Sunday, December 11, 2016

aargh issue 7 online now

aargh issue 7 is now online and can be downloaded here

When we picked the theme What is anarchism and how do we get there we thought this would be a positive, uplifting collection of articles. We should have known better. A look at the world around us should have been enough: millions fleeing from war and terror, and more terror being inflicted on those who thought that they had escaped, children being tortured in the hell hole of Nauru as part of a policy of deterrence, homelessness and poverty becoming rampant even in a relatively rich country like NZ.

So what are we supposed to think of a world where you get into trouble for eating food instead of throwing it away? What do you do if the act of dreaming seems to be too concrete, but you don’t want to give up hope? How do you escape the daily urge to waste your energy fighting against yet another neo-liberal austerity measure? 

A common thread of angst, frustration and anger runs through  this edition of aargh!, but there is also a thread of determination and willingness. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

New Tee-shirts at the FreedomShop

We've got new tee-shirts
 at the Shop 
- including 

Riots Not Diets, 

Migration is Not a Crime, 

and John Key

Sunday, October 2, 2016

aargh! issue 7 is out

The latest aargh! is available in the Shop - the theme this time is What is anarchism and how do we get there. 

The issue opens with a letter written in 1934 by American anarchist Lucy Parsons. It’s a bleak letter - Lucy writes ‘Anarchism is a dead issue in American life today. Radicalism has been blotted off the map of Europe. … Radicalism is at a low ebb today. We are living in strange times. Despotism is on horseback, riding at high speed. The worker is helpless; he has no voice in his mode or method of life – he just floats along on the tides of ill times.

Most of the articles in this edition of aargh! are also bleak, but it is worthwhile remembering that just two years after Lucy wrote in her letter that 'radicalism has been blotted off the map of Europe', revolution burgeoned in Spain. So read this issue and ponder - what is lying around the corner for us?

Come to the Shop to get your copy, or if you're not in Wellington, get in contact with us via email or normal post and we'll send you one. They cost $2 each.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Wars Without End – the land wars in nineteenth century New Zealand by Danny Keenan

The following is a book review that originally appeared in issue 6 of aargh! (available online here)

A wonderful ease
Wars Without End – the land wars in nineteenth century New Zealand by Danny Keenan - Penguin 2009
Reviewed by Peppertree
BY CHOOSING the title Wars Without End, Danny Keenan puts an important conclusion of his book on the land wars right up front. While the gun fighting mainly took place between 1843 and 1872, the battle over land has continued endlessly in the courts, in parliament and in tribunal hearings. In the age of neoliberalism, the armed force have been replaced by hordes of property developers who continue to dispossess people of a place to live.

Every chapter of the very detailed book clearly shows how utterly incompatible the British concept of individual property titles and the collective ownership model of Māori society are. The British system with its clearly defined, surveyed and permanently owned plots was imposed on a society where land had always been collectively owned, borders were forever shifting and claims to ownership were changing and contested. According to Keenan, Māori had an “integrated, legitimate and culturally specific system of rights, checks and balances encompassing the land” that was diametrically opposed to the rigid European system of individual, permanent land titles.

What Keenan doesn’t mention (and it’s beyond the scope of a book about the land wars) is that it was only 100 years earlier that the British system was not all that different. Up until the beginning of the Inclosures Acts of the 18th century, the Commons existed as communal spaces for the landless peasants. The demand by the British settlers for land could be seen as reaction to their own loss of land. The emerging economic system, capitalism, demanded security in land ownership and that was easier to be had in New Zealand where settlers were being supported by the British government, than in Britain where the fight would have been against the government. The book also shows how the colonial settler state avoided any attempt to understand the Maori concept of land ownership, let alone acknowledge it. In as early as 1841, land claims commissioner William Spain, who investigated the legality of William Wakefield’s early land acquisitions, was “struggling to comprehend the interconnectedness of customary issues before him” and simply gave up. Instead of deciding to return land that was clearly illegally taken – even by 19th century colonial standards – Spain turned to compensating iwi for the permanent loss of land.

This early decision not to bother understanding the Māori land ownership system and to compensate for land loss instead of returning land to the original owners (because that would have been too hard to do without ever understanding who the rightful owners were) became the defining theme of settler state Māori relationships. More than 20 years after Spain, the judges of the Compensation Court came to the conclusion that “our [the English] language supplies no words which fitly express the ideas of a Māori holding” and that “the idea of [a sole proprietary title] is contrary to the truth of Māori ownership.”

