This was a think-piece I put up on Twitter, which caught on in a way most of my writing really doesn’t. So, I thought I’d stash a version of it here, with a few corrections that were happily crowd-sourced from readers.

I’ve seen a lot of confusion around the ‘alt-right’, ‘white supremacy’, ‘neonazi’ labels in recent weeks. So, as an historian, I’m going to do a little facism 101 thread to disambiguate for the confused.

Facism did not begin with Adolf Hitler, he just exploited xenophobia & economic stresses that were already present in Germany after WW1. Yep, the roots of the Waffen SS begin with the Treaty of Versailles, which accorded massive penalty payments to Germany in 1918.

Aristocrats drove WW1, after the assassination of Prussian Arch-duke Ferdinand by a Serbian national. (Serbia’s simmering resentments led to the 1990’s breakup of Yugoslavia, but we’ll get to that later…)
WW1 was really the last war where British aristocracy told peasants to fight.

Colonial forces, made up of generally ‘lower classes’, were used as cannon fodder in wildly misplanned engagements that ignored modern weapons technology. German machine guns mowed down Allied troops. We in New Zealand celebrate ANZAC day, a complete debacle.
Aristocratic supremacy was maintained, however.
The Military higher ranks are second sons of the landed aristocracy, of course.

WW2 followed a decade of Depression, and widespread economic failure in Europe. The British facists like Lord Moseley (whose family are F1 owners) were some of the first to trot over to Berlin & congratulate Adolf Hitler when he became Chancellor of the Exchequer (German PM). The British National Front is funded (through a few cutouts) by the Moseleys & their allies, some of the old aristocracy of England.

The Mitford daughters, a selection of well-bred beauties, were frontline fans of Hitler & Goering. Diana Mitford married Oswald Mosely who founded the British Union of Facists; Unity Mitford died after an unsuccessful suicide attempt, which caused ongoing health problems due to a bullet lodged in her brain, after having been part of the inner circle around Hitler. Deborah Mitford became the Duchess of Devonshire, and lived into her 80’s.
Propaganda, the dark art we now call ‘marketing’, was developed by Goebbels, Goering & Leni Riefenstahl, their cinematographer. WW2 was a modern psy-ops war, the first of the 20thC.

Now we’re 70 years on from the Nazi exploits. This is about the period when history repeats – my grandfather fought in Egypt, was captured by Rommel’s armies & incarcerated in Germany for most of the war. I’m the generation that has the last memories of direct transmission.

This is the dangerous decade (or two) that we are entering. Facism has been repackaged for the 21stC, & it comes with some fancy new propaganda tools that Goebbels would have loved. Ayn Rand, a right-wing libertarian, is popular again. Algorithms are being tailored to push neonazi ideas.

Eugenics as an ideology is rising again – a deplorable (yes, I’m using that term…) belief in racial purity that was the foundation of the KKK in the Southern USA, and was even used in NZ by Dr Truby King, who founded Plunket.
It deifies white supremacist ideals & norms. There are also troubling attacks on the disabled & those who suffer illnesses of old age, within eugenics.
Hitler’s ‘death list’ of ‘types’ of human to eliminate came from eugenicist thinking – Roma, disabled, homosexuals, Jews, & political dissidents for good measure.

In a modern liberal state, there are checks & balances to protect the most vulnerable. Trump is removing those checks, by the simple expedient of not appointing Chiefs of Staff to some White House positions, causing logjams. He’s gamed the US Constitution. This is facist.

Pastor Martin Niemöller gave us the 20thC’s most often-quoted mea culpa; which I will paraphrase here:
‘When they came for the others, I said nothing… Then there was no-one left to speak up when they came for me.’

Speak up now, while you still have a voice to use against facists.

 

I was also asked by a commenter to address why Facism is being re-positioned as ‘Socialism’ by those on the alt-right who want to distance themselves from accusations of neonazism. So here’s that part of the thread:

Well, they’re doing that for people who know zip about German history.
Short answer, look up the Weimar Republic.
The use of ‘Nationalist Socialism’ in Germany, soon shortened to Nazi, was about capturing the impoverished working classes who were heavily taxed to pay for WW1.

