Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Scuffling and screaming on The Left

255 Responses

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  • kowhai montgomery,

    Ok, I have to learn some discipline about writing shorter comments!

    Please don't. Message boards lend themselves to snipping back and forth in little paragraphs. This is not necessarily very illuminating if ya know what I mean....
    You seem to have a sustained train of thought there. Bravo.

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 485 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    As Paul Litterick pointed out, this is the professional protesting class we are talking about here. Now, like the annoying and officious colonel blimp types who also happen to be the only people who can be bothered keeping a myriad of local bowling clubs/bridge clubs etc etc running the protesting class fufills a valuable role in our society. But the police raids fed every conspiracy theory, persecution complex and repression fantasy these people have, and from a simple human psychology viewpoint the rather hysterical reaction is entirely predictable.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1811 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Maia said recently on her blog that she wanted the the police abolished altogether

    Well the UK went for over a thousand years (up to about 1840) with no organised police force. (Not sure whether NZ had some form of cops from day 1?).

    I do think our police force needs substantial reform. The fact that they reelected the lamentable Greg O'Connor to head their association says something. As does Ross Meurant's analysis last week in the SST.

    With my anarchist beret firmly off, could I suggest a much more rigorous training and selection process (which would of necessity reduce numbers - there are not enough suitable people to sustain the current size of force), localised police services supervised by independent police committees, a more rigorous independent complaints procedure and a higher requirement for officers to act professionally and with integrity.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4463 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    Well the UK went for over a thousand years (up to about 1840) with no organised police force.

    And was a delightful paradise, where the workers lived in happy equality free of imposition of force from moneyed elites...

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I have a wider question for the lefty- left - why do people who profess such anarchistic and revolutionary views make such a knee jerk alliance with a bunch of reactionary, patriarchal tribalists with a fixation on the 19th century?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1811 posts Report Reply

  • Margaret B,

    "Professional protesting class"? Puhlease. I've been written off with that tag in my time and let me tell you there is no payment involved! No one even offers you product endorsements so that you can pretend to maintain your amateur status to compete at the Protesting Olympics and win the gold at effigy burning ;-)

    Rich, don't even start me on Greg O'Connor. I believe he is a major barrier to addressing any issues about police culture and structure. Some right this off as a typical union approach, however other professional groups like teachers, doctors, accountants, lawyers, nurses, real estate agents (oh hang on, maybe not that last one), have all accepted that there need to be professional standards, codes of conduct and ethics. Those professions have said they want a say in the processes, preferably control of them, but their unions have not blocked the development of accountability processes in the way that the Police Association systematically has. The good eggs have an interest in getting rid of the bad eggs. Mr O'Connor doesn't seem to get this. I point to his recent comment on Morning Report that the Bazley Report showed there were basically no problems in the police force.

    (and apologies to Deborah that this paragraph largely rehashes a comment I made on her excellent blog last week).

    Since Oct 2007 • 59 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    S'alright. Long, thoughtful comments are our brand!

    You gonna regret you said that man.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8589 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Bol,

    In response to Tom's question:

    Revolutionary Anarchists and Nostalgic Aristocratic types have a lot in common - they both hate universal suffrage.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 32 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    Their solidarity is in reaction to a joint police action. The various groups don't link themselves together but rather the imagination of the police to tie the various groups as one.

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    There seem to be a few Labour people dropping in on the Indymedia thread.

    I know it's mean to make fun of Indymedia (and the NZ one's pretty good really - at least you don't get the creepy anti-semitism that infects some of the others), but I thought the following exchange was a classic:

    Post:

    I walked into the Labour Party conference as a worker and a union delegate. I've been a union member for the last 16 years and while I don't always agree with Labour I think we need to use every avenue we have to make people's lives better. National would not have raised the minimum wage by more than 60%. National would not have extended annual leave to four weeks. National would not worked to halve unemployment to 3.4%. It's not perfect, but when you're a working person you realise spitting at union delegates and calling them scabs is not going to improve anything.

    I walked into the conference having 'shame' and 'scab' yelled at me, and then went straight into a meeting where we discussed what mechanisms to implement to help improve the lot of low paid workers like myself and my workmates.

    But I suppose that isn't important when you're a middle class university student waiting for the revolution. '

    Response:

    fuck off state apologist!

    Chortle.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18963 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Margaret B: "professional protesting class" is not necessarily a pejorative. I have a lot of time for those people who can be bothered to get off their chuffs and protest regularly, and they have a role in our democracy. But protesting all the time also introduces a significant element of tribal ritual to the confrontations with the police. When I see unedifying carry-ons on telly between protesters and police I am always reminded of films of posturing hostile tribes from the New Guinea Highlands.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1811 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Well the UK went for over a thousand years (up to about 1840) with no organised police force.

    What do you call the Knights of the Round Table then?

    Seriously, yeah, society won't collapse just because there's no police. It won't collapse with no broadband either, but in both cases it might be better off with them.

    The idea of amateur police is an interesting one. Most of the places where it has been tried tended to have a strong tradition of military training and experience on the part of the civilians, though. It wouldn't have been hard to find gung ho guys in the ancient or medieval world (or in some anarchist revolutionary society, for that matter) who would happily tussle with an accused murderer. Arrest procedures probably were a bit laxer too - there were probably quite a few violations of human rights committed by said amateurs, particularly beating the living shit out of prisoners who were even slightly lippy, or burning them out of whatever barn they may be hiding in.

    It seems to me to be an idea that would work in a very small, isolated, primitive place, where evading arrest could involve more privation than just taking the punishment. Leaving the tribe/city, and throwing yourself on the mercy of nature/other tribes, could actually be the greater of two evils. In the modern world it is easy to move, easy to start up elsewhere. And it is hard to track people down, a highly specialized job, which can be very dangerous at times, requiring coordinated action of large numbers of people and expensive equipment. As with most things today, it is specialized work and having specialists do it has lots of advantages.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8589 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Their solidarity is in reaction to a joint police action. The various groups don't link themselves together but rather the imagination of the police to tie the various groups as one.

