Friday, 21 June 2013

Democracy Against Capitalism

I’ll be speaking on this topic in Toronto Monday June 24th, 7:00pm at:
Beit Zatoun
612 Markham Street
Co-sponsored by the Centre for Social Justice and New Socialist Group

Socialism 13

Socialism 13 is a large conference held in Chicago from June 27-30 that brings socialists and activists together from across the United States and internationally from Canada, Central and Latin Amercia, the United Kingdom, Greece, and Australia, New Zealand and many other countries.

I'll be speaking, along with Mike Corwin from Austin Texas, on Marxism and Democracy.

The conference website is here:

The organisers introduce the conference as follows:
"Millions of people have come to the understanding that capitalism is no longer working. From extreme weather caused by climate change and the relentless drive to slash workers’ living standards to the epidemic of police brutality, the signs of a society in crisis are all around us. The question isn’t whether society has run amok; the question is what to do about it.
The Socialism 2013 conference will bring together hundreds of activists from across the U.S., and around the world, to tackle the many discussions and debates that confront anyone interested in changing the world. How can women’s liberation and LGBT equality be won? What will it take to win real justice for immigrant workers? Can organized labor make a comeback? What lessons can be learned from the revolutions shaking the Middle East? Why is Marxism relevant today?
Featured speakers include teachers on the front lines of the fight to defend public education, anti-racist fighters against police brutality and the New Jim Crow, trade unionists, Marxist authors, radical historians, and much more. Start making your plans to attend."

Sunday, 16 June 2013

POLS 102 New Zealand Politics - Videos, Links, NZ Music

This is where I'll be putting links to audio-visual and other material for POLS 102 New Zealand Politics during Semester 2, 2013.

Video Documentaries and Exerts
AV Material on the Labour Party
• New Zealand Labour Party TV Campaign add for the 1969 election- illustrates the influence of the wider political context of the time.
• Interesting report on Labour at the time of the 1972 election. As above, it highlights the influence of the political context over the Labour Party.
• David Shearer on Budget 2013- illustrates current ideology and political rhetoric of the Labour Party.

AV Material on the National Party
• 1963 Interview with National Prime Minister Keith Holyoake- gives a sense of a very different period in NZ's political history. 
• John Key on Budget 2013- gives a clear illustration of the pragmatic conservatism of the National Party. 

The Treasury
• Treasury Homepage 
• Treasury job advertisement
• John Whitehead, head of Treasury in 2009, on policy responses to the global financial crisis and ensuing recession in New Zealand. 

• Useful Links for the POLS 102 Essay:
• Treasury (see above)
• National Party –
Labour Party –
• Electoral Commision – 
• MMP Review website – 
• Statistics NZ –

• New Zealand Political Parties and Organizations

Parliamentary Parties:

• ACT New Zealand —

• Green  Party of Aotearoa/New Zealand –  

• National Party –

Labour Party –

• New Zealand First -

• Maori Party–
• Mana Party –
• United Future New Zealand -

Extra-Parliamentary Parties:

• Alliance —

• Conservative Party–

• International Socialist Organisation 

• Campbell Live Poll on the GCSB Bill 

New Zealand Interest Groups

• New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU)
• For a full list of all affiliated unions go to: 
• Business NZ
This is New Zealand's largest and most influential business association.

• Federated Farmers

The New Zealand Initiative
In 2012 the Business Roundtable and the New Zealand Institute merged to form The New Zealand Initiative - a group of executives from big business that advocates extreme neolioberal policies broadly consistent with those of the ACT Party. 

• The New Zealand Retailers Association

• The New Zealand Chambers of Commerce 

• The National Government- Background and Context

• Alan Bollard, Governor of the Reserve Bank speaks to the 2009 Jobs Summit on the scale and impact of the global financial crisis.  

• Excellent video presentations on Marx and David Harvey's contemporary Marxist analysis of the global financial crisis.

• Funny and informative introduction to Marx's life, ideas and politics. It's a play scripted by the famous left-wing American historian - Howard Zinn - and performed brilliantly by the American teacher, actor, activist and socialist - Brian Jones. 

• Animated 11 minute summary of David Harvey's Marxist analysis of the global financial crisis. 

•  The Politics of Climate Change
• The missing slide from the handout for the "How Can We Stop Climate Change?" is below.

