correctional Communications Corp., dedicated solely to the prison phone business, provide computerized prison phone systems â€" fully equipped for systematic surveillance. They win government contracts by offering to "kick back" some of the profits to the government agency awarding the contract. These companies are reaping huge profits at the expense of prisoners and their families; prisoners are often effectively cut off from communication due to the excessive cost of phone calls.

One of the fastest growing sectors of the prison/industrial complex is private corrections companies. Investment firm Smith Barney is a part owner of a prison in Florida. American Express and General Electric have invested in private prison construction in Oklahoma and Tennessee. Correctional Corporation Of America, one of the largest private prison owners, already operates internationally, with 48 facilities in 11 states, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Under contract by government to run jails and prisons, and paid a fixed sum per prisoner, the profit motive mandates that these firms operate as cheaply and efficiently as possible. This means lower wages for staff, no unions, and fewer services for prisoners. Private contracts also mean less public scrutiny. Prison owners are raking in billions by cutting corners which harm prisoners. Substandard diets, extreme overcrowding, and abuses by poorly trained personnel have all been documented and can be expected in these institutions which are unabashedly about making money.

Prisons are also a leading rural growth industry. With traditional agriculture being pushed aside by agribusiness, many rural American communities are facing hard times. Economically depressed areas are falling over each other to secure a prison facility of their own. Prisons are seen as a source of jobs -- in construction, local vendors and prison staff â€" as well as a source of tax revenues. An average prison has a staff of several hundred employees and an annual payroll of several million dollars.

Like any industry, the prison economy needs raw materials. In this case the raw materials are prisoners. The prison/industrial complex can grow only if more and more people are incarcerated â€" even if crime rates drop. "Three Strikes" and Mandatory Minimums (harsh, fixed sentences without parole) are two examples of the legal superstructure quickly being put in place to guarantee that the prison population will grow and grow and grow.

Labor And the Flight of Capital

The growth of the prison/industrial complex is inextricably tied to the fortunes of labor. Ever since the onset of the Reagan-Bush years in 1980, workers in the United States have been under siege. Aggressive union busting, corporate deregulation, and especially the flight of capital in search of cheaper labor markets, have been crucial factors in the downward plight of American workers.

One wave of capital flight occurred in the 1970s. Manufacturing such as textiles in the Northeast moved south to South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama non-union states where wages were low. During the 1980s, many more industries (steel, auto, etc.) closed up shop moving on to the "more competitive atmospheres" of Mexico, Brazil, or Taiwan where wages were a mere fraction of those in the U.S., and environmental, health and safety standards were much lower. Most seriously hurt by these plant closures and layoffs were African-Americans and other semiskilled workers in urban centers who lost their decent paying industrial jobs.

Into the gaping economic hole left by the exodus of jobs from U.S. cities has rushed another economy â€" the drug economy.

The War on Drugs

The "War on Drugs," launched by President Reagan in the mid-eighties, has been fought on interlocking international and domestic fronts.

At the international level, the war on drugs has been both a cynical cover-up of U.S. government involvement in the drug trade, as well as justification for U.S. military intervention and control in the Third World.

Over the last 50 years, the primary goal of U.S. foreign policy (and the military/industrial complex) has been to fight communism and protect corporate interests. To this end, the U.S. government has, with regularity, formed strategic alliances with drug dealers throughout the world. At the conclusion of World War II, the OSS (precursor to the CIA) allied itself with heroin traders on the docks of Marseille in an effort to wrest power away from communist dock workers. During the Vietnam war, the CIA aided the heroin producing Hmong tribesmen in the Golden Triangle area. In return for cooperation with the U.S. government's war against the Vietcong and other national liberation forces, the CIA flew local heroin out of Southeast Asia and into America. It's no accident that heroin addiction in the U.S. rose exponentially in the 1960s.

Nor is it an accident that cocaine began to proliferate in the United States during the 1980s. Central America is the strategic halfway point for air travel between Colombia and the United States. The Contra War against Sandinista Nicaragua, as well as the war against the national liberation forces in El Salvador, was largely about control of this critical area. When Congress cut off support for the Contras, Oliver North and friends found other ways to fund the Contra re-supply operations â€" in part through drug dealing. Planes loaded with arms for the Contras took-off from the southern United States, offloaded their weapons on private landing strips in Honduras, then loaded up with cocaine for the return trip.

A 1996 exposé by the San Jose Mercury News documented CIA involvement in a Nicaraguan drug ring which poured thousands of kilos of cocaine into Los Angeles' African-American neighborhoods in the 1980s. Drug boss, Danilo Blandon, now an informant for the DEA, acknowledged under oath the drugs- for-weapons deals with the CIA-sponsored Contras.

U.S. military presence in Central and Latin America has not stopped drug traffic. But it has influenced aspects of the drug trade, and is a powerful force of social control in the region. U.S. military intervention -- whether in propping up dictators or squashing peasant uprisings -- now operates under cover of the righteous war against drugs and "narco-terrorism."

In Mexico, for example, U.S. military aid supposedly earmarked for the drug war is being used to arm Mexican troops in the southern part of the country. The drug trade, however (production, transfer, and distribution points) is all in the north. The "drug war money" is being used primarily to fight against the Zapatista rebels in the southern state of Chiapas who are demanding land reform and economic policy changes which are diametrically opposed to the transnational corporate agenda.

In the Colombian jungles of Cartagena de Chaira, coca has become the only viable commercial crop. In 1996, 30,000 farmers blocked roads and airstrips to prevent crop spraying from aircraft. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) one of the oldest guerrilla organizations in Latin America, held 60 government soldiers hostage for nine months â€" demanding that the military leave the jungle, that social services be increased, and that alternative crops be made available to farmers. And given the notorious involvement of Colombia's highest officials with the powerful drug cartels, it is not surprising that most U.S. "drug war" military aid actually goes to fighting the guerrillas.

One result of the international war on drugs has been the internationalization of the U.S. prison population. For the most part, it's the low level "mules" carrying drugs into this country who are captured and incarcerated in ever-increasing numbers. At least 25% of inmates in the federal prison system today will be subject to deportation when their sentences are completed.

Here at home, the war on drugs has been a war on poor people. Particularly poor, urban, African-American men and women. It's well documented that police enforcement of the new, harsh drug laws have been focused on low- level dealers in communities of color. Arrests of African-Americans have been about five times higher than arrests of whites, although whites and African- Americans use drugs at about the same rate. And, African-Americans have been imprisoned in numbers even more disproportionate than their relative arrest rates. It is estimated that in 1994, on any given day, one out of every 128 U.S. adults was incarcerated, while one out of every 17 African-American adult males was incarcerated.

The differential in sentencing for powder and crack cocaine is one glaring example of institutionalized racism. About 90% of crack arrests are of African-Americans, while 75% of powder cocaine arrests are of whites. Under federal law, it takes only five grams of crack cocaine to trigger a five-year mandatory minimum sentence. But it takes 500 grams of powder cocaine â€" 100 times as much â€" to trigger this same sentence. This flagrant injustice was highlighted by a 1996 nationwide federal prison rebellion when Congress refused to enact changes in sentencing laws that would equalize penalties.

Statistics show that police repression and mass incarceration are not curbing the drug trade. Dealers are forced to move, turf is reshuffled, already vulnerable families are broken up. But the demand for drugs still exists, as do huge profits for high-level dealers in this fifty billion-dollar international industry.

>From one point of view, the war on drugs could actually be seen as a pre- emptive strike. The state's repressive apparatus working overtime. Put poor people away before they get angry. Incarcerate those at the bottom, the helpless, the hopeless, before they demand change. What drugs don't damage â€" in terms of intact communities, the ability to take action, to organize â€" the war on drugs and mass imprisonment will surely destroy.

The crack down on drugs has not stopped drug use. But it has taken thousands of unemployed (and potentially angry and rebellious) young men and women off the streets. And it has created a mushrooming prison population.

Prison Labor

An American worker who once upon a time made $8/hour, loses his job when the company relocates to Thailand where workers are paid only $2/day. Unemployed, and alienated from a society indifferent to his needs, he becomes involved in the drug economy or some other outlawed means of survival. He is arrested, put in prison, and put to work. His new salary: 22 cents/hour.

>From worker to unemployed to criminal to convict laborer, the cycle has come full circle. And the only victor is big business.

For private business, prison labor is like a pot of gold. No strikes. No union organizing. No unemployment insurance or workers' compensation to pay. No language problem, as in a foreign country. New leviathan prisons are being built with thousands of eerie acres of factories inside the walls. Prisoners do data entry for Chevron, make telephone reservations for TWA, raise hogs, shovel manure, make circuit boards, limousines, waterbeds, and lingerie for Victoria's Secret. All at a fraction of the cost of "free labor."

Prisoners can be forced to work for pennies because they have no rights. Even the 14th Amendment to the Constitution which abolished slavery, excludes prisoners from its protections.

And, more and more, prisons are charging inmates for basic necessities from medical care, to toilet paper, to use of the law library. Many states are now charging "room and board." Berks County prison in Pennsylvania is charging inmates $10 per day to be there. California has similar legislation pending. So, while government cannot (yet) actually require inmates to work at private industry jobs for less than minimum wage, they are forced to by necessity.

