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Deja vu all over again: Labour in 2014 edition

Written By: - Date published: 2:00 pm, January 13th, 2013 - 104 comments
Categories: election 2014, greens, labour, MMP, national - Tags:

From Dimpost on Trotter on Shearer (I feel like we’re in the beginning stages of some terrible blogging chain letter here):

My concern about a Shearer-led government is less dramatic than Trotters’. It’s that many of the senior Labour Ministers will be the usual gang of loyalist idiots, that Shearer would be unable to manage Winston Peters (assuming New Zealand First is a part of the coalition), that Labour will wage an unrelenting covert campaign against any Green Ministers, and that the whole thing will see National sail back into office three years later.

Yep.  I said it about the last election, and I’ll say it about 2014 as well:  it is not a universal truth that any-and-all configurations of Labour-led government are better for NZ than any-and-all configurations of National-led government.  Labour is not automatically the lesser of two evils in this situation, especially with ACT goneburger, the Conservatives not showing a lot of fight (just a lot of cash), and the Greens positioning themselves as a party with an actual clue, a purpose, a strong viewpoint and a soul.

The Labour government which follows this National government (whether in 2014 or 2017 or gods forbid 2020) faces one big challenge from the electorate:  show us you have an alternative, successful solution to our woes.

A Labour government which muddles around with no clear idea of what it’s doing or where it’s going, which buys into National’s rhetoric, which does pretty much a watered-down version of what National would have done themselves only while telling us that “we’re the ones who really care” … that government is just going to send one big message:  we don’t have a plan, and we can’t make things better.

And then a lot of voters will stay at home [again] or jump back to National because hey, at least they act like they know what they’re doing, and I guess they were right about leftwing ideas not being practical in the real world after all, and if I’m going to be stuck in an economic downturn at least I can have more of my money in my pocket, right?

And then we’re basically fucked until things get so bad for “middle New Zealand” that a revolutionary leader can take charge of Labour/the Greens/Mana and sweep into power on a massive wave of popular support.

But that would probably take a while.

I don’t want National to win the next election.  But I’m not convinced that the current Labour Party would do a good enough job at the head of a coalition to remind voters – that big group of people who don’t really engage in politics and certainly don’t read blogs like The Standard – that there are alternatives to coldhearted neoliberal bullshit.  That collectivist approaches work better than individualist approaches.  That all-pulling-together does actually get better results.  That a strong social safety net is something to be seriously proud of.

If voters aren’t convinced of this, they’re going to stay home.  They’re going to vote for the $10 tax cut bribe.  And the Labour Party will have no grounds to whine about it.

104 comments on “Deja vu all over again: Labour in 2014 edition”

  1. I think the future is ridding on minor parties as well as the Greens and NZ First, Labour is tolerable but no party is perfect.

  2. the sprout 2

    Agreed entirely.
    The installation of a rightwing Labour Government will be as disasterous for New Zealand as was the 4th because without any leftward counter-swing during a Labour cycle, the ideological pendulum will shift even further to the right – just as it did in the hijacked 80s.
    I’m inclined to think that would be worse than another term of National followed by 3 terms of an actually leftwing government.
    Also inclined to agree with Trotter – I said as much just before Shearer was ‘elected’.

    http://thestandard.org.nz/the-lesson-of-lange/

    …and here’s the original image for the post, the background is telling i think

    http://thestandard.org.nz/the-lesson-of-lange/david-lange-trevor-mallard/

  3. hush minx 3

    In a strange way, this is yet another reason why I want caucus to send the February vote to the members and affiliates. If the party choose a leader who follows the right wing doctrine then we, the voter, can choose to put our vote for whichever party of the left we believe will make the stronger difference. Under shearer my vote will go green. Not necessarily under a different Labour leader though. Will depend on what they represent.

  4. McFlock 4

    I think a labour coalition with significant representation of Mana and the Greens will still give voters an opportunity to see that there are alternatives, though. And I also think that smaller parties (especially the greens) now know how to differentiate themselves from the larger party even while in government.

    That rests on either smaller party being prepared to vote “nay” on a confidence issue, though. Wouldn’t necessarily lead to a snap election.

  5. AmaKiwi 5

    The financial world is in meltdown.

    QoT, read about the 1930’s Great Depression. We are on the cusp of revolutionary times, which is why the country will need someone with brains and Captain Mumblefuck ain’t him.

    • QoT 5.1

      I honestly wouldn’t put money on any current Labour MP to do well in a really revolutionary period – as other commenters here are regularly pointing out, they’ve all bought into the current economic model to some extent.

  6. GeoffC 6

    Nicely put QOT.
    From what I see hear and get info on from overseas ESP Fabian society uk and European political think tanks we are in a transition phase.
    A phase where the centre left is transiting away from the dogmatic failed ideology of pax globea the mega wealthy patrician class, aWay from the third way to another Way.a broad pathway but it will take time and for the wide wide middle and below to understand the new framed language terminology and accept it as correct or at least the masses trust the message, the delivery and deliviers of the new way.
    Our LP need to reconnect and awake up sleepy old kiwis to establish an acceptance and understanding of the transition phase and it’s policy platform so we can bring about change and the new direction in itse fullest.
    Plans underway so I hear…

    • karol 6.1

      Geoff, that Fabian UK and European think tank stuff sounds interesting. Do you have any recommended links?

      Totally agree with your post QOT. Well said!

