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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Acts of God, acts of Capitalism and a new left Party

Do you feel it New Zealand? That outpouring of compassion, solidarity and altruism? The pain and grief and terror of the Christchurch earthquake has triggered something in our national psyche deeper than the mere immediacy of assistance, it has reminded us in blunt terms broadcast by a media as shell shocked as those suffering of the fragility of our existence and that despite the hyper consumer culture mantra of 'individual uber alles', we are in fact utterly interconnected and are in all of this together.

Our concept as to who we are as a nation has previously been forged on beaches in war far from our shores, or projected on rugby fields of sporting glory. Now in our darkest hour our humble resilience in the face of such disaster is our new binding spirit and national identity.

The Government's desire to offer aid to our whanau in Christchurch is just, but why should acts of God be different from acts of capitalism? Hours before the quake, the ideologically stacked welfare razor gang were announcing their crippling of the welfare state, I have one question for John in the wake of that report, how does a solo mother in Christchurch find work once her child turns 3 now Mr Key?

Anthony Hubbard in the Sunday Star Times today compares the outpouring of compassion for an act of God with the lack of it from the ideologically stacked welfare razor gang over acts of capitalism...

Behind all this is a certain view of beneficiaries: the working group has an "imagined community" that it is dealing with. And the strong impression it gives is that this is a community of skivers. It won't do just to support these people and make it easier for them to work. Some of them will need the lash, even if it lands on their kids' backs as well as their own.

The group seems to think that the benefit provides a resting place – especially the invalid and sickness benefits – and that those who get it must be tipped off. No doubt there are a tiny number of bludgers. For most, life on the benefit is a bleak and even wretched business, and it doesn't need to be made any bleaker.

The earthquake brought us together and reminded us of our natural solidarity. It reminded us of the virtues and even necessity of altruism and sympathy.

You will find no such vision in this narrow, pinched, and divisive document.

Our Economy has been hit by a technical double dip recession, the Christchurch economy has been devastated by this dreadful earthquake, the investment and imagination required to rebuild our dear Southern city demands a level of Government assistance that will need to be replicated throughout NZ as the economic impact of what has happened makes the recession deepen.

In the dark, the hope is that the latest technology innovation can seed a new city on environmentally sustainable foundations with the most creative thinking for urban design explored rather than the shopping mall abomination Bob Parker and his developer mates were conjuring up in the wake of the last big earthquake.

The ever brilliant Rod Oram in today's Sunday Star Times...

Thus the earthquakes are an extraordinary opportunity to achieve those goals in the centre of Christchurch, thereby greatly improving the whole urban area.

Christchurch will remain its very attractive self, in character and defining factors such as its historic street grid. But it will find new expressions of those, which will be uniquely right for it, and appropriate for the new global reality. In doing so, Christchurch will become truly sustainable. It will make resilient its presence on the Canterbury plain, it will greatly enhance its economy, and it will lift the spirit of its people. This is not the task of the city. It is the task of the nation.

During this spirit of compassion and solidarity in a moment of National grief and shock launches the possibility of a new political party, as Matt McCarten explains in today's Herald on Sunday...

Harawira now has a safe seat and will be returned in November. For the rest of the year he will run a campaign against the seabed and foreshore changes.

But more threatening to the status quo is that he will run parallel campaigns against low wages, so-called welfare reform, mining, GST and privatisation.

These issues will mobilise support among Maori and non-Maori working class.

You can say what you like about Harawira, but no one doubts his sincerity when it comes to fighting for the poor. This is a constituency screaming out for a staunch champion. In Harawira they'll get one. Harawira will target these voters for their party list vote.

The Maori Party, on the other hand, needs to win back its four current electorate seats to be relevant. On current polling, Pita Sharples in Tamaki Makarau and Rahui Katene in Te Tai Tonga are goners and the party won't get any party list seats. The likely outcome is them hanging on to just two seats.

I suspect Harawira's new party will get one to three seats from his party list in addition to his own. As a consequence, even if the Maori Party leadership stuck with National after the election they would be neutralised by Harawira if he got other MPs in with him. Hell would freeze over before Harawira went with National.

But if that's disastrous for National, it gets worse. That's because for Sharples and Katene to keep their seats, they will need Harawira to ask his supporters to vote for them. What's the price of that? The Maori Party endorsing Harawira's party list? Meeting together after election day to agree on a joint negotiation with either National or Labour?

Imagine this scenario: the Maori Party is able to keep its four seats and Harawira picks up 2.5 per cent, as well as his own seat. That makes seven seats in all - two more than they had at the last election.

Given that the Maori seats will overwhelmingly support Labour on the party vote, it's quite possible all seven MPs will back a Labour-led government as part of a joint negotiation strategy.

This quake and the compassion it has brought up in us reminds us of our interconnectedness, it reminds us that we are a collective despite the hyper consumer cult of me first and the gimmie, gimmies and that those requiring help are all of us at one time or another.

Selfishness as a virtue is not a social policy worth pursuing.


At 27/2/11 4:44 pm, Blogger aberfoyle said...

Bomber,was bored the other night,so decided to check out some left Nz blogs,came to Bowally Road,read his advice to you about how forming a new left party and his self indulgent advice of his past heroic efforts.

So after reading through the comments and some very scathing of you,i decided to give them a responce.Not in your favour for i do not know you,but in my distant association with Mr Trotter,from my active left days. Did not think he would publish them, as the comments go against his self (centered) censorship, of his considered fairness and play.

The comments i made came from his,youthful adulthood as i was at the time.He never published them as i new he would not.Bit of a churl,is our Chris,and a fair weather friend to the socialist movement.

At 27/2/11 4:49 pm, Blogger Sam Hill said...

This party on the left should be interesting. Might help Winston Peters even further.

At 27/2/11 6:07 pm, Blogger aberfoyle said...

Sam.Winston!s followers are not predominantly left leaning.They are old school N.Z.!rs.Some left but mainly right.
If there is to be a serious left push in this land, it has to come from the youth,for they are the ones most effected by to_days politics.

They are the most effected,yet ambivalent to the reason why.

At 27/2/11 6:13 pm, Blogger dave said...

Its part of the NACTs exploitation of the quake to imagine that it "brings us together". Your first instinct was right. The quake will be used to submerge the welfare cuts. But not just by taking the headlines, but by the shock therapy of the mystical national interest.

Sam Mahon's partner said it right in the SST. "Wonder if theyll rebuild a church or bank first".

Selling the quake as an act of god or nature masks the class divisions that will see workers suffer most from substandard housing developments and substandard building codes. Most money go to reviving business opportunities for the new Canterbury gentry that already has the land and water rights.

This appeal to god or nature is no different to the way the NACTs sell welfare cuts. Welfare is seen a deviation from hard work and self-reliance all of which has to be fought as an evil to purify the free market individual.

Cutting welfare to force people to into slave labour becomes as much a religious exercise as rebuilding ChCh.

At 28/2/11 4:58 am, Blogger Sam Hill said...

aberfoyle I know who NZ First supporters are, thats exactly what I mean. Those who favour govt intervention in the economy but have conservative social views will surely be incensed enough by Hone and his cohorts to see some advantage in NZ First.


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