Communists and socialists in New Zealand

In the 1970s and 1980s socialism in New Zealand was much more prominent than it is now, especially through links to unions and unionists.

Have socialist ideals fizzled out? Not entirely, some activists promote something similar – somehow getting rid of capitalism and replacing our financial and political systems with something like socialism. But with previously communist countries USSR and China now embracing a lot of capitalism the socialist ideals are more low key and fringe.

Someone at Reddit was Wanting to know about communism in NZ

Does anyone have any links or info for any current communist or socialist parties in NZ ? I’ve done a bit of a search online but keep just finding info about defunct parties and terrible NZ herald articles. Anything specific to the Otago area would be amazing.

One unappreciated response:

I’ll tell you for $15

Another probably wasn’t very helpful:

Both of our major parties have been infiltrated by the Communist Party of China and we are in the process of becoming their puppet state.

Why not start by joining one of those parties?

It was pointed out that the Communist Party of China (if there is such a thing) mustn’t be very socialist these days.

There were some more helpful suggestions:

The International Socialists in Dunedin are pretty active right? Give them a yell. They like protesting.

Also:

Organise Aotearoa aren’t a parliamentary party but are probably one of the more active groups having only just kicked off last year. They do have a Dunedin branch too. Active on social media with their links at the bottom of the page, their twitter follows a lot of their members who are mostly very chatty.

The New Communist Party of Aotearoa is also a thing that exists as of last year but I’m not so familiar with them.

Organise Aotearoa (modern socialist groups seem to avoid using socialist names) explains their aims:

Organise Aotearoa is a new movement for liberation and socialism. We believe that the current political and economic system is rotten to the core. This system is killing our planet, creating massive inequalities, and undermining the tino rangatiratanga of Māori.

I don’t think the tino rangatiratanga of Māori is particularly socialist. Rangatira relates to chieftainship.

If we want to live in a truly just, fair, and democratic world, we need to do things differently. We need a system that puts people and the environment before corporations and their profits. We are fighting for socialism because we need a system that shares wealth and prosperity among all people.

We cannot simply rely on politicians in Parliament to do what’s best for us. Time after time, politicians have made promises and failed to deliver. Even worse, most politicians don’t even try.

It’s hard to see how any meaningful changes will be made to our political system without doing it through Parliament. This is no sign of any popular inclination for revolution in Aotearoa.

And it would probably have major difficulties dealing with the Treaty of Waitangi.

History has shown us that people in power only make the changes we actually need when everyday people get organised and demand them.

That’s why Organise Aotearoa wants to do politics differently. We’re committed to doing politics in a way that enables all of us to transform our living conditions together. We want to build the power of ordinary working people so that our collective needs, desires, dreams, and aspirations can’t be ignored. Together, we can make Aotearoa a more equal and democratic place, where everyone can thrive.

“Ordinary working people” is far from everyone, and it is claimed that socialism tends to discourage people from being working people.

Also r/kiwisocialists “has a list of groups around the country”:

A place for socialists, communists and anarchists to discuss current events and organise within Aotearoa.

But it’s not exactly reaching the masses:

157 Comrades

Communism hasn’t been able to prove it is a workable alternative – it has largely been a big failure – so socialist activism is a fringe idealist activity.

Socialist groups had some connections with the Mana Party (also called the Mana Movement) but that flopped when joining forces with a big capitalist Kim Dotcom and fizzling.

Political bullshit amplified in social media by opponents

Political strategists are using social media is being used like a dirty jungle.

Danyl Mclauchlan (The Spinoff): In the attention economy, bullshit wins, and you’re helping shovel it along

Twenty years ago access to media coverage was controlled via the notorious gatekeepers: editors and senior journalists who decided what the news was and who got included or excluded from it. And this system had plenty of downsides but did make it harder for transparently bad actors like Cummings to swing crucial elections in advanced democracies.

As the world keeps reminding us, that media model no longer exists: the news value of a story is no longer defined by its palatability to gatekeepers, or anyone else. Instead, in a world of basically infinite content, news value is created by the ability of a story to maximise audience attention as it competes against rival forms of content: every political story vies for attention against stories about wildfires, Trump, celebrity feuds, evil Daenerys, the relentless white noise of coups, protests, riots, counterrevolutions, along with video games, streaming content, group chats, infinite cats, infinite sports, infinite porn.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned this decade, I think, it’s that social media activism is not activism. Liking and sharing stuff; telling people with different value systems that they’re morons and you hate them is not politics. The endless torrents of call outs and sneering are not emotional labour. All you’re doing is producing free content for global tech companies. There’s an exception to that, though: if what you’re doing is amplifying your opponent’s worst messages, elevating them to the mainstream media where persuadable voters can see them, then congratulations. You’re an activist. For them.

So what do you do when you see your political adversaries telling lies?

I think you have to speak up and stand up against bullshit and deceit and attempts to stoke division, but it’s a challenge to work out how to do this effectively without playing into PR hands.

How good was Newsroom’s journalism?

There is no doubt that Newsroom journalist Melanie Reid extensively investigated the Todd Barclay story that hit the headlines all through yesterday. It has been hailed by many as great journalism, and to an extent that is fair praise.

But I want to raise questions about how the story was published that other media probably won’t say anything about.

The publishing of the story – actually multiple stories – looks like a carefully orchestrated hit.

