Saturday, March 24, 2012

Taking John Hood Plaza by strategy

We stand for active ideological struggle because it is the weapon for ensuring unity within the Student Body and the revolutionary organizations in the interest of our fight. Every Student and revolutionary should take up this weapon. But liberalism rejects ideological struggle and stands for unprincipled peace, thus giving rise to a decadent, Philistine attitude and bringing about political degeneration in certain units and individuals in the Student Body and the revolutionary organizations. Liberalism manifests itself in various ways. To let things slide for the sake of peace and friendship when a person has clearly gone wrong, and refrain from principled argument because he is an old acquaintance, a fellow townsman, a schoolmate, a close friend, a loved one, an old colleague or old subordinate. Or to touch on the matter lightly instead of going into it thoroughly, so as to keep on good terms. The result is that both the organization and the individual are harmed. 
... blah, blah, blah, until...
Only thus can he be considered a Student. All loyal, honest, active and upright Students must unite to oppose the liberal tendencies shown by certain people among us, and set them on the right path. This is one of the tasks on our ideological front.
Gosh, this is interesting.  I am reading this in the current issue of Craccum, Issue 4 of 2012. Fascinating though this article is the writing  seems rather stilted, It also seems rather archaic. It further seems remarkably similar to an essay written by Mao Tse-Tung, in 1937. In fact, on close examination it seems the two pieces are identical in all but two respects -  the Craccum article of 2012 replaces the word Communist in the Mao article of 1937 with Student, and the word Party with Student Body. So Mao says:
We stand for active ideological struggle because it is the weapon for ensuring unity within the Party and the revolutionary organizations in the interest of our fight. Every Communist and revolutionary should take up this weapon,
... blah, blah, blah, until...
Only thus can he be considered a Communist. All loyal, honest, active and upright Communists must unite to oppose the liberal tendencies shown by certain people among us, and set them on the right path. This is one of the tasks on our ideological front.
And the Editor does a search and replace on the significant words. So, that's it. Within four issues, the Editor - one Thomas Dykes - has been reduced to plagiarising a dead mass-murderer who wrote with as much style as he had dress sense. Such is the revolutionary fervour (and one suspects dearth of contributors) that pervades Craccum.

Mr Dykes was elected in  obscure circumstances. His predecessors, Spencer and Rhys (nobody remembers their surnames) infested the mag with mutual adoration and dick jokes. They had no space for the student body, since they were busy admiring each other's inconsiderable wit. Clearly, they wished to use the student mag as a springboard into a career as drive-time DJs.

As Joseph observes in the comments below, Spencer stood for editor again, with one Sophie, but they lost on penalties. Anyone who has further information about this matter is welcome to comment.

Mr Dykes does not do dick jokes. There is no such thing as a Dykes joke. Humour, clearly a decadent capitalist tool to distract the proletariat into a state of false consciousness, is now entirely absent from Craccum. As is colour: the magazine now comes in two colours: grey and beige. Polychromy is for liberals.

Mr Dykes is, you see, a prophet. Consider these opening paragraphs from his Letter from the Editor in the same issue; the original spelling and punctuating has been retained, for ease of lulz:
Weirdo's, crazies, hippies and idiots.

If  you ever try and do something serious and yet slightly outside of the perimeters of normality's boundaries, if you ever try and address an issue that is of vital and immediate importance yet feel as if a petition or operating within the usual beurocratic process won't quite be sufficient, you can be sure when mainstream media come to 'report' on your activities they will be quick to interview the man in the dress. The burnt out activist that has had too many mornings and a thousand miles away or the lady that walked past in the night after a tad too much gin, whilst looking for one of her lost cats that she never had, will be the characters sure to take center stage.

