Thursday 28 April 2011

Hone's Mana Party - My Hat's Not On The Menu Yet, Bomber.

"Sorry, Bomber, Hat's Off."

MARTYN “BOMBER” BRADBURY has inquired politely if I’ll be eating my hat with or without tomato sauce? So he’ll no doubt be disappointed to learn that my head-gear is in no danger of imminent consumption. The independent MP for Te Tai Tokerau, Hone Harawira, may be about to launch a political organisation called “Mana”, but I’m quietly confident this Maori-driven initiative will turn out to be something very different from the “new left-wing party” Martyn has been prophesying.

Not even the presence of Sue Bradford on the platform will convince me that the political vehicle about to be unveiled will have much to offer the Pakeha Left. Indeed, Sue’s presence would represent nothing so much as the triumph of hope over experience. Her time in the unemployed workers rights movement of the 1980s and 90s should have taught her how difficult it is to keep Maori and Pakeha activists marching in the same direction, and what a steep emotional toll such an effort extracts. Quite why she would put herself through that experience all over again I simply cannot imagine.

Hone and his comrades will certainly not have forgotten the cultural and political difficulties attendant upon Pakeha involving themselves in Maori causes. If their effort is not to be fatally compromised by the brute arithmetic of New Zealand’s population statistics they will need to create an emotional environment which strongly discourages Pakeha self-assertion. This may sound like racism but without some way of limiting Pakeha participation it is difficult to see how the new organisation can avoid being taken over and turned to purposes quite different from those envisaged by its founders.

The ham-fisted attempt by the Unite Union’s Mike Treen to enlist "all unionists and fighters for equality and social justice" in the Mana Party project should be all the warning Hone and his comrades need about the Pakeha Left’s intentions. I would have thought the days when Marxist-Leninists and Trotskyists could piggy-back on Maori struggles – as they did so effectively during the occupation of Bastion Point – were well behind us. But, you never know.

Clearly, I am far from convinced that the Mana Party will be “left-wing” in any meaningful sense at all - and certainly not in the classical democratic-socialist sense of promoting the emancipatory struggle for full and universal human equality.

As far as I can determine, the party’s genesis lies in the long-standing quarrel within Maoridom over the most effective way to secure the reconstitution of the indigenous patrimony. Viewed through Pakeha eyes this may look like class struggle, but it is actually a much more subtle conflict over how best to apply the traditional precepts of Maori political-economy in a modern, post-colonial context.

The so-called “Corporate Iwi” have harnessed the power of contemporary capitalist organisation to the neo-traditional structures of tribal leadership and the Maori Party – a process which, increasingly, substitutes the fluid energy of Pakeha capital for the fixed resources located in the alienated and/or expropriated landholdings of the hapu.

The Mana Party will undoubtedly reject this collaborationist strategy as fatal to the interests of ordinary Maori. Hone and his comrades will seek instead the full restitution of what was taken by the Settler State, arguing that it is only through the collective and undisturbed possession of their lands, forests and fisheries – as promised by the Treaty of Waitangi – that tangata whenua can both preserve their culture and gain access to a fair and proper share of Aotearoa’s resources.

It’s a cause that is likely to rally considerable Maori electoral support in Te Tai Tokerau and those parts of the country subjected to the biggest land confiscations of the 1860s (which also just happen to be the sites of contemporary New Zealand’s most crippling Maori poverty). But, the Mana Party's cause is also likely to be interpreted as a direct threat to the Pakeha ascendancy which those raupatu (and subsequent confiscations) made possible.

Far from fostering the class conflict which is so central to the Left's project, the Mana Party will encourage Pakeha of all classes to close ranks in racial solidarity. The more effectively to protect their own irreplaceable historical inheritance – New Zealand itself.

So, Mana will be a radical Maori nationalist movement – not a  "new left-wing party".

But if such a thing should emerge before November’s election, Martyn, rest assured, I will eat my hat gladly – and without condiments.

This essay is exclusive to the Bowalley Road blogsite.


WAKE UP said...

" If their effort is not to be fatally compromised by the brute arithmetic of New Zealand’s population statistics they will need to create an emotional environment which strongly discourages Pakeha self-assertion. "

Disagree; it's Maori assertion that becomes the problem. As one of my Maori friends said to me: "Never mind what you Pakeha do to us, mate, you should see what we do to each other"

Anonymous said...

Just to get the ball rolling, since there is not much else on offer for the 'Pakeha Left', at least the election will be more interesting now. Though mostly in the Maori electorates.

Upon more reflection, I'm not sure that 'fostering class conflict' is so central to the Left's project. What project, and where is the conflict? If Hone and Annette Sykes are the only radicals on offer, and lawyers are hardly working class, the only question is whether they will sell out like earlier Maori radicals and start working for corporates. If Hone and co. stay staunch the next three years will be more polarisisng than otherwise, if not conflictual in the classical sense. Is that what the social-democratic Labour man is really after?

Anonymous said...

Hone and Bomber wins. The battle against privatisation begins, the battle of Aotearoa is on.

