Aotearoa is Not For Sale J14: An Outstanding Success.
All around the country, in an unprecedented display of organisation and coordination, the people of New Zealand told John Key in no uncertain terms, “You’ve Got Mail!”
Unfortunately for John Key and his plans to sell our precious national assets, it ain’t no love letter.
It is impossible to summarise or even highlight all of the incredible color and humour and camaraderie that went on. To explore just some of it, click on the links to the Facebook pages in the main post on the Home Page. For a detailed overview and a lot of interesting discussion of many aspects of the events in Auckland and other places, go to the Facebook ANFS Group Page. Some pictures from the day can be found at the J14 Picture Page. Congratulations to all who organised and participated in events, you did brilliantly well.
Our Media Watch page provides a comprehensive directory of Main Stream Media coverage from all over the web, and is perhaps the best collection of MSM media “clippings” and critiques available.
Twitter feeds for #ANFS and #J14 are also helpful.
The links above provide a great deal of information and commentary for those who wish to experience the National Day of Action from multiple perspectives. However, they do not tell the most essential part of the story – it is easy to miss the crucial elements in the blizzard of information.
J14 marks the second major protest in the campaign against Asset Sales. In this recent event, we see a shift in focus and intention which is important to understand. The ANFS Campaign is not concerned primarily with organising “bigger and bigger marches.” Immediately after A28, the emphasis turned from quantity to quality, and concentrated on breadth and depth. Instead of one giant protest in Auckland, and a slightly smaller protest in Wellington, a great deal of effort was expended on building relationships in as many regional centers as possible, to make this a truly “national” movement.
The results speak for themselves; protests were held the full length of the country. Numbers this time were near to those of the last protest, except that they were spread throughout the country. Media coverage also increased. And yet again, popular protests have cracked the government’s normally unblemished facade of aristocratic disdain; the Minister of State Own Enterprises has attempted to directly address our issues, for all the good it will do him.
It is important to understand that the ANFS Movement now refuses to play the old-school “Protest Game”, where the people are goaded into competing with themselves, trying to put on ever bigger protests, until they can’t do it any more, and they are exhausted and defeated. Those days are over. ANFS protests in New Zealand should no longer be regarded as entertainments for the Chardonnay Set to guffaw at. Instead, protests are but one tactic in the overall strategy of the campaign.
The protest is now the means, not the end. Protests are for our benefit, not for the benefit of the Establishment. They are used primarily to bring people together and build relationships. They are used to reverse the effects of alienation, to introduce isolated individuals into new groups, and to knit small groups into larger groups. They serve to hone skills essential to every healthy democracy, and of course to communicate strong messages. The principle objective of all ANFS action is in essence;
Stopping Asset Sales through the encouragement and promotion of Participatory Democracy everywhere in New Zealand.
This is an eminently political purpose. For an activist movement to have legitimacy, especially where it seeks to overturn decisions taken by an unrepresentative government, it must demonstrate greater political legitimacy than its foes. It is possible for a small but growing activist group to claim such legitimacy only through a combination of superior ideas and enthusiastic direct democracy.
It doesn’t take a cast of thousands to divine the will of the people. You just have to listen. Something this government refuses to do. We are listening. What we hear encourages us that the largest part of the populace of New Zealand feels the same way we do. But we never presume, nor do we dictate. We ask, respectfully, and we listen, respectfully. To confirm that our understanding is correct, we ask the people to vote. It is not a perfect system, but it is at least respectful.
Voting, conducted within small groups spread over a wide area can provide a highly accurate sampling of the General Will more effectively than large numbers in a homogeneous demographic area. Yet another reason why we are no longer playing the Big Protest Game.
When all is said and done, we want to save our assets. But what if, in the process of recovering our stolen assets, we discover that our democracy has been stolen as well? Naturally, in that case we will have to reclaim them both. We cannot do that unless we are manifestly more representative in our views and our actions than the Oligarchy we seek to thwart.
Protest + Direct Democracy
Yesterday, the ANFS Campaign took its first tentative steps toward Mass Direct Democracy. At the Auckland ANFS J14 Event in Queen Street and elsewhere, this campaign conducted a popular vote involving more than 5,000 people, deciding on Three Propositions;
Proposal #1: That all shares in Mighty River Power/Mercury Energy should be declared to be “Unethical Investments”.
Proposal #2: That all persons opposed to Asset Sales should refuse to buy shares in the assets sold.
Proposal #3: That all persons opposed to Asset Sales should boycott Mighty River Power/Mercury Energy, and if possible switch to another NZ Owned Energy Retailer.
All three of these propositions were passed enthusiastically in Auckland. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor, verging on unanimous. Returns coming from Napier, the only other city known to vote were also positive. Napier voted on the first two proposals and passed both. There were no negative returns. All motions were carried. No votes are expected from other areas at this time, due to insufficient promotion on the part of the proposers.
What did we learn from our first attempt at conducting a national vote? We underestimated the effort required, but discovered that it is indeed possible, with better organisation. We need to give people more notice, and we need to use something besides Facebook to manage the process. The “Request for Guidance” did not go out until Friday morning. All of these issues are very easily resolved, and now the electoral organising committees will no longer be caught unawares. This should make things easier in future. Practice will make perfect.
The National J14 Action was an outstanding success. A national organisation is coming together. These are merely the first steps toward creating a cohesive nation-wide network of activists opposed to Asset Sales in New Zealand.
Out of this new public democratic process has come our first formal policy directives. It is now the policy of the ANFS Movement that;
Mighty River Power/Mercury Energy is an Unethical Investment.
All persons opposed to Asset Sales should refuse to buy shares in the assets sold.
All persons opposed to Asset Sales should boycott Mighty River Power/Mercury Energy, and if possible switch to another NZ Owned Energy Retailer.
These resolutions are hereby duly published, and form part of the ANFS Campaign platform going forward. We will begin promoting these policies immediately.