The tactic of derailing a movement because it doesn't operate within the current paradigm, because its meaning cannot be captured or understood by people who are at odds with what that movement is trying to communicate, is an obvious one. Don't criticise what you can't understand. when you want something that doesn't exist yet it's often hard to point to it in order to explain what it is that you're after or trying to achieve. Simple people need to be shown objects, material things, shiny synthetic plastic or polished metal, in order to conceive of goals and destinations.
No, me neither.  I think what Mr Dykes is trying to say is that we are all too stupid to understand his vision and that we need shiny things (in synthetic plastic - as opposed to the real stuff - or polished metal) to help us. I think also he is saying  that he is an overbearing pompous git, so convinced that he alone follows the true path that he has followed it halfway up his own rectitude. But I may be wrong. I am a liberal after all. Perhaps I shouldn't criticise what I cannot understand. Ask the man in the dress.

There are pages of this twaddle. Most of it is not written for Craccum but found on Internet, such as the serialised rant, The Comming Insurrection, written by the Invisible Committee (ooh, spooky) who it seems are a dedicated group of French miserablists. Here is a passage from this week's directive from the invisible committee room:
The flames of November 2005 still flicker in everyone’s minds. Those first joyous fires were the baptism of a decade full of promise. The media fable of “banlieue vs. the Republic” may work, but what it gains in effectiveness it loses in truth. Fires were lit in the city centers, but this news was methodically suppressed. Whole streets in Barcelona burned in solidarity, but no one knew about it apart from the people living there. And it’s not even true that the country has stopped burning. Many different profiles can be found among the arrested, with little that unites them besides a hatred for existing society – not class, race, or even neighborhood. What was new wasn’t the “banlieue revolt,” since that was already going on in the 80s, but the break with its established forms. These assailants no longer listen to anybody, neither to their Big Brothers and Big Sisters, nor to the community organizations charged with overseeing the return to normal. No “SOS Racism” could sink its cancerous roots into this event, whose apparent conclusion can be credited only to fatigue, falsification and the media omertà. This whole series of nocturnal vandalisms and anonymous attacks, this wordless destruction, has widened the breach between politics and the political. No one can honestly deny the obvious: this was an assault that made no demands, a threat without a message, and it had nothing to do with “politics.” One would have to be oblivious to the autonomous youth movements of the last 30 years not to see the purely political character of this resolute negation of politics. Like lost children we trashed the prized trinkets of a society that deserves no more respect than the monuments of Paris at the end of the Bloody Week- and knows it.
Indeed. One wonders if the prized trinkets were made of synthetic plastic or polished metal. One wonders why these people bother; their coming insurrection clearly is going to be no fun at all and everything is just going to turn out awful. One wonders also what all this has to do with Auckland University and its students.

Closer to home though, one Melora Jovich writes as An Anxious Activist. Here are some liberally edited highlights:
Attending university as a student places you in a rather awkward liminal space in society. You are not quite a worker.... however, nor are you a child... The ambiguous legal status of protest means that should the police show up in full force to impinge on your right to assemble and express your dissent,  you are young and fit enough to make a run for it... When you're on the sixth floor of a hideous glass penis extension, affectionately known as the business building... The collective of pople cannot be understood through, or claimed by, particular people or particular experiences. The fact that everyone comes together can only be understood through the entire state of affairs that are being opposed.... When you exist as part of a collective, your individual presence is transcended.

Or, to put it more kindly:  hey there, liminal girl, swinging down the street so fancy-free, nobody you meet could ever see the loneliness there - inside you.

 And then there's the letters to the Editor. One Thomas Vasey wrote a letter to the Editor. The Editor printed it, with his responses - not at the end of Mr Vasey's text but throughout it, in parentheses and in red. Here is an artist's impression of part of that text, again in the original language:
I love University for what it is (It is a barren landscape full of corporate sponsorship, financial tentacles and a market rational that commodifies knowledge and people) and for the people who populate it (We love the people, otherwise we wouldn't be trying to save them), and if you don't like it then nobody's asking you to stay (Profound logic, your intellect is as acrobatic as an doughnut and it seems to have a big hole in the middle).
At least Mr Vasey did not mention Palestine. One correspondent did, and also pointed out that "Israel values freedom of speech and religion." The official response, longer than the letter, ends "Stop being a deluded hypocrite, it's not a good look. Hypocrisy and democracy will never go hand in hand."

