An alliance between the Mana and Internet parties has raised interest and eyebrows. Many see Mana and Internet, Harawira and Dotcom, as the unlikeliest of political bedfellows.
Mana represent Maori, socialists and poor people, Dotcom appears to represent his own interests, he supports the free use of intellectual property (from which he has made hundreds of millions of dollars.
Hui-net versus the Internet.
Northland poverty versus Coatesville opulence.
Dotcom seems to have the power to decide – Internet Party Chief Executive Vikram Kumar said Dotcom “is leading the discussion with MANA on behalf of the Internet Party” – and seems to have already decided. He was reported yesterday:
Kim Dotcom says a deal between his Internet Party and Hone Harawira’s Mana party is likely to go ahead after addressing Mana’s AGM this afternoon.
In contrast the Mana Party follow established Maori discuss and decide processes.
Yesterday Dotcom went to Rotorua seemingly keen on doing a deal. Last night Mana Party members agreed to “move forward in negotiations” (NZ Herald):
The Mana Party has given its leaders a month to negotiate, before they put any proposed alliance out to the party’s local branches for consultation.
It’s very unlikely that the Mana Party (the Harawira’s and Northland Maori, John Minto, Sue Bradford, Socialist Aotearoa) will journey on a hikoi to Coatesville. Unlike a number of other party leaders and MPs who have met Dotcom at his ‘mansion’ Harawira and Mana have wisely met on neutral territory.
Mana doesn’t need the Internet Party to get into Parliament. Dotcom sees an alliance with Mana, or an alliance with any electorate MP (the mystery MP seems to be a Dotcom myth), as a ticket to success.
So what is Dotcom prepared to do to be palatable to Mana and to successfully leverage off Harawira’s likely electorate win in Te Tai Tokerau?
And how much will be smoke and mirrors versus a genuine coming together? Politics is very different to any business enterprise or computer game Dotcom has been involved in. His future is precarious.
Are Dotcom’s political ambitions and his courting of Mana simply ego-driven self interest and an attempt at self-preservation? It’s easy to come to that conclusion and many people have.
But could the process and the experience change Dotcom? Being welcomed onto a marae and being embraced by Maori, as happened to Dotcom yesterday in Rotorua, can be a humbling, moving experience.
A commenter at The Daily Blog has come up with an intriguing idea. Marc says:
Very, very well then, I saw the news on TV, not that I was surprised, I know how the “bastards” work (the journos). But I listened up, and was a bit taken, here Dotcom talks about his childhood and youth, having an alcoholic father, having a mother work in 3 jobs, and going to bed hungry, or only with some toast with sugar or ketchup.
Now this is interesting. We never heard much about this stuff. Indeed, while I doubt Dotcom, aka Kim Schmitz was all that poor, living in a block of flats in North German Kiel, but he seems to at least come from humble beginnings, and did not have it that easy.
This is stuff that actually a fair few rich and successful and powerful people have as their history. They are not all the Bill Gates garage to success stories, some come from troubled backgrounds, and that actually made them tough and aspirational, and ambitious, to make it. Now here we have one person, who is so despised by some, also disliked or hated by one John Key, and he may have a similar background after all.
No wonder he connects with Hone and Maori, not all, but a fair few. No wonder he can reach out across divides and barriers, that are dictated by income and social norms, last not least by ethnic belonging.
I am a bit intrigued now. But to really get this moving, that Mana and especially their leader Hone want to work on, we need to perhaps see the full commitment by Kim Dotcom, to offer to share, to perhaps make his mansion a Ratana style residence, an open home, a refuge for some, a place where every downtrodden one is welcome at the door, to be housed, counselled, helped and fed perhaps. Turn the Coatesville Mansion into the Marae of Aotearoa New Zealand, for all in need to meet, consult, to seek guidance, support and reinvigoration.
I suggest Kim and his wife go home and reflect on their first close encounter with Mana Whenua, with Tangata Whenua, it may be important and a radical chance for them, in their lives.
I really see a need of some revolutionary actions by Kim to come across convincing, and not be mixed up with other successful and rich people, who also came from humble beginnings, but forgot that once they were at the top and well off. And we know also, wealth is not endless, and can go away and be lost again.
Is this moment a game changer for Kim, for Hone and others, perhaps? Is Kim going to become one of us mortals, of us commoners now, a spirited being, humbling himself, and do the journey to Damascus, or become a Saulus to Paulus conversion?
A Mana-Internet Party alliance is a risky game, especially for Mana. It could be the game-changer that Dotcom wants, a credible foot in the political door.
Could it be more than cynical opportunism? Could Dotcom’s journey to Rotorua have a similar effect as Paul’s journey to Damascus had on him?
Has (or could) Dotcom have an epiphany, convert and become a disciple of Hone and his Mana?