Future Lefts - This is not a Eulogy
Future Lefts - This is not a Eulogy
Editorial: "This is not
Opinion: Four aircraft. Five buildings. Thousands of people. Global
Press Release: "Afghanis Bleed too"
Opinion: Diversity and the New Zealand Labour Party
Notice: Auckland Central Youth Branch
All Around the World, to Change it: Stopping Violence Against Women
The Torysaurs: The Spudapod
News: Hardly any Planes
Websites to Watch
Editorial: "This is not a Eulogy"
As nice as it would be to read about something else for a change, you're not going to escape comment about the attacks on the US here. If you're looking for mindless sap however, you won't find it in this diatribe! For that I can direct you to the New Zealand Herald. No folks, this is not a eulogy.
In the first instance, let's be clear, eulogies and sadness are warranted. This was an event pretty much unparalleled in the Western world, in post-colonial times. Around five thousand totally blameless people were killed. By any measure that counts as a tragedy and a crime - one that should not go unpunished.
It's just a pity that leaders such as George W. along with media haven't seen fit to be completely honest about the entire affair. For example, the Herald which hasn't bothered to publish on tragedies of greater magnitude could at least been up front in explaining their intense interest in this story. Had they have chosen to be, I suspect that their headline would have had to have read: "Decent White Folk Killed". Perhaps next week they'll have an attack of journalistic integrity, and we shall be able to read in their "We Got it Wrong" column: "Oops! We forgot to tell you that in addition to terrorist attack on the US last month, the Iraqi civilian population, has been targeted for terrorist action. In fact, five hundred thousand Iraqis have died under savage US imposed sanctions. Apparently some stuff has happened in Belgrade, Nicaragua, Palestine, and a few other place too! Sorry about missing that."
As facetious as that sounds, it represents a basic truth. In our media filtered awareness, the colour of the victims skin does seem to be the one factor differentiating this event from numerous other atrocities around the world, often carried out with US backing and guns. When hundreds or thousands of civilians suffer in attacks such as that on Sudan recently, our authorities call it "collateral damage", when it happens to Westerners, it is labelled (and rightly so) terrorism.
The same lack of interest in putting the events of last week into any kind of balanced perspective is evident too in the media's slavish adherence to the American's leadership's claim that we are now in a state of war. This is an extension of the earlier dichotomy. When American civilians die in the World Trade Center, that is an act of terrorism - ruthless and inexcusable. However, when, as looks likely, American warplanes kill civilians in Kabul, that is an act of war - legitimate, and even righteous. Any sense of collective moral guilt for such killings is thus exculpated, even grotesquely twisted into some kind of national pride. It is pretty clear that the US has once again chosen to go down that path, I only beseech our leaders not to stain this nations hand's red as well.
Below is some more comment on this issue, an article on diversity, and the NZ Labour movement's crucial role in giving voice to all the people's of this country. You'll find all the usual guff as well. Thanks to those writers who sent in contributions this week. Remember, we encourage you to have your say - just send it in.
Four aircraft. Five buildings. Thousands of people. Global outrage. Evil abroad in the world.
In the aftermath of the attack on the United States last week, the media debate (and sadly, the response of the US government) has been focused on retribution. There is a vast outrage in the entire United States, looking for a target - something, anything to hit, and hit hard.
It's quite conceivable that the US will find something to hit. Maybe it'll be somewhere in Afghanistan. Maybe they'll blame Iraq. Palestine. Iran. There are numerous states where people who could imagine such a deadly outrage might be hiding. I'm sure that no matter where the retribution comes, there will be lots of evidence pointing to the target.
And Americans will feel a little better.
And the world will be a more dangerous place.
And thousands more innocents will die.
In the name of retribution, and freedom, and justice, and democracy.