Some prison enterprises are state run. Inmates working at UNICOR (the federal prison industry corporation) make recycled furniture and work 40 hours a week for about $40 per month. The Oregon Prison Industries produces a line of "Prison Blues" blue jeans. An ad in their catalogue shows a handsome prison inmate saying, "I say we should make bell-bottoms. They say I've been in here too long."

Bizarre, but true...

Prison industries are often directly competing with private industry. Small furniture manufacturers around the country complain that they are being driven out of business by UNICOR which pays 23 cents/hour and has the inside track on government contracts. In another case, U.S. Technologies sold its electronics plant in Austin, Texas, leaving its 150 workers unemployed. Six week later, the electronics plant reopened in a nearby prison.

Welcome to the New World Order

The proliferation of prisons in the United States is one piece of a puzzle called the globalization of capital.

Since the end of the Cold War, capitalism has gone on an international business offensive. No longer impeded by an alternative socialist economy or the threat of national liberation movements supported by the Soviet Union or China, transnational corporations see the world as their oyster. Agencies such as the World Trade Organization, World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, bolstered by agreements like NAFTA and GATT are putting more and more power into the hands of transnational corporations by putting the squeeze on national governments. The primary mechanism of control is debt. For decades, developing countries have depended on foreign loans, resulting in increasing vulnerability to the transnational corporate strategy for the global economy. Access to international credit and aid is given only if governments agree to certain conditions known as "structural adjustment."

In a nutshell, structural adjustment requires cuts in social services, privatization of state-run industry, repeal of agreements with labor about working conditions and minimum wage, conversion of multi-use farm lands into cash crop agriculture for export, and the dismantling of trade laws which protect local economies. Under structural adjustment, police and military expenditures are the only government spending that is encouraged. The sovereignty of nations is compromised when, as in the case of Vietnam, trade sanctions are threatened unless the government allows Camel cigarettes to litter the countryside with billboards, or promises to spend millions in the U.S.- orchestrated crackdown on drugs.

The basic transnational corporate philosophy is this: the world is a single market; natural resources are to be exploited; people are consumers; anything which hinders profit is to be routed out and destroyed. The results of this philosophy in action are that while economies are growing, so is poverty, so is ecological destruction, so are sweatshops and child labor. Across the globe, wages are plummeting, indigenous people are being forced off their lands, rivers are becoming industrial dumping grounds, and forests are being obliterated. Massive regional starvation and "World Bank riots" are becoming more frequent throughout the Third World.

All over the world, more and more people are being forced into illegal activity for their own survival as traditional cultures and social structures are destroyed. Inevitably, crime and imprisonment rates are on the rise. And the United States law enforcement establishment is in the forefront, domestically and internationally, in providing state-of-the-art repression.

Within the United States, structural adjustment (sometimes known as Contract With America) takes the form of welfare and social service cuts, continued massive military spending, and skyrocketing prison spending. Walk through any poor urban neighborhood: school systems are crumbling, after school programs, libraries, parks and drug treatment centers are closed. But you will see more police stations and more cops. Often, the only "social service" available to poor young people is jail.

The dismantling of social programs, and the growing dominance of the right- wing agenda in U.S. politics has been made possible, at least in part, by the successful repression of the civil rights and liberation movements of the 1960s and 70s. Many of the leaders â€" Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, and many others â€" were assassinated. Others, like Geronimo ji Jaga Pratt, Leonard Peltier, and Mumia Abu-Jamal, have been locked up. Over 150 political leaders from the black liberation struggle, the Puerto Rican independence movement, and other resistence efforts are still in prison. Many are serving sentences ranging from 40 to 90 years. Oppressed communities have been robbed of radical political leadership which might have led an opposition movement. We are reaping the results.

The number of people in U.S. prisons has more than tripled in the past 17 years â€" from 500,000 in 1980 to 1.8 million in 1997. Today, more than five million people are behind bars, on parole, probation, or under other supervision by the criminal justice system. The state of California now spends more on prisons than on higher education, and over the past decade has built 19 prisons and only one branch university.

Add to this, the fact that increasing numbers of women are being locked up. Between 1980 and 1994, the number of women in prison increased five-fold. Many of these women are mothers â€" leaving future generations growing up in foster homes or on the streets.

What is to be done?

Prisons are not reducing crime. But they are fracturing already vulnerable families and communities.

Poor people of color are being locked up in grossly disproportionate numbers, primarily for non-violent crimes. But Americans are not feeling safer.

As "criminals" become scapegoats for our floundering economy and our deteriorating social structure, even the guise of rehabilitation is quickly disappearing from our penal philosophy. After all: rehabilitate for what? To go back into an economy which has no jobs? To go back into a community which has no hope? As education and other prison programs are cut back, or in most cases eliminated altogether, prisons are becoming vast, over-crowded, holding tanks. Or worse: factories behind bars.

And, prison labor is undercutting wages --something which hurts all working and poor Americans. It's a situation which can only occur because organized labor is divided and weak and has not kept step with organized capital.

While capital has globalized, labor has not. While the transnationals truly are fashioning our planet into a global village, there is still little communication or cooperation between workers around the world. Only an internationally linked labor movement can effectively challenge the power of the transnational corporations.

There have been some wonderful, shining instances of international worker solidarity. In the early 1980s, 3M workers in South Africa walked out in support of striking 3M workers in New Jersey. Recently, longshore workers in Denmark, Spain, Sweden and several other countries closed down ports around the world in solidarity with striking Liverpool dockers. The company was forced to negotiate. When Renault closed its plant in Belgium, 100,000 demonstrated in Brussels, pressuring the French and Belgium governments to condemn the plant closure and compel its reopening.

Here in the U.S., there is a glimmer of hope as the AFL-CIO has voted in some new, more progressive leadership. We'll see how that shapes up, and whether the last 50 years of anti-communist, bread-and-butter American unionism is really a thing of the past.

What is certain is that resistance to the transnational corporate agenda is growing around the globe:

In 1996, the people of Bougainville, a small New Guinea island, organized a secessionist rebellion, protesting the dislocations and ecological destruction caused by corporate mining on the island. When the government hired mercenaries from South Africa to train local troops in counterinsurgency warfare, the army rebelled, threw out the mercenaries, and deposed the Prime Minister.

A one day General Strike shut down Haiti in January 1997. Strikers demanded the suspension of negotiations between the Prime Minister and the International Monetary Fund/World Bank. They protested the austerity measures imposed by the IMF and WB which would mean laying off 7,000 government workers and the privatization of the electric and telephone companies.

In Nigeria, the Ogoni people conducted a protracted eight year struggle against Shell Oil. Acid rain, and hundreds of oil spills and gas flares were turning the once fertile countryside into a near wasteland. Their peaceful demonstrations, election boycotts, and pleas for international solidarity were met with violent government repression and the eventual execution of Ogoni writer-leader Ken Saro Wiwa.

In France, a month-long General Strike united millions of workers who protested privatization, a government worker pay freeze, and cutbacks in social services. Telephone, airline, power, postal, education, health care and metal workers all joined together, bringing business to a standstill. The right-wing Chirac government was forced to make minor concessions before being voted out for a new "socialist" administration.

At the Oak Park Heights Correctional Facility in Minnesota, 150 prisoners went on strike in March 1997, demanding to be paid the minimum wage. Although they lost a litigation battle to attain this right, their strike gained attention and support from several local labor unions.

Just as the prison/industrial complex is becoming increasingly central to the growth of the U.S. economy, prisoners are a crucial part of building effective opposition to the transnational corporate agenda. Because of their enforced invisibility, powerlessness, and isolation, it's far too common for prisoners to be left out of the equation of international solidarity. Yet, opposing the expansion of the prison/industrial complex, and supporting the rights and basic humanity of prisoners, may be the only way we can stave off the consolidation of a police state that represses us all â€" where you or a friend or family member may yourself end up behind bars.

Clearly, the only alternative that will match the power of global of capital is an internationalization of human solidarity. Because, truly, we are all in this together.

"International solidarity is not an act of charity. It is an act of unity between allies fighting on different terrains toward the same objective. The foremost of these objectives is to aid the development of humanity to the highest level possible."

About the authors:

Linda Evans is a former anti-imperialist political prisoner. She was locked up for 16 years due to her political actions opposing racism and U.S. military intervention around the world. While in prison, she organized AIDS education for prisoners and participated in anti-racism work. Her sentence was commuted by President Clinton and she was released on January 20, 2001. Since her release, Linda has been speaking at college campuses and community groups about political prisoners and the prison-industrial complex.

Eve Goldberg is a writer, filmmaker and political activist. She is currently involved in the campaigns for global peace as well as support to U.S. political prisoners.

Linda and Eve wrote this article while Linda was still incarcerated.

The URL of this article is:


Privatised Prisons \ Prison Industrial Complex

Hip Hop & Politics: Privatisation of Prisons


"Under Three Strikes" Pt 1

An in-depth look at California's three strikes law and it's unintended consequences. Pt 1 of 8

Just as in those heady post-war days, Europe’s political elites, bosses and opinion-formers are looking to the United States with fascination and envy, largely because of the performance of the US economy. Allegedly, the key to US prosperity and the supposed solution to mass unemployment is simple: less intervention by the state. It is true that the United States - and in its wake, the United Kingdom and New Zealand - has slashed social welfare spending and pared down the rules on hiring and - above all - firing so as to establish "flexible" working as the norm in relation to employment and indeed citizenship. It is easy for advocates of neoliberal policies that involve stifling the welfare state to claim that introducing "flexibility" has stimulated an increase in wealth and job creation, but they are more reticent about discussing the consequences of wage dumping: in this instance widespread social and physical insecurity and a spiralling in inequality leading to segregation, crime and the decay of public institutions.

