Meanwhile Extinction Rebellion wants real radical change

While the introduction of the Zero Carbon Bill into Parliament is a big deal for the New Zealand government, the Green Party in particular, and presumably Jacinda Ardern, it is fairly modest stuff in comparison to a growing international movement that wants far more radical change to the world economic systems.

Reuters – ‘New economics’: the way to save the planet?

The science is in: the endless pursuit of economic growth is devouring the foundations of life on Earth, and no country – rich or poor – can expect to escape dire consequences if things go on as they are. So how might the world change course?

Though still confined to the fringes, a globally dispersed but tight-knit coalition of economists, grass-roots organizers, business leaders and politicians, along with some investors, have begun to sketch out an answer.

The vision: a new relationship between the state, local communities and nature aligned behind a more holistic notion of progress than gross domestic product (GDP), the established yardstick for economies as different as those of the United States and Mozambique.

“No country on Earth is doing what is required to make sure we get toward an economic system capable of confronting the twin challenges of ecological collapse and climate change,” said Laurie Laybourn-Langton, an associate fellow at London’s Institute for Public Policy Research and lead author of a new report on environmental breakdown titled This Is A Crisis.

“There are, though, a number of ideas and small-scale projects being done that arguably – if scaled up – could deal with the problem,” he said.

Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe not doable.

Among the questions dividing the ‘new economists’ is whether the risk of catastrophic climate change is now so acute that economic growth should be suspended altogether in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions fast. Some still see room for sustainable ‘green growth’, but others want governments to oversee sharp reductions in consumption now, to avoid what they fear would be a descent into a 21st-century Dark Age.

While nobody disputes the challenge of rewiring the world economy, an upsurge in climate activism, including a global school strike movement and an international civil disobedience campaign by Extinction Rebellion, is sparking new conversations.

“The confluence of panic in the eyes of young people with hard science is opening up the debate in the mainstream like it hasn’t before,” said Katherine Trebeck, an Australian political scientist who co-founded the Wellbeing Economy Alliance, a network of academics, businesses and social movements.

Trebeck’s new co-authored book, The Economics of Arrival, cites dozens of innovations in places from Scotland to Costa Rica and Denmark, Portugal and Alaska.

I doubt if there is much innovation of note in New Zealand. We have a  $100 million investment fund launched to invest in reducing emissions, but that’s dwarfed by the $1 billion per year Provincial Growth Fund – a fund for growth has been given far more investment than attempts at innovation.

While the investment opportunities in such projects largely remain trivial, some major funds do see the need for change.

“We face a form of capitalism that has hardened its focus to short-term profit maximization with little or no apparent interest in social good,” Jeremy Grantham, co-founder of global investment manager GMO, wrote last August.

“We’re racing to protect not just our portfolios, not just our grandchildren, but our species. So get to it.”

I think that most ordinary people will have trouble comprehending how much of a threat there is to our species, to all species, to the planet.

But it’s easy to dispute the doom and gloom arguments and insist that we don’t need to do much different, either because we can’t or there’s no point or it’s not necessary.

The human impact may already to be too big, and the human population may be too big, to do anything but fiddle while Earth bums out. Or innovation and natural resilience may allow our civilisation to survive until the next impending catastrophe comes up.

If you feel strongly about the need for action you can Join the Rebellion – This is an emergency

THE TRUTH

We are facing an unprecedented global emergency. Life on Earth is in crisis: scientists agree we have entered a period of abrupt climate breakdown, and we are in the midst of a mass extinction of our own making.

THE EMERGENCY

The science is clear: It is understood that we are facing an unprecedented global emergency. We are in a life or death situation of our own making. We must act now.

Human activity is causing irreparable harm to the life on this world. A mass extinction event, only the sixth in roughly 540 million years, is underway. Many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century.

That sounds more religious than scientific.

ACT NOW

We are unprepared for the danger our future holds. We face floods, wildfires, extreme weather, crop failure, mass displacement and the breakdown of society. The time for denial is over. It is time to act.

