Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Get Ready For A Megaparty Of Serious Fun

Serious Funster: Kim Dotcom's ability to mix serious politics with the digital playfulness so defining of the 18-25-year-old age-group raises the possibility of his putative "Megaparty" mobilising a significant number of first-time and/or abstaining voters, thereby, as Fairfax journalist, Vernon Small, put it: "throwing a spanner in the works" of the 2014 General Election.
 
JOHN KEY must be hoping that Kim Dotcom is extradited before the election, because if Dotcom is still here in November there’s every chance that Mr Key’s Government won’t be.
 
Those who make it their business to know what’s going on politically began hearing the rumours more than two months ago. That talk of a Dotcom inspired and funded political party was no longer talk: that action was being taken to make it happen; that high-profile individuals were being approached to take on the public roles required to bring a new political party into existence.
 
These individuals are young, wired and mercifully free of the sort of ideological and historical baggage that connects both National and Labour politicians to the “failed policies of the past”. Dotcom’s “Megaparty” (its working title) will not be about the past, it will be about the future.
 
As a party of the future, Megaparty will appeal mostly to those voters with the most future to appeal to – the young.
 
Its electoral base will be the generation born into the Internet Age: young New Zealanders in their late teens and early twenties; tech savvy, media wise, eager to make their mark but frustrated by an older, Baby-Boom, generation which refuses to make way for those best-placed to deal with the daunting challenges and changes of the digital age.
 
It’s a demographic that is at once aggressively individualistic and touchingly collective: keen to make their personal contribution, but equally eager to share it. A generation which, ideologically-speaking, finds little to connect with in either National or Labour. If these kids vote at all, it is probably for the Greens – but even there the wagging finger of environmental correctness is as likely to offend their anarchic instincts as it is to engage them.
 
Dotcom has already issued a compressed version of the Megaparty’s manifesto – tellingly to the international website/magazine, Vice:
 
“Government is supposed to serve us, the people. We are paying with our taxes [in the expectation] that they do a good job for us. But look what they do: they undermine our rights, they destroy our freedoms, they censor our internet. So we are the ones who have to bring that change.
 
“That is why I get involved in politics because I am f…ing tired of this nonsense and someone has to stand up and change this.”
 
That Mr Dotcom cannot actually stand for election (he is not a New Zealand citizen) will likely make his party more, rather than less, electable. The idea that someone might set up a party for strictly altruistic and politically limited purposes: to roll back the legislative assaults on individual rights and freedoms and preserve the independence of the Internet; will have huge appeal among the young who tend to view the political class in general and professional politicians in particular with withering disdain.
 
The documentary in which Vice News’s Tim Pool talks to Dotcom reveals a man with an unusually powerful grasp on what makes the younger generation sit up and take notice. Pool’s reaction to the larger-than-life Dotcom is equally fascinating. The mansion, the sprawling lawns, the high-tech toys, nothing on the multi-millionaire’s estate is either enviously resented or even slyly denigrated. On the contrary, the young reporter behaves like a child in a toy store and Dotcom shares in his excitement.
 
Business, commerce, capitalism itself: the younger generation doesn’t damn these things as bad in themselves. It’s the evil capitalism enables that they condemn. Like the Bible says: “The love of money is the root of all evil”. Dotcom’s singular gift is his ability to turn money into fun – and then share it.
 
Statistics New Zealand estimate that on 30 June 2013 there were 333,840 New Zealanders aged 20-24 – more than enough to surmount the 5 percent MMP threshold. A huge number of these young people are conveniently concentrated on the nation’s campuses – making the universities and polytechs Megaparty’s prime recruitment sites.
 
It’s even possible that the tightly-packed electorate of Auckland Central, with its tens-of-thousands of young, upwardly-mobile, inner-city apartment-dwellers, might end up being persuaded to guarantee Dotcom’s and Megaparty’s success by electing their (carefully chosen) candidate to Parliament.
 