FROM WELFARE STATE TO PRISON STATE Imprisoning the American poor


Maori Party : Nationals Native Police

During the election in nz last year a lot of activists I talked too we concerned that if the Maori Party went into government with the national party that they would tactically support their draconian law & order policies. The last few days have proved us right. We have seen :

Boot camps for young ‘offender’s

Three strikes laws

Privitisation of Prisons

The Maori party is dressing this up as some sort of Rangatiratanga & economic opportunity is disgusting and makes me sick. We all know that our people already disproportionately fill the prisons; we all know that during hard economic times crime flourishes but don’t worry, stupid red neck laws and politicians & media milking law n order hysteria will keep these prisons full for sure. Gangs & criminals have been demonised so much in Aotearoa, and it’s easy to throw people into prison that society has walked away from.

That corporate Iwi are putting their hand up to make a buck out of the expansion of prison industrial complex in Aotearoa, is kupapatanga gone crazy. Hello managing a contract is NOT Political & Economic independence. Is this the price that grassroots Maori continue to pay as the forgotten rubbish of structural adjustment, to be dealt to & to be kept in line by our own? Pohara whanau haven’t recovered from the extremist economic ‘reforms of the eighties when " an entire generation of New Zealand’s children and youth has suffered under the reforms launched by the Labour government of 1984-90. It concluded that Maori and Pacific children in particular have been “disproportionately affected” by growing inequality and levels of poverty."

Treaty settlements distracted us from our struggle, when our grassroots whanau were going to the wall.

Turia’s tacit support of the prison at Ngawha, undermines and tramples on the fight that the peoples of Ngapuhi engaged in against the prison. That prison was Wira Gardiners pet project, and no doubt will be used as a model to trample on other Maori Sacred sites and communities.
I can’t think of anything more offensive than to be held under lock and key by your own, and maybe on your own whenua. Then being force feed you culture by Maori who wouldn’t even give you the time of day on the outside

Our so called leaders are more interested in making money than the human rights of our most marginalized & vulnerable. What’s next, an intervention in South Auckland? 300 more police is an insult to that community, where is the support from our leaders for Whaea Leanne & her whanau? It seems the support from our community is conditional on you being a ‘good’ Maori, not a pohara urban one. How disconnected from the reality of the vast majority of Maori is that? Look out for future announcements of privatising welfare to pricks like John Tamihere.

Tamihere used the occasion before the well-heeled audience to call for the privatisation of social welfare. He said that beneficiaries were getting “something for nothing”, and that this was eroding their “self-worth”. “Welfare in New Zealand is delivered in a charitable and benevolent way and that charity and benevolence actually crushes you because it teaches you to put your hand out,” he claimed. Beneficiaries should, he moralised, accept “obligations” in return for “state support”.

According to Tamihere, the Department of Work and Income (Winz) should assess beneficiaries’ entitlements and then pay the money over to private trusts—such as the Waipareira Trust, where he was the CEO before entering parliament. The trust would work out a budget for each beneficiary and pay essentials, including rent, power and basic food items, rather than “handing over the money for them to spend at will”. Only residual money would be transferred into a bank account for “discretionary” spending."
That's so much like the intervention in the NT its not funny.

Its hard not to feel that they are pissing all over tino rangatiratanga for the opportunity to heard & control our people at the bottom of the heap, Malcom X had a good term for that.

As Mathew Russell rightly observes,
The utter devastation wrought on Maori communities by neo-liberalism is a non-issue, apparently. The Maori Party is quickly and clearly demonstrating the bankruptcy of the colonial state in achieving any real change for Maori, and its commitment to following the same orthodox and fruitless methods of parliamentary reformism that have largely dominated Maori politics for the past 20 years.

Which means, government’s & our leaders don’t give a shit. Continually looking to the government & the Maori establishment for answers & justice is a highway to hell. Our people collectively have the power to determine our own destiny, real lasting Tino Rangatiratanga will only happen and be meaningful & be lasting, when it comes from below.

Grassroots Maori Communities can in these times have the wherewithal and strength to challenge this latest onslaught of state oppression directed at them. Look out for a cop watching crew in a hood near you. It has come down to that, we have to look after each other and get organizing our communities to bring power back to the people where it belongs.


Love and Tautoko to the Pihema Cameron Whanau

Leanne Cameron says she is serving a life sentence. Photo / Glenn Jeffrey

Leanne Cameron says she is serving a life sentence. Photo / Glenn Jeffrey

Sista had her son murdered and the prick that did it will be out in 11 months. She & her whanau have every right to be angry @ a system that slams Maori and stills give pakeha justice even when they kill a 15 year old boy. Arohanui

First Fleet Back

First Fleet Back from NITV video on Vimeo

A comedy that throws us into a role reversal of Australian History. A hybrid documentary that catapults viewers into an alternate Australian reality and follows Arabunna Elder Kevin Buzzacott’s amazing strategies against racism and for self-determination - before he became the ‘Minister for Invasion Affairs’!

In a blend of cinema verite, blaxploitation and satirical reality TV, this film pushes the boundaries of documentary, offering thought-provoking insights into the past to build a post-colonial future together.

Be alert & alarmed – it’s your chance to vote them off the island – on the First Fleet Back to Europe!


Display the Hawaiian flag on February 24-25

image credit manainfo.com

On February 25, the Supreme Court will be hearing the "ceded"lands case. The State of Hawaii is arguing that Hawaiians have norights to those lands.

MANA (Movement for Aloha No ka Aina), is calling on all supportersof Kanaka Maoli rights and sovereignty to fly or display a Hawaiianflag on February 24 and 25, the eve and day of the Supreme Courthearing on the "ceded" lands case.

Fly your flag proudly! This will be a sign of our resistance to theState's attempt to dissolve our land rights, and a symbol of our unity.

Spread the message far and wide – fly our flag on February 24 and 25.

Download a flag here.

Mahalo to KINE/KCCN, Ka Wai Ola o OHA, Maoliworld, and others for helping to get the word out



Purging the Forum Secretariat

• Maureen Penjueli is Coordinator of the Pacific Network on Globalisation

Governments in Australia and New Zealand are keen to assure Pacific nations that relations with the region are marked by `shared development goals', but as Maureen Penjueli writes, the islands' `big brothers' have been pushing an agenda of their own—especially when it comes to negotiating a regional free trade agreement.

In 2004, the Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) released an interim report to look at the implications of the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER). PACER is an agreement that paves the way for a free trade agreement between the Forum Islands Countries and Australia and New Zealand (NZ).

That report found disturbing evidence of pressure by Australian and New Zealand officials to push through their free trade agenda in the region. One New Zealand official quoted in the report confirmed with disarming frankness: "When it comes to trade, there is no `special relationship' with the Pacific". The implications are clear—when it comes to trade, international trade strategy takes priority over the views of Pacific governments and the needs of their people.

With the recent changing of the guard in both Australia and New Zealand, there was much hope that Pacific Islands Forum member countries would see improved relations with their `big brothers'. Kevin Rudd's Labor government, in particular, has launched a major public relations exercise since winning office to assure the region that it has Pacific interests at heart (including in the area of trade). Australian and New Zealand government officials have been quick to assert that a free trade agreement under PACER (called PACER-Plus) is designed to benefit the Pacific—while down-playing potential negative impacts for the islands and benefits to their own countries.

These assurances have a hollow ring to them. Several developments in the past two years indicate Australia and New Zealand are not primarily interested in making PACER-Plus meaningful for the Pacific. These developments should give pause to Pacific trade ministers, government officials and the wider public, because both countries have pursued aggressive strategies (mainly behind closed doors) to stack the deck in their favour even before negotiations start.

Islands countries—pawns in a power game

Pacific Islands Countries have had a dismal experience negotiating a free trade agreement (an `Economic Partnership Agreement'—EPA) with the European Union (EU) in recent years. In those negotiations, the Pacific failed to secure meaningful concessions from the EU, and few countries are interested in signing a new deal. Recognising this, the Forum trade ministers decided that a new Office of the Chief Trade Advisor (CTA) should be established separately from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat to help in the negotiations with Australia and New Zealand.

In March 2008, Pacific trade ministers decided the CTA should be "the only point of contact between Australia and New Zealand and the Forum islands countries (FICs) for PACER-Plus" and that "the CTA takes responsibility for the PACER-Plus negotiations with Australia and New Zealand on the basis of the mandates and negotiating instructions from the FIC Trade Ministers".
However, Australian and New Zealand officials are resisting attempts to have in place, well before negotiations begin, a new Chief Trade Advisor to help organise the region's negotiating positions—critical, given the diversity of Pacific countries, and national-level capacity issues.

This resistance from Australia and New Zealand officials is both unhelpful and unreasonable. After all, we are talking about negotiations between two very unequal partners.

