I’m (tentatively) happy about Internet Mana

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InternetManatweet

The Mana Movement and the Internet Party have made their unlikely strategic alliance official – the full agreement is here. It will be a new party for electoral purposes, with a combined list for the party vote, but both parties will retain their own separate identities, policies and leaders.

My first reaction was sort of like Sue Bradford’s, but unlike her, I’ve rethought it and I’m now (tentatively) for it. I could change my mind, but I’m quite likely to vote for them in September.

Here’s the main pros and cons hesitations as far as I see them.

Pros

Strategy

The anti-democratic thresholds in our MMP system place very high barriers of entry to small and new parties. It’s a vicious circle – in order to cross one of the thresholds you have to assure voters their votes won’t be wasted, and to do that you have to guarantee you can cross one of the thresholds. Thus, small parties (and their larger allies) usually need to make use of various strategies like the cup of tea, the reverse cup of tea, specialist targeting of Māori seats, and – yes – the strategic alliance.

The right-of-NZ First parties have been much better at these strategies than the left-of-NZ-First parties. If it wasn’t for these strategies last election, we could have avoided asset sales and the GCSB bill, and passed Feed the Kids. iPredict thinks both ACT and United Future‘s cups of tea will remain successful this year, and National has another cup up their sleeve if they’re desperate – Colin Craig. This election is looking even more tight than the last, and the relatively-left bloc need to get better at using MMP strategically (this is welcome news from a strategic perspective, despite the hypocrisy; let’s hope the Greens join in).

The alliance strategy was used fruitfully in the aptly-named Alliance party for about three elections, almost-fruitfully by the Christian Coalition in 1996 and semi-fruitfully by United Future, Outdoor Recreation and WIN in 2005.

The beauty of an electoral alliance rather than a merger is that it enables both parties to maintain separate identities. Under the Internet Mana alliance, the parties have separate policies and policy spokespeople, separate leaders and very clear identities. It even allows the same people to be list candidates for Internet Mana and electoral candidates for their individual parties (are they allowed to do this? Apparently yes). They also have an exit clause – the current agreement will expire six weeks after the election, and they’ll re-assess after the election.

However, as long as they’re aligned they’ll pool resources, campaign together for the party vote, run a Get Out the Vote campaign and develop a shared policy platform of stuff they both agree on and they’ll all vote for.

Mana

I’m a Mana supporter – I voted for Mana in 2011 and was probably going to vote for them again. Mana seem to be the most (arguably the only) genuinely left-wing party in Parliament, and one of the parties who care most about the most vulnerable. I like what Mana bring to this alliance and to Parliament – whether in government, keeping Labour accountable to the poor and Māori, or in opposition as a prophetic voice. And I’d love to see John Minto in Parliament.

This alliance should make that more likely – it’s a great deal for Mana, giving them positions 1, 3 and 4 on the combined party list and an IP leader at #2 who’s another classic NZ leftist from way back (see below). The pooling of financial/human resources means Mana will also benefit from Kim Dotcom’s $$$, which has led to accusations of “selling out” etc. That’s a bit rich given Mana, more than any other party, have stood up for their principles even when they’re unpopular and non-utilitarian. Harawira, Sykes and Minto would not have agreed to this deal if they felt it compromised their principles. Just like with rich amateur sportspeople criticising poor professionals, it’s easy for the party who doesn’t need to “sell out” to criticise those who do make strategic use of offered resources for mutual benefit.

Internet Party

I’m not really a fan of Kim Dotcom, but I like some things about the Internet Party – they’ll be more radical than any other party on certain issues such as spying, intellectual property and (perhaps) free tertiary education. Free tertiary education is normal where Kim Dotcom is from, and was received by most NZ MPs older than about Metiria Turei’s age, but is too “far left” for any other party at the moment.

I’d (tentatively) like to see the Internet Party in Parliament (but see “Hesitations” below). If the rumours are true, it’d be good to see Laila Harré back in Parliament too (see below).

I probably wouldn’t vote for them ahead of Mana or the Greens, but the same goes for Labour, and I’d still want Mana and the Greens to work with them after the election. Why not work with the Internet Party before the election too, if it could get more representation for both parties, inspire apathetic people to vote and avoid wasted anti-John-Key votes?

Common ground

I don’t agree that the two parties have “practically nothing in common.” They have at least as much in common as the unionists and neo-liberals in Labour, or the urban liberal businesspeople and rural conservative farmers in National, or the eco-socialists and eco-capitalists in the Greens, or the libertarians and fascists in ACT.

The central thing Māori, leftists and Kim Dotcom fans have in common is not wanting empires raiding their homes, controlling their lives and oppressing them. None of these groups are fans of US military dominance of our privacy and policy, or capitalist dominance of trade and intellectual property. The spirit of the internet is the spirit of freedom, consensus and self-determination – the opposite of the spirit of colonisation, corporate dominance and inequality.

Of course, there are differences between the groups. That’s obvious. But I don’t think there’s anything in the Internet Party’s policies signalled so far that a Mana voter should oppose. This guy powerfully shows the appeal of the Internet Party idea to a certain constituency, and it definitely sounds like something a Mana supporter get behind. I think the two parties can learn a lot from each other, and (in true Internet spirit) they’re maintaining a lot of autonomy for where they disagree.

