Introducing Michael Wood
Michael is 30 and lives in Mt Roskill with his family. A member of the Puketapapa Local Board of the Auckland Council, he has a keen interest in local government, community development, and the development of a robust local civil society. He has spent most of the past decade working in the union movement, most recently as a negotiator for the finance sector union Finsec.
His main interest in politics is inequality, its structural causes, and the development of a social democratic programme that fundamentally re-balances the current skewed distribution of resources. An active Anglican, he is also focussed on the role of faith in public discourse, and the need for the left to re-examine its heritage and re-connect with the broad faith community.
Michael is the former Botany by-election candidate and a Labour List candidate
The central theme of the Easter story is that of resurrection – the idea that out of the very darkest places, renewal and new life can emerge. It’s a powerful theme, and one that no particular faith or political creed can claim exclusive ownership over.
For those of us on the left who have a Christian faith (Anglican for the record) however, the notion of resurrection, the promise of something better to come, has particular resonance. Labour Parties across the world were often driven by strong base of Christian activism when they were being founded in the early 20th Century, and a common objective was to build a “new Jerusalem” in place of the dark, squalid, and brutal conditions of industrial society at that time.
I believe that the theme is just as relevant, if not more so, for social democratic politics today. The right’s wholesale adoption of amoral free-market values represents a complete abdication of responsibility for ever hoping or planning for something better. Politics is reduced to a bloodless, technocratic administration of market forces in which the lives of real people are in reality solely governed by aggregate forces of supply and demand. Their language dismisses the prospect of anything better as “utopian” and we have it drilled into us that “there is no alternative”. To me the most horrifying spectacle to unfold under this government has been the casual dismissal of rising unemployment (Key: “The figures bounce around”) as if it is by its nature uncontrollable and inevitable.
It is that hopeless inevitability that the theme of resurrection addresses. We say that a better future is always possible if we plan for it and work for it. It was out of the ashes of depression and war that social democratic movements across the western world built fair and just economic systems and social institutions when they achieved power in the 1930s and 40s. That was real resurrection in action – millions lifted out of poverty and despair, given hope, and told that they were worth caring about and had a stake in their society.
As now as we face entrenched recessionary conditions across the western world, and in many cases governments whose faith in a valueless market based system is unshakeable, it seems to me that a huge opportunity exists for social democrats to harness the values of resurrection again. This is about outlook, policy, and language – being clear with people that we are not just a differently coloured management team, but that that we are the party that believes that the current imbalances and inequities are not only wrong, but that they can be changed, and hope resurrected, through political action.
Talk to the victims of the recession – people in the poorer parts of town, the volunteers at the local CAB, or the small business owners who are going under by the score and you’ll find that they are all looking for resurrection of a kind.