There is though a glimmer of hope for the next edition.  Let me explain. Mr Vasey ends his letter thus:
What you're writing is not profound. It is whiny and uninformative. If you want to help people deal with the challenges of student life, then put in at least one joke, some item of levity. THAT is what will help us to come to terms with the challenges of student life, not writing some revolutionary rubbish with unimaginative cover art. You should be ashamed.
Well, yes. But more interesting still is the Editor's response:
(we're proud and the Comedy issue comes out next week, if you have something funny to say contribute, I guess so as long as we laugh hurtling head long into the abyss, participating in a system that is based on infinite growth while living in a world that has finite resources everything will be fine, every catastrophe that takes place today is man made, but your fine with that, cool, we're not and we want a change, and anyway the point is that the jokes in last years magazine weren't funny, so Ha)
So, jokes next week then, for one issue only; a saturnalia for the student body, in which the poor bloody infantry of the class war will be allowed a rest and a laugh, while they hurtle into the abyss.

It's the way he tells them.


Samuel said...

Oh wow.

I didn't think Spencer and Rhys did all that bad a job last year, although I was a pretty infrequent contributor and managed to miss the final deadline for a few reviews (if you're reading, guys, my apologies).

This on the other hand looks downright scary. I'm past my use-by date to be contributing to student media but if this is where Craccum is at in 2012, I can probably live with not being a part of it anymore.

Joseph said...

To say that Dykes rode in on a shared dislike of the editors is wrong. Spencer and Sophie ran again, didn't campaign at all, got more votes than Dykes, but lost on vote penalties for obscure reasons.

Paul said...

Joseph, thank you for correcting my error. I have amended the text.

Sam, the reviews were all I could be bothered to read last year - but I suppose I am outside the demographic. This year, the review section amounts to two pages of film reviews and something about beer.

Anonymous said...

I am pretty embarrassed by what Craccum has become this year: bloated and filled with extreme leftist occupy-movement related bullshit and devoid of anything that your average student actually gives a shit about. I don't think there has been anything 'un-political' published outside of the reviews section at all this year.

The 'penalties' that cost Spencer and Sophie were (I think) a result of Spencer sending a 'please vote' email to the Craccum mailing list and this being deemed as exploiting an unfair advantage. I might be wrong on that though.

Craccum isn't the only part of the student body that has been overrun with these politics. In fact, it seems the entire AUSA is comprised of Occupy-aligned people. Which I guess is fair enough, if they were the only ones able or engaged enough to get involved, but they would do well to remember they represent a student body that largely didn't vote at all (vote totals in the 100s when there are several thousand students) and that as a result they are wrong to be so outspoken in there representation.

gayblade said...

"One has to be part of the intelligentsia to believe such things; no ordinary man would be such a fool."
George Orwell

Anonymous said...

AUSA election results are published on the website, here are the 2012 Portfolio Elections -

It also details their vote penalties. Spencer and Sophie were penalised 100 votes for unfairly using AUSA resources to garner votes - they emailed the entire Craccum contributors list which is made up of hundreds of current and past contributors (which apparently was subsequently deleted before Dykes took over....) and lobbied for votes. It's a standard penalty, not dubious whatsoever. In fact it's quite possible, even quite likely, that the total benefit they got from such an action was worth more than 100 votes.

They were also penalised 20 votes for not sending 2 vote counters (again, standard) and Dykes was penalised 50 votes for not attending the candidates briefing meeting (again standard). All vote penalties are clearly set out and explained many times to all candidates.

I don't think you can possibly shed any sort of criticism on Dyke's mandate by virtue of their being vote penalties.

Also, AUSA is comprised of Occupy people? Are you fucking high? Do you know anyone on the Executive at all?

Oh I forget, it's much easier just to make shit up when you don't know what you're talking about.

Anonymous said...

Some of us are trying to get Dykes out. What he is doing is just so boring!!!

If you wish to talk, you find me on facebook.

Kirk Jacinto