The IP are kind of a single-issue party (well: they have about four single issues), so perhaps they could basically provide policy on their specialist areas and let Mana provide the rest – so long as they’ll accept that. I also think it’d be good to get the literal single-issue party, Legalise Cannabis, on board – I think a lot of Mana and Internet Party voters would be sympathetic to their cause. Perhaps they wouldn’t provide candidates, but they’d join the alliance in exchange for a promise that those elected would work towards decriminalisation and eventually legalisation… though maybe that’s too much to ask this time around.

Hesitations

IP People

No Internet Party candidates have been named yet. It won’t be confirmed until 2pm tomorrow, but it’s been leaked that the Internet Party leader will be former Alliance leader Laila Harré. This is an interesting choice – I’m not sure what her internet credentials are, but she’s definitely someone I’d be happy to vote for. It’s likely their leader she will make it into Parliament – they’d only need 1.2% of the party vote, or 2% if Annette Sykes wins Waiariki. The IP leader will be announced tomorrow – it will be someone with name recognition, whom Mana are “extremely happy” with. My money would have been on Martyn Bradbury, given his previous suggestions, but apparently he’s been ruled out. iPredict has no bets on – I expect it’s all too sudden.

It’s possible other IP candidates will be elected too (though they’d need about 3.6%). These candidates are being chosen over the next few weeks – we’ll have to wait and see who they are.

IP Policies

Internet Party policies are similarly “in progress.” Kim Dotcom has signalled support for various policies like better & cheaper internet, opposition to the GCSB and TPPA, combating inequality and free tertiary education, but the actual policies are being developed via online forum. There’s a lot of uncertainty what they’ll eventually look like, and (I expect) a danger of policy being shaped with a post-modern “my opinion is as valuable as yours” mind-set, rather than decent research. I’m not sure how the Internet Mana joint policies will be decided on.

Nonetheless, the strategic alliance strategy works in theory even without any shared policy platform – so long as you don’t hate each other’s policy enough that you’d rather disadvantage your own side’s policy than advantage the other’s.

Te Tai Tokerau

The whole plan is predicated on Hone Harawira having a safe seat to bring in others on his coat-tails; but it might not be as safe as it seems, despite his having won it for the Māori Party, as an independent, and for Mana. Labour’s usual philosophy is to oppose anyone further left than them, and they’re certainly not offering Harawira any cups of tea to keep the seat. Their candidate Kelvin Davis is a strong candidate who’s just made it back into Parliament after Shane Jones’ retirement. He slashed Harawira’s majority in the seat in the last two elections, and he’s hoping to take it off him this time. There’s a danger the whole plan could massively backfire if Harawira’s constituency don’t approve of the alliance, and he loses his seat (of course, Annette Sykes could still take Waiariki off Te Ururoa Flavell).

Voters

This leads into my last hesitation – voters. Other potential voters might not be so supportive of a strategic alliance. While I don’t think Mana and Internet Party policies are really opposed to each other, their voters are another story. Mana voters could be morally opposed to voting for billionaire businesspeople who donated money to John Banks. And the Pākehā cynical/apathetic torrent/Reddit lovers who (I imagine) form many of the Internet Party’s prospective voters might be swayed by the mainstream media demonisation of Harawira. So, again, the strategy could back-fire if it costs more votes than it gains. Time and polls will tell.

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34 comments

    • calebmorgan

      Would you say that about United Future after 2005, when they worked with Outdoor Recreation and the “we want smoking back in bars” lobby? I don’t see it as selling out. I’ve just added a paragraph to the “Mana” section defending (or spinning) it further.

        • calebmorgan

          OK. At least you’re consistent – unlike people who endorse Internet-Mana and oppose the John Banks cup of tea, or vice versa. I agree that these deals aren’t ideal, but you can’t deny that they arise because the threshold biases MMP against small parties. All but three of our parties have to work much harder for each vote than the big three, because they first have to convince voters that a vote for them won’t be wasted. The coat-tail exception (and associated deals) is the only recourse small and new parties have of providing that assurance (aside from a sudden and miraculous leap up to above 5% in all polls). Abolish the threshold (ie 1% of votes = 1% of seats, end of story) and you’d abolish the need for “dodgy deals,” and for the coat-tailing exception altogether.

  1. Port Hills Pete

    That’s the first thing I’ve seen you’ve written that I would most definitely disagree with!! We’ve all been outraged at 6 years of National sucking up to big money, Donghua Liu, Oravida, the Cabinet Club, Sky City etc. How is this any different?? I totally agree with Sue Bradford that the kaupapa of the Mana Party, or any left wing party for that matter, should not be about sucking up to German millionaires. Actually Kim Dotcom is not even an honest neoliberal millionaire!! It seems to be forgotten that he has multiple convictions in Germany and Hong Kong for fraud, embezzlement and insider trading. He got residency in this country because officials under National’s watch waived the good character requirements because of his probably ill-gotten money. He formed a limited liability company to manage his household which enables him to avoid personal responsibility for his debts to businesses in Hone Harawira’s electorate. In all the publicity there has been about him over the past couple of years there has never been any hint of him expressing any identification with or interest in Maori, or the poor, rather his first political act in this country was to donate $50,000 to John Banks, I wonder if anyone fact-checked his story about growing up in poverty?? Anyway the order of the name, Internet-Mana, says it all really. I’m even more astounded that Laila Harré would hitch her wagon to his than Hone, assuming the rumours are true.

    • calebmorgan

      We had to disagree eventually!

