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Conservatism and Progressivism

Written By: - Date published: 3:30 pm, January 27th, 2009 - 99 comments
Categories: articles, labour, national - Tags: , ,

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Conservatism is all about maintaining the status quo. It assumes that the status quo is essentially ok, while change is best avoided. The idea comes from philosophers like Edmund Burke who figured the reason conventions and structures get to endure in the first place is because they work. Of course if you’re in the middle to upper strata of society and reasonably comfortable, then maintaining the status quo is more desirable than it is for those getting a raw deal. The Conservative position is comparatively easy to translate into political action because it concerns maintaining or removing influences to keep life as it is, or was. There isn’t a lot of philosophical disunity because the simple overarching rules are more individual liberty and less state influence: if in doubt, do less or nothing and ensure the status quo. Of course conservatives do changes things, but they usually cloak their actions in the rhetorical meme of ‘restoring things to how they were’. Overall Conservatism appeals to those who need or prefer simple answers to complex problems.

The weakness of a conservative position (apart from the obvious moral problem of disregard for those at the bottom of the heap), is that it doesn’t deal with change very well. Sometimes change comes from without, such as the effects of the Global Economic Crisis, and sometimes from within, when disaffected groups start do insist on change but either way trying to conserve the past isn’t often a very useful guide for how best to adapt. When the world insists on changing in novel ways Conservatives tend to be at a bit of a loss. The other obvious objection is clearly the past, or the status quo, hasn’t always been worth conserving: slavery, dowries and capital punishment spring to mind but there are countless injustices that have been abolished as societies have progressed towards civility.

Progressivism on the other hand takes the view that regardless of how things are now they can always be better, and that civilised societies have a duty to improve the lot of all their citizens, not least of which the weakest members. Progressivism is much more problematic as a guide for political decision making because it involves modifying existing structures, or making altogether new ones, to achieve a better state of affairs. It also provokes disagreements not only about how to achieve progress, but also more fundamentally, about what constitutes progress in the first place. This familiarity with change, ambiguity and complexity however gives an advantage to progressives when adaptation is the only option.

So Progressivism requires a lot more thought on behalf of its adherents, a lot more effort if you believe its harder to make something new than it is to keep things as they are, and often leaves progressives at odds with each other about what to achieve and how to achieve it. Fortunately on the whole it also seems to attract smarter, more compassionate people.

And then of course there’s Neo-Liberals, who pretend to be conservative while really seeking radical change, but that’s another story…

99 comments on “Conservatism and Progressivism”

  1. I don’t label people.

    Most people I meet are left on some issues and right on others.

    Gay rights, health care and education, some environmental issues, a person may swing to the left.

    That same person may swing to the right of issues such as Crime and economy, and Supporting our traditional allies.

    To make such a statement that conservatives like simple answers while progressives think more is a bit condensing.

    The statement that conservatives have a “moral problem of disregard for those at the bottom of the heap” is plain wrong.

  2. IrishBill 2

    Oh good lord. We invite the Sprout on board which results in an interesting analytical post about two predominant political ideologies and that’s the first comment. Brett, I think you are being willfully dunderheaded in a manner that can only be regarded as trolling. Consider this a warning.

    Sprout, good to have you on board, please ignore Brett.

  3. Scottish Fred 3

    IrishBill, you are a A grade ass… someone disagrees with the post, puts their reasons in a fairly clear manner and you give him a warning… you my friend, along with Eddy, Batman and a couple of the other occasional contributors to The Standard, are what gives this website such a bad rep… this is fast becoming the sewer to the KB sewer

    IrishBill: And you’re banned.

  4. Kevin Welsh 4

    So Brett, Jenny and Ruth were really about “tough love”?

    I feel a lot better now.

  5. IrishBill, I must say I think that was uncalled for, I disagree with Brett’s reply but I hardly think it was trolling.

    IrishBill: perhaps it was a little harsh but I have been watching Brett demolish perfectly good threads with what I am starting to suspect are deliberate attempts to threadjack.

