Written By: - Date published: 10:00 am, December 23rd, 2012 - 46 comments
Categories: class war, climate change, david cunliffe, economy, housing, john key, labour, Minister for Photo-ops, petition, poverty, sustainability, Unions - Tags: asset sales, nest of vipers, occupy aotearoa, powershift, sam johnson
Throughout 2012, John Key and neoliberal individualism remained dominant. The panel on the last Citizen A panel, agreed that John Key’s is successfully continuing his gig as “celebrity PM” and is de-politicising the Prime Minister role. This diverts attention from the important issues. However, the opposition did carry out some significant actions based on collaborative efforts. These were often small and local, and some were organised in a more progressive way than others: some were ed by those in control of an organisation, and others were used a leaderless approach to participant democracy.
The year began with Occupy encampments around the country still in place. The Occupy movement, practicing leaderless participant democracy, had begun in opposition to WallSstreet and the bankster destruction of the global economy. It gave us some terms with special and widely understood meanings: the 1% and the 99%. This enabled a clear focus on social, economic and political inequalities.
The NZ local councils and police broke up the NZ Occupy encampments early in 2012, and the MSM internationally did their best to pronounce the movement dead. However, the movement continues, largely away from the media spotlight. Hundreds of Auckland students occcupied Queen Street, closing down the CBD in June, protesting education cuts. This was a follow-up to their Blockade the Budget’ rally the previous week.
Protesters began occupying Housing NZ property in Glen Innes in February, with the protests continuing throughout the year. Along the way, Mana Party MP Hone Harawira, plus John Minto, got arrested. The women from the Glen Innes protest were honoured with a stage call at the anti-Asset Sales rally in Auckland last month.
UK Occupy veteran, Matthew Varnham, explains why the movement is still relevant and live.
“The connections and lessons learned during that time have formed a network of people and groups that are becoming increasingly active – mostly below the media radar.”
In October, opposition Parties joined together to carry out a parliamentary inquiry into the manufacturing crisis. They also joined with Grey Power, students and other groups to gather signatures for a petition for a referendum on Asset Sales. MSM journalists now tend to accept that, if there is a change of government in 2014, it’ll be a Labour-Green coalition.
Local groups campaigning against poverty and for beneficiaries were very active, including the AAP, with the Onehunga Impact for three days earlier this month. Trained advocates did advocacy casework, helping beneficiaries to access their social security entitlements.
MUNZ did what unions traditionally do, and stood in solidarity against the POAL’s attempts to make their jobs more”flexible” and less secure. They won a significant victory in the courts earlier this month.
This week in the UK Guardian, Suzanne Moore declared 2012 as the year of the foodbank (which she describes as the neoliberal era term for soup kitchens). This is another grass roots collective enterprise that was stretched to the limit, here as well as in the UK.
Earlier this month young people from Powershift, NZ’s biggest summit on climate and cutting back on the use of fossil fuels. Before the summit, young people promoted it with a flashmob, gangnam style:
The Labour Party Conference was a significant moment for the members, (as argued by Chris Trotter) and the left wing blogosphere. The process for electing the parliamentary leader became more democratic, and it is hoped that this will have flow on effects. The Labour Caucus has been reluctant to take up party conference remits in the past, and the List candidates preferred by LECs don’t always get through the caucus filter. It’s hoped that such things will improve in the future. The democratisation of the party was largely ignored by the MSM, while the TV cameras focused on asking Cunliffe when he was going to stage a coup. In fact, this was more of a preemptive strike by the current leadership to take out Cunliffe, and strengthen the leadership.
According to Bomber yesterday, the manufacturing of the Cunliffe coup by the MSM and anonymous leaks from the Labour Caucus leadership, indicates how Key is still popular. This is partly manufactured by sympathetic journalists.
However, the gloss is gradually wearing off Key, and the collective actions during the lat year, indicate the way flax roots activists should focus their attention in the next year. There are huge problems in the world today, that can only be solved through collaborative actions; resource depletion, climate change, poverty. Participate, network, organise. And as Sam Johnson, organiser of the Christchurch post-earthquake, student volunteers says, “Contribute”.
This and Powershift are two of several examples of innovative young Kiwis, as written about by Rod Oram in today’s article: Young, Gifted and Kiwi.
Some methods of collaborative action will be better than others in bringing positive change. Will 2013 see more of such efforts? And will the MSM finally give them the attention they deserve?