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The essence of a political activist

Written By: - Date published: 9:00 am, February 1st, 2014 - 39 comments
Categories: activism, Politics - Tags:

Political activist

39 comments on “The essence of a political activist”

  1. Pasupial 1

    Love the quote. Unfortunately media tend to focus more on the; “slightly mad”, aspect than the; “internal moral engine”. This is particularly evident down here in Dunedin with incessant harping on about anti-deep sea drilling protestors use of fossil fuels:

    “Despite his [Haazen’s] beliefs, he cruised up Otago Harbour on diesel power yesterday, on the ”perfect” still morning. ”We are totally addicted to oil. We need to wean ourselves off our oil addiction,” he said.”


    The current lack on an alternative fuel infrastructure being one of the primary points of the protest action! But then, when it comes to basic facts:

    “Pro Gas Otago spokesman Andrew Whiley Coyote said he ”struggled”… ”I’m really confused.”
    Mr Haazen said Mr Whiley had incorrect information, as [both] oil and gas were being sought.”

    A Whiley Coyote isn’t as smart as he thinks he is in Prostituting Otago Oil.

    • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 1.1

      Dunedin seems a particularly compromised choice for risking an oil spill.

      Dunedin is one the only place in the southern hemisphere where any species of Albatross breeds on the mainland and Dunedin happens to have the largest one – the Royal Albatross breeding there, they have the Yellow-Eyed Penguins – a species severely challenged already and as I understand it Dunedin is pretty special in that there are a variety of cormorant species (shags) living in the same area – and this is also rare. These are only the things I know about and there are bound to be more – I guess other places in New Zealand would have similar issues.

      It would be pretty bad for all the people if oil got into that harbour – and how quickly would the oil ‘be washed away’ in that harbour with the shape that it is?

      Have these factors been taken into account?

      Link to Greenpeace’s oil spill map

  2. Bill 2

    Nutters unite at the Botanics around 1pm today again 😉

  3. Jan 3

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. Edmund Burke

  4. Tracey 4

    Many dont understand the greens cos their bottom line isnt money… thats why they label them nutters. Better to consider them insane than correct. Imagine how frightening it is for many to consider that money isnt the most important thing.

    • greywarbler 4.2

      Money is the tool of the practical man, it is visually self-sufficient. Whereas ideas, ethics, cognitive decisions, are invisible. Q.E.D.

      • Colonial Viper 4.2.1

        Of course today, money is electronic and largely invisible too.

        • greywarbler

          Oh so you just come along and squash my concept. Now you mention it … no wonder we are floating around in a sort of black hole … nothing has definite edges any more … it must be that fuzzy logic I’ve heard talked about.

        • tricledrown

          The trappings of wealth are highly visible that’s why wealthy people like to have remuera tractors to look down on the the plebs.

        • tricledrown

          The trappings of wealth are highly visible that’s why wealthy people like to have remuera tractors to look down on the the plebs.

      • Tracey 4.2.2

        Money is the sledgehammer of the man who cant be bothered using a chisel.

  5. Will@Welly 5

    Every political activist I’ve ever met, with the exception of one, was left leaning, and everyone did it for ultraistic motifs. The one exception was my Nat cousin, whose father was a tory throw-back, but even then my cousin turned down the baubles of power, deluded into working to elect a Nat Government. Every other tory has done it for the money. They weren’t activists, just greedy.

    • gem 5.1

      There’s plenty of right-wing activists: the asset-selling activists, the free trade at all costs activists, etc.

      • Will@Welly 5.1.1

        To me, a true activist does it for ultraistic reasons. I’m sure JK was at Whangarei for that reason – the right thing to do – whereas your “average” right-wing activist is looking at “what’s in it for me” – payback.

        • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill)

          Is the word you are meaning altruism ? [selfless consideration for others’ welfare]

          Ultraistic means something quite different. [extremism]

          • Colonial Viper

            The way our society is being reconfigured, being altruistic is going to be considered by the powers that be as ultraistic!!!

            • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill)

              The powers that be are ultraistic 😉

              (New word for me – never heard of it before!)

          • Will@Welly

            Sorry, spell-check throws up some curve balls, and balls-ups.

        • gem

          Fair enough. However, many right-wingers want to radically change society (and have); they are not just looking after their own narrow self interest i.e ”what’s in it for me”.
          Who is the real activist between say John Minto and Roger Douglas?

