Don’t vote – engage with real politics

Posted: August 27, 2014 by Admin in Alienation, Class Matters, Democracy movements, Limits of capitalism, New Zealand politics

AWSM (Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement) and Redline blog are organising a public meeting in Dunedin on why workers and left political activists shouldn’t vote in 2014.  We will be counterposing the need to develop a new left movement of, for and by workers rather than the narrow limits of the parliamentary circus being offered up to us on September 20, election day.

Saturday evening, September 13, 7pm
Dunedin Community House, 283 Moray Place

Speakers:
Dr Bryce Edwards (Otago University*; NZ politics commentator);
Malcolm Deans (Sec, Unions Otago* and member of Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement);
Colin Clarke (former member, Independent Working Class Association* in Britain; member, editorial group of Redline blog)
(Organisations/institutions mentioned for identification purposes only)

A poster and flyer will be available shortly.

In the meantime, you might find the following articles useful:
How do we challenge capitalist bullshit?
Parliament does not exist
What I’ll do instead of voting this election

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Comments
  1. Richard says:

    This article will help John Key the Prime beneficiary in New Zealand. He will get in if people support AWSM’s ideas. In principle, in a perfect world it would be nice to think that not voting will help spite the National Party. I hope this is what AWSM is getting at. But please vote as a form of protest against the ‘Rich Beneficiaries’ !

  2. Barrie says:

    In my view we are not calling for a non-vote in order to “spite National” or merely to protest against the ‘Rich Beneficiaries’. Since ALL the political parties are interested in maintaining capitalism, the state and undemocratic structures and we oppose those things, not voting is a logical starting point for building a genuine political alternative.

    • Richard says:

      That is really like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die from it.
      Put in the answer is one thing, but allowing the problems to get worse is another. People lose trust when they hear revolutionaries say, ‘make it worse let people starve so we can have a revolution’. ‘Stop the bread ration today’ To me this is madness!
      I am really glad I can now have someone to blame for allowing National to be elected because they do not turn up to vote. And this is called Solidarity, I seem to have a lot to learn.
      Democracy will always in the end develop into socialism and that should eventually develop into freedom. Take out democracy and people are just part of the problem, then they are just another person with a greater ego of over entitlement and use force to achieve it.
      Please VOTE!

      • PhilF says:

        Revolutionaries are not in favour of simply letting things get worse. Nor do we believe that worse conditions necessarily lead to revolution. Often people simply get demoralised.

        Conditions for workers are much worse now in NZ than they were 30 or 40 years ago, but it certainly hasn’t produced a radicalisation of the working class; it’s produced fragmentation and demoralisation.

        If Labour gets in and raises the retirement age, don’t blame us. We didn’t vote for the fuckers or for anyone that would help them form a government.

        And if National gets in and further erodes union conditions, don’t blame us. We didn’t vote for those fuckers either.

        If you vote – don’t complain. You played the game, and look at the result that you’re partly responsible for.

        Phil

    • Thomas R says:

      I’ve always wondered about these explanations personally. I think a principled non-vote is totally legitimate and I get pissed off lately about people on the left hyping up voting at the moment. But I notice my anarchist companeros frame it as though not voting is going to somehow a starting point to building a genuine political alternative. Will those extra 20 minutes make that big a difference… obviously not.

      My position would probably count as ‘lesser evilism’ but I don’t think it’s a terrible thing to suggest to anarchist comrades that they bunch a hole for one of the less-bad of bad choices, but just not worry too much about doing big analysis of the election – or expecting much out of it. Or don’t. Either way. Just framing it as this core starting point seems odd to me. Voting doesn’t make difference one way or the other, so why the hyperbolic antagonism? Voting without believing in the system is doable

  3. Barrie says:

    It is the undemocratic system of capitalism, propped up by the state, that is allowing things to get worse. Continuing to vote for parties that seek to maintain and extend that system seems insane to me. Struggling to eliminate that system is the definition of sanity. I don’t want things to get worse, I want them to be many times better than they are now. We could live in a society where we have democratic control over the means of production, distribution and exchange, instead of one where a minority run our lives. Democracy, socialism and freedom are synonymous. I would concede that our starting point for building the better alternative is a long way from where we want to be. That doesn’t make it wrong, just bloody difficult to achieve and a far more positive choice than alternating between the same groupings of politicians every election cycle.