Instead of supporting the Pacific's CTA proposal, Australia announced (in April 2008) a "trade fellowship programme" whereby Pacific trade officials travel to Australia to learn how good PACER-Plus could be for the Pacific, and are trained by Australians to negotiate with them.

Australian officials also announced money would be provided at the national level for Forum Islands Countries (FICs) to undertake studies on PACER—a far cry from a regional office that can guide research and establish strong negotiating positions.
At the Forum Trade Ministers' Meeting in the Cook Islands in July 2008, Pacific trade officials reported bullying tactics, a divide and rule strategy and explicit threats to remove key Forum Secretariat staff. This behaviour was exhibited by both Australian and New Zealand officials, who pushed for the Pacific Trade Ministers to agree to begin negotiations on a wide-ranging free trade agreement during 2009. Officials from several countries put up a fierce resistance to attempts to fast-track PACER-Plus—attempts made by Australia and New Zealand officials and their key Pacific allies, namely Tonga and Nauru, at that meeting.

Australian officials were so disappointed with FIC Trade Ministers' refusal to fast-track the negotiations that they told Pacific media that Australia would not commit funds to set up the CTA office because "it did not regard the outcomes of the July 2008 Forum Trade Ministers' Meeting as constituting an adequate commitment to negotiations that will lead them to fund the CTA".

Having failed to get their way at the Forum Trade Ministers' Meeting, Australian and New Zealand officials took their battle to the annual Forum Leaders' meeting in Niue to secure favourable language. During that meeting, Pacific leaders met separately from Australia and New Zealand and issued a press release which stressed the need for "careful preparations by Forum FICs, both individually and collectively, before consultations began with Australia and New Zealand" and for the early appointment of a Chief Trade Advisor to assist FICs in realising their shared objectives.

However, such caution about entering PACER-Plus negotiations with Australia and New Zealand was not reflected in the outcomes document of the Niue meeting—where Australia and New Zealand leaders were present.

This reflects the position of Australia and New Zealand as major donors in the region, and the importance that Pacific leaders place on maintaining good relations with them. It is not the `Pacific Way' to confront such partners directly. The Niue meeting indicated that Forum Leaders would direct trade officials to "formulate a detailed roadmap on PACER-Plus, with the view to Leaders agreeing at the 2009 Forum to the commencement of the negotiations". This is an outcome Australian officials are happy with, especially as Canberra will host the 2009 Forum Leaders' meeting.

Interventions at the Forum Secretariat

Perhaps, the most damaging aspect of recent Australian and New Zealand interventions, is a blatant attempt to undermine technical advisors and senior management positions in the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS).

At the Niue Leaders' meeting, Australian and New Zealand officials openly advocated for either an Australian or a New Zealand national to be appointed as a permanent Deputy Secretary-General (DSG) of the Forum.
Many regional commentators have commented on the increasing influence of Australia and New Zealand in the Forum over recent years and in particular in redefining of Pacific priorities.

USP academic Sandra Tarte suggests that the ownership of the Forum is increasingly at risk.

She writes that this "sense of ownership has been eroded in recent years as economic, political and security initiatives of the Forum seem to be increasingly driven by Australia and New Zealand (who also control the purse strings)".

If Australia and New Zealand secure a permanent DSG position, this raises questions about whether PIFS is on the verge of becoming a diluted organisation unable to serve the interest of the Pacific Islands Countries.

In another move that raises questions about the ability of the Forum to advocate on behalf of PICs, it appears that the axe has fallen on one of the region's most respected trade advisors, Dr Roman Grynberg, whose contract with the Forum is being conveniently not extended. Those that follow international trade negotiations will know Dr. Grynberg is not a popular figure amongst trade officials from developed countries, who often see him as a key stumbling block for advancing their trade priorities.

In 2003, The Guardian newspaper highlighted a letter between the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the British Government colluding to get rid of "unsympathetic" trade officials within the Commonwealth Secretariat.
One such unsympathetic trade official was Dr Grynberg—whose work advocating on behalf of poor developing countries was seen as derailing free trade discussions.

Reasons for his contract not being extended with the Forum Secretariat were based on a performance review that found him to `lack leadership' and not being `client focused'. The question that begs to be asked is, which client(s) is unhappy with Dr. Grynberg's work? Whatever the reasons for his removal, his absence means the PICs have lost an important critical voice prior to going into negotiations for a free trade agreement with the islands' most important trading partners.

An alternative approach?

The approach taken by Australia and New Zealand to discussions about PACER-Plus during 2008 indicates a strong willingness by those countries to fast-track the process (to ensure negotiations begin at the 2009 Forum Leaders' Meeting), to derail any effective regional negotiating machinery (by refusing to support the Pacific's CTA proposal and funding national-level training and research) and to manipulate the Forum Secretariat meetings to secure their priorities. This approach from Australia and New Zealand has been possible partly because Forum processes (such as the Forum Trade Ministers' Meeting and the Pacific Leaders' Forum) are often conducted behind closed doors—with very little outside scrutiny from the media or civil society groups.

PACER-Plus negotiations could lead to a free trade agreement that will have radical implications for Pacific Islands economies and societies. Any agreement will have a much smaller impact on Australia and New Zealand. A bad agreement could lead to a closing off of policy options that are used to stimulate development in the islands, increase pressure for privatisation and undermining access to basic services.

Certainly, PACER-Plus will lead to business closures and job losses in Pacific countries—problems that will be exacerbated because many Pacific states are reliant on tariffs to raise much-needed government revenue. It is vitally important for Pacific governments to "get this right". Being rushed into negotiations without appropriate research on the implications of PACER-Plus and without a strong regional negotiating body monitored by public oversight— could lead to a complete disaster.
Australia and New Zealand are keen to rush ahead with a far reaching free trade agreement partly because their trade officials are adamant that any pain caused by a new FTA will be short-term, and that increased trade as a result of a new deal will help the Pacific to grow. Australian and New Zealand officials are also concerned that any EPA with the EU will offer better market access to European companies in the region.

In June 2007, both Australian and New Zealand governments confirmed this view. The then Australian Trade Minister Warren Truss stated that, "it's obviously in Australia and New Zealand's interest that any new deal that the South Pacific countries may do with the European Union doesn't disadvantage Australian exporters into those countries".
New Zealand's [then] Trade Minister Phil Goff noted that a free trade agreement between Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific was necessary to ensure that New Zealand "is not disadvantaged by preferential access to Pacific markets being given to European countries."

However, the Australian and New Zealand governments don't have to approach trade relations with the Pacific from such a position of narrow self-interest. If they are really genuine about the region, they could acknowledge the special and different circumstances of the Pacific Islands Countries (PICs), and offer real alternatives to the kind of reciprocal free trade agreement that is being pushed by the EU.

These alternatives could include improvements to the current South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement (SPARTECA), with a focus on enabling Pacific Islands Countries and their peoples to access Australian and New Zealand markets to overcome poverty. Improvements in Rules of Origin requirements, removal of trade barriers (including Australia's kava ban) and assistance with meeting necessary sanitary and phytosanitary rules in Australia and New Zealand are all initiatives that would expand Pacific export opportunities—without requiring a new FTA.

Pacific Way must now be the ANZ Way?

The late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara coined the term the `Pacific Way' - a term that reflects a Pacific way of development based on conversation, respect and mutual consensus.

In recent years, Australia and New Zealand have moved from strength to strength in their quest to replace the Pacific Way with their way. It appears that their goal is to impose their ideology, their free trade agenda, their institutions and operatives, their economic interests, their political authority and their strategic influence on the islands of the Pacific.

If the approach taken by Australia and New Zealand to PACER-Plus in 2008 is an indication of things to come, then pressure is now on Pacific leaders to take back the initiative and demand an approach to trade relations that reflects Pacific concerns.
PIC Trade Ministers and their officials, and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Secretary-General Tuiloma Neroni Slade are more than ever faced with the task of stemming the tide of Australia and New Zealand influence.

If they are not able to, we could see the beginning of the demise of the Pacific Way and the reign of the ANZ (Australia, New Zealand) Way.

See Also
Neoliberalism in the Pacific

Nina Simone - Ain't Got No...I've Got Life



From March '09 workers in small businesses will be able to be sacked for any reason, or no reason at all, in their first 90 days of employment. The RAT PATROL has been launched by unions and community groups to make sure no worker get unfairly dismissed under the new law. The Rat Patrol received a great response in Coyle Park last weekend, with hundreds of workers taking leaflets for the demonstration on 28 February. There is loads of anger in the community about the new law, and people love the idea of bringing the giant inflatable rat to shame their own rat bosses. Come along over the next few weeks to give us a hand with the leaflets and sign-ups:

SATURDAY 14 FEB - MANGERE MARKET. Mangere Community Law Centre have reserved a joint space for the Rat Patrol and the campaign to defend Community Law Centres. Meet 9am Unite Office or 10am at Mangere Market, Mangere Town Square off Waddon Place (meet next to the Maori Wardens building).




