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A very interesting article — though not without its issues — on the decline of the anti-globalisation movement, the rise of the anti-war movement, and the politics of confrontation/maximal demands versus the united front/minimal demands, from a Canadian perspective (though with many resonances with the South Pacific too): http://auto_sol.tao.ca/node/view/2458

United front politics – as they have been constituted by the current anti-war movement – deliberately limit the possibility of developing anti-imperialist or anti-capitalist consciousness. By rigidly limiting its slogan to “stop the war” or “troops out now,” it produces a mass movement that can and will be easily recuperated by social democratic forces and even ruling class elements who believe that particular military initiatives have been tactical mistakes. Meaningful anti-war movements should not focus on trying to formulate a better imperialist foreign-policy.

Despite the logic of the united front, flattening out political demands yields lack of interest as often as it yields conversions to radical politics. However, as the US continues its attempted military remaking of the Middle East, and as the Canadian body count (not to mention the scores of murdered civilians) in Afghanistan continues to rise, it seems inevitable that the sections of the North American anti-war movement that have not forgotten the lessons that stood at the heart of Québec City will come to the conclusion that a positive orientation to direct action, direct democracy, and coherent and explicit anti-capitalism is needed once again.

The resolution to this problem cannot be found in efforts to reestablish the hegemony of the pedagogy of confrontation. We musn’t forget that the innovations of the anti-globalization movement rested on mass mobilizations that had much in common with the logic of united front work. Even the “anti-capitalist” wing of the movement constituted itself around a minimal self-definition aimed at allowing a diversity of “anti-capitalisms” to co-exist and cross-fertilize more or less uncomfortably. Moreover, without implantation in a movement with a minimal mass character, these innovations are like fish out of water. The way forward lies in recognizing, synthesizing and transcending these seemingly antithetical terms on a mass scale.

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Today’s editorial in the Dominion Post was absolutely disgusting: comparing us with the Nazi’s that recently celebrated Hitler’s birthday, once again displaying a wilful ignorance of NZ’s militaristic history and taking the slogans and PR of the military as fact. In any case, I rather doubt my letter to the editor from last week is going to apear anytime soon — editorial licence I guess — and so here it is just in case.

To the editor,

There’s been a lot of vitriol in response to the ANZAC day protests around the country, some exclaiming how little we value our “hard won freedom”, others appalled that we would dare burn New Zealand flags, and still others hesitantly supportive but disgusted at our protest on the day itself. I was one of the protesters and this is my short defence.

I am strongly opposed to the military operations in Afghanistan, the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste. All three have been justified based on humanitarian grounds of one sort or another, but it seems far more likely that, like most wars, these are pursued out of economic interests: oil, gold mining and oil, respectively, while New Zealand plays the lackey to the US and Australia.

New Zealand’s history of militarism, despite widespread attempts at revisionism, is equally disgusting: from the Imperial land seizures and assertion of sovereignty over Maori, to the Empire building of the Boer war, the defence of our biggest export market in WWI, the wars against the non-threat of the “communist virus” and the recent participation in the ‘war on terror’.

Meanwhile, every year we commemorate ANZAC day, exclaiming “lest we forget” and “never again”, words in many instances spoken by leaders of that murderous institution that is the military. And while these words of peace are spoken, the military is paraded around and applauded, guns are fired, and its current operations are celebrated. The whole event reeks of hypocrisy and doublespeak.

I will continue to protest the New Zealand military, being — as with all militaries — for the sole purpose of fighting war in the interests of the powerful. And I will continue to protest ANZAC day so long as the military attends as a guest of honour.

The Nu Face of RebellionFollowing the pro-democracy riots in Tonga in 2006, troops from New Zealand and Australia were sent to quell the rebellion and restore Monarchical order. This documentary was filmed in the week after the troops arrived detailing the riots, the pro-democracy movement, the abuse of people by Tongan forces and the operations of the New Zealand and Australian army. The movie stands very much at odds with the mainstream media account of the events.

