The history of New Zealand is one of ongoing colonisation. Colonisers stole Māori land and enforced the massive dispossession of whānau, hapu, and iwi. Alongside the damage done to Māori cultures and worldviews, the economic and political effects of this dispossession are still being felt today. We reject the idea that lower life expectancies, lower wages, and higher rates of poverty for Māori are the result of individual failure or inadequacy. These outcomes are the inevitable result of a political and economic system that is institutionally racist.
Māori rights activists have struggled for liberation for decades, and they have won some important recognition and legitimacy from the Crown, but this is not enough. A transformation in our political and economic system is required for us to achieve true equality, liberation, and healing from the past. Organise Aotearoa supports the concepts and practices of tikanga, tino rangatiratanga, and mana motuhake, and their expressions in He Whakaputanga and Te Tiriti o Waitangi. We believe that the entire framework for how we do politics in Aotearoa needs to be changed in order to recognise tino rangatiratanga.
The collective labour of society has produced great wealth, but this wealth is overwhelmingly held by tiny elite. This is the result of capitalism, the economic system we live in. Under capitalism, a very small number of people own and control businesses, while the rest of us have to work for them in order to get by. Employers hire workers in order to make a profit from the work we do. They wouldn’t make any profit if it weren’t for our work. The only reason employers can make this profit is that they had the money to hire workers, and the resources needed to make things, in the first place. They make money simply because they already happened to have money. Under the capitalist system, the people who actually do the work get very little, while the rich get richer. Exploitation and inequality are built into capitalism.
For these reasons, we oppose capitalism and believe in a system that shares wealth and ensures prosperity for all. We are building socialism because it is only under socialism that everyone will be able to thrive. Socialism means that everyone’s needs are cared for, and that decisions about the economy and the workplace are made democratically, not by the rich and powerful. It means living in a more equal society, where no one is disposable and your value isn’t determined by your wealth.
Our existence relies on the natural world. The clothes we wear, the food we eat, the minerals and materials needed to build our homes and infrastructure, all come from working with the natural world. But our planet is under threat. Corporations extract materials from the earth, dispose of waste, and manufacture consumer products in the cheapest way possible, regardless of its impact on the planet We live on the brink of disaster. Human-made climate change poses a real and immediate risk to all life on Earth. Rising sea levels, rising temperatures, and cyclones wreak havoc on indigenous and working people all over the world. Islands are being swallowed, bodies of freshwater are drying up or being polluted with toxic waste, and displaced people are forced to search for new homes.
Serious changes need to be made to mitigate this crisis. However, corporations will not change their practices unless doing so will create more profit. Politicians have been dragging their feet for decades as scientists have warned us of the oncoming threat. To reduce the harm already being caused by climate change and environmental degradation, we need an economic system that puts people and the environment before profit. It is impossible to create an environmentally sustainable future and avoid ecological disaster without directly challenging established wealth and the capitalist system.
The current economic and political system has not existed forever. History has shown that the ways we organise society and the economy result from political struggle and conflicts between people. This means we don’t have to accept the way things are as natural or inevitable. At the moment, however, the rich and powerful are winning this political struggle. Over the last thirty years, in particular, the ruling elite have pushed through reforms that line their own pockets, while making life worse for ordinary people.
The lessons of the 20th century show us that where working class people won important reforms, the ruling class simply rolled them back. While we support reforms that immediately improve the lives of working class people, we pursue revolutionary transformation because freedom and justice cannot be achieved by reform alone. The current system is designed in the interests of the rich and powerful. The only way we can ensure that the rich and powerful can’t ignore our demands is for working class people to take control of, and democratise, the political and economic system. We need a new system that serves the interests of all people.
We live in a shared world where wealth is collectively produced, but wealth is held mostly by a very small elite. Inequality and oppression are intrinsic to the capitalist system. Capitalism benefits from inequality. As long as employers are able to provide less pay or worse conditions to certain groups of people for the same work, that drives down pay and conditions for everybody.
However, oppression doesn’t just happen in the workplace. It happens throughout society in the form of issues such as widespread violence against women and gender non-conforming people, a racist justice system, and discrimination against people with disabilities. We oppose all forms of oppression and support those fighting for liberation from oppression. We believe that everyone is of value and no one is disposable. None of us are free until all of us are free.
Politics is for everyone
The current way of doing politics puts up barriers that stop ordinary people from getting meaningfully involved. In this system, politics is reduced to a vote that happens every few years when you get to choose which members of the ruling elite will rule over you from Parliament. Organise Aotearoa believes in a different way of doing politics. We believe that politics is the domain of everyone. Because the current parliamentary system fails to reflect Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the common good, we propose a politics which engages everyone equally and honours the intent of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. We’re committed to building a democratic society where everyone’s voice matters.
Our struggle is global because colonialism and capitalism operate across national borders and exploit economic inequalities between nations. Aotearoa is connected to a global system which makes products in one part of the world and then distributes them to another part. Much of the work ordinary New Zealanders do is connected to a global supply chain, which means workers here are connected to workers around the world. Organise Aotearoa believes we should make use of these connections to pursue international solidarity with workers around the world. We’re all part of the same system and we need to work together if we hope to build a better world. For that reason, Organise Aotearoa is also opposed to the tendencies of reactionary nationalism. Our solidarity is with working people struggling around the world, not with the ruling elite in Aotearoa.
We are not waiting for the perfect conditions to practice these principles. We must act now to prevent the impending climate collapse and to build the world we want to live in. Time is running out for the planet, so we must respond with urgency.
Organise Aotearoa also hopes to model as best as possible the cooperative, caring, and democratic society we wish to create. Through the way we organise and how we treat one another, we want to show how we can build a society based on these principles.