Climate Justice – a movement for radical change

Those of us in the movement for climate justice have for many years advocated for systematic and radical changes to our economy and society to avert the threat of climate chaos. For decades, scientists have warned us about the implications of sea-level rise, droughts and super-storms to the point that we are now finding ourselves in earth’s sixth mass extinction event. While our movement against further fossil fuel extraction, the destruction of forests and the growing economic disparities within society has grown in recent years, we are still largely dealing with governments and corporations who remain part of the problem and are unwilling to shift.

1. COVID19 – an outpouring of solidarity and mutual aid

The last few months has seen the spread of COVID19 to all corners of our planet. A virus with no cure is killing and infecting thousands. Communities, iwi, councils and governments are rising up to the challenge to contain the virus. We are witnessing an outpouring of love, solidarity and mutual aid in the community and governments are taking drastic measures to protect the vulnerable in our society. The climate movement has nothing but admiration for how we are responding collectively and decisively.

2. Not going back to ‘normality’

Governments across the globe have pledged economic stimulus packages to support workers and companies who are facing the brunt of virus. In Aotearoa, this includes the tourism industry, which has more or less collapsed with entry restrictions; the hospitality sector; musicians and artists; and will also have long-term serious implications on the agricultural industry.

Government intervention is a must in these difficult times. But let’s be clear – the last thing we want is to return to ‘normality’.

Let’s just dissect ‘normality’ for a few sentences. Is it normal that the current rate of extinction of species is estimated at 100 to 1,000 times higher than natural background rates? Is it normal that the past hundred years have seen global temperatures rise by over 1 degrees due to human activity? Is it normal that the world’s 26 richest people own as much wealth as poorest 50% together? No. no and no.

There is no going back to normality because normality is destroying our planet and our lives. So the last thing we should be doing right now is to collectivise the losses of companies that have been destroying this planet for decades.

3. Survive the pandemic – but extinct by the end of the millennia?

Surviving this pandemic is a priority. It has to be. It is a matter of survival, particularly for poor, indigenous and marginalised communities. But let’s intervene in the economy so that we not only get through the pandemic, but so that we also get through this millennia.

4. Capitalism is not our future

Capitalism is a relatively new economic model. For thousands of years, humans have lived in relative harmony with each other and the environment in tribal communities. Yes, there were rough times. Yes, there was war. But the presence of war, environmental degradation, disease and inequality with our current model is unprecedented. Capitalism is the root cause of the climate crisis. The never-ending concentration of economic and political power in the hands of a few at the expense of everyone else is bringing misery and hardship on a massive scale. We have to move on. We have to admit that capitalism was a bad mistake, learn from our mistakes and find collective solutions.

5. Solutions are beautiful – and they are everywhere

While the current pandemic has shown us the fragility of our own existence, it has also demonstrated that human nature is ultimately caring, kind and follows the maxim of ‘one for all, and all for one’. Values like solidarity and mutual aid – values that are so antithetical to the capitalist paradigm – run so strongly in our communities.

While many of us are involved on a day-to-day basis defending and expanding communal spaces and ideas as solutions to the climate crisis, we must be vocal now that we collectively seize this moment to move away and leave behind the age of capitalism, the age of plastic, the age of human domination over nature.

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APEC 2021 – Haere atu! 

The New Zealand government will be hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in Auckland in November 2021. This inter-governmental forum of 21 Pacific Rim countries has spent the last 30 years promoting its neo-liberal agenda, an agenda of endless capitalist growth at the expense of workers, communities and the environment. 

According to the government, “APEC 2021 will be the largest international event ever hosted by the New Zealand Government.” They are expecting presidents and prime ministers from across the Pacific: presidents of the USA, Russia, China and Indonesia to name but a few. 

Planning for the mega-get-together of warmongers is already in full swing. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade is taking the lead with organising events.  A key component to their planning is the recent introduction of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC 2021) Bill to parliament, giving the police, army and security guards a significant increase in temporary powers. 

We have been here before. 20 years ago, New Zealand hosted the APEC summit in Auckland. Back in early 1999, the government amended the Arms Act 1983 by temporarily inserting sections 65A – F which authorised “[authorised] foreign personal protection officer to carry and have possession of firearms.”

