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May 6, 2009 | by  | in News Online Only |
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Ex-VUWSA President burns NZ flag

During today’s VUWSA Student Representative Council (SRC) meeting, ex-VUWSA President Joel Cosgrove and two other Workers’ Party members burnt the New Zealand flag.

The SRC, which was called to discuss VUWSA’s non-action on laying a wreath at Wellington’s ANZAC day commemorations, failed to meet the required quorum of 50 students. President Freemantle was to put forward motions, which the chief executive of the RSA Stephen Clarke had endorsed. However, because of the lack of students, these motions could not be passed.

When Freemantle opened the floor for speakers, Cosgrove made a statement on behalf of the Workers’ Party: “The rhetoric of ANZAC day provides justification for today’s New Zealand imperialist adventures in Afghanistan and the Pacific.”

Pelted with boos and cries of “Shame, shame, shame!” from the audience, Cosgrove continued to speak, listing the conflicts that New Zealand has taken part in since World War I. “The New Zealand flag represents both British imperialism and New Zealand imperialism contained within one entity, and for that reason we are against it.”

Cosgrove, the President of VUWSA in 2008, former VUWSA exec member Marika Pratley and another Workers’ Party member, Alastair Reith, proceeded to exit the bar onto the deck where they doused the New Zealand flag with an accelerant and proceeded to ignite it. Bar staff moved quickly to stomp the conflagration out and eject Cosgrove from the premises.

Reith videoed the burning and it is now proudly posted on his Facebook, along with the note: “Me, Marika and Joel decided to warm our hands with the flag of NZ imperialism … I think I burned my fingers…”

Freemantle was quick to extinguish the thought that the burning was endorsed by VUWSA by saying that flag burning was the one thing she did not want VUWSA to engage in on ANZAC day.

Manager of the Student Union Complex Rainsforth Dix said: “The University is aware of this incident and is currently considering appropriate and relevant action.”

In 2003 Paul Hopkinson, a Workers’ Party member, was convicted of destroying a New Zealand flag with intent to dishonor it. This conviction was later overturned under the context that Hopkinson was exercising free speech. He later burnt the flag again and was charged with disorderly conduct.

Last year NZPA reported that flag burner Valerie Morse had been fined $500 for offensive behavior when she disrupted the Wellington ANZAC day ceremonies in 2007.

****************UPDATE****************

Workers’ Party caught out about Joel being trespassed from campus.

Last night the Workers’ Party sent out a press release stating: “Victoria University have placed a trespass notice on Joel Cosgrove (Workers Party member) for his burning of the New Zealand flag”.

Rainsforth Dix told Salient this afternoon that this is untrue.

“The University has not issued Joel Cosgrove with a trespass notice for any part of the University,” she said, adding that the university is still considering the most appropriate action to take against Cosgrove.

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Comments (84)

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  1. Hank Scorpio says:

    “Videotaping this crime spree was the best idea we ever had!” — Jimbo Jones, The Simpsons

  2. Sando says:

    Oh for fucks sake guys. If you’re going to do something to make a political point, you don’t undermine yourself with childish grandstanding. It’s performatively incorrect.

  3. Laurie Oakes says:

    How did people like Joel and Marika get elected? And has Joel paid back the money to VUWSA for his junket to Australia?

  4. Liam Nub says:

    Ahhh, ‘scuse me. If you want to warm your hands, I’ve got a pair of suede gloves going cheap on TradeMe if you’re interested.

  5. Annoyed_Citizen says:

    HAHAHAHAHA what a fucking retard, since when was rebuilding Afghanistan being remotely imperialist, we aren’t fucking try to make it a colony, really, does this guy have any fucking brain cells.

  6. Mikey says:

    Joel reminds me of Jillian from Family Guy:
    “Oh my god, Brian! I was watching this TV special about this guy called Hitler, somebody should stop him!”

  7. Paul Hopkinson is also a Workers Party member. He burnt the flag in protest against NZ’s role in the imperialist war in Afghanistan.

    IF anyone wants to see the Flagburning check out the YOuTUbe VIdeo you can see it on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6Vjz1ujiGo

    If anyone wants lessons on the best approach to burning the flag of New Zealand or other Imperialist countries, feel free to contact me, Alastair or Joel for advice. :)

  8. owen says:

    marika, is NUB101 NZQA approved?

  9. Graphical User Ynterface says:

    So did you piss on it after burning it, or what? I just wanna make sure you’re being thorough

  10. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    Oh Joel, why? Honestly. This kind of action is needlessly inflammatory (forgive the pun) – not to mention illegal. Whilst VUWSA is trying to negotiate its way through the rough waters of public opinion, here you are blatantly pouring petrol on the flames and spouting unwarranted ideological vitriol.

    There is a time and a place for all opinions, and I am all for alternate viewpoints on matters of national culture. But I simply have no patience for those who choose to express their viewpoints by breaking the law. I hope for your sake that a trespass order is all you receive.

    Matt.

  11. Electrum Stardust says:

    VUWSA was seeking a mandate from the student body to do what it deems most appropriate, so where were all the people who (apparently) hold such strong views, one way or another (other than Cosgrove, of course)?

  12. Spud Ranger says:

    Is Cosgrove still a student? How many years does it take to get a degree in media and gender studies?

  13. Ian Anderson says:

    It’s actually not illegal, see Hopkinson vs the state.

    As for obeying the law. Name one progressive, effective social movement that’s acted consistently with the laws of the day, rather than changing them.

  14. Spud Ranger says:

    The evict Ian Anderson movement?

  15. Duff man says:

    Cosgrove is a professional student i.e. he will never truly graduate and leave university. he is a disgrace, always has been and always will be. the same goes for marika ‘i piss in public’ pratley and the other two douche bags.

    shame on you you childish excuses for students, you make us all look bad.

  16. Hank Scorpio says:

    Who’s Cosgrove trying to kid with that embarassing voiceover?

