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Future Lefts - Brief and to the point

Future Lefts - Brief and to the point

Future Lefts

Tuesday 8th August, 2000.

Brief and to the point

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CONTENTS:
Editorial: Rats in sheep's clothing?
VSM rears its ugly head again
News
Web Site Of The Week

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Editorial: Rats in sheep's clothing?

Once upon a time, in a Kingdom far far away, a people known as the Zealots were suffering under the dying days of an evil government. The Queen, properly known as Zemelda of House Twilight but more commonly referred to as Parsnip (a graceless quip at her ample weight, or so the histories record), was a woman of many faults. Chief amongst these were an inability to make any decisions on her own, a penchant for making things up and then being caught out by the Court Jester, and a range of corrupt and impotent Ministers in her Council of Advisers.

In the final years of her reign (she became ill soon after abdicating under pressure from the people), one particular Minister caused her a large number of problems. His name was Sir Lancelot Makeitup, and he was distinguished (some would say disguised!) by his short stature, perpetual look of surprise, and strange growths of hair in odd places. Sir Lancelot had a great deal of trouble with one of his offices, which habitually ran annual jousting tournaments for the best of the people (dismissively referred to as the plebs by him, when they weren't in hearing range) so that they might excel at that sport.

The problem which arose was due to his fiery temperament, his inability to relate to anyone not in his own circle, and his aggressive yet bumbling manner. Quite simply, Sir Lancelot couldn't keep any of his staff. And he spent a great deal of the Kingdom's treasure (and of the Queen's formerly robust political support!) as he continually replaced staff member after staff member. One of the Lords Chancellor of the Office of Jousting and two of his associates were paid almost five thousand five hundred guineas simply to depart their jobs - compared to the average pleb wage of three hundred guineas a year.

This is but one example of the manifest failures that so beset the Queen's administration that, the following year, under great pressure from the people and much reaction against her policies, she abdicated her throne. She was swiftly replaced by a new Queen, Elizabeth of the House of the Dawn, who immediately set about purging the corruption the former regime had left, and ensuring that no more of the Kingdom's treasure would be wasted paying people - Lords Chancellor or otherwise - to quit their jobs.

Irony of ironies then, that not nine months into Elizabeth's reign, our dear friend Sir Lancelot, miffed and outraged that he no longer commanded the Monarch's favours, accused one of the new Ministers (Lady Geneveive) of committing precisely his own sin. Presumably Sir Lancelot forgot that all the plebs in the Kingdom not only remembered his own colossal incompetence, but also that the officer concerned who was paid out was the mere vassal of a small Duchy in the south of the Kingdom, employed by a minor noble House, and paid for with their own treasure to the tune of a mere 1,200 guineas.

In the face of this accusation, Lady Geneveive and the Queen merely laughed at the clear ineptitude that Sir Lancelot was showing. The plebs laughed heartily at his startled expression in the cartoons that flowed out from the Palace scribes, and there were many whispers in the dark over his relationship with his mistress, and his foolishness at assuming the plebs were entirely stupid.

In our modern day and age, of course, such things never happen. Opposing politicians are decent and honourable people who stick to the facts. Don't they, dear reader?

Till next week,

Jordan

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VSM rears its ugly head again

Once again the issue of compulsory Student Union Membership (CSM) is on the political agenda. Firing a shot for the right, and hence the voluntary side of the debate, was Clint Heine, leader of both the quite pointless 'Prebbles Rebels' club, and the preciously titled 'Student Choice' group promoting VSM on campuses around the country. His contribution to the Granny Herald's dialogue page last week was thoroughly typical of the absurdly alarmist type of scare-mongering that the right have excelled at since being hurled back into opposition last year. Using phrases more emotive than your average soap opera star on depressants (ie: "trample civil rights" "press gang into membership"), Clint rambled at some length outlining the case for voluntary; well here's a bit of a ramble on the moral superiority of compulsory. It's a live issue for youth politics, so expect to here more soon.

Compulsory; sounds like an evil evil word doesn't it? For a start it's misleading - call me a quibbler but every time the Left mention Free Education the Right always pipe up about how someone has to pay for it - it's about time we started referring to so-called compulsory membership by it's true name; Universal membership..

So what's the big difference I hear you ask? Compulsory membership would stomp on people's rights, it would force people to belong to something regardless of their personal wishes. Universal membership, such as of students' associations, allows those who object to being members to conscientiously object. Unlike pacifists during wartime, conscientious objectors are not shunned or thrown in prison - in fact the numbers of conscientious objectors from AUSA prior to the association becoming voluntary, were never more than a few dozen, out of a membership of over 25,000. These conscientious objectors generally received all the same benefits that members received anyway, because there was no point in denying them to such a tiny percentage.

This blows away all the smoke to make clear the Right's real agenda in championing voluntary membership of students' associations. The Right know full well that students' associations will support Left wing parties, and Governments, because Left wing parties support students. By focusing students' associations inwards on their own fighting, especially struggles over resources which are rife in any organisation with very little guaranteed funding, the Right are able to effectively eliminate a major opponent of their own agenda. And by support I do not mean financially support, i.e. the way that Big Business supports Right wing parties, but openly and honestly through campaigns.

At the same time the Right fundamentally undermine students' rights to self-determination by abolishing their self-government. AUSA elections at the moment are a perfect example of the kind of chequebook democracy that we should be outraged by - you pay to vote, you pay to have control over resources built up by decades of students (under universal membership too), and if you can't pay you are shut out of any involvement in so many things that should be an essential part of the student experience. But then the Right are so used to user-pays they are happy to bring it in under any lie they can find, especially spurious justifications about human rights that were never being infringed on anyway. If the Right are so concerned about human rights why are they siding with the Conservative Christians on property rights for gay couples?

Michael

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News

Hot off the wire is the clearing of Dover Samuels on rape charges. The other complaints remain unresolved.

Mark Blumsky has quit his position with Local Government New Zealand, a move sure to pocket him the coveted Most Transparent Resignation By A National Party Stooge Award. Thus continues something of a contrived saga over local government officials.

The GE debate continues, as the Royal Commission opens and makes some controversial moves regarding access to the scoping exercise.

Yes we lost the rugby - game of two halves, full credit, yadda yadda yadda.

Waves of protests have hit the GOP Congress in Philadelphia, continuing the massive civil disobedience seen in Seattle, Washington, London and soon Sydney, as the Anti-Capitalism movement grows (see website of the week).

And finally, news that is surely of momentous proportions - the fact that Peter Dunne does actually do something with his time (and tax-payer expense budget). Mr Dunne met with Mahendra Chaudry this week and is able to confirm that yes the Government should be doing more to return Fiji to some kind of sane democracy.

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Website of the Week: http://www.phillyimc.org

The Philidelphia Independent Media Centre

Described by Scoop as "perhaps the most sophisticated political protest site existing to date" this is essential viewing for anyone who wants to get past the spin and find out what is really going on at the coal face of protest in the States. Jam packed with eyewitness reports and footage, this gets past the corporate controlled media - be warned there are some pretty stunning stories about police brutality and overkill, timely reminders that we ignore the erosion of civil liberties at our peril.

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All submissions should be to the editor, Jordan Carter, at carters@ihug.co.nz, or the assistant editor, Michael Wood, at michael@semrits.co.nz.

While this newsletter is published in the name of Young Labour, the contents is entirely the responsibility of the editor and the views expressed here don't constitute any official position of Young Labour. All contents copyright (c) 2000. Subscribe at younglabour-subscribe@listbot.com

Te Wairua Hou - The New Spirit - http://www.younglabour.org.nz The Future Is With Labour - http://www.labour.org.nz


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