There's a curious mixture of reality and unreality in the noises coming out of Washington. The Americans seem to have finally got over the idea that terrorism is a crime problem. By calling the monstrous attacks `an act of war,' they show at last the dawning of comprehension. It isn't looney freaks who do this kind of thing off their own bat all the time. War, above all, is a political problem. Foreign policy by other means. It's not a `crime' to be dealt with by the police.
Of course, America's analysis won't go far enough, because this will be called a War of Justice, a War of Righteousness, against all the forces of evil in the world. The key is in the understanding of the problem, the cause of the attacks, as a political event.
America must, one day, come to terms with the fact that no power can conduct the wars of aggression that the American state does, without there being, eventually, a response. The sooner people in the `Land of the Free' can come to grips with what has been (and is still) done in their name, in the name of `freedom' and `justice' and `peace' and `democracy', then they can start to exert the kind of control over their political servants that they need to do.
When the USA realises that it's not ok to murder civilians; when the USA realises that occupying, bombing and harrassing other powers is not ok; when the USA understands that proxy states armed and funded by its own treasure might cause problems; when the USA realises that peace, freedom and justice are actually ideas and not just empty rhetoric...
Then the wisdom and hope in the American ideal might come to the fore.
Then the hate so many people feel against the United States might begin to diminish.
Then the world might be able to know that peace was being given a chance.
Nothing can forgive what happened on 11 September 2001. It will define our generation like the assassination of JFK did for our parents, or the Second World War did for theirs. Innocent victims will never be acceptable victims in political causes.
But that applies to both sides of the fence.
Thankfully, reasonable commentators exist on both sides. http://michaelmoore.com is an example in the States. George W Bush today (18th) condemned attacks in the United States on innocent Muslims. I don't know if Americans are ready to hear any criticism of their foreign policy. A nation that specialises in the construction of an unreal world of ideas about itself is never going to be willing to question them, let alone when they have been attacked in such a vile and hideous manner.
But for the sake of the world, such voices need to be raised. I like Americans. I find their innocence and yet their strength appealing; their generosity and their boundless confidence inspiring. Much as I and others might complain about what the American government does, I can state that from my view anyway I'd much rather have them as the sole remaining superpower than any other large power.
It is from that position of friendship and respect for the United States, and my horror and anger at the hideous attack on it, that I make this plea: think about what you are doing. Do not do what was done unto you.
The following is a Press Release from the Princes St (Auckland University) Branch, NZLP, on the events of the last week.
Afghani's Bleed too
Friday, September 21, 9.30am Press Release: Princes St (Auckland University) Branch, New Zealand Labour Party
"If American leaders think that they can wash away the blood of their own dead with buckets of Afghani blood, then they are deceiving themselves and their people. The solution to one act of terror against a civilian population is not another act of terror against another civilian population. That kind of mindset, by its own internal logic condemns us to an increasing spiral of violence" says Michael Wood, Chair of the Princes St Branch.
"On Tuesday night, in Albert Park, Central Auckland, several hundred concerned New Zealanders rallied together out of sadness for the victims of terrorism around the world, and out of a common desire to see such senseless violence end now. We condemn in the strongest terms the recent attack on America and believe that the US authorities should hunt down and capture those responsible for it. We do not however believe that this in any way gives the United States a carte blanche right to terrorise whole other countries in their quest for such people" says Arna Metcalfe, Branch Women's Rights Officer.
"Of course, in the first instance, the perpetrators of the attacks must be positively identified. As yet, this has not happened. It is quite clear however that even given the lack of any demonstrable culpability, the US has quite well developed plans to attack the people of Afghanistan. That displays outrageous arrogance. Sensationalist coverage by the Western media, and appallingly jingoistic and simple-minded reporting has contributed to a public belief that Osama Bin Laden is responsible, with very little in the way of corroborating evidence provided" says Mr. Wood.
