Love him or loathe him, Kim Dotcom arouses strong feelings. Whatever your opinion of him you have to wonder how he copes with the pressure. Most of us would have taken to the bottle by now. He is a non-drinker. Dotcom has the full weight of the world’s superpower and its South Pacific minion aligned against him. He’s fortunate to have the financial resources to afford him top flight legal protection. The rest of us would be facing trial or in prison by now in the same situation. I don’t know his personal circumstances but the break up of a marriage is incredibly stressful for anyone. And on top of that he is the driving force behind a new political movement at an election and the huge time and psychological demands that places on a person’s physical and mental reserves.
Break out the violins many might say. He chose to take on this fight and has no one to blame but himself. He has no interest in New Zealand or democracy, only a selfish desire to prevent himself being deported. His personal vendetta against John Key is desperate.
Is that true? Dotcom has been very open that the frivolous, wealthy playboy who didn’t give a toss about politics has been radicalised by the actions of the US and New Zealand governments, especially the over the top show raid launched against him and his family at the Coatesville mansion. Helicopters, masks and guns when a knock on the door by a single man would have sufficed.
Is the activism so surprising? Faced with the same scenario you would either be cowed or enraged. He has been enraged and has the financial means to put actions behind his words. Does that illegitimise the Internet-Mana agenda? Of course not. No more than Colin Craig’s pretty much self funded crusade on binding referenda or ACT’s libertarian policies being funded by wealthy benefactors.
It should also be no surprise, no marriage of convenience, that he has hooked up with Harawira and the Mana Party. If there is any group in New Zealand that should be radicalised it is Maori. That they have remained so reasonable in the face of mass immigration and injustices like Parihaka, Bastion Point and Operation 8 is remarkable. Yet they remain on the fringe of New Zealand politics and the economy. They too should have a vested interest in shaking up the status quo.
Given the circumstances I would say Dotcom has been remarkably restrained, saving his vitriol for mocking the PM. That infuriates those who will broke no criticism of Obama’s golfing buddy. He is not advocating violence. He is not even advocating civil disobediance. Just change.
Personally I think its great, what Owen Jones refers to as the Establishment, has been shaken and stirred. Even rattled. When I see cold war warriors like Bruce Ferguson calling “criminals and traitors” or Michelle Boag’s darting eyes and frothing mouth on Firstline I think awesome. Shake them up! Can you imagine a Kiwi doing what Dotcom has done? The cosy duopoly of Labour and National is well past its used by date. Messy representative democracy is where it’s at. To all those like my father wanting stable, authoritarian government – deal with it. Political chaos might be unsettling for a moment but if it brings diversity of ideas and a challenge to defunct status quo thinking, then I’m all for it. Gordon McLauchlan’s “passionless people” still need a giant boot up the backside.
Yes Dotcom may have a cartoonish public persona and wish to avoid extradition (wouldn’t you?) but he has pushed and pushed an issue many would rather not think about. Without his impetus we would not have heard Greenwald, Snowden, Assange or Amsterdam last night. Yes he chortled loudly. Yes it was distracting. Many New Zealander’s hate a colourful show pony. It’s not Kiwi! It’s probably not German either.
He is who he is but that should not detract from the serious message Greenwald, Snowden and co. delivered. The privacy/security debate is far bigger than just Kim Dotcom, as is the TPP and corporate copyright machinations. At the moment he is the lightening rod for both these crucial debates, taking incredible heat, and regardless of any other factors, we should be grateful for that alone. Whether it is voluntary or involuntary is immaterial. Without him these issues would have come and gone. The original “dissenters” like Jane Kelsey would have struggled to be heard. They still do. Dotcom brings colour, media attention and focus. Too much colour for some? Too bad.
By the sounds of it last night’s press conference was a shambles. It wasn’t unreasonable for the media to ask what became of Dotcom’s big reveal. His failure to explain did him or Internet-Mana no favour. He had built up the “reveal” for months. For me it was a minor anti-climax. My interest had always been on what Greenwald and Snowden would release and I wasn’t disappointed. We now know about SPEARGUN and XKEYSCORE in New Zealand. Maybe the press conference debacle was just tiredness and exasperation at how easily the media here can be diverted from the big issues by “flak”. Maybe exasperation that all said and done many Kiwis just don’t care about the dilution of privacy and their manipulation by authorities with fear and propaganda.
I am heartened that my teenage daughters aren’t fooled. They can recognise that Dotcom has a vested interest but they are also engaged with the issues he is championing. In his glib, facile ripostes they can see John Key for the hollow politician he is and recognise who McLauchlan described as the Face;
The perfectly passionless palliative Face kept saying it wanted to talk about serious things such as the economy and yet somehow never did. I could sense the attraction of personal charm but saw or heard nothing to hint at the gravitas mature citizens would want from a leader, and nothing at all to excite admiration.
So I have hope for the future and I thank Kim Dotcom for helping shed some light on the Security State in this country. He is fighting for his life but we are likewise fighting for our privacy, human rights and sovereignty. I hope it is not too late for this election. I hope enough kiwis give a damn. I wish Kim Dotcom well.