Political observers of the NZ political scene frequently state that the Labour party is a “broad church”. Indeed it is almost a catch phrase of Mike Williams, a former president of the NZLP. Generally this is taken as referring to the members and supporters of the NZLP. However even this is a rather limited view of what happens in reality. The NZLP is just a small fraction of the left and labour movement that this blog was setup to serve.
In truth after 97 years that the Labour party has been around (I have to start somewhere), the left can be distinguished as being more like the late great Iain M Banks view of his fictional Culture which he divided up into various Mind/ship behavioural segments.
I’m going to adapt this because it is one of the best descriptions that I see of the overall labour movement – which in a large degree is still centered around having a large Labour party capable of coalescing a government. My sincere wish is that I offend everyone equally, so don’t complain unless I fail to do so :twisted;
Occasionally ships conclude that their values are too different from the Culture—that the Culture is too cautious, conservative, or even warlike. These ships split off from the mainstream Culture and form splinter groups, which are collectively known as the Culture Ulterior. All known Ulterior groups are still, broadly speaking, generally considered part of the Culture by other civilisations, though they may be viewed with some derision as being a “hanger-on” to the Culture.
It always amuses me when I’m talking to people in the labour movement to ask them when exactly they last paid their Labour party membership and then guessing the issue that caused them to stop paying the pittance. Mind you, I also do exactly the same thing for the Green and ex-Green members. After all, the only other party I have voted for was the Values party back in my first election – 1978. It kind of fractured rather messily as a party after that election and it was hard to miss on campus. Incidentally it is interesting to see that in 1975 that Values got just over 5% of the vote…
Ulterior groups generally maintain strong relationships with the Culture (referred to by the AhForgetIt Tendency as the Mainland). Ulterior groups are generally considered allies; in addition to high levels of civilian interactions such as trade (of information or even material goods) and migration of people, Ulterior groups are considered trustworthy enough to share sensitive military secrets with and capable of seamlessly integrating with Culture military forces should it become necessary.
The seamless bit I suspect is a bit over the top when it comes to Labour and other organised groups that have spun out of it. But the Ulterior would provide the bulk of commenters on this site.
This always seems to confuse the hell out of the Mainlanders and indeed many of the people from the right who seem to equate everything left as being monolithic and Labour.
Labour MPs especially often seem to be shocked when I point out that this site isn’t for the Labour party. I suspect that they’re really just too used to meeting the rump that is what is left of the Labour party and particularly those in their LECs.
That the NZLP membership has more than doubled over the past two years might be changing their views a bit. I rather suspect we’ve been doing our bit here in assisting people from the ulterior to make up their mind to join some party so they can volunteer more effectively to boot National out and get a more intelligent group on the treasury benches to complain about.
Ships which appear to have mental ‘instability’ (though only compared with the very reasoned rationality of the other Culture Minds) or act in ways that are otherwise considered eccentric or at odds with accepted standards of behavior are considered to be Eccentric. Eccentric is a descriptive term for ships and not a group in its own right; for example, ROU Shoot Them Later was both Eccentric and part of the AhForgetIt Tendency of the Culture Ulterior.
Eccentric ships are not considered to have rejected their society. They may still act as members or representatives of their civilisation, though they may be viewed as pariahs.
For those who have this trait – don’t deny it. Instead embrace it. Often we find the most interesting ideas come from this group. Of course they are often hard to distinguish from the much larger pile of ideas that often should have been smothered at conception.
I cheerfully admit that I’m from this part of the left. For a starter I’m a old computer programmer and therefore a geek. But also because I’m so individualistic personally and in my work life that I rotated past the short-sighted and self-interested fools in Act and wound up on the left looking at our society as a whole.
But if you are eccentric, then the one thing you need to do on the net is to learn how to argue your pet hobby horses *well*. Simple repetition of assertions is simply boring and causes a rapid movement from amusing/interesting to outright boring trolling really fast.
Sometimes a ship decides that it wishes to have a sabbatical from its duties in the Culture, especially after a particularly harrowing or ethically problematic situation (or maybe simply after being fed up with the Culture for a time). This sabbatical may be for some months, years, or longer.
Absconded ships are those that reject their Culture duties and decide to go off on their own. These duties can include things such as caring for its biological citizens or following orders from their superiors in Contact or Special Circumstances. Unlike Eccentrics, who still perform Culture duties, if in an eccentric manner, Absconded are not considered to be part of the mainstream Culture.
I tend to view this group as being those parts of the labour movement who went over to the dark side. Like those members who created the Act party or absconded into the United party. Bereft of much vision beyond their own interests they have steadily faded from the NZ political scene as they got sucked into the voracious maw of the National party.
Anyway, enough of this analogy as it is getting stretched. The main thing to remember that this site was set up for connecting the whole of the labour movement and not just the bits in political parties. As our About from Feburary 2007 when we started thinking about launching the site says
We come from a variety of backgrounds and our political views don’t always match up but it’d be fair to say that all of us share a commitment to the values and principles that underpin the broad labour movement and we hope that perspective will come through strongly as you read the blog.