  6. burt 6

    Shooting from the hip again IB ?

    captcha: constructed swamp

  7. vto 7

    At the risk of getting banned as well I have to say that Brett touches on a couple of good points that occurred to me when reading the topic as well. Generally it heads in probably the correct direction but it is littered with wobbly polemic (which could also be labelled bigoted in some ways – like a redneck in reverse). Brett pulls out two of the examples I noticed as well.

  8. BLiP 8

    Congratulations Sprout – well done. You’re braver than most of us who comment. But what actually is the point you are making?

    That to be a conservative requires nothing other than an immoral longing for the past and that to be a progressive requires intelligence and ability is, for goodness sake, a given in any politcal discourse.

    Isn’t it?

  9. Ag 9

    “Conservative” and “Progressive” are political, not scientific labels. There’s considerable empirical evidence that in our society, when people talk about left and right, that they are more than likely talking about authoritarianism. Conservatives are more or less authoritarians, while the progressives are anti-authoritarians. Of course there are some exceptions, but overall it comes out like that.

    It’s not polite to say such things, but that does not stop it being true.

    Google for “Altemeyer” and”Authoritarians” if you want to read a free eBook about it.

  10. vto 10

    Ag you said “Conservatives are more or less authoritarians, while the progressives are anti-authoritarians.”

    I must say that I disagree vehemently in that regard and that it is in fact almost the complete reverse. Witness the recent Labour govt here in NZ. And it is certainly the opposite to your description within the realm of my own experience over the years (tho perhaps it may be the way you describe when people are young / at university. But it certainly does not last).

  11. burt 11

    The Sprout

    The biggest defender of the status quo I have ever seen on a blog has always been rOb. Needless to say now that his party of choice is not the govt I suspect that he won’t be happy with status quo anymore.

    I think partisan people defend the status quo when their party of choice is in power and seek change when it is not. I genuinely (risking a ban from ban happy loose cannon IB) think that partisan people are that simple and being basically conservative or progressive has piss all to do with it when talking about status quo.

  12. TC 12

    Post a discenting viewpoint and get banned – now that’s “progressive”

  13. tsmithfield 13

    Hmmm… so if a progressive person resists those who would want to restrict their ability to be progressive, then the progressive person is conservative about their progressivism?

  14. How would one label themselves then? If your for stronger gay rights and believe in global warming, and you think that tax dollars should be spent on health and education, but you also believe the government should get tough on crime and stay the heck away from the economy, surly you couldn’t call yourself a conservative or progressive?

  15. IrishBill 15

    Brett, I think Sprout is not so much about labeling people as describing political positions. People can hold progressive and conservative views about different issues. For instance I hold progressive views about most things but am particularly illiberal when it comes to moderating the Standard.

  16. @ work 16

    “Brett Dale
    How would one label themselves then? If your for stronger gay rights and believe in global warming, and you think that tax dollars should be spent on health and education, but you also believe the government should get tough on crime and stay the heck away from the economy, surly you couldn’t call yourself a conservative or progressive?”

    Confused.

    Also sad that global warming makes it onto that list.

  17. grumpy 17

    As a few contributors have noted, labels such as Progressive and Conservative can be applied across diverse political groups, so that you can have conservative left wingers just as progressive right wingers.

    As IB has just shown, conservative left wingers can be every bit as repressive as conservative right wingers – so what does all this prove??

    Probably just that pigeon holing political beliefs is stupid!

  18. The arrows on the red square are pointing the wrong way, they should be pointing the same way as the blue.

  19. TC 19

    So it’s do as I say, not as I do – huh IB??

  20. Agreed IB – I’m just talking about political positions, not about tidy discrete labels for people – it’s all a lot messier than that. And as you say “people can hold progressive and conservative views about different issues”.

    Being Conservative doesn’t always make you right (although it tends to because preserving the status quo appeals more to the comfortable than to the disenfranchised), nor does being Progressive make you left (it just tends to because progress tends to imply changing the status quo away from those it already favours). Conservatism and Progressivism are useful terms for acknowledging these anomalies – Progressives tend to be more comfortable with these ambiguities than their counterparts who don’t care for blurry logics.

