Internet Party

Not a very feminist party

The NZ Herald reports that Dr Pani Farvid, Internet Party candidate for Palmerston North, told a women’s group that  the Internet Party is a feminist party. When probed about the party founder’s own propensity for sexism, Dr Farvid remarked:

“He is not perfect. He is not the party, he’s the founder, but we are a feminist party. He has apologised himself, I’m not excusing him, that sort of thing is not OK, absolutely. He just doesn’t know any better and he should.”

I have no doubt in my mind that Dr Farvid and many of her peers absolutely support the feminist movement. I do however, consider it a bold claim to promote the Internet Party as a feminist party in light of its founder, Kim Dotcom’s repulsive sexist record.

Dr Farvid could have said either ‘I am a feminist’ or ‘that she promotes feminism within the party’ and that probably would not have brought her own feminism into disrepute. Instead what she has done is invalidated the experiences of all women, by on the one hand claiming she is not excusing him, and on the other hand impliedly excusing him because ‘he just doesn’t know any better’. A party claiming to be feminist, surely would not minimise or invalidate the experiences of women because the perpetrator of harm didnt know better. As a woman on twitter pointed out:

 @mairesmith

@Ellipsister A woman apologising for a man’s manners isn’t really what I think of as ‘feminist’, no.

When I consider a ‘feminist party’ I consider precisely the basis on which the party was formed i.e  who founded it, who funds it, what messages does it share as a party, who are its members, how do they promote feminism and so on. The Internet Party was founded, is funded and is promoted by a man who has a tendency to tweet about ‘rape jokes’ and to objectify women. His behaviour is then downplayed by a woman in the party because ‘he is the product of a sexist culture which we need to remedy’.

But Dotcom does know better. In 2012, the NZ Herald reports:

“A sexual violence prevention agency has told Kim Dotcom rape jokes are “never okay” after he posted a series of comments about the crime on Twitter”

One of those tweets was the following:

KDC2Rape jokes that work!???

In the same NZH article, Rape Prevention Education director Kim McGregor told the Herald that rape jokes are hurtful to survivors of sexual violence and that:

“Rape jokes aren’t funny. It’s never okay to make a joke about rape. People who have experienced rape are often traumatised for years. They’re violated, they’re humiliated and it’s nothing to joke about.”

Then about a month or so ago, Dotcom attempts to make a joke about murdering sex workers:

KDC

The joke is offensive because it devalues the existence of sex workers as human beings. His attempt at apology was this:

KDC 3This is not an apology. It is a concession to his then newly appointed leader of the Internet Party, Laila Harre. As others in the comments that followed point out, its not Batman that was the problem, it was the comment about murdering sex workers.

But it’s not only Dotcom who has offended women. Chris Yong,  reportedly ‘joked’ to  the Herald when asked about the three women contending the Auckland Central seat that:

“we’ve got the best babe”

What Yong is doing here is commenting on Miriam Pierard’s appearance, using the term ‘babe’. In employing it the way he has, he also simultaneously criticises or demeans Jacinda Ardern and Nicky Kaye by suggesting Miriam’s appearance is superior to theirs and reducing the contest down to one of appearance. This is insulting to all women running political campaigns, if he deems appearance as the determinant of their chances at success. He also exhibits a sense of entitlement over Pierard claiming some kind of ownership that “Miriam belongs to us”. Yes, he may have just been referring to her role in the Internet Party team, in a team camaraderie kind of way, but  Miriam Pierard is a person. She is not property and he should be more careful with how he speaks about his peers and the messages he sends to other women.  Some people may argue that the term ‘babe’ is not offensive but when it is used in the context Yong employed it above, it is sexist and it is not ok.

Name it Change it have developed an egregiousness pyramid to assist the avoidance of sexist reporting in the media.  It also serves as a good guide when interacting on social media. For a commentary, see Bidisha on Sluts and sweethearts: Sexist language is on the rise, but now there is a new way to fight back.

In my view, a feminist party wouldn’t stand for those remarks and in fact they wouldn’t even feature in a feminist repertoire that is built on and promotes gender equality.

Recently, Internet Party Leader, Laila Harre poked fun at the weight of current women MP’s, also engaged in the anti-feminist action of ‘fat shaming’ and mocking the size of womens breasts as something women should feel stigmatised about.  Her words as reported:

“Obviously wanting to be fit and relatively less portly than most members of Parliament become, ‘she said diplomatically’.”