          • weka

            Douglas isn’t an activist.

            • gem

              It’s in the eye of the beholder I guess.
              According to Oxford Dictionaries (online) activism is: ”the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.”
              The term activist is often used as a pejorative to dismiss and marginalise people like Jane Kelsey and John Minto, who (regardless of your view of the issue) are advocating the more conservative path. Thus in the minds of the people, opposing the likes of the TPPA is the activist or radical position.
              To my mind, those campaigning for a treaty that threatens our sovereignty are pro-TPPA activists.

          • cricklewood

            Alan Gibbs would be better than Douglas in your comparison if feel. But both are activists they just have completely different methods and reasoning. Whilst Minto is much more vocal etc I’d argue that Gibb’s version has had greater effect on NZ. People just cant see it because its all done behind closed doors. …

            • gem

              Good point. Douglas was elected, and got his way by using (manipulating) the parliamentary system. Gibbs used other channels as an activist of the far right for both personal enrichment and political upheaval.
              He seems to prefer the identity of ”predator” judging from extracts from ‘Serious Fun: The Life and Times of Alan Gibbs’ penned by National list MP and author Paul Goldsmith.
              From the NZ Herald review in August 2012 by Chris Barton:

              “Predators seek to incur the least possible risk while hunting,” writes Goldsmith, comparing the law of the jungle with the behaviour of successful, risk-averse businessmen. On a 1987 trip to Zimbabwe and Kenya, Gibbs found the great African plains a revelation. He was fascinated by the way gazelle accommodated to living in constant peril. “The competition for survival in nature was absolute and unsentimental: the strong survived; the weak were eaten.” Goldsmith extends the metaphor to the New Zealand business ecosystem of the 70s – predator-free, with the natural process disrupted by government regulation and protection, allowing “plenty of fundamentally unsound businesses to limp along.” Until, according to Goldsmith, Gibbs restored the balance. “Gibbs had emerged since 1979 as one of the larger local predators, at a time when old protections were starting to lose their power.” Ends

              Just to think, they wanted to let this man loose on our health system.

  6. JK 6

    Great post ! Especially on the day when we got up at 5am (groan) in the dark, drove in the dark and wind down to the Whangarei growers market and set up a stall to raise awareness and get written submissions opposing the Local Govt Commission’s proposal for a Unitary Authority for the whole of Northland. We had almost 100 (95 to be exact) handwritten submissions within 3 hours to send off to the LGC. This is on top of the 60 we’ve previously sent off from other stalls. Yeah …. I’d go along with the “slightly mad” description – except for the fact we had umpteen people saying to us – ” thanks for doing this, I wouln’t have got around to sending off a submission otherwise”

    • mickysavage 6.1

      Good stuff JK. Keep up the good work.

    • greywarbler 6.2

      briefly what do you think would work best for northland?

      • JK 6.2.1

        Sorry GreyWarbler – I’m just not getting into that scenario yet ….. haven’t sorted out my own submission for the LGC hearings – been too busy raising awareness of the issue locally, and my personal objection is that the draft Unitary proposal takes away a huge amount of current decision-making from local councillors – putting all the major decisions into the hands of one mayor and 9 councillors covering the entire – hugely isolated in parts – of Northland. Its too remote.
        The Waitakere local board recently were the “victims” of such decision-making – not even being consulted about the possibility of oil drilling off Auckland’s west coast which is their patch.

  7. Jenny 7

    “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.”
    Mahatma Gandhi

    <blockquote.“Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.”
    Martin Luther King Jr.

    Is David Cunliffe placing himself on the wrong side of history, in supporting Deep Sea Oil drilling?

    Many tens, if not hundreds of New Zealanders are preparing to blockade our ports against the passage of the Deep Sea Oil rig support ships.

    Many thousands protested on our beaches.

    Even the most powerful man in the world, the President of the United States of America has been unable to push the XL pipeline through, against opposition from determined US activists.

    Deep Sea Oil Drilling is this country’s version of the XL pipeline.

    Like the protests against schedule 4 mining that made the National government back down.

    Like the protests that drove nuclear warships and Petrobras from our shores.

    Sooner or later the movement against Deep Sea Oil will become overwhelming.

