Voluntary Student Membership (VSM) - A socialist perspective

December 16, 2010

The Spark December 2010 - January 2011

Joel Cosgrove (Wellington Workers Party branch organiser and former president of Victoria University Students’ Association).

The Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill is making its way through parliament to make student union membership voluntary. Most people will be totally unaware of the bill and what it means, and may be thinking, “Anyway Freedom of Association is a good thing, isn’t it?” Read the rest of this entry »

Capitalist state fails police rape victims

September 10, 2010

Marika Pratley, Workers Party, Wellington Branch

The Spark September 2010

Eight women were denied compensation for being raped by police
officers at a recent Police Misconduct Forum. Seven cases proved police
misconduct in court, but only one woman was successful in bringing a
prosecution, against police officers Bob Schollum and Brad Shipton for rape in 2005. She was raped by them and another Tauranga man in 1989.

Bob Schollum and Brad Shipton

An inquiry into Police Misconduct and rape was initiated by Dame Margaret Bazley in which 300 cases of Police Misconduct were identified.

Former Police Minister Annette King began working with the 8 women to set up the forum in 2007. They were pressured into signing confidentiality agreements, meaning the other 300 women in the report were excluded from participation. Although compensation was considered, it was decided that it was not the government’s responsibility to compensate the eight women. This raises the issue of not just whether these survivors should be getting compensation, but how we can stop rape happening to begin with. Read the rest of this entry »


April 15, 2010

Don Franks

According to a feature in today’s Dominion Post, “one in five Kiwi workers suffer from workplace bullying, one of the worst rates in the world”.

The claim’s made by a Minister of Labour commissioned university survey, released on 16/4/2010.

A joint university research team – from Auckland, Waikato, Massey and London – polled more than 1700 workers from the health, education, hospitality and travel sectors asking how frequently they were exposed to “negative acts” at work.

Overall 17.8 per cent of respondents were identified as victims of bullying.

The international range was claimed to be between 5 per cent and 20 per cent. Read the rest of this entry »

Do like Jesus done

March 14, 2010

Song by Don Franks, performed at the CAFCA “Roger Award” 2010

Here we all sit one more time – shafted by the ANZ
Stealing away our futures while we work til we’re dead
Now Sexy John won’t save us – and nor will Biker Phil
Or any other capitalist prick asleep up on that hill

But folks -if we don’t do more than cry into our beer
Our great great great grand children will
still be awarding bastards here
Its up to us to find a way – to spoil the banker’s fun
And the one that makes most sense to me
Is to do like Jesus done

He bust straight through security and kicked the tables high
Those speculating bankers could only run and cry
There was no negotiation, no maybes, please or thanks
When Jesus took the workers side
And turned over the banks

Of course there was a price to pay – because then, just as now
The banks were for the ruling class – a very sacred cow
after a scab betrayed him – the cops took Jesus down
and strung him from a macrocarpa – half a mile from town
JC made one big error – he waged his fight alone
Without sufficient back up after he cast the first stone
Just twelve guys in his union – and one of them went sour
It would have been a miracle – if they could have won state power
But anyway, good on him – at least he had a crack
And don’t it make good history – for us now looking back!


Well, anyway, so here we are two thousand years on
With the banks still in the box seat- and the Christians mostly gone
Philosophers just take the shit and deftly rearrange it
The point about this unfair world is that we need to change it
We still can learn from Jesus – direct action’s half the way
The other half is getting up the numbers on the day
So why not lets get positive- get out and spread the word
The capitalist system is dated and absurd
Lets organise resistance while we’re still in the mood
We can make a revolution – with Jesus’s attitude.


John Minto & four comrades arrested

January 7, 2010

Activist John Minto and four other protesters were arrested outside the ASB Tennis Centre in Auckland today.

An organisation calling themselves Global Peace and Justice Auckland continued their demonstrations during Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer’s matches at the WTA tournament for a third straight day.

Today was Peer’s first match on centre court and the protesters’ numbers doubled to 16, again using loud hailers to call for Peer to withdraw from the event because of Israel’s occupation on Palestine.

Minto and one other protester were using loud hailers while an elderly woman had a microphone and speaker.

After police had given three warnings they stepped in to arrest Minto and two other protesters and also confiscated their loud hailers.
Read the rest of this entry »

Student Occupations Spread Across California: An Analysis

December 5, 2009

Originally posted on Advance the Struggle, reposted from Kasama.

For the Workers Party campaign against political trespassing by Victoria University, click here.

“These protests represent a political eruption in a time when militant struggle is bubbling up to the surface.  It’s becoming progressively clearer that proposing such militancy is not premature…but also prove that it isn’t wise to push heroic yet isolated occupation attempts…  We have witnessed the first convergence of occupation with mass protest and observed the fiery radical effect the synthesis has had on its participants.  The only way to challenge society’s problems is to first understand that the rich and powerful will stop at nothing. Capital brings only impoverishment for our class while their class accumulates incredible amounts of wealth. Our struggle has to win by beating back and altering the relationship of class forces, which will not be easy. But this recent wave of occupations and militant protests throughout California represent a new cycle of struggle that gives hope and insight to such a possibility in the near future.”

