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Ruling class: 1, New Zealand: 0 — the Hobbit stays in NZ


According to, the Hobbit will be staying on NZ shores. Labour Laws will be rushed through parliament today so that an unjust, exploitative multinational can get its way. It's pretty clear who controls the Government in New Zealand: profit margins and offshore interests. We are essentially prostituting our labour laws to a multinational, all so the big wigs at the top can profit from the economic boom it creates. Not only will everyday, working New Zealanders see next to none of that money, but we have to pay for the film to be here from our own taxes. The economic spin off goes straight into the pockets of those at the top, while the workers on the film continue to work in unfair and unjust conditions.

For example, if an actor has to pull out of production, they have to pay for their replacement from their own wages, and can be sued by the producer for damages. "But if the producer changed their mind about a production, all they're obliged to do is give a day's notice... that's standard in New Zealand." One argument has been that if actors don't like these conditions, they should get another job. Yet New Zealand is in an all time high for unemployment, and there is limited work in the film industry as it is. Production companies often try to take advantage of this and exploit people who are desperate for work and are competing against each other. Coupled with a drive for less and less workers rights, one wonders why people are so upset that workers would try and get a little bit more of a fair deal.

The dangerous precedent with the Hobbit is that it opens the door to widespread contracting, which could replace already unfair employment relations. Once the movie is done and dusted, and the media hype dies, all those who protested for the Hobbit on Labour day will have to face an uncertain employment future. Being an employed wage slave is bad enough, but a contracted one is worse. Essentially working alone and bound to an individual agreement with someone who already has a large amount of power and privilege, contract work relies squarely on the strength of your own negotiation. When we are isolated and individualised, employers can erode the many rights we have fought for as workers: higher wages, sick days, holidays and less hours of work. We saw it with Telecom recently, and now it's going to be cemented into law.

I hope you are happy, Hobbit fans.


Direct Action? Pirate the Hobbit

I try to see all NZ-made movies when they come out at the cinema. I paid money to see all the Lord of the Rings movies at the cinema.

I will not be paying money to see the Hobbit. I will be going to the Pirate Bay, finding a torrent, downloading the movie, and giving copies to everyone I can. Fuck Warner Brothers, and fuck John Key for pimping out our country, and our creative workers, like a cluster-fuck of $5 hookers.

Remember to use PeerBlockwith

Remember to use PeerBlockwith any torrent downloads. This country's big boss Peter Jackson and his sidekick lacky John Key have a big team tracking torrents of Jacksons movie renditions. PeerBlock will mostly fuck their shit up and those others trying to track whose downloading what.

Some good stuff here. Good on

Some good stuff here. Good on you for posting. It's disgusting that the govt has stepped to pass laws to permanently fuck over film workers on behalf of capital (Warners, the NZ film capitalists like Peter Jackson and Richard Wright, the co-founder of Weta Workshop, and the NZ tourist industry). But I have some criticisms, and given your previous reaction to criticism, i wonder if it's worth it, but why the anti-corporate nationalist tone of this piece? Surely the headline should read Capitalist class 5 Working class 0, because we have been thoroughly drubbed on this one, and before the dispute really kicked off, we got the rules changed in favour of the capitalists. Its not 'New Zealand' - a cross class concept if there ever was one -- that has been defeated, but us workers. The opening paragraph states that its all about a multinational getting its way in NZ, and the govt is controlled by profit margins and offshore interests.

Yikes! this reminds me of the nationalism of the Green Party and Keith Locke saying the whole issue is about the govt being bullied by multinationals. No way! The state's primary purpose is to facilitate capital accumulation (ie profit); in its current manifestation, it does not care so much whether it supports NZ capital and overseas capital; and in this case it is pretty clear that the govt is not simply bowing to pressure from the NZ film capitalists like Jackson and Wright, as well as Warners, but actually going out of its way to support nasty little capitalists like Peter Jokeson and Richard Wright and their capitalist mates at Warners; and that is what the state does (ie. it's acting as it normally does). 

