Shifting the bean pod!
New Zealand is not a nation given to activism. Compared to many countries, past occasions when New Zealanders were mobilised in pursuit of a political ideal, are relatively few. The division over whether or not the All Blacks should play an Apartheid South Africa, heated by the belief that the opposition represented an assault on the national religion, was probably the most notable of these. The anti-nuclear campaign, which culminated in New Zealand’s leaving the ANZUS treaty by the front door (and allowing the USA back in through the Waihopai back door) was another such event that aroused the passions of a seemingly dispassionate nation.
Perhaps, in retrospect these events follow a cyclical pattern. The Apartheid protests and the anti-nuclear campaign both took place in the early 1980s. After that, the western world, and with it, New Zealand, seems to have settled down into a calm of self-centred consumption inspired by the neo-liberal ideas of Thatcher and Reagan. University students of that era aspired to become accountants and business people, rather than man the barricades of social justice. But, once again, the times, they are a-changing!
The greed, injustice and aggression associated with the struggles of the USA to maintain its diminishing power and prestige, and the dawning of the realisation of the impending consequences of unconstrained climate change are, once again, leading to an international surge in anxiety and revulsion. An uptick in political activism would now appear inevitable. New Zealand has a limited number of activist organisations that New Zealanders can join and/or contribute to. By far the majority of these are operating in the fast-growing fields of climate change and environmental protection. Already, their anxious voices are influencing political decision making.
However, to succeed in mitigating, or effectively adapting to climate change, certain pre-conditions have to be met. Firstly the whole of New Zealand society has to be mobilised to prevent the looming threat becoming a disaster – and the same goes for other nations. As in wartime, sacrifices are going to be called for. A nation divided against itself in not going to survive the campaign. The success of activist groups intent on the protection of human rights and social justice is a necessary adjunct to climate change activism. So too is the avoidance of war.
A nuclear war could, overnight (or even in full daylight) negate all efforts to control climate change. So too, can the best efforts by ‘enlightened’ countries, such as New Zealand be brought to naught by the runaway emissions of such as Brazil and the USA as they seek to take economic advantage of the good neighbour actions of others.
All activist groups are reliant for their success in achieving their aims on the success of other groups operating in parallel fields. It would seem that the prevention of war and the safeguarding of the atmosphere and oceans, held in common by all mankind, can only be achieved by a centralised global authority with independent means and executive powers.
Coordinated action is called for. It is intended that Paddle Now should contribute in a modest way to this process.
The primary goal is to get the Paddle Now website functioning effectively. This initial hurdle will not be easy. Until Paddle Now can display at least five organisations in each activist category listed on its website (Global Governance; Environmental Protection & Climate Change; Peace and Conflict Resolution; Human Rights and Social Justice) any approaches to the media for PR exposure designed to draw visitors to the site, will not impress and will have little hope of success.
The first aim has to be to persuade at least five groups in each activist category to register their support for the project. Success will breed success. Initially, groups will wonder whether it is worth joining a group that has attracted so few of their colleagues. This hang-fire situation is not helped by the nature of voluntary groups’ consultative processes: rapid decision-making, as to whether or not to support Paddle Now, is not to be expected. Realistically, several months need to be allowed for this crucial first milestone to be passed.
Once that goal has been achieved, the PR campaign can begin and groups listed should start seeing a practical reward for their support.
It could well be that Paddle Now is on the cusp of a substantial endowment. Should this arrive in time, this phase of the campaign will be much easier: a PR agency can be retained and voluntary workers remunerated. Failing that, it will have to be the conventional long-haul of seeking out journalists willing to support the cause and providing them with interesting material to use. As each year goes by, the onset of climate change and the brinkmanship of an increasingly desperate American Empire will become ever more obvious and worrisome. Over time, attempts to alert and activate the citizens of New Zealand will get that much easier. In all of this, Paddle Now will have the support of activist groups which will be taking their own multiple initiatives to persuade New Zealanders to become more politically aware.