      I don’t see it as sucking up to millionaires… I see it as a strategic alliance of very different groups working together to provide mutual electoral benefit and develop a shared policy platform. I wouldn’t want Mana or the Greens to have to work with Labour or NZ First either, but swallowing your pride and working together is vital for success. The right understand the value of strategic use of MMP and it got them asset sales, the GCSB bill and opposition to Feed the Kids.

      I basically just repeated myself from the blog so I suppose I haven’t convinced you!

      However, I did just add another paragraph to the “Mana” section about why I don’t see it as selling out.

      Also – I’m not sure if the order of the name necessarily shows who’s dominant. The way I see it, it’s better for Mana than IP – they’ll get three of the first four seats, and the fourth is someone they’re very happy with. I don’t think they’re likely to get enough votes for six MPS, which is what it will take to even out the numbers (but who knows what might happen – huge jumps have happened before, like United Future after the successful worm debate).

      • Peter Carrell

        The simple question I ask Caleb, is whether Dotcon is more interested in a bunch of MPs loyal to him who will form a government which will not sign the extradition document to send him to the States or in the future of poor NZers?

        Given that he seems a dilatory payer of his employees, enjoys making millions from ordinary people and is willing to treat musicians and artists unjustly, it is very hard to see why the answer would be the latter rather than the former.

        I think those swayed by the colour of his money should ask whether they can actually see the money. Is it in a solicitor’s trust account, for instance? The news today says that US groups are seeking to freeze his assets and accounts …

        But my bottom line is this: politicians prepared to do deals with convicted criminals on the run from US authorities are not worth paying attention to. Labour and Greens are noble by comparison!

        • calebmorgan

          The extradition thing is pure speculation, and pretty far-fetched if you ask me. Will any MPs or candidates change their opinions on whether Kim Dotcom should be extradited because of this deal? I doubt it. Will this deal win enough seats in Parliament to sway a government one way or the other? I doubt it. Could they potentially, in theory, make blocking his extradition a bottom line in coalition negotiations? Yes, in theory, but in practice it would be electoral suicide for both the party that requests it and the party that accepts it. As Harre said when asked about extradition – “that’s never been mentioned, and if it had been, I wouldn’t be sitting here today.” Even if a mention of extradition wouldn’t drive away their alliance partners and their voters, Labour would never be stupid enough to cave to it – they’re prone to some stupid moves, but they surely know that wouldn’t play well (if anything, Labour working with Internet Mana would be less likely to block his extradition than they would be if there was no Internet Party).

          This theory also over-simplifies the Internet Party to Kim Dotcom – how would you like it if I reduced the Anglican Church to Henry VIII’s desire for a divorce? OK, time scale probably makes that an unfair analogy. But even if the IP was reducible to Dotcom, the extradition theory over-simplifies his motivations into simply not being extradited. He has real and strong opinions about intellectual property, NSA/GCSB spying, internet access, the TPPA, the US, John Key and John Banks. Some of this is clearly inspired by his own experiences over the last couple of years – but is no less real because of it.

          Anyway, it seems the problem is partly a difference of opinion on whether strategic alliances represent a sell-out of core values, and partly a difference of opinion on the values themselves. For example, you’re quick to say intellectual property violations are “unjust” to artists and musicians. Intellectual property laws were originally set up to support artists and creators, but the terms have been lengthened far beyond that original purpose due to the consistent lobbying of companies, chiefly Disney (who made their fortunes off public domain fairy tales, but don’t want to let anyone else use Mickey Mouse). They exist primarily for the benefit of the companies who own and obtain those rights. These laws no longer protect innovation and creativity – they restrict and curtail it by restricting art and ideas to those who are willing and able to pay the price set by the owner of the IP (ironic acronym – I mean intellectual property) rights. Intellectual property rights (at least in their current form) assume a false individualist understanding of how creativity works, and deny any sense that the fruits of human intellectual labour (ESPECIALLY when those fruits can be reproduced essentially unlimited times for essentially free) belong in some sense to humanity as a whole. But the prevalence of internet “piracy” suggests there is something within the human psyche (or at least in younger generations) that wants to bring art and ideas back to the commons. (Didn’t you blog just the other day about how everything that ultimately comes from God can’t ultimately be claimed by one person alone?)

          Another difference in values is the moral worth of US authorities and whether anyone hunted by them should necessarily be written off. I doubt many Mana voters are particularly fond of the US, even aside from opinions about intellectual property. And if you won’t pay attention to anyone who does deals with criminals, surely you’ll oppose anyone dealing with National or Labour, given the illegal ways they use the GCSB spy facilities… not just illegal spying on NZ residents like Dotcom, but their participation in drone strikes which mostly target civilians, and cannot be seen as anything but terroristic and illegal according to any law worth the paper/stone tablet/computer tablet it’s written on. Key is “comfortable” with this of course.

          By the way, to the extent that Kim Dotcom has been fraudulent, and paid his employers badly or late etc, that should certainly be severely criticised. I also have serious problems with making millions off filesharing – it strikes me as hypocritical (and against the Internet value of free exchange) to criticise intellectual property for allowing corporations to get rich off art and creativity, if you’re doing the same yourself as an intellectual property outlaw. (not that all his millions actually come from piracy).

