CAN Aotearoa exists with four broad objectives – see http://coalactionnetworkaotearoa.wordpress.com/about/. Our main campaign focus currently is the campaign against Southland lignite.
Our main work for the first half of 2011 has been education and getting in touch with more people (i.e. growing the number of people on the announcement list). We reckon there are likely heaps of people across Aotearoa who will be deeply concerned about the lignite proposals, when they hear about the issue! So, if you have friends or family who would be interested, please encourage them to join this list by emailing email@example.com. Likewise, if you’re in a town or city where we haven’t yet held a public meeting (i.e. everywhere except Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin, Invercargill), and would be willing to organise such a meeting, then please get in touch.
We’ve been stoked to work with Southern Anti Coal Action (SACA, Dunedin), and to hear about the Nelson-Tasman anti-coal-mining activism that is gearing up, as well as rumours of campaign groups against coal forming in Auckland and on the West Coast. If you’re keen to do that kind of on-the-ground organising then forming a local group is the way to go. (These aren’t branches of CAN; just groups like SACA who are committed to opposing new and expanded coal mining). We can use the announcement list to find other people in your town, and CAN Aotearoa can provide leaflets and other resources.
Within the lignite campaign, our strategy involves investigation (gathering info, research), education, preparation for direct action, direct action, and ongoing struggle. (Each stage continues when the next begins.)
Whether it’s a good idea to put time and energy into opposing the lignite proposals through the established channels, such as resource consent applications, is a judgement call. The current system is heavily stacked against groups objecting to proposals on environmental grounds; equally, there have been cases where legal action has played a prominent role in the successful outcome of a campaign. We will keep looking at the options available in this area.
Some people have been asking why we’re not in Southland occupying now. First of all, we are far from the only group working on these issues and others are welcome to take direct action at any stage! Our strategy, which is based on our reading, our analysis and our experience in previous campaigns, leads us to want to have the numbers, the campaign strength, and a strategic point in time to take mass direct action. (That doesn’t mean we can’t all begin taking ‘smaller’ direct actions in the near future, e.g. leafleting mining company events.)
We would like to see mass nonviolent direct action and mass civil disobedience (like the huge march against mining in conservation lands in 2010) rather than just media stunts. Media stunts are primarily aimed at getting media attention; nonviolent direct action is an action which your opponent cannot ignore / must respond to. We also want to be involved in direct action where lots of people are empowered to take action, which means we need to keep getting more and more people involved.
For CAN Aotearoa, we are determined to build up to a sustained campaign against Southland lignite rather than go in – and out – with a bang right now. Nonviolent direct action brings with it a lot of other work – especially fundraising for legal fees and fines – so again, now is the time to be building the capacity of our movement to do that work. The other essential step before taking direct action is our own preparation, such as reading and training, which we can all begin now. See below for ideas.
What is nonviolent direct action?
Here is one definition, taken from Allan Cumming’s excellent booklet How Nonviolence Works (Dunedin: Nonviolent Action Network in Aotearoa, 1985).
‘Most definitions of nonviolence include some aspect of “non-harm” to the opponent…
Second, nonviolence includes a positive approach to conflict…
Third, nonviolence separates the opponent as a person from the issue being opposed…
Fourth, nonviolence extends the principles of non-harm to the others in our movement, as well as our opponents…
Fifth, nonviolence incorporates, for many people, an integrated view of the world, both personal and political.’ – p. 10
‘The usual meaning of the phrase [direct action] today is “action which…realises the end desired, so far as this lies in one’s power or the power of one’s group” (Wieck, ‘The Habit of Direct Action,’ in Ehrlick, Ehrlick, De Leon & Morris, Reinventing Anarchy, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1979). This excludes actions aimed at influencing third parties or raising public awareness, which are referred to as indirect actions. It includes only those actions which directly affect the injustice being opposed.’ – pp 12-13
‘One common confusion is between “direct action” and “civil disobedience”. Many people assume the two are the same. This is not so. Civil disobedience may include direct action. Direct action may include civil disobedience. Neither necessarily assumes the other.
|LEGAL ACTIONS||CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE|
|INDIRECT (symbolic) ACTIONS||Street March (with permits)||Die-in on city street to protest against nuclear weapons|
|DIRECT ACTIONS||Boycott of a company’s products (eg the Nestle’s Boycott)||Occupation of a construction site to prevent work|
FIGURE 1. CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE / DIRECT ACTION’ – p 15
Gene Sharp, The Politics of Nonviolent Action, Boston: Porter Sargent, 1973.