Will she name names? “I think their breasts speak for themselves.”

While the Internet Party’s top 10 candidates are equal ratio’s women and men, above that number the ratio changes. Only 6 of the 15 candidates are women. I personally would expect a feminist party to be predominantly if not all women given men saturate the political landscape. And while there may be an even spread of women in the top 10 candidate list, it would be interesting to see the ratio in prominent roles of the executive branch of the party if the claim is that the Internet Party is a feminist party. Moreover, the Internet Party don’t even appear to have developed any policy (yet) that focuses specifically on gender issues.

Exacerbating the sexism link to the Internet Party, is the alliance with Hone Harawira’s MANA movement. Recalling Harawira was recently called on to apologise for his minimising and harmful remarks  on Backbenchers regarding his view toward Tania Billingsley who was attacked in her home by Malaysian Diplomat, Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail.

Harawira stated:

“I think all of the media, their heads should roll, for making a big fuss about bugger all. There are kids starving in this country, there are a whole lot of issues we need to be dealing with right here, right now … it’s something we can do without.”

A week after this aired, Harawira did put out an apology, although I was unable to locate an official press releases on the Party website. Instead there is a status update on the MANA Movement page, which states:

I want to sincerely apologise if my comments on Backbenches may seem to have minimised the gravity of the situation regarding the young woman who asked police to investigate the complaint of sexual assault against the Malaysian diplomat.

I have reviewed the tape and I accept that my comments were not helpful at all. Sexual assault IS a big deal, and I applaud Tania Rose Billingsley for her brave and courageous appearance on television last night.

Hone Harawira

Like Dotcom above, this is hardly an apology. It is a concession to appease the women’s rights activists in the MANA movement, including Annette Sykes who has long advocated against violence against women.

One commenter was unimpressed with his attempt to deflect criticism and replied:

…Apologies are nothing but lip service it is something a husband does after he beats his wife up and says I am sorry it will never happen again. It is male dominance at its best…. It is whether you learn and don’t do it again that matters. It is a journey of learning and understanding and for you to stand up amongst your people and put yourself forward as having changed your mindset and exampling this. Only then will your apology actually mean anything.

Given that Dr Pani Farvid is a Senior Lecturer, I would have expected more critique of her party and the sexist behaviour associated with it, rather than the apologism she offered for Dotcom’s insidious tendencies to demean women and roles occupied predominantly by women.   I wholly commend Dr Farvid for starting the process to educate her party on the harm caused by sexism and misogyny but it’s a slap in the face to the many feminist movements to parade the Internet Party as a feminist party when it clearly is not.

It’s not about character, it’s politics

[Image from NewstalkZB: Laila Harré and Kim Dotcom at the Internet Party announcement (Corazon Miller)]

I’m no Kim Dotcom fan. However, I do sympathise with his court case and the egregious way he came within the NZ justice system. Following Operation 8 sanctioned by the Labour government, I would have expected any future government to ensure the NZ Police met the procedural requirements for any search and surveillance warrants. As the High Court found, this wasn’t to be the case.

Whether Dotcom will be extradited is a matter for the Courts and the Minister of Justice. I’m not aware of the entire brief of evidence and given the case is ongoing with new information still emerging, it is difficult to know what the court will decide. My personal view, is that extradition is only appropriate where the crime alleged is so nefarious or amounts to a crime[s] against humanity.

But what about the granting of his permanent residence and the political pressure or political interference in his residency application?

Internet Party Leader, Laila Harre has stated that if she were the Minister of Immigration at the time Dotcom applied for residency, she would not have approved his application because of his criminal history, i.e. he didn’t meet the character requirements in her opinion.

My question then is, how does Harre think it is appropriate to lead a party founded and funded by a person she did not see as being of fit character to obtain permanent residency status in NZ, and in fact whom she herself would have denied residency?

Harre’s argument is that the issue for the Internet Party is not about Dotcom, but about the procedural impropriety of political interference that strikes at the heart of NZ’s independence. In effect, she alludes to the idea that it’s not about his character, it’s about politics. I wholeheartedly agree with her stance on political interference. However, I’m not convinced by her argument, that this issue is not about Dotcom. There is a fine line when you are working for a person you think is of questionable character while at the same time pushing that persons political agenda. The party make Dotcom an issue, when they use the granting of his residency application to support their claims for an independent NZ.

