Sunday, September 25, 2011

Quake City sees Red

Christchurch city workers are organising to oppose the worst effects of the disaster capitalist solution to the ‘rebuilding’ of Christchurch. To recap, our analysis shows that Christchurch is a microcosm of current rightwing solutions to the impact of global crisis in Aotearoa. The NACTs have legislated for the direct cabinet rule of Christchurch in a state of emergency by CERA that will see the ‘disaster’ used as a pretext to restructure capital in the region.

This means the liquidation of much fixed capital and its re-allocation from small capitalists to the big Canterbury and national and international corporates. We saw the first move in this direction with the man-made ‘earthquake’ of the sacking of ECAN to allow big dairy farmers to grab cheap water rights. Now as we predicted, The Press reports: “The Central Christchurch recovery is under threat as quake-weary property owners start using their insurance money to buy new buildings in Auckland and overseas.”

Equally, it means the liquidation of much variable (living labour) capital as workers are shunted around, forced out of their munted homes and into the already flooded reserve army of unemployed. So now we have the worst affected Red Zone areas planned for evacuation with compensation offers for relocation at 2007 levels.

The elite manipulation of property values through slow release of new sections is dispossessing many former home-owners in East Christchurch, especially of working-class Pakeha, Maori, Polynesians and Asians.

National Party investors and land developers have formed a neo-feudal aristocracy with "tangata whenua" - Ngāi Tahu Holdings Corporation and Ngāi Tahu Property - for direct rule through CERA that has subordinated egalitarian democracy and its vestige in the elected Christchurch City Council, which is fragmenting. The capitalist dictatorship has here become overt and very apparent, historically unconscious of the implications of its outright liquidation of social democracy in Canterbury - the major political dynamic. The reactionary nature of "political correctness" around Maori nationalism has thus been starkly revealed.

Frustration is pent-up on this and the growing range of economic issues. Another example is the rail transport proposal in the "presidential-style" Mayor's Central City Plan, which - contrary to the recovery needs of urban Rangiora, Kaiapoi, Rolleston, Hornby and Lyttelton - prioritises business demands with a brand new and expensive CBD-to-University rail link starting point. Opposition is thus becoming widespread.

After months of autocratic refusal to allow the citizens of the worst affected areas of Christchurch into the plans for their futures, they are now mobilising in their neighbourhoods and all across the Red Zone to get answers and to get full compensation. This grassroots mobilisation looks like it could become a major factor in deciding the upcoming election.

Thanks to Rik Tindall. 

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