Friday 4 April 2008

Broad left party to fight the causes of recession

by Pat O'Dea I found this post on Tumeke. I thought it quite thought provoking. Yes a recession could bring a sharp swing to the right, and the politics of division. As Tim Selwyn points out, the dominos are all lined up and could easily fall that way. But it is not inevitable, and it doesn't have to be that way. I feel Tim Selwyn hasn't given the whole story. History shows that there needs to be a political movement to channel and foster divisions and fear that would come with the slump, and try and take advantage of these fears by scapegoating immigrants and/or minorities. In this country this role has been carried out by NZ First, with mixed results. But their political star is fading. Let's hope it stays that way. The temptation for Winston Peters and his ilk will be to relaunch their party in a much more open and virulently racist way to gain opportunist advantage from the slump. The other factor that would weigh in the opposite direction is the creation of a broad left all inclusive party that wants to fight the causes of the recession and defend grass roots communities from its effects. As a necessary part of this campaign the new Broad Left Party will naturally need to unite all the grassroots peoples and movements to be able to be able to achieve any of their aims, this strategy would leave no room for racism or scapegoating. The R word: Large numbers of immigrants + Local population + Recession = *Racism.* Posted by Tim Selwyn @ 2:28 PM Tuesday, March 18, 2008 That's usually how it works. Everything's fine - on the surface - until an economic slump occurs whereby competition intensifies over scarceresources (esp. jobs, govt. assistance and housing) resulting inanimosity between competing groups, viz: the local born (or well-integrated non-identifiably immigrant/foreign) population and the foreign-born (or more readily identifiably immigrant/foreign) population. NZ since the recession of '91-'92, has had rapid immigration growth esp. of people not Maori or European. That time has been marked by modest economic growth. I have argued in the past that it was the immigration itself that has largely contributed to that growth. My question is what happens if that stops? Do the recent immigrants without deep roots here go to Australia (as they have been doing in increasing numbers already)? Or do they return to their country of origin (as some of the more wealthy may have done as they have good connexions and family)? Or do they stay on in NZ? I would say any decrease - substantial decrease - in immigration rates will flow through to lower housing prices very quickly, then after that will come an economic slow-down as consumption drops. If we are hit by a world-wide recession as well we could be in more trouble than soaring diary prices can solve. My concern is that these financial aspects will have repercussions at the social level. We are in uncharted territory here. Having had contact with many different walks of life while imprisoned I was struck by the virrulent racism of many provincial people and that affect could come through into the cities if the situation became acute.

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