    The liberality dimension is another kettle of fish. Sometimes liberality can lead to profound conservatism if State intervention is needed for change. Sometimes liberality can lead to progressivism if it’s authoritarianism that’s keeping things from changing.

    btw, there’s nothing regressive about restricting those who try to derail a conversation.

  21. djp 21

    of couse this whole disscussion is a false dicotomy for those who believe that using force on another person violates that persons liberty…

    In short, there is a third way :)

    to all the conservatives and progressives “dont tread on me!”

  22. A firster from the sprout.. not too bad.. really.. even though my own query arising (qv below) would on sight appear to not agree with the assessment..

    The sprout wrote:

    Conservatism is all about maintaining the status quo. It assumes that the status quo is essentially ok, while change is best avoided.

    I would have to say how very 20th century(late) political language this is. Not a word on origin.. root/s.. which most lucidly explains much human behavior among adherents..

    No, not even a reference to Victorian Intuitionism—whose call to conduct and conscience dictated all to the forebears. Maybe the real or supposed lack of such things in modern political behavior explains the omission.. even so their existence cannot be denied.

    And, since the sprout kindly offered comparison with political Progressives allow me add how the above I-word movement found itself contended by Utilitarians— the “better” in sprout’s blog expressed as ‘good’ ie doing good not just talking about and intending uphold it.. just to clarify.

    [lprent: In about 400 words? I’d refer you to the About and/or Policy – but you already have your blog. Write something there and I could guest it here?]

  23. Quoth the Raven 23

    So Brett, Jenny and Ruth were really about “tough love’?

    Kevin, neo-liberals are all about tough love as Chomsky says love for the rich, tough for everyone else.

  24. TghtyRighty 24

    haven’t read other comments too busy. assuming that your definition of progressives is correct sprout, then Jim Andertons party can be found guilty of missrepresentation? he sure as hell didn’t improve the lot of the weaker members of society.

  25. Ari 25

    I must say that I disagree vehemently in that regard and that it is in fact almost the complete reverse. Witness the recent Labour govt here in NZ. And it is certainly the opposite to your description within the realm of my own experience over the years (tho perhaps it may be the way you describe when people are young / at university. But it certainly does not last).

    Both wings of Parliament in New Zealand have authoritarian tendencies. The left tends to regulate for social equality and to soften economic landings, while the right tends to regulate towards their own social ideals and in favour of business interests.

    ACT is the only party that comes close to getting liberal in the sense of not wanting many laws, but it still votes for a lot of pro-business and social conservative laws in order to broaden its base. (and because libertarianism seems to be lousy with conservatives who want an anarchistic corporate free-for-all)

  26. Redbaiter 26

    “Conservatism is all about maintaining the status quo.”

    No it isn’t. Its about preserving what is good in respect of man’s right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    The “status quo”?? When was that actually??? Can’t you see how illogical that claim is??? Good grief!!!

  27. tsmithfield 27

    There are some fairly major exceptions to the political dichotomy that is being argued for here.

    For example, communist China, an example of an extreme left-wing nation, is also very conservative. The conservatism has started to thaw after exposure to capitalistic (more right-wing) societies.

  28. burt 28

    Partisan people are particularly fond of the simplistic left vs right divide. It’s easy to motivate people for or against an issue if there is a simple divide. Educating people about issues and appealing to some form of moral right and wrong is too difficult for dim-bulbs. Look at Trotter for example, every time he puts his fingers to a key board he raves about left and right like it were some absolute.

    The tags left and right are just so obsolete but that won’t stop people trying to keep the simple divide alive by using other simple terms like conservative and progressive and trying to equate them with simple left and right.

  29. Felix 29

    burt,
    I don’t think the post was actually equating “conservative and progressive” with “left and right”. I can only find that parallel drawn down here, in the comments.

  30. the bean 30

    hehe, no better way to enliven the sprout than to compare him to chris trotter…

  31. burt 31

    Felix

    I guess it’s a coincidence that the sprout used red and blue symbols and discussed conservative and progressive in terms of left vs right over simplified ideology. A simple divide which just happens to fall pretty much into the same ideology of the dim-bulb left vs right divide used by so many partisan people in their over simplified positions.

