The ‘Pakeha Party’ has the most Facebook followers of any New Zealand political movement (excepting John Key’s page) That’s in one day of publicity. They’re seriously talking about forming an actual political party. Should we be worried about this apparent reactionary force? Nah. The creation of a ‘Pakeha Party’ would be good news.
Usually, when we look at political activism – petitions, protests etc – we see the numbers involved and extrapolate on the basis that only a very small portion of people who care about an issue will publicly display that. But it would be a mistake to look at the 34,000+ Facebook likes that the Pakeha Party garnered in 24 hours and conclude that they represent the tip of an iceberg. They’re reactionaries, by definition because the idea of a Pakeha Party is an inherently reactionary one, and they’re doing something that with extremely low entry costs in a forum that is tailor-made for the reactionary way of thinking (ditto-headism, angry symbols in place of action, no deep thought).
Let’s look at another recent example of reactionarism – the petition against marriage equality. 72,000 people signed that online petition but the reactionary movement, Family First, had nearly no impact on the debate. Reactionaries make a lot of noise per person but they have little depth as a movement – they require too much energy, too much hate.
So, don’t worry, our little proto-fascists aren’t going to morph into a serious political force. Successful fascism was a product of a time and a place, and the skillful use of new propaganda technology by some exceptional politicians. A look at the Pakeha Party’s Facebook page and their media appearances reassures me they’ve got no propaganda geniuses, no cleverness or cunning.
They’re just nobs that a bunch of nobs like. And, while there are plenty of reactionary nobs, in this country, that’s not enough to be a successful political force – you have to be able to control and manipulate the media. These guys have had one day of publicity and they’ve managed to alienate mediaworks – basically, half the media – in that time.
And that’s not all you need. You need people with political nous and experience at running a political organisation. They don’t have that. They’re just a bunch of munters.
If these guys form a real party, they will be riven by internal problems, their policies will be incoherent, and the media will give them no air time, except to expose their failures. It would be like if Cameron Slater, Larry Williams, and that racist cartoonist formed a party (in fact, I think that’ll be the limit of sympathetic media – and remember that Slater came in the bottom 10% of Auckland Council candidates)
All that will happen is that it will take a few percent of the vote, which will be wasted. Where are reactionary Pakeha votes going to come from? National and New Zealand First. That’s great news for the Left because it means a higher percentage of the Rightwing vote wasted – it might even see NZF fail to get back into Parliament. It might even make those parties less reactionary if they lose those people at the margin.
Don’t get me wrong – if there was a fascist movement forming in New Zealand that had the potential to radicalise a large element of the population and gain real political image, it would be something to fight. But if some of the Right’s moron vote wants to waste its vote, well, that’s all to the good.