• To access the last major report (2007) by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 
go to: 

• Video showing thinning of Greenland polar ice based on international study using satellite data and photographs from the University of Leeds website. 

• See also the British channel 4 news report on the study (2012) at: 

• Very interesting report on the 'carbon bubble' on the Guardian website. Highlights which stock exchange listed companies have the greatest carbon assets and the financial risks that they face if these assets become unburnable due to the introduction of more effective environmental policies addressing the causes of climate change. This also indicates just how powerfully motivated these companies are to lobby governments to prevent them introducting more effective environmental policies to counter global warming. 

• John Bellamy Foster gives lecture on capitalism and climate change.

New Zealand/Aotearoa Music Videos- Selected from a Wide Range of Alternative Music Genres but all by Musical Artists with Strong Links to Aoteroa

NZ Music so far:
• Tiki Taane and Pdigsss -Dub Soldier
• The Veils -The Letter 
• The Veils - The Pearl - Live at Abbey Road
• Rhian Sheehan & Jess Chambers (vocals) - Sunshine 

• Fly My Pretties - Lie in the Land
• The D4 - Party! 
• Shapeshifter - In Colour 
• Shapeshifter - Monarch
• The Veils - Turn From The Rain - Live at Abbey Road
• Fly My Pretties - Garden
• Die Die Die - Sideways Here We Come
 • The Pheonix Foundation - The Captain 
• The Chills –Kaleidoscope World 
• The 3ds - Outer Space
• The Clean - Beatniks
• Lisa Crawley - You Won't Be There
• Katchafire - Get Away
• Blam Blam Blam - There is No Depression in New Zealand 
• Minuit - 25 Bucks 
• The Brunettes - Loopy Loopy Love
• The Brunettes - Small Town Crew
• The Verlaines – Joed Out

• High Dependancy Unit (HDU) - Tunguska
• Snapper - Buddy 

• Fly My Pretties - Lucky 
• Straightjacket Fits - She Speeds  
• The Pheonix Foundation - Gone Fishing
• The Bats - North by North
• Jessica Chambers - Stringing Me Along
• The Pheonix Foundatiuon - Bright Grey

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Climate Change Data, Graphs and Tables from the OECD

"The OECD is pleased to announce the publication of the Climate Change eXplorer tool. The objective of this data visualisation tool is to enhance transparency by bringing climate-related statistics to life and making them easier to digest.  The tool allows the user to visualise over 40 different data sets using animated 'bubble' plots for the period 1990-2010. The user can choose which data sets to show on the axes, as well as the data set used to determine the size of the bubbles (e.g. population). It is also possible for users to add their own 'custom' data sets using the Data Management function."

 The Climate Change eXplorer is available at

Friday, 7 June 2013

Critic Interview: The Adrenaline-Addicted Music Enthusiast

--> Ines Shennan conducted a series of interviews of Otago academics, including myself, published in the University of Otago student magazine - Critic. You can read the interview at the link below. Her intelligently and beautifully written transcript begins: "Brian Roper is a fixture of the Politics department at Otago, his curly hair and boyish enthusiasm his most salient features. Approachable and eager, his teaching style is famously memorable and provocative." 

Monday, 3 June 2013

Tax Avoidance by Wealthy New Zealanders

--> "Two-thirds of New Zealand's richest people are not paying the top personal tax rate, with increasingly complex overseas schemes and bank accounts being used to evade the taxman." 
What the NZ Herald article doesn't mention is the well documented fact that these are the very people who are most likely to be members or supporters of the National and ACT parties, regularly making large donations to these parties, and support further cuts in social spending in order to further reduce the top rates of tax that they are successfully avoiding paying!
The bulk of the media has been highly critical of the Government's pathetically inadequate response to the demand for food in schools for poverty stricken children from a right-wing perspective in which journalists emphasise “parents' responsibility for feeding their kids”. Yet at the same time the media is conspicuously silent about New Zealand's wealthiest individuals doing everything they can to avoid paying the taxes that they are supposed to be paying.
It is a classic case of the greed of the rich prevailing over the needs of the poor hidden behind an ideological smoke screen generated by the corporate media. So while we get an endless stream of articles focusing on welfare beneficiaries ‘ripping off the state’, we hear relatively little about the fiscally much more significant problem of tax evasion and avoidance by the rich.