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Launch of Economic and Social Research Aotearoa (ESRA)

Written By: - Date published: 1:36 pm, August 29th, 2016 - 35 comments
Categories: activism, leadership, Left - Tags: , ,

There is a new think tank in town:


Economic and Social Research Aotearoa invites you to join us in nurturing informed progressive debate in Aotearoa. We are a national think tank committed to high quality research and analysis based on a kaupapa of social, economic, ecological and Tiriti justice.

From the About page:

What’s the story behind ESRA?

Since the 1980s many on the left have lamented the lack of any major cross sectoral left think tank in Aotearoa New Zealand capable of combatting the policies of neoliberal capitalism and of promoting well researched alternatives and solutions.

Our story so far

In 2014 activist and former Green MP Sue Bradford started disseminating the results of her PhD research project A major left wing think tank in Aotearoa: an impossible dream or a call to action? After interviewing 51 academics and activists across the country her thesis had come to the clear conclusion that there was indeed a major gap and that substantial support existed for the establishment of one or more left think tanks.

By the time of ESRA’s launch in September 2016 the supporters’ network had grown to nearly 500 people drawn from activist and academic communities all over New Zealand. A first union-funded research project was underway, examining the work and living conditions of a particular group of migrant workers, and a number of other research streams and projects are at various stages of development. …

See also:

Introducing ESRA

The launch of Economic and Social Research Aotearoa on 2 September 2016 marks a breakthrough moment in the history of the New Zealand left. Read on for an introduction to ESRA from Project Coordinator Sue Bradford. …

Congratulations to Sue Bradford and her team. We hope to hear plenty more from ESRA!

35 comments on “Launch of Economic and Social Research Aotearoa (ESRA) ”

  1. Richardrawshark 1

    Sorry this rolls along the lines of I need a job i’ll do a thesis and load the results to get what I want. End story.

    • r0b 1.1

      That’s not a bad entry in the “Top ten stupidest comments ever made on The Standard”. Congratulations!

      • North 1.1.1

        End story: we all mouth off weird from time to time Richardrawshark and boy did you ever do so today ! Back on Earth, tell us it’s not a good idea.

    • LOL Sue has a lot of things competing for her time and could do plenty of other high-profile leftie positions if she wanted. If she set up the think tank, it was because she believed in it.

    • Macro 1.3

      Gezz Tardar Sauce you really got out of bed on the wrong side this morning….

  2. Richardrawshark 2

    Well I get a little off-put by the words “think tank”.. you can blame Muldoom for that!

    Secondly a leftie think tank, please enlighten me as to what THAT means!

  3. Bob 3

    “Since the 1980s many on the left have lamented the lack of any major cross sectoral left think tank in Aotearoa New Zealand capable of combatting the policies of neoliberal capitalism and of promoting well researched alternatives and solutions”

    Umm, New Zealand Council of Trade Unions???

    • framu 3.1

      you remember why the NZ initiative changed its name from the business round table?

      i would say this is much the same thing – doesnt have automatic baggage when the name is mentioned in the media

      • Bob 3.1.1

        I actually wondered if it may have something to do with Helen Kelly’s campaign on medicinal marijuana. For years she had been the face of the CTU, I did wonder if this was effectively a public facing re-brand with Sue Bradford as the recognisable new face.
        If that was the case, she has a fair amount of baggage herself (the ‘anti-smacking’ legislation), so I can’t quite figure out what the point of the whole exercise is!

  4. tom 4

    The left desperately need this as well as a proper public broadcaster, to compete against the massive Corporate machinary on the Right.
    I have recently read a great book called Dark Money about RW think tanks in USA, particularily on the Koch brothers (great book, although is quite depressing at the level of this machinary working against Left principles). It really would surprise most people how effective these have been at influencing public opinion and public policy, and just how vast and massive they are, and the amount of $ pumped into RW hackery since the 60’s, and the influence they have had over that time.
    Most RWers i hear rant often use the arguments constructed by these think tanks, even though they are never peer reviewed studies, or legitimate, but are well financed, and that seems to be the Zeitgeist of our times, that $ buys anything (just look at NZ and that is now obviously the case)
    My belief is that the whole industry should be shut down, as is basicallly funded brain washing, much like the PR industry, but in absense of that is best to fight fire with fire i guess.
    For any RW’ers on here, look up the Koch brothers and other funders of think tanks and see the kind of people that are influencing your politics, and be disgusted as i was.

    • BM 4.1

      Why does the left lack the ability to make money? or raise money?

      • Richardrawshark 4.1.1

        They don’t, i’m sure BM, it’s the people who use terms and labels that think left means hemp sack wearing hippies, without a cent to their name. There are plenty of as I like to rename this left label, caring social people who can make money, as much as their are selfish greedy money whores who like right wing dicatorships in a born to rule we are better than you way.

        The caring people just lost when they accepted the label and picture.

        • BM

          caring social people who can make money
          Why aren’t they parting with their money?, it’s nigh on impossible to compete if you’ve got no funds.

          If the left ever want to get anywhere then they need to convince these individuals to open their wallets and hand over some dosh.

          • weka

            So if the think tank can operate without having lots of large donations, but instead uses its inherent social wealth, it’s a failure anyway because it doesn’t have lots of dosh?

            And there we have the divide (left/neoliberal), whereby the neos don’t understand what is going on.

            • Bob

              Read the thread again, Tom said “$ buys anything”, BM asked if the ‘Left’ can’t make money, Richard said they can, BM asked why they don’t part with it.