    I guess I, like a few others, took the wrong inference from what the sprout had to say then – apologies to the sprout and to you for getting it so wrong.

  32. r0b 32

    The biggest defender of the status quo I have ever seen on a blog has always been rOb.

    No Burt, while I often defended the last Labour led government’s record from foolish and illinformed attacks (such as yours), I was not and am not a fan of the status quo. You’ll find I was also frequently critical of Labour for being too timid, and not left enough. I wouldn’t go as far as Anita in her recent post at Kiwipolitico, but there was a lot of truth in what she wrote.

    On the topic of this post there’s some interesting stuff on the psychology of liberal vs conservative personalities. I’m travelling at the moment and don’t have links to hand (or the time to find them in this little internet cafe), but some of it has been covered in earlier posts on The Standard.

  33. Felix 33

    burt,

    You’re couching it in those terms, not the original post and not I.

    The amount of ways to divide people into two broad groups is infinite. Left vs right is one (the one you chose to discuss). Progressive vs conservative is another (the one The Sprout chose to). Rich vs poor, smooth vs crunchy, smart vs thick, marmite vs vegemite, literate vs illiterate, people who like sitting on bath taps vs people who don’t etc.

    No coupling is necessarily either mutually exclusive or inclusive with regard to any other possible coupling.

    That you want to reduce everything to a yes/no answer which fits every possible situation really only speaks to your own simplicity and inability to comprehend the nuances of overlapping layers of ideas.

    So no apology necessary.

  34. lonelyavenger 34

    This is an interesting topic, but unfortunately Sprout’s analysis barely goes any further than “my beliefs = good, complex, intelligent… other beliefs are antiquated, simple, stupid”.

    For a far better, more balanced, evidence-based look at the moral foundations of liberals and conservatives that won’t dismiss either view with a wave of the hand and a few silly generalisations, I’d recommend this TED talk:

    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind.html

    [lprent: There are limits with what you can do with about 400 words with a topic this large – try it some time. We rely on comments to add linked material. Don’t criticize the format…]

  35. burt 35

    Felix

    You are a gem, the sprout is looking at this from a binary perspective, several other commentators including myself have said that is too simple and yet you think I’m trying to break it down into simple yes/no answers and that I can’t comprehend the nuances. Unbelievable.

  36. Ag 36

    I must say that I disagree vehemently in that regard and that it is in fact almost the complete reverse.

    It’s not. This is science, not opinion. Your opinion does not matter at all, as it has been proven over and over again. You can read the research for yourself. There’s over 30 years’ worth to go through.

    And it is certainly the opposite to your description within the realm of my own experience over the years (tho perhaps it may be the way you describe when people are young / at university. But it certainly does not last).

    That is one of the few places in our society you might find left wing authoritarians (radical Maoists and so on), but there are so few of them that they make no real difference. Right wing (supportive of the established authorities) authoritarians, however, are ten a penny. It was the same in the Soviet Union, where the right wing authoritarians supported the communist party to the hilt.

    Trying to define progressives and conservatives in ideological terms is pointless. One reason is that conservatism isn’t an ideology. The idea that you preserve things simply because they exist is ludicrous on the face of it, as is the caricature of progressivism as wanting change for its own sake.

    As I said above, if you want a scientific basis that cuts through all the BS and provides a better explanation of what is going on than ideological explanations. The authoritarianism test was given to a bunch of US legislators and you could have picked their scores with 95% accuracy. The Republicans were almost always more authoritarian than the democrats, and the only democrats that were to the left of Republicans were the Dixiecrats. The more “liberal” the state, the less authoritarian its legislators and vice versa. It’s far too much of a coincidence.

    People are wasting their time by cleaving to ideological explanations that just generate more and more hot air.

  37. rave 37

    Bit superficial Sprout.

    Conservatism under capitalism means keep the market and the family intact. eg patriarchy. The one supports the other. They are conserving the ownership and control of private property and male dominance therein.