Produced by Smush and Slm of Aotearoa Indymedia.
Download the movie: video.indymedia.org/en/2007/04/837.shtml

Update:
Low quality version now on google video: http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=-3455398513596277970&hl=en-CA
Low quality version on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CvNHlanW98

Here’s a simple test:

Which upsets you more?

a) The fatal shooting of two civilian protesters by Anzac forces in East Timor’s Comoro refugee camp on February the 23rd

or

b) The destruction of a New Zealand flag a few weeks later in Wellington.

If you’re a leftist who turned up in the comments boxes at indymedia (or this blog) frothing at the mouth over b), but didn’t see fit to talk about a), then you probably need to reexamine your political priorities.

(Thanks to Scott/Maps)

ANZAC Day protest bannerA few rambling points in my tired state…

I suppose today’s morning action could be considered generally successful: the issue of the New Zealand military’s role in Afghanistan, the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste has finally been raised, and even Phil Goff was forced to acknowledge (and rebuke) the protests from as far away as Afghanistan while visiting the professional thugs there (aka the military). As well, of course, a number of people have reacted very angrily to the burning of the New Zealand flags (which I must admit was quite satisfying) and the protest in general.

The ANZAC day dawn ceremony here was quite sickening: the previous Secretary of Defence talked about peace and such with no apparent irony given his previous role as head of a professional killing machine. After two of our crew were arrested for the political protest, he then — also seemingly without noticing the contradictions — waxed lyrically about the freedoms won through war. Then to top it off, references to our Lord Jesus Christ were aplenty, I had to stand amongst a crowd singing the National Anthem to avoid being grabbed by the cops, and people actually clapped as the members of the current army/navy/airforce marched by.

I’ve covered my objections to ANZAC Day already. I only want to add that the level of nationalism and patriotism present was far worse than I had expected, and the demographics of those present – young, families, clean, white and middle class – coupled with the huge growth in numbers from last year alone makes the ANZAC day trends all the more worrying.

I also have to wonder about what I would call the “fascist personality” that was present in a number of middle aged men present, who gleefully assisted police in pinning down fellow protesters or, in one case, pinning one guy to an iron fence. After one of the cops hit the guy who was arrested in the face, one of these fascist personality types, with the intonation of a school kid sucking up to a teacher, explained to all and sundry that nothing had happened. It’s this personality that reminds me of the Brown Shirts of Germany.

The response to the protest has been quite rambling and incoherent. I can only laugh when people claim that we don’t appreciate the “hard won freedoms” that these soldiers killed for in WWI. Do they even know why WWI started? Do they know that it was little more than empire building? Do they know that NZ entered the war with the main aim of simply securing the NZ State’s primary export market at the time, Britain?

(John Minto wrote a good column in The Press regarding ANZAC day and New Zealand’s highly militaristic past, despite national myths otherwise: http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/thepress/4035148a16155.html)

In any case, this is just the start of the NZTroopsOutNow.org campaign (visit the website – I’ve almost finished it!).

ANZAC day should be opposed for at least two reasons. The first is the most obvious: rather than being a day to remember those who have died in various wars the New Zealand State has sent its soldiers to fight and kill in, rather than being a day to resolve “never again”, and far from acting as a stimulus that “lest we forget”, ANZAC day is instead a celebration of the New Zealand military.

You will never see the various wars New Zealand has fought in, and continues to fight in, condemned. The lists of those killed always excludes “the enemy”, for they don’t really count, they are an unpeople; indeed, to humanise “the enemy” would be to expose the murderous foundations upon which the military is premised. You will never see conscientious objectors celebrated as heroes after enduring imprisonment at the hands of the New Zealand State. ANZAC day is a celebration of a murderous and violent institution, the backbone of any State, and a symbolic gesture towards those either forced or duped into murdering at its behest. Nowhere else in society would such actions be celebrated, except, apparently, when perpetrated by the State.

ANZAC day cannot be allowed to pass once again as if there is some sort of social consensus over New Zealand’s history of State violence or over its current military operations in Afghanistan, East Timor and the Solomon Islands.