Trump has been playing on the leftover impoverishment (which is real) after the GFC. That trillions of dollars ‘market correction’ came out of ordinary people’s mortgages.
The banks got bailed out. Socialism for capital, but not for workers.
Fear of ‘the Reds’ in USA goes back to McCarthyism in the 1950’s, during the biggest increase of citizen surveillance in the 20thC.
Current fears about another crash (because banks haven’t changed their lending practices in the USA), and a political desire to scapegoat are seeing a repeat of 1930’s tropes. A Cold War, if you will.

So, Trump may not be the smartest tool in the shed, but he buys expertise.
There are many right-wing think-tanks selling their policies whole. Using data analytics, as happened in the 2016 elections in the USA, allows modelling from polling results.
It’s government by marketing.
Using ‘Socialism’ as a hand-wave for Nazi ideology allows the alt-right to claim theirs is a new philosophy of politics, not just a rehash of the usual suspects in the pantheon of dictatorships.

 

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(Original post July 2013, for some unidentified reason WP re-dated this post when I edited a couple of typo’s during the summer.)

I realise that many readers of this blog will think that I am merely an artsy, stroppy feminist with too many opinions traversing policy areas across the spectrum. This is a deliberate strategy that I have undertaken for this stream of publication.

So to ‘break the fourth wall’, I am now going to give you a little of my IRL specifics, in order that what I say about the GCSB Bill now before the House in New Zealand, has a little more validity.

I have been around the IT industry in our country since my early university days. Yep, I failed Comp 101, because it bored me rigid, rather than not understanding how to write binary code. I didn’t want to end up working with those kinda people, doing that kinda work. My sister is of a different personality type, and she loved it, and has had a twenty-five-year career (and counting) in IT, as has my ex-husband. It was during my marriage that I learned most of what I know about the internet, due to contracts my then-husband was working on for his employer, a major MNC which operates in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

Don’t kid yourselves that there is anything ‘private’ about what you do on the net.

Don’t buy into the idea that you are ‘a consumer’, the internet is ‘a product’, nor that it is there to entertain you.

What we now call the internet began as Arpanet and DArpanet, projects of the USA Department of Defense, in collaboration with research projects at hand-picked Universities in the USA. It was originally an IT research program to create a secure way of transmitting and collecting data for the DOD. These days, we’d call that an intranet, similar to the kind of WAN that operates inside most corporations for administrative purposes.

The Bill going through our Parliament at the moment is a stage of DOD ‘taking back’ the internet from public use. Surveillance and transmission of surveilled data was always the primary purpose of the net; the Patriot Act in 2001, followed by Terrorism Suppression legislation in most global jurisdictions, was a first attempt to ‘plug the holes’. Creating crimes of knowledge, of dissemination of information, was the beginning of a global campaign by DOD to regain domination of the medium of internet traffic.

It is obvious in the trial of Chelsea Manning, the attempts to smear and discredit Julian Assange of Wikileaks, the hunting down of Edward Snowden (still on-going), that the DOD is very serious about extending its’ capacities to control activities outside the borders of the USA.

This is a breach of the sovereignty of every other nation on earth, and most people are just going to sit by and watch as it happens, not making the connections to totalitarian control of their own lives.

So, on these grounds, I urge every thinking citizen of Aotearoa/New Zealand to join in the protests against the GCSB Bill that is before the House. There is a nationwide protest organised for Saturday 27th July 2013, all events beginning at 2pm.
Because this is only the thin end of a wedge that will see a totalitarian surveillance society established in every nation in the world, if we, the people, do not stop it. It’s too late to make submissions, but this is something anyone can do.
Events in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin, Napier are listed on FB and there is also a general group for discussion. (outlinks)

Our MP’s have spoken out against this Bill – here on frogblog and here and here on the main Greens website.

If you want to access the submissions that went to the Select Committee hearings, they can be found here (pdf to download).

If you want to view the submissions made during the hearings, video has been uploaded to You-tube. (outlinks)
Submitters Thomas Beagle, from Tech Liberty, Susan Chalmers and Jordan Carter from Internet NZ, Micheal Koziarski, Vikram Kumar, Simon Terry, all made submissions as working professionals contracting in the IT industry.
Keith Locke and Kate Dewes and Robert Green (nuclear disarmament activists) made submissions on the political aspects of the Bill.

Today is very special for me. I’m a random tourist, doing some post-post-grad research in Dunedin currently, so I’ve been on Otago University campus a bit lately. Hocken Library is a national treasure, btw.

