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Mayday 2010 Wellington


It has been a cold and grey Mayday in Wellington, which seems an appropriate complement to the attacks by the capitalists and government henchmen currently in power. At 11:30 today, the Wellington Resident’s Coalition staged a protest against the introduction of the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill tabled on 27 April in Parliament; this law will effectively privatise all aspects of water supply services. The bill allows councils to contract out water to the private sector for a period of 35 years, during which time companies can own and control the water supply. This is the most common form of water privatisation in the world.

In discussing the government’s blitzkrieg of legislation it is ramming through, several people commented that it felt like we were all right back in the 1980s. I asked if we were in a better or worse position to resist. Both replied that they thought we were in a considerably worse position to resist. In the 1980s, Rogernomics and our subsequent Ruthaneasia were seen by a majority of New Zealanders as a radical programme. It was easy to see what was going on. Now, however, two generations later, this latest programme is simply fine-tuning. Indeed the elites have learned from the resistance of the 1980s: they have co-opted the language and the arguments; they have bred individualistic lifestyles and consumer greed while simultaneously destroying community and collective structures. The ‘neo-liberalism of the mind’ has been a social revolution so successful that most don’t even recognise it has happened.

The protest was a pre-cursor to the Mayday march called in support of JB Hi-fi workers who have been seeking a very modest pay rise. All the usual leftists were out flying their respective flags and banners. But the rhetoric was not nearly as firery or compelling as I imagined the situation calls for. In short, while a campaign for a $15 minimum wage seems like an OK thing to organise around in terms of raising awareness, it hardly stirs the imagination of the possible. Are we afraid to speak of revolution? Must we confine ourselves to demanding ‘respect at work’ instead of worker control? In an attempt to curry the attention of a mythical ‘mainstream’ I believe we underestimate the capacity for radical change. But people must hear of those ideas and we must be willing to speak uncensored about our dreams of freedom.

It is time for us to get organised and to get really clear what effective resistance is going to require: new strategies and new tactics. If we cannot communicate what we want for our world, others will not join us. The social war is on and our time is running out.


"Are we afraid to speak of

"Are we afraid to speak of revolution? Must we confine ourselves to demanding ‘respect at work’ instead of worker control?" Fuck you people need to go and talk to some actual workers rather than assume that they need what you have wet dreams about. 

Your language exposes your chauvinistic attitude

Talk like that and get stuffed! You do apparently hold a grudge. If you are unhappy with your lot, which it sounds very much like, why do you want to dictate to others to be as miserable and exploited as you appear to be.

This is absolutely unconstructive. It is exactly what the employers love: Employees mistrusting and fighting each other. Divide and rule!

Sorry but you fall for that nonsensical trap. Perhaps take a step back. If you are not happy with your lot, perhaps talk to a union delegate?

Maybe you are too afraid, maybe your boss shouts you some beer at the end of the week. Still that apparently leaves you frustrated and unhappy. So the problem may be within you or in the issues you have to deal with, but do not run down people that may actually have an interest in your predicament and would be prepared to assist and help you.

This is just a thought and suggestion.

All the best.

If you don't like minimum

If you don't like minimum wage, get a better job. And how many of those protesters are actually workers? Most of them look like students.

there were heaps of workers

there were heaps of workers there. we were supporting a strike by JB hi-Fi workers, first time i can remember that a mayday march actually involved concrete support of class struggle. the striking workers were on the march. even the students who were there mostly have jobs these days -- you have to get by as a student.

anyway sorry to feed the right wing lentiltroll. i would agree with a lot of what kittyhawk. in the early 2000s, when there were much bigger maydays, we had imagination, creativity, spark - we were saying for all our faults, that a world beyond capitalism was possible, that 'capitalism sucks ass' no matter how vague, naive and directionless we were. we were more into the spectacle of militancy than concrete class struggle, and our protest was more lumpen/'underclass' and counter-cultural/punky than appealing to a broad range of the working class

yes, mayday should be about raising alternatives to capitalism - the abolition of classes, the abolition of the wage system, direct democracy based on popular assemblies, abolition of the state, getting rid of hierarchy, an ecologically sane society. we should show no respect to capital and its henchmen in the state, rather than asking for them to respect us. their system isn't based on respect; it objectifies and commodifies us and the planet, chews us up and spits us out. and yes, mayday should be supporting concrete reforms, of course, but something beyond that as well. and showing our support for the growing international working class resistance to capital's crisis - look at the Greek reaction to the IMF's proposals to enforce a deal on Greek workers that makes them work harder for massive wage cuts.

another criticism is that wellington mayday felt more like it was owned by Unite union, rather than the workers. good on Unite for organising it though, and especially for holding a strike on mayday. much better than holding just a dinner for union officials.

while there is not much resistance to Key and his henchman as there was in the early 1990s, i think there is still some spark out there -- look at the huge anti-mining march in Auckland on mayday (40,000 to 50,000 according to TV news) and aslo large anti-ACC privatisation rallies. also some strike activity, for examples by thousands of nurses recently. it's up to us to try to encourage this resistance to be more anti-capitalist in content, and more focussed on mass direct action rather than symbolic marches led by the horrid Greenpeace and their celebrities.

I spoke at the demo, and in

I spoke at the demo, and in my brief speech I talked about how we need to see ourselves as part of an international class of people struggling for common interests across the globe, with more in common with workers in Guatamala or South Africa than bosses in New Zealand. I talked about the revolution that's happening right now in Nepal, the fact that at that very moment 500,000 revolutionaries had just hit the streets of Kathmandu, and that we needed to identify with this and work for something similar here.

As well as this, there were leaflets handed out by various groups that pushed revolutionary politics. The WP organised a Marxist educational forum after the march which some people from the march attended. The march *did* have revolutionary politics present at it, I felt they were quite prominent.

As for looking like it was owned by Unite... I dunno about that. There was an open mike, and out of all the groups present I was the only person from any group that stepped forward to have a quick rant. If people want to get their politics out there and challenge the dominance of the group they feel is dominating things, they need to just do it themselves rather than complain that nobody else did it for them. Unite and Workers Party did the bulk of the organising for the demonstration, and if other groups wanted to influence what took place more perhaps they should have helped out with the organising more? As well as this, the people holding Unite flags and Unite placards were for the most part militant striking workers who belong to Unite union. There isn't necessarily much of a contradiction between them and their trade union.

I thought the march was a success. Around 80-100 people, plenty of red flags and a strong showing from the radical left and the trade union movement. And while Helen Kelly briefly spoke, the mainstream unions and the CTU were very much in the backseat and had no control over what took place on the march.

There are some criticisms to be made of course. Comrade Omar Hamed was on the megaphone for most of the march, and was disappointingly nationalist (talking a lot about 'Aussie bosses') and reformist (talking about 'fair wages' etc). Even if you are a union organiser, if you claim to be a revolutionary you shouldn't hide it in public. It's nothing to be ashamed of. Other than that minor point though, I was pretty satisfied with how it went.

Let's try and get 200 people out there next year! :-)

Do you have any reason for

Do you have any reason for coming here other than being a dickhead troll? As one of the people actually present at the protest I can attest to the fact that students were a minority presence.

I suppose workers always wear

I suppose workers always wear blue overalls, caps, and carry hammers? Ffs, what do workers 'look' like? Workers aren't workers because they dress a particular way, workers are workers because they sell their labour-power to an employer.

Above comment was in response

Above comment was in response to the Real Lentil