"The dangerous precedent with the Hobbit is that it opens the door to widespread contracting, which could replace already unfair employment relations."  Hmm yes. But what is really scary about this whole dispute is how NZ film capitalists and the media have whipped up a nationalist and anti-worker frenzy about the whole matter, how many film workers have sided with capital, and the govt has stepped in and stepped on all film workers making sure they are permanently seen as self-employed contractors (which is bollocks, talk to anyone in Weta workshop, you don't work your own hours, you are employed by Weta, you are giving facilities to work in (normally unhealthy ones) when they are obviously employed by capitalists like Wright and Warners ie. they are employees, not self-employed. The scary thing also is that self-employed contractors are fairly widespread thruout NZ workplaces now, and if the govt sees another industrial dispute about workers' status, they could simply change the law to keep workers in precarious conditions and without holiday and sick pay (and of course much, much more isolated and harder to organise as the article suggests).

btw, as an aside, i think the term capitalist class is more accurate than ruling class, given that the power of capitalists resides in them owning capital; nowadays, the capitalist class actually contract out the everyday running of capital to a bunch of managers, who more often than not don't own capital; the term ruling class confuses the issue, and may give the impression to the anarchist milieu (which in my opinion has never been very good at understanding theory and especially economics) that class is all about power/hierarchical relations, rather than class relations of exploitation (ie. how capital lives by sucking our living and accumulated dead labour). However, of course the capitalist class is the dominant class. Well now having pissed off BR yet again and now also the anarchist milieu, that is about all from an anti-bolshevik communist like me.

oops that should read Richard

oops that should read Richard Taylor, not Wright


Fydd writes:

"The state's primary purpose is to facilitate capital accumulation (ie profit); in its current manifestation, it does not care so much whether it supports NZ capital and overseas capital..."

I agree broadly with your aversion to nationalism but I think you're being a wee bit harsh here. Certainly the state's function is to facilitate capital accumulation but to go on and argue that a given nation's state is nation-blind ignores the reality of a world divided into nations, as it is now. The nation state does prioritise its own capitalists. It is the representative first and foremost of its own capitalists. The US didn't go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan to benefit Iraqi or Afghan capitalists, although it doesn't object to that happening on a minor scale. it goes to war (and went to war there) to benefit, both directly (through access, contracts etc) and indirectly (by making the world a safe place to do business etc) to benefit US capitalists.

For a smaller country like New Zealand wooing Warner Brothers, New Zealand needs overseas capital to undertake such a production. But still, the state's primary interests are those of New Zealand's own national capitalists.

If the film was being produced here using no NZ resources at all - all imported actors and crew, all pre and post production done elsewhere - in other words no significant investment in New Zealand businesses, the government would not have been going to WB offering them great dollops of cash to film here. It is the bringing here of large sums of capital, some of which can be utilised by New Zealand based capitalists, that makes The Hobbit different.

If it were true that the state was neutral on the question of capital's origins, how could we explain rivalries and wars between states? How could we explain the existence of government protectionism? To deny the existence of any national interest on the part of the nation state's capitalist government takes things too far.



Very fair point John, happy

Very fair point John, happy to be picked up on it, thanks for your analysis. I was overreacting against what I often used to see in the anarchist/activist milieu, that is anti-corporate feeling rather than an anti-capitalist praxis and taking an argument too far. Of course the nation state needs to protect national interests (tho the level of this protection will vary according to circumstances, like the balance of power within fractions of the capitalist class, the economic situation and the ideology of the party in cabinet etc etc). I largely agree with your statements. All I can add is that while I think your spot on overall it's a pretty complex matter the relationship between capital and the state. A small nation state can't piss off overseas capital too much, eg by nationalising many industries, or else it might get capital flight etc. Then there is that state debate (over how much autonomy the state has from capital) that was had between various academic Marxists a while back...

