Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 10. 24 May 1972
...And a New Party
...And a New Party
Now is the time for all free thinkers to come to the aid of a party.
The time is ripe in this country for the creation of a new political party; a party which will deny the right of only middle-aged men to govern our land; a party which will champion the new honesty and new values of the younger generation; a party which will unite under one banner the enlightened policies of such specialist groups as Care and Hart, the Women's Liberation Movement, the conservation and anti-pollution movements and the Vietnam Peace Movement; but more than this, a party which will address itself to the root causes of alienation in our society. We need a young people's party.
Who better than us to lead a movement which will shape the social system in which we and our children will have to live. There is a new current flowing in the world today.
You see it in the movements to improve morals—the morals of a government which gives tacit support to a social system which institutionalises racial inferiority; the morals of a nation which rains death on a foreign people with random, indifferent, technological cruelty.
The new consciousness shows in movements to free members of our society from positions subtly fabricated by others and forced upon them. It shows in the movements to reject the de-personalizing effects of our bureaucracy and uncontrolled technology.
It shows most simply of all in the movement by young people to establish a warmer and more meaningful relationship with each other, with society, with nature and with the land. Charles Reich has called this new consciousness transcendent reason.
"It is the product of the contradictions, failures and exigencies of the Corporate State itself, not of any force external to the State," he writes in The Greening of America. "It is now in the process of rapidly spreading to wider and wider segments of youth, and by degrees to older people, as they experience the recovery of self that marks conversion to a different consciousness."
This new consciousness, this transcendent reason does not show itself in our political parties to a degree that is acceptable to me or, I suspect, to most young people. There appear to be two reasons for this. Firstly, our political leaders don't share our view of the world. They were brought up in an earlier age when social and economic conditions were different from what they are now. And the environment in which you grow up shapes your view of the world. It's as simple as that.
The National Party was founded on support for the advancement of free enterprise. The Labour Party was started to improve the lot of the worker. The aims were narrow, sectional and has some relevance to the needs of the age. But they are not relevant to the needs of our increasingly affluent and aimless world. Unless both of the parties can discard their outdated doctrines and reassess their values in the light of how the world exists now, their chances of winning the allegiance of much of the new generation are very poor. To date they have shown a marked disposition not to change.
This brings me to the second reason why the new honesty and the new values haven't become a notable feature of their behaviour. To date most young activists I haven't bothered to work for reform through the parties, or if they have, most have become discouraged because of the impossibility of gaining any significant change in the policies of institutions composed mostly of people who have an outdated view of the world and are conditioned by the concept of government by the middle-aged or elderly.
The result has been that because of the alienation and disaffection of youth they and the parties have been growing further and further apartpage 6
The process has become a self-reinforcing one.
The only sensible answer is to start a new party and work through the system, not overthrow it. To work through Labour and National is simply going to take too long. In addition if you join them you are going to become identified with their traditional mode of behaviour and philosophical outlook.
The National and Labour Parties grew out of certain basic impulses in society, but society has changed. Now there is a new impulse but no party to give it forceful expression — only fragmented specialist groups and a sea of alienated powerless people trying desperately to carve out meaningful lives for themselves while the juggernaut of economic growth, uncontrolled technology and change crashed foward. Young people have got to realise that they can't affordto withdraw from conventional political involvement and do their "own thing" because it's going to become harder and harder to do your own thing in an industrial and social system which pushes you this way and that and accommodates you to it needs.
We have got to organise and do our "combined" thing.
The problems I would like to see the New Zealand Value Party address itself to include:
The Technological Revolution.
This is the cause of so much discord and despair in our society today. Lloyd Geering summed it recently when he said that man is becoming little more than a complex machine in a secular city. "We are being crushed by the sheer weight complexity and inhumanity of our technology", he said. "It will leave us little more than mechanised robots."
We are becoming victims and slaves of an industrial system which is predicated on the goal of growth and which is constantly inventing new products and processes and increasing the rate of change in order to achieve this goal. We are being increasingly encouraged to fulfil the needs of this system instead of vice versa. Mr Marshall has spoken several times in the past few months of the urgent need to increase productivity. At a speech in Rotorua he used the word "more" 17 times in just seven sentences. This is the constant, dangerous refrain of the new industrial state: more, more, more.