          Lastly – this is well worth a read for anyone (boomer or otherwise) who doesn’t recognise a certain moral value in what the Internet Party looks like it’ll stand for: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2014/04/18/guest-blog-daniel-bruce-internet-party-what-seems-ridiculous-to-the-old-often-makes-perfect-sense-to-the-young/

          • Peter Carrell

            Hi Caleb,
            You do yourself a disservice justifying the breaking of laws with arguments such as you give. On your arguments a different kind of pirate who came and kidnapped your daughter for selling as a slave would be doing just fine because parental love for a child is just an individualist Western ethic thing not worth a jot since it basically shores up a capitalist equity protection racket in which you would like to retain your connection to your daughter so that one day your own capital could be passed on to her. If Disney have a product which is theirs a thief is no more justified in stealing it with some claim about the arts and freedom than I am justified in raiding your fridge and stealing your food with some claim that I felt a bit hungry and couldn’t be bothered walking all the way to the supermarket.

            As for academic copyright, the link you give, it would be nice if it was a racket. Then I would have made some kind of decent living from my own academic publication 🙂

            • calebmorgan

              “Product,” “theirs,” “stealing,” – these are all contested concepts with specific historical developments driven by various interests, various technological advances (printing press to file-sharing website) and various moral philosophies. To take them for granted or portray them as eternal and universal is ideology.

              It is certainly a racket – universities pay increasing millions to academic publishers, often more than half their libraries’ budgets, for knowledge obtained by God-given intellects standing on the shoulders of giants, when so long as costs are covered we have the technology to make that knowledge freely available to the rapidly growing proportion of the world with computer and internet access (you haven’t acknowledged any distinction between transferring a product and copying a product, but one does exist in both practicality and ethics… I suspect few of today’s internet “pirates” would steal a car, but they’d happily download and reproduce them). I suspect you receive about as much from this racket as your average musician or film worker receives from the rackets Dotcom threatens.

              The other main difference between your slave analogy – besides what the ‘product’ is, effects on you and your daughter, and which side is doing the commodifying – is that one of them is being done millions – perhaps billions – of times every day throughout the world by people you work with, socialise with and go to church with (and probably you yourself, if you use Youtube). When people in their droves lose faith in a law and stop obeying it, it pays to ask why. I’m sure it’s partly because it’s easy to get away with it, but is that all it is?

              • Peter Carrell

                Again, Caleb, you seem to be missing the point. This is not about you having a DVD, loaning it to me and I copy it and (maybe, maybe not) Hollywood doesn’t really suffer. This is about Piracy. This is about Dotcom making money from other people’s work. Whichever way you spin your notions of property etc, Dotcom is not a charity worker here, nor is he Robin Hood, distributing the wealth of the rich to the hungry poor. He has systematically set out to exploit the capitalist system to his own peculiarly advantage. Yet your notions re property and law are prepared to overlook his piracy! He is not a socialist. He does not share your philosophy. If you are not invited to the mansion his security guards will throw you off his property if you try to enter it, ignoring your ideas about whose property it really is!

                Further, if you were a musician trying to make a money from your God given talents (rather than a theologian and philosopher which, as you and I know, there is nothing worth pirating!), Dotcom would have no hesitation in making money from your music with no intention of sharing it with you. He would grow wealthy at your expense and when you were struggling to provide mince and mashed potatoes for your family table, he would be eating steak and drinking champagne … And sending joking emails to his colleagues. Please, please see this guy for what he is!

                Incidentally, on the extradition matter. The one bit of credit I give Dotcom is that he is intelligent. Of course he is not going to make extradition a direct issue with Laila and Hone. But look at the smokescreen he is creating as he fogs fine minds like yours with doubts as to whether he really is committing any kind of offence. Do you really imagine that with the web of deceit which he is spinning, the politicians who owe their loyalty to him or are otherwise persuaded by him (Norman?) are going to need his direct bidding to refuse his extradition?

                • calebmorgan

                  Sorry for late reply.

                  Yes, Kim Dotcom is not a moral or admirable person. I haven’t made that point strongly enough. But I don’t think he is rendered immoral or non-admirable simply by providing a technology by which intellectual property laws can be broken – any more than someone is rendered immoral or non-admirable for manufacturing or selling CD/DVD-Rs or CD/DVD read-write drives. Or – for that matter – Google for owning and operating Youtube. Correct me if I’m wrong, but both Mega and Youtube remove copyright violations when complaints are made… but in practice, both leave millions of copyright violations online, because complaints are not made in most cases. Meanwhile, both make a lot of money from advertising revenue while this (il)legal content distribution takes place.

                  What makes Kim Dotcom immoral and non-admirable is, firstly, the various blameworthy behaviours outlined by you and the other Peter (fraud, opportunism, not paying debts etc) and, secondly, his profiteering off the technology that can be used for these illegal ends (as well as legal ends). As I’ve said, his profiteering outside the intellectual property laws takes away any moral high ground he might have for criticising profiteering inside the intellectual property laws. But you could flip that around as well and say that those whose profiteering is legal (thanks to their successful campaigning for laws in their favour) have no moral high ground for criticising (and seeking to extradite) those whose profiteering is illegal.