    • Jim says:

      Thanks Barrie – for shining light on a stark situation, made murky by individuals who believe that voting can result in substantial benevolence from the enemy. Richard, your attempts to distort Barrie’s words into ‘hungry-belly theory’, and sham-indignation re solidarity are tediously tricky… Such fancy footwork is better suited to parliament and talk-down trades unionism. “Please” aim your blame at the ruling class and their loyal servants, not at working class activists.

      • Richard says:

        Jim’s Comments
        “Thanks Barrie – for shining light on a stark situation, made murky by individuals who believe that voting can result in substantial benevolence from the enemy. Richard, your attempts to distort Barrie’s words into ‘hungry-belly theory’, and sham-indignation re solidarity are tediously tricky… Such fancy footwork is better suited to parliament and talk-down trades unionism. “Please” aim your blame at the ruling class and their loyal servants, not at working class activists.”

        This sounds like a Monty Python Sketch.
        In response to the position of oppression as not being able to challenge the hierarchical statements of ‘the Working Class Activist’s” bold statement which I, if you read agreed with and said I was wrong. I was voicing my personal struggle with this issue which I do not like being in any more or less than any of you. I realize now being human may get in the way a little when theories are more important.

        I have not being impolite or accusing of him personally, just why I personally do not agree with the no vote tactic for me. I am surprised Barrie is obviously overwhelm he has not responded to defend his position. I am again sorry my reality is a little too much for you and a bit of my life story is more than you can handle, you see as not even working class.

        Thank you Jim, you have achieved impolite, But I am grateful to you, you helped my clear an issue here.

    • Richard says:

      Perhaps I just don’t have that soul, a soul that ignores when things get bad and people suffer and tell myself ‘this is good I am excused be quiet ‘o my soul and look away’. To me good citizens are better than those who talk the ‘we’ when they should use ‘I’. Good citizens will not watch to engage in building a new world constructively instead and not just admire the problem. Until we get greater organised communities and Unions with the IWW and not our own local brand of chaos, we are stuck voting for the scraps on the masters table. There is a time coming of direct democracy get ready.

  4. PhilF says:

    The alternative to a National-led government is not some significant change in the interests of workers but a Labour-led government which is just as dedicated as National to managing the existing system. Among the things promised by Labour is putting up the pension age, ie making workers work longer. Bad for all workers, but especially bad for Maori workers and other sections of workers with lower life expectancy. And we can probably expect an increase in NZ nationalism/xenophobia as Labour (and the Greens and NZ First) are worse on ‘foreigners’ stuff as well.

    But the bigger picture issue, and what I think Barrie means when talking about the starting point of an alternative politics, is that consciously not voting and consciously understanding that parliament is not an institution through which fundamental change can be brought about are important steps forward and can open up a discussion about real and meaningful change.

    In terms of rich beneficiaries, the rate at which the rich got richer went up dramatically under the last Labour government compared to the 1990s National-led governments. And need we mention the fourth Labour government.

    Richard says, “Until we get greater organised communities and Unions with the IWW and not our own local brand of chaos, we are stuck voting for the scraps on the masters table.” I’d put it the other way around: until we stop voting for scraps from any master’s table, we will never start to build the movement we need.

    Phil

    • Thomas R says:

      How is voting considered this massive barrier to building movements? I would still think there is contested ground to be won within, perhaps not parliament, but within MANA for socialists.

      I just fundamentally can’t get into this condescending sniping at people voting for scraps. Some people need some fucking scraps, ya know? Like poverty rates, length of the working weak combined with unemployment, this lowering and lowering of expectations isn’t actually conducive to people becoming more revolutionary is it? Which is what I guess I don’t understand. Sure, the system won’t change much but I really can’t get into this sort of turning our noses up at people who do vote. Plenty of people are probably desperate for a bit of break, and as far as the socialist left is concerned – all we can offer them is some ideas at this point.. and maybe some camaraderie. But that’s probably just not gonna be enough.