        • karol 6.1.1.1

          Thanks, Geoff. Will read it in the next few days.

          • GeoffC 6.1.1.1.1

            Another link Karol.
            http://www.feps-europe.eu/en/

            • karol 6.1.1.1.1.1

              Thanks, again, Geoff.

              Is the “new way” that you are talking of, actually more of a return to social democracy, rather than an entirely new way? A social democracy that it internationalist and takes into account the realities of pressures on resources and the environment?

              • GeoffC

                Hi Karol
                transition phase via social democracy ( modern framed language ) to another new way that realises people over corporate, an entirely new system that can deal with the coming trinity of energy, growth, climate.
                Time to erode the embedded neo lib machine, the Hybrid third way by following the globalised movement of social demo then onto something else…a red green construct.
                The uk policy platform inspired by the Fabians etc is eye opening.
                This is real meaningful inspirational change, a new direction that will tame and control the devil loose within our system.

                • GeoffC

                  From our brothers in arms.
                  This is what real leader speaks of…in modern framed language of course.
                  Bold inspired with solid policy about a new direction.

                  http://www.labour.org.uk/ed-miliband-speech-fabian-one-nation-labour-change

                  • karol

                    Thanks, Geoff. There is a lot of positive stuff in that speech: it attacks the division between the deserving and undeserving poor; talks about security of tenure and fair rents for renters and many other things.

                    I like the focus on collective effort, but am not keen on the “One Nation” meme – it reminds me too much of the BNP for some reason. While Milliband does mention diversity, the One Nation meme seems to smother it.

                    Also, it’s mostly about working for the economy and everyone “doing their bit”, and nothing about the vitality of social life with community spirit and activities that aren’t focused on the mainstream of the economy.

                    And he talks about working for “long term wealth creation”, which just sounds like the old growth idea, rather than restructuring the economy as a sustainable one. And the environment and resource depletion doesn’t get a mention.

                    The speech does take a step away from some of the neoliberal and third way stuff, and has a welcome focus on the collective spirit. But I’ll need more than one speech to convince me Ed is leading in the right direction.

                    • GeoffC

                      Yes agree karol but a speech signalling community collectivism effort of the ordinary worker about the 99 percent, direct intervention in the system for betterment of the masses. The common person, worker etc. from the middle out.

                      Now put it in context with the policy platform Fabian inspired and you have a bold new direction.
                      Tobin tax, stamp tax
                      A small step in the right direction I say. A small step in the revolution.

                    • karol

                      Geoff, I think Ed is streaks better in his content and delivery than Shearer. however, I think we need some bolder steps than gently and softly stepping in a new direction. The MSM works to ensure that such a government won’t be able to step much beyond that.

                      I was a bit puzzled by the working “from the middle out” idea. And need to reflect a bit more on what it means. But my initial feeling is that it needs to be from the bottom up – Ed sounds like he’s making yet another pitch to the interests of the middle classes.

                  • just saying

                    Bit of tweaking and window-dressing then?

                    No taking responsibility, or seriously renouncing New Labour’s part in the social-darwinism that Milliband claims to want to modify. A bit.

                    More third-way, lots of fluffy language, and warm fuzzies no radical change. But it’s nice that party volunteers will be out on the street helping households to change power-companies. Not to gain popularity and votes you understand. Just because they care so deeply.

                    • QoT

                      “third-way” is one of my most hated political terms. There’s nothing wrong with owning the label “left-wing”, people. Unless of course you’re secretly not.

                    • karol

                      Yes, I agree, js, that his ((albeit limited) praise of Blairism, was a bit disturbing. A full renunciation of the whole “third way” stuff is needed.

                      QOT@8.42pm: yes “third way” is a euphemism for the lesser evil of a slightly softer neoliberalism,

                      Also, I had a nagging feeling about Milliband’s terminology. I associate the deliberate catch phrases, like “One Nation”, with the marketing style that became dominant in politics in the neoliberal era. This speech seemed to have that sort of slickness, with one eye on how well it’ll go down with the focus groups.

                      We need to get back to some rough edged, non-managerialist, non-media-groomed politicians, who speak directly to the many and from the heart.

                    • GeoffC

                      Go read the policy then the speech.
                      What would you want a rise of socialism again.
                      Socialism is dead in modern language…reframe it.
                      Be realistic or you die with nothing but a dream.

                    • geoff

                      Socialism is dead in modern language…reframe it.
                      Be realistic or you die with nothing but a dream.

                      …reframe it

                      Fuck off with your focus group politics. May all the marketers eat shit and die.

                  • just saying

                    It flat-out doesn’t ring true. it’s not a new direction – it’s a new marketing campaign.

                    I think we can expect to see some of these new weasel phrases peppered throughout Shearer’s speeches in time to come. As the leadership cabal slowly sees the old crap isn’t working they’ll have a go at some of this fresh, new repackaging (of the same rotting pile of crap).

                    What is unsaid, in whatever “framing” you prefer, is also chillingly telling.