  17. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    Ian Anderson:
    “It’s actually not illegal”

    Section 11.1b of the ‘Flags, Emblems, and Names Protection Act 1981′ states that “Every person commits an offence against this Act who in or within view of any public place, uses, displays, destroys, or damages the New Zealand Flag in any manner with the intention of dishonouring it.” Now this is obviously open to interpretation (just what classifies as ‘dishonouring’ the flag?), but the legislation is clear – burning the flag is illegal, however archaic a law it might be.

    Ian Anderson:
    “see Hopkinson vs the state”

    This was a matter of interpretation rather than legality; the charges against Phil were dropped due to the burning in question being considered a form of protest consistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. Fair enough call – but still an illegal act.

    Ian Anderson:
    “As for obeying the law. Name one progressive, effective social movement that’s acted consistently with the laws of the day, rather than changing them.”

    I’ll address this in two ways. Firstly, for some examples of ‘progressive, effective social movements’ that have acted within the bounds of national law, I refer you to the multitude of peaceful protests that facilitated the downfall of the various unjust communist governments in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s / early 1990s.

    Secondly, your statement implies that law-breaking is often required when combatting an unjust system – something i’ll not deny when faced with the dramatic successes of Gandhi’s policies of civil disobedience. However, your statement in this context is based upon the assertion that our current system is unjust – a wholly subjective position which I do NOT agree with. New Zealand is a pretty sweet country, and any would-be protestors have plenty of wriggle-room within the confines of national law in which to voice their issues. With this in mind, I find it difficult to condone such deliberately provocative acts as that which was committed by Joel, Marika, and Alastair today.

    Matt.

  18. Ian Anderson says:

    Yeah, the precedent set by Hopkinson vs the state is that flag-burning is an acceptable form of protest.

    As for whether New Zealand is a ‘pretty sweet’ state… dude, napalm. And we’re currently backing the Afghanistani regime that has legalised rape within marriage. The welfare state and the right to free speech, achieved by mass movements decades ago, are worth celebrating. But we’re still an imperialist nation.

  19. NZ_Patriot says:

    Ship the cunts off to cuba.

  20. Josh McGuigan says:

    If these tosspots have such a hatred of our systems and our history why dont they grab a one way ticket leave?

    God forbid if i saw this attention-whores pulling such an act.

  21. Josh McGuigan says:

    No wonder they failed to meet the required quorum. Im sure if people were aware they would have turned up.

  22. Spud Ranger says:

    “And we’re currently backing the Afghanistani regime that has legalised rape within marriage.”

    While you’re backing communist states with no free speech, imprisonment or death without a fair trial or even a good reason, torture, mass state-sanctioned murder… Yeah NZ’s pretty bad…

  23. Hitler says:

    I will get the commie prick. Once I get back from Brazil

  24. Caleb G says:

    I find it ironic that Cosgrove is a member of the Facebook group, ‘Fire at will is wrong’.

  25. Ian Anderson says:

    Um. I’m with Luxemburg that real democratic centralism must involve the right to dissent, and must be driven by the masses rather than a Central Committee. So dual power (eg Soviets before the 20s, Community Councils in Venezuela) beats party dictatorship, although the party is an important avenue for centralised organisation.

    Where do we get to the part where I’ve actively helped illiberal regimes such as those in Tonga and Afghanistan?

  26. Spud Ranger says:

    Don’t start a sentence with ‘um’. Makes you look dumbface

  27. Duff man says:

    Ian Anderson: no, just… no. ok? douche

  28. Ian Anderson says:

    Hey, atleast I sign my name to it.

  29. Odeon Boy says:

    Cosgrove why are you representing the Workers Party? You’ve never done an honest days work in your miserible life. Do NZ a favour and fuck off and when you get back fuck off again.

  30. [This is not] Joel Cosgrove says:

    Yep im a douche bag IMPERALISM IS GAY…….lol China and cuba rules lol they arn’t imperialist.

    lolololol I hope I get arrested so I look like a martyr

    I know everything cause I’ve been to college

  31. rednexkiwi says:

    Yay so obvious that ain’t the real Joel… How many comments is this thread going to get? 1000? A million? Or a trillion knee jerks from a gazillion reactionaries…Bring out that flashing Hitler with the countdown…

  32. ellen says:

    How did these people get elected? I have been at Vic for four years now, and quite frankly have always thought of the exec as being a bunch of left wing losers, that no one really gives a shit about. But this really hacks me off, how dare these sorry excuses for uni representatives humiliate Vic students by burning the NZ flag. If they have such a problem with NZ, they can fuck off to Cuba, where they can live happily ever after bitching about “imperialist” countries.

  33. Shame on you Joel says:

    Because you looked sooooo much of a martyr last time Joel when you got beat up by a GIRL cop. Yelling and screaming in fake pain like a sissy.

    And another thing people who identify as Queer often have a hard enough time as it is without you calling imperialism gay (and if your going to use words make sure you spell them correctly you idiot) and implying that there is something wrong and evil with being gay.

    I hope you go to hell you bigot and Hitler fucks you up the arse with a burning flag.

    There’s a word for people like you….. Traitor.

  34. Ubiquitous says:

    Are these cocksuckers are just compensating for the lack of fibre in their diet?
    The ANZAC’s fought to protect out way of life.
    Calling their heroism “Imperialism” is tantamount to calling the Taliban a “humanist society”.
    Perhaps a fund should be otganised to send this group of misanthropes on a permanent tour of WoW so they won’t do this shit in RL.
    Disrespecting the dead is the ultimate form of cowardice.

  35. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    Ian Anderson:
    “we’re currently backing the Afghanistani regime that has legalised rape within marriage”

    You’re listing one negative law (admittedly an extremely abhorrent one) amidst thousands of others that have benefited the Afghani people since the Taliban were toppled in 2001. To condemn the government of New Zealand based on one single law implemented by a country on the other side of the world that we happen to back is extremely spurious logic – especially considering the strenuous opposition voiced over that law by our government and the West in general.

    Ian Anderson:
    “The welfare state and the right to free speech, achieved by mass movements decades ago, are worth celebrating”

    I agree. And in the context of New Zealand, were these achieved by legal or extra-legal means?

