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#ANFS - J14 - Day of Action against asset sales

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Tomorrow - 14 July - will see an unprecedented coordination of protests, theatrical performances and hui against asset sales in 16 different towns and cities across New Zealand. In Auckland, we will meet at Britomart at 2pm for music (King Kapisi) and conversation, march up Queen St to the Town Hall for a hui, and hold a meeting at the Pioneer Women’s Hall following the action. Other actions will be happening on this day in Wellington, Dunedin, Christchurch, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Nelson, Palmerston North, Tauranga, Timaru, Hokianga, Takaka, Whanganui, Whangarei, Raglan and Napier.

"All Aotearoa/NZ has accomplished since they started selling off publicly owned assets in the 1980s is to substantially increase the now massive gap between rich and poor. This process has been greatly aggravated by trade liberalisation that has virtually shut down manufacturing in this country and by tax cuts that benefit the wealthy at the expense of the poor. We need to organise in our workplaces and our communities to make sure that social justice is not just a vague hope, but that it becomes a reality. Aotearoa is not for sale!" said an organiser of the New Plymouth protest.

Links: Aotearoa Is Not For Sale | Interview (MP3) | Water wars: the New Zealand Maori Council at the Waitangi Tribunal | Details of protests below

Join an action at a place near you!

"It is unfair to sell assets that currently belong to all New Zealanders to a small minority who can to afford to buy shares," says Miriam Pierard, ANFS Spokesperson. “Only 10% of New Zealanders invest in the stock market, and the rest of us struggle to pay our power bills that will only rise as these SOEs are sold and shareholders will demand increased profit. The bill has passed in the House, yet the majority of New Zealanders oppose the Government’s plans. We will make it clear to potential buyers that if they purchase shares, they do so against the wishes of most of the population."

A Request for Guidance

The Auckland ANFS Campaign Committee has requested guidance from all Electoral ANFS Organising Committees in New Zealand, in order to determine the Official Policy of the Movement.

The ANFS Campaign is organised along the principles of Direct Democracy. The Auckland Organising Committee does not and cannot formulate policy, or presume to speak for all New Zealanders. The Auckland Organisers therefore humbly request that EACH ELECTORAL ORGANISING COMMITTEE SHOULD HOLD A PUBLIC VOTE during the Hui conducted at their protest on July 14.

Please vote on and inform us of your collective decision on the following propositions:

Proposal #1: That all shares in Mighty River Power/Mercury Energy should be declared to be “Unethical Investments”.

The majority of the people of New Zealand believe that these assets are being sold against their will. Selling another person’s property against their will or against their interests is generally regarded as theft. That would make investing in these privatised assets an “Unethical Investment” by most internationally accepted standards of ethical investment behaviour.

Proposal #2: That all persons opposed to Asset Sales should refuse to buy shares in the assets sold.

If buying privatised shares in Mighty River Power/Mercury Energy is an Unethical Investment, then all persons of conscience should refuse to buy these shares, but most especially, all persons opposed to these asset sales.

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.

You can signal your displeasure before the asset sales begin by switching from Mercury Energy to another SOE power company, as a protest.

We request that you please nominate a spokesperson who will be responsible for publishing your decision.

We request that you fairly and openly debate each question before voting.

We request that your decision should be by simple majority (51%) of those adults present.

If you cannot decide fairly and firmly, you have the right to abstain on any one or more proposals.

We request that your spokesperson should inform us officially of your decision by no later than 8PM, the evening of July 14, 2012. We will count your votes and our own, and we will tabulate the results. For openness and transparency, please post your results on your Facebook Event Page. (Please note: this Facebook Event Page must have been created before the event, and must be the generally accepted Event Page for your Event). This voting mechanism is only temporary until we can create a better system.

The Auckland ANFS Organising Committee has agreed to formally bind itself according to the determination of the national body.* This is because we truly believe in the principles and power of Direct Democracy. We humbly ask that as you vote, you should please be aware that the hopes and well-being of a very large number of people depend upon your decision; your vote is a sacred trust.

We agree to publish the results of the national vote no later than 6PM, Sunday, 15 July on the http://aotearoaisnotforsale.com/ website.

Thank you all for your terrific support and your kind assistance.

Most Humbly and Respectfully

The Auckland Organising Committee.

 

Comments

Calling all Indie Media...

Calling all Indie... wherever you are, please cover this event!  Please put it out far and wide.