Let us know which events you can can help out at, and which other events you'd like to take the rat to. The leaflet can be DOWNLOADED - you can use them anywhere, so sign up your friends and workmates, and send the names back in so we can keep building the RAT PATROL. If you can't find the rat when you get to the event, text me on 0210 358 513 and we'll try to locate you... Hope to see you all tomorrow, Nicola

REGISTER AS A RAT PATROL MEMBER to join the emergency solidarity pickets against unfair sackings. Our goal is to have several hundred people registered as willing and able to respond to appeals for help on short notice. Register with your email address and/or mobile number for text messages. To join email wewontpayforyourcrisis@gmail.com or

REGISTER ONLINE http://www.unite.org.nz/?q=contact

Zapatista Film/Doco Festival - Feb 20,21,22

Zapatista Film/Doco Festival
20, 21, 22 February 2009
62 St. Georges Road, Northcote

Download festival Flyer

Inspiring, creating, fighting

“...We want a world where many worlds are possible...”
Sub Marcos, Zapatista National Liberation Army, Chiapas, Mexico

It is New Year’s Night 1994, the day the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) comes into effect. For the indigenous communities & popular activists in the Lacandona Jungle of South-eastern Mexico, Chiapas, NAFTA symbolizes the culmination of over 500 years of exploitation. During the night, 2,000 indigenous soldiers occupy several cities in the state of Chiapas and declare political and economic independence. They call themselves the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN).

The Zapatista uprising in Chiapas was certainly one of the most dramatic and important instances in our time of a genuine grassroots movement against oppression, we believe that their words and practice can inspire a new generation of activist to see that it is possible for ordinary people, without wealth and advance weapons, to challenge state power successfully.

How after 15 years does the historic and ongoing Zapatista uprising continue to transform the world? How did the poetic fury of their movement become part of the rising tide that sent waves of resistance crashing through the streets of, Seattle, Genoa, Quebec, Washington D.C., France, Greece and Melbourne? What are their weapons? Was it their words? We hope we can answer these questions during and after the Zapatista Festival

The ZAPATISTA Film/doco festival will try to offers to all of us a new way of thinking about political struggle and what we means to live as a human being. We have more than 10 films documentaries from Zapatistas Communities, Mapuche struggles, Brazil (MST), Bolivia (indigenous struggles and others), and shorts presentations from different Latin American indigenous and popular grassroots organisations in struggle today.

The Festival is an inspiring first-hand account of a struggle that will challenge the way we think about the world and our commitments for change

We would like to thank everyone, who contributed to this festival with video productions, people without any experience, professionals, grassroots community productions and Chiapas media project/Promedios for their main contribution to the first inspiring Zapatista film doco festival.

All proceeds from this Festival will support the Third Latin American Solidarity Gathering
“Focus on Colombia and Chile” on July 2009, and the Lake Cowal Gathering on April-Easter 2009

At International Workers’ Centre, 62 St. Georges Road, Northcote
$15 three days (whole Festival) or $8 per day
More info lasnet@latinlasnet.org or call 0400 914 944
Detailed schedule at www.latinlasnet.org

Drinks available, NON BYO, Food provided by Food not bombs, Dinner Friday and Saturday, 7:00 PM
Organised by Latin American Solidarity Network (LASNET)
Supported by Chiapas Media Project/Promedios and Mexico Australia Solidarity Network (MASN)

“The aim is to listen and learn about the struggles, the resistance and rebel movements, support them and bind them together to build a national anti-capitalist, leftist program.”, EZLN

Zapatista Film/Doco Schedules

Friday February 20
6:00 pm “Zapatista” The Movie, a production of Big Noise, 48 minutes
10 minutes open discussion
7:00 pm Dinner, Food Not Bombs
7:30 pm Bolivia, the indigenous from the Andes, a report from England, 30 minutes
8:15pm The Militarisation of Guerrero - Chiapas Media Project/Promedios (CMP/P), 35 minutes
10 minutes open discussion
9:00 pm We are equal, Zapatista women speak - CMP/P, 19 minutes
9:30 pm Festival first day close

Saturday February 21
4:00pm Brazil, “Roots” MST (Landless Movement) struggles for dignity, 42 minutes
20 minutes open discussion
5:15pm Oaxaca, Images of Repression in Oaxaca, 51 minutes
20 minutes open discussion
6:30pm Voice of the Voiceless, a direct production of communities in resistance, 12 minutes
15+- minutes open discussion
7:00pm Dinner, Food Not Bombs
7:30pm A very big train called the Other Campaign, productions audiovisual caracoles Zapatistas, 40 minutes
20 minutes open discussion
8:30pm “You are saying that we can’t pass”, 12 minutes and “Letter for our words” production”, 13 minutes Chiapas Media Projects/Promedios production.
9:30 pm Festival Second day close

Sunday Feb 22
2:00pm, “Switch Off”, Mapuche people struggles against Electric Multinational in Chile, Mapuche are the majority indigenous population in Chile, they support the Zapatista struggle, 65 minutes
10 minutes open discussion
3:40pm, On the Edge, The Femicide in Ciudad Juarez, 57 minutes
20 minutes open discussion
4:55pm, Guatemala, Coffee Justice, 14 minutes
10 minutes open discussion
5:30pm, Water and Autonomy in Zapatistas communities, 15 minutes, Chiapas media Project/Promedios
20 minutes open discussion
6:30pm food and refreshments
7:00pm “the Last Zapatistas and their impact in the EZLN, 48 minutes
20 minutes open discussion
8:30 Zapatista Festival close

"We are sorry for the inconvenience, but this is a revolution."
Sub Marcos, EZLN

Dead Prez Fuck the Law

[Verse 1]
Slap a white boy. Snuff your landlord
Smash some windows. Break the camcord
Rob the corner store. Bomb the precinct
Take the CO. Stab the GT
Pimp the system. Bang for freedom
Fuck the high schools. Burn the prisons
Ride on the record labels. Jump your A&R
Fuck the contract. Push the AR
Get your bank up. Slip the banks up
Break the handcuffs. Invade the campus
Steal some pampers. Smash the cameras
Fuck the police. Grab the camera

You wonder why we feel like fuck the law
You wonder why we write up on the wall
You wonder why we burn the cities down
Cuz we don't give a fuck, the time is now
You wonder why we feel like fuck the law
You wonder why we write up on the wall
You wonder why we burn the cities down
Cuz we don't give a fuck, the time is now

[Verse 2]
Cock your rifle. Rep your people
Fuck probation. Kidnap your PO
Run the roadblocks. Smash a TV
Fuck with DP. Steal the CD
Kiss my black ass. Nail the judges
Hang the lawyers. Ride for justice
Keep it gangsta. Kill the snitches
Get rid of the middleman. Control your business

You wonder why we feel like fuck the law
You wonder why we write up on the wall
You wonder why we burn the cities down
Cuz we don't give a fuck, the time is now
You wonder why we feel like fuck the law
You wonder why we write up on the wall
You wonder why we burn the cities down
Cuz we don't give a fuck, the time is now


National/Maori Party honeymoon smashed on Waitangi Day

a guest commentary I wrote for Socialist Aotearoa dedicated to  John & Wikatana Popata

The National/Maori party honeymoon was smashed on Waitangi Day. The brave actions of two young warriors definitely dispelled the pro government propaganda that the National and Maori Party were desperately trying to cement on Waitangi Day. Mrs Harawira’s reaction is complete hypocrisy. Each generation has a right to oppose their oppression. Just because some are sitting at the table with or holding onto the arm of the oppressor that gives them no right to crush dissent when it doesn't suit their own political purposes. Whether our Maori leader’s or Maori elite like to admit it or not there is a groundswell of anger and disappointment that our grassroots have been sold out, again, and wait to get kicked in their teeth by their own. 

When you add up the combined impacts of the “90 Day fire law”, the changes to the RMA, changes to bail laws, the privatisation of welfare, prisons, water and the ongoing impacts recession has on our communities. Our flax roots have every right to be angry. 

The Maori Party is a right wing party, make no mistake about that. Hiding behind the rhetoric of advancing all Maori, they have shown that they are willing to sacrifice the vast majority of Maori for the enrichment and advancement of a few. Our so-called Maori leaders were unwilling to even discuss huge unemployment amongst our people at Waitangi, yet jump at the chance to be involved in privatisation. These neo tribal capitalists are transparent in their greed and their neoliberal modus operandi. These elements have much to gain from the privatisation of public services and their turning over to Maori business interests in the name of “self determination”.

This is exactly what was intended way back when the treaty settlement process & fiscal envelope were touted and subsequently implemented. Maori have already been kicked in the guts from the recession; disproportionally we have already the highest percentage of recently unemployed. Turia’s prescription for recently unemployed Maori is to study as a way to ride out the recession, which is patronising and out of touch as you can get. Expect to see more of the same as nowadays it seems you are not a real Maori if your a worker, gang member or on a benefit. 

The Maori Party has already started to demonise other Maori that don’t “fit with the program”. This is a ploy to soften up and slam into our own disenfranchised & dispossessed and to squash dissent by Maori to the National gubbaments agenda. Our elite will gladly take up the role of the native police to keep the more rebellious and those resentful of these polices in line. At the end of the day, the mokopuna of Roger Douglas will have their say. The mass of our flax roots, our workers, our youth, our gang members and all our whanau at the bottom of the heap struggling to survive. We are the sleeping taniwha that will rise up and take back the future that our Leaders & elite have already sold. 

