Monday 10 March 2008

The Future Of RAM

The Future Of RAM by Oliver Woods The losses that opponents to radical free market economics and economic globalisation in New Zealand have sustained have been huge in the last several years. Indeed, for decades political visionaries and forward thinkers on both the left and the right have fought each other in sectarian conflicts: the pro-corporate politicians have just got on with the job and have built up powerful electoral machines that today seem almost indestructible. The free market right has learned from its mistakes in the 20th century, and has established itself as an utterly formidable campaigning beast. It has brought onboard the best ideas from advertising, marketing, and has stolen many of the organisational and political strategies of its opponents. The ideology of neo-liberalism has moved from what was regarded as an extreme, callous and simply insane prison for frustrated wealthy capitalists and mathematician economists to a force that is regarded as being positive, liberating and highly democratic. Yet we shouldn't be dismayed by any of this. We have got to learn lessons from our enemies. We should do the same exercise of re-branding with our new, moderate brand of positive left-wing politics as the right did with their own set of destructive ideas! RAM has won spectacular numbers of votes in Auckland in two consecutive elections, has built up an extensive activist base that is spreading throughout the country and is beginning to engage frustrated and largely apathetic voters who see little point in casting their ballots for backward thinking individualistic and deceitful corporate politicians. Our networks reach far and wide and we've even gained international notice. We have the opportunity to promote a positive vision of a multi-cultural inclusive society where the Government is by and for the people, where environmentalism isn't just talk and where progress isn't measured by numbers and statistics but by people in jobs, by safe communities and by children growing up out of poverty. Our task now is to turn RAM into a mass membership political party that is capable of campaigning across the country, challenging the established parties in electorate seats and for the party vote in national elections. We must build a movement that mobilises the apathetic and makes useful the frustrated. We need to share our visionary ideas and start to develop a new discourse, set of ideas and policies that can excite New Zealanders. It is important we continue to work with established political forces. The Alliance, despite it's implosion in 2002, is building itself up and we must not let historical divisions and sectarian divides stop us from seriously discussing electoral co-operation. Progressive and grass roots people must put their ideological and personal divisions to one side, and like the neo-liberals and other successful right-wing forces have done in New Zealand and overseas, work together to achieve practical and visionary goals. The Green and Maori parties both could potentially work together with RAM, as well as any emerging parties or non-parliamentary movements. We've got to think strategically, and if we do that, we have the greatest chance at getting our ideas implemented. Our mission is not just a left-wing one either; it is one that is shared by many in the centre of politics and even on the right. We all share the same goals of putting communities, grassroots people and practical reality first, above big business, overseas financial interests and rigid theoretical systems of ideological thought. Many conservatives, like socialists and those on the left, have been dismayed by the neo-liberal reforms that have torn up the social and economic fabric of New Zealand society since 1984. It is my opinion that we must provide a space for these opponents of the hard right within RAM ­ the right has brought onboard many former left-wingers, so we ought to do the same! Going beyond specifics, RAM is a long term project. We cannot halt our progress when we face adversity and challenges on our path toward Parliament. And if it looks like us merging with parties like the Alliance or other political forces will be beneficial to our broad left coalition, or even the formation of a new party out of a collection of existing ones, we should seriously consider such opportunities as they come. We are not in this game for the short term or for personal glory: we want to push for long term; positive change in New Zealand society in whatever way is most effective. My vision of RAM's future is of us as being part of a grass-roots coalition of tens of thousands community activists from around New Zealand who can inside and outside of Parliament replace the mediocrity of two-party politics in New Zealand. We will present a visionary way of understanding society, economics and the environment that allows us to win hundreds of thousands of votes, if not millions, in the coming years. We have humanity and the environment relying on us to complete our mission to change politics in New Zealand. We already have a collection of wonderful supporters and members, and the RAM brand is strong. We have an amazing culture already of acceptance of new ideas and of debate ­ we are a true democracy within our party. These current facts put us past many parties that already have Parliamentary representation! The broad left in New Zealand has a world to win. If things have started as they will continue, that may not be too far away!

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