    I think at least some of the activists have acknowledged attending the Urewera camps, so I don't think a relationship between the groups is purely the invention of the police.

    It would be nice to hear someone from the activists' side criticise Tame Iti's supportive relationship with the thugs running Fiji -- where the police beat a New Zealander nearly to death over the weekend.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18963 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I have a wider question for the lefty- left - why do people who profess such anarchistic and revolutionary views make such a knee jerk alliance with a bunch of reactionary, patriarchal tribalists with a fixation on the 19th century?

    I think Winston Churchill gave one answer to this after the German invasion of Russia:
    If Hitler invaded hell, I would at least make a favourable reference to the Devil

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4463 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Those wanting to have a go at the fascist coppers might consider a protest-holiday in Karachi. They would probably have the people behind them, at least.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/2/story.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10474008

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8589 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    Just a slight aside, but I was a bit surprised to see Chris Knox pop up doing Labour's new theme song. Obviously he's always been more sympathetic to the left than the right, but I thought it wouldn't be his cup-of-tea having such direct involvement with Labour.

    As for who'll sing National's theme song, my money's on...Hayley Westenra.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 612 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    "...If Hitler invaded hell, I would at least make a favourable reference to the Devil..."

    That sort of parallel with the government of New Zealand is frankly offensive.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1811 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    I have heard Suva is really scarey, on edge and dangerous place (not just because of Aja Rock). Bashings are becoming normal.

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Just a slight aside, but I was a bit surprised to see Chris Knox pop up doing Labour's new theme song. Obviously he's always been more sympathetic to the left than the right, but I thought it wouldn't be his cup-of-tea having such direct involvement with Labour.

    I presume it's alright to say this: Chris's partner, Barbara Ward (a very organised and involved person) was Labour candidate Phil Twyford's campaign manager at the last election and I presume will be again. So that would have been the connection. I further presume it was a commissioned work.

    The Labour-Flying Nun connection isn't new though. Last time the TV election advertising song was The Clean's 'Anything Could Happen'. Everybody just conveniently forgot that the song is actually about going to the doctor and trying to score drugs ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18963 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    That sort of parallel with the government of New Zealand is frankly offensive

    Why is it that a big chunk of 20th century history has cones and tape round it and you can't go there without offending people? I wasn't saying that the NZ government is in any way comparable to the Nazis (Tama Iti isn't Stalin either, he hasn't even got a moustache). I was simply suggesting that in politics, people often grab allies where they can.

    (Besides, if you want to attack the Left on choice of allies, what about the Labour party and Winston Peters?)

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4463 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    Why is it that a big chunk of 20th century history has cones and tape round it and you can't go there without offending people?

    The millions of dead people make it kind of obviously a bad comparison to anyone who isn't a complete fucking idot.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    The millions of dead people make it kind of obviously a bad comparison to anyone who isn't a complete fucking idot.

    And what proportion of the Maori population died, from disease and war, after colonisation? I know that (most of) the British didn't have the same genocidal motivations, but it's a pretty devastating position for a people to be in.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1039 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    A school run by an anarchist collective would provide better education than one run by the state.

    Umm, no. Unless you want to teach kids to reject any kind of responsibility or structure or society.

    I wouldn't argue that anarchist collectives would run a great school system. But your response clearly shows that you don't understand anarchists. There's lots of different sorts, but at it's simplest level, the ones you're talking about here are opposed to government control of their lives. They don't reject responsibility or structure or society at all. Some of them I know have intricate structures and rules about the community that they live in, but they're rules that they've created themselves rather than using ones created for them.

    Tomorrow's schools adopts ideas from anarchism, by appointing parents to have a role in the running of schools as boards of trustees. It's not always violent revolution.

    Um, a certain party member, namely Helen Clark, directs the SIS.

    I'm no expert, but the little I know, is that this is a mile off. It's not Minister for Sending SIS Agents to Harass People You Don't Like. The SIS aren't going to let Helen Clark do that to them, and you can bet if she tried, then she'd just be giving Nicky Hager his next book on a plate.

    It would be nice to hear someone from the activists' side criticise Tame Iti's supportive relationship with the thugs running Fiji -- where the police beat a New Zealander nearly to death over the weekend.

    Yeah that was dumb. Being indigenous doesn't give you to the right to be an arsehole and just take over the country using the military.

    And personally, firing that gun at the flag? I didn't like either. Gave me bad vibes.

    Feel better?

    The millions of dead people make it kind of obviously a bad comparison to anyone who isn't a complete fucking idot.

    Settle down. If you can't quote Winston Churchill...

    Since Nov 2006 • 6205 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    The Labour-Flying Nun connection isn't new though. Last time the TV election advertising song was The Clean's 'Anything Could Happen'. Everybody just conveniently forgot that the song is actually about going to the doctor and trying to score drugs ...

    That factoid tickles me nicely. The hallmark of a successful ad campaign seems to be the misuse of a song chosen because the chorus sort of sounds a bit like the message the ad is trying to get across.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1861 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I think Rich is suggesting that just as Churchill was the kind of wanker who had some useful part to play in WW2, and he allied with an even bigger wanker who also helped us out (at whatever cost), so the anarchist-dreamers see the kind of wanker who dreams of reverting NZ into an island of warring states as a useful ally. Because when the state is smashed everyone will spontaneously see all the advantages of anarchy. No one would want to join a tribe then, when you've got the whole brotherhood of man as your tribe.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8589 posts Report Reply

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