  7. Dr Terry 7

    Just as I have been hearing interminably that “given time” Shearer (and Labour) will “come right” and work the magic, it seems now that the new and fashionable phrase is “Plans are underway so I hear” (without any specifics on offer, least of all “exciting” prospects). Anticipation is fine, but an ongoing and unfulfilled sense of anticipation is counter-productive. People of the true Left are becoming very frustrated and weary I imagine. If it is the Shearer gang making the “plans” then I want not a bar of them thank you. QoT is saying, at last, what has needed to be enunciated for long. One year back I would never have admitted in my wildest and most crazy dreams that Key might just as well stay where he is, continuing to commit carnage in this country. I think I fear Shearer more even than Key (though that is barely conceivable!) Greens/Mana I like – but would they lower their respective visions to unite with this half-dead current Labour leadership? Take nothing fore-granted!

  8. Afewknowthetruth 8

    It makes no difference which party is in power: everything that matters, i.e. the local environment and the global environment, social cohesion, the general health of the populace, educational achievement etc., just get worse and worse.

    The main reason seems to be that all politicians are scientifically illiterate and financially illiterate, or are simply opportunistic lackeys of global corporations and money-lenders. I have yet to encounter even one that actually knows what he/she is talking about. They all churn out meaningless drivel while they orchestrate the looting and pollution of the planet. It seems that parliament attracts psychotic sociopaths. Or it’s that only psychotic sociopaths can stand what goes on in parliament, i.e. debate at marginally above kindergarten level.

    • Bill 8.1

      Hmm. Thinking that our political system is a bit like a large ocean going liner – not very maneuverable and very slow to react. Erm, but this iceberg we’re heading for…really bad analogy for AGW I know…but anyway, we can’t ram into it, throw everything into reverse and have any chance of staying afloat. (apparently ye olde captain of the Titanic should have done just that instead of trying to turn aside).

      Anyway, I’m almost of the mind that if a leader from one of the traditional two parties (ie, not the Greens) stood up and told it like it is, then people would actually take notice and act accordingly. I could be wrong. But if nothing is said and done we are so assuredly fcked…

    • Don't worry be happy 8.2

      What’s with the whole Parliament is like kindergarten stuff? Seems like if you want to insult politicians you liken them to children…little kids with soft expressions and shining eyes and gap toothed smiles. Beautiful little children….Why diss children so easily?!

  9. Rich 9

    things get so bad for “middle New Zealand” that a revolutionary leader can take charge of Labour/the Greens/Mana and sweep into power on a massive wave of popular support.

    If we get a China crash at the serious end of the scale (Greece/Syria rather then UK/Ireland) then this might happen sooner than people expect. A big crash in China would wreck primary industries here and in Australia which would be highly likely to cause a bank crash and currency collapse. Maybe a combination of not getting paid, a currency-driven fuel crisis and a property crash would wake the middle classes up.

  10. Rogue Trooper 10

    The strangest of warriors are these two, Time and Patience
    -Tolstoy
    or
    ” I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end”
    -Margaret Thatcher, in Observer, April 4, 1989

    I have never yet seen any plan which has not been mended by the observations of those who were much inferior in understanding to the person who had the lead in the business.
    -Burke

    You can’t plow a field simply by turning it over in your mind.
    -Hinckley

    and

    It does not do to leave a dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him (or have his ear)
    -Tolkien

  11. karol 11

    GeoffC @8.54pm: Go read the policy then the speech.
    What would you want a rise of socialism again.
    Socialism is dead in modern language…reframe it.
    Be realistic or you die with nothing but a dream.

    I suspect that a mainstream left wing party in NZ or the UK would go no further left than social democracy, at this stage. I was partly asking if it would be a new form of social democracy.

    I think Cunliffe’s speeches in the last year have been pretty much social democratic, and that both he and Ed Miliband are more left wing than Team Shearer.

    I am concerned that the MSM will work to contain any sort of shift to a slightly more leftish social democracy. I think it will be necessary for there to be a growth in pressure from the flax roots for something more solidly left wing and new – that’s why IrishBill’s policy development posts are a great idea. We need to speak more directly with the politicians rather than continuing to let it be through the MSM middle-people.

    I think the mainstream left MPs have go stuck in the role of controlling the direction of their politics and then trying to sell it to the party members and masses. That is part of the damage of “neoliberalism”. So I think the flax roots, the blogs etc, need to be proactive and propose the more radical, and/or more creative policies.

    I prefer to be doing that, rather than just waiting to accept or reject whatever the politicians put out there.

    • GeoffC 11.1

      Speak to the pollies and policy makers yourself…they are both easily accessible and actively listen.
      Stand up together and our representatives have the power to change things.
      Bring about the awakened masses an aware and focused masses and we will get change quickly.

  12. Wayne 12

    Karoo, please keep pushing this line. It will help National in 2014, by enabling them to ague that the alternative (Labour/Greens) are unrealistic and a danger to most (more than 50%) voters. I know you are a true believer in socialism, but even 23 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall it is simply not seen as a realistic alternative. Even in Greece it was not seen as an option, and there is no way you could argue that NZ is in the dire situation of Greece

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      Democratic socialism is the way ahead mate, I’m afraid that it’s capitalism which is totally unsustainable. As your example of Greece demonstrates.

      • GeoffC 12.1.1

        Maybe true but we are not at the stage to get any socialist type ideal policy etc coming through into the political scene in any meaningful manner.
        Hence my next way
        At moment we are at transitional phase…uncoupling neo lib policies and imbedded structures.
        Meanwhile while the echo chamber on here of rump socialists squeeze out any other discourse people in the streets are starving..
        My whole point was that in mainstream labour around the world there is significant policy that is focusing on investment capitalism and the top one percent, higher taxes, Tobin tax, stamp transaction duties, direct confrontation with the embedded power of the elites.
        Setting the scene for more and more corrective policy then at Sam downstream stage we can progress to something else…
        Meantime it’s about feeding the people…

        • just saying 12.1.1.1

          Meanwhile while the echo chamber on here of rump socialists squeeze out any other discourse people in the streets are starving.

