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!).

Somehow a pair of right-wing libertarians, calling themselves “Brothers in Anarchy”, managed to get themselves a column in Victoria University’s student newspaper Salient. My response:

Dear “Brothers in Anarchy”,

By some feat of luck it appears you have managed to gain a regular column in Salient – I only wish you would make better use of it.

I should play my cards up front: I am an anarchist, but of a variety quite opposed to the vulgar politics you two profess. As far as I can tell, you seem to advocate an anti-State right-wing libertarianism, a neo-liberalism of the most extreme kind. You reject the State and democracy but seem to entertain a misplaced belief that the all-too-obvious evils of capitalism will right themselves through some sort of unabated market mechanism.

This anti-State right-wing libertarianism of yours developed a small, short-lived, but vocal following in the mid-90s in the U.S., a following that also used the label “anarcho-capitalist”. This, of course, was to distinguish them from the vast majority of anarchists at the time who – of both the social and individualist varieties – located themselves firmly in an anti-capitalist politics. This anarchism, which has strangely gone unacknowledged in your column thus far, had its roots in the development of socialism in mid-19th Century Europe (notably Russia). It underwent an historic split in the last part of the 19th Century with the Statist socialisms (Marx, Engels, Lenin, etc.) that would eventually result in the predictable events of the Long Twentieth Century. It was also this anarchism which utterly eclipsed the proponents of “anarcho-capitalism” in 1999 in the now-infamous Seattle riots and the onset of the anti-globalisation movement.

But these semantic debates between anarchists and the “anarcho-capitalist” variety are now well-worn and tiresome. Rather than arguing who represents the most legitimate variety, perhaps it is best to go back to roots upon which we can both agree.

For me, anarchism is based upon an ethics and a desire which aims towards the maximisation of freedom. This is not simply the freedom of the tyrant to do what they wish, but instead a generalised social freedom that aims towards enabling individuals the ability to “grow naturally and simply, flower-like, or as a tree grows” (to quote Oscar Wilde). That is, it is a ‘freedom-to’, rather than just the liberal ‘freedom from’.

Compare these root values with your “anarcho-capitalist” system. While you seek the abolition of the State, you seem to quite happily transfer its repressive functions (namely its police and military forces, and their enforcement of law and especially property relations) to be managed through profit-seeking security companies. You advocate State court systems being run by businesses and using some sort of price mechanism as the basis for law. In fact, in an Orwellian twist, the pigs appear as men and the men appear as pigs. The functions of the State appear to have been retained in full and delivered through the mechanisms of the market and pseudo-State corporate forms. This vision seems more like a dystopian nightmare than anything worth fighting for.

More to the point, you seem to completely miss the oppressive capitalist relations involved in the employee/employer relationship – otherwise known as wage slavery. For 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week (or more if there are no labour laws), people will continue to endure the micro-dictatorship of the workplace. And so long as private property is staunchly defended by your corporate security lackeys, a combination of poverty and no access to productive capital makes wage slavery unavoidable (unless we retreat to sea-floating platforms as you advised us in your last column??). With profit the only basis for law, I would imagine a “race to the bottom” of working conditions and wages unparalleled by even the worse exigencies of economic globalisation today.

Anarchism must be anti-Statist and anti-nationalist, but it must also be anti-capitalist.

Nothing of your political vision seems to me to be anything that might approximate the “maximisation of freedom”. Orwell wrote that “if you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stomping on a human face – forever” and I wonder if this might have been perfected in your politics?

I am confused as to what theorists of the State (liberals, social-democrats, your sundry right-wingers, etc.) think when they see scenes such as those presently occurring in East Timor. In particular, how do they justify the use of police and heavy militarisation with their notions of the consensual democratic State?

Currently, there are 1,100+ ANZAC troops in East Timor enforcing democracy and guarding the elections – only the second since East Timor gained a formal political independence in 1999. Fighting has been escalating in the run-up to today’s election – understandable when the elections will ensure one of the various East Timorese factions is soon to have the apparatus of the State behind it.

Several lessons are made all-too-clear when I see proto-States like East Timor being developed and democracy imposed. The first is the most obvious and yet neglected fact of any State: its foundation and maintenance through violence. Perhaps it is because the origins of the systems of hegemony that operate in New Zealand and in most of the West are long-forgotton, or perhaps it is because the the myths of necessity or social consensus with regards to the State are so strong that this most obvious point goes unmentioned. But in East Timor we can see it ever so clearly: political and economic hegemony requires the suppression of various interests and practices that operate in opposition to its logic, and when legitimacy isn’t enough to gain this consent/suppression (as with most Western States) then force is required.

It also brings to mind the most recent Fijian coup. To guarantee the success of coup, the army needed only to seize the weapons cache of the still-loyal police force. From this point, the Fijian State ceased to be able to operate effectively at all.

But perhaps what I find should be so baffling to theorists of the State is that in East Timor we have “democracy” being crafted and enforced through the use of military. How on Earth to liberals et. al. entertain notions of the democratic State as some form of consensual social organisation when we see here in the most naked form the latent violence of democracy? In these situations it becomes most clear the role of voting as a means of legitimisation of the political and economic hegemony of the State-to-be. Elections must be guarded at all costs as the bastion of this legitimisation, and all other arenas of political/anti-political action must be shutdown, through violence if necessary.

This is not to suggest that democracy should instead be crafted through some sort of non-violent means. Democracy, even if it really were the rule of the majority over the minority – which it is not – always, in the last instance, relies on the State form in some measure to impose those decisions of the majority and suppress those of the minority that are in opposition to this (and most often the minority over the majority).

From Fifth Estate… worth a read:

Revelation Vertigo

Stevphen Shukaitis

Autonomy is both the goal sought after and that whose presence–virtual–let us say, has to be supposed at the outset of an analysis or a political movement. This virtual presence is the will to autonomy, the will to be free. – Cornelius Castoriadis

There exists a tendency, shared across different strains of radical political thought, to see the horrors of our present as comprising a false totality, that when torn asunder, will reveal a more liberatory existence hidden beneath. This is to understand revolution as revelation; as the dispelling of the conditions of false consciousness, and a reclamation of an autonomous existence that continues to live on, albeit deformed, within this world we must we leave behind. Read the rest of this entry »

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

“Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hippy nonsense aside, I’m back at uni and haven’t had much time to write (or do much of anything else). I’m going to write a few things in the near future but they are going to be hopelessly intellectual, so apologies in advance.