Sina Brown-Davis 
Ngati Whatua ki Kaipara

Iwi present Key with wish-list for action HERE
SOE shares part of Maori Party 'budget HERE
Gordon Campbell on the challenges that the RMA changes pose for the Maori Party HERE


The Pacification of Contemporary Maori Protest

thanks to Matthew Russell for permission to put up his essay, It was originally printed in Red & Green # 5 in 2005

Expressing his surprise that people ever consented to submit to their governments David Hume elegantly wrote, "Force is always on the side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. Tis therefore, on opinion only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular." (Russell, 1995, p632) Considering Hume was hardly a libertarian by the standards of the day, this is a revealing quote. It is recognition of the simple principle that in societies where obedience can no longer be maintained solely by the whip, containment of thought becomes the foundation of state. 

While this truism has been basic to the most divergent of revolutionary thought, and employed for the most divergent of revolutionary purposes, it has been perhaps most usefully theorised by Antonio Gramsci through his concepts of hegemony and passive revolution. I think these concepts provide a useful theoretical context in which to analyse the development of contemporary Maori protest, a movement which started as a direct challenge to the legitimacy of the colonial state and the capitalist social/economic system, and was steered on a course that lead it far away from any such challenge. The first half of this article focuses on the development of Maori militancy in Aotearoa/New Zealand between 1965 and 1980, drawing primarily from Evan Poata-Smith's insightful analyses of the period. (1996, 2005) In the second section I will discuss the strategic modes of power employed by the Pakeha state to circumvent this threat. Finally, I will look at what these developments mean for the future of Maori self-determination. Firstly, a brief outline of terms is required.

Hegemony refers to the processes whereby certain social groups maintain social authority through the manufacturing of consent, that is, achieving a monopoly over the means of discourse circulation to such a degree that they are able to frame all competing definitions within their own discourse, so that subordinate groups, while not necessarily controlled, act within an ideological framework that is essentially invisible. By achieving a level of ideological saturation throughout all dimensions of social life the dominant discourse appears natural, "to lie outside history." (Simon, 1982,p49) Ideology is rendered inescapable and becomes a framework for making sense of the world such that its very taken-for-grantedness makes it a completely lived relation. A hegemonic order does not simply determine the content of ideas, but it does attempt to set the boundaries within which the ideas and conflicts of subordinate groups are articulated and resolved. When these boundaries are respected hegemony is strong; when they are challenged or transgressed there is a crisis of hegemony. In this way hegemony attempts to naturalise the prevailing structures of power, it serves as the foundation of their legitimacy. The burden falls on the critical analyst (read: everybody) to pierce this taken-for-granted veil of normalised forms, to expose the set of rules and conventions that are at any time 'given' and 'natural' for all of society.

A passive revolution is the path hegemonic groupings will usually follow when faced with what Gramsci termed an 'organic crisis': "immediate and fundamental political and economic problems requiring a reformation of state institutions and the dissemination of new ideologies, and characterised by incessant and persistent efforts which are made to conserve and defend the existing system." (Simon,1982,p39) This is a notion derived from conservative tradition going back to Burke who argued that society had to change in order to say the same, that sometimes superficial institutional and ideological reorganisation is required in order to preserve the essential features of a status-quo. (Adams,1998,p75) While a passive revolution is geared towards the re-establishment of hegemony, any required institutional or ideological modifications are usually made from above, through the agency of the state apparatuses, without relying on the active participation of the population. The key point with both passive revolutions and the concept of hegemony is that is that the consent they aim to create and sustain is not simply a false consciousness in the Marxian/Feuerbachian sense, but is built on real albeit limited concessions and negotiations - it is more concerned with the incorporative deflection of opposition, rather than simply ushering it out of existence with 'ruling class ideas'. Hence for a passive revolution to be successful, it depends on the flow of real resources within the hegemonic system, and they serve to encumber and deflect the development of a counter-hegemony.

In New Zealand state hegemony over white settlers has only been called into question in extreme circumstances, such as the periods of dire economic decline suffered during the depression era of the 20's and 30's, and the fiscal crises of the 70's and early 80's. As a whole however, it has been efficiently maintained through consent. By contrast, rule over Maori for much of the past 150 years has been exercised via coercion, primarily legal and economic, what Jane Kelsey has termed "legal imperialism". (Spoonly et al,1984, p20) During the late 1970's and early 1980's the state was confronted with a crisis of legitimacy brought on by the failures of the capitalist system, as well as the increasingly militant reassertion of Maori economic and political rights guaranteed under the Treaty of Waitangi. This forced the New Zealand government to engage in a passive revolution, redirecting the ethic of tino rangatiratanga into the legal, bureaucratic and political channels of state hegemony. In essence, this was the subjugation of a refractory social group through consensual means at a time when coercive methods had become ineffectual. In order to elucidate this process it will be necessary to look at the history of Maori protest.

The collapse of the post war boom and the emergence of the new left between the 1960s and 1970s saw an unprecedented resurgence of political engagement internationally, events that were closely paralleled in New Zealand. Maori protest groups formed part of the progressive social movements of the time and sought to broaden the fight against racism and Maori oppression. A close working relationship was formed between Pakeha anti-racist groups such as CARE and HART which galvanised around opposition to sporting relations with the South African apartheid regime. The dramatic increase in strike activity and class struggle provided an organisational base for Maori protest groups demonstrated in the emergence of Te Hokioi and the Maori Organisation on Human Rights (MOORH). Both organisations had solid trade union links, and both advocated an alliance between Maori and progressive sections of the Pakeha working class. For Te Hokioi, the fundamental cleavage in society was between labour and capital, and racism was seen as symptomatic of class domination and inherent contradictions within the capitalist system. Both Te Hokioi and MOORH embraced the Treaty as a means to Maori autonomy in a harmonious bicultural society, providing past injustices were redeemed. Both groups advocated a pan-racial struggle along class lines as the most effective strategy for resolving racism and Maori inequality. (Poata-Smith,1996, p101)

The momentum of these groups subsided gradually during the early 1970s as the drive of the movement shifted towards the brown power of Auckland protest groups. Organisations such as Nga Tamatoa and the Polynesian Panthers were heavily influenced by the black power philosophies of American revolutionaries Stokley Carmichael and Huey Newton, and forcefully emphasised the goal of Maori self-determination. The Polynesian Panthers saw the roots of Maori and Pacific Islander inequality in the oppressive social relations embodied in the capitalist system, and promoted a strategy of liberation based on complete overthrow of the capitalist system. "The revolution we openly rap about is one of total change. We see that many of our problems of oppression and racism are tools of this society's outlook based on capitalism; hence for total change one must change society altogether." (Poata-Smith,1996, 102) As these movements developed however a rift formed between those who saw the whole system as fundamentally flawed, and those who sought real change for Maori through existing political structures, who believed that providing the appropriate legal measures were implemented, New Zealand capitalism coupled with the parliamentary system could be cleansed of racism and provide the basis for Maori success. Nga Tamatoa was especially polarised between revolutionaries and reformists which lead to its eventual collapse in the late 70's. Nevertheless, as Poata-Smith writes, "Despite the divergent political and strategic philosophies, there was no room to mistake the object of protest and the enemy of Maori as anything other than a state which was seen as being both racist and capitalist." (1996, p105)

Although the reformist tendency was present throughout early Maori protest, the failures of the third Labour government to halt land alienation and secure Maori rights crystallised the movement's challenge to state hegemony. The 1980s land rights movement fuelled intense political activism and mass civil disobedience demonstrated in the land-occupations at Bastion Point and Raglan, mass protests such as the hikoi of 1984, and the systematic militant boycotts of Waitangi day celebrations. These direct action tactics brought together the diverse Pakeha left and generated wide public support, solidarity actively promoted by many Maori activists. As Te Roopu o te Matakite, the organising committee behind the 1975 Land March on parliament published, "We seek the support of workers and their organisations as the only viable bodies which have sympathy and understanding of the Maori people and their desires. The people who are oppressing the workers are the same who are exploiting Maori today." (Poata-Smith, 1996, p110) The high level of political intensity which characterised the period provided the environment for the emergence of a more radical leadership and a level of group solidarity that the Maori protest movement has yet to regain. By the early 1980s Maori had become a cohesive and powerful protest group that directly challenged the legitimacy of state, and could no longer be efficiently contained within the hegemonic system thorough purely coercive means.

The push towards Maori autonomy was only one part of a general legitimation crisis suffered by the colonial state between 1979 and 1985. The politicisation of gender and ethnic inequality, political turmoil, a rise in unemployment as well as fiscal instability and extreme economic immiseration brought on by the natural tendency in capitalism for the general rate of profit to fall seriously endangered the hegemony of the ruling political forces. In order to resolve its organic crisis the colonial government was forced to engage a passive revolution on two fronts. The first an economic policy based on radical neo-liberal economics and ideology known as Rogernomics. The second a race relations policy aimed at pacifying and containing Maori demands without disrupting the economic and political structures of the Pakeha state. The latter was principally achieved through the Waitangi Tribunal, and the official policy of biculturalism.