NO to asset sales

Well, this site has truly almost died. Only over recent months does there appear to have been a bit of an attemt to "revive" it, but given the lack of comments, I am dismayed.

 

The Auckland march was good with about close to 4000 participants, but other protests appear to have struggled getting substantial numbers, except perhaps Christchurch.

Poor weather may partly be to blame.

 

But apart from that, it seems that most NZers have resigned to the fact that the Key led government (with a dicator like approach to pushing through policies) will anyway do what it wants.

 

This country needs a real shake up, for instance an oil crisis in the Persian Gulf, so that the economy collapses. Maybe the global financial crisis will alternatively see to this happening. That may cause a kind of collapse of this ridiculous economic order here, forcing many that lose jobs, income, homes and so, to finally wake up and see what really matters.

 

Going against brainwashing and dumbing down in the media seems to be a near impossible task at present. Too many sheeples and narcisisstic self indulgers.

Beyond marching around in the cold

It's the middle of winter, and the weather in most of the country was crap. Also, the Bill has been passed. I guess most people don't see much point in another round of marches, and standing around in the cold listening to dull speeches, and frankly. I don't blame them. What would we do if the police started rounding up dissenters (anyone who disagrees with the policy of the current government) and holding them indefinitely without charge? Remember that this is still something they can do under the Terrorism Suppression Act and its ammendments. Would we hold a National Day of Action, and march around, and make speeches?

Considering the level of opposition in the country to these sales of the public commons, perhaps we can think of something more empowering to do, something that works with the seasonal realities of the time of year? Maybe then more people would feel inspired to join in? Maybe calling public meetings in town halls and other indoor venues around the country to discuss the problem of elected dictatorship ie the failure of "representative democracy" to produce any real public participation in national decision-making, and what models could serve us better?

Sure, Labour supporters may not support this, and maybe supporters of other parties with a slice of the parliamentary cake, but I was pleasantly surprised by the range of political parties whose members supported Occupy, so you never know.

 

Apathy, motivation, crowds, weather

Sure, the weather was crap in Wellington and a few other places, and it was cold in Christchurch.

 

Yet it was quite good in Auckland, which also had the largest and most vocal crowd that day.

 

It was more the highly committed that went, and few others. Again I find it hard to accept that there is so much apathy. Even though the bill has become a law now, and even though many may question the point to march due to that, there are still all those petitions going around, and signatures being collected.

 

Also are Maori Council and iwis taking the matter to the Waitangi Tribunal and likely to the courts for getting an injunction, so that alone should have encouraged more not to give up too soon. The fight is not over. Giving up and resigning is exactly what Key and NatACT want.

 

Honestly I doubt very much that the police will round up demonstrators and lock them up under trumped up charges, when they would simply legally assemble and hold more such protests.

 

There is more action planned by and for students next Saturday, 21 July, also taking the protest to the National Party Conference or Convention in Sky City, which will also be held on Sunday morning. The cops may be more prepared to over-react there again, given past protests there, and given the recent rough handling and rounding up at the Budget Occupy protest in the CBD. Watch that space, for sure.

Strategy and tactics

One of the few things I regret about Occupy was that we had no exit strategy. We trapped ourselves in the open, exposed to the weather and unsupportive (or just drunk) members of the public, until the unceasing stress broke our spirits and our tactical unity. Occupy Aotea's tactic of breaking up and spreading out was good, but too little, too late. Much like the occupation of Waimangaroa Valley, we were the victims of our own success. We presumed that the agents of the corporate-state would arrive pretty quickly, and the whole thing would be over one way, or another. We were wrong, and our failure to have a Plan B (let alone Plan C or D) limited the effect we were able to have, despite winning many small victories.

I say all this to make it clear that I am not claiming to be some kind of strategic genius, or to have all the answers. Political campaigning, like any other kind of warfare, requires judgement calls, made with imperfect information. Nobody gets it right all the time. The best we can do is learn from our mistakes, and from each others'. This response is long, but that's because I think this discussion is important.

@Radical

You seem to be conflating not going out to march around in the cold and listen to boring speeches with being apathetic, or giving up. If so, you've totally missed my point. I didn't go to the march, but that doesn't mean I've given up. It means I'm putting my limited time and energy into other tactics which I think might be more effective in the long term.