Caution is key

comsky

Its no surprise that the IMP alliance and the undying support for Kim Dotcom has perplexed me. I have stated this on numerous occasions. The above Chomsky quote is from Is the Man Who is Tall Happy? and I borrow it for this post because I think it is relevant for those who  like me, cannot quite get their heads around the predicament of the IMP alliance, but more particularly, the Dotcom fetish.

Mike Treen has written what appears to amount to a defence of Kim Dotcom (see: Why the Mana Internet alliance is a potential game breaker). In it, Treen attempts to counter the claims levied against Dotcom in order to justify the IMP alliance to his friends on the left. However, the post reads as a clear cut case of cognitive dissonance, i.e., ‘when dissonance is present, in addition to trying to reduce it, the person will actively avoid situations and information which would likely increase the dissonance’.

While dissonance appears to afflict many on the left, its also true that confirmation bias is rife on the right.

It’s not a simply an issue of whether or not we like Dotcom. Rather, it’s about whether or not we ought to support or even trust his reach for political power (and no I don’t here suggest that he is running as a candidate himself). I’ve written on Dotcom a few times see here and here specifically.

As noted in a previous post, some Internet Party supporters vehemently deny that Dotcom is the Internet Party, insisting he is simply its founder. I think that is a slightly disingenuous claim, given his formal constitutional title is the ‘Party Visionary’ and he is the only member the party cannot involuntarily remove [see rules 8.17 and 10.8].

My concern is that when an individual openly declares vengeance against a political party in power and then forms a political party to further that interest, we should probably approach the issue with caution. We might want to look at, the motivation behind the venture. For instance, whether there is some advantage the individual seeks that is not (or is unlikely to be) available to general members of the public, or alternatively, if the investment provides benefits to all members of the public in common. We might also want to think about how the government is (said to be) representative of the people that voted it in and in exacting revenge on a political party in power, how might this affect the proportion of the public that support that government? I do not suggest that the National Party or right wing voters shouldn’t be challenged at elections, my point is whether ‘vengeance’ on a particular party is a legitimate or morally justifiable basis for forming and running a political party. The arguments could go either way. However, unlike revolutionaries or anarchists that would prefer to bring down the institution of government, Dotcom’s motive is more narrow, in that it specifically targets the National Party.

So in approaching this from the left we need to ask: would we be happy with an individual person using their wealth in an attempt to force a change in government as an act of revenge, if the target were a left wing party that we voted in? The answer is an unequivocal no. Reverse arguing that National already do it is not a justifiable defence (nor do I think the argument would hold), and its dodging the answer to reduce one’s dissonance.

We might also want to consider whether the individual displays a propensity to invest their wealth in political matters for personal gain. For instance, there might be some weight to establish propensity in the bounty offered by Dotcom for Osama Bin Laden’s head on a plate (or information leading to his arrest) due to fear for the safety of his family in the Philippines or the John Banks mayoralty donation based on Banks’s apparent pro-internet stance. We might also consider how we can know that an individual, e.g. Dotcom, wont use this tactic to turn on the left? Clearly the John Banks’s case is an example of when things can go wrong. Sure, we can take the risk but the fallout in the long term might not justify the short-term gain and in fact, we cannot be assured of any short-term gain. So again, I think there is good reason to approach the IMP alliance with caution. Not because the candidates are cause for concern (they’re not), but because it’s unclear the extent of influence Dotcom might have over the party, the alliance and ultimately, the government.

There are two other points I want to highlight from Treen’s article, firstly, that people can and do change their political ideologies; and secondly, that people are admitted or denied entry on various criteria.

Treen suggests that there is nothing on the public record to discern Dotcom’s actual political ideology so it is wrong for people to assume that he is some kind of neoliberal right winger. However, in a later paragraph Treen claims to be able to draw inferences that Dotcom has all the hallmarks of a German Social Democrat, protecting the poor, supporting higher taxes etc.  Now, Treen might be right in his assessment and I agree that people can and do change their political leanings. But I think Treen is wrong to suggest that inferences made about Dotcom as a neoliberal capitalist are unfounded when those  making the claims engage the same inferential reasoning Treen uses to make his own claim. Any conclusions drawn will depend on what information a person is using to make the inference. Treen has limited his information to a lack of public record and recent talks given by Dotcom, and that is certainly relevant. But past and present behaviour, actions, and statements – explicit or implied are also relevant considerations, so it’s not as clear cut as Treen implies.

