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Wellington Solidarity With Urewera 4


A few of us met up this Sunday coinciding one months imprisonment of Taame Iti and Rangi Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara, marking the longest New Zealand has held political prisoners in recent history, blatantly political repression of social justice activist who are dedicated to peace, equality, justice and freedom.

We handed out flyers outside the supreme and high courts and got a photo shoot in front of the beehive and had some interesting discussions. The imprisonment of the Urewera 4 is no doubt a sign of New Zealand becoming increasingly fascist and should be taken very seriously by anyone concerned with librety, democracy and human rights. Its a critical time to put pressure on the courts and raise awareness in the public about the politics and background surrounding the case, as the appeal is being filed. Much of the public imagination around this case has been carefully doctored by the police who already have influence over the mainstream media in New Zealand, but in regards to this have taken illegal survillance information out of context and played on the capitalist media's love for sensationaling often ordinary affairs.

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"The imprisonment of the

"The imprisonment of the Urewera 4 is no doubt a sign of New Zealand becoming increasingly fascist" I have actively opposed all the charges from day one and unconditionally support the appeals against the sentences. However, the claim about fascism quoted above is ridiculous. New Zealand is an independent capitalist country governed by a socially liberal administration. Beneath the socially liberal veneer there is an increasing amount of desperate hopeless poverty, kept in check when necessary by an armed police force. There is also an imperfect but wide ranging health, education and social welfare system The state also tolerate the right to universal sufferage, publication and assembly. Workers enjoy a rather narrowly restricted right to strike. Not a perfect society for the working class, but nothing remotely approaching a regime of fascism. Accusations of fascism don't help. They just make our side look bloody silly.

Don, I guess your arguing

Don, I guess your arguing about the definition of fasicm, and i agree we should be careful with the use of the word, but there's nothing wrong with using it. Just because its not black and white to us, at what point on the grey scale are we allowed to start using the terminology? Increasingly fascist only means slightly more fasicst than now, which if you argue is absolutely not at all, then thats your opinion, I'm arguing this is a sign of it becoming more fascist than what it has been. How this is tied up with 9/11, sruveillance and repression against dissidents and the serarch and survillance bill, you need a better argument than what you have given to convincingly claim this is not a sign of an increasingly fascist system, regardless of how relatively free it might be.

Definition of Fascism

I agree with Don that the prison sentences for the Urewera Four are definitely not signs of fascism and NZ today doesn't even begin to compare with Nazi Germany or Italy under Mussolini. However, I do think there are some tendencies, e.g. the propaganda of 'if you've done nothing wrong you've got nothing to fear' as a mantra accompanying ever increasing powers for the police.

BTW, the Oxford Dictionary describes fascism as having:

- a belief in the supremacy of one national or ethnic group over others (definitely)

- a contempt for democracy (depends on how you define democracy)

- an insistence on obedience to a powerful and absolute leader (not yet, but John Key is trying to get there)

- a strong demagogic approach (see above)

Based on that definition, I

Based on that definition, I assume you mean 'definitely' in the sense maori are seen to be inferior. State capitalist leaders contempt for democracy is clear from the level of secrecy often employed as with the TPPA negotiations which have been taking place in secret, the secret intelligence services operations and survillance of the public, and also the will of the government to act in ways blatantly defying overwhelming public opinion as we're seeing now with asset sales.

As for the last two defining points, we can expect that fascists will advance beyond the classic techniques used by western govenrments in world war 1 and 2, and orwellian stuff in Burma and elsewhere. Demogogy is now PR and John Key had extensive training in it from specialist for about a year before he took office. And while obviously Hitler and Musollini are no comparison I'd like to point out that New Zealand is very firmly allied and in support of an empire built on a genocide far greater than Hitlers, 80 million native americans as a conservative esitmate, and there are countless examples where they have propped up dicatatorships and examples where we've done our bit in supporting this. We are actively engaged in building that empire with the NZSAS in Afghanistan, and global control has basically been their policy since world two, and they directly influence our policy. If the public ever managed to socialise production on the large scale, i think we can be sure representative demcoracy would be out the window pretty quick. Industry leaders who's pockets are seats for political leaders wouldn't tolerate it. That is unless parliament drastically changes soon, which would be hopeful considering the last two elections.

I think we can talk about modern fasicsm in west, call it neo-fascism if you will, as a force which is almost numerically measurable in terms of coporate power, corresponding to wealth and therefore control and influence, ability to monopolise, lobby and effectively (however slowly) dismantle the intitutions preventing growth and power. This only slighly offset by the legal institions which do more to back private power than public good. Up until the 70's the working classes have created a lot of social security, and neoliberalism since then has succeded in turning that around. You might be right that we cant talk about your classic-style one man dictatorships in relation to New Zealand, but I think we can look at the growing inequality of wealth that corporate hirerarchy, legal institutions and the political economy are driving and infer that aspects of this constitute an increasingly fascistic society. 