      Scraps might be enough to keep some people going the next three years and not completely fall through the cracks. And so long as we aren’t incredibly organised to be able to be a secondary safety net (think Black Panthers back in the day) then I really can’t begrudge people voting for some scraps.

      • Richard says:

        Mana Internet make a lot of sense (they get my vote). We need to keep on fighting for democracy even when its scraps. I saw Thatcher first hand and 120,000 homeless while many said ‘don’t vote’ peoples lives got destroyed forever. We need to work with socialists and get greater freedom for that will all end in Anarcho-syndicalism. But even Hitler said Democracy ends in Socialism.
        Thatchers Briton relied on Propaganda, enslavement to debt and braking community.
        To make this nation work let us start by education, a job, co-operatives and unions
        What we have here is a small group of rich beneficiaries running NZ. John Key next brings in the Corporate wet dream of no responsibility for fracking or any other madness.
        A healthcare agenda has already been agreed to under the TPPA, by healthcare NHS, Education will soon be corporate sponsored in schools until all education is done in the home a lot cheaper.
        I can not stand by and look pretty at the party of the hypocrites I would rather vote and be wrong, for that I say sorry.

      • PhilF says:

        Nobody is turning up their noses at people who vote. It tends to be the other way round, in fact.

        Moreover, people who are desperate for a break are probably the least likely people to vote.

        I’m happy enough to take the position they take. . .

        “poverty rates, length of the working weak combined with unemployment, this lowering and lowering of expectations isn’t actually conducive to people becoming more revolutionary is it?”

        All as true under a Labour-led government as under National. If anything, Labour is more effective at lowering workers’ expectations.

        Phil

  5. PhilF says:

    For one thing, the scraps that will be given will be ‘compensated for’ by other things being taken away. Like with the raising of the retirement age.

    I think it’s condescending to go to people and tell them (or suggest to them) to vote for a Labour-led government which will give a few scraps while taking other things away. And a vote for Mana is a vote for a Labour-led government.

    If you think Labour is going to stop people falling through the cracks, then you are naive about Labour.

    Phil

    • Thomas R says:

      On points in paragraphs…

      1) If MANA voted in favour of policy that raised the retirement age, I’d leave

      2) If MANA entered a coalition with Labour, I’d leave. On top of which, Redline seems to shift on ‘never ever vote MANA!’ or, ‘MANA is in bed with Internet Party! No Principles! Not gonna vote for them any more!’… so forgive me for being confused, which one is it?

      3) Never claimed that was the case.

      • Richard says:

        Having lived in a squat and being one of the 120,000 street kids of the Thatcher era living on the streets of London and gone hungry. Collected dropped veggies at street markets to feed me and some friends. raided skips for fire wood, illegally put on electricity water and gas to survive in some form of comfort in derelict houses for a few more days. Seen young girls give their bodies for a little food and guys steel and sell drugs.
        What I see is now National Party has only just warmed up to bring in Corporate control and sell us totally out NZ will never be the same. What I see is the poor are paying the tax for the rich (GST) or any other form of tax. What I see are the rich getting tax back they do not need. What I see are the rich getting richer and the poor being squeezed.
        And yes you are right for not voting, you are right for knowing that Labour is not labour anymore i don’t think they represent anyone but themselves.
        But I will stand for being wrong and give my vote to Mana/Internet (who I am not a member of) all as a form of protest against National rather than seeing myself as staunch and cool.
        I am wrong and old enough to say sorry for it. But I can not face myself in the mirror if I do not vote.

  6. PhilF says:

    Thomas wrote: “Scraps might be enough to keep some people going the next three years and not completely fall through the cracks.”

    I wrote, “If you think Labour is going to stop people falling through the cracks, then you are naive about Labour.”

    Thomas then replied: “Never claimed that was the case.”

    !!!

    I might add that the people who it is suggested might completely fall through the cracks unless a Labour-led government is elected tend not to vote. As in most elections, I’m joining them again this year.