There seems to be a dogma among some activists that the only legitimate response to anything is to have a march and rally, and if that doesn't work, to have another one. What's that old quote about doing the same thing and expecting different results? Marches and rallies have their place, as do petitions, but so do many, many other activist tactics. A march is meant to be a demonstration of support. Holding a march before you have a critical mass of support, or holding so many that people get tired of going, can end up looking like a demonstration of lack of support.

I've seen marches of 20 that dribble down a pavement chanting like secular Hare Krishnas, stand outside a building for a while holding signs while someone drones into a megaphone, or tries to reignite energy with another round of chanting, then dribble away looking defeated. This kind of ill-considered action is what makes people cynical about protesting, and IMHO is worse than doing nothing, because it makes people feel embattled and hopeless, instead of united and motivated. Any energy that goes into such as action might have well have been spent hammering a brick wall with your forehead.

I remember you (or another commenter called Radical) criticising me for supporting the SlutWalk while there was beneficiary-bashing to oppose. I actually went to a march and picket against an anti-welfare conference about the same time. With all due respect to the organisers who I'm sure did their best, it fit the description above. To be honest, it made me feel depressed, and I haven't been to any welfare-related actions since. By contrast, the SlutWalk was well-attended, held on a warm sunny day, offered a space for creative expression, and the few official speakers did such a good job of being brief, engaging, and to-the-point, there was still a good size crowd to listen to those who spoke during the open mic. The Queer Pride march a few weeks earlier was similarly engaging and invigorating. I'm not a woman, and I'm not gay, bi, trans or outgender (although arguably being a geek and a vegan makes me Queer in this rugy-and-meat-pies culture), but attending these marches left me feeling positive, and motivated.

To have any chance of being effective, an action needs to be planned around the number of people you can count on turning up, and their level of committment, and the tactics chosen accordingly (with a Plan B for if heaps more people turn out). My ruless of thumb are; one person can do a good leaflet handout, paper sale, collect signatures for a petition, or do a peace walk. Two or three people can do a good stall. Three to five people can do a good street theatre. Five to fifteen people can do a good picket, or lock-on. Fifteen to fifty can do a good flying picket, or occupy an indoor space. More than fifty and it's worth holding an indoor public meeting to see if there's sufficient support for an outdoor march/rally, or a more ambitious action like a hikoi, or outdoor occupation. There were more than fifty at the open meeting which kicked off Occupy Wellington, which gave a handful of us the confidence the pitch our tents on that first night.

There's also a need to address the life cycle of a campaign. Despite all their greeny credentials, most activists seem to have the same unrealistic expectations around ongoing exponential growth that governments do about economic growth. This recent Day of Action is a good example. Again, with all due respect to organisers, who I'm sure were doing their best, trying to have another set of major outdoor actions so soon after the passing of the Bill (a major set-back for some), at an unseasonable time of year, was poor strategy.

It seemed obvious to me that there was no chance that even 75% of the population going on a march would stop National passing the Bill. To expect that there was, you'd have to be politically naive enough to believe that "representative" governments care about democracy rather than power and profit. Since a lot of the people who joined the Hikoi and other marches aren't as bitter and cynical as us anarchists, they would expect the huge marches to change the outcome. It seems obvious they'd be demoralised when it didn't, and wouldn't be ready to stick their necks out again so soon. To me, it would have made sense to let those people lick their psychic wounds. Use the diversion created by the Maori Council legal action to spend some time regrouping.

Anyway, I'm glad the marches went as well as they did. I'm glad that people are making the effort to be politically involved, and I hope people can take my comments as constructive criticism, not dismissal.

Marches, other actions

Hi Strypey - I get your position and view. Of course it is important to engage in actions that one enjoys to get involved in. So I do not hold a grudge against a person like you or others having chosen not to attend that particual anti asset sale or other marches.

 

What I have observed over recent years though, is the fact, that there are of course many blog sites, particular websites on Facebook or else, where certain interest groups, activists or whomsoever exchange their views and comments. There are organisations now collecting signatures online for petitions for all kinds of causes. That is all fine in some ways, but truly, I see all this having little impact on what the government does, chooses to consider or what is actually being debated outside or inside of Parliament, and at the same time has any significant effect.

 

Indeed ministers get inundated by emails now, they simply shut out and off, same to corporate bosses and who else may be confronted with submissions, petitions and views and objections.