Behind Every Fee Increase is a Line of Cops

Fully armed, a line of 10 swat team police marched up to the picket line. Half-stunned by their presence, the crowd of supporters hesitatingly jeered the cops. In unison and on command the pigs charged forward and shoved the picketers to the ground. Throughout the day there were various refusals to accept these attacks; they ranged from hurling verbal abuse at the cops with chants like “Fuck the Police,” to acts of physical resistance such as refusing to sit down at the urging of cops and fellow protesters, to minor incidents of exchanging blows with the pigs.

Some of these bold acts of resistance were deplorable to those protestors whose go-to chants were “Peaceful protest! Peaceful protest!” as the pigs violently attacked students.  One chant was even directed to the cops themselves: “We are fighting for your kids! We are fighting for your kids!” This brings into sharp relief the widespread confusion about the role of the state in the anti-budget cut movement.

Read the rest of this entry »

We Must Demand Complete and Immediate Withdrawal from Afghanistan

October 13, 2009

Reprinted from Kasama.

I think what is posed in Medea Benjamin’s interview is a rather simple and important question: Can U.S. imperialism and its troops play a positive role in some circumstances?

The U.S. invades the remote and impoverished Afghanistan in 2001, topples the fragile regime of Taliban theocrats (which never consolidated countrywide power in the civil war). And now it is argued that the U.S. invaders “can’t” leave in an “irresponsible” way because the survival of a number of people (including women’s activists) would be in danger and because their withdrawal would most likely mean a return of the Taliban.

Should we carefully evaluate U.S. aggressions on a case-by-case basis? Is this U.S. military base good, and that one bad? Is this U.S. bombing helpful, and that one excessive? Is this U.S. nuclear threat helpful, and that one unfair? Is this U.S. drone doing good work, and that one intruding dangerously? Is this U.S. occupation shielding and promoting positive forces — while that U.S. occupation cultivates more negative puppets? Do we support U.S. domination until someone better comes along (who we approve of) to take their place?

Or does the U.S. military (globally and everywhere) represent a coherent means of imposing and enforcing a particular global order on humanity generally — an order that is rooted in horrific oppression and exploitation (including the widespread commodification of women as both workers and sexual slaves, and the traditional domestic servitude of literally billions of women and girls)

Read the rest of this entry »

US Imperialism and the Israeli war machine

August 14, 2009


      The Middle East is of vital strategic importance to the United States and Israel plays an important part in the grand imperialist plan. When discussing U.S foreign policy in relation to Israel and the Middle East people like to speak of the almighty Jewish lobby groups and how they manipulate and control the U.S government. Chomsky writes in his book Fateful Triangle; “Reference to Jewish influence over politics and opinion seriously under estimates the scope of the so-called ‘support for Israel’” “No pressure group will dominate access to public opinion or maintain consistent influence over policy-making unless its aims are close to those of elite elements with real power” “America’s relationship to Israel ‘has been determined primarily by the changing role that Israel occupied in the context of America’s changing conceptions of its political-strategic interests in the Middle East.’”

      This same principle applies to the election of a new President in the United States, which if you are to believe the rhetoric and the propaganda, can mean real “change” not only in America but around the world. The very idea that the nature of U.S imperialism and the political-strategic interests that shape foreign policy (and have been built upon over many years of war, bloodshed and clandestine politics) could be altered by the election of one capitalist President over another shows a lack of any real analysis of the true nature of U.S imperialism and its so called democracy. Obama himself provided a fascinating insight into this when recently he stated that “support for Israel in this country goes beyond party”. Read the rest of this entry »

Film review: MILK

March 1, 2009


Gus Vant Sant’s new film “Milk”, is a biopic of the 1970s gay rights activist Harvey Milk, played by Sean Penn. Penn gives one of his best performances to date as the charismatic and outspoken gay leader, portraying him from his very few last days as a Republican-voting, Wall Street bureaucrat in the late 60s early 70s to his awakening as a fighter against gay oppression and subsequent assassination in 1978.

Read the rest of this entry »

How capitalism works – and doesn’t work

February 7, 2009

workersresistance09poster1Philip Ferguson

The Spark February 2009

(The following article is the first in a two-part series on the present economic crisis. This part explains how the system operates; the second part, in our March issue, will be an examination of what’s happening right now - and what workers can do about it.)

According to economics.about.com, “In every economic system, entrepreneurs and managers bring together natural resources, labor, and technology to produce and distribute goods and services.” They do qualify this by claiming, “But the way these different elements are organized and used also reflects a nation’s political ideals and its culture.” (They also note Marx’s description of a capitalist economy as one in which a small group of people who control wealth make the key economic decisions.)

It’s important to understand that the idea that every economic system has, or requires, “entrepreneurs and managers” in order to operate is factually wrong. For most of the time that human beings have existed we lived in collective societies, without entrepreneurs and managers. Different social classes only arose about 10,000 years ago and it’s only in the past few hundred years that capitalism has been the dominant global system. Facts, however, have never been allowed to get in the way of capitalist ideology – that is, the set of ideas which seek to justify the present system and usually do so by making it appear that capitalism is ‘natural’ and eternal.

Read the rest of this entry »


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