Kelsey describes the judicial initiatives of the fourth Labour government to ostensibly 'expand' the Waitangi Tribunal as "a shift from overt contempt to a much more subtle and pernicious form of subjugation, and the evolution of the Waitangi Tribunal as a panacea which helped stabilise, and later actively legitimate the Pakeha state." (Spoonley et al,1991, 108) The Tribunal was constructed as an ideological state apparatus concerned with shaping the nature of Maori demands and integrating a recalcitrant social group into the hegemonic system. This was carried out through a judicial rewriting of the Treaty which eschewed the contradictions between the Maori and English versions of the texts, and the dilemma of applying rules of Treaty interpretation which would give primacy to the Maori text, and hence tino rangatiratanga. The court's rewriting of the Treaty via the principles of the Treaty gave precedence to the colonial version and dictated the Tribunal's mode of operation. This was essentially a redefinition of the government's obligations under the Treaty to make them compatible with the absolute authority of parliament to make laws and policy, including corporatisation. Thereby, "The Tribunal was a victory for all parties it had provided sufficient relief to satisfy the specific and limited demands of the Maori litigants, whilst reinforcing the legitimacy of the state." (Kelsey,1991, p111)

The Tribunal was soon revealed to be a toothless tiger, limited to making recommendations on particular claims on which the government was under no obligation to act. While the Tribunal has served a positive function, protecting Maori rights in specific areas, (mostly through the dedication of under-funded and under- resourced personnel) it has been easily marginalized in times of political turbulence and Pakeha reaction and cynically lionized in periods of cultural conflict. Its subordinate position has been made clear by the Court of Appeal, "However persuasive its research, findings and recommendations may be, they do not approach those of the character of a court or of judicial decisions. While some of its insights are valuable, and while they cannot bind us some of them deserve attention for their careful analysis of the Treaty and its principles." (Walker,1987,p76) Furthermore, the processes by which commercially restructured iwi authorities were able to position themselves as the principle Maori authorities in negotiating the parameters of the Treaty settlement framework meant that by the early 1990s, those representing tribal corporations and Maori business interests were able to exert a powerful influence over the formation and framework for settling historical injustices. (Poata-Smith, 2004, p74) Thus the Tribunal can be described as having 4 main functions: (1) a legitimation and consolidation of colonial legislative and state hegemony, (2) a safety valve for more radical Maori demands, (3) circumvention of the Maori version of the Treaty, (4) channelling Treaty resource reallocation back into the capitalist system.

The second dimension of Labour's passive revolution was the doctrine of biculturalism. In theory this was framed as a final break with the colonial ideology of assimilation to a society based on the recognition and celebration of ethnic diversity. In practise, biculturalism aims at recasting images of nationality and the nation state in terms of unity through diversity, rather than a system of domination and subordination, and exclusion and inclusion. Biculturalism has a specific functionality within societies based on ethnic domination; just as liberalism and egalitarianism have a specific functionality in societies based on class domination. As Pearson has written, "in their various cross-national forms, both multiculturalism and biculturalism have been shown to consistently reify culture to the detriment of class and race such that these divisions within society are simply glossed over by elites, majority or minority, who are the main beneficiaries of ethnic and class hierarchies." In other words, biculturalism in class or ethnically stratified society is ideological in the sense it represents an individual's imaginary relationship to their real conditions of existence. 

In New Zealand biculturalism was (and is) characterised by the large-scale appropriation of Maori personnel, Maori models of organisation and Maori social practices and cultural symbolism and their incorporation into the institutions of state. The hegemonic system easily accommodated ethnic rhetoric, giving the illusion of partnership as enshrined by the judicial rewriting of the Treaty and thereby marginalizing more radical demands. While no significant gains were made towards rectifying the peripheral position the majority of Maori occupy in New Zealand society, the policy of biculturalism did result in an expansion of opportunities for middle class professional Maori within the hegemonic apparatus. Indeed, Labour actively pursued a strategy of containment, co-opting key members of the protest movement within the institutions of state, forcing many Maori elite to walk the razors edge between pushing the movement forward and maintaining the status-quo. For Poata-Smith, "The prestige and wealth that went with such privileged positions within the settlement process meant that Maori leaders became increasingly removed from the concerns and vitality of the flax-roots Maori struggle." (1996, p109) The result of such divisive tactics was demonstrated in the 1994 Sealord deal where the National government embarked on a series of clandestine negotiations with select Maori elite for a full and final settlement of fishery claims under the Treaty. The undemocratic nature of these negotiations fuelled intense anger and an upsurge of Maori protest, pointing to the fact that no matter how successful a passive revolution may be in the short-term, it can only ever be a temporary respite.

The massive state dissemination of bicultural ideology provided the environment for a dramatic shift in Maori protest and the emergence of 'cultural nationalism', a political strategy also concerned with the reification of Maori culture. This was a widespread ideology throughout the 1980s and 1990s and was endorsed by affluent right wing ideologues such as Donna Awatere who argued that all social disjunctions in New Zealand occurred within a common cultural matrix. Stratified society was said to reflect certain inherent Pakeha cultural characteristics such as materialism, competitiveness, and destructive self-interest, which had undermined traditional Maori egalitarian values. Maori culture was said to possess an intrinsic integrity that had been systematically debased since colonisation. The solution was an immersion in Maoritanga, or Maori identity as a way to combat social alienation.

This was essentially a reactionary ideology that characterised Pakeha as homogeneous and monolithic cultural blob, all of whom apparently confronted Maori in a universally antagonistic manner. (Poata-Smith, 1996, 2005) Perhaps more dangerous, cultural nationalism, as reified binarism, served to obscure the class differences and conflicting class interests within Maori society itself. Such an approach that aims at harnessing the fear of the Other, stabbing the master with their own knife, necessarily negates all the all the messy, oppositional, dynamic, ceaselessly turbulent ensembles of discourses that constitute any culture, elements best left undiscerned by tendentious ideologues who are content to view the Other through the binary gaze, as an object of fear and hostility. While ethnic identity and cultural self-determination should be the start and end point of any movement attempting to subvert colonial hegemony, an introverted and ideological focus on identity alone does not pose a threat to the underlying social relations of capitalism, and secures the continuation of the primal sociological causes behind ethnic hierarchy and racism. Strategically, such an approach encumbers the necessity of building alliances with other progressive social movements aimed at the change or transformation of society. The pervasiveness of cultural nationalism has been crucial to the longevity of the passive revolution and the containment of tino rangitiratanga.

In order for a non-reductionist reading of Gramsci it is necessary to note what sets him apart from classical Marxism, from which he takes his pedigree. Gramsci has, and will always remain relevant precisely because he was a Marxist neither in the positivist, scientific, dogmatic, orthodox or religious sense, and explicitly set his face against the economic reductionism of the 'classic' base-superstructure model canonised at the time of the Second International. For Gramsci, there is never a single, coherent unified 'dominant ideology' that radiates out from above and incorporates everything. His concept of hegemony is a 'moving equilibrium' in which ideology is an uneven and differentiated terrain of varied, competing and clashing discursive currents, what is best described as an ideological ensemble or a discursive formation. Moreover, hegemony does not simply mirror the class structure of society, nor can hegemony be directly reduced to its economic content or function. Because hegemony relies on the winning of consent it has a multi-arena, multi-dimensional character - so while we may perceive its most concentrated and lurid form within the state and state apparatuses, it cannot be said in any meaningful way to originate from within and radiate out from the state. The exercise of the kind of power that requires consent only has meaning as a power relation - it requires active participation. 

Gramsci went to great pains in stressing the diversification of social antagonism, and the dispersal of power throughout society. Consent is maintained through allowing the greatest level of articulation between the will-to-power of subordinate groups and the will-to-power of the dominant social alliances, the 'historic block'. Unless hegemony is to collapse into a purely coercive class-domination model, there must be a flow of real resources and real compromise within the hegemonic system, and these must be substantial enough to assuage the will-to-power of a significant proportion of the masses, without debasing the fundamental political and economic foundations of the dominant hegemonic groupings. Thus a historic bloc, if it is to maintain a position of hegemonic supremacy, depends on articulating its own power agendas with, in Foucaultian terms, the 'capillary' power at the level of organic society i.e.; schooling, the family, churches, cultural and economic organisations, but most importantly the so-called private sphere; gender, sexual relations, ethnic identities and so-forth. These connective hegemonic mechanisms between civil society and the historic bloc have both a material and an ideological dimension. In regards to the latter, Gramsci distinguished between two 'floors' of ideology, 'philosophy' and 'common sense'. Ideology depends on a solid, coherent philosophical elaboration, but in order to enter into and influence the directions of social interaction, it must ground itself in the everyday, practical and lived consciousness of the population - common-sense. Common sense is not wholly organic, nor is it wholly a reducible to the agencies of hegemonic dissemination or the material relations of capitalist society. Rather, as Hall writes, "Common sense is usually disjointed and episodic, fragmentary and contradictory. Into it the traces and stratified deposits of more coherent philosophical systems have sedimented over time without leaving any clear inventory. It represents itself as the traditional wisdom of the ages, but in fact, is deeply a product of history." (1996, p431) Common sense is important because it is the arena in which the lived consciousness of the masses is formed, it is the 'taken-for-granted' terrain on which all political and social ideologies must compete for articulation. Thus, when those social groups who are in a position of political and economic supremacy wish to pursue their agendas within the framework of consent, they are forced to enter into a kind of dialectic with these structures of popular thought. The Western state can never be simply an administrative and coercive apparatus, it is the point from which hegemony over society is ultimately exercised and condensed, though it is far from the only place where hegemony is constructed and sustained. 
Thus we can see how hegemony in New Zealand incessantly seeks to articulate itself with capillary level power. One such development evident since 1984 has been the way in which the state has relied on representatives of iwi, hapu and urban Maori communities to sell the idea of Maori capitalist development and self-advancement. (Rata, 2000) This strategy has been effective since it appealed to the material interests of those Maori linked to the Pakeha bourgeoisie and has found no forceful opposition from a movement that no longer specifically links capitalism with ongoing Maori oppression. Indeed, the fourth Labour government introduced legislation that allowed iwi to enter into privileged arrangements with government and the private sector on the condition that they restructured themselves along the dictates of corporate organization. After 1990, National governments increasingly recognised restructured 'neo-traditionalist' corporate entities as the orthodox representative bodies for receiving and managing the assets that would flow from compensation deals with the Crown. For Elizabeth Rata, "the appropriation of these traditionalist ideologies serve to present these developments as reviving traditional, non-exploitative, democratic, communal relations of production within iwi and hapu while concealing the underlying exploitative character of tribal capitalism." (2000, p102) The cultures surrounding 'the corporate warrior' and 'tribal corporatism', as with the current Clark government's 'culturally sensitive' initiatives on Maori education, encouraging the 'pursuit of mana' through Pakeha educational and employment institutions are all lucid examples of hegemony working itself through capillary terrain.