- I, Power and Struggle. June 1973.
- II, The Methods of Nonviolent Action. June 1973.
- III, Dynamics of Nonviolent Action. November 1985.
Gene Sharp, Waging Nonviolent Struggle: 20th Century Practice and 21st Century Potential with Joshua Paulson, Extending Horizons Books, 2005.
You can listen to a recent interview with Gene Sharp on Radio New Zealand here: http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/2489971/gene-sharp-non-violence-theorist.asx
Allan Cumming, How Nonviolence Works, Dunedin: Nonviolent Action Network in Aotearoa, 1985. (CAN Aotearoa is trying to source more copies of this booklet.)
Ed Hedemann (ed.), War Resisters League, Organisers Manual, New York: War Resisters League, 1981
Coover, Deacon, Esser & Moore, Resource Manual for a Living Revolution, Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1977, 1978
We’ll aim to provide links to online readings in the next newsletter.
We hope to run nonviolent direct action (NVDA) training in towns around the country, and certainly in Southland, to which you will be warmly invited. We will circulate information in spring, so watch this space.
Your experience and recommended readings
Have you been involved in training people for nonviolent direct action in the past and would you be interested in doing so in the future? Or do you have NVDA readings to recommend to CAN Aotearoa? If so, please email firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to hear from you.
– Frances Mountier and Tim Jones
Southland Energy Strategy
Dave Kennedy from Southland is encouraging all of us – not only Southlanders – to comment on Venture Southland’s draft Southland Energy Strategy. Here are the details:
Energy is an issue that affects us all. Venture Southland has been working with key stakeholders to develop the Southland Energy Strategy. The draft is now ready and can be viewed here:
You will see the link to download the document on the right hand side.
The recently (and prematurely) released national New Zealand Energy Strategy is pathetic indeed. Let’s make sure that Southland’s energy strategy reflects what we who live here think and want for our sustainable future. Please read, submit a comment and feel free to forward to your contacts.
In particular Venture Southland is keen to know:
– Are they on the right track with the energy vision?
– Do you agree with the strategic actions?
– Does your organisation view itself as playing a part in the implementation of any of the actions?
– Which actions do you feel are higher priority?
Comments are due no later than Thursday 16 June 2011. A submission form can be downloaded on the website.
Any questions about the strategy, please contact Karyn Owen at Venture Southland:
DDI: 03 2111 801
M: 021 932 340
open discussion hosted by the International Socialist Organisation
Building, Albany Street.
Marvin Hubbard will be interviewing Jeanette Fitzsimmons and Bell
Murphy from CAN Aotearoa on the social and environmental consequences
of mining Southland’s lignite and the latest developments with the
campaign to stop it.
Look out for the Students for Environmental Action’s (SEA) display
about Southland Lignite in the University Link building.
Red Cross Centre, 116 Gill St, New Plymouth
Tuesday 7 June 6:30-8:30pm
Free entry (koha welcome)
‘ENEX’ Oil & Gas conference protest
TSB Stadium, New Plymouth
Friday 10 June 1:30pm-3:30pm ‘open for public’ session
Free entry (although it’s over $400 a head for full entry!)
To get from being a proposal to being an actual campaign, Jocelyn’s proposal needs a lot more votes. If you’re keen to help this happen, please vote for Jocelyn’s proposal here:
YouTube – Highlights from the 2011 Stop Deep Sea Oil Flotilla
YouTube – Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright – on her recent report “Lignite and Climate Change – the high cost of low grade coal”
Clare Browning: Two Hard Constraints: Climate Science, and Clean Coal
Another excellent article from Claire Browning on Pundit, focusing on the debate between James Hansen and Don Elder at the recent Institute of Policy Studies seminar in Wellington:
This is well worth sharing with people who need to know more about the issues and the stakes involved.
Climate Justice Taranaki
Developed countries will need to complete their coal phase-out by about 2020, if global phase-out of coal is to be achieved by 2030. If coal emissions are phased out this rapidly— a tall order, but a feasible one— the climate problem is solvable.”