    Ian Anderson:
    “But we’re still an imperialist nation.”

    Having a stance on international affairs, even to the point of assisting a UN-sanctioned mission to remove a morally repugnant regime from power, does not equate to imperialism. Whilst it would be naïve to think that New Zealand’s participation in armed conflicts abroad have not on occasion served some ulterior motive, automatically equating these conflicts with a desire to subjugate and dominate foreign powers is a long stretch.

    Can I assume that you are a socialist? If this is so, how do you reconcile your position on imperialism with the core socialist tenet of perpetual revolution and internationalism? As a socialist you recognize the need to influence the spread of the proletarian revolution beyond the borders of your home country by supporting national movements in foreign states that match your own ideological suppositions. Despite the fact that your end goal may indeed by the erasure of all national borders and the withering of the state, is your position in the meantime not also a form of imperialism?

    Back to Joel’s actions for a second. I have been wondering why he chose this particular occasion to stage his rather fiery form of protest. Surely a protest against the supposed ‘celebration of imperialism’ that is ANZAC Day would have been better mounted on the day itself, rather than at a relatively insignificant and marginally reported SRC meeting two weeks later. Considering the fact that Joel has been in hot water with VUWSA recently over his misappropriation of student funds last year, could this seemingly poorly timed incident simply be a case of a personal vendetta speciously cloaked in ideological rage?

    Matt.

  36. Superior Mind says:

    Personally I’m not actually a fan of the New Zealand flag. Not for ideological reasons, I just think we need a new design.

    Anyway what I’ve noticed here is something that I often notice around ANZAC Day and that’s the misunderstanding that “Lest We Forget” is meant to be a reminder to us all never to fight any more wars ever ever again. I mean, do any of us seriously believe that we can achieve a world where there is no such thing as war?

    Also I have to say I’m sick of the chant of “Imperialism” whenever a country has input in another’s politics. We live in a globalised world here people.

    Finally, although a use of theatrics can be effective, here it’s pretty pathetic. Sure it’s gained you a little attention but in the same way as a hyperactive three year-old who scribbles on Mummy’s wall does – basicly a cry for attention rather than making any coherant point.

    Also, next time maybe don’t burn a nylon flag.

  37. Rambo says:

    Matt I think you should read this article: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/2386913/SAS-in-Anzac-task-force-plans

    This IS IMPERIALISM! Australia is about to go on a military spending spree in order to have the capacity to throw it’s weight around the region and wants to revive the ANZAC’s to utilise New Zealand’s resources (SAS troops, logistics support etc) thus capitalising on the brand name of the ANZAC’s

    This is what the flag burning really fights against, NOT as some conceived disrespect to people like our Great Grandfathers who died at Gallipolli/The Somme in that Great Imperialist war…

  38. Ian Anderson says:

    “Whilst it would be naïve to think that New Zealand’s participation in armed conflicts abroad have not on occasion served some ulterior motive, automatically equating these conflicts with a desire to subjugate and dominate foreign powers is a long stretch.”

    We don’t “desire to subjugate” in some throwback colonialist fashion, we’re simply interested in getting our cut. Our approach to our Pacific neighbours is probably the primary example of NZ imperialism. The free trade agreement we’re currently signing will legitimise international exploitation; capital moving freely across nations, while labour may only move when it serves the ruling class. Pacific Islanders are disproportionately targeted for overstaying – at times 85% of those we’ve kicked out have been PI, while PI have only made up a third of overstayers. This was not some Muldoon-era aberration. We’ve done our best to keep Pacific nations governed in a fashion that serves our interests; that’s not necessarily democratic (see Tonga) but means we have a stable elite with which to do business. We helped draw up the constitution in Fiji which screwed the Indo-Fijian majority, and we’ve acted very hypocritical over the emergence of Bainamarama. International hypocrisy is a pretty good indicator of imperialism.

    I don’t think it’s imperialist to support movements in another countries. I think it’s imperialist to get involved in their governance to serve your own national interests.

    Meanwhile, Joel didn’t make the decision to burn the flag, and he didn’t do it on his own. The decision was made as a branch when Don called a meeting, and performed as a branch. We decided to do it because VUWSA’s “agnostic” position was insufficient and we had to make the party line clear. We were drawing from Paul Hopkinson’s approach, which is a fairly stark, useful challenge to left-nationalists.The single-minded obsession VUWSA and Salient people have with Joel is a little dispiriting.

  39. Ian Anderson says:

    “Australia is about to go on a military spending spree in order to have the capacity to throw it’s weight around the region and wants to revive the ANZAC’s to utilise New Zealand’s resources (SAS troops, logistics support etc) thus capitalising on the brand name of the ANZAC’s”

    Oh yeah, saw that. That’s why we specifically put in our press release, ‘ANZAC Day has never been used by the ruling class to justify measures that actively oppose war, but has always been used to entrench militarism.’ Or words to that affect.

  40. Meek says:

    Our flag is an embarrasment anyway.
    I’m not gonna lie, I do not think this was the best way to get your point across team. However, keep trying.

  41. diddums says:

    I hope the fucker gets charged and thrown in jail. It is a disgrace and this asshole should not be associated with any student association

  42. Hippyshake says:

    Hippies out there just watch the video again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6Vjz1ujiGo then close your eyes and daydream you are at Berkley.

    diddums and the others just watch the video and close your eyes and wind back the clock 40 years and pretend you are sitting at the dinner table with your fresh crew cut about to eat your meat and three veg and choke on your dinner…

  43. Vive la revolucion (right after my nap) says:

    Joel Cosgrove seems determined to make himself look like a complete fuckwit and drag the “Workers” Party willingly down with him. So you burned a flag. You have every right to do so. May I suggest you also set fire to yourself the next time to really prove the point. NZ is about as imperialist as my left testicle (the smaller one). And Anzac Day glorifies war about as much as playing Dungeons and Dragons helps you get a date.. God it makes me laugh.