But the current proposed legislation goes a lot further than a change to the Arms Act. There are five key sections to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC 2021) Bill:

  • the cops can authorise members of the army to assist the police – which is essentially a militarisation of every-day life
  • the cops can authorise ‘appropriately trained’ people to assist them. This section refers to Australian cops and ‘employees of a New Zealand government agency’ (which is about as vague as you can be) but also – and here it gets more interesting – ‘people commonly known as security guards, who are called crowd controllers’. So basically the security guards that have been assaulting activists at blockades in recent years such as the Petroleum Summits or the Weapons Expo will be working hand-in-hand with the cops as private mercenaries
  • ‘Foreign protection officers’ (think VIP security guards for visiting presidents and prime ministers) can be armed (just like in 1999)
  • police can create ‘security areas’ giving them a whole heap of power including shutting down roads, public places, privately owned places and removing and searching people in those areas
  • and finally, the Bill allows the police to use W-ECM – ‘Wireless electronic countermeasures’. This basically means using massive ‘jammers’ to stop anyone using cellphones or radios (the example given is a presidential motorcade where “there is a chance this technology will block your signal for a few minutes, after which it will return to normal”)

20 years ago, Peace Movement Aotearoa encouraged their supporters to make submissions against the government’s desire to amend the Arms Act to allow foreign secret service agents and others to carry firearms during the APEC meeting. While it appears this legislation will pass again, we can use this time to connect with each other, strategise and articulate our collective criticism of APEC and what it stands for. Submissions close on 12th February 2020 and it’s easy enough to use parliament’s submission form for a brief rant

More importantly, the organised left in Aotearoa needs to start a serious discussion around how we can counter the neo-liberal and neo-colonial rhetoric that will be shoved down our throats for the next two years. 

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The Confederation as the Commune of Communes

Check out this new article by Debbie Bookchin and Sixtine van Outryve.

Confederalism as a revolutionary strategy provides us with the means to build and organize a radically democratic and egalitarian society at scale.

The Confederation as the Commune of Communes

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Anarchy Camp 2019 – rebooting anarchism in Aotearoa

In March 2019, 50 anarchists from across Aotearoa and even further afield, gathered for the first time in a decade for discussions, strategising and building networks and relationships. Back in April 2009, the Wildcat Anarchist Collective organised a two-day conference at the Newtown Community Centre in Wellington. An anarchist bookfair was held in Wellington in 2014, but no attempt of bringing the movement together has been made for ten years.

The newly founded group Tāmaki Makaurau Anarchists has brought new energy and among its members a desire to network and collaborate with others. Together with the Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement, Wellington’s Freedom Shop and Black Star Books in Dunedin, they are the only functioning explicit anarchist group on these islands at the moment (although there are others that are lingering around like Rebel Press, Communalism Aotearoa and Beyond Resistance)

The gathering was held at a marae in Parihaka, in coastal Taranaki. Parihaka has a long history of resistance to colonialism, sustainable living and community gardening. You can read more about Parihaka’s past, present and future on their website.

Between sunrise and sunset each day (with both being accompanied by karakia) we had sessions on indigenisation, feminism, environmentalism and the future of anarchism in Aotearoa.

In between these sessions, we had workshops on mental health and feminist self-defence, a tour of Parihaka, a trip to the food forest and gardening with the sun beaming down on us and mounga Taranaki looming over us.

While we didn’t solve the world’s problems, the feedback on the last day and in a subsequent questionnaire was largely positive with people keen to meet again next summer and even making it a day or so longer.

An anarchist housing network (similar to couchsurfing) was re-started at the hui and a call was made for further collaboration between existing groups. It was also clear that anti-racism, anti-fascism and working on constitutional reform is key focal point for many.

Two comrades from Collective Action, a Melbourne based anarchist group, participated in the discussions and it was great to share ideas and views on what’s happening in Australia.

All in all, the hui was a success, with old friendships being renewed and new relationships being created through kōrero and whakawhanaungatanga.

It is envisaged that these hui will take place annually from now on, as through these and other forms of anarchist gatherings and coordination, we can now safely say: anarchy has returned to Aotearoa!

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Introduction to Social Ecology online seminar starts April 8 – enrol now!

From the Institute for Social Ecology:

Our popular introductory seminar Ecology Democracy Utopia starts again next week, meeting Mondays at 10 am PST/1 pm ET April 8 through May 27. Write us to enroll today!