          After thirty years many people see through the slick marketing techniques of third-way-speak. Instead of salivating like Pavlov’s dogs we’ve heard it all before: what’s said, the way it’s said, and what’s not said. The marketeers now dictate the substance of policy, discourse, and actions, rather than the reverse. The brand has taken over the animal. The dog-whistles are directed left and right simultaneously, and cancel each other out leaving no greater “discourse” than ‘nice is nice and not-nice isn’t’ .

          The fact is third-way Labour parties are as much of a cause of people being in need as their designated opponents. The idea of one of its proponents accusing sites like this of squeezing “out other discourse” really is ironic. If anything has sucked the oxygen out of left wing discourse it is the craven, focus-grouped, mealy-mouthed, corporate mission statement, empty platitudes exemplified by the Miliband speech that you linked to further up the thread.

        • karol 12.1.1.2

          I can see the logic of that, GeoffC. And I do agree there urgently needs to be some provisions to help those struggling, as soon as possible.

          My main concern is the step-by-step approach will stall after the first step due to our current corporate-controlled MSM.

          Therefore, I think the flax roots needs to be actively working to lead the conversation in a more truly democratic, left wing direction. Aim to cut out the MSM mediators between the people and politicians.

          Critical mass from the ground up: it’s not democratic collective action if it’s organised and controlled by the politicians. It needs to be politics, collective actions and policies that are of, by, and for the people: organisation and working within communities, talking to people on and offline, growing the movement – producing and discussing new ideas and policies.

        • geoff 12.1.1.3

          GeoffC, transition is fine, and frequently gets talked about on the standard, but it’s only relevant if you have an end goal in mind.

          What are you implying by the vague ‘ feeding the people‘ line?

          • GeoffC 12.1.1.3.1

            End plan called the next way. What..deep red and deep green all trussed up in modern language that has resonance with the electorate or masses at that point on the continuum.
            Me personally I am off to le mes for a reason but I have a plan as an activist.

            Reconnect various organisation individual and other grouping.in a continuous manner from the middle out to the harder margins of the intra connected matrix.
            Provide platform opportunity to disseminate information bypassing msm.
            Continual campaigning starting this month by local party and mp.
            Step by step long term plan to change society for the masses. The people.
            Provide policy, direction and community support and voice so th front person can actively promote a new direction.

            • karol 12.1.1.3.1.1

              Provide platform opportunity to disseminate information bypassing msm.

              I agree with this part, and think it is pretty essential.

              • GeoffC

                We are actively implementing it as we speak.
                Open govt, inventing or adopting comms channel, networking, coordinating organising reconnecting to counter the embedded neo lib pos capitalist construct.
                The standard has a part to play but direct local structures are forming that will have power…um nothing new kinda old really something borrowed not blue.

        • quartz 12.1.1.4

          I don’t know what you mean by “rump socialists”. When people here put up their policy wishlist the other day it was mostly mainstream social democrat stuff.

  13. To me, in my simplistic way, Labour isn’t the key to the door in 2014.
    They can chase the middle ground ’til their hearts content, but they’ll win nothing without the stay away voters of 2011.
    Who encourages them to return to the booth is king, queen, knave and joker maker.
    With the current line ups on offer, who would you put your rent/mortgage money on?

    Still plenty room for a new left party, and enough time for a leader to come forth and inspire us and mop up the votes the Green’s, for what ever reason, won’t attract.

  14. Jenny 14

    QOT I notice that nowhere in your post did you mention the words “climate change”.

    This is a little like a left wing commentator of the late ’30s not mentioning the words “Nazi menace”.

    This is particularly strange as it is the one policy that the Nats are most weakest on.

    It is the one policy that if taken up by the opposition parties would really show the Nats up as completely lacking in answers.

    It is the one policy that could clearly differentiate between the two, (arguably) similiar political streams.

    Climate Change is the one policy that if it is not raised as a matter of principle as an election issue in 2014 will help reinforce the cynical view held my many of the politically disengaged and as expressed by Afewknowthetruth “that parliament attracts psychotic sociopaths. Or it’s that only psychotic sociopaths can stand what goes on in parliament, i.e. debate at marginally above kindergarten level.”

    • karol 14.1

      Jenny, the post doesn’t mention any policies on anything. That’s not what the post was about. It means the general direction of political positions.

      • Jenny 14.1.1

        Jenny, the post doesn’t mention any policies on anything

        karol

        That is arguable. QOT mentioned neoliberal bullshit as opposed to a collectivist approach. And policy has certainly been raised in following comments.

        Maybe like CV and weka you think I am a Climate Change Obsessive. But how hard would it have been for QOT to drop in one sentence about the danger we all face, but which is not being addressed. And most blatantly not being addressed by the Nats? (and less obviously blatantly by the opposition parties).

        • Jenny 14.1.1.1

          QOT and all sincere politicos (left or right), need to heed the words of Naomi Kleine

          ….Climate change has the ability to undo your historic victories and crush your present struggles. So it’s time to come together, for real, and fight to preserve and extend what you care most about — which means engaging in the climate fight, really engaging, as if your life and your life’s work, even life itself, depended on it. Because they do.