"Calamitous times can bring out the good and the bad in people. Unfortunately we have seen quite a bit of the bad since last Wednesday, chiefly in an alarming display of bloodlust that seems to go against everything that a civilised society teaches its children. Of equal concern is the latent racism that has been exposed. American leaders seem prepared to let entire nations suffer because their skin colour matches up to the prime suspect. This of course is nothing new. While the Western world stopped aghast as the World Trade Center crumbled, hardly a word is spoken in the mass media about the half million Iraqi's who have died under US sanctions since 1991, or a host of other US atrocities" says Ms Metcalfe.
"Let's hope however that the next few days see some good emerge. It's time for some real and courageous leadership. While it may be politically advantageous for Western leaders to quickly and brutally bomb Afghanistan, such a decision would be judged by history as shameful and ineffective. Instead, we call on governments such as our own to be truly courageous, to say "no" to mindless retribution, and instead concentrate on looking at the real reasons why this happened. Enough blood has been spilled" says Mr Wood.
Diversity and the New Zealand Labour Party
Despite what some portrayals of our history might tell us, New Zealand has always been a diverse country. Our diverse ethnic population of today, while obviously much bigger in scale, finds its beginnings in both the immigrant populations of New Zealand and in the tangata whenua. These diversities bring challenges, and tensions, and yet also opportunities.
These diversities have traditionally been mirrored in the Labour Party, more so than in any other political party: Christian socialists alongside Communists alongside Marxists alongside members of the Ratana Church alongside homosexuals alongside students alongside Pakeha alongside Pacific peoples alongside Maori. Because of this traditional diversity, which has changed in some forms during the history of the Labour Party, the Labour Party is in the best position to respond to the new challenges that diversity is bringing us.
Challenges that enter our shores aboard refugee boats or challenges in the way we as a country change our views of socially acceptable behaviour. These are also opportunities. Opportunities to promote understanding between cultures, peoples, and ways of living. We have been reminded so harshly this past week about what happens when hate is allowed to brew unchecked, when propaganda poisons people's perceptions, and when division and intolerance dominate over peace and mutual respect.
As we come into a new election year there will be an increased volume of intolerance from some sectors of New Zealand politics and society, intolerance against immigrants, those of a different ethnic group, and those with a non-traditional lifestyle. When diversity is denied, societies suffer. Intolerance usually feeds from ignorance, prejudice usually feeds form misplaced pride. Our challenge, for the Labour Party and for New Zealand, is to ride the knowledge wave where we get to know and to respect each other and to take pride in this socially diverse land of Aotearoa.
Auckland Central Youth Branch
A new Branch of the Labour Party is being formed in the Auckland Central Electorate to cater for young activists. This is a part of a steadily expanding network of Branches for young people interested in the Labour Party. Anyone who would like some more information about this Branch, or more generally, on Young Labour in their region, is most welcome to contact the Editor.
All Around the World, to Change it: Stopping Violence Against Women
Young Labour is an active member of the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY). This column looks at some of their activities.
In conjunction with the Socialist International, IUSY is actively involved a worldwide campaign to draw attention to the appalling situation that many women find themselves in due to violence in their lives. Here's what they have to say about beginning to solve the problem:
"This task involves both men and women. We need to get away from the idea that this is a women's problem and that they are the only ones who need to deal with it. It is a human, social and political problem of the first order which requires the commitment as well as the explicit and specific presence of men."
Anyway, read on. Remember, you'll need Acrobat to download the main body of info from the IUSY site:
Long long ago, in an age that few remember, and fewer want to, there lived a breed of creatures so privileged, so conceited, and so haughty that they managed to fool all others to bow before them.
In time however, a combination of poor genetic variation, caused by excessive in-breeding, and preposterously small brains, led to their demise, and replacement by an evolutionarily superior, and generally more attractive breed.
So let's take a walk my friends back through the annals of history to those dim dark ages when the Torysaurs ruled the earth.