    Progressivism means reforming the market and the family in keeping with the development of capitalism. Eg gender equality. Has a more specific usage in the US where it was a 19th century political movement to the left of today’s Democrats. Usually equated with Labourism or Social Democracy in Britain and Europe including Australasia. Doesn’t challenge private property but argues that the market needs the state to moderate its excesses like bursting bubbles. Usually held by bureaucrats who get jobs reforming things.

    Neo-liberals are just born again conservatives who had to go back to basics to throw out the progressives who interfered in the market during the post war boom. They are conservatives in a hurry because they fear the loss of everything they hold dear, namely their profits. While they might use so-called radical means their ends are conservative. eg Gordon Brown who belongs to subspecies of neo-liberals called Blairites or 3rd wayers who want to con us into believing that the state looks after us all provided we are good boys and girls and eat our sprouts.

    The real radicals go to the root cause the poor get rooted. They blame societies ills on the rich exploiting the poor by underpaying and overtaxing them. For them public ownership and production of public goods rather than private commodities is the answer. Usually workers or middle class bleeding hearts and ultimately reformers. The creeping nationalisations of Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales are like a dream come true. Viva Che!

    Marxists are nobody that anybody wants to hear about on this list as they are popularly associated with old books and prison camps rather than the workers. However, Wall St has occasionally tipped its hat at our Karl for being right about the inherent failures of capitalism and the inevitability of crises and massive destruction of capital. Funny that. A Marxist reading of the ecosphere is also pretty well bang on.

    Funnily enough Marxists are the only real conservatives because they are committed to revolutionising capitalism before it blows up or melts down and takes out planet Earth not mention our wages and pensions.

  38. vto 38

    It seems clear to me that over the many millenia of human existence both conservativism and progressivism have been essential to human survival and advancement. Conservativism has been at times essential, and similarly progressivism. One without the other would never work.

    Imo both have equal standing as components for human existence. For one to claim some form of superiority over the other is quite simplky foolish.

    Which is probably why most people (well, the wise ones like me anyway) have a mix of both and get annoyed at the silly labels and pigeon-holing that goes on. It may also point to why a large number of people swing vote. Etc.

  39. Felix 39

    No burt, The Sprout is looking at something from a binary perspective and you are talking about something else from a binary perspective and you don’t understand that they’re not necessarily the same thing.

    My point is that there are an infinite number of possible non-exclusive binary sets and yes, you are failing to grasp the nuances of this and demonstrating as much with every keystroke.

  40. Lew 40

    vto: Right. It hinges on the meaning of `progress’, which is a positive sort of change toward a goal. Try to bear with me, there are some tortured metaphors and linguistic entanglements in this post.

    In principle, progressivism selects only for `improvements’ thereby making society better (according to a given assessment of what the goal is), whereas conservatism selects for the status quo (thereby keeping society the same).

    Thus there are two aspects to conservatism: 1. skepticism about the means by which progressives aim to achieve the societal goal and 2. disagreement over the nature of that societal goal.

    So in the first place, conservatism acts as a sort of handbrake on the most enthusiastic forms of progress, ensuring that only those forms of progress which can prove their worth in practice over the relatively long term are adopted; and when it grudgingly accepts some aspect of progress, conceding that it has finally demonstrated its worth, it attempts to alter the direction, as it were, of that aspect to send it toward its own ideal society, rather than the ideal society posited by progressivism.

    So I’m what one might consider to be a conservative progressive; that is to say, I agree with the direction most progressives advocate, but not with the speed with which they want to operate. I’m a great believer in civil society’s ability to work things out, and I have a terrible fear of the law of unintended consequences. I often find progressives to be impatient, intolerant of stasis, and fearful of temporary regression – like economists chasing permanent economic growth, they seem to think that a year without double-digit profit growth is a failure. I’m very socially patient – I prefer progress built up gradually over a long time to that which falls swiftly to earth, but which evaporates in the next shower of conceptual rain.

    I place great value on the conservatism which advocates for skepticism; which aims to slow the advance of untried and potentially socially dangerous progress – the sea-anchor as Anita at kiwipolitico recently termed it. I don’t care so much for those who want to change the direction.