          Naomi Kleine “I’d Rather Fight Like Hell”

          • karol 14.1.1.1.1

            Good on Klein. And she is focused particularly on climate change right now as she has a book on it coming out. That is to be welcomed because it incorporates this issue with other parts of a left wing perspective.

            And yet, Klein still finds time to speak out on other significant issues. I can’t see any reports on Klein speaking and acting in solidarity with First Nation people in Canada, by returning her medal, that includes her making a statement on climate change.

            And in Klein’s December article on this issue, she doesn’t mention climate change either.

            The closest Klein gets to mentioning it is the reference to the current Canadian government’s planet trashing plans.

            Sometimes there’s a need to focus solely on other aspects of the total left wing approach.

    • KJT 14.2

      It is not “climate change”. Call it what it is, AGW.

      “Climate change” is a term introduced by those who do not want to do anything about it.

      • Jenny 14.2.1

        Personally I have an aversion to acronyms, and Anthropogenic Global Warming is a bit of a mouthful. (Not to mention a keyboard full.)

    • QoT 14.3

      Jenny, all I have to say is that it speaks volumes for the narrowness of your worldview (not that we didn’t already get daily proof) that you apparently sincerely believe climate change is “the one policy that the Nats are most weakest on”.

      And don’t fucking tell me what I should write about.

      • GeoffC 14.3.1

        Gosh soooo abusive. Cannot we have civility and open discourse without personally attacks…save it for the rabid right.

      • Jenny 14.3.2

        And don’t fucking tell me what I should write about.

        QOT

        Did I tell you what to write?

        I just made the observation that you didn’t mention climate change. And said that; This is a little like a left wing commentator of the late ’30s not mentioning the words “Nazi menace”. This is not telling you what to write. It is just as I said, “an observation”. I wasn’t telling you to do anything.

        • QoT 14.3.2.1

          Suuuuuuure you weren’t. And if you make “an observation” like that again, your comments will be deleted.

        • karol 14.3.2.2

          Meanwhile there’s now been 138 comments under Bill’s Burdigalian post. And not a denier in sight.

          Just saying.

  15. Jenny 15

    Jenny, the post doesn’t mention any policies on anything

    karol

    That is arguable. QOT mentioned neoliberal bullshit as opposed to a collectivist approach. And policy has certainly been raised in following comments.

    Maybe like CV and weka you think I am a Climate Change Obsessive. But how hard would it have been for QOT to drop in one sentence about the danger we all face, but which is not being addressed. And most blatantly not being addressed by the Nats? (and less obviously blatantly by the opposition parties).

    • karol 15.1

      Jenny, I do think you’re obsessive, and, often, counter-productive. Your MO comes across to me as bullying. But, you just don’t listen to criticism, and label it as CC, CD,CA, or whatever. Are you now demanding every TS post has a mention of climate change in it?

      You harangue people, rather than participating in debate in good faith. As far as I can see, you have no respect for people having different views from you – usually the differences here are on strategy and approach. Most of the people you strongly criticise, are those who agree climate change is a problem, and that there needs to be measures to counter it.

      I am a strong believer in the importance of open discussion. Your approach seems to be to try to shut down discussion.

      • Jenny 15.1.1

        You are right. I am provocative. But it is not to shut down discussion. It is to try and bust open this tightly shut can of worms.

        This vitally needed discussion has not been shut down by me, but by the left and the Greens.

        Naomi Kleine explains (some of) the motives:

        “This economic model is failing us spectacularly, on multiple levels,” she added, “but we’re still acting as if our goal is to save it,” rather than transform it into something that won’t destroy us.

        Indeed, I suggested, that appears to be the case even among progressives who still prioritize economic growth at the expense of the climate.

        “The levels of denial are so complicated,” she said. “We are all in denial. All of us. People are holding back a tremendous amount of anxiety. You don’t let yourself care about something that you have no idea how to fix. Because it’s just too terrifying. And it would derail your whole life, as Yotam was saying.

        “That’s why there has to be a narrative, a plan, for how we integrate so much of what we’re already doing into a common project. Because so long as people feel like nothing that they know now applies, then they will work really hard to keep this information at bay.

        “This is our meta-issue. We’ve all gotta get inside it. Because this is our home. We are already inside it, like it or not, and it’s inside us. So the idea that we can somehow divorce from it is a fantasy that we have to let go of.”

        I asked about her decision to have a baby, in spite of everything she knows.

        She got quiet. “For a long time,” she told me, “I just couldn’t see a future for a child that wasn’t some, like, Mad Max climate-warrior thing.”

        Somehow, though, her engagement in the climate movement seems to have changed that. Another future seemed possible. She and Lewis decided to have a child, but struggled with infertility. Then, having given up, surprise: along came Toma.

        If anything, the experience has made Klein all the more a fighter. She now believes that denying her desire to have a child, because of the mess being made by those willing to destroy the planet for profit, would be a form of surrender.

        “I guess what I want to say is, I don’t want to give them that power,” she told me. “I’d rather fight like hell than give these evil motherfuckers the power to extinguish the desire to create life.”

        (emphasis my own)

        • karol 15.1.1.1

          It is to try and bust open this tightly shut can of worms.

          Well, I don’t think you’re being very successful, and your targets seem wrong to me. Concern about climate change/ AGW is hardly an issue that is not discussed here. You seem to misjudge your audience, and people start to switch off.