                  I agree that Kim Dotcom is not a socialist or a charity worker or a moral philosopher etc. What he is an intelligent, creative, strangely charismatic, primarily self-interested man with serious character defects and a history breaking laws I acknowledge as just, as well as laws whose justice I question. But – as I said in an earlier comment – I believe there is a certain moral value in what the Internet Party represents. It seemingly strikes you as inconsistent for there to be a genuine moral value while working with an immoral man like Kim Dotcom. But I would also hold that there’s a genuine moral value to what is represented by Maori Party members, Labour party members and even (some) National Party members… yet they work with the deeply immoral politics and personalities of smiling assassins, transferrers of wealth to the one-percent, destroyers of environment and democracy for the sake of their farms’ profits, poverty-profiteering landlords who “let the market sort out” a market-created housing crisis that delivers them huge increases in capital gains and rent income, deniers and maintainers of child poverty, tobacco company lobbyists, blatantly corrupt politicians, sellers of laws to casinos, cynical and hypocritical scapegoaters of society’s most vulnerable, deniers of asylum to hunger-striking refugees, drone strikers, etc… because they deem such compromises necessary within our political system and political realities. If you don’t like this, don’t vote.

                  Re: extradition – fair call about him being too smart to make it an overt strategy, and on his ability to influence people. But I suspect our politicians have a range of views on whether he should be extradited, and I still don’t see more than a handful (at most) changing their minds on his extradition because of the creation of this party.

                  • Peter Carrell

                    Hi Caleb
                    You continuing refusal to treat those who abide by the law as different to those who break the law is either unfortunate naivety on your part or some kind of grandiloquence in which you place yourself as the Great Knowing One who knows what is right and what is wrong, what should be law and what shouldn’t be.

                    The rule of law is fundamental to justice (which I and you agree on seeking as a good for society). Where it is judged by society that a law has been wrongly formed, democracy provides a way for the law to be changed; where it is judged that a law is no longer fit for purpose, democracy provides a way for the law to be changed. What is of no advantage to the role of the law in support of justice is individuals such as yourself presuming to know better than the law! Form a movement, press for change, make the change … if the people agree with you. Until then it is unjust behaviour to categorise law-breakers the same as law-keepers.

                    The problem with supporting Dotcom has nothing to do with his being generally a flawed individual (as though the rest of politicians are perfect … of course not)! The problem has to do with (a) lack of certainty about what his true motives and thus real end game is here (by contrast I think we can be quite sure of the motivations and endgames of the rest of our politicians); (b) his being indicted on criminal charges (thus until they are settled in favour of his innocence those supporting him are supporting a potential criminal as having a role in our government … is that the kind of person you want to be: someone who thinks criminals are fit persons to influence the course of the future of our country?) and (c) the specific manipulation of the ‘coat-tail’ aspect of MMP by coat-tailing into the election with an agreement that permits opt off the coat-tail after six weeks (at least ACT in Epsom etc has always been a transparent deal about the future of ACT with National … it is now possible that the Mana-Internet abuse of MMP (and, yes, ACT in Epsom is also an abuse) could finish off MMP.

                    You are an intelligent person Caleb. It troubles me as someone who respects you to see your intelligence being used in the service of rescuing and rationalising a very bad initiative. One, as it happens, about which my negativity is shared by leading politicians on nearly all sides of the political circle. Does that give you no pause for thought?

                    • calebmorgan

                      I do not treat “those who abide by the law as [the same as] those who break the law.” I simply said you can exploit and profiteer both inside and outside the law, and that some laws are largely immoral/unjust.

                      Anyway, you haven’t yet said what the difference is between Mega, Youtube and CD-R manufacturers, or why one is straightforwardly on one side of the law and the other two are straightforwardly on the other.

                      It’s a bit naive to suggest laws only change through the official political channels (writing to MPs, forming parties etc) … part of how laws change is by people breaking them. I’m not saying that’s praiseworthy – it’s just a sociological fact. It’s also naive to imply that laws we have are probably just because when they’re not, people write to MPs and form parties etc to make sure those laws are changed. Our copyright laws have become what they’ve become due to corporate influence on governments, and that same corporate influence will stop them being changed for the better any time son. But that’s not to say we shouldn’t try to change those laws by democratic channels. In fact, it looks like the Internet Party will try to do exactly what you suggest we should do about unjust laws. But you’re also denying them their only available strategy to do that!

                      re: your three reasons…
                      (a) Two words: Tobacco lobbyists (OK, some more words: Or, for that matter, effective dairy farming/business lobbyists).
                      (b) One name: John Banks.
                      (c) We disagree on the morality of strategic use of the present MMP rules. I discussed this in this blog, and my next blog will make my position even more clear. It does indeed give me pause for thought that many politicians – particularly those from the big parties – oppose this alliance. It strikes me as partly just general political opposition – questioning motives, exaggerating difference, failing to acknowledge common ground etc. And it’s partly hypocrisy. That’s what my next blog will be about.

                      By the way, good points are made here about interference in Kim Dotcom’s case and about whether strategic use of MMP amounts to “rorts”.

                      Oh, one more thing – Epsom more transparent than Internet Mana – are you serious? Internet Mana is a far more transparent deal than the implied “cup of tea” deal (or Labour’s strongly-hinted “anti-cup-of-tea” strategy).

                    • Peter Carrell

                      Hi Caleb
                      Well, when I read your first paragraph it doesn’t seem like you distinguish between those who abide by the law and those who don’t: you condemn them all and continue to arrogate to yourself the ability to determine whether a law is immoral.

                      Megawhateveritwascalled may yet be found to be as straightforwardly on the side of the law as the others. But right now it is not proven innocent. I have always understood its manner of working to be less transparent than YouTube (to take a process I have a slight familiarity with) and that YouTube responds adroitly and quickly to any question of it being party to breaking copyright.

