Counterfutures

Journal

See below for contents and links to articles where available. All content published in the print issues of Counterfutures will be made available online over time. Please check regularly for new online content.

    • Issue 13 brings together an interview with Renters United organisers with articles on the Native Lands Acts, 'habilitation centres' as a model for decarceration, absurd art, the work of Harney and Moten in the context of Aotearoa, anti-racist online graphics, and debt and utu, with reviews of two recent books.
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      • Organising in the New Zealand Rental Sector, Robert Whitaker and Geordie Rogers with Nic Guerrero
        Launching in 2015, Renters United has sought to build a movement to push back against landlordism in New Zealand and secure healthy and affordable homes for all renters. Organisers Robert Whitaker and Geordie Rogers discuss the organisational and campaign strategy of Renters United, the search for crux issues around which meaningful reform can be built, and the importance of telling renters’ stories.
      • The Native Lands Acts and Te Peeke o Aotearoa, Catherine Comyn
        An excerpt from Catherine Comyn’s forthcoming book, The Financial Colonisation of Aotearoa (ESRA, 2022). The Native Lands Acts of the 1860s and 1870s are read as the colonial weaponisation of credit, enabling the division and seizure of Māori land. Against this, the founding of Te Peeke o Aotearoa in 1885 presented an exclusively Māori alternative to colonial financial institutions, reasserting Māori economic autonomy and threatening to weaken the fabric of the colonial project.
      • The Habilitation Centre Ideal, Liam Martin
        An analysis of the 1989 Roper report traces out the genealogy of the ‘habilitation centre’, from its development in the United States to experiments in Aotearoa New Zealand. With the Labour government attempting to reduce the prison population, does the habilitation centre offer a model for decarceration or for the expansion of penal confinement?
      • On Tristan Tzara and Steve Bannon, Bryce Galloway
        Absurd art has tended to find greater currency during periods of intense socio-political unrest. Does this thesis still hold in the face of today’s accelerating online narratives and divergent internet realities?
      • Black Study and Communist Affect, Anisha Sankar
        Engaging with the work of Stefano Harney and Fred Moten and examining the influence of their ideas in Aotearoa’s undercommons, Anisha Sankar highlights the political potentiality of ‘black study’ as a mode of already-existing communism. Here, the distant liberatory horizon gives way to the embrace of relationality and being-for-others in the present.
      • Online Graphics and Racism in Aotearoa New Zealand, Jenny Rankine
        While it is widely known that racism is endemic in online spaces, enabled by the structures of social networking sites, little research exists on how to effectively counter everyday racism online. The results of a wide-ranging and detailed experiment with developing and disseminating anti-racist graphics highlight the importance of systematic political-meme creation by social-justice groups.
      • The Revenge Economy, Faisal Al-Asaad
        Through a reading of Max Haiven’s Revenge Capitalism, Faisal Al-Asaad highlights the centrality of debt as a principle of social and economic life. An engagement with the institution and philosophy of utu is called for as a means of transforming destructive capitalist debt relations and abolishing today’s revenge economy.
      • Wealth and Power in Aotearoa New Zealand, Geoff Bertram
        Review of Max Rashbrooke, Too Much Money: How Wealth Disparities Are Unbalancing Aotearoa New Zealand. A masterful overview of the available statistical information on the size of wealth holdings and their degree of concentration in Aotearoa New Zealand.
      • Utility, Futility, Counter-Utility, Tim Corballis
        Review of Neil Vallelly, Futilitarianism: Neoliberalism and the Production of Uselessness. Futility as both dominant structure of feeling and fulcrum for political action in the twilight of neoliberalism.
    • Issue 11 begins with an editorial on landlordism in Aotearoa, and contains articles on late 19th Century Māori resistance, race in the aftermath of the Christchurch shooting, Christianity and post-fascism, anti-roading campaigns and workplace restructuring. We also feature an editorial on the Green Party electoral victory in Central Auckland, and reviews of two recent books.
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      • The Hokianga Dog Tax Uprising, Catherine Cumming
        An excerpt from Catherine Cumming’s forthcoming book, The Financial Colonisation of Aotearoa (ESRA, 2021). In the 1880s, colonial authorities levied a tax on dogs in order to protect sheep, the central building block of the fledgling colonial economy. Māori resistance to the dog tax, culminating in the ‘Hokianga Dog Tax Rebellion’ of 1898, is told as a story of resistance to the attempted interpellation of Māori as colonial citizen-subjects.
      • Inscriptions and Incantations of Race, Faisal Al-Asaad