          Bullying is how you come across. You attack the people instead of arguing the issues. And you come across as if there can be no discussion – no differing with you. You are the one who knows, everyone else with different strategies or concerns about other pressing issues, is wrong.

          Bill’s threads get plenty of discussion. That’s the way to encourage understanding and action rather than haranguing people.

          But there are also other important discussions that need to be had, without every issue being hi-jacked. That’s not going to help the cause.

          BTW: obsessive is a term usually applied when an excess of activity or focus is counter-productive, getting in the way of achieving the desired aims.

      • Jenny 15.1.2

        Jenny, I do think you’re obsessive

        karol

        Though the term Climate Change Obsessive may be a term of abuse inside the Green Party and other left parties. Personally regard it as a badge of honour. How is it possible not to be “obsessive” about an “existential threat”? If your existence is at stake you should be obsessed.

        On the individual level if your existence is threatened and you don’t give this threat your full attention you will die. Simple as that.

        If you are a politician or leader of a society that’s existence is at stake and you disinterested, regarding climate change as just one more problem, equal or even lesser than all others, that society will not survive. It is simple as that.

        Existential threats concentrate the mind that is why they are called existential.

        The question is, is climate change an existential threat?

        Can any other modern issue be called existential?

        In the ’30s fascism was termed an “existential threat”.

        If we accept that climate change is an “existential threat” then we need to take the measures that the generation before ours took against that “existential threat”. However, the threat of climate change may even be worse. Because if it gets a hold it is likely to be permanent with no hope of redemption.

        To my mind it is doubly strange that the left, (even the Greens) are trying to down play the existential threat posed by climate change. The fact that they are, gives some credence to Afewknowthetruth’s bitter, (and hopeless), viewpoint.

        Afewknowthetruth 13 January 2013 at 5:13 pm

        PS. Welcome back Few. (I hope you don’t think I am a bully)

        • KJT 15.1.2.1

          If the Greens are trying to play it down then how come I have never seen any signs of anything of the sort, being a member of the Greens, and all.

          • Jenny 15.1.2.1.1

            It was never one of the Green Party electoral planks at the last election and looks to be a missing Green Party electoral plank in the upcoming election.

            • KJT 15.1.2.1.1.1

              Environmental sustainability was an underlying focus in EVERY Green policy last election. Looks like it will be this time also.

              I think you are getting confused because it is pervasive in all policy, rather than a single policy labelled AGW.

    • KJT 15.2

      Do you really think anything will be done about AGW unless we first address the issues of an economic system and iniquity which, at present put the burden of preventing AGW disproportionately on the poorest.

      I don’t see us getting votes for AGW mitigation measures that expect those on 40k or less to reduce their standard of living, while those at the top continue to get 17% or more annual increases in wealth.

      • Jenny 15.2.1

        Do you really think anything will be done about AGW unless we first address the issues of an economic system and iniquity which, at present put the burden of preventing AGW disproportionately on the poorest.

        KJT

        The Labour party has been trying for over 70 years to address the issues of an economic system and inequity. We have run out of time. We cannot wait until all social issues are addressed before we begin our fight-back.

        However, what I do believe. Is that when we begin this fightback, (which we haven’t yet), issues of social inequity will by necessity be addressed in the struggle. This will be an inevitable side effect.

        • KJT 15.2.1.1

          The Labour party addressed it, rather successfully actually, nearly all NZ workers were middle class for a long time, from the 30’s.

          They gave up in 1984, going much further to the neo-liberal right than National would have dared.

          You are never going to succeed in addressing AGW without changing the economic and social factors that make expanding use of resources inevitable.

          You are annoying, me, and I basically agree with you about the pressing need to address AGW.

          • Jenny 15.2.1.1.1

            I agree, I meant to add “quite successfully” .

            • Jenny 15.2.1.1.1.1

              To which I might add that I think that the Green Party are suffering from a huge amount of hubris in thinking that they can do this better.

              • KJT

                It is necessity, not hubris.

                We have to. If we want a future for our children.

                Personally I have no problem if Labour adopts Green policies, which once would have been Labours, and Greens never get into power.

                Hell, I may even start voting for Labour again.

                To many in Labour, just want “their turn” for three years. They have been a large part of “the problem” since 1984.

                Labour has given up trying to lead.

                To change the paradigm needed to make NZ a social and environmental success.

                Instead they want to be some wishy washy National light to attract 6 o-oclock news watchers.

                The fact that influential figures from Labour consider the rather moderate socialist democratic leanings of most Standard contributors, radical, says volumes.

                People will give up an awful lot if their leaders make sure we are “all in it together” and show valid reasons why.

                AGW has to be approached in the same way we approached things in 1939-45.

  16. handle 16

    “It is the one policy that could clearly differentiate between the two, (arguably) similiar political streams.”

    To a woman with only a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

    • Jenny 16.1

      Hi handle, would you like to expand on your hammer analogy?

      Specifically where I am going wrong in thinking that if the Left took up AGW in an uncompromising way, that that this would mark a clear differentiation between the opposition and the current incumbents. That would be clear to the whole electorate, including the disinterested and uninvolved.

      • geoff 16.1.1

        Jenny, I assume you are trying to convince people to agree with you. The only thing you have convinced me of is that the uncompromising approach you are taking is probably not helping your cause.

