Saturday, January 15, 2011
Harawira: Oppose the Nats anti-social agenda "on the streets"
Maori Party MP and high profile activist Hone Harawira has put pen to paper in the latest Sunday Star Times and called for sweeping changes to the Maori Party in 2011.
Harawira's analysis is that it's not the Maori Party's electorate seats that are under threat but that the party's cozy relationship with the National Party is being seen by Maori as the same as supporting the anti-worker, anti-environment, anti-beneficiary reforms that Key and his cronies are pushing through. The disillusionment is close to home, Harawira admits that his daughter will be voting Green at the next election and one has to wonder what the maverick of the north will be doing when he is alone in the polling booth come November.
Harawira still sees hope in the Maori Party and spells out a seven point plan to overhaul the organisation. Some of his ideas are around recovering the Maori Party's brand by opposing the Marine & Coastal Areas bill, being "bold in our positions" and returning to the grassroots.
The problem in Harawira's plan is its incoherence in relating to the National Party's "anti-social" agenda. Harawira calls for the Maori Party to speak out strongly against it in Parliament, "at public meetings and on the streets if necessary", yet also calls for the Maori Party to accept and celebrate a diversity of opinions within its caucus and organisation.
This is where Harawira's analysis falls apart. With a deep chasm within the party over supporting the Nats renewal of the new right agenda (and that is what voting for the Marine & Coastal Areas bill is) the party will have no ability to oppose this agenda - either in Parliament or out on the streets.
FFS it's not like we'll be seeing Tariana Turia rolling up to a worker's rights demo in her ministerial limousine anytime soon. Pita Sharples might have joined a march against youth rates a couple of years ago but the associate education minister is hardly likely to tour the 300 or so primary schools boycotting national standards to support their stand against the marginalisation of underachieving students.
So Hone faces a stark choice. Continue to watch the political gains of the Maori Party and all his hard work wash away as the tide goes out on ordinary Maori aspirations for honourable and reliable political representation. Or lead a minority position into a faction fight with the conservative wing of his party for the soul of the Maori Party. Or defect to form with Bradford and McCarten the much hyped new left party. Or retire from parliamentary politics altogether and return to grassroots activism a la Nandor tanczos. The choice is his. The stakes are high.
Doing nothing is not an option. Thousands of Maori who were radicalised and politicised in 04 during the hikoi could end up as depoliticised and disillusioned as the thousands of old Labour supporters who gave up on politics as being run by a gang of crooks in the wake of the bipartisan support for the neo-liberal agenda in the '80 and '90s. The jails will fill, the dole queues lengthen, the saddest will continue to keep the Maori suicide rate sky high, the brightest young Maori will head offshore and the many more will keep doing what they've been doing for years - work hard for the man, look after their families as best they can and try and make a decent go of a bad situation.
What is clear is that Maori nationalism is over as a unified force. To paraphrase the IWW, the Maori working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among the Maori working people and the few, who make up the neo-tribal capitalist class, have all the good things of life.
"Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth. "
Or as Annette Sykes put it in the 2010 Bruce Jesson lecture, all along "the Government process has been one of concerted co-‐option of Maori elites to maintain this particular (neo-liberal) agenda."
“In their haste away from tight control of the state and poor socio-‐economic status, the (Maori elites) have turned towards forces of globalisation for emancipation, either not recognising that they were being manipulated towards new forms of colonialism and domination or unable to identify any real alternative to achieve their goals.”
Until an explicity anti-capitalist current emerges amongst Maori radicals and radicalism, the misleaders of Maoridom will remain hegemonic content to be the jailers and exploiters of their own whanau. The Maori working class - rural, urban, jailed, poor, well off, unemployed, employed - cannot be led by the iwi corporate fat cats to their own enlightenment in Key's brighter future. The freedom of the Maori working class can only be achieved by the working class itself. Maori liberation and the end of capitalist exploitation and dispossesion are not one and the same but in Aotearoa one cannot be achieved without the other.
If a new left movement can be built out in the streets in coming months as resistance to the Nats shifts up a gear as benefit reform takes centre stage will Harawira lead his fanbase out into the streets? It's no secret that in Northland and all the way down to west Auckland and beyond his mana with young Maori is of Te Kooti proportions. If he were to lead this army out into the streets against the Nats and for a progressive new left agenda another Aotearoa may just be possible.
The Marine & Coastal Areas Bill, the beneficiary bashing and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement are the flagstaffs on which the Nats anti-Maori, pro-corporate agenda is pinned. Will Hone lead Maori into battle to chop down the flagpoles or will they remain standing on their signal hills to taunt an oppressed people forever?