At the beginning of 2016, on February 4th, Aotearoa woke up. On that morning, one of the largest crowds this country has seen in recent decades assembled in Auckland’s Aotea Square and in other parts of the country, to protest the signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
New Zealanders were concerned about the TPPA’s unknown effects on the country and its potential attack on their sovereignty. It is now a matter of record that on the day an amalgam of the Left created the biggest non-violent direct action in NZ history.
Underneath the TPPA issues are a raft of other closely related subjects that helped to unite the people and galvanise the actions that unfolded. For many, the government’s blatant disregard of public opinion in ramming through this hugely unpopular trade deal is symptomatic of National’s treatment of ordinary people. The destruction of state housing, rising child poverty rates, attacks on beneficiaries and other attacks on the working class have all stoked people’s anger. Just last November more than 32,000 marched nationwide to protest against another issue that defines all our lives: climate change. And as socialists, our slogan on the day was ‘System Change Not Climate Change”.
Because while Socialist Aotearoa has been proud to get involved in organising and building protests and direct action against this shameful government, and to march alongside Kiwi families and workers to show John Key and his cronies who has the power, ultimately we believe all of these issues must be attacked at the root. It is capitalism itself that must be challenged.
More than 150 years ago, Marx talked about “the irreparable rift in the interdependent process of social metabolism” created by capitalism – in other words, the tendency of capitalism to produce ecological crises. He wrote of the assault on the planets’ resources created by human labour, and the corresponding breakdown of the dynamic and complex relationship between us and nature.
Just like his ideas on ecology, much of Marx’s writing remain as relevant as ever. Because in a world gone mad, where profit comes before people – giving rise to treacherous deals like the TPPA - and economic austerity is the prevailing ideology, where time and again the same tired rhetoric is used to justify atrocity toward all life on this planet, where tens of millions of our fellow human beings are starving to death whilst the rest of us grow fat and diseased on sugar and salt, there has never been a better time to investigate the ideas of Marx.
I look forward to the Revolution, to the Great Transition to a fairer more equitable world where we define ourselves as human by the depths of our demonstrated attempts to de-construct Capitalism, heal the rift between ourselves and the natural environment and build a world-wide humane society based on the ideals of Socialism.