Similarly, today it seems likely that the anger and action generated by Labour's latest attempt to curtail Treaty property rights will be redirected and contained within the hegemonic system via an easily marginalized, politically ambiguous, and seemingly culturally centred Maori Party potentially dominated by elite interests. 1 While the Party has been ambivalent and deflective in outlining any clear policy on anything, Willie Jackson made it clear right at the start that tino rangatiratanga will not be on the agenda for the new party, Taraiana Turia quickly shied away from any suggestions of forming a separate Maori parliament, and Pita Sharples has been consistent in touting 'race based funding' as the best way to combat Maori inequality, rather than the fair and equitable redistribution of productive economic resources which is a fundamental Maori right as guaranteed under the Treaty, and the bulwark of Maori economic disadvantage. Certainly, considering the current climate of Pakeha reaction, and the lack of alternative avenues for struggle, the Maori Party hardly needs policy. Both the Party's unwillingness to situate themselves politically and the stated possibility of coalition with National are suspect in the extreme - astounding in light of Brash's recent spectacular attempts to cast Maori as deviant and use the subordination of an entire ethnic group as a vehicle for his own political aspirations. Asserting her support of the corporate iwi, Turia remarked in a recent Listener interview, "In reality, if you look at the history of the National Party, because of their free-market, private enterprise philosophy, they have actually allowed Maori people to participate and take back some control". (Black, 2005, p16) The utter devastation wrought on Maori communities by neo-liberalism is a non-issue, apparently. The Maori Party is quickly and clearly demonstrating the bankruptcy of the colonial state in achieving any real change for Maori, and its commitment to following the same orthodox and fruitless methods of parliamentary reformism that have largely dominated Maori politics for the past 20 years.

Most importantly however, hegemony in New Zealand has its foundations of legitimacy most firmly embedded in the capillary level will-to-power of the Pakeha majority, and it is this group that is responsible in the last instance for maintenance of hegemony. Pakeha cultural identity has been intimately formed around the cultures of colonial domination, and our ethnicity (if such a thing can be said to exist) draws most of its paltry substance from these very colonial binaries and ethnic hierarchies that secure Maori subordination. Pakeha, as the ruling ethnic group, does not recognise its culture as an ethnic one, but a national and hegemonic one, one that is so firmly established - through political and legal institutions; schools the media etc - as to be common sense, to exist beyond both history and consciousness. Our ethnicity, and its privileged position of a national one is of course deeply a part of history, and only the end-product of the systematic violence employed in the subjugation of another ethnic group. As Bell rightly stresses, "This conflation of ethnicity and nationality results in a primary identification with the nation on the part of many white New Zealanders in a way which helps to maintain their control over the organization of social life. Our way of doing things, our structures, our aims are normal and common sense. Conversely, those of others are strange and not to be countenanced in the organization of politics, work etc, but to be reserved for picturesque display and consumption in leisure, tourism, or wherever else exoticism may be required". (1996, p149) Pakeha ethnicity, as a hegemonic ethnicity, only has meaning contrasted to Maori marginalisation, and thus any transgression of Maori power onto Pakeha hegemony - whether it is simply an attempt to remind us of the historical facticity of our violently achieved hegemonic position, or a more substantial move to restructure our institutions of power along non-European lines - are perceived as a most personal threat that must be eliminated, the degree of transgression determining the degree of vehemence employed in its elimination. This is the will-to-power distilled: predictability, calculability, efficiency and control. The yearning to maintain these discursive fortifications of predicability; the power to mark, assign and classify reflects the most personal desire to exercise the greatest possible measure of control over one's social reality. Just how reliant Pakeha cultural identity is on these ethnic hierarchies has been demonstrated in depressingly clear terms over the past 13 months.

In concluding, while this essay, in the limited space I have here, has focused primarily on the economic and material factors which secure Maori subordination, this is certainly not to say these factors have any kind of determining character in perpetuating ethnic inequality and racism, or that a simple change of the relations of economic production will somehow correspond to a withering of racism within New Zealand society. While it is important to theorise on the strategies of hegemony that the bodies of centralised social power will employ so that we can predict on future patterns of reaction these structures may follow and thereby impede and subvert them, it is also important to recognise the limits of such an analysis. Any overriding 'classist' approach that seeks to prioritise economic factors over cultural factors in the perpetuation of ethnic hierarchies is of scant theoretical value. Racism, as with sexism, are not creations of the capitalists, and as shown here, the functionality of hegemony may be to protect the mastery certain social groups hold over the major means of economic production, but the consent on which this mastery is ultimately founded is explicitly cultural. For Gramsci, while common sense cultures can be influenced, manipulated, sustained, suppressed, augmented and altered via state power, they are by no means created by this power. The calls for a 'return to class', if this is taken to mean a corresponding retreat from culture - which appears to be currently fashionable within the discourse of the New Zealand left - seems to be a matter of false dichotomies and false solutions. An adequate understanding of how power operates within mature-capitalism reveals the needlessness of any such prioritisation, or any such separation at all. 

Similarly, the corresponding leftist condemnation of Maori 'identity politics' is in need of discussion, since identity politics are the most powerful of all revolutionary politics, and do not deserve to be condemned. I would say any kind of identity politics separated from the transformation of society isn't real identity politics, it would be more accurately termed 'image politics' - in Debord's words, "the simultaneous negation of life and affirmation of appearance". (1994, p13) Because Pakeha hegemony cannot subsume real ethnic identity, it relies instead on the appearance of ethnic identity. Within the discursive circumscriptions of hegemony Maori identity is only permitted so long as it reaffirms the illusion of equality and obscures the reality of inequality. Whether it takes the form of a commodity as in the tourism industry, an icon of nationalism as with the haka or the Anzac day celebrations, Te Reo Maori in state subsidised classrooms, Maoritanga in Te Papa, taonga outside the Beehive or the specious biculturalism of government institutions concerned with the biggest confiscation of Maori land in over a century; Maori identity, at one time both reified and enshrined by the very establishment it once organised itself against is stripped of is subversive potentiality and serves as an affirmation, rather than a refutation of the status-quo. Biculturalism did not liberate but liberize Maori identity. In this way hegemony attempts to reduce Maori identity to a social role, a ticket issued by Pakeha society to be bought and stamped in return for initiation into Pakeha society. The role locates one in a representational hierarchy - whether at the top, bottom or middle, but never outside the hierarchy. In this sense, the desire for real identity, identity free from the circumscriptions of hegemony, must necessarily imply a way of living; relative cultural autonomy, ownership of rightful productive resources, self-determination in structuring modes of social organization, self-governance, equality - all goals of the flax-roots radicalism of the 60's and 70's. Identity should rightly be both the means and the end of revolutionary struggle. 

So in sum the passive revolution has and continues to be successful to the degree in which it has diffused the elements of Maori protest which directly challenged the legitimacy of colonial legislative, political and economic hegemony and has succeeded in maintaining the status-quo through superficial institutional reorganisation. As stated above, a passive revolution is only a temporary respite, and we have seen a periodic resurgence of Maori protest demonstrated in opposition to the Sealord deal, the fiscal envelope proposal and Labour's foreshore and seabed legislation. However, the movement is yet to regain the intensity, depth and revolutionary ethic which characterised early Maori protest. The circumscription of Maori identity, as with economic inequality and group stratification are at the heart of New Zealand social organization, and will not be changed through the legislative and political institutions of the Pakeha state. It's true that a few drops of blood have been squeezed out of these particular stones, but this was overwhelmingly a result of the early protest movement, not the parliamentary diversion. It is my argument that a return to militancy will be required if ethnic equality in New Zealand is to become anything more that a seductive illusion, a militancy that perceives in the desire to destroy ethnic hierarchy the necessity of the transformation of society in total. History shows us that anything less is mere palliative.


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