                      I am not at all denying the Internet Party’s general ability to change the law through offering candidates for parliament. I am questioning whether they should be ‘married’ to Mana (and vice versa). Apparently Sue Bradford and a host of politicans and commentators agree with me!

                      Your responses to the first two of my three reasons are quite poor. Tobacco lobbyists are quite clear about what they want (more people smoking, less tax on fags etc) whereas it is not clear what Dotcom wants, beyond not being extradited. John Banks: if found guilty he will leave parliament. We await judgment in his case. If found to be a criminal he should not be in parliament. Dotcom, by contrast, is not willing to stand trial in the States in order that we might have the satisfaction of seeing him proven not guilty, if not innocent. Agreed: we disagree on the morality etc re coat-tailing.

                    • calebmorgan

                      Re: “arrogat[ing] to [my]self the ability to determine whether a law is immoral” – well, I suppose you could put it that way if you wanted. I didn’t study law; I studied sociology, and now I’m going to study Christian ethics. Both are concerned with determining justice, including justice of laws. I don’t think I need to restrict myself to the question of “did Kim Dotcom break the law?,” leaving aside the other ethical/sociological questions that are more in my area of training/interest anyway.

                      As far as I’m aware, MegaUpload (and now Mega) also “responds adroitly and quickly to any question of it being party to breaking copyright” – but, again, it’s outside my expertise.

                      From a perspective of sociology and/or Christian ethics, legal vs. illegal is an important distinction, but it’s not the only (or the most) important distinction. There’s a much more significant difference between illegal exploitative profiteering and honest fair legal work than there is between illegal exploitative profiteering and legal exploitative profiteering. Especially when the law in question is largely set up to suit the interests of the legal exploitative profiteers!

                      Re (a): Fair enough. I guess I read you as saying “bad motives” not “unclear motives.” If there were clear, current tobacco lobbyists openly campaigning for their tobacco interests, there would not be “lack of certainty about … true motives.” But instead they’re downplaying the tobacco connections, saying it was only to get some private sector experience etc, and saying they’re standing for the good of the country (like what Kim Dotcom is saying about his party) – so there is lack of certainty about their interests (like for Dotcom). So what I should have said instead was “every single politician there’s ever been.” I don’t see any reason for saying there’s much more certainty about other politicians’ motives than Dotcom’s.

                      Re (b): You’re right. That’s true.

                    • Peter Carrell

                      Hi Caleb
                      The tobacco lobby only fool themselves as to what they are up to.

                    • calebmorgan

                      Perhaps, but it looks like confident one of them will be in Parliament after September, thanks to Bill English’s safe National seat (and the wider National party that agreed to give him that safe seat).

                      Anyway – based on your opposition to “abuses of MMP,” “sell-outs” and tobacco lobbyists, I suppose we can rule out you voting for National, United Future or ACT this year, as well as Internet Mana?

                      Oh, and: “John Banks: if found guilty he will leave parliament. We await judgment in his case. If found to be a criminal he should not be in parliament.” – Really?

                    • Peter Carrell

                      HI Caleb
                      First up, I had thought ‘guilty’ was enough to see off a politician, but apparently a ‘conviction’ is needed (at least of his conscience), so I got that wrong.

                      I reserve the right to vote National, ex tobacco lobbyists notwithstanding, if that is the best strategy to see off Dotcom. The evil he brings to NZ is greater than the young fella down south. I can assure you however that I will not be voting for ACT, United Future, Mana or Internet or Mana Internet.

                      Trans Tasman says it quite well today (from behind a paywall):

                      “But we kind of crashed through the looking glass last week with the anointment of Laila Harre as leader of Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party. It is possible, back when she was an ardent campaigner for feminism and against capitalism, racism and corporatism, Harre foresaw the day she would sign up to front a party funded by a convicted German fraudster who made much of his money from pornography and who also has a fetish for racist, not to say out- right Nazi, humour. Harre wasn’t even elected: she was anointed by the aforementioned convicted German fraudster who has trafficked in pornography and who thinks n-word jokes are hilarious.

                      There are many terms for this sort of thing, none of them complimentary. We will avoid the ‘h’ word – not just because MPs are not allowed to use the term hypocrisy in the House, but mostly because hypocrisy is part of the human condition. All of us fall short of our ideals. But this is not mere hypocrisy, not a minor falling short. This is moral bankruptcy of a particularly shameless kind.”

                      Of course if you wish to keep supporting this convicted criminal, facing criminal charges (and offering $5m as a reward to anyone who can get him off), Hitler’s signed Mein Kampf loving, money from pornography making bloke, to say nothing of Harre and her shamelessness (to say even less about the daftness of using the Internet Party as a vehicle for a bunch of policies that seem to have nothing to do with the Internet) then that is your democratic right. Not that democracy comes much into the German’s plans … Harre is an appointed leader not an elected one!

                      A tobacco lobbyist here, a false declaration submitting polly there, do not add up to a reason for supporting Dotcom!

                    • calebmorgan

                      Sounds like pretty strange priorities to me, Peter. You’ll sacrifice all other values to the single goal of “seeing off Dotcom”?