Treen also downplays the alleged seriousness of the Dotcom’s past convictions. He writes:

“Remember that Kim was given residence in NZ despite this past so it can’t have been considered that serious”

However, ‘character‘ is assessed against a specific criteria, in particular, ss15-16 of the Immigration Act, which excludes only if you have been convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for 5 years or more or in the past 10 years you were convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for 12 months or more. As Treen points out and Dotcom clarifies in the article cited in Treen’s piece, he was convicted but not sentenced to imprisonment. It doesn’t mean his white collar crime, insider trading, is not serious, it just means his conviction and suspended sentence were not exclusionary grounds under the Act that grants residence.

The gravity of Dotcom’s plight for political power is not a simple case of liking or disliking Dotcom. There are a raft of considerations in which people are justifiably weary. And while I agree with Treen and Trotter/Bradbury that there is a  bias asserted against Dotcom in right wing blogs (often viciously), the defences they offer avoid the full context, and pass off unverifiable snippets as truths to bolster their support for an unprecedented alliance in what appears to be an attempt to reduce their own dissonance.

This post isn’t intended to persuade readers to vote or not vote a particular way, nor is it intended to demonise Dotcom, it’s about recognising that there are important ethical questions and concerns that go beyond the ‘Fuck National’ narrative.

Māori politics: Seats, Alliances, Demise and Choice

Māori politics is in for an incredibly tumultuous ride this election year. Rather than a unified Māori position, the Māori vote is widespread. Many will find a home on the Left under the Internet Mana Party alliance, Greens and Labour. While others will find comfort in the Māori Party and a smaller contingent in National and NZ First.

I wrote last year on how I declined to enrol under the Māori electorates. That post is available here. It is incredibly harsh, and on reflection I do have some regrets about my decision to stay on the general roll and many regrets about some of the things I wrote. I suppose these are the issues when writing a blog, i.e. that new information or changes in circumstances can change perceptions and views. However, I remain unmoved in my position that the Westminster system does not serve the ends of Māori because the state is a necessarily coercive entity.

The Internet-Mana Party

Anyone who follows my social media accounts will know that I’ve been particularly critical of the Internet Mana Party (IMP) temporary merger. Its touted as a strategic alliance. It’s alleged that this move is a ‘game changer’. It’s certainly interesting and there is the possibility that it may have positive effects. There is an equal chance that it wont. The problem isn’t that Mana are taking advantage of a flaw in the MMP system, it is that the seat is being used to prop up a party founded and funded by someone lacking in the mana the Māori seats deserve. Its clear in the idea that the merger is less about Māori and more about its funder, since the MOU agreed between the parties shows this merger disbands after the election so each party can pursue their own policy agendas.

Hone Harawira absolutely deserves to run in Te Tai Tokerau (TTT).  But so to does Kelvin Davis. Both men are extolled by TTT and they provide choice to their electorate.  It is true that non-Māori can also run in those seats, and this illustrates that Dotcom’s connection as founder and funder of the party attempting to coattail in on it is well within the rules but it is not in the spirit of the Māori seats which embody the struggle of our tupuna to obtain and retain representation in a system that works against us.

Trotter on Kelvin Davis

Chris Trotter is propagating the idea that Kelvin Davis is showing dangerous signs of being an authoritarian because he values his principles and the spirit of the Māori seats over being bullied into rolling over for the IMP strategic alliance. Trotter demands that Davis be told to STFU. What even? Old white guy, self-appointed member of the socialist establishment tells highly respected Māori representative to STFU about retaining the mana and integrity of the Māori electorate seats. Tell me again about how these left socialists want a democratic society, but want to limit the choices of those who reside in strategic voting regions? Whose the authoritarian again?

As a left libertarian, the only authoritarians I see are those claiming for the left that unless we listen and vote according to what Trotter and Bradbury tell us then we will be responsible if National win at the election. If we don’t dispose of our principles for strategic purposes then we are basically against progress and for authoritarianism. The irony of that.