        • Jenny 16.1.1.1

          Jenny, I assume you are trying to convince people to agree with you. The only thing you have convinced me of is that the uncompromising approach you are taking is probably not helping your cause.

          geoff

          Possibly.

          Just know, that I am sincerely trying to do my best. I accept that I may be failing. If I can be convinced that I am, I will change my approach.

          All constructive engagement and advice and criticism is appreciated.

  17. Gosman 17

    One thing I have noticed about the left is that many of the activists don’t seem to learn much from failures in the past. The perception I get is that it isn’t the policies or ideas that need to change much, just that the circumstances aren’t right for them.

    I also note that many of the solutions tend to involve quite radical reorientation of society and seem to require some sort of societal collapse to come about. Do people actually think this is a viable option to push in a modern western style democratic country like NZ?

    • geoff 17.1

      One thing I have noticed about the right is their complete lack of irony.

      • KJT 17.1.1

        Some of the “right” harbour the delusion that if people were told the truth, instead of right wing propaganda, they would still vote for them.

        Research shows that, even in the USA, most people, if given a choice of policies without attribution, prefer the “radical” socialist democratic ones.

        In the same way that most vote for peace.

        Note that, neo-liberalism has had a very hard time getting a foothold, in the most democratic countries.

        • Gosman 17.1.1.1

          I presume you are meaning countries like those in Scandanavia or perhaps you mean the more ‘democratic’ countries like Cuba?

          • KJT 17.1.1.1.1

            Yes, I do mean countries like Norway, Switzerland etc. Note Sweden’s dropping in the rankings for almost everything since they swung to the right.

            Depends what you mean by success, though. Even an authoritarian dictatorship run on socialist lines, Cuba, are a lot more successful in providing food, housing and medical care for their population than those run on mean spirited “free market” theft, like Indonesia.

            Socialist democracies have been the most successful societies, ever.

            • Gosman 17.1.1.1.1.1

              Scandanavian countries are less Socialist than you think. Charter Schools for example are big in Sweden. The Social Democrats aren’t exactly busting a gut to oppose them either.

              • KJT

                Didn’t I just say that Sweden is heading downhill in many measures, even RW favorites such as GDP increase, since they became more right wing. The deterioration in their education system, for example, is obvious.

      • Gosman 17.1.2

        Mainstream right policies haven’t failed in terms of electoral success. You might like to think they have failed economically, however that is open to debate. The point I am raising is that radical left wing ideas have been on the back foot politically since the 1960’s. It was this that caused people like Bill Clinton and New Labour in the UK to conjure up the mystical ‘third way’ as an attempt to regain the initiative. It is your choice if you wish to ignore this trend.

        • KJT 17.1.2.1

          Why do the right wing have to keep telling lies to get elected, then, Gosman.

          National pretending to be more socialist than they really are to win the last election, for example.

          Like. If they were so successful, the evidence would be there, wouldn’t it.

          • Gosman 17.1.2.1.1

            What left wing policy did they promote that got them elected in your book? I thought your issue with them is that they are keeping many of their election promises.

            • KJT 17.1.2.1.1.1

              Sacking front line social services, sacking state servants and replacing them with more expensive contractors, cutting mental health funding, cutting funding for trades and tech training in schools, charter schools are some of the many policies which they did not put to the electorate because it would show them up for the mean spirited bunch of arseholes they really are.

    • lprent 17.2

      Funny I always see the same things from the right. The only thing is that I don’t see them expressed as opinions on a blog apart from the economic cretins in Act – instead I see them expressed by stupid repetition of past mistakes by the tory governments.

      Just at present I get this awesome sense of dejavu watching Bill English repeating the same foolish mistakes in economic policy that caused a generation of our young getting permanently scarred by being unable to find jobs or even decent training. Somehow the stupidity of doing that and the immense long-term drops in productivity just seems to waft past his eyesight blinded by illusionary short-term statistical gains in efficiency.

      The silliness of WINZ and ACC acting like complete arseholes simply because it fits the bigotry of the small minded idiots that vote for National (because it sure as hell doesn’t actually cut costs). All it actually does is to cause unproductive make-work for over-burdened staff which costs more than having less silly policies.

      I could go on. But it is all shades of the 90’s and the 70’s…

      That is the reality of the right in government. Long on complete bullshit, and totally useless at the job.. In fact it rather reminds me of your comments.

      • Gosman 17.2.1

        Couldn’t help yourself there could you lprent, just had to slip in the trademark snipe and personal insult. Still wouldn’t be the same without it. It is kind of like your signature. ;-)

        The thing you miss is that the mainstream right’s policies are normally quite consistent. It is essentially to not rock the boat too much and to attempt to put in place policies which they think will encourage private sector development of the economy.

        On the whole most right wing people seem to be quite happy with the economic structures in place, if not the policy mix. More of a steady as she goes view of the world.

        Many left wing activists tend to take a more ‘we’re all doomed’ approach it seems to me. The solutions involve chucking out not just the baby with the bathwater but the entire bath and plumbing as well. All valid viewpoints but electorally difficult to sell.

        • lprent 17.2.1.1

          I really don’t have time to write comments. So for me to exert myself to write a comment usually takes something to do with the operation of the site or something that I find annoying. If it is the latter, then why shouldn’t I make my opinion of the person I’m responding to known? I have no great love for fools…

          In any case you didn’t deal with anything that was actually in my comment. Instead you mindlessly repeated what you’d already said. And did a diversion into the usual silly carping about the politeness argument – which I am sure plays out well amongst the polite idiots you prefer, but I just find to be timewasting.

