Film review: Waltz with Bashir

December 29, 2008

On 27 December 2008 over 200 Palestinians were killed and 800 injured as Israel rained missiles on the highly populated Gaza strip. The aerial slaughter is the latest horror in Israel’s 60 year occupation of Palestine.

 The sheer scale of Palestinian suffering relayed in the media has a numbing effect.

 Art can sometimes speak more forcefully than a million news stories. Waltz with Bashir does that. This new Israeli movie tells one part of Israel’s bloody history and is getting glowing reviews around the world.waltz

 Director Ari Folman is an award winning Israeli documentary maker. When a friend comes to him with a disturbing reoccurring dream about the 1982 war in Lebanon Ari confronts his own complete amnesia. He knows he was there, but has no memory of his time as a 19 year old conscript.

 When Israel was founded 110,000 Palestinians fled to Lebanon. The Palestinian Liberation Organisation formed base camps in the south of Lebanon and carried on a guerrilla war against Israel from across the border. Israel’s invasion in 1982 was a bliztkrieg lasting 10 weeks in which 18,000 Lebanese were killed and nearly 700 Israeli soldiers. The PLO was forced to withdraw to Tunisia, while Israel occupied the south of Lebanon until 1985. During the invasion Bashir Gemayel - the new pro-Israel President of Lebanon - was assassinated. His supporters, Lebanese Christian Phalangists, carried out a massacre in two Palestinian refugee camps Sabra and Shatila. The Phalangists were let into the camps by Israeli forces, and were assisted by them lighting flares through the night. Hundreds, maybe thousands of Palestinians were killed.

 Ari seeks out old army comrades in order to reconstruct his lost memory. It is a surreal personal and political journey told strikingly through graphic animation. This lifts the documentary into another realm.waltz2

 Waltz with Bashir leaves an impression you won’t forget.

 - Daphna Whitmore

Communist Party of the Philippines’ 40th anniversary

December 23, 2008

The Workers Party of New Zealand sends warm greetings to the Communist Party of the Philippines, on its 40th anniversary.

The CPP has led the struggle against feudalism, capitalism and imperialism in the Philippines for four decades. Having withstood the Marcos dictatorship through to the current brutal regime of Arroyo, the CPP has been sustained through its deep roots among the masses. When many other communist parties around the world collapsed in the 1990s, the CPP carried on the struggle, constantly reassessing itself and further developing its strengths.

 The CPP’s commitment to internationalism has given confidence to many organisations and individuals in the struggle for world revolution.

 We hope that 2009 will bring much success to the comrades in the Philippines.

 In solidarity
Workers Party of New Zealand

A far left reply to Chris Trotter

December 21, 2008

- Don Franks, Workers Party candidate for Wellington Central 2008

The Dominion Post warns of a malicious workers’ enemy currently lurking in New Zealand.

What “it” supposedly “wants to see (on workers tables) are scraps of stale bread and cups of cold water.” Along with “the power and the phone cut off, holes in the roof, and the car up on blocks in the front yard.”

“Nothing delights it more than the sight of padlocked factory gates, and the sobbing of laid-off workers is music to its ears.”

According to Dominion Post columnist Chris Trotter, this inhumanity embodies none other than the revolutionary component of the political left.  He specifically cites the Workers Party as an example.

According to Trotter:

“The more the National Party cuts back and hacks away at the workers’ economic and social rights the better the revolutionaries like it.

“The far Left is always at its unhappiest when Labour is in power. In no time at all they’ve got the power and the phone reconnected, filled up the fridge, got a bit of a fire going in the grate, slipped a couple of pizzas in the oven, and cracked open a few cool ones.” (From The Left, Dominion Post 12/12/2008)

Chris may have forgotten that it was under Labour that Mrs Folole Muliaga tragically lost her life when her power was cut off.

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Capitalist state just doing its job

December 16, 2008

The sordid actions of police informant Rob Gilchrist infiltrating New Zealand activist groups is yet another case of the bourgeois state ‘just doing its job’. In this blog post John Moore argues that the left should strongly condemn the police for their actions, yet those that act with howls of surprise and shock show how little understanding they have of the relationship between the state and capitalism in New Zealand. The left needs to start organizing more seriously against the coercive powers of the capitalist state, but at the same time exercising caution rather than paranoia.