On the Māori Party

While Mana and the Greens have a very strong Māori emphasis and incredibly strong and devoted Māori candidates, they are not representative of the Māori voice alone. They are representative of broader struggles that include Māori issues but focus on the gap between the rich and poor and the environment. Important and necessary struggles but not equivalent. Labour also have some very strong and devoted Māori candidates, but again, these candidates are representative of their party membership, and while all these parties have Māori members, they do not act as an independent voice for Māori in parliament. That has been the niche role of the Māori Party. Yes, there is some conflict about their relationship with the National Party.

For ages, I have been arguing against the ‘at the table’ positioning of the Māori Party. This stems from my perception that being at the table was a justification for compromising on so many of the Māori Party values. That the best Māori could hope for was to have a voice at the table. I hadn’t considered that this was the minimum we should hope for, irrespective of who is in government. As I wrote earlier, the Māori struggle is not a left thing. In my ideal world, I envision full self-determination, complete horizontalism and a functioning participatory democracy in a society free of a coercive state and the oppression of poverty. In my practical world, I envision independent Māori voices focused on kaupapa Māori politics, where Māori can begin to operate alongside the system rather than oppressed under it. Both Mana and the Māori Party offer policy in this regard. The Māori Party having a more open line because they are willing to work across the political spectrum if necessary.

IMP & Maōri Party

Some commentators have suggested that if the Internet Mana Party (IMP) successfully persuade Māori en masse to vote for them, the Māori Party may indeed struggle to re-enter parliament. While some of the radicals on the Left (Trotter/Bradbury) are calling this a potential victory, it will (for the reasons outlined above) be a commisserable event for Māori, if it occurs.

I am not suggesting that the Mana Movement are not incredibly dedicated and admirable in their intent to preserve and extend the kaupapa Māori approach. On that, Mana cannot be faulted. Mana seek similar goals, but the path pursued relies on a heavily regimented state, presuming that a state “by the people for the people” is necessarily benevolent while ignoring the coercive reality of nationalist statism. As Max Weber highlights, the state is a “a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory”.  The territoriality of states is itself the strategic use of a defined geography in which the political institutions attempt to control and influence those within its boundaries, while the notion of boundaries communicates to outsiders that a particular jurisdiction is operational within.

Mana also appears to hold tight to the myth of nationalism, that it is about cultural or historical ties to land and I can see the attraction in thinking nationalism is the path to preserving indigenous connections to land. But nationalism largely developed out of the Westphalian system as a narrative to accentuate differences between ‘citizens and aliens’. It is the result of the militant nation-state. Culture for nationalism is not indigenous culture, it is the imposed colonialist realties that represent the nationalist claims. Nationalism strangles indigeneity, and restricts full participatory democracy, subsequently, endorsing the idea of a global segregation that would be considered deplorable at the inter-state level.

At this election, for Māori and non-Māori alike, each must determine for themselves which path they want to take. I will vote but in doing so I am not conceding that I think the state is a legitimate entity. My bias is clear because I am anti-statist and anti-nationalist, but my views are not for everyone, and should not be taken as judging you for your views if they are different. Māori in particular must not let others decide for us what the best way forward is we should take the time to talk to our friends and whānau and to reflect on those discussions. Whether your decisions are based on bigger picture issues or are more narrowly defined the decision belongs to you and no-one else.

Mana invite Dotcom to AGM

The Mana Party Executive have extended an invitation to Kim Dotcom to speak to its membership at their upcoming AGM.

Annette 1

Link to post here.

While I’m not a member of Mana, I still find the invitation troublesome.

Perhaps I’m naïve. I’ve never been a member of a political party and as such have never attended an AGM in this respect. Maybe this kind of thing is the norm.

But while Mana insist that any possibility of a merger is to be decided by members and not as a result of a unilateral decision made by the Exec, the image below tells a different story.

10173688_10203323887915074_3039928444921319891_n

Link to post available here.

Given that the image is publicly posted on an Exec members Facebook wall, I get the impression that the outcome of a merger has been predetermined, and that Dotcoms attendance at the AGM is simply a symbolic gesture to give the appearance of a democratic process in play.  Also note, the representation of Dotcom rather than any reference to the Internet Party.

The invitation appears to be an intention to reinforce or promote an existing relationship between Mana and Dotcom, rather than to ascertain the concerns of or to understand Mana members as postulated in the media advisory above.