This eight-week seminar provides a comprehensive overview of Social Ecology, exploring a broad range of interconnected themes including social hierarchy and domination, nature philosophy, capitalism, technology and agriculture, direct democracy and the state, movement history and strategy, and reconstructive vision. Participants will learn the foundations of social ecology and apply these insights to a variety of contemporary political and ecological problems, sharpening their understanding of the world while developing visionary ideas to change it. Combines video lecture, texts, weekly seminar discussion, and online forums. The course will run on Mondays at 1 pm ET from April 8th to May 27th, registration fee is $80.

To enroll, contact us at social-ecology@mail.mayfirst.org

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Rebel and Strike for Climate Justice

While our Kurdish comrades in Syria are in the process of destroying the last ISIS stronghold in the city of Baghouz near the Iraqi border, new movements are making their mark in Aotearoa with actions that challenge the systematic make-up of society.

The Extinction Rebellion movement, an offshoot of the UK version, now has local groups active in Whangarei, Auckland, Thames, Hamilton, Tauranga, Palmerston North, the Wairarapa, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin with many groups taking actions already. In Auckland, a group visited the BP offices while in Christchurch, the water supply to the regional council offices was turned off by activists. The group’s values are:

  • Governments tell the truth about the ecological crisis
  • WWII-scale climate mobilisation for zero emissions and drawdown by 2025
  • Participatory democracy

The third one is particularly encouraging as it is a clear break with the status quo of parliamentary politics and a move towards anarchistic and communalistic modes of organising.  The groups are planning actions for mid-April – watch this space.

At the same time, the Climate Strike started Greta Thunberg in Sweden, has reached the South Pacific too with a nation-wide mobilisation for Friday, 15th March. The strike action, set to take place in towns across the country, is likely to be the largest youth mobilisation since the campaign against youth rates. “​We are striking from school to tell our politicians to take our futures seriously and treat climate change for what it is – a crisis.”

And last but not least – while not a new movement – the campaign to protect Ihumātao has been visible, vocal and very effective with an occupation, a recent music festival supported by some of the country’s leading musos and protests outside Fletchers. Sign the petition here

Let’s be inspired by the determination of the Ihumātao campaign.
Let’s carry our radical ideas into the Extinction Rebellion movement.
Let’s support our young people as they take action for a future worth living.

Photo: Protect Ihumātao website

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Free West Papua – Papua Merdeka

The Morning Star Flag was flying in coastal Taranaki (Aotearoa / New Zealand) today in support of a world-wide call for an end to Indonesian military occupation of West Papua.

West Papua has been occupied by the Indonesian military since it was handed over, against the will of the indigenous population, to Indonesia in 1963. Since then, the people of West Papua have been subjected to gross human rights violations including rape, torture, cultural genocide, murder and massacre – more than 100,000 West Papuans have been killed. Many live in exile because it is not safe for them to go home.

Multi-national corporations have exploited West Papua’s natural resources to an extraordinary degree. This has caused massive social dislocation, devastation of rain forests, pollution of streams and rivers on which the local people depend for their survival, and serious human rights violations in areas where multinationals operate.

1 December is West Papua Independence Day, this year marking the fifty seventh 

anniversary of the day the West Papuans first raised their new flag, the Morning Star, as the symbol of their forthcoming independence from Dutch colonial rule. The flag is flown in solidarity at dozens of rallies and gatherings across the globe today.

#GlobalFlagRaising #FreeWestPapua #PapuaMerdeka

More information:

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Je vote OUI – Ensemble pour Kanaky

I vote YES – together for Kanaky

The votes from yesterday’s referendum on independence in New Caledonia are counted. 56.4% (78,361 people) voted against independence while 43.6% said yes (60,573 people). Voter turnout was very high with 80.63% of registered voters casting a vote. Voters were asked the following question: Do you want New Caledonia to attain full sovereignty and become independent? (Overview | Detail)

Obviously, it is not the result that Kanak people were campaigning for and many will be disappointed. There were reports of fires late last night with the police saying that roads were blocked in Saint-Louis.

A brief analysis of the votes shows massively different results in the various communes. New Caledonia is split into three provinces – the North, South and the outer islands. The islands and the North overwhelmingly voted in favour of independence. However, the more populous southern province with the capital Nouméa was able to swing the vote around.