    I don’t see why there is any confusion on what people in Redline think. Most people involved in the blog voted Mana in 2011, and that has been said a number of times. But I don’t think anyone is intending to vote InternetMana. I won’t be voting InternetMana because I think it’s a cross-class alliance and the left mimicking the right in terms of rorting the electoral system.

    The other thing that made me sure I wouldn’t be voting for them was seeing the unedifying spectacle of John Minto channeling Winston Peters and claiming that immigrants were pushing up house prices in Auckland. This was on TV3’s ‘The Nation’ in a debate between representatives of the ‘minor parties’.

    Phil

    • Thomas R says:

      But isn’t it just as true that MANA were going to be ‘propping up a Labour Led Government’ in 2011? So I’m saying, figure out what it is about Mana you don’t like, rather than moving goalposts depending on which point your trying to make.

      My point is more that Mana has policy it may well be able to push through that would indeed help the most vulnerable. If it has power to do so, without being in coalition, I’d be in favour of it because this same power would likely mean they’d be able to block bad Labour policy – sounds like a space for socialists to articulate politics which resonate with people that Labour policies are often against working class interests. This is my most optimistic prediction of possible outcomes, within parliament I mean. But the parliamentary side of what Mana is isn’t what interests me. As I’ve been saying lately, there’s a reason why the election period actually feels like the least empowering time in a bourgeois democratic system lol

      • Richard says:

        Yep, feel that.
        The way forward is the problem we all face, ‘do vote’ or ‘don’t vote’ as my ‘Working Class Activists’ brother posted, is all about is just a little side kick in a greater problem.

        Democracy is our goal this will in its self create a Socialist state then an Anarchist state. What we need is real democracy not a democary!! We have no real say and that must be our area of political attack. getting the people to speak, direct democracy of every citizen. First socialism then Anarchy.

        So get ride of the corporate propaganda system, debt of the worker, co-ops and Unions need to grow, this will end corporate fascism.

        Oh yes make Vodka cheap it seems to come up in many discussions I have read.

      • PhilF says:

        Thomas, I didn’t vote for Mana in 2011. No goalposts have been moved. InternetMana didn’t exist in 2011.

        Phil

    • Thomas R says:

      On top of which, Phil, I think it is definitely condescending to think of Mana as existing to empower Labour. You think Maori don’t remember the Foreshore and Seabed, and the Tuhoe Raids? Come on now.

      • PhilF says:

        Mana has specifically said it will support Labour forming a government. I never said this was its entire purpose; I have said repeatedly that this is something it has clearly said it will do. Are you seriously pretending otherwise?

        It is incredibly condescending to Mana to not take their statements at face value.

        Phil

  7. Tiger Mountain says:

    The ideological and organisational disunity of the NZ Marxist left seems to continue apace here.

    Attitudes to bourgeois democracy and reforms as opposed to reformism as an ideology have long been a major retarding factor on developing a strong left mass movement.

    The groups that are engaging with the alienated and marginalised via Mana appear so far to do so on their own terms without signing up for class collaboration or entrism. In several weeks the hot air around elections will have dissipated and the class power relationships will remain for the left to deal with.

    This petulant policy of non voting is a nadir for Redline.

    • daphna says:

      I don’t see debating the merits of voting or not voting for capitalist parties at election time as a sign of disunity of the Marxist left. Surely it is perfectly legitimate to debate the mainstream view that voting in general elections is good. Here on Redline we are challenging that assumption. What I find more symptomatic of ‘disunity on the left’ are people who see themselves as part of the left defending the Labour Party, as if it seriously represents the interests of workers. Tiger Mountain – you (or someone of the same pen name) calling David Cunliffe “our man” on the Standard blog, suggests that we are seriously not on the same page.

      • Thomas R says:

        Of all the indications of disunity, I don’t think whether or not to vote is a too huge a hurdle. The disunity of the Marxist left is organisational more often than political. Redline is probably the exception to this in some ways – mostly in overall purpose of Redline compared to ISO/SA/FB. There are some differences between those orgs too, but I’d say that almost comes down general internal ‘culture’ more than a strong political difference. It seems like there is larger disagreement over some key questions within some of organisations themselves, than between the three organisations broadly speaking.