Throughout all industrial societies the quickening pace and growing complexity of life is resulting in the quality of human fellowship. The transient nature of modern life is resulting in the shortened duration of friendships and a loss in the quality of human fellowship. The transient nature of modern life is resulting in a declining sense of "place" and "belonging", with all the insecurities and strains on health that this involves.
Sociologists trace increased crimes of violence and anti-social behaviour to this disintegrating sense of community. They see hit-and-run sex as a desperate attempt to recreate affection in a highly transient environment. They see industrial unrest as a manifestation of the impersonality of the modern factory and plant.
Our political leaders should be looking at ways of reshaping the system that breeds these ills, not concentrating on sterile law and order policies with stiffer penalties and more policemen and on industrial policies with stiffer penalties for worker unrest.
The problem takes on new urgency when one realises that the New Zealand economy is in the process of transition from an agriculturally-based economy to an industrially-based one. The drift to the cities, especially those in the North Island is continuing apace, so we must move with speed We must somehow capture control of the basic change processes in the city environment, slowing down some of them while intelligently quickening others.
The American sociologist Alvin Toffler has suggested, for example, that New York should create a Department of Technological Assessment to worry about the impact of new technologies still on the horizon. This country needs a political party which will address itself to this urgent question. We need a new party to tame the new industrial state.
As most of us know, much industrial unrest is not the result of militant pay demands. The seemingly senseless walk outs in production line and other industries is a reflection of a deep frustration directly connected with job satisfaction and the present place of the individual in the impersonal production chain.
Recent experiments in America have shown that firms can sharply reduce chronic absenteeism by reorganising jobs to give workers a feeling of greater effectiveness and a sense of achievement. Instead of the emphasis by employers on trying to make jobs more efficient they should try to make them more interesting. Managerial layers should be cut out wherever possible to give individual more autonomy and a greater scope to use their talents. Substantive profit-sharing should be introduced. Not only would industrial harmonly be improved but increased personal fulfillment and a sense of occupational effective ness would make for a healthier society.
New Zealand has for too long had a narrow economically-orientated foreign policy in which morality has had to take second place to trade interests. The narrowness of New Zealand's perception of its interests was sharply criticised by Arnold Smith, The Commonwealth Secretary General, at a seminar for Commonwealth diplomatic corps in Singapore in 1970. But the criticism was made in closed session and was never made public. This country must try to recapture the progressive and principled foreign policy it fleetingly displayed in the immediate post-war period.
In spite of gradual improvement the underdeveloped countries are falling further and further behind the affluent western societies because of the difference in growth rates between the two. To ensure a more stable international system in the future and simply out of brotherly concern we should increase the foreign aid target from one per cent to five per cent and forgo some of the more useless consumer products forced on us by the industrial system. We should threaten to break diplomatic relations with France over nuclear testing in the Pacific. We should ban the Concorde from flying into New Zealand even at subsonic speeds as part of the international campaign to get this noisy technological monster scrapped.
There are in fact a host of constructive policies a New Zealand Value Party could adopt. We have new and old social problems which fresh minds with new values are singularly equipped to handle. The very limited policy plank I have briefly outlined is meant only as a basis for discussion. There are gaps, such as education etc, that you can fill in.
If you want a hand in the creation of a party with a real future come along to the Union Hall on Tuesday 30th May at 7pm. Bring some ideas, and talk them over. If enough people come and if there is sufficient enthusiasm we can appoint policy committees and have this thing on the road in time for the election. Bring friends along from outside the university to make the group as broadly-based as possible.
We are not institutionalising the generation gap; that's already been done by National and Labour. We must, in fact, throw the party open to people of any age.
It will have to be stressed that the Value Party represents not so much an age-group as a state of mind. But we've got to have a label that throws some light on the essence of the party. We've got to get away from traditional labels like Socialist, Conservative, Liberal, Labour, Social Credit, National, Social Democrat and so on, which can be identified with outdated ideologies. They are irrelevant to our present needs. Where in the hell do you fit a party which wants to bring technology under control on the conventional political spectrum?
For too long this country has been governed by outdated aims and attitudes. Now it's our turn.