It seems remarkable that this insight is simply noted after two decades of relentless war that cost thousands of lives. But the concept worked well for the state. So much so that in 1867 the chief judge at the Compensation Court, Francis Fenton, was surprised that the system of ignoring Māori ownership “would have worked with the wonderful ease which has marked its operation.”

Keenan’s book also shows why Māori never had a chance of winning the wars, despite winning many battles. One reason is that Māori were not accustomed to ongoing warfare. But the main reason is that, despite initially being outnumbered, the British government had plenty more options. While it was clearly visible what resources Māori had (it was known how many people lived where and what type and number of weapons they had), the colonial government had access to resources that were invisible to Māori. They could simply double their numbers by bringing in reinforcements from Australia and Britain if needed. They could import new technology which Māori had never seen.

If one wanted to, one could read the book as a textbook for government tactics. It outlines how the colonial government used any strategy and tactic available: from the traditional divide and conquer of governor Gore Brown to the ‘pacification through legal processes’ by land commissioner William Spain to the full on scorched earth policy of governor George Grey and his general Trevor Chute from1865 onwards.

The central dogma of colonialism has always been the assumed superiority of everything European over everything Māori. This included from early on the economic system. Māori were told that if they did not see the benefits of ‘free trade’, they would be “ground to dust” (the Daily Southern Cross in 1865). And integral to free trade is individual property ownership. So everything comes back to the question of land: Te pūtake o te riri, the root of all trouble. This is how chief Te Rauparaha described the role of land disputes at the so called (by Pākeha settlers) Wairau massacre in 1843.

For more about the New Zealand Wars, visit, a site operated by Danny Keenan.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Bookstall at the Counterfutures Conference at Vic Uni

The Freedom Shop will be having a stall at the 

Counterfutures: Left Thought and Practice Aotearoa gathering 

Thursday and Friday, 1 & 2 Sept.

We'll be setting up the stall midday Thursday - so if you are on campus, come along on check it out. Some of the books we will be selling include:


We also have numerous pamphlets and zines by a range of authors including: Michael Albert, Bakunin, Alexander Berkman, Boff, Murray Bookchin, Toby Boraman, Willamette Brown, Noam Chomsky, Voltairine de Cleyre, Sam Dolgoff, Leslie Feinberg, Kropotkin, Malatesta, Lucy Parsons, Rudolf Rocker & many more. 
Have a look at our catalogue here: 2016 Zine Catalogue

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Spanish Revolution

We celebrated and remembered the Spanish Revolution and the people involved as it gave so many people a world of enablement and empowerment. A world not ruled by class and capitalism, but a world based on collectivism and humanity.

If you would like more information about the Revolution, at the Freedom Shop there are a range of books, pamphlets and zines on the Spanish Revolution, including: Ready for Revolution: The CNT Defense Committees in Barcelona, 1933–1938 by Agustín Guillamón; Anarchism and Workers’ Self-Management in Revolutionary Spain by Frank Mintz; We The Anarchists! A Study Of The Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI) 1927–1937 by Stuart Christie; Durruti in the Spanish Revolution by Abel Paz; Anarchism in Galicia: Organisation, Resistance and Women in the Underground by Eliseo Fernández, Antón Briallos, and Carmen Blanco, and Free Society: A German Exile in Revolutionary Spain by Werner Drescher.

Three of the film shown at the exhibition are on-line:

Vivir la Utopia (Living Utopia)
Described as a 'jewel amongst historians and rebel hearts', Living Utopia is a 1997 documentary that features testimony from 30 anarchist survivors of the Spanish revolution. On the evening we showed it, people applauded.

De toda la vida (All Our Lives).
De toda la vida (Lisa Berger y Carol Mazer, 1986) is a documentary about the organisation Mujeres Libres; a group formed in 1936 with the aims to end the 'triple enslavement of women, to ignorance, to capital, and to men.'

Land and Freedom
Ken Loach's film about an unemployed worker and member of the British communist party who goes to join the revolution in Spain and ends up fighting in a POUM militia unit. The film captures the betrayal of the revolution.