  8. Barrie says:

    “Attitudes to bourgeois democracy and reforms as opposed to reformism as an ideology have long been a major retarding factor on developing a strong left mass movement.”

    Maybe so, but its an important distinction to make. Its dangerous to conflate the politics of very different organisations just because their separate trajectories happen to coincide on a particular issue. Intent and method are important factors in demarcating between reformists on the one hand and those seeking reforms at a given moment, on the other.

    “The groups that are engaging with the alienated and marginalised via Mana appear so far to do so on their own terms without signing up for class collaboration or entrism.”

    Its true most groups on the hard left seem to have abandoned entrism. The Permanent Revolution Group (forerunner of the IBT) attempted entrism into the New Labour Party when it was founded but were soon dealt with by the leadership, but that was a long time ago. At present the only Trot group I know working along entrist lines is Socialist Appeal, but that’s with the Labour Party and restricted to Northland.

    As for class collaboration, the Internet Party is arguably a case of such. From what ive read, there has been quite a bit of internal friction within a number of the left groups involved in Mana around exactly that issue. At the very least, they’ve found it necessary to debate that issue on just such grounds and to their credit they haven’t hidden the fact. Personally it seems to me that the ground to the Left of Labour has been so barren for so long, that now something ever so slightly promising has cropped up, they are falling over themselves to see it as the second coming.

    “In several weeks the hot air around elections will have dissipated and the class power relationships will remain for the left to deal with.”

    True and voting will not have the power to address that.

    “This petulant policy of non voting is a nadir for Redline.”

    Im not in Redline of course but it strikes me as more principled than petulant.

    • Richard says:

      Thank you for all that so insightful info, it helped me, you caught some of my realities in this.

    • PhilF says:

      Barrie wrote: “Personally it seems to me that the ground to the Left of Labour has been so barren for so long, that now something ever so slightly promising has cropped up, they are falling over themselves to see it as the second coming.”

      Excellent point. The talking up of Mana is incredible. One of the Fightback people, in a piece on their website, even claimed Key & co are “terrified” of InternetMana.

      I don’t know if Thomas took up his comrade on this kind of hyperbole. . .

      It was actually an AWSM comrade who drew my attention to that nonsense. AWSM folk seem to have their feet planted much more firmly on the ground about Mana/Internet Mana.

      In fact, Mana is less left than the NLP initially was. What some people on the far left have been trying to talk it up into is itself a sign of lowered horizons. And the NLP’s first electoral coalition wasn’t with a multi-millionaire pirate capitalist but with Mana Motuhake.

      Moreover, as well as Mr Dotcom, there is also the question of Laila Harre. She took an HR job at the Auckland Transition Authority at a time when 1,200 jobs were being axed. She was paid “a shitload of money”, as someone put it to me a few days ago, and enhanced her CV for getting a plumb job at the ILO in Fiji. She also happened to vote for NZ to invade Afghanistan, back in 2001. Yet all we hear about her is her role in the extension of paid parental leave; everything else is airbrushed out, while her blurb on the Internet Party website describes her as a “national treasure”.

      Nah, I won’t be voting for InternetMana. It goes against the grain of basic class politics.

      Plus, as Don raised in a couple of his recent articles, we need to start questioning parliamentary ‘democracy’ a lot more and talking about / encouraging a lot more in the way of self-organisation. I think there is a fruitful discussion to be had there between class-struggle anarchists and class-struggle Marxists.

      Phil

  9. oshay says:

    Latin American countries are falling into recession, Germany and France the powerhouses of the EU are on the verge of recession, industrial output is falling in China and the US will sooner or later have to raise their interest rates. If anyone thinks that a Labour/Greens/Internet-Mana government is going to be the solution to NZ problems, they’re dreaming. There are many complexities at issue when it comes to Political Economy, but the following link sums up why things won’t be improving for NZ workers any time soon.