Just as dangerously, however, is the second force at play on ANZAC day: an insidious and growing nationalism. ANZAC day, more and more, functions as a key ritual of nationalism. Nationalism is essentially the ideology of the State, it is the identity of a “people” that is constructed to unite very real divisions within any State, to legitimate its exclusive use of force and its claim to territory. The maintenance of New Zealand nationalist identity requires constant work against creeping divisions, and essential to this are national rituals and performances that cement this identity. Both Waitangi day (as part of official biculturalism policy) and ANZAC day are deployed in this way as government policy by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage alongside their plethora of websites.

This is all the more dangerous for anti-nationalists and anti-Statists considering the recent growth of New Zealand nationalism. Many believed ANZAC day would eventually die as ex-soliders went the same way, but instead, since about the mid-90s, there has been a growing youth presence at ANZAC ceremonies who are there not as part of Scouts or their associated groups, but out of a growing sense of national pride. Anybody who saw images of the Big Day Out would have noticed the growing presence of New Zealand flags being voluntarily brought along, some wearing them as items of dress (paralleled too, but far worse, at the Australian Big Day Out). And ‘New Zealander’, despite not being a recognised ethnic group, was submitted by 429,000 people at the recent 2006 census.

As part of an anti-nationalist and anti-Statist politics, ANZAC day should be recognised as a ritual cultivating nationalist identity and thus opposed.

It is a bizarre situation, then, that those on the left, even those claiming its radical margins, are unwilling to oppose in any meaningful way the ceremonies of ANZAC day. They fear offending those mercenaries of the State in attendance. They fear disrupting what is in fact a near-sacred national ritual. They, apparently, lack an ability to compare an act that merely offends with systematic and legitimised murder, armed patrols, nightly curfews, military checkpoints and all the other associated tactics of the New Zealand military.

ANZAC day must be opposed as part of a generalised anti-militarist, anti-State and anti-capitalist position.

NZTroopsOutNow.orgCampaign Proposal

For the past six years, the anti-war movement has not focused specifically on New Zealand troop involvement. The New Zealand military is often deployed under the rubric of ‘peacekeeping’ missions and ‘humanitarian relief,’ despite actively facilitating military operations in these countries. As a result, there has been a tendency to overlook the actions of the New Zealand military and a latent assumption of the benign nature of its operations. The anti-war movement’s approach, till this point, has largely been limited to calls for government condemnation of US wars through the use of ad-hoc tactics.

We propose to rectify this situation through a concerted campaign, coordinating with various groups and individuals from around the country.

Goals

1. No New Zealand troop deployments
2. No participation in joint training or military exercises with any other military, including the United Nations
3. No support for foreign military, including the ‘war on terror’.

Outline

This campaign involves two components: education and action. In the first instance, the purpose is to challenge the humanitarian image of the New Zealand military and explore the interests served by its actions. We want to expose the reality of New Zealand’s military activities overseas. In the second instance, we will employ tactics including direct action to undermine the operations of the New Zealand military.

The focus of the campaign, in particular, will be on New Zealand’s current military involvement in Afghanistan, East Timor and the Solomon Islands.

Education and public outreach

We want to have consistent, clear campaign messages through the use of various media, including website, factsheets, posters, leaflets, teach-ins, stalls, street theatre and outreach in educational establishments. This will include directly countering propaganda put out by the military and regurgitated by the mainstream media.

Action

In an effort to “bring the war home,” we want to encourage mass direct action against the New Zealand military, employing tactics that will directly stop its operation and support services, such as blockading, occupying, and sabotage. Targets for action could include military bases, transport of military equipment, recruitment efforts, display events, defence HQ, high ranking military and political officials (both NZ and from overseas), and national days of military celebration/commemoration.

Campaign Requirements

Involvement of other groups and individuals from around the country
Encourage formation of new groups through education and networking
Channel of communication for groups involved (e.g email list, wiki, forum)
Creation and distribution of educational material (including research,
design and production)
Planning joint actions
Funding
Transport
Legal support