And I don't think we need to be shy about this language, especially after the passing of the Search and Survillance Bill and now the imprisonment activist for their beliefs. However to say we are becoming like the Nazi's or North Korea or Buma, i agree would be silly. We're becoming more intergrated within US system, needless to bring up their track record, which if we take death toll and number of victims of imperial establishment and expansion as any indicator, then its political violence unparalleled throughout human history. And we're raising it with our taxes, soldiers and policy. 

  Gwilyn, fascism is not


Gwilyn, fascism is not participation in US led imperailst alliances. New Zealand is itself a small imperailst power, which your arguments gloss over. Neither is fascism the passing of a piece of repressive legsilation or secrecy in trade negotiations. Fascism is the open terroristic dictatorship of capitalism. Fascism is marked by such things as destruction of unions, banning of meetings, demonstrations and publications, ongoing systematic torture and execution of disidents, imprisonment without trial and intimidation of the mass of the population. Faced with a real threat to their social system the New Zealand ruling class is quite capable of a desperate resort to fascism, but we are not in anything remotely like such a situation today. 

Maori have been and continue to be systematically disadvantaged in New Zealand but this is not on the basis of an officla white racist government belief in" the supremacy of one national or ethnic group over others". 

The governor general of New Zealand is a Maori man, who was formerly head of the capitalist state's military. A recent poll voted a Maori SAS trooper as second most trusted person in New Zealand. As traditional university disciplines get trashed, the Maori business studies department is comparably flourishing. These facts do not show that everyone is equal, they are not. But they do show that we are not in a situation of apartheid. Equality won't be gained by simplistc disregard of social development.

Your depiction of John Key as an individual trying to achieve " an insistence on obedience to a powerful and absolute leader" doesn't wash either. In class terms, Key is a social parasite, a millionaire whose material fortune was created by the sweat of others. He is also a social liberal, currently defending old age pensions against attacks by the Labour opposition. Key has indicated that he'll move on from politics in time to come, hardly the mark of a power crazy fanatic. 

Back when Rob Muldoon was pm, all of us in the left jumped up and down repeatedly claiming he was a fascist, mostly on the basis of his obnoxious personality and social conservatism. We were proved to be wrong about that. It is depressing to see similar wild exadurations of the the left being reapeated. Shrill clamouring didn't build any solid revolutionary movement in the past, nor will it today.

Don, disregarding your

Don, disregarding your misrepresentations, and misinterpretation of what I've said; I think we agree on most points. I never said this was a fascist country, or that John Key equates with "an insistence on obedience to a powerful and absolute leader", i merely said he had extensive PR training.

Your argument is based on the idea that there is either a fascist or non-fascist society and no inbetween. What I'm saying is in todays world fasicsm, in the west, is creeping in slowly through the institutions under control or overwhelming influence of concentrated power. If you disagree with that, then thats your judgement, but i firmly believe it corresponds with currents events; the Search & Surviellance Bill, the imprisonment of social acitivist and Maori, the commitment to US hegemony and military rule over the world, and the agenda of neoliberalism which has been in full force the last 40 years. Unions don't need to be forcefully dismantled they have been effectively adopted pretty well by governments, some to the point they are now useless to their workers, like the public service union.

Sure we live in a comparatively free, democratic and open society, I'm just saying we're moving towards the opposite direction which happens to be the direction of fasicm, and its not a controversial position to take. There are plently of lawyers, journalist and various civil society groups and people who would agree.

well written Gwilym!

well written Gwilym!

"Sure we live in a

"Sure we live in a comparatively free, democratic and open society, I'm just saying we're moving towards the opposite direction which happens to be the direction of fasicm"

Gywylim, the ghastly social upheraval of fascism is not a favoured option of the capitalist class. The employment of brute force fascist  methods has historically only taken place when capitalist rule has been faced with severe threat. Fascism, with its extreme ugliness and brutality is reluctantly employed by rulers when the alternative is revolution.  

Requirements for fascism include a social crisis, a threatened ruling class, a mass of desperate dispossesed middleclass people, and a strong revolutionary workers movement that the bosses need to crush, by any means .

Nothing like that exists in New Zealand today. We are in the unfortunate situation of having a very weak workers movement and a relatively popular and stable capitalist government.

Past generations of leftists labled  all sorts of events they didn't like as steps towards fascism. If we had been correct about one hundredth of those claims, New Zealand would have been languishing under fascism long ago. Please don't repeat the lazy political thinking of yesterday, because it will not get you anywhere.

We have learned that false alarms about fascism don't help build a broad militant movement to overthrow capitalism.