Additionally, Dotcom’s  attendance  could be seen as an attempt to influence the decisions of the membership.

In my view, members should be free from any influence to discuss the matter with a clear mind and in an environment where members can express any dissent freely and without fear of reprisal.  Dotcom’s attendance may actually discourage some members  from speaking their minds, moreover,  others may not feel comfortable attending the AGM at all.

Because the Dotcom merger issue is the most controversial among Mana’s members, I would have expected the Exec to act more cautiously in handling this matter. As it stands, its possible to construe Dotcom’s attendance as the Exec forestalling dissent to ensure they get their [the Exec’s] desired outcome.

Too much of a Nazi thing?

I’ve considered writing about the Internet Party since it launched. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Firstly, because it was difficult to separate the party from the personality. Secondly, I wanted to avoid getting into heated debates about whether or not Kim Dotcom (KDC) was a Nazi sympathiser.

So I know I’m a bit late with this post since its already been covered extensively but it occurs to me that it is unfair and not particularly transparent on my part to criticise other leaders, parties, activists and politicians while staying silent on the KDC issue, especially when this particular issue is very significant.

My position is that based on the cumulative effect of the undisputed information available and KDC’s response to it, that it is incredibly inappropriate for KDC to be anywhere near political authority in NZ.

On its own, purchasing the copy of Mein Kampf and other WW2 memorabilia isn’t in my view sufficient evidence for claiming that KDC is a Nazi sympathiser. It might raise questions about his character, however, collectors do in fact purchase these kinds of items and we cannot ignore the news coverage of the raid on KDC’s mansion that referred to him as a collector of sorts.

But I think Giovanni Tiso is right about social norms in Germany and the improbability of German’s finding pleasure in collecting Nazi artefacts or posing for photo’s wearing Nazi memorabilia.  Tiso writes from his experience and understanding as an Italian, the difference between how neo-Nazism is approached in Italy versus Germany:

One of the reprehensible lines used in defence of fondly reminiscing about Italian Fascism is that we weren’t as bad as the Germans. German people don’t have that luxury, and although I cannot speak from any direct knowledge of this, it seems they have kept a firmer grip on what can and cannot be published, what will or will not be sold. Neo-Nazism, of course, exists (as it does outside of Germany), but it’s more effectively cauterised from institutions and the wider society than neo-fascism is in Italy.

Which makes it all the less likely that a German person would wear a Waffen-SS helmet as a joke, or do so out of mere ignorance.

I do have my reservations as to whether there would have been as much public interest or even outcry if only a single event tarnished KDC’s name. I’m sure there would still have been questions that lingered and general suspicions. Interestingly or even perhaps unsurprisingly, many bloggers who support KDC have limited their focus to a single factor attempting to minimise the weight attributed to the claims against KDC, including a post promoted by Vikram Kumar entitled The power of an open mind that hinges only on the fact that KDC owned Mein Kampf.

To my knowledge, KDC has not even made a decent attempt to apologise for his offensive behaviour or comments. Instead he dismisses the claims or events as unremarkable, or offers up excuses and weak justifications for his actions.

It is worrying the support people are willing to throw behind KDC, at his word, without all the necessary information to make an informed decision. Even if the anti-KDC articles and posts do form (in some way) part of a smear campaign, he and his supporters really need to grasp that there is a reason the claims made against him carry so much weight and there is some naivety in thinking that these actual acts together with the alleged acts are politically insignificant.

This post isn’t intended as a smear against KDC and I am by no means convinced that KDC is a Nazi sympathiser and an anti-Semite; however, I’m in no position to say that he isn’t either. I guess thats my point, neither is anyone else who is simply taking him at his word. KDC cannot escape the inferences drawn from the cumulative effect of the undisputed information against him, and as such I think people should be very cautious in deciding whether they will support his political agenda.

On the other hand, The Internet Party has potential as a participatory democratic party, which is desperately needed in NZ politics. On launch it did (and continues to for many) induce a sense of excitement and freshness in approach in stark contrast to the traditional, dry approaches of every other party.

The participatory mechanism for the formulation of policy to calls for assistance in building their wikipedia page is a very progressive start:

and it appears the NZ Greens are impressed to in that they seem to have borrowed from this participatory ideal for their Arts, Culture and Heritage policy:

Other interesting features from the Internet Party are broadening monetary policy debates to include digital currency, and in particular, how a dual currency system might work in NZ, changing or updating copyright protection rules and introducing a Digital Bill of Rights.

