Sunday, 24 August 2008

Our most important goal could be ditching monolithic view of power

by Nandor Tanczos
1 April 2005
There is no doubt New Zealand is undergoing a process of constitutional change. Unusually, it’s not being forged in the fires of civil war, insurrection or coup d’etat, so we have the luxury of taking a more measured approach than some other nations.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Issue 2 of new environmental magazine 'Good' August/September ran this following article by Nandor Tanczos.

Who's got the power?

Nandor Tanczos, Member of Parliament for nine years, tells us why he entered politics, why he left, and how we can make a difference

Power does not belong to governments or corporations. It belongs to people. That is why I entered Parliament, and why I left it.

To be clear, I don't mean 'the power of one'. It is true that what we do individually is important. When you drive less, recycle more, turn off at the wall and generally reduce your consumption, you are taking steps
to address climate change and resource depletion.

It is also true that one person can have a profound impact on the world. History is filled with numerous examples to prove that. However the actions of a single person only become powerful only where they inspire a collective response.

For people to regain our power, we must work, plan and dream
collectively. The impact of humanity is global and the ecological consequences will be felt collectively. Our response must also be collective, by rebuilding genuine local communities and economies, and
by sharing information with other communities around the world who are preparing for the powering down of industrial society. People-to-people, and community-to-community.

This is in direct contrast to the government-to-government and
corporate-to-corporate links of globalisation. After nine years in
Parliament I have concluded that governments around the world are almost universally compromised by the corporate agendas of global trade, global capital transfers and economic growth. As a result they are unable or unwilling to make the hard decisions required in the 21st century.

In particular, they appear blind to the fundamental reality that
unlimited economic growth is not possible on a finite planet. Just
incorporating carbon trading into the current business model is simply not enough. The need to redesign the global growth economy towards a steady state economy is urgent and largely ignored.

Like a plane needs forward motion to stay up, the corporate economy
needs growth. It is that growth imperative which is so estructive;
global economic growth increases resource consumption. And we are
reaching the environmental limits of the planet.

I did not enter the New Zealand Parliament in 1999 expecting to see the
institution really grapple with these issues. I stood because it was a
chance to demonstrate, especially to young people, that you do not have
to compromise who you are to take your place at the table. You can be
yourself and stillbe effective.

Being in Parliament gave me the opportunity to speak for others who have
never had a voice in that place, to make it more genuinely a house of
representatives. I also entered Parliament to help politicise and
inspire another generation of activists.

It has never been about just getting people to vote Green. More
important was encouraging people to get involved in political action and
in the life of their communities.

Of course voting is important. If you want MPs who are unafraid to speak
the truth about what we face in the 21st century and to advance real
solutions to those challenges, you have to vote for them. In particular
you have to vote for parties where integrity is more highly prized than

But politicians have no power if they are not part of a broader public
movement. I was acutely aware as an MP that political progress almost
always relies on the huge, mostly unpaid efforts of extraordinary,
ordinary people.

In any case, policies don't change the world-people do. Sometimes by
implementing policy, more often by subverting it, it is the people
involved on the ground that make real change.

This is especially true when it comes to building the resilient,
self-reliant communities that we will need in a future of low energy, food insecurity, climate disruption and economic and political instability that will result.

There are people leading this change, but I met few in Parliament. I met them in places like the Transition Towns initiatives, community
sustainability projects and groups fighting to protect local waterways. I met them at permaculture conferences and zero waste facilities. They are the people who see what needs to be done and just do it, regardless
of Government policy.

Politicians can help or hinder such leadership, but are unfortunately rarely capable of providing it. Short-term thinking, adversarial politics and the desire for power prevent it.

We need something far more profound than a change of Government.