  44. Magonagal says:

    I wonder why Joel and Marika did not pull this stupid stunt when they were on the Vuwsa exec when it might have produced a greater effect? VUWSA president burns NZ flag is surely a better headline than ex-vuwsa president?? The VUWSA exec has been an embarassment for several years now and the “workers party” even more so. How many workers are in the party or is it only student tosspots like Cosgrove, Kelly, pratley etc?

  45. Rory MacKinnon says:

    “May I suggest you also set fire to yourself the next time to really prove the point.”

    Well, it did work for Thích Quảng Đức. Joel, I will donate 50% of my wages to the CWP’s glorious revolution if you demonstrate the courage of your convictions.

  46. Superior Mind says:

    Seconded.

  47. Jackson Wood says:

    New update:
    Workers’ Party / Joel possibly fibbing about trespass. Uh oh. See above.

  48. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    Rambo:

    “Australia is about to go on a military spending spree in order to have the capacity to throw it’s weight around the region and wants to revive the ANZAC’s to utilise New Zealand’s resources (SAS troops, logistics support etc) thus capitalising on the brand name of the ANZAC’s”

    Let me be clear that I do NOT support Australia’s increased military spending, nor do I agree with any attempts to capitalize upon the term ‘ANZAC’ as if it were a marketing brand. If you will observe my post in response to the initial discussion over VUWSA’s decision not to lay a wreath on ANZAC Day (http://www.salient.org.nz/blog/vuwsa-anzac-wreath-would-support-war, somewhere around post 175), you will see that I do not agree with the preponderant definition of ANZAC Day that is bandied around in social memory.

    In saying that, I feel you are conflating stability with imperialism – simply possessing the ability to preserve the democratic process in the Oceanic region does not imply that said ability will be used to influence the political systems of any particular nation in an undesirable fashion. One can maintain a viewpoint on a particular situation (such as opposition to the recent undemocratic actions of Commodore Bainimarama in Fiji) and even take actions to punish those who have caused that situation (such as the democratic decision to suspend Fiji’s membership in the Pacific Islands Forum) and still be perfectly justified in doing so. Whilst we may differ in our political persuasions, I am sure we can all agree that the preservation of the maximum level of democracy is an essential task in international relations.

    “This is what the flag burning really fights against, NOT as some conceived disrespect to people like our Great Grandfathers who died at Gallipolli/The Somme in that Great Imperialist war…”

    At no point did I claim that Joel’s action was designed to bring ‘disrespect to people like our Great Grandfathers who died at Gallipolli/The Somme’. I simply felt that it was an inappropriate act staged at an inappropriate forum at an inappropriate time. As I have stated above, ‘there is a time and a place for all opinions, and I am all for alternate viewpoints on matters of national culture’; however, hijacking an SRC for the purpose of a mere publicity stunt is, in my view, unacceptable.

    Ian Anderson:

    “We don’t “desire to subjugate” in some throwback colonialist fashion, we’re simply interested in getting our cut. Our approach to our Pacific neighbours is probably the primary example of NZ imperialism … [w]e’ve done our best to keep Pacific nations governed in a fashion that serves our interests; that’s not necessarily democratic (see Tonga) but means we have a stable elite with which to do business.”

    Regarding the question of the Tongan monarchy – if your assertion that New Zealand desires to keep Pacific nations governed in a fashion that is ‘not necessarily democratic’ were true, then why was no opposition mounted by the state when George Tupou V vowed to give up most of his powers by 2010 last year? On the contrary, it is the position of the government that ‘New Zealand is a supporter of democratic reform in Tonga’ and has ‘backed efforts to promote peaceful change’ such as donating $250000 to the National Committee on Political Reform (NCPR). If anything, one would think you would support New Zealand’s ‘non-imperialist’ policy that ‘the pace and direction of change can be determined only by the Tongan people’.

    “we’re simply interested in getting our cut”

    As I have stated above, ‘it would be naïve to think that New Zealand’s participation in armed conflicts abroad have not on occasion served some ulterior motive’, and the same applies to our diplomatic ventures. However, to claim that the SOLE MOTIVATION driving foreign policy is to get our cut negates the evidence that I have provided above. Governments must act in a fashion that serves the national interest, else they risk losing the support of the electorate; however, governments must ALSO act in accordance with moral interests, or else risk alienating the same electorate.

    “I don’t think it’s imperialist to support movements in another countries. I think it’s imperialist to get involved in their governance to serve your own national interests.”

    The Soviet Union enforced a number of undemocratic communist governments in Eastern Europe for half a century. They also intervened in various other nations (Ethiopia in the 70s and Afghanistan in the 80s are prime examples) to prop up, reinforce, and provide ongoing support for communist governments that served their own national interest. Cuba did the same in Angola and South Africa; Vietnam intervened in Cambodia; Venezuela maintains ongoing support for the FARC rebels in Colombia. It is unavoidable that the practicalities of international relations require us to provide at least some level of input into the governance of other nations as best suits our own national interests. The level of input and how justified it may be is, of course, subject to conjecture.

    The alternative – complete isolationism – is simply unacceptable, and can in fact exacerbate certain international situations. The United States, for example, took little or no steps against the military buildup of fascist regimes in interwar Europe – something which we can both agree was a huge mistake. If the Workers Party intends to maintain a similar isolationist stance, that is your prerogative; however, I consider it to be completely untenable and unsuited to the reality of international affairs.

    “International hypocrisy is a pretty good indicator of imperialism.”

    No; it’s a sign that times, requirements, and governments will change in a democratic system. No state can predict how future events will unfold, nor the policies its successors will pursue – they can only act in a fashion that is congruent with national, moral, and lawful interest. By that I’m not implying that all of said actions will be correct or justifiable, merely that what you term ‘hypocricy’ is unavoidable in any system that is governed by the dynamics of change and human agency.

    “Joel didn’t make the decision to burn the flag, and he didn’t do it on his own. The decision was made as a branch when Don called a meeting, and performed as a branch … [t]he single-minded obsession VUWSA and Salient people have with Joel is a little dispiriting.”