Anonymous said...

Of course Trotter you forget one of the main leading forms of leftwing thinking today: indigenous eco socialism.

Bolivia has Evo Morales, and indigenous eco socialist president. Aotearoa, being a pacific nation, which for some reason has not become a republic yet, draws much inspiration from its indigenous culture.

As a pacific nation, a coastal nation with a pride its its environment, Aotearoa could very much do with more allies for the green party and a large greenleft. The Mana party is a most welcome addition to the left in Aotearoa. We will see you on the streets this year Mr Trotter as we stand up against privatisation, and march towards a new Aotearoa, one not ruled by the racist bigotry of the likes of Brash and his neoliberal nastiness.

Anonymous said...

I general agree Chris, but think you are being grossly unfair to Mike Treen here. I think Mike (and Matt McCarten) are genuinely trying to support someone they see as advancing both Maori and worker's interests. Hone may be playing them, but that is not their fault.

I note that Hone talked big when he was a Maori Party MP (including publicly trashing his own party staffers - so much for workers solidarity, eh Hone?), but when Tariana constantly asked him to come up with proposals to address his concerns, Hone never did. That's damning.

Add to that Hone's loose cannon behaviour, and even Matt McC can't control him. Hone has the self-destructive behaviour of Jim Anderton at his worst...

And Hone made all this clear when radio interviewed him at the time of split, about the prospects of a new left/Maori party with Sue B. Hone was very explicit that it would be a new Maori party, but pakeha could support it if they want. No workers party there.

I won't be supporting it unless Matt can twist Hone into explicitly (and in writing) lock in policy for all workers... aaaah, no, actually, that won't do it either. Hone has shown that he won't stick to written deals either (his immediate breaches of the non-aggression pact with the Maori Party).

Lordy, and to think we are wasting a great chance with Don Brash making ACT a bigger joke, and Key's teflon wearing off on the economy. Sigh.

But then, everyone but the marxist groups seem to avoid addressing capitalism - even the Greens have embraced a 'blend of Keynesian and free market capitalism' in their Green New Deal. Before forming new parties, or supporting old ones (like the evil Labour), we lefties need to work out an alternative economic system we can hold up to the public and quickly explain and justify. Then we can hang other policy on that....

Mad Marxist.

Joshua said...

Actually Chris, the site of the biggest raupatu/land confiscations were in Waikato-Tainui and Taranaki. Tainui is a very business-focussed tribe and, post-settlement, would not be keen on rehashing the kind of arguments that Hone Harawira wants to raise. Taranaki is Tariana Turia country. If you look at Maori poverty, Northland and the East Coast would be the two worst cases - the two regions with the most Maori land remaining. Neither areas offer very productive farm land and thus the settlers had less desire for it than the did for the fertile plains of Taranaki and Waikato. I am starting to think that support for Hone might be overblown, and come November he will come to regret not establishing a broad left wing party with Bradford and McCarten on board.

Anonymous said...

McCarten is on board with Hone. Again, see you on the streets Mr Trotter. With Brash coming into NZ politics again - people need to get clear on what they want for a more fain and just Aotearoa New Zealand.

Anonymous said...

Chris, in case you do not attend the party launch:

There have been some enquires regarding who the guest speakers will be. They are:

* · Margaret Mutu
* · Annette Sykes
* · Matt McCarten
* · Syd Keepa
* · Mereana Pitman
* · Sue Bradford
* · John Minto
* · Veronica Tawhai
* · Will Ilohahia
* · Lisa McNabb
* · Nandor Tanczos
* · Hone Kaa
* · Selwyn Muru

Tiger Mountain said...

Wow what a roll of honour!

Anonymous said...

'promoting the emancipatory struggle for full and universal human equality.' Sounds a bit like "one law for all" to me.

Anonymous said...

Would you like sauce on your hat Mr Trotter?

Anonymous said...

And just to reinforce it - Hone lied to TV3 News the night before his launch, and to The Nation show the very morning of his launch - claimed he 'hadn't considered' a byelection, then announces one within hours.

Hone tried to fast-talk his way around Annette Sykes standing as a candidate against Te Ureroa too - showing no respect fo his agreement with the Maori Party.

Best option may be for Labour & Maori Party to not stand against Hone, and get Winston to stand. Either way, gets Phil Goff a coalition option that Key cannot use (having ruled out Winston, and Hone being toxic to his supporters).

Either way, as Goff discovered, Hone will find the media keen to quiz him on details and costings for his Tobin tax. Hone's dodging facts may not cost him votes in Tai Tokerau, but it will kill wider lefty support.

Mad Marxist.

Anonymous said...

The Mana Party vs Pensioner Brash. The battle of privatisation begins.

jh said...

Of course Trotter you forget one of the main leading forms of leftwing thinking today: indigenous eco socialism.
Pity the slaves carrying the greenstone boulders over the alps didn't have a union. They may have been given a minimum wage rather than being eaten at cannibal gorge in the Lewis pass.