Impossible?
 
Not when one considers the 1984 success of that other high-profile, beguilingly- roguish, self-made millionaire, Sir Robert Jones. Or the surprise defection of Auckland Central voters from Labour’s Richard Prebble, to the Alliance’s Sandra Lee, back in 1993.
 
Given his history of making the Internet dance to his tune, Dotcom’s political apps and communication strategies are likely to give Megaparty a reach and a level of sophistication that New Zealanders have never before encountered.
 
“Let the masses see your talent and your gifts”, the ebullient German entrepreneur told Vice’s Tim Pool. With the launch of his party in late-January, Kim Dotcom is poised to follow his own advice.
 
This essay was originally published in The Press of Tuesday, 14 January 2014.

23 comments:

Sanctuary said...

My general revulsion at the current establishment political class couldn't be better summed up than in this post from David Farrar - http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2014/01/smart_move_by_craig.html. The whole question of child abuse law is framed as part of a horse narrative towards the outcome that best suits David Farrar. The moral black hole at the centre of his post is a gigantic j'accuse not only of David Farrar, but of the entire rotten political establishment that spawned him and all the others like him. We need a revolution to get rid of the whole stinking lot of them, John Armstrong and Mallard and Farrar and Dunne and Banks and Hooten alike and if it looks like KDC can make THAT happen, hell I might just vote for him.

Victor said...

Well, if New Zealand has to fall in love with an extremely rich sugar daddy, I'd certainly prefer Dotcom to Owen Glenn. He'll be a lot more fun.

But where's the content? All of the nation's problems can't be reduced to the genuinely contentious issue of internet freedom.

And what happens if this new party takes votes off the Greens ( and hence off a Labour-Green putative coalition)without either gaining Auckland Central or hitting 5%?

It seems to me that Key is likely to come out of all this smiling. But I could be wrong.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Altruistic reasons? Get real. Dotcom is typical of many of the young people who might support him, (but probably don't vote) individualistic yes, but also selfish, self absorbed, narcissistic, and generally unconcerned with others. You'll notice one of his major problems with governments is that they censor "our" Internet. Uncensored Internet will do a lot to help the poor kids in South Auckland :-). I think you're drawing a long bow here. If, and that's a big if, it ever gets off the ground very few people will vote for it.

Davo Stevens said...

Our Kimmie is larger than life and even large in life too.

Good luck to him, if Colin Craig can start one so can he and of the two, I prefer kimmie. I don't really appreciate the religious undertones that come from Craig.

We have more important things to worry about without worring about the net.

Robert said...

Well, joke parties and one man badwagons parties seem to be the thing. After all a comic, almost became premier of Italy. Gert Wilders with the aid of only an 18C Wig and anti islamic and provincial outrage nearly made it. What were Hitler and Reagan but right wing comics, that impossible thing.
I am a trained political scientist, but to me our political classes and all the parties are frauds with the same value and aims to reposition NZ as an upper 3rd world Chinese alligned nation that will serve as a haven for the hopeless and useless and a transition state for refugees and escapees from failed nations to aquire the English and skills to move to the west.
NZ also lacks any genuine right or right centre party. In my view the basic definition of a right wing party is like Reagans Republicans, Thatcher and Osborne Tory Party and the SS Nazis, their one aim beyond the rhetoric is to make social mobility upward or downward impossible, a belief in genetic basis of intelligence and good general health combined with a rejection of genetic causation for minor factors like mental illness and sexual orientation. ( Reagan never apologised for ending public mental health care in California and in reality the US, the problem according to Ronnie was they let the handicapped Mongols out as well and in a way the Nazi view was similar).
NZ is unique in the middle class still supports public education and health where the rest of the advanced west appreciates public services are biased in favour of their workforce interests and reversing evolution to favour failures like the male working class.
In other words Dotcom may be useful to expose the corrupt hypocrisy of NZ Political and legal system and may usefully finally discredit the uselessness of our politicians and lawyers.
Our Political classes only represent a small PC bureaucratic elite which is cynical, asexual and generally utopian communist.
In the NZ context I would agree with Martin Goring,' When I here the word culture, I reach for my revolver.' I hate the sound of classical music, would only be interested in opera or ballet if the females are nublie and naked and find the most entertaing sport motor racing in Europe and Australia in the Gladatorial age of the 1960's. I recommend that great NZer's Graham McRae's last great win the Aus GP 1978 during which 6 drivers are virtually decapitated and the entire Elfin team Perkins, Schuppan eliminated.
Kevin Bartlets hit on Hamiton is the classic move of a great killer driver, ie Ickx, Hawthorn and also when the usual target Clark takes out his great potential rival Von Trips at Monza and Clarks teamates Taylor has to take off the SS counter assasins Mariesse and Siffert at !150mph at Spa, Ena and Immola. Thats the sort of real sport and sex we need to introduce to entertain the masses. Roman circus, anybody.