    Until you said that I had no idea that Joel’s action was decided upon and assigned by a branch. Neither the press not the information on the Workers Party / Spark Discussion websites state that Joel’s action was motivated by anything other than his own ideological persuasion, supported by the weight of his party.

    Matt.

  49. peteremcs' says:

    Of course Jasmine didn’t have a clue what her fellow party members were planning to do at the meeting!

    What is VUWSA’s policy on flag burning on university policy?

    Presumably we will be having an SRC to see what the students’ views on flag burning are?

  50. Mr_Hemmy says:

    “Of course Jasmine didn’t have a clue what her fellow party members were planning to do at the meeting!”

    Maybe they are being more libertarian than you give them credit for then.

    LOLZ@Cosgrove re update. oh how shallow the truth is for a communist.

  51. Ian Anderson says:

    This’ll be my last contribution the debate, not in a “take my toys and go home” way but because it’s turning into a procrastination tool.

    “Let me be clear that I do NOT support Australia’s increased military spending, nor do I agree with any attempts to capitalize upon the term ‘ANZAC’ as if it were a marketing brand. If you will observe my post in response to the initial discussion over VUWSA’s decision not to lay a wreath on ANZAC Day (http://www.salient.org.nz/blog/vuwsa-anzac-wreath-would-support-war, somewhere around post 175), you will see that I do not agree with the preponderant definition of ANZAC Day that is bandied around in social memory.”

    We’re arguing the form ANZAC Day takes is a celebration of imperialism. So one of the more common arguments is about the men who ‘defended our freedoms,’ and this is used to facilitate measures such as those taken by Rudd. If it were simply a day of mourning for the people killed, if the War Memorial were showered with white poppies and speeches made about the slaughter of a generation of men to serve imperialist Northern powers, we’d partake. As is, you get stuff about the spirit of freedom and compassion which Gallipoli apparently represents.

    “Regarding the question of the Tongan monarchy – if your assertion that New Zealand desires to keep Pacific nations governed in a fashion that is ‘not necessarily democratic’ were true, then why was no opposition mounted by the state when George Tupou V vowed to give up most of his powers by 2010 last year?”

    To be clear, ‘not necessarily democratic’ means that it’s not our primary concern. Our primary concerns are having stable elites to trade with. This is comparable on a larger scale with the US backing brutal dictatorships in Equatorial Guinea and elsewhere, while backing democracy elsewhere; the main thing is that we have stable trading partners and a source of cheap labour, the rest is secondary.

    “If anything, one would think you would support New Zealand’s ‘non-imperialist’ policy that ‘the pace and direction of change can be determined only by the Tongan people’.”

    Which apparently means an incremental pace determined by Tongan elites. I’m not arguing we intervene to promote democracy, I’m arguing we don’t intervene to back up the monarchy in the face of pro-democratic riots.

    “One can maintain a viewpoint on a particular situation (such as opposition to the recent undemocratic actions of Commodore Bainimarama in Fiji)”

    Fiji has never been a full democracy. This is partly our responsibility as we helped with the constitution, which created a tribal elite with special voting rights. We did not cut Fiji off after the previous coups, which were carried out in service of elite interests. The difference here is that Bainamarama says he intends to dismantle the rights of the tribal elite. As you said, stability is the main thing; it is, after all, a key word in the Washington Consensus.

    “The Soviet Union enforced a number of undemocratic communist governments in Eastern Europe for half a century. They also intervened in various other nations (Ethiopia in the 70s and Afghanistan in the 80s are prime examples) to prop up, reinforce, and provide ongoing support for communist governments that served their own national interest. Cuba did the same in Angola and South Africa; Vietnam intervened in Cambodia; Venezuela maintains ongoing support for the FARC rebels in Colombia. It is unavoidable that the practicalities of international relations require us to provide at least some level of input into the governance of other nations as best suits our own national interests.”

    This was a major debate in working-class circles towards the end of WWI; after the Russian revolution, how would geopolitics have to change? Again I refer you to Luxemburg and the Spartacists. Although they made grave tactical errors, they rightly identified that the German proletariat should fight to overthrow the German ruling class, thereby ending WWI in solidarity with the international proletariat.

    Unfortunately Stalin took a line of “socialism in one country.” Although the Workers Party does not subscribe to a particular Marxist sect (Maoist, Trotskyist etc) you’d be hard-pressed to find a WP member who supports socialism in one country, rather than proletarian internationalism. Don Franks burnt a Soviet flag when they invaded Afghanistan. I would argue true socialism requires the dismantlement of the state and proletarian internationalism. In the meantime, opposing nationalism in our own countries is necessary.

    And after that little polemic, I bow out and leave the last word to Cunningham ;)

  52. Ian Anderson says:

    As for the trespass, we were told it was a trespass then Rainsforth told us not to burn any more flags in the building in the next 24 hours. We complied, and it’s on camera if you really care.

  53. Electrum Stardust says:

    …America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the “land of the free”.

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/The_American_President

  54. Josh Lyman says:

    Ha ha Aaron Sorkin (West Wing), gotta love him he wrote that script (The American President) while on a really long drugs binge…

  55. Laura McQuillan says:

    Is burning the flag bad for the environment? Guess you can’t be a socialist and a hippy.

  56. ABC says:

    It say’s “free land” in our national anthem, but there’s nothing about New Zealand being the “land of the free” that’s the American anthem.

    Last time I checked NZ isn’t a state of America. You might want to find quotes that apply to New Zealand.

    If people want to burn flags in protest that’s fine (I myself don’t agree with it), but in Joel’s case it will be attention seeking. He’s a hypocrite. You can’t attend a wreath laying ceremony one year and then burn the flag the next and for what Socilaism?

    That’s a joke (on Joel’s part anyway) he was paid last year to be the president and all the year’s before that he accepted money and bonuses that were awarded to him. He even took out a loan from VUWSA to buy an iphone. Where is the socialism in that?