Conventional approaches of voting, lobbying, petitions and protest have failed because powerful political and economic interests prevent change. Our strategy is therefore one of non-violent, disruptive civil disobedience – a rebellion.

There are a number of groups trying to get the rebellion going in New Zealand. Oddly Extinction Rebellion Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland is a closed group, they must be having a private rebellion.

Extinction Rebellion Otepoti Dunedin – Description:

We are in a period of ecological devastation brought about by our own hands. We must act now to avoid extinction. Join the Rebellion! Our principles + values:

1. WE HAVE A SHARED VISION OF CHANGE Creating a world that is fit for generations to come.

2. WE SET OUR MISSION ON WHAT IS NECESSARY Mobilising 3.5% of the population to achieve system change – using ideas such as “Momentum-driven organising” to achieve this.

3. WE NEED A REGENERATIVE CULTURE Creating a culture which is healthy, resilient and adaptable.

4. WE OPENLY CHALLENGE OURSELVES AND THIS TOXIC SYSTEM Leaving our comfort zones to take action for change.

5. WE VALUE REFLECTING AND LEARNING Following a cycle of action, reflection, learning, and planning for more action. Learning from other movements and contexts as well as our own experiences.

6. WE WELCOME EVERYONE AND EVERY PART OF EVERYONE Working actively to create safer and more accessible spaces.

7. WE ACTIVELY MITIGATE FOR POWER Breaking down hierarchies of power for more equitable participation.

8. WE AVOID BLAMING AND SHAMING We live in a toxic system, but no one individual is to blame.

9. WE ARE A NON-VIOLENT NETWORK Using non-violent strategy and tactics as the most effective way to bring about change.

10. WE ARE BASED ON AUTONOMY AND DECENTRALISATION We collectively create the structures we need to challenge power. Anyone who follows these core principles and values can take action in the name of Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa New Zealand.

Seems like a bit of many things in there – it looks a bit like a new label for perpetual protesters. This lack of focus will not help get the rebellion off the ground.

 

 

 

Books and documentaries on NZ political and economic history

A 25 year old dude with an interest in New Zealand politics asked at Reddit – Can anyone suggest a book that discusses NZ politics and economics of the past ~70 years?

My issue is, there is very little information available to me that lays out our entire history.

I’ve looked everywhere I can think of and I haven’t been able to find any concise histories of what the hell happened in our country in the last 70 years from our free trade deal with the UK til how we got to where we are today.

If anyone could suggest a book, it’d be greatly appreciated.

Hearing the last generation making vague allusions to events that happened 30 years ago that shaped their political views that I have no understanding of really makes it hard to evaluate where we are today.

There are a lot of misleading (and false) claims and assertions about what happened here economically and politically through the 1980s and 1990s (the move to the much maligned and misrepresented ‘neoliberalism’).

Some suggestions in comments at Reddit:

The documentary Revolution on NZ on Screen covers everything from postwar to post-Ruth Richardson era. It is very good.

Great series, I came across the book recently too. Adds some interesting detail.

Revolution (part one) – Fortress New Zealand

Documentary series Revolution mapped the social and economic changes in New Zealand society in the 1980s and early 1990s. This first episode focuses on NZ’s radical transformation from a heavily regulated welfare state to a petri dish for free market ideology. It includes interviews with key political and business figures of the day, who reveal how the dire economic situation by the end of Robert Muldoon’s reign made it relatively easy for Roger Douglas to implement extreme reform.

Revolution (part two) – The Grand Illusion

This second episode argues that in its first term in office, the Labour Government promoted neoliberal reform via illusory ideas of consensus and fairness, while PM David Lange mined goodwill from its indie anti-nuclear policy (famously in an Oxford Union debate, see third clip). The interviews include key figures in politics, the public service and business: an age of easy lending and yuppie excess is recalled, while those in rural areas recount the downside of job losses.