Today, OUSA Welfare exec Bryn Jenkins managed the Otago Uni re-launch of Thursdays in Black, the anti-violence campaign dating back to the 1990’s, formerly managed by the Tertiary Women’s Focus Group of NZUSA. It’s been in abeyance for a few years, due to funding shortfalls at NZUSA. Call that an outcome of the intersection between the incoming National Government in 2008, and the passing of the VSM legislation through Parliament, supported by ACT.

Violence, gendered and aimed at both biological sexes and most of the LGBTI+ spectrum, has not abated at the same rate as the funding to counter it. If anything, DV rates and alcohol-fuelled aggression have increased in proportion to the funding cuts announced in the devilish detail of every Bill English Budget since 2009.

I rant on about this stuff incessantly, offline and face-to-face with my feminist friends. I’ve written about issues around violence a lot. Seeing a fresh bunch of young people taking up the task of challenging NZ’s culture of violence inspires and energises me. 

There are many other initiatives out there as well – Shama in the Waikato, Shakti in Auckland & Wellington, to specifically address ethnic violence within their own cultures, youth support programs, Queer DV support networks; we need all of these groups. Getting TIB back up again on campus is a major win, though – because for many young people, this is their entry into thinking about consent, violence, social culture in NZ, the whole bowl of spaghetti.

  
Here’s Bryn, on the far right of the picture, with his fantastic vollie crew. Naww, aren’t they lovely!

I don’t often write explicitly about feminist theory (I have done, but that was a different blog, in a different political climate.)

Recently I’ve been reading a lot of mostly USA-generated writing about third wave feminism – which roughly defines the generation that came of age in the 1990’s and forwards – and has famously been written up by Jennifer Baumgardner, Sarah Boonin, Leslie Haywood and Jennifer Drake, among many others.

In a text edited by Jo Reger, I found a chapter by Susanne Beechey titled ‘When feminism is your job: age and power in Women’s organisations’ which points up the intergenerational conflicts between Second Wave (60’s & 70’s) feminists, many of whom began their organisations, and the young women they are now recruiting, who don’t have the income support of a well-established salaried partner and can’t afford to be unpaid interns or low-salaried staff within a feminist organisation.

I totally understand this position, having watched younger feminists around me struggling to keep a 10-hour-a-week, minimum-wage part-time job in a feminist group going, whilest actually putting in many more hours voluntarily to stop the group folding altogether.

Here in New Zealand, funding for women’s organisations like Women’s Refuge, Rape Crisis and even Child Poverty Action Group is very precarious. They all work at the sharp edge of social policy and welfare provision, often doing work that one might expect MSD, Min Health or CYFS to be doing within their portfolios. I have spoken to older feminists who recall cuts in funding that wiped out their meagre salaries – “well, we just went on the dole, and kept doing rescue work with battered women” one said, referring to the infamous Muldoon Government years.

But that was before Student Loans, casualisation of workplaces, or the benefit cuts of the ‘90’s and more recent cuts.

How do feminist organisations in NZ continue now?

[ CPAG, ALRANZ, WIRC, Women’s Refuge examples – ask around ]

Never mind all the volunteers who stoke the issue groups, policy loops and other sub-groups within our left-leaning political parties. (as far as I’m aware, there is no women’s networking per se within National or Act, but I could be wrong.)

White Ribbon Pledge

White Ribbon Pledge

I’m going to head off on a short rant about entitlement and privilege. Trigger warning, this one may ramble all over sexual assault, child sexual abuse, domestic violence, and how completely fucked-up the media narratives around power and control are, to do with personal boundaries around women’s bodies and women’s lives. 

What set that off, you ask? Oh, #ponytailgate, Mike Hoskings in general, his comments about the blogpost Amanda Bailey wrote for TDB in particular, and a multitude of instances of male appropriation of the narratives around what women find offensive, whether that should be so, and why they (males) don’t think it’s all that much of a problem. 