It will have taken some time to investigate and write up.

It was likely to that they deliberate broke the story on a Tuesday morning, the first day of the week that Parliament sits. Fair enough, they have to decide some time to publish, and that’s when MPs are usually readily available for responses.

They didn’t just publish the whole story. They published the first hit at about 8 am. They held back more details until later in the day. Why? Good journalism? To maximise publicity and website hits? I guess that’s part of the media game these days.

They published two follow up stories late in the afternoon. Why hold those back?

They have promised another story today.  Last night Tim Murphy at Newsroom promised more via Twitter: “There’s at least one more lie to come in the morning.  “.

Is the drip feeding of a story good journalism, or is it trying to catch MPs out in not telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

I’ve seen activists describe these tactics for political hit jobs – hold back details in the hope that their targets will compromise themselves.

It is often said (and I saw it yesterday) that it’s not the political ‘crime’ that does the damage, it’s the way it is dealt with by the targets. (Update: Andrew Little was just quoted on RNZ saying this).

The aim is to stir things up with a story and then hope that the target compromises themselves further by lying or reacting badly to try and cover up or minimise their exposure.

Is it good journalism to play this game?

Or, once they have done their good journalistic investigating shouldn’t they just come out with everything they have?

I may have it wrong, but I got the feeling yesterday that Newsroom were not just reporting what they had discovered, they were trying to maximise the impact on the targets of their story.

I got the feeling that they had a dagger blow, but were stabbing for maximum political blood, not just reporting.

The lines can be very blurred between political activism and media.

Most journalists and opponents of the Government will applaud yesterday’s stories as a well researched, well planned and well executed hit.

The media  can be very powerful. They can influence major political outcomes (like US presidential elections and referendums on major changes to the European Union).

Newsroom’s stories will make some difference in our election this year. They could quite feasibly be a significant factor in changing our Government.

Should we just accept that media are as much a part of the political game playing as anyone?

 

Political activism and maintaining a career

An interesting post at The Standard – Left wing activism and the humdrum need to maintain jobs and careers, about the difficulties of being a left wing activist while maintaining a middle class mortgage supporting career.

This is by a new author, ‘Advantage’, who as ‘Ad’ has been one of the commenters worth keeping an eye on in Standard threads.

See if this rings any bells. You’ll have your own stories on this.

You’re highly qualified. You can’t trust those around you with your politics. Random restructures hit teams around you. If you’re outed, you’ll likely never work in your chosen field again. Your few close friends are allies, others have flamed out like a final Mad Max ride. Your nom-de-plume protects your mortgage.

A few peel off to work in Parliament, others to minor NGOs, some reduced to commenting alone, still more get post-campaign burnout and become melancholic muggles.

The choices narrow for the remainder. Build or find a project in your “spare time” and believe in its ability to inspire; this site is one. Choose union activism to rail valiantly against the rising exploitative tide, and forgo your career arc. Some retreat to the grey economy, rebuke the world, retire from the field early, sending occasional missives on purity.

Others keep their suits on. They find social reform, or governance positions, or built infrastructure projects, on a monumental scale, and push their shoulder in. They make deals. They compromise everything especially themselves. They are strategic brokers, and they are paid for it. One’s function in politics changes as one’s ideals are replaced by instruments.

The comments thread is interesting too (if you can get past the few “right bad, left perfect and hard done by” bits) with discussion and expansion on the themes raised.

I’m sure there are jobs in which people interested in any sort of political activism feel restrained and see a need to keep their activism anonymous to their workplace. From the left, right or no aligned.

RedLogix comments:

Absolutely. I’ve never worked in a situation where I felt it wise to even talk about politics, much less ‘out’ myself.

It is absolutely one of the covert control mechanisms embedded in most workplaces, an effective prohibition on ever talking about salaries, politics, workplace bullying and so on. Increasingly the only things that are talked about are sport, the weather and workplace gossip. The intent is to keep worker powerless.

Ad responds:

This is as I suspected.

Sorry to sound like Morpheus out of The Matrix, but it means those kinds of people really are out there.

What I am pointing to is their latent power.

Such insiders have massive institutional knowledge, are paid like professional people, have immense industry networks, and are often in charge of projects or programmes that have real effects in the world.
– Industry specific knowledge is vital for policy formation
– Paid professionals have the capacity to be donors (a growing left problem)
– Networks have specific political power into specific Ministries
– And programmes and projects can become part of policy direction as well

Political movements of the left need to nurture this kind of person.

In the modern world many people choose to put families, careers and private lives before political activism and other interests, even if they are inclined towards it (most have little or no interest in politics).

Could I have been an MP? Could I have been an All Black? Either is possible (although it’s unknown if either were attainable) , but for twenty plus years in the prime of my life I toiled away raising a family and going from job to job in order to survive financially.

My marriage didn’t come out the other side of that intact but I have children and step children and another marriage plus step children and grand children that I am very thankful for. The lack of high profile achievement and failing to solve the worlds problems has instead had it’s own big rewards. And now I can dabble (at politics, I gave up rugby at the end of last century).

Ironically (in respect of Advantage’s post) the longest I have had a single career job for has coincided with when I have been able to try out a bit of political activism. I’m aware some jobs wouldn’t allow that – perhaps those who want to pursue activism have to choose a job that’s compatible.