In a Land of Plenty (it’s on the youtube) is worth a couple of hours, focused more on our primary industries

New Zealand – In a Land of Plenty Full

2002 Documentary about economic changes in New Zealand during the 1980’s. Documentary by Alister Barry and narrated by Ian Johnstone.

Book suggestions:

by Raymond Miller covered enough of the basics to get through a 100 level Politics class, Miller was the lecturer though so of course he’d build the class content around his own book. “Democracy in New Zealand”

Raymond’s books are great. I’ve read a couple even though I only took a single politics gened. Recommend Party Politics in NZ too even though it’s moderately outdated now.

Can’t go wrong with Kings’ Penguin history of New Zealand for a great explanation of Maori colonisation to the present, and for the 20th century rudd & ropers’ the political economy of new Zealand is an excellent political & sociological analysis of our economy that doesn’t read like paint drying.

The Penguin History of New Zealand – tells that story in all its colour and drama. The narrative that emerges is an inclusive one about men and women, Maori and Pakeha. It shows that British motives in colonising New Zealand were essentially humane; and that Maori, far from being passive victims of a ‘fatal impact’, coped heroically with colonisation and survived by selectively accepting and adapting what Western technology and culture had to offer.

Perhaps: New Zealand Government and Politics

Sixth Edition Edited by Janine Hayward

New Zealand Government and Politics

  • Contemporary: updated following the September 2014 NZ election, makes this the most current text on the market
  • A truly introductory text the sixth edition has been carefully restructured and rewritten to suit the learning needs of first year students. Key introductory topics are covered early on, concepts have been simplified and there’s no assumed knowledge (as well as less specialised chapters).
  • Highlighting of Maori politics. NZ political science has taken a very long time to engage with this issue, and it is not only profiled right up front in Part 1, but also thematically woven through the other sections

I highly recommend Paradise Reforged by James Belich for his look at post-war economic and political history. His theories are entertaining AND enlightening. You’ll never guess how much of our history revolves around butter.

Paradise Reforged – A History of the New Zealanders, 1880-2000: The sequel to the best-selling Making Peoples, which was a bestseller and award-winner in New Zealand. It picks up where Making Peoples ended – at the beginning of the 20th century. The volume presents an account of a country which in 100 years undergone massive changes as a flood of “Pakeha” (European) immigrants built on the land opportunities opened by the ferocious British-Maori wars of the 19th century. Torn between British and Maori identities, New Zealanders have successfully created a new nation but one in which the tensiosn and injustices of its founding are never far from the surface.

If you’re looking for specific topics, the NZ Journal of History can be quite useful.

And Papers Past if you want to read what people were saying at the time (although it’s missing a lot of the more recent stuff).

 

Smart, green economics?

The asset petition is nearing completion. What does that have to do with smart green economics?

Greens (or Green employees) seem to be doing the final counting and collating.

Andr3wCampbell Andrew Campbell
Final counting of citizens initiated referendum petitions to stop asset sales. Formal handover to clerk next Tuesday

Petition - smart Green

That looks like a Green office by the look of the wall poster. Have Labour, Grey Power and the unions left it all to the Greens to finish off?

All that paper, all those treets, all that polluting manufacturing.
All the travel involved in collecting signatures.
All the time spent on collecting, collating, counting.

But that’s relatively minor. Sure, some parliamentary funds have been used employing petition workers, much MP time has been spent and much MP travel expenses have been clocked up.

But once the petition is handed over it starts another phase of expenses. State employees will have to count and check the petition to make sure there are enough valid signatures.

If the petition is successful, the costs will escalate as a referendum will have to be held. That will cost millions of dollars.

For what?

The Mighty River Power share float will have already been and gone. One or two other share floats will also have either taken place or will be well advanced. And it has been clear all along that the referendum will have no affect on the progress of the partial asset sales.

At best, if the referendum has a good turnout and if the referendum is strongly against the share floats all Greens and Labour will be able to do is say “We told you so”.

At what cost?

Smart, green economics?

Or futile, expensive political point scoring?