Of course, if you happen to belong to the demographic of the 1-in-4 women who (across the whole-of-lifetime) has been sexually assaulted, not to mention the subset who have survived multiple assaults, by various predators, across the span of their lives, then you will find it pretty bloody disgusting that there are a large group of media people who minimise, deny, obfuscate and manipulate, to create the public opinion that says, ‘women who don’t take care of themselves adequately get abused’. The truth is that those 1-in-4 come from every walk of life, are mothers, daughters, wives, grannies, aunties… 

And sometimes, it’s a man you know, who was sexually abused as a child or teenager, who has grown up with fear, anxiety, shame, pain, who has ‘odd’ reactions to incongruous situations; because they are situations that trigger memories of abuse, and bring to the surface those fears of the abuse happening again. 

Our rates of reporting and conviction for sexual assaults (child or adult) are not great. The ‘best guess’ was about one in ten rapes of over-16-year-olds are reported. Child sexual assaults are under-reported, although reporting by medical surgeries who diagnose STD’s in children is increasing the reporting rates. Some areas have epidemic levels of medically-reported child abuse; CYFS and Police do not have the capacity to clear anything like the amount of historical cases, either. Neither do ACC, whose criteria for ‘sensitive claims’ casework has been revised after an avalanche of new cases, some involving abuse going back decades, have been reported in the wake of Clint Rickards’ trial and acquittal for abuse of Louise Nicholas in 2007. 

Meanwhile, abusers drift from town to town, sniffing out the vulnerable and manipulating their way into another situation they can take advantage of. Precarity of housing, jobs, and benefit access, mean that vulnerable people will be targeted by those who have no scruples, who will rip off and abuse where they can get any toehold. There is a growing pattern of elder abuse happening, as middle-aged abusers target their own families in scams set up after ‘moving home’ due to job loss or some other event that has made them temporarily homeless. 

Police are not keeping up with the sociology of abuse. ‘It’s not ok’ defines relationship abuse solely in terms of sexual-partner abuse. The abuse by a dominant adult ‘child’, or the bullying that happens in some flatting situations, is not on their radar; policy around Policing is still reliant on a mid-20th C family dynamic that assumes nuclear, heterosexual, monogamous families, and fails to address modern households comprising multiple generations, extended friends-and-family houses, the post-student-loans indebted 30-somethings who are still renting-with-friends to survive – all of these non-normative households are also sites of dispute, fraud, assault or violence on occasion, and the law has no real regard for the plaint of individuals whose lives do not fit the templates. 

Wait, how did I get here from ‘entitlement & privilege’? Heh. Because every abuser I’ve ever met (a long and inglorious list) has had one thing in common with all the others: an overwhelming sense of entitlement, a conviction deep inside that s/he deserves everything his/her heart desires, and the privilege of having had no wait for gratification of those desires imposed, ever. Dinner on the table, someone else to clean up the mess, and sex on-demand, livestreamed, no concerns about ‘consent being sexy’, because the only person who matters in these exchanges is the narcissist, the psychopath, him/herself. 

‘Femicide’ was the name I labelled a file in which I kept clippings of domestic violence related killings, for one traumatic twelve-month period. I had to give it up (it was research for a tentative writing project), because the sheer scale of the number of incidents overwhelmed me. Because so many of these events involved murder-suicides, there were constraints on reporting the crimes; thus, the stories sank quickly from view, and the general public, readers of media, fail to note the severity or frequency of domestic violence killings. 

A pony-tail pull seems infantile, innocuous by comparison with the previous paragraph; but the underlying principle is the same: unequal power, use of that imbalance to impose upon another person’s body without their consent, and the sense of entitlement that gives the abuser permission to deny any agency to the person being so abused, in the expression of the gratification of the abusers desires. It seems that ‘top-down’ change in the attitudes of the NZ male around abusive behaviour is not going to happen. 

Laydees, looks like it’s up to us to enact ‘bottom-up’, grassroots (or flaxroots, if you prefer) change, to break the power binary, to stop the abuse in our communities. Those who control the narratives (Police, media, politicians) are not doing enough to prevent abuse, nor to hold abusers to account. Now it’s our turn. 

Resource: Power and control wheel 

All of these headings, the segments on the wheel, are forms of abuse, behaviours used to control, manipulate, and break the spirit of a victim. To become a survivor, the victim has to escape the abuser. For some, this never happens; the period immediately after leaving the location of abuse (home, workplace, school) is often the time when the victim is most vulnerable to further abuse. The media court the ‘powerful’, and the narratives around ‘victim-blaming’, ‘slut-shaming’ and the like allow abusers to continue to perpetrate crimes by walking away from their abuses, and on to the next victim.