  8. QoT 8

    Ugh. Eve Ensler. Whose “activism” includes “dehumanizing women of colour for her own ~personal growth~”

  9. Jenny 9

    “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”

    Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
    And where have you been my darling young one?
    I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
    I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
    I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
    I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
    I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
    And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
    It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.


    Jenny the climate change Goebbels

  10. Jenny 10

    A scientific take on activism.

    “Which strategy is best? It depends on whether the change is brought about through violence or resistance. University of Denver political scientist Erica Chenoweth and her colleague Maria Stephan compared violent and nonviolent revolutions and reforms since 1900. They found that “from 1900 to 2006, nonviolent campaigns worldwide were twice as likely to succeed outright as violent insurgencies.” And: “This trend has been increasing over time, so that in the last 50 years nonviolent campaigns are becoming increasingly successful and common, whereas violent insurgencies are becoming increasingly rare and unsuccessful.” Only a small percentage of a population is necessary to bring about change: “No single campaigns failed after they’d achieved the active and sustained participation of just 3.5 percent of the population.” And if they surpassed the 3.5 percent threshold, all were nonviolent and “often much more inclusive and representative in terms of gender, age, race, political party, class, and the urban-rural distinction.” It’s a faster track to the 3.5 percent magic number when you are more inclusive and participation barriers are low. Plus, nonviolent resistance does not require expensive guns and weapons.”
    Michael Shermer Scientific American Febuary 1, 2014

    New Zealand must be one of the world leaders in effective peaceful protest, from Vietnam to Schedule 4. and everything in between.

    During the Vietnam war era New Zealand had the largest number of anti war protesters per head of population in the world. Though the New Zealand state supported the war, NZ could only send volunteers. Unlike Australia the government could not impose conscription, in fact they even had to abandon the precursor to conscription, Compulsory Military Training, when anti-war protesters blocked the tracks of the trains taking trainees to Papakura and the trainees joined the protests.

    In 1975 the Vietnam war ended and the Maori Land March took place under the banner “Not One More Acre” protesting the continuing confiscation of Maori Land primarily through the use of the Public Works Act. This huge mobilisation of Maori and their supporters brought both Auckland and Wellington to a grinding halt when the Land March passed through these cities. Winning several important concessions for Maori in particular the founding of the Maori Land Court to consider all cases of unfair Maori Land alienation.

    In 1976 the government decided to subdivide Auckland Council land alienated from Maori in 1882. A peaceful protest to stop the subdivision occupied the land after 500 days the government mobilised over 800 troops and police to evict them. But the government was never able to carry out their plans to subdivide the land for luxury housing. And the protesters won another major concession from the Crown. For the first time ever, the Maori Land Court was given the power to consider historic grievances. And the first ever settlement under the new powers given the land court was to return Bastion Point to the Ngati Whatua o Orakei.

    In 1981 protests mounted against racially selected sporting tours culminated in huge protests against the springbok tour, that never saw another sports team from that regime ever visit this country again. ‘nuf said. (except that these protests captured the world’s attention, and gave valuable moral support to the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa itself)

    The New Zealand protests against nuclear armed and powered warships brought the world’s most powerful navy to grinding halt. The protests became so huge and powerful that the debate went into parliament. A private members bill to ban nuclear ships was brought onto the floor of parliament by Labour opposition MP Richard Prebble. Under huge public pressure two government MPs were prepared to cross the floor to see the bill passed. The crisis brought down the government. The new administration tried to continue the same policy of neither confirm nor deny to allow US warship the Buchanon back into New Zealand, Nicky Hagar met with Prime Minster Lange and told him any attempt to bring the Buchanon into New Zealand would be met with the same scale of protests that brought down the last government. The day after he told the Buchanon to turn around and go back to the US. David Lange was reported in the Listener as saying the peace movement was the lobby he most feared.

    Schedule 4 protests against the mining of conservation land saw another government backdown in the face of huge public protest.

    I am proud to say that I have been intimately involved in all these schedules, just like many other tens of thousands of New Zealanders. (except only minimally in the schedule 4 protests)

    We have never been beaten and have never found ourselves on the wrong side of history.

    Myself and many other experienced activists are now mobilising against Deep Sea Oil drilling, and to save the planet.

  11. Tanz 11

    inheritance brings wealth to children and grandchildren. The work and economy of the forebear is passed on. Is this a crime.

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