 

A march may sound and look old-fashioned, boring to some, and admittedly I feel that the participants and especially organisers tend to be the same ones again and again. They shout the same chants, drum the same drums, hold up the same banners and do seem to lack inspiration, innovative ideas and thus also appeal to the public. I have tried to start different chants, but the megaphone brigade keeps on with the same, often even dumb slogans, which actually turn at least some off.

 

So those activists, if they read this, should perhaps start to meet for some sincere brainstorming sessings, open up more for input by others and seriously look at how they organise such activities. The same applies to the Occupy Movement, of which you appear to have been part, and you write and say it yourself, there was some lack of ideas, alternative planning and thus an eventual loss of further opportunities. That happened while the slack media actually started reporting a fair bit about it.

 

I believe that rather than focus too much on online and website forum activities, it is absolutely essential to carry activities out onto the street, squares and into meeting halls. Human beings are natural, physical and social beings, and the face to face, group and mass action develops a chemistry that can be extremely powerful. Facing the public on Queen Street or elsewhere is also important, as that is where attention can be achieved immediately and easily.

 

Slutwalks, gay pride parades and so have their places, and good on for the ones participating and also enjoying themselves. My criticism is rather, only so many people are that interested in that kind of activities, they tend to result into kind of "fringe" movement activities.

 

To change things requires a wider spectrum of "attack" and convincing. This is certainly so with issues like asset sales and welfare reform issues. In some ways very many people will in their lives be affected by consequences of asset sales, unemployment, sickness, family break-ups and accidents. So those areas should have a kind of priority importance.

 

With the next spring and summer certainly coming, the government bringing in appalling more reforms, going to hurt many, there will definitely be many opportunities to take action in the later part of this year.

 

Ministers and corporate managers can protect from mouse clicks and email messages, but they will feel more uncomfortable having large, noisy, angry crowds right outside their offices and doorsteps, possibly even occupying spaces around them!

Participatory democracy

@ Radical

I agree with much of what you say, especially your critique of 'hacktivism'. Note that all of my tactical suggestions involved getting out into the streets, and engaging with people face-to-face. The take-away point is that there are many different kinds of actions, which work well for different numbers of people. You can't occupy anything much with 3 people. There's no point trying to have 1000 running a street stall. Tactics must respond to the rise and fall of support (by which I mean willingness to leave the keyboard and actually demonstrate in person). The right to whinge online (ie "freedom of speech") is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for the realisation of Grassroots democracy. 

That said, imagine if we could have a peaceful revolution - a radical reorganisation of how democracy works - in which people could actually participate in country-level governance through attending in-person, consensus-based General Assemblies? Imagine we could all participate in defining open standards, "policy" that would hardly need to be policed, because everyone has a role in defining it, and their objections turned into improvements.

Imagine this 'wiki-legislation' process could also accept input online, for those whose can't attend in-person for reasons of finances, mobility, trouble with public speaking, language barriers etc Imagine all this online whinging, and FB "like" clicking, could become one means of meaningful participation in democratic decision-making! This might seem idealistic or utopian, but it's exactly how Iceland drafted their new constitution only a few years ago:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/09/iceland-crowdsourcing-constitution-facebook

They still have a fairly standard Parliament, but the constitution excercise proves that popular democracy can work, and can produce usable results, in a timeframe comparable to that of doing it behind closed doors, and getting people to vote "yes" or "no" to the result. Personally, I find the prospects of this kind of participation-driven e-democracy much more appealing than the existing Binding Referenda proposal. I've written in detail about my reasons for not supporting Binding Referenda (yet) here:

http://www.indymedia.org.nz/article/82789/my-binding-referenda-problem

In defence of the Occupy movement, the main different between an occupation of a public space and a march is the opportunities for participation. A march and rally are generally over in a few hours. You really have to be an active supporter of the cause, or friends with one, to know that it's happening in time to get there. That's why it's so rare, and so significant, when really large marches happen (eg GE Free, anti-mining Coromandel, anti-sales). Our occupations, on the other hand, went on for months. People had plenty of time to find out about them, and decide to come down and express support, even if they had major constraints on their time or mobility which might normally exclude them from a march (eg busy parents, older people with health issues etc).

The other point is that we had many people come down to oppose us, and we ended up having some really productive conversations, rather than just preaching to the choir. The Binding Referenda supporter I mention in the story linked above is a good example. This opens up the possibility of moving beyond confrontational 'tit vs tat' politics that plays into the divide-and-rule strategies of the 1%.

Thanks for your thoughtful responses. Lovely to be having such constructive discussions on Indy again.