    Joel does things to get attention, he spouts a lot of bullshit and was now and always will be an embarrassment and I’d question as to whether or not he actually believes in anything other than what will put him in the public eye. I’m also pretty sure that he doesn’t have a patriotic bone in his body.

    Next time Joel if you want to set fire to something don’t burn something that people are proud to look at, set fire to something (that whilst is still kiwi) is compleatly worthless and that people wouldn’t even piss on to put out. Something that you’d cross the street to avoid or spit on (no actually spitting on would use up energy and I don’t have energy to waste).

    Next time Joel Set fire to yourself.

  57. Tim Edwards says:

    I don;t get onlne every day.
    But I am a full-time student (not at Kelburn), and did not see this meeting advertised anywhere.
    Perhaps that’s why there were not many students present.

  58. Tim Edwards says:

    Ok, so SRC’s are every week – but still, not all are available to go to them, and was this topic advertised with much notice?

    Also, I really can’t get over some of the comments on here that suggest people believe that when people need help, or are being bad to others we should just sit home in comfortable houses and hum tunefully to ourselves about how it is not our problem and the world around us is all flowers, and thank you very much but we’ll leave our responsibilities to be human until someone’s bashing down our own door (not the neighbours, or our sister’s, or the town up the road)

  59. Hank Scorpio says:

    what the fuck are you even talking about tim

  60. Frog says:

    I am a first year at Victoria and I am ashamed of Cosgrove’s misguided attention seeking.

    While I lack the experience in studing politcal science, INTP and law that contributors to this debate clearly have, I can see how misguided and shameful his action was. To connect ANZAC day with New Zealand imperialism is childish. I lack knowledge about international situations, but if, hypothetically, Cosgrove were to visit East Timor, Afghanistan or the Solomon islands before New Zealand forces were present as part of international intervention, he would probably have very different views on the matter.

    I respect well informed arguments against New Zealand ‘Imperialism’, but I think that to connect ANZAC day with such arguments is very misinformed.

    Shame on Joel Cosgrove.

  61. Wait…

    “Flag burning was the one thing she did not want VUWSA to engage in on ANZAC day.”

    That was the one thing?

  62. Tim Edwards says:

    Good lord Hank, can’t you read the comments on this and the other main comment board (from after the initial ANZAC-day report)?
    Several people are justifying their views on why NZ even going to WWI, WWII, Vietnam, Afghan. Solomons, etc was bad because ‘they weren’t attacking us’, ‘our freedoms were not under threat, who are we to intervene or help out?’, ‘coudn’t just wave flowers at them and hope they decide to be nice?’, or ‘it’ not our business what goes on outside NZ’.

    I wouldn’t want them in neigbourhood watch, let alone trying to represent me in any form.

  63. Electrum Stardust says:

    Sometimes interference is justified (eg. Hitler, Hirohito); at other times they are not or at least less so (eg. WWI). Naturally, people disagree with regard to specific situations. What we all can (and should) agree is that “war” is not something to be glorified or celebrated in itself. Even in those situations where war has already been started irresponsibly (and sometimes enthusiastically supported by citizens who are too willing to die, and worse, to kill, for ‘their country’ — I’m not referring to NZ here) ‘and other people are forced to end it, often with great sacrifice, the point remains that war is a ugly thing that is a blemish on all of humanity (and indeed is a shared legacy that we share with our cousins, the chimpanzees etc.)

    Whatever the causes of war, the victims should be remembered, and mourned, deeply. At the same time, the reasons behind their victimisation must also be remembered, pondered upon, and ultimately condemned.

    At the end of the day, “Peace, not war, shall be our boast.”

  64. Graphical User Ynterface says:

    Isn’t Ian Anderson the singer from Jethro Tull? What are YOU doing here? The tiny stone of student politics makes ripples to the edges of the world.

    Aqualung!

  65. Adam Goodall says:

    “The single-minded obsession VUWSA and Salient people have with Joel is a little dispiriting.”

    I know Mr. Anderson’s gone now, which is sad, because he was amusing, but I’d like to posit – Cosgrove, Pratley and that other guy burn the NZ flag in the middle of an SRC discussing VUWSA’s stance on ANZAC Day. What do you honestly think Salient is going to do? Ignore the story and run a piece on how puppies and kittens are great?

    On that note – Salient, please run a piece on how puppies and kittens are great.

  66. rupert says:

    Apologies for coming to this rather advanced thread so late, and perhaps off topic a little, but….
    With regards the recent dib dabs I feel it is all a storm in a teacup. The burning of the flag was the most suburban and safe, contrived and dimly calculated middle class display by people who are in fact, obviously, rather terrified.
    If they had really wanted to offend and create a hassle they might have taken a framed photograph of the gallant Corporal Bill Henry “Willie” Apiata VC and smashed that up.
    Love to you all, best wishes and kia kaha!
    Rupert Small

  67. Jackson Wood says:

    Puppies and kittens are great. Hey, there is an idea for a story…

    Watch out for issue 10. The Puppies and Kittens are great edition. (I’m not even fucking kidding)

  68. Don’t listen to Adam, he went to Ashhurst School, and—

    Oh.

    Oh kia ora.

  69. Graphical User Ynterface says:

    I can’t believe Joel set fire to a whole bunch of puppies and kittens then urinated on them.
    Come on Joel, what are you doing to the fragile minds of the uthe of today? Where is your sense of decorum? I haven’t set fire to any animals in ages, dude, and I only urinate when absolutely necessary.

  70. purina one says:

    jackson please with the puppies and kittens issue, plz.

    also, i heard that joel put peanut butter on his dick and made fi the drugs dog from napier lick it off, then made the kittens and puppies watch 60 consecutive rick-rolled youtube videos, a la a clockwork orange, just before setting fire to said kittens, who were actually wrapped in the new zealand flag when he burnt it. he told me it was to symbolise the imperialism of felines, and how they’re like, predators, yeah, of the um, working class and, yeah, are like bad and shit.

