Sunday, April 03, 2011

Autocracy and Autism

In times of crisis the shit floats to the top and in Christchurch it’s called liquefaction. In a climate of shock and fear for 1000s of those who have lived with aftershocks for 6 months the aftermath of the quakes is being exploited by the capitalists to rush through their rightwing agenda. (see Disaster Capitalism Downunder). A new Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) has been created by the NACT government to ride roughshod over the Christchurch City Council (CCC) and disenfranchise the people of Christchurch from any democratic participation in how Christchurch will be rebuilt. 
This is the same NACT ploy used to sack the Canterbury Regional Council (which goes under the brandname 'Environment Canterbury') to give farmers relatively free access to water at the expense of the Canterbury townies. Now Christchurch gets the same treatment. CCC is effectively sacked and replaced by Gerry Brownlee and a Cabinet Committee. This is the rampant autocracy of Brownlee on behalf of the Canterbury gentry and NZ finance capital. Central city is in lockdown with armed checkpoints. The cowboy wreckers are pulling down buildings without consents or notifying owners. Valuable contents have gone missing. Small business owners have demonstrated against being locked out of their premises for over a month. 
To divert the people of Christchurch from the NACT demolition job of asset stripping Christchurch, the usual rightwing ploy of fear mongering about a breakdown of law and order is used as a smokescreen. What better than to create a panic about ‘looters’. In every crisis situation where workers need food they raid supermarkets and are labelled looters. The city is flooded with Army checkpoints and Aussie cops were imported to patrol the suburbs. The Eastern suburbs were left without water, electricity and toilets for weeks. When young people organised to come to the aid of families in the Eastern Suburbs they were profiled and warned off by cops. 
Then a young man is arrested for stealing light bulbs. 25-year-old Cornelius Arie Smith-Voorkamp is beaten up by cops. Up pops rightwing shockjock Michael Lhaws on Radio Live to amp up the fear and hysteria. This man should be locked up he says. Being beaten up is ‘natural justice’. Wanted, Vigilantes. Turns out the young man has Aspergers Syndrome with a fixation on light bulbs which he took from an abandoned building.  Autism is no excuse says Michael Lhaws. Brian Edwards rushes to the young man’s defence but manages to treat autism as some sort of social disability. What is worse shock jock or patronising liberal? 

Another young autistic man has Lhaws sussed. “Michael Laws works for Radio Live. The studio he works in is too small and dark. He needs sunshine to make him happy. He is not alive yet he works for Live radio. He needs to join Special Olympics and get some exercise”. Seems that Arie was keeping his cool and behaving rationally compared to the Autocracy, the shock jocks and the limp liberals, who each in their own way exploit the shock, the social disability and social chaos which disenfranchises the working people of Christchurch while their assets are seriously looted. 
We say that the working people of Christchurch need to organise in their localities and their unions to build their own Christchurch, joining forces with the workers who are rebuilding the infrastructure to take control of the planning and rebuilding of the facilities and resources they need and refusing to be manipulated and managed by the NACT machine in what is going to be a furious showdown election campaign. Working class Christchurch does not want to become a poster child for the NACTS disaster capitalism. The workers of Christchurch need to organise to take control of their city from the capitalist asset strippers. They could start by making an inventory of the infrastructure and services to identify the real looters.  

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