        A reflection on the necessity to narrate that was imposed upon Muslims in the wake of the Christchurch massacres. Seeking to escape the organising grammar of race, which fixes the subject in time and place, it is asked how racial destinies might be rewritten.
      • Christianity Without Guarantees, Chamsy el-Ojeili
        Scrutinising Hannah Strømmen and Ulrich Schmiedel’s The Claim to Christianity, Chamsy el-Ojeili untangles the prevalence of Christian identitarianism in the thickening post-fascist atmosphere. Might Christianity be providing moral and spiritual energy to the presently unsystematised ‘museum of fragments’ that is post-fascism?
      • Populist and Institutionalist Logics of Anti-Expressway Campaigns, Morgan Hamlin
        An examination of the campaign against the Kāpiti expressway yields insights into the limitations of individualistic and institutionalist modes of political action. It is shown that emphasising shared interests between local opposition groups and nationally focused activists is essential in building effective campaigns on environmental issues.
      • Workplace Restructuring and its Discontents, Warwick Tie
        Through an engagement with Marx’s notes on methodology, this article considers the role of the commodity fetish, the fetishisation of intellectual labour, and the fetish of knowledge-without-consequences in the debate over the restructuring of the College of Sciences at Massey University.
      • Chlöe Swarbrick’s Auckland Central Victory, Huw Morgan
        What can the socialist left learn from Swarbrick’s unexpected victory in Auckland Central? A veteran of the campaign explores the practical lessons of this success for movement-building and political engagement in Aotearoa New Zealand.
    • Beginning with an editorial from Jack Foster and Sue Bradford on expectations for Ardern's Labour for the next three years, issue 10 has articles on community organising, militarism and the historian Dick Scott, an interview with Roland Boer on Christianity and the Left, interventions from Auckland and the wider Pacific, responses to the pandemic, and reviews.
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      • Community Organising, Mohan Dutta and Sue Bradford
        Two veterans of community organising discuss their work co-constructing voice infrastructures at the margins. A critical interrogation of the tensions that emerge in the relationships between communities, activists, and academics, and lessons in the role of community organising in building socialist futures.
      • Keywords: Militarism, Emalani Case
        A treatment of militarism in the Pacific, tracing its interconnections with the structures of settler colonialism and white supremacy. Against the steady advance of US-led imperialism, Indigenous temporalities are positioned as the keystone of demilitarised futures.
      • The Weapon behind the Woodpile, Mark Derby
        A retrospective on the life and work of the late historian Dick Scott, author of the ground-breaking Ask that Mountain: The Story of Parihaka. Instinctive outsider and refuter of the high-polite style, a historian who relentlessly unearthed well-buried episodes from Aotearoa New Zealand’s past.
      • The Christian Question, Roland Boer
        An interview with distinguished professor Roland Boer on his five-volume epic On Marxism and Theology. In a wide-ranging discussion, Boer illuminates the myriad connections between Marxism and Christianity and considers the contemporary struggle over the Christian legacy.
      • Auckland's Inner-City Monuments, Murray Edmond
        A fast-paced dérive through Auckland’s inner-city monuments. What messages do the monuments of Aotearoa New Zealand’s metropolis send out, and how can the frequency of these transmissions be altered?
      • Towards a Left Secretariat for the Pacific, Tim Bryar
        Prey to global warming, geopolitical competition, and class divisions, the Pacific Islands region is united by a shared experience of economic dependency and vulnerability. What might a Left secretariat in the Pacific offer?
      • Welcome Home, Prodigy, Murdoch Stephens
        In light of a great repatriation, what emotional states might be provoked by returning New Zealanders? Written during lockdown, Murdoch Stephens looks to the history of the ‘coming home’ essay and song for clues as to how returnees could be productively drawn back into the collective.
      • The Team of Five Six Million, Richard B. Keys
        Chantal Mouffe’s reading of ‘Schmitt against Schmitt’ is employed to discuss the politics of the returnee. In an era punctuated by global crises, what does the figure of the returnee tell us about citizenship, sovereignty, and globalisation?
      • Imagining Beyond Decolonisation, Simon Barber
        Review of Bianca Elkington et al, Imagining Decolonisation. An ‘ethic of restoration’ as a third way between Fanonian rupture and the exclusionary performativity of Pākehā overtures to decolonialisation.
      • Making Socialism within Capitalism, David Neilson
        Review of Jonathan Boston, Transforming the Welfare State. Techno-welfarism as a solution to Aotearoa New Zealand’s decaying social security system.
      • Faustian Politics, Colin Barton
        Review of David Renton, The New Authoritarians. With the intellectual exhaustion of conservatism and the mainstreaming of far-right ideologies, how should the Left respond?