  10. PhilF says:

    And none of the candidates of any of the parties will be talking about this; none of them even have a clue about what causes capitalist crisis.

    • oshay says:

      Yet many Marxist influenced organisations stand by these parties and have fantasies that their support will result in them having ideological influence.

  11. PhilF says:

    Yes, bizarre isn’t it? The capacity of much of the far-left in this country for self-delusion is extraordinary. I’ve given up thinking about it too much; it’s too depressing.

    It will take fresh forces, forces thrown up by some kind of significant motion in the class, before the delusional elements of the left will be swept aside.

    In the meantime, we can regroup people serious about the tools of Marxism and clinical analysis of existing reality.

    Phil

    • Nick says:

      Thomas, you questioned quite early on why voting is a hurdle. Well voting is part of the parliamentary elections for which party will run Capitalism in this country. So the very act of voting means that you are giving some legitimacy to that system of incredibly limited democracy entirely within the bounds of Capitalism. Therefore not voting can be a statement against the system, especially if the reasons for not voting are discussed and publicised.

      Not voting can be seen as a way to deligitimise the system and point out that no matter who we vote for we will still have Capitalism destroying people’s lives. The important point is that Capitalism, and not the National Party, destroys lives. That is how non-voting can be a beginning to questioning/challenging the system. That is also how participation in parliamentary elections can be a hurdle.

      No one is looking down on those who vote. In fact, people who don’t vote are the ones who are often looked down on as Phil said already. All that is happening is that comrades here are suggesting that people question why they vote and consider not voting. They are suggesting that we start to question the whole system and that during an election, in particular, not-voting is a good starting point for challenging the system and getting people to really start thinking about things in a different way.

      Nick S.

      • Thomas R says:

        Cheers Nick, can’t really disagree. For what it’s worth I have passed on this event to some communist friends in Dunedin who might find it interesting (they’re non affiliated types who will likely vote mana, but this is a discussion worth having I think).

        I think the question can become meeting people where they’re at – but in the socialist sense. So is it true that non-voters are more class conscious than voters at the moment? I’m not sure, there are some non-voters who are probably infinitely more politically conscious than heaps of voters that’s obviously true. But where is the most thorough consciousness in NZ? I’d still posit that within the people on the ground in MANA is actually a pretty good place to locate it. Perhaps they aren’t even a majority in MANA, but they are open to organising and are already very skeptical of parliament as a whole and very hostile to Labour. These are the people I’d like to connect with.

        That being said, it’s plausible that in the non-voting block, which is massive and predominately working class, there is a lot of political consciousness to be found and developed together in a relationship with radicals. One thing being the case doesn’t mean the other isn’t also the case anyway, and I think that communists are involved in both areas in NZ isn’t a bad thing.

        so paraphrase/adjust a song by Ramshackle Glory to our situation:
        ‘vote september 20 if it feels right to you
        don’t vote if you think it holds us down
        but tell me what we’re gonna do on september 21st to make sure there’s no government to elect 3 years from now’

        😉

        Peace

  12. Ben H says:

    Are Redline members going to write an appraisal/critique of their own participation in elections? Maybe you have already done so; I don’t know. There were the ACA and WP campaigns for the General Elections of 2002, 2005 and 2008, and in the local body elections of 2004 and 2007. Plus your support for Matt McCarten’s byelection campaign in 2010.

  13. PhilF says:

    Yes, appraisals of those campaigns were done at the time.

    The Matt McCarten campaign in the Mana by-election of 2010 brought out differences in the organisation as a number of us (including all the ex-WP currently involved in Redline) felt that the comrades who were involved in that campaign were tail-ending Matt McC’s politics. The remaining WP/Fightback organisation has gone on to further tail-ending since. But that by-election was probably the turning point.

    One thing that both sides agreed on, however, was that there was no point in maintaining a registered political party. We all gave it our best shot, in terms of trying to use bourgeois elections, but the balance sheet was more negative than positive.

    What about your own political activity Ben? Any balance sheets on that?