The Flying Tortoise said...

Fantastic! Wonderful! Bring it on!
By the way I'm a pensioner...

Sanctuary said...

Kim Dotcom says on twitter that 15,000 people have already registered to attend his party launch, and he has moved it to Vector. If 15,000 show up, he'll outnumber every other political parties election launch combined by a factor of three.

Just saying.

Brendan said...

Kim dotcom is what we once called a ‘likeable rogue’ a convicted fraudster come Internet multi-millionaire. His likeability shines through, along with his ability to touch upon the anti-establishment vein that runs deeply through the Kiwi psych.

His political appeal will be to the youth vote that previously would have voted Green, or possibly Labour. There are some young Nat’s no doubt, but conviction politics seems well removed from the National party, and conviction along with idealism is endemic in youth.

If he can keep Labour and the Greens in opposition for another term, then he will have served his host country well. No doubt all political parties are busy thinking of ways to tax transnational Internet transactions, and to bring the Bitcoin under their jurisdiction.

His entry will bring some life and some uncertainty to the contest to determine which socialist party will be in Cabinet this election.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Robert, for a trained political scientist, your post is a mishmash which reminds me of someone who used to post on this site :-). I would argue with a couple of things on a rational basis, firstly that the aim of right-wing political parties is to stop social mobility. Basically they don't care a toss about social mobility, their aim is to make money for their friends. Social mobility is decreasing, but they wouldn't mind if it increased, because it would just increase the number of and change the nature of their friends, just a little.
Secondly there are very few utopian communists in New Zealand, unless you use a very weird definition of Communist.
Your last 2 paragraphs are utterly weird. But I must say – from what I can understand – there was no such person as Martin Goring. There was Herman Goring, and there was Martin Borman. Neither of which said the quote the you attribute to them. It was however once said by Baldur von Schirach but it is in reality a line from a play, and the actual quote refers to my "browning" – distinctly NOT a revolver.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jan/14/kim-dotcom-megaupload-pirate-innovator-dance-album-interview

Chris Trotter said...

With you there, GS! Robert's comment reminds me of the sort of tosh I write when I come home late from Galbraith's Alehouse - and (usually) delete before hitting the "Publish Your Comment" button.

A practice I heartily recommend to "Robert".

Oh, and congratulations for scotching the oft-repeated misattribution of the "When I hear the word culture" quote to one (at least) of the Nazi leaders. The true author of the famous line was a right-wing playwright (and Nazi supporter) named Hans Johst, and the full and correct quote is "When I hear the word culture ... I release the safety on my Browning!"

Guerilla Surgeon said...

And now he has Bomber Bradbury?

Fern said...

Can one make any useful comparisons with the McGillicuddy Serious Party at the height of its popularity? A politically aware friend of mine once voted for it because he was so disenchanted with mainstream politics.

Jigsaw said...