  71. not really joel COSGROVE says:

    NOM NOM NOM KITTIEZ TEHY IZ MAH SWEETZ AH NOM AH NOM PLUZ VICKTORYA NOTIZ MEH AGEN PLUZ

  72. Fred Phelps says:

    If there is one – of a multitude – thing I hate, it is uppity communists. God hates faggs and commies. Burn in hell. Note irony in burning you fuck.

  73. JC (Jesus Christ? Or Joel Cosgrove? Who can know?) says:

    God hates Sweden and Ireland too. Oh, actually he hates the whole world. Also, PriestsRapeBoys (dot com).

  74. owen says:

    You’re John Campbell aren’t you?

  75. JC (Jesus Christ? Or Joel Cosgrove? Who can know?) says:

    zOMG

  76. Adam Goodall says:

    Michael – how the fuck do you know where I went to primary school? That sort of information isn’t just handed out willy-nilly. Is it?

  77. News Ed’s privilege. I see everything.

    Or my sister Sarah recgonised your name.

  78. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    Ian Anderson:

    “This’ll be my last contribution the debate, not in a “take my toys and go home” way but because it’s turning into a procrastination tool.”

    Thank God – you saved me from having to use the dreaded “let’s agree to disagree” line :). It’s been good debating with you though – whilst I may disagree with your arguments I respect your use of debate and reason rather than vitriol.

    “We’re arguing the form ANZAC Day takes is a celebration of imperialism. So one of the more common arguments is about the men who ‘defended our freedoms,’ and this is used to facilitate measures such as those taken by Rudd. If it were simply a day of mourning for the people killed, if the War Memorial were showered with white poppies and speeches made about the slaughter of a generation of men to serve imperialist Northern powers, we’d partake. As is, you get stuff about the spirit of freedom and compassion which Gallipoli apparently represents.”

    This, sadly, is the nature of social memory – the cooption of history in the interests of group cohesiveness. John Tosh makes a great case for this in his work, ‘The Pursuit of History: Aims, Methods and New Directions in the Study of Modern History’. In it, he contrasts historicity with social memory, the latter of which is more socially accepted – hence the contention that arises when alternate viewpoints threaten it. Burning a flag or partaking in an anti-war protest, for example, whilst intended as alternate forms of ANZAC Day commemoration to that posited by the mainstream, are overwhelmingly (and usually unfairly) disapproved of by society. It is the nature of all social groupings – whether national, political, ideological, or any other kind – to co-opt history to reinforce their current motivations and viewpoints; hence why, for example, I always seem to incite such rigorous debate on the Workers Party message board when I argue against the articles posted there.

    In saying this, I am not implying that I agree with all of your positions; far from it. I do agree that the stereotype of “the men who ‘defended our freedoms’” is far too liberally applied. The men and women who enlisted in the armed services during World War One did so for various reasons (adventure, a chance to see the world, a steady paycheck – see Nicholas Boyack’s MA Thesis in the Vic library, or any of the number of articles by Richard White or Bart Ziino who stress the tourism component of soldierly motivation), and the opponents they fought were not necessarily directly threatening to our own national security (the Gallipoli campaign against the Ottoman Empire is a fine example). This should not, however, detract from the very real sacrifices that they experienced. You maintain that “the form ANZAC Day takes is a celebration of imperialism” – something that I vehemently disagree with. ANZAC Day is overwhelmingly a commemoration of sacrifice irrespective of national agenda, and whilst some individuals and politicians may co-opt its message into one that serves a military justification, the majority of New Zealanders simply wish to remember the losses suffered by those who have fought in this nation’s wars. Exemplifying this is the fact that the outrage expressed over Cosgrove’s flag-burning revolves mostly around the perceived disrespect to war veterans that this act entails. I do not consider New Zealand an imperialist nation in any sense of the word, nor do I believe the ANZAC Day celebrations to be a reflection of this supposed ‘imperialism’.

    “Fiji has never been a full democracy. This is partly our responsibility as we helped with the constitution, which created a tribal elite with special voting rights. We did not cut Fiji off after the previous coups, which were carried out in service of elite interests. The difference here is that Bainamarama says he intends to dismantle the rights of the tribal elite. As you said, stability is the main thing; it is, after all, a key word in the Washington Consensus.”

    Whilst I agree with Bainimarama’s end goals (that being the equality of the Indo-Fijian minority with what you have termed the ‘tribal elite’), I do not agree with his methods. Democracy cannot be sacrificed, even on a temporary basis, simply because the long-term end is seen as justifying the means. Whilst I agree that the stance taken by the Asia Pacific leaders (and, more importantly, the media) is too simplistic, I do feel that some steps needed to be taken to express political solidarity and consistency behind the idea of supporting democracy. There is a fantastic article in this week’s issue of Salient by Nina Fowler that better describes the whole situation than I ever could.

    “This was a major debate in working-class circles towards the end of WWI; after the Russian revolution, how would geopolitics have to change? Again I refer you to Luxemburg and the Spartacists. Although they made grave tactical errors, they rightly identified that the German proletariat should fight to overthrow the German ruling class, thereby ending WWI in solidarity with the international proletariat … [u]nfortunately Stalin took a line of “socialism in one country.” Although the Workers Party does not subscribe to a particular Marxist sect (Maoist, Trotskyist etc) you’d be hard-pressed to find a WP member who supports socialism in one country, rather than proletarian internationalism. Don Franks burnt a Soviet flag when they invaded Afghanistan. I would argue true socialism requires the dismantlement of the state and proletarian internationalism. In the meantime, opposing nationalism in our own countries is necessary.”

    I think your point here is a little contradictory; on the one hand, you are opposing the Stalinist idea of “socialism in one country”, yet on the other you maintain that the socialist tenet of permanent revolution and internationalism is not, in any way, imperialist. You justify the latter position by arguing that “true socialism requires the dismantlement of the state and proletarian internationalism”, yet in doing so you have unwillingly stated a paradox. “Proletarian internationalism” is dependent upon the dissolution of the nation-state system (the “dismantlement of the state”); yet the “dismantlement of the state” is dependent upon the existence of “proletarian internationalism”. Pragmatically speaking, both are dependent upon the collusion and cooperation of workers movements within EXISTING NATIONS; hence, in order for a true international socialism to be achieved, the vehicle of socialist imperialism is a necessary precondition to break down the existing nation-state system. You cannot deny that the internationalist methods of support undertaken by the socialist movements I mentioned in my previous post are, by your definition, examples of imperialism.