          Anyway I guess you just made my point for me – stupid repetition is the essential characteristic of the right….

          But I suspect that you may find seeing what I said in that last sentence rather hard to understand. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if you just repeat that same rote mantra yet again like the good little student you were/are..

          Lord – please preserve me from the drones who never learnt how to think….

          • Gosman 17.2.1.1.1

            I’m sorry, did you actually make a point in your original comment? I just thought it was some rant about your views on the vapidity of right wing policies. If it wasn’t you letting off steam then I must apologise as it read much like your other rants against right wing policies.

        • Rogue Trooper 17.2.1.2

          interesting moderation G.

        • KJT 17.2.1.3

          You are describing conservatives.Not the right wing.

          Old style conservatives are simply cautious. A view I can relate to.

          It was the right wing who snuck into Labour in the 80’s and ever since we have been throwing out the baby, the bathwater, the bath and the plug.

          The neo-liberal changes over the last 30 years have been way more radical than anything the left wing advocate.

          The right were NOT happy with the economic structure in place because it gave something to those who work instead of only to those who already have money.

          So. They set out to change the paradigm.

          Decades of fake academic voodoo economics, lies and “think tanks” were needed to persuade the majority to go along with the theft of all our wealth by a few.

  18. xtasy 18

    This thread is depressing!

    It exposes again the distress many of the alert, more conscious, idealistic, indeed democracy hungry, social justice demanding, sensible economic reforms expcecting, environmentally concerned, and more direct social-democracy desiring commenters here suffer under the present status quo.

    I do not quite agree with Trotter’s last piece on Shearer and his true ambitions. He now seems to over-rate the capabilities and intellect of Shearer. I also do not quite agree with the Dimpost article.

    Yet both – and others have at least a lot of elements of truth in what they are writing about.

    Shearer to me is rather an opportunistic “go with the flow” man, who was happy with accepting private fighting forces to do security and enforcement tasks for the UN, and certain states backing UN operations. That was at a time when a fair number of “experts” and politicians considered this to be the way for the future.

    But times have changed, the world has changed, there has been the global financial crisis, leading to public debt crisis and economic crisis in many affected countries. Shearer no longer works for the UN and has been “assisted” by some in the party and caucus to end up where he is now – as MP for Mt Albert AND “leader” with mumbling and stumbling issues.

    One good speech announcing a new housing policy won’t make him a competent leader. Media training will have its limits. Yet Shearer is trying to go with the flow of the wider NZ public, like it or not. He is trying to please too many, and he wants to ring votes of National, to get back into government. It is a fight for that vague “middle ground”, consisting of largely somewhat conservative to moderate people, saving for ever more expensive homes, anxious to keep jobs and lifestyles. They are enslaved to a system of debt to keep things as they are (mortgages and other liabilities around their necks). They have not the courage to “break free” and radically “change society”. They are too afraid.

    I cannot see Shearer lead Labour to victory in 2014. Even if he would, it would just be a one term government, likely a quite fragile one, and he may in the best case scenario be ousted and replaced during that term. My impression is he needs to go before, but we know the stumbling blocks.

    Cunliffe or any other leader also needs caucus behind him/her. But that caucus is full of hangers ons, keeping “left” and “right” in present NZ party politics a bit of a “farcical debate”.

    As for NZ and the global situation, the corporate and leading business sectors and their elite owners, managers and operators, they have a solid foothold in virtually every developed and newly developing country. Even Mainland China is discussing more privatisation and reduction of SOEs. We know the rest, employers and banks dictating to people what they can and cannot do.

    I fear that there is NO realistic potential, certainly NOT in New Zealand, for this to be changed within the coming years. It will not go without a huge fight between workers, downtrodden, poor and unemployed in many countries, before anything will change. In the meantime the environment will pay a price, but few are that concerned, as increased urbanisation has led the bulk of societies to be rather out of touch with nature and the hands-on environment.

    That is my observation, coming originally from a rural farming background.

    I am daily losing faith in human reason, courage, common sense and willingness to fight for change. I see almost NONE of it! It is more like, what is in it for me, what would it cost me, than anything about “we” or “us”. That is also where Labour’s caucus, leader and admittedly still too many members are stuck.

    There is a gaping cravice between them and many commenters here.

    Sorry, this is not uplifting, I know.

  19. Fortran 19

    In reading the above blogs one thing which stands out to me is the negativism being portrayed.
    In 2014 the positive party manifesto will succeed.
    The Labour policy makers needs to think differently from the total negativity of the Greens in wanting to change the world and continually ban things.
    The public will not support negative sniping – there are 800,000 votes to get to in a positive way.

    • kiwicommie 19.1

      I would hardly call the Greens negative, they have a right to be pissed at National’s plan to reduce NZ to a over polluted, third world shit hole. Because they want a clean environment, have a plan, and eventually want free education, decent healthcare and high paid jobs for New Zealanders, they are negative? By your standards, we should shut up and let the national parks be bulldozed, let oil companies spill oil everywhere, accept third world working conditions, while giving praise to Ayn Rand for our daily bread (that is if you can afford a $15 loaf of bread).

  20. SHG (not Colonial Viper) 20

    If you’re posting to the Internet, you’re not doing everything you can to fight climate change.

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