However, there is absolutely no way that I could throw my support behind a political party whose founder appears to find some pleasure in collecting or fetishising Nazi memorabilia, and whose membership appear to support him to those ends.

Opposites attract? Harawira & Dotcom

Speculation has begun regarding the assertions Kim Dotcom made in the Herald on Sunday (HoS) about recruiting at least one current sitting MP to his Internet Party, with others in talks from across the political spectrum.

Although Dotcom confirms that he is in talks with the Mana Party about a potential merger, its unclear if Harawira is the sitting MP Dotcom claims to have already secured.

However, the idea of a merger between the Mana Party and the Internet Party is rather bizarre.  Two glaring issues complicate the Dotcom/Harawira relationship:

  1. Harawira’s recent grotesque assertions endorsing public executions; and
  2. The Mana Party’s press release that unequivocally states that the meeting between Harawira and Dotcom did not encroach on discussions about a possible merger

In regards to (1),  Dotcom’s crusade against the excesses of government is entirely inconsistent with Harawira’s totalitarian outburst.

Its quite possible that Dotcom is oblivious to Harawira’s revolting comments, or that he hadn’t seen them prior to his interview with the HoS. But, in any case, Dotcom will have great difficulty reconciling that inconsistency or justifying why he would want to unite with a party whose leader would endorse excessive government force.

I imagine it may actually damage Dotcom’s campaign, since those who might otherwise support a party that advances internet freedoms, may be loathe to support it with Harawira’s involvement (whether or not Harawira had spoken so vilely on public executions).

I should also point out here, that many Mana supporters also despise Dotcom as a representation of the excesses of capitalism, so a merger could be the worst outcome for both parties.

In regards to (2), it was only a few days ago the Mana Party admitted to meeting with Dotcom and Harawira states unequivocally:

For the record, I didn’t ask him to fund MANA, and he didn’t offer either. I didn’t ask him to join MANA, and he didn’t ask me to join his party.

But Dotcom tells a contrary story:

he was also in talks with Mana Party leader Hone Harawira to unite their two parties under one umbrella, enabling the Internet Party to ride into Parliament on the coat-tails of the Te Tai Tokerau electorate MP

Despite Harawira’s assertion that:

There are no further meetings planned

While the HoS confirms that:

Only the Mana Party admitted having talked to Dotcom about an electoral accommodation

And:

The Mana Party executive will this week consider a merger proposal. Mana would bring one or two electorates, the Internet Party would bring a more broadly-based party vote and $1 million-plus in campaign funding.

Harawira may have made a disclosure, that at the time seemed both a responsible and respectable position for him to take. But his disclosure was clearly dishonest and that should concern Mana Party members. It also doesn’t bode well for the solidarity of the relationship, given the contrasting accounts of the meeting.

Kim Dotcom: Left or Right?

A number of reasons were cited as to why Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party will align itself to the left. I have listed some of the more common ones I’ve seen below:

  1. Dotcom is incensed at the legal treatment he received under a John Key led National government, so will presumably align his party left;
  2. Martyn Bradbury (The Daily Blog) a very vocal left wing anti-capitalist blogger was recruited as the Internet Party’s political consultant, indicative that the party intends to align itself to the left;
  3. Dotcom appeared alongside left wing activists and political parties during the GCSB protests and public meetings, suggestive that he is sympathetic to the left.

On point 1, Dotcom is understandably bitter but I think it highly unlikely that he would have expected any different treatment under a left led government because Operation 8. His angst is personal not ideological.

On point 2, any anti-capitalist blogger that gleefully teams up politically with a capitalist who is part of the 1% the anti-capitalist despises, does not indicate alignment to the left for the party. It indicates a hypocritical blogger.

On point 3, Dotcom had every reason to attend those protests and meetings, the fact that the protests and meetings were run by the left was inconsequential.

The benefit of Dotcom’s Internet Party is making privacy, civil liberties and internet freedom an integral part of the political debate in NZ during election year. The debate is important.

My reckon, is that Dotcom will support whoever gives him what his party demands. Its not obvious to me that the Internet Party will align to the left. Its politics after all.