Sunday, April 20, 2008

Do anarchists support voluntary membership?

On 13 April there was a very interesting programme about anarchy on Chris Laidlaw's 'Ideas' programme on National Radio. In an interview, Wellington anarchist Sam Buchanan described the principles behind anarchy,

"It starts from fairly simple principles….We have no right to be ruled unless we give consent to authority....Everything must be done by voluntary agreement…Let's work by voluntary agreement to finding out how can we make a society run without coercion, without authority, without violence."

So if everything must be done by voluntary agreement, would anarchists support voluntary membership of all incorporated societies?


Sunday, April 06, 2008

Why is Young Labour Abusing VUWSA Resources? Better Question: Why Not?

Last year during that infamous VUWSA election campaign, the candidates representing the Victoria branch of Young Labour put up a series of 'anonymous' posters decrying their opponents as secret agents for the ACT Party.
Now the (in)accuracy of this charge notwithstanding, the results of that election might have indicated that those who voted were opposed to party politics interfering with student politics. Therefore those Young Labour members who were elected could be trusted to not do what they accused the others of wanting to do. Right?

If you believe that, then you don't know Young Labour.

In the March 3 issue of Salient we got a glimpse of how neutral our Executive were going to be. Asked whether Helen or John was the guy for them, two of the Young Labour wing of VUWSA gave us these answers:

Sonny Thomas (Campaigns Officer):
Helen. She can stitch together a coalition better than anyone else. And she’s a better leader.

Katie de Roo (Clubs Officer):
Helen 100%. She is a true [New Zealand] leader that will continue to take New Zealand forward as she has done from 1999. John will take us back to the 90s, and who wants that?
One can give them some kudos for being honest, and after all it's not like these views are going to interfere with their work. Right?

If you believe that, you're not very good at this game yet.

The events of last week, as outlined on Mr Farrar's blog, clearly proves there are members of the VUWSA executive who are more than okay with using student resources for the benefit of the Labour Party.

Now there are many who say that stacking a poll on a blog in favour of one party is a trivial thing, and I would usually agree. Obviously the Young Labour wing of VUWSA do not share this view or they would never had done it. More to the point, they WOULD NOT ABUSE INTERNET BANDWIDTH THAT HAD ALREADY BEEN EXCEEDED to do it.
If the honour of the Labour Party was secondary to the reasons they had been elected, then I'm quite sure they could have performed this poll-stacking in their own time and at their own cost.

But this can be forgiven as this event was a one-off. Right?

Oh dear.

Now the name 'Sonny Thomas' should have rung some alarm bells earlier on. Considering he is the current Vice-President of Young Labour, and keeping in mind who the party in government is, on paper this could be just about the most biased person you could have as Campaigns Officer. The reality? Is much the same.
A most reliable source tells me that when appointing a campaigns coordinator to assist him, one of the questions in the interview was:

"How do you feel about working for someone who is partisan?"

If you were one of the 43 percent of young people who support National, the answer would be "somewhat uneasy".
But those crazy ideas of non-partisan representation of all students' interests cannot possibly compete with what the Labour Party can offer:
Members of VicLabour have gone on to higher levels of political activism within
the Labour Party, Victoria University and the wider community. Most
recently, New Zealand’s youngest MP, Darren Hughes, was a member of VicLabour.
If that wasn't enough motivation, Saturday's New Zealand Herald should put it over the top:
Other new faces likely to win safe Labour seats include Iain Lees-Galloway in Palmerston North, where Steve Maharey is retiring to become vice-chancellor of Massey University. Mr Lees-Galloway, 29, is a campaigns and media adviser with the Nurses Organisation and is a former students' association president at Massey.
Down the line, a former student president at Victoria University, Chris Hipkins, 29, will stand a good chance of replacing Paul Swain in Rimutaka. He is at present working in the office of Prime Minister Helen Clark and has been a political adviser to Trevor Mallard and Mr Maharey.
Many have used student politics as a stepping stone to get into the Labour caucus; this year's VUWSA intake is certainly no exception.

Of course, none of what these people do would matter if association membership wasn't compulsory. But you can bet that Young Labour will fight the voluntary movement tooth and nail to ensure students continue subsidising their political aspirations. Right?


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