I guess i was just arguing that the state against the viewpoint that the whole thing has been dictacted by a foreign multinational. My point is that NZ capitalists like Jackson and Taylor have put pressure on the govt too, and the govt has been all too willing to make the law change (given their ideological stance, they probably savoured it). The state in this instance I think is obviously working in the interests of overseas capital (Warners) but let's not forget it is also doing for domestic capital too (esp for the NZ tourist and film industries).





fydd, i find your comments

fydd, i find your comments interesting and useful. i agree that we shouldn't be furthering nationalist capitalism, and it is worth being careful about propaganda and giving each other feedback

however, i think that comments like 'having pissed off BR yet again' aren't useful, better to make a critique in good faith that your points will be integrated - and if not by authors of article, then by others reading the article alongside your comments.

cheers, pip


With hundreds of film workers

With hundreds of film workers affected by corporate driven legislative tyranny, and thousands now disillusioned with the states crushing of the labour force under the heel of its corporation loving jackboots, I am therefore giving this film an F for fucked. Also F for the number five, as in we the workers are calling for the leaking of this film onto the P2P networks within 5 hours of its final compilation.

So the big bossman Jackson has the legislative and the executive in his back pocket? Big deal. We have and thousands of other methods of sharing the rip of this movie out. Bring it on Key/Jackson Incorporated, lets tango.

Hobbit saga

a definative split between

a definative split between hollywood and independant multimedia artists is required to save the homegrown new zealand multimedia industry from losing it's capability. the New Zealand film industry and other such creative industries should respect and create its own factions to show the big boys what we are capable of instead of simply selling out. This anti hollywood squander is not going to solve anything.

Why are you hiding direct action orientated comments?

Why have the two comments giving practical advice for taking direct action against the profits of the movie corporations been hidden?!?

Movie makers are in the business of manipulating perception

Ok, so we are officially a banana republic, and the Hobbit fiasco is just the latest example. The government will change laws on a whim to suit the interests of super rich corporations, think deep sea oil exploration, mining of conservation land, foreshore and seabed etc etc
I heard on RadioNZ news this morning that Brash's 2025 hatchet mob is "expected" to call for privatisation of public assets in their upcoming report. The mainstream media are not even pretending to wait until the report comes out before they announce the foregone conclusions contained in it.

But the Hobbit is also a wake-up call to the left about how out of touch it is with the concerns of the people who live in this country. It takes months of build-up and probably thousands of dollars to get a few hundred people out to defend workers rights against the Fire At Will Bill. Taylor can send a few texts and emails and get thousands into the streets to defend a movie production based on a cult fantasy novel.

Should we be surprised? Movie makers are in the business of manipulating people's perceptions and emotions using the telling of stories. The epic tale of good vs evil that Taylor, Jackson, and Warners wove around the labour dispute over the Hobbit simply extended their skills from the silver screen into the broader mediasphere. The unions stumbled, boots and all, into the role of an army of havoc-wreaking Orcs, and Kelly was easily shoe-horned into the role of Sauron.

In conclusion, it seems its easier to get people in this country to care about fantasy movies than workers rights. This is not something we can expect to change through a change of government or through the corporate media, since an enthralled and downtrodden working class serves their interests nicely. In the wake of the Hobbit debacle, we also need to ask some hard questions about the role the unions are playing in all this, and whether joining and building unions is really a useful part of resistence against the current wave of attacks by the bosses.

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If Indymedia supports 'social justice'....

...and 'social justice' is a stated front of Frankfurt School cultural marxists....

...who also advocate 'post-democracy'....

...and whose aim is to destroy the West....

...and overthrow democracy...

...and destroy the family so that the state can transmit its 'values' to children....

..."disallowing parents the 'rights' of parents"....

... with the ultimate aim of using the altruism of Western Civilisation to destroy Western Civilisation and enslave its peoples....

Then Indymedia supports fascist cultural marxist its latest guise of Communitarianism.

Power to the individual with the nobility to protect the weak whilst strongly supporting the guiding principles of our Civilisation!!!

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Down with the Post-Democratic barbarians!