It is crystal-clear that the villages with a majority Kanak population voted united for a move away from France with some communes having a yes vote of 94%. In the south, however, the situation is exactly reversed. One village voted with 97% to remain with France. According to the 2014 census, the Kanak people make up 39.1% of the total population.

It is important to compare the present result with the referendum held in 1987. Back then, less than 2% voted in favour of independence. The movement for liberation had boycotted the referendum. Fast forward 30 years, and the situation is completely different. The Front de Libération Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS) was actively out in the streets campaigning for a yes. In villages where the majority of the population is indigenous, voter participation was definitely lower with the lowest participation of 53% in the island of Maré. Still though, it is clear that a majority of Kanak people can see participating in the referendum as a pathway towards independence and liberation.

The good news: it’s not over. There will be another referendum on independence in two years time and if that fails, there will be one more vote two years after that. The struggle will continue. The Union of Kanaky and Exploited Workers (USTKE) will continue to organise in workplaces and the various political parties and tribes will keep pushing for a more just and free society. In the meantime though, New Caledonia remains on the United Nations lists of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

Réveillons notre conscience – marchons dans les pas de nos anciens

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Anarcho-Syndicalist Speaking Tour

Wow – this doesn’t happen very often! A comrade from the Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation in Australia is visiting Aotearoa and doing a speaking tour with five public meetings across the country. Very exciting! Here are all the details:

Auckland – 3rd November – The Tāmaki Anarcho-Syndicalist Day School!

  • 11am – 6pm, Auckland Trades Hall 147 Great North Rd, Auckland
  • Hosted by Tāmaki Makaurau Anarchists
  • Facebook Event

Rotorua – 4th November – Anarcho-Syndicalism: Its relevance and need today

  • 7pm, Rotorua Library
  • Hosted by the Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement
  • Facebook Event

Wellington – 6th November – Modern Anarcho-Syndicalism – an Australian anarchist speaks

Christchurch – 7th November – Ours To Master and To Own

  • 7.30pm, Avon Loop Community Cottage, at 28 Hurley Street, Christchurch
  • Hosted by the Canterbury Socialist Society
  • Facebook Event

Dunedin – 8th November – Ours to Master and Own

  • 6pm, 3rd Floor Seminar Room, Dunedin City Library
  • Hosted by Orago Socialist Society
  • Facebook Event
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A tear for a boxthorn hedge

Boxthorn. Introduced to Aotearoa / New Zealand from South Africa some time in the early 1870s and not long after was brought to Taranaki where it was used for hedges on sheep and dairy farms. In Africa, it was used to keep lions out of villages. In Taranaki, the hedges prevent sheep and cattle from escaping and provide at least some shelter from the prevailing winds.

After virtually all land in Taranaki was confiscated in the 1860s, the forest was cut down and destroyed to make room for farms. Wetlands were drained, hills flattened, roads built and more and more animals were grazed to the point that feed is now supplemented with imports from across the world. The impact of industrial dairy farming on local waterways and the global climate has been devastating.

It soon became apparent that the boxthorn hedges weren’t the glorious solution either: difficult to manage, requiring heavy machinery for regular pruning, and of course invasive. Boxthorn has now been classified as plant pest and can’t be sold nor propagated. More and more hedges have been removed. However, in the sea of grass – a total mono-cultural landscape – boxthorn nowadays often provides the only bit of biodiversity, acts as a carbon sink and provides at least some shelter for the cows who are exposed to the harsh elements 365 days of the year.

And it’s not like farmers are replacing boxthorn hedges with other trees as a place of habitat for birds. They are replacing it with a fence made of chemically treated posts and wire.

Yes, it’s ironic that one would shed a tear for a digger piling up an invasive boxthorn hedge ready to put a match to it. However, in these dire ecological times, every bit of carbon in and on the ground is a climate change frontline. We all know that industrial dairying is a dead-end strategy. It is destructive on all levels: environmentally (the cows suffer, the rivers are polluted, the atmosphere is being destroyed), economically (farmers aren’t even making any money – it’s just the banks who are winning) and socially (mental health issues, loss of community in rural areas due to mechanisation).

Solutions are everywhere. The starting point is building strong, resilient and caring communities. We need to plant trees and grow food (and not commodities). We need to return confiscated lands. We need to protect waterways and the coast. We need to turn the Beehive into a skatepark and the Regional Council debating chamber into a tenpin bowling lane.

Continue reading

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