    L

  41. Daveski 41

    The weakness of a conservative position (apart from the obvious moral problem of disregard for those at the bottom of the heap), is that it doesn’t deal with change very well.

    There’s been plenty of evidence here that plenty of people here haven’t dealt very well with the change in November :)

    I struggle with the view that someone is better or worse than me because of what they think. People simply have different opinions. Some of the most bitter battles have been between groups who had slight differences in views.

    As many others have pointed out, labels aren’t all that helpful.

  42. Lew 42

    Daveski: Some of the most bitter battles have been between groups who had slight differences in views.

    I’d say almost all: Islam/Christianity/Judaism; the Stalinists v the Trotskyites; the Balkan adage “no war is a war until a brother kills a brother”; Obama v McCain; Clark v Key; Libertarianz v ACT; Chomsky v Lakoff …

    Add your own!

    L

  43. burt 43

    Felix

    No burt, The Sprout is looking at something from a binary perspective and you are talking about something else from a binary perspective and you don’t understand that they’re not necessarily the same thing.

    Oh god you are trying hard… the sprout filed this under the tags Labour & National – do you think he/she is saying that one is only conservative and the other is only progressive. Is that why he/she used blue and red tags while describing how one wants status quo and the other wants progress. Forward and reverse etc.

    Perhaps I was clumsy saying that he/she is trying to equate left vs right with conservative vs progressive when I was saying that dividing things along binary lines is a dim-bulb thing to do when it comes to peoples views on politics. What I was saying, and are still saying, is that the sprout has tried to classify things as being god/bad based on conservative/progressive just like other dim-bulb partisan hacks classify things as good/bad based on left/right or National/Labour.

    The sprout did the National/Labour = conservative/progressive thing, I pointed out how it was too simple just like left vs right.

    Take a deep breath Felix, you can understand what I’m saying if you think about it.

  44. burt 44

    Lew

    Don’t forget the Commando-Elite and the Gorgonites.

  45. Daveski 45

    Mensheviks v Bolsheviks

    What I like is that the Menshies (literally small/smaller) were actually much larger than the Bolsheviks (large/larger).

    With my boring music trivia and now Russian for Dummies, IB is likely to ban me for being a boring prick and he’d be well within his rights to do so!

  46. Felix 46

    You still haven’t got it, burt.

    It’s perfectly sensible to divide people along binary lines. You just need to understand that there are many different binary divisions which may be acting on each other. People are complex, societal groupings exponentially more so.

    I don’t see a good/bad value judgment in The Sprout’s post which is why I don’t see any meaning in your complaint.

  47. Quoth the Raven 47

    Conservatism versus Progressivism aside here’s an interesting piece on the larger political spectrum:Karl Hess: the Left-Right spectrum

    Once upon a time, I saw the political spectrum as a circle. At the top-center sat a gray zone of liberal-conservative welfarism. Moving further left or right, you entered areas of increasing statism (communism or fascism) until both “wings’ ultimately met in a broad region of libertarianism (voluntary, decentralized neighborhoods, both socialist and market). This circle helped me make sense of the world presented by modern politics and media — where both left and right extremes were bad, a mushy middle was the Establishment norm, and where I could call myself a radical right-wing libertarian and still link arms with many on the radical Left. Then Rothbard changed my notions of Left and Right. Konkin tinkered with my head. And in his 1975 book Dear America, Karl Hess pulled it all together. What follows is an excerpt from Hess’ book, unforgivably long out of print.

    “My own notion of politics is that it follows a straight line rather than a circle. The straight line stretches from the far right where (historically) we find monarchy, absolute dictatorships, and other forms of absolutely authoritarian rule. On the far right, law and order means the law of the ruler and the order that serves the interest of that ruler, usually the orderliness of drone workers, submissive students, elders either totally cowed into loyalty or totally indoctrinated and trained into that loyalty. Both Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler operated right-wing regimes, politically, despite the trappings of socialism with which both adorned their regimes. Huey Long, when governor-boss of Louisiana, was moving toward a truly right-wing regime, also adorned with many trappings of socialism (particularly public works and welfare) but held together not by social benefits but by a strong police force and a steady flow of money to subsidize and befriend businessmen.