Police spy Rob Gilchrist

The actions of Rob Gilchrist and the police reveal the ugly face of the capitalist state.

So far we know that Gilchrist has acted as a spy for the police for 10 years. He has informed and gathered information on organisations including Greenpeace, anti-Iraq War groups, poverty and beneficiary rights groups, animal welfare groups, GE-free groups and the Workers Party (formerly the Anti-Capitalist Alliance). balaclavaThe use of Gilchrist as a police spy was not an anomaly, but part of wider police intelligence programme. According to the Sunday Star Times

The use of an informer was part of a much wider police intelligence effort targeting community groups, using surveillance, filming of protests and seizure of computers and papers following protest arrests.

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Masport strike pays off

December 16, 2008

Ten days of strike action has paid off for Masport Foundry workers who have won an improved pay offer as well as enhancements to overtime rates.

As previously reported on this blog, the workers had rejected a 3% pay offer that excluded allowances. During their picket, they were supported by other unionists and activists from the Workers Party. Yesterday, they returned to work having won a deal that included a pay increase of 4% + 1% over fifteen months. The union members commented that as important as the result itself, was the overwhelming feeling of unity that they have built up over the days on the picket line.

State snooping on activists

December 15, 2008

Yesterday Rob Gilchrist, who had moved in activist circles for many years, was outed as a spy in a feature article in the Sunday Star Times. Ironically Gilchrist was sprung by his girlfriend who discovered suspicious emails while helping him sort out some computer issues.

Gilchrist had spent a decade spying on an assortment of protest and activist groups, including the Workers Party. As far as we are aware he was forwarding to the police WP discussion emails for around 10 months in 2003-2004. He was taken off the party discussion group on 1 March 2004.

We reprint below an article on the expansion of the state’s snooping powers from The Spark 9 February 2005.

Civil rights fast disappearing

-Daphna Whitmore

Allegations in 2004 that the Secret Intelligence Service have been spying on political figures, including Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, have been met with loud denials from the Prime Minister. As much as Ms Clark would like the public to think the allegations are preposterous it wouldn’t be the first time the SIS has gone beyond its extensive powers.

In 1996 an SIS agent was caught carrying out an illegal break-in and burglary of the home of political activist Aziz Choudry. A court later awarded Mr Choudry compensation for the illegal actions of the SIS. The government then promptly passed a law to legalise such break-ins, giving the SIS further powers to carryout home invasions. It was one of many instances in recent years where civil rights have been abolished in the name of “national security”.

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Low productivity - situate the blame with the bosses

December 15, 2008

Philip Ferguson The Spark December 2005

One of the big myths perpetrated by bosses is that big profits are needed in order for companies to reinvest in expanding production and therefore hiring more workers and increasing pay. More ‘freedom’ for employers was one of the big slogans of the ‘new right’ economic reforms of the fourth Labour government and its National successor.

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Sack the bosses

December 12, 2008

john-key-houseA dozen activists from Socialist Aotearoa, the Workers Party and the Greens protested outside John Key’s house today, against the passing of the 90-day bill. The new law which comes into force in March 2009 gives small employers the right to sack staff in the first 3 months without legal redress.

The noisy protest ruffled the feathers of some of the residents of Key’s leafy neighbourhood. Some parents complained saying “there are children in the area, you know!” But rather than being horrified by the picket a large bunch of 8 to 14 year olds joined in, obviously enjoying the picket theatrics.

The picketers chanting “So it didn’t take you long; workers rights down the John” got some disapproving looks from the Range Rover mums, but lots of support from the younger set.

Film review: Brokeback Mountain

December 11, 2008

Brokeback Mountain, the film of the Annie Proulx novella about the love affair between two lonesome cowboys, has inevitably sparked a series of internet jokes about life on the range.  The film would probably have the likes of John Wayne spinning in his grave (then again, Wayne’s real name was Marion Morrison).

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Capitalism’s currency craziness

December 11, 2008

Philip Ferguson The Spark August 2006

Every few months exchange rates feature as a point of discussion about the state of the New Zealand economy.  For many people it must seem odd that both a “high” and “low” New Zealand dollar are presented as problematic.  What is going on?  Does it really matter?

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