                      Do honestly believe the evil he brings is greater than the evil wrought by tobacco companies, and their influence on politics (which is represented in Parliament by the ‘young fella down south’ at least as much as Dotcom is represented in Parliament by the Internet Party)? And do you honestly believe National hasn’t had – and doesn’t continue to have – backers, overseers and influencers just as shady and sinister as Dotcom? This sounds like a rather cartoonish understanding of evil, as if it is represented supremely in flamboyant immoral criminals instead of – to quote C.S. Lewis – “in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices.”

                      Oh, and now you’ve added “appointing leaders democratically” to your list of values. Yet another reason you shouldn’t vote for National, whose leaders are determined solely on the basis of who wields the most influence over caucus – and whose list positions are determined solely by leaders. Party members didn’t get to elect John Key any more than Laila Harre (though no doubt the Cabinet Club had an influence). As I understand it, the Internet Party plans to elect its candidates in quite a democratic way – probably more democratic than any party other than the Greens and perhaps Mana. Their initial leader was appointed, but that was explained in discussions on their website as not ideal, but a a necessary measure due to the short time frame (feel free to be cynical about this, but at least note that the members value democracy and expect it – unlike National members).

                      I’m starting to think the reason Internet Mana is so threatening to many people is that it shows the corruption of ‘normal’ politics. Most everything you criticise about this arrangement and this party is done by others also. So eventually you just have to fall back on saying you don’t like Dotcom because he’s a nasty man, and your number one voting priority this year is opposing him (I suppose that will be this Monday’s blog topic?).

                      There are two parties you can vote for, by the way, which don’t require you to support any MMP coat-tailing arrangements, any tobacco lobbyists, any criminals or people who deal with criminals, or any undemocratic leader selections: the Greens and (to a lesser extent) Labour.

                    • Peter Carrell

                      Hi Caleb
                      Caucuses electing party leaders is a fine, honourable and democratic manner of electing a leader, as many parties to the left and the right have demonstrated in many democracies. But a party with no MPs has no caucus so democracy will mean another route to electing a leader.

                      I do not think it has ever been a priority of mine to see Labour or National or any other party have a pure set of MPs without objectionable behaviour (Mallard?), shady dealings (Taito Field when Labour stuck to him like a limpet), questionable judgment (Nat’s Williamson and the prospective certainty for Clutha). It is a priority of mine to ensure that our parliament is not under the influence of a man who values purchasing a signed copy of Mein Kampf, who has lived in NZ five minutes and professes to want to tell us how to put wrong things right (today’s news) while himself in the unenviable position of being wanted for extradition. I am unabashed in wanting this blot on the political landscape removed. I think it consistent with choosing to vote for any other party save for Mana Internet itself.

                      What surprises me is your continuing judgement that because an impure set of MPs currently sit in parliament or may be about to enter parliament then Dotcom is an okay guy to be ,meddling in our political system. That seems to be a weak argument for supporting Dotcom. It is a strong argument for improving parliament and good on you for pointing out many faults with our MPs and prospective MPs. But to then make that a basis for someone keen on owning Nazi regalia, convicted of crimes and facing other charges being seen as fit to influence our parliament is, to say the least, surprising.

                      Monday’s blog won’t be wasting time and space on Dotcom. Instead it will be offering an interesting argument for …!

                    • calebmorgan

                      I don’t support Dotcom; I support Mana, and I support Mana entering into a strategic alliance with the Internet Party (though I may turn out to be wrong on that).

                      It seems you think that because I am willing to deal with the Internet Party, and because I have reservations about our current intellectual property laws (reservations which I held long before I ever heard of Kim Dotcom, I might add), I cannot be serious about considering Kim Dotcom an immoral, criminal and untrustworthy character. I think this simply means we have a difference of opinion about how to balance strategy and scruples within a political system that demands compromise. You are willing to work with tobacco lobbyists, corrupt politicians and corporate interests, but not Kim Dotcom – I’d be inclined to put it the other way around.

                      With your recent references to his Nazi regalia etc, I would again make the criticism that you seem to have (i’ll copy+paste to save time) a rather cartoonish understanding of evil, as if it is represented supremely in flamboyant immoral criminals instead of – to quote C.S. Lewis – “in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices.” The real and insidious face of racism in this country is not big German men who find it funny and interesting to wear SS helmets and own signed copies of Mein Kampf. It is a Pākehā-dominated colonial capitalist system that works structurally (despite no individuals involved “intending to be racist”) against other ethnicities, seeking to assimilate them into the dominant capitalist Pākehā culture… finding expression in legislation like Labour’s foreshore and seabed policy and National’s flirtations with abolishing “special treatment” for Māori. I think Māori and ethnic minorities understand this better than you do, and that’s why there are so many more of them standing for the Internet Party than for National.

                    • Peter Carrell

                      Hi Caleb
                      You do support Dotcom because you support the alliance between Internet and Mana and all her sail in her unholy alliance.

                      Your fine distinction between those tolerant of Nazism’s evil and corrupt politicians is all very well, but even corrupt politicians do not develop plans to exterminate whole races of people, or classes such as homosexuals.

                      So, I do not care if my understanding of evil is rather cartoonish. I want nothing to do with those prepared to treat Nazism lightly, nor with those prepared to overlook the predilections of Dotcom.

                      It is your choice to continue to entertain tolerant thoughts about Dotcom. I would prefer to vote for oil production supporting Greens (cf their policy on supporting 3D manufacturing!) before I harboured any kind thoughts about Dotcom and those prepared to work with him.