The Fat Guy's party should syphon more than a few votes from the left! Just imagine all those lefties voting for a guy who has become mega-rich by ripping off artists..... The irony of Martyn Bradbury working for him! $8000 a month!

Anonymous said...

Let's hope, for the sake of the country and the downtrodden, that the heartless JK, post election, is not there. Let's let's hope.

Anonymous said...

The potential voters are largely the wannabe smart boys and girls of the generation Chris describes, who think they own the world, and the world owes them an exciting life, full of opportunities to self fulfill.

It is the potential voter who has some good knowledge about smart phones, the most modern computer hardware and software, about all kinds of gadgets to communicate and to use cyberspace for whatever purposes.

They never milked a cow, never tilled a field, never worked in a factory, never grew own vegetables, are used to get served at a push of a button, do follow infotainment rather than real news, and have a dim view of anything that requires analysis and in depth thinking.

So yes, they will flock to vote Dotcom, they love the "hero" image, at the same time a rich guy, who made it, as they grew up in the decades of neoliberal, laissez faire economics, where anything collective, social and somehow too restrictive is frowned upon. It is the "ME generation", thinking of "me first", and "my space for myself", the wanting it right now, whatever they desire, aspire or need.

They know little about the complexities of society, of the economy of life in general, and they will fall for the modern day seducers, like Dotcom. It is beyond them that that man may ultimately be doing all this just to promote himself and his personal business interests.

While I have some sympathy for Dotcom, I do not wish to vote for him, as he stands for nothing much that I see as being a total priority for NZ, apart from taking a stand against the NSA and for privacy.

So we will see, I will observe things, and I will expect a short lived party with short lived survival, and whatever may come of it, will bring little real change, of that I am certain.

Sanctuary said...

Shorter version of Anonymous on 16 January 2014@00:27:

Old man shakes fist at cloud.

finbar lochlin said...

And another pull from the reality of socialism.He will for sure pull bulk votes from our ejit self service now,our disenfranchised youth,techno aware and scales aware of the times waste of this is your course if not no reward.Our youths schooling is full of another course for their needs,if not attended a police officers hand on their shoulder,not for care but for arrest,yep Dotcom,has a illusion that base political parties have yet to grasp.

Brett Atkinson said...

Keep supping the Coatesville Kool Aid Chris

Nic the NZer said...

Unfortunately this is likely to fragment the left further. While many (including me) would welcome less snooping and other govt involvement in the public side of the internet, that depends on this party getting enough support to be elected. Unfortunately don't see a lot of support on the right for this (despite the rhetoric).

On the other hand, I am not convinced that there is more to the right of the spectrum than the National party. Its pretty clear that National is in close arrangement with the Conservatives, and has always had arrangements to make sure at least one ACT MP gets in (which adds to their quota, though ACT didn't get 5% for 10 years now).

For some reason it came as a massive surprise to many ACT supporters when the National party orchestrated a coup to re-orient their second electoral vehicle.

jh said...

 but frustrated by an older, Baby-Boom, generation which refuses to make way for those best-placed to deal with the daunting challenges and changes of the digital age.

.....
Digital age or age where we meet uneconomic growth where technology cannot deliver a fix?
If so the old fart baby boomers may have a lesson or two?

Victor said...

Anonymous@16 January 2014 00:27

"It is beyond them that that man may ultimately be doing all this just to promote himself and his personal business interests."

I must confess that it never occurred to me there might be people who didn't realise this. But you're probably right.

david said...

I think Kim starting his own party is disappointing and indicates someone putting himself before the cause. The fact that people will vote for a political party based on only one policy platform shows that a good number of New Zealanders remain as naive and gullible as ever. I also cant understand why nearly all sections of politics, the media and a good number of commentors on blogs such as this find it impossible to acknowledge that the Greens have performed the most admirably of all the political parties this term. Time the Green Party got some of the respect it deserves.