    “The far left, as far as you can get away from the right, would logically represent the opposite tendency and, in fact, has done just that throughout history. The left has been the side of politics and economics that opposes the concentration of power and wealth and, instead, advocates and works toward the distribution of power into the maximum number of hands.

  48. burt 48

    Felix

    I think you stand in one half of a binary set when you say you don’t see any good/bad judgment in what the sprout wrote.

    When I read a post with the basic layout.

    Conservatism is all about maintaining the status quo…..

    The weakness of a conservative position…

    Progressivism on the other hand takes the view that regardless of how things are now they can always be better…

    So Progressivism requires a lot more thought on behalf of its adherents…

    And then in closing on Progressivism

    ….Fortunately on the whole it also seems to attract smarter, more compassionate people.

    That kinda gives me a hint of good/bad judgment.

  49. Felix 49

    Conservatism is all about maintaining the status quo ..
    An obvious and uncontroversial statement, provided that you know what the word “conservative” means. I don’t know why you’ve quoted it to be honest.

    The weakness of a conservative position
    Is discussed in the post, yes. That’s half a sentence.

    Progressivism on the other hand takes the view that regardless of how things are now they can always be better
    As opposed to a conservative position which takes the view that keeping things as they are is better. That’s what the words mean.

    So Progressivism requires a lot more thought on behalf of its adherents
    I tend to think this follows from the definitions given of “conservative” and “progressive”, but it’s definitely arguable.

    .Fortunately on the whole it also seems to attract smarter, more compassionate people.
    I agree with you here, I don’t think that’s necessarily true.

    Apart from the last quote, I don’t really see what you find controversial about any of it.

  50. ak 50

    Top post sprout – you’ve essentially nailed the nature of broad political evolution (carrying on from the last post I saw prior to hols, an invigorating 1st-world whistlestop tour) – a gradual but accelerating progress in the Christian/Marxist direction. True to form, conservatives will always attempt to “handbrake” such analysis by harping back to an individualist focus (witness comments above), but you only have to look at modern “right-wing” parties (including and especially our own ClarKey-Lite version) to see that the huge changes wrought by progressive parties over decades are now permanent.
    (On the other hand, such change can also occur in microcosym: witness our own burt’s now-comprehensible comments and the occasional embryonic original thought – leaps and bounds on from the obtuse rhetorical grasping and retrospective validation of his partisanship of the early Standard – onya burt :)

    Lew’s right too: Mao isn’t the only one that showed us it’s gotta be gradual and able to be aborted swiftly if necessary. Cue the progress towards the sea-anchor of community empowerment via education and a strong, independent media.

    On the other hand, as Karl noted, technology is the driver: and it continues to accelerate with vigor (e.g. – only three short years from Orewa One to the current tory/MP hongifest). Getting back to Darwin, the GFC can be seen as a mutant gene with promise for further political progression. Rudd’s floated a $30/wk increase in benefits, Brownie’s nationalising banks, and China and Obamarama are talking big internal “socialist” investment. You can bet your butt that little Johnny Mitu will tag along too. Sorry, Roger, but this time there are heaps of alternatives – (prediction: “closing the gaps” finally cemented into our DNA in the very near future)

  51. Tim Ellis 51

    This has been an interesting thread. Well done, Sprout, on provoking such a useful debate.

    I thought Daveski made an interesting observation:

    I struggle with the view that someone is better or worse than me because of what they think. People simply have different opinions. Some of the most bitter battles have been between groups who had slight differences in views.

    That’s what gets me a lot, too. I get frustrated by the tribalism of the two main political parties. In the past ten elections, I’ve voted for Labour five times, and National five times. The policy differences between the parties are often not very large, but from a lot of the rhetoric we get from the most partisan people, you would think that the world was going to end if their opponents maintained power.