Today we profile:
This week: The Spudapod Genus: Smugprickus
The Spudapod is an evolutionary curiosity. Although this lumbering creature was quite clearly a mentally cumbersome breed, it did seem to exhibit extraordinary evolutionary adaptability, thus allowing it to flourish through several different pre-historic periods. The Smugprickus just wouldn't go away. Some have contributed this survival ability to the Spudapod's obsequious ability to make itself useful to other, more significant species - in much the same way that we can today sometimes observe parasites that are beneficial to the host.
That said, the Spudapod at its height, was one of the most eminent Torysaurs. This however probably says more about the low evolutionary calibre of other Torysaurs in existence at the time, than it does about the Spudapod's actual abilities, which were appallingly limited. Indeed, the fossil record shows the Spudapod to be a species that survived on little but its ability to puff itself up when it thought the occasion demanded it. This apparently was enough to scare off some predators, although it seems difficult to see why. More plausibly, they felt threatened by the enormous head of the Spudasaur - something that in terms of sheer size is simply unsurpassed in archaeology.
The Spudapod as a species ultimately failed because it had no direction of its own. Content to simply leach off the success and skills of other Torysaurs, there was little room left for it when the others disappeared. Some theorists do however argue that the Spudapod's survival instincts saw it change stripes again as the Torysaurs declined as a species. They conjecture that the Spudapod evolved - taking the form of a small, and fairly powerless creature, that still may be with us today.
News - Hardly any Planes
Well, thank goodness that large corporations know how to run things better than the public sector! We wonder if Gary Toomey, who is a large man in charge of a large corporation, and who announced an Air New Zealand loss of around $1.4 billion this week, still believes this! The poor chap even suggested that with hindsight, he wished that he hadn't taken the job as Air New Zealand Chief Executive. Come on Gary, you can't be serious. If you hadn't taken the job you wouldn't have been able to give you and your Director friends large bonus payments in the months leading up to the record breaking loss. Pity about those folks losing their jobs aye - maybe it would help them if you once again paraded your bloated carcass across a sports field boasting to us about the fact that you spend millions helping to sponsor Aussie Rules? Character assassination aside, it's fairly galling that one of New Zealand's leading corporates is now asking for government welfare.
Ye Gods! The Treasurer, Michael Cullen has suggested that he will not follow the policy direction of the Reform government of the early 1930's and run a deflationary economic policy in the wake of a world recession! In a statement yesterday he confirmed that the risk of a worldwide economic downturn may mean that the Government will look at using public spending on infrastructure to "jiggy up" the national economy. Future Lefts is greatly encouraged by this concrete evidence that we finally have a government that doesn't just slavishly follow the monetarist line.
Money for a few people is all that matters! Yes, the Lotteries Commission excitedly announced this week that, over the last five weeks, Lotto has made five people millionaires:
"Lotto is all about making dreams come true and the last five weeks have shown that people's million dollar dreams do happen," says someone there. Well here's to gambling for making dreams come true, and making such a sterling contribution to the social fabric of our nation. Who knew!
NZ Post has received news that the new "People's Bank" will receive an AA- credit rating from Standard and Poors when it commences operations next year. This puts it on par with most other large New Zealand trading banks. The Oppositions attacks on the credibility of the Bank are looking more and more spurious.
There is no other news in the world apparently.
Websites to Watch
You'll note with keen interest that we have changed the title of this section from "Websites of the Week", to "Websites to Watch". It was a tough call, but we felt that really, it was quite misleading to carry on with the previous name when we are in fact a fortnightly publication. We hope you approve. Any feedback on this important change can be sent to:
Anyway, this week we feature two websites. The first is the "Team West" website. This is from the good folks of Waitakere City who are running a campaign to put intelligent, progressive people on their Council:
The second is the impressive new Alliance website:
That's all Folks
All submissions should be to the editor, Michael Wood, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While this newsletter is published in the name of Young Labour, the content 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) 2001. Subscribe at http://www.younglabour.org.nz.
Delivering for New Zealand - http://www.labour.org.nz