Back Benches Redux

June 25, 2013

So, here’s another post about Back Benches!
[yes, I’m pasting info directly from Prime’s PR – but why change perfectly good material when you don’t have to?]

This week’s Back Benches panel in Wellington is Labour MP Phil Goff, National MP Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, and Green Party MP Kevin Hague.

THIS WEEK ON PRIME TV’s “BACK BENCHES”: Watch Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel and special guests discuss the week’s hottest topics!

WHO SHOULD GET THE PILLS?: Pharmac—the Government’s drug-buying agency wants your input on their funding policies? Who should be getting the pills? Where should our priorities lie? Should they put more money extending the lives of the elderly? Or should they prioritise medicines that would improve the lives of younger people? What about the poor—are they more deserving of help than rich people? Should the future earning potential of children be considered? Focusing on preventable diseases vs. genetic?

SPY BILL—IS IT SAFETY vs. PRIVACY?: The Law Society has made their opinion over the GCSB law changes proposals known. They hate it. They say the changes would mean the GCSB would go from a foreign intelligence agency to a domestic one. So, would the new powers be too broad? Why would New Zealanders need to watched? In order to gain safety—is a loss of privacy the price to pay?

There are two ways to get in on the political pub action:
First, you can join the live audience in Wellington’s iconic Backbencher Pub on Wednesday, 26th of June at 6pm. Filming begins around 6:15pm.

Or watch us that night on PRIME TV at 10:30pm!
http://www.primetv.co.nz/

Plus, Follow us on Facebook (BackBenchesTV) or on Twitter @BackBenchesTV.

Update:
I’ve missed my weekly fix of fun at the Back Bencher pub in Molesworth St, but during a flying visit, managed to squeeze in an evening with old mates.
The renovated pub layout is rather swish, I do approve of the changes – it’s been a bit hard to see how it all fitted together from the Prime footage I’ve watched. Up close, there was a lot to enjoy, not the least of which was the new puppets, which I hadn’t seen for myself before.
This weeks episode was full of rather good quotes – if you didn’t manage to watch it on Prime, catch it on i-Sky’s on-demand section, Prime shows are free-2-watch for a fortnight after transmission.

Just finished reading IPCA report on Operation 8, over a few cups of tea.
Just in case you don’t fancy reading the whole 88 pages of self-justification by Police National HQ, here’s some edited highlights:

“Findings in relation to Property searches
387. Police actions led occupants at five properties to have reasonable cause to believe that they were being detained while the search was conducted. The detention of occupants at these properties was contrary to law, unjustified, and unreasonable.” => illegal actions by Police Officers.

“390. Police had no legal basis or justification for personally searching occupants. These searches were contrary to law, unjustified, and unreasonable” => illegal actions on the part of Police Officers.

Now is the time for some actual punitive action to be taken by the Police Commissioner.
The Anti-Terror Unit, based in South Auckland, is composed of Police Officers who were recruited from overseas, from countries and forces that had ‘experience’ with anti-terror policing – namely, London Metropolitan Police who had been trained during the period of IRA bombings in the UK, and Afrikaaners from South Africa, who were trained during the ANC’s activities to gain political power in South Africa.
None of these staff came to Aotearoa/New Zealand without a complete set of personal biases, and they do not appear to be re-trained to cultural sensitivity around rights for all citizens in our country. Out of ten positions in the Anti-terror Unit, only one is held by a NZ-born and trained officer – Aaron Pascoe. The guy who authored the very flawed “Pascoe Affadavit” which was used to obtain search warrants on the 10th October, 2007.

Assistant Police Commissioner Jon White, in charge of the ATU, is one of the Afrikaaners. I strongly suggest that if the IPCA is serious about solving the ‘problems’ identified in the policing of the Ruātoki valley in 2007, then getting rid of the racist police officers in the ATU might be a very good place to start.
Then they might consider removing some of the rest of the Afrikaaner officers who have been recruited in to the NZ Police forces over the past ten years, who are a cohort of racists scattered through our towns and cities, to the detriment of unbiased, legal policing of crime.
If they don’t want to go to South Africa, get the Netherlands to take them back.

Note:
The report is available to download and read in full here.

Update:
Good post from Maui Street went up same day, but I’ve been slack checking around the web.

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