    Phil

    • Richard says:

      I am still trying to understand how Delegates of organisations will be a ‘Corporate child’ of Facebook to express their views and then claim Freedom from involvement in Elections for them to express their views. The ethics is interesting and I can not understand due to the loudness of behaviour. But what I fight for is your democratic right to behave like that, so good on you brother.
      I just want to stop people sulking in the corner.
      Better to go out and involve in ‘Real Politics’ like feeding the poor, I have done that many times and am all for it.

    • Ben H says:

      Hi Phil,

      Thanks for your response. Apologies for my delay in replying. I did not notice your reply until this week as I had looked at the wrong thread (and some of the election threads have been rather busy).

      As to my own political activity, of which you ask, I have considered myself a Trotskyist since 2005 and I have been a member-at-large of the Freedom Socialist Party since 2012. I have written several articles for the party’s Melbourne broadsheet, the Freedom Socialist Organiser. The most recent one is a critique of Internet-Mana. Earlier this year, I wrote about Charter Schools. http://www.socialism.com/drupal-6.8/fsp-in-australia?q=node/1432 I have also been attending the state housing demonstrations, the Ports of Auckland pickets and various other struggles.

      As you know, it is nearly a decade since I was in the ACA-RWL. I still remember it keenly, and if I went back in time I would make some different decisions. I think the RWL was formed rather hastily. I also think the ACA’s position on the Foreshore and Seabed Act was a mistake. But the ACA was correct on other things, such as the NZ Labour Party question and on the need to openly and explicitly denounce imperialism. I do not know whether there was any preferable Marxist group in NZ at that time.

      The ACA was formed in part from groups and individuals in the Anti-Imperialist Coalition (AIC), in which I was also involved. I am inclined to think that the AIC (set up separately from the Auckland Anti-War Coalition) was a mistake (although I was outside of the country in the immediate S11 aftermath, so do not know all the details). I certainly regret the AIC’s move to promote the setting-up of a new Palestine group at UoA, when there was already a decent group in operation, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) – which still exists to this day. I was also involved in SJP. The AIC did some good work on Palestine, but it disintegrated acrimoniously shortly before the US invasion of Iraq (which is when a strong Auckland coalition or united front would have been of most use).

      For a while I supported the Water Pressure Group’s campaign against water privatization in Auckland. This was a solid campaign. After S11, I stopped attending WPG meetings because the AIC meetings were held on the same night of the week.

      Prior to that I was in Radical Society. This was one of the more moderate of the far Left groups at the time. I regret distributing economic protectionist literature as part of RadSoc’s campaigns against the Multilateral Agreement on Investment and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference. Perhaps it would have been better if I had not joined RadSoc but instead joined Workers’ Power (L5i), but it had its own faults and, like RadSoc, was on its last legs in Auckland. I am glad that I never bought into the hyperactivism of SWO, let alone joined them. I argued against SWO’s campaign for campus occupations at Auckland in 1999-2000 (the “Fightback” campaign, not be confused with the Fightback party of today). I think I was entirely correct on this position.

      Anyway, that is quite enough about my political activities for this site. I am not obliged to provide a final balance of assets and liabilities to you. If anyone wishes to contact me about any of these things or anything else they are welcome to do so directly.

      Please note that my views on the ACA-RWL, AIC, SJP, WPG, Radical Society, Workers’ Power, SWO and the Fightback education campaign are strictly my own and not necessarily those of the Freedom Socialists.

      Best regards

      Ben H

  14. PhilF says:

    Feeding the poor is good, but extremely limited unless it also involves helping the poor to organise so they aren’t dependent on the charity of others, ie the issue is to end poverty through the working class liberating themselves by their own actions.

    Not voting, if approached as a political-organising tool, is potentially very useful.

    As a blog, rather than an organisation, we perhaps weren’t really placed to get onto the not-voting position earlier as something to actively campaign around. But we are now better-prepared in relation to this, and even a couple of weeks of researching and propagandising around the issue has turned up a small layer of people who have made a conscious political decision not to vote (or, in some cases, to go to the polling booth but spoil their ballots by writing political messages on them).

    We now need to explore discussions among the deliberate/politically-conscious non-voters.

    Phil