              If you think social wealth is enough, then you should be telling Tom, not BM, Tom’s the one that thinks $ alone buys influence, I don’t agree http://freakonomics.com/2012/01/17/how-much-does-campaign-spending-influence-the-election-a-freakonomics-quorum/

              • weka

                I didn’t say that social wealth is enough. Neither did Bradford.

                BM appears to be saying that without lots of money it won’t work.

              • tom

                Don’t misrepresent me, purposefully or not, i never said $ ALONE, you added the alone part, there are many influencers, but $ is predominant, adding alone changes the meaning drastically.
                The left have the people the right have cash, that is in a very generalised way how it works, and the people together can make a mark, like bernie’s campaign had the most donors ever in a presidential race, but came no where near Hilary due to the Corporate cash she generated, as the establishments choice.

            • BM

              No one works for free( or not for very long).

              Enthusiasm only take you so far.

              • weka

                I didn’t say that the project would be run on unpaid work. However lots of people do unpaid work over long periods of time.

              • Red Hand

                “enthusiasm” isn’t what keeps underpaid employees effectively working for free.

              • North

                Which proves I take it that you’re on a paid trolling roster Bowel ? I mean I know you’ve got the enthusiasm.

      • tom 4.1.2

        Seems pretty obvious, but not surprising you have the inability to think, as you, from what i can previously tell are just a paid PR hack yourself, or naive and uninformed with no desire to read both sides of an argument that you believe you know the answer for – i can’t quite tell which one yet. Am happy to be proved wrong though.

        In a Corporate dominated world such as ours why would the people with power give money to someone whose intentions are to undo their horrible greedy work, and reduce the money/power they have.
        That is not to say that there are no rich people with cash that agree with Bernie for example, but in comparison to the Koch bro’s and their gang of thugs/ilk they are a tiny minority.
        There is a huge amount to say on this topic, but i know from previous postings that you are not likely to listen to what is said if it goes against your paymasters or quacked out ideology, so ill leave that there, and you can get back to me to discuss the book once you have read it, to see if you are disgusted, as a normal human being should, or if you are happy living in an Orwwellian dystopia.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1.3

        Wrong question: the Left makes and raises money. Why do some people with lots of money use it to buy seats at Cabinet Club?

        If National didn’t offer legislation for sale they wouldn’t take so much in bribes.

      • North 4.1.4

        Why is Bowel popping in @ 5.1 right now. To troll and distract of course. Certainly not to genuinely respond to Tom @ 5. Piss off Bowel.

      • Michelle 4.1.5

        Who said they cant raise money they are on track now collecting small donations that lead to large amounts of donations. They haven’t got the likes of Barfoot & Thompson in their pocket like the gnats BM.

  5. Anno1701 5

    we dont need “think” tanks

    we need T-35,s

  6. Jenny Kirk 6

    Wow ! the right don’t want any competition nor any analysis of their opinions. They know best, and that’s that !

    • Bill 6.1

      So if elitist left wing think tanks are now going to be competing with elitist right wing think tanks to establish what us plebs are ‘allowed’ to be thinking then yeah, nah – this shit never ends well and absolutely never ends soon enough.

      • BM 6.1.1

        That’s the problem with you Bill you just don’t know whats good for you.
        You be so much happier if you let all those big brained intellectuals tell you what to do. 😉

      • North 6.1.2

        Bill that’s actually a very stupid comment terribly unlike the essence of you (as I [admittedly] ‘presume’ to see you). It sorta makes ‘thinking’ an anti-worker endeavour. Is the ‘thinking’ that precedes your comments on TS anti-worker endeavour ? I wouldn’t have thought so.

        Hey, don’t listen to Bowel that wicked Mata Hari, that Tokyo Rose. She’s just mischief.

        • Bill

          There’s nothing anti-intellectual or anti-worker in my comment.

          Vanguardist bullshit has no place in politics – that’s what my comment is about.

  7. North 7

    So ESRA is vanguardist bullshit. How? You have by your comment excluded the entitlement to refer to intellectual styles or demeanour in your telling ‘How’. Is it personal ? Not that there’d be anything wrong with that. But if it’s not anti-intellectual and God we know it’s not anti-worker……..what is it ? Someone thinking up an MO that you didn’t ? Or stinky old nay-saying ? I’m open to it being none of those things but please, ‘How’?

    • Bill 7.1

      It’s a top down organisational model. Read their page.

      Here’s a throwaway. They seek to build a radical left hegemony in Aotearoa, based on…

      And my natural inclination is to ask questions around how the parameters of that hegemony get set and who sets them? Who shapes and defines the content of that hegemonic left and by what mechanisms is it shaped and defined? And do those assuming roles around the working out or setting down all the above have any legitimacy?

      Well, since it’s a top down organisation with little or no apparent direct worker involvement, no obvious mechanisms of accountability and a narrow group of people (the coordinators and presumably trustees) exercising major input at the decision making end of things…

      So ideas or suggestions will be fed in. And then vetted (accepted/discarded). Analyses will be endorsed or censured. Prescriptions will be ‘issued’ – and so on.

      Some of those analyses and prescriptions will be useful, but they’ll be coming from something that’s got all the hall marks of failed 20th C undemocratic, authoritarian or paternalistic (ie – vanguardist) political projects that some who think themselves left wing still hanker for.

      And if you’re of some majority who are that way inclined, who see no problem with any of that and if the hegemony that’s being sought comes into being, then fine – we’re fucked again.

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