                    • calebmorgan

                      My more important distinction was between individual intent to exterminate/marginalise and systemic oppression (which is the usual pattern where some groups are dominant over others, even when the individuals in those groups don’t “intend to oppress” – and they rarely do). The former is not a particularly significant problem in NZ anymore. The latter is a very significant problem in NZ, and finds expression in the very centres of power, including our largest political parties.

                    • Peter Carrell

                      Hi Caleb
                      So Internet Mana will help relieve the alleged oppression of Kiwis in what way?
                      Would it be by fostering the internet’s relentless tendency to destroy local retail jobs by making it easier to shop online?
                      Or could it be by making it harder for creative artists to make an income through the protection copyright laws afford artists?
                      Given the many ways in which NZ’s economy is booming along, what specific economic policy does Internet Mana have which will help it to boom better?
                      One problem where some people are feeling the pinch is through rising house prices in Auckland, including rising rents. This is fuelled in part by the numbers of people migrating here, taking advantage of our lax requirements for immigration so that we even let convicted criminals settle here. Does the Internet Mana party have a policy to restrict migration here in order ease pressure on the Auckland housing market?

                      Your allegations about oppression in NZ being fostered by the major political parties flies in the face of the evidence that NZ is doing well, so well that many people migrate here for a better life. What is the basis for your allegations?

                    • calebmorgan

                      I already gave two obvious examples from National or Labour in the last decade-or-so. Other rather obvious examples are the fact that Maori people die about a decade younger than Pakeka people, and the fact that around half our prison population are Maori. It’s beneath you to call this “alleged oppression.” This is not an ethnically equal society, and it’s not people with bad taste senses of humour collecting Nazi regalia who are the problem.

                      Re: your policy questions – ask King Kapisi about copyright laws and artists. Or ask the various left-of-NZ-First parties about their housing, tax, wage, employment, immigration, poverty and inequality policies. Compare them to the right-of-NZ-First parties’ policies on the same areas (at least where those parties actually have policies on those areas, rather than pretending they aren’t problems or expecting the god of the market to solve them).

                      I see no reason why the economy should “boom” any less under a coalition of the relative Left than under a coalition of the relative Right. But I do see reasons why that boom might be shared more equally around the whole society that produces it, not almost entirely to the already rich, as currently.

                    • Peter Carrell

                      HI Caleb
                      Such examples require an oppressor who is an individual (e.g. a dictator) or a system. I assume you are making allegations about the system. If the system is at fault then an alternative system must be found. Otherwise we continue with the present one while always working to make improvements (as I believe we are … life, believe it or not, is better for more people than it ever was). What is your alternative system? How does it work? Is it democratic or dictatorial? Does it encourage inclusive capitalism?

                    • calebmorgan

                      I’m confused about whether you’re talking about the Pakeha-dominated system or the economic system? Either way, you’re falsely equating “identifying systemic issues” with “total revolution replacing the current system with another fully-formed one.” As you say, we can work to make improvements to the current system.

                      Despite those problems, I may as well answer your question anyway: My alternative system is the kingdom of God. My suggestion in the meantime is to live the kingdom of God as much as possible in church systems, and advocate for changes to current systems in the world, to bring them more in line with the kingdom of God. E.g. working to make NZ less Pakeha-dominated, less oppressive of non-Pakeha people and more honouring of the agreement according to which Pakeha are allowed to live in this land. Or e.g. trying to mitigate capitalism’s observed inevitable slide into unsustainability, inequality (thus exclusivity) and self-destruction (refs 1 2 3 4)… whether through trade unions, more co-operatively-owned businesses, more equitable minimum and maximum wage laws, pro-social and pro-environment taxation (internalising taxes on externalities, heavy taxes on destructive/anti-social income/wealth, moderate taxes on unproductive income/wealth and on the wealthy, light taxes on productive/pro-social income/wealth and on the poor), laws against exploitation of people and the earth, universal basic income, creative and positive ways to harness everyone’s ability to contribute into valued and rewarded work, or some combination of the above strategies (or others)… and, of course, the requisite changes in culture and values to make those changes possible.

                    • Peter Carrell

                      Hi Caleb
                      At last we are on some common ground! Improve the present system while subverting it towards the kingdom of God. For the record, I generally find that no single political party ever offers policies which fit that aim!

  2. Pingback: MMP strategy and the big parties: Self-interest, hypocrisy and anti-democracy | Cut Your Hair
  3. calebmorgan

    Today I’ve enjoyed reading the Wikipedia article on tactical voting:

    “It has been shown by the Gibbard–Satterthwaite theorem that, if a voting method for choosing one of several options is completely strategy-free, then it must be either dictatorial or nondeterministic (that is, might not select the same outcome every time it is applied to the same set of voter preferences) …

    However, the type of tactical voting and the extent to which it affects the character of the campaign and the results of the election vary dramatically from one voting system to another.”

    It goes on to explain how it tends to happen in various voting systems, such as First Past the Post, which always leads to “two-party domination,” or MMP with a threshold, which leads to a “Comrade 4%” phenomenon and cup of tea deals.

  4. calebmorgan

    Some good points are made by Mike Treen here about the deal and Dotcom’s alleged and real transgressions. He possibly downplays Dotcom’s criminal history a bit much (and doesn’t mention the Hong Kong convictions), but he’s right to observe others have the opposite problem. It’s worth reading the full details on Dotcom’s Wiki page.

  5. Pingback: I was wrong | Cut Your Hair

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