    So, to summarise for those too lazy to read my gargantuan posts:
    * I respect Joel’s right to hold an alternate viewpoint on what ANZAC Day represents, but I disagree wholeheartedly with his choice of timing, venue, and his arguably personal, rather than ideological, motives.
    * I believe that involvement in the international community is unavoidable in a globalised world, and that what the Workers Party terms ‘imperialism’ is merely the practice of preserving international stability in order to serve national and moral interests, provided it does not contradict the principle of national self-determination. Whilst actions under the veil of ‘preserving international stability’ are undoubtedly of questionable morality at times, condemning all of them under the veil of ‘imperialism’ is misleading and impractical.
    * I believe that the socialist claim to oppose all forms of ‘imperialism’ is contradicted by their own core principles of permanent revolution as well as the pragmatic realities espoused in the above point.

    Cheers, Matt.

  79. Adam Goodall says:

    Michael – Holy shit, small world.

    Don’t hold the Ashhurst thing against me. I had no say in the matter.

  80. Rob Woolley says:

    It is disappointing to see people like these three who think it is cool and honourable to offend people for nothing other than the sake of offending people and trying to make their small minds appear bigger. But I am also disappointed that so many people who could stop this behaviour stand idly by. This behaviour is not going to make any of you (referring to the three responsible) appear intellectually strong, cool, hip, seen to be ‘taking a stand’ or any other thing deemed to be admirable. It merely highlights how immature you are and why you should not be trespassed till the end of term but instead expelled, the same goes for all other University students who feel immune to common law due to their privileged education. I urge you all to make the most of your opportunity to advance yourselves and avoid the unnecessary attempts to show your stupidity to be greater than your peers.

  81. Matt Fairhurst says:

    So Rob, what exactly is your criteria for distinguishing between people who are doing something “for nothing other than the sake of offending people”, and people who are doing something for any other reason, but which happens to offend, well, you? Just wondering.
    Matt F.

  82. Agaisnt The Stream says:

    Matt C. I agree, that the Workers Party is not a genuine Socialist-Internationalist organization, but as to the discussion you and Ian Anderson had over world war 1 and Gallopoli, I believe it is necessary to restate what has been stated already before… (the ACA being the so-called ‘AntiCapitalist Alliance’ predecessor of the NZ Workers Party.)
    “ACA members claimed that the purpose of their flag-burning protest was to “provoke” discussion about the continued involvement of the New Zealand government in the US-led occupation of Iraq. Behind the protest is the conception that direct confrontations with the police radicalise the participants and lead to bigger protests. In fact, the demonstration has simply provided the police, the state and the Labour government with another avenue to attack democratic rights and silence political dissent.

    “Far from clarifying the complex political questions surrounding the eruption of US militarism and the invasion of Iraq, the protest has simply muddied the waters. It has focused public discussion on the pros and cons of flag burning rather than the criminal actions of the Bush administration and its allies in Iraq. The resort to such means underscores the dead end of protest politics. Rather than futile stunts what is needed is a careful review of the reasons why the unprecedented global protests in 2003 failed to stop the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.

    “The underlying causes of imperialist war lie in the profit system itself. Its overturn requires a conscious political movement of the working class, armed with a scientific socialist perspective and firmly rooted in an assimilation of the strategic experiences of the twentieth century. The International Committee of the Fourth International and the World Socialist Web Site are convening a public meeting in Wellington on August 29 to discuss this socialist and internationalist perspective and to lay the foundations of such an independent movement. We invite all those who are seriously concerned about these issues to attend.”
    http://wsws.org/articles/2004/aug2004/newz-a26.shtml

    The WSWS.org also wrote that “The charging and victimisation of Paul Hopkinson constitutes a fundamental and dangerous attack on basic democratic rights, carried out under the auspices of a Labour government. It will be used in the coming period as a precedent for repressive operations against ordinary working people and youth who are engaged in struggles against the criminal US-led war against Iraq, as well as the government’s escalating attacks on jobs and living standards at home.”
    http://wsws.org/articles/2003/mar2003/newz-m20.shtml

    These are the real political issues which the University has sought to dispose of under the rug, with the aid of VUWSA and it’s split from the WP, and also from the very protest actions of the WP whom have not clarified nor learned from their past actions. Such organizations attract only the attention of the police, media, press and reactionaries.
    As to the principles of Permanent Revolution embodied in Trotskyism and to Imperialism the highest stage of capitalism by Lenin, I am confident, the WP knows absolutely nothing.
    Regards

    ATS.

  83. Alex says:

    I don’t feel like getting involved in this “debate”, because I consider anyone who would burn a flag to protest the honouring of war dead to be scum and too far gone to be worth talking to. I just thought I’d let you know that I used to think of the Worker’s Party as merely idealistic humanists, and wasn’t really bothered by you. Now you have shown your true colours, now I know that there is a group of people on campus who actually hate their country.

    Congrats on going from “who cares about them” to “top of my shit list”. If it were up to me I’d have your organisation banned on campus. It’s not though, so I’ll settle for taking down any of your posters that I see and I encouraging others to do the same. I doubt I’m the only enemy you made with your little stunt. You don’t belong here receiving subsidised education and student allowances from a country you hate.

    Obviously this kind of reaction was what you were going for, I mean you’d have to be thick to believe that burning a flag has any effect other than antagonising people, but I don’t think you understand just how much sympathy you have lost here. I didn’t vote in the last VUWSA elections, I didn’t give a shit. Next time I will vote, for anybody but a Worker’s Party candidate. I’d vote for the Nazi party over highly offensive degenerates like yourselves.

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