    I get particularly annoyed with the attempt to demonise political opponents. I’m nominally reasonably conservative. I don’t believe that socialism works. I do believe that capitalism, with less state intervention, achieves better outcomes. There’s not really anything that somebody on the Left can say to make me change my mind. Likewise I don’t think there’s much I can say to move a socialist away from their beliefs. I don’t for a moment think they’re stupid, or attribute blind self-interest to their motives (although occasionally that’s true, as self-interest is a motive for both sides). I do believe that most people hold their political positions because they believe that their positions will achieve better outcomes than the alternative.

    A really constructive debate would acknowledge the other side’s desire for better outcomes and not try to demonise opponents while respectfully debating the mechanisms to achieve them.

    I do wonder whether too much of New Zealand politics centres on demonising opponents and their objectives, just to pander to core constituencies. I think by doing this a big bulk of voters caught in the centre, who aren’t partisan and care more about the outcomes than the means of achieving them, get turned off by the debate.

  52. Edosan 52

    Personally, I found the post an intersting one, though slightly biased if one were to perform some kind of content analysis on it (like burt above.. sort of).

    Sprout: above, you stated: “The liberality dimension is another kettle of fish. Sometimes liberality can lead to profound conservatism if State intervention is needed for change. Sometimes liberality can lead to progressivism if it’s authoritarianism that’s keeping things from changing.”

    It would seem to me that conservatism and progressivism are the more fluid concepts. To me, liberalism is a far more well defined philosophical position that involves the things you earlier ascribed to conservatism (e.g. individual liberty and less state influence). Those things only become the goal of conservatives if the society in question is a liberal minded one. And like someone mentioned above, China is a very conservative society, though that involves conserving a very pervasive state and limits on individual liberty. So in my mind conservatism and progressivism are more impulses than they are philosophical positions. I guess this is all very subjective though, and these words are used to describe very different things very regularly.

  53. wo .. Finally

    Fuken Finally an article with a few brains, gee I thought NZ was a complete bunch of idiots, but this is almost OK. Useless media here, I have wanted a good description of the Conservative / Labour approach to things. No doubt John Key little Homo do nothing, conserves his turds to make tea pots.

    I am a Act supporter by the way. And Labours still over controlling and too self righteous to be given power.

    But at least you have a nice article. PS. only half decent politician I think is Rodney Hyde. PSS: See ya. Anthony.

    PSS: yes John Keys a cok and I have a few you nat friends. Helen if constrained but a better budget – parliament constraints , Civil liberty , would be awesome.

    PSSS: Anyone mention Helens teeth agin on the Left I want to smack them.

  54. Tim Ellis 54

    Anthony, have you been drinking?


  55. [sprout: comment deleted, undue abusiveness to commenter. first warning]

  56. Felix 56

    Be precise, accurate, verbose. indicate your issue.

    Tim was very clear, Anthony. Are you Winston Peters?

  57. Winston was OK in someways I miss him. at least he had a opinion.

  58. Ag 58

    Neo-liberals are just born again conservatives who had to go back to basics to throw out the progressives who interfered in the market during the post war boom. They are conservatives in a hurry because they fear the loss of everything they hold dear, namely their profits.

    That’s not quite true. Neoliberalism aims to promote Berlin’s negative liberty and nothing else, for the simple reason that neoliberals think that the promotion of any positive conception of liberty inevitably leads to totalitarianism. This is more or less the Hayekian view. Profits are secondary to freedom, which is why some of them say that they’d take a much poorer but freer (in their sense) society than a richer but less free (in their sense) society. Sure, there are a lot of social dominators and businessmen who profess neoliberalism because they think it will benefit them financially, but financial profit is not really at the heart of the theory.

    Sure it’s nutty, but that’s what they believe. There’s an excellent Adam Curtis doco on Google Video about this, called “The Trap”. It’s probably the best short explanation of neoliberalism as an ideology I have seen.

  59. Ari 59

    For example, communist China, an example of an extreme left-wing nation, is also very conservative. The conservatism has started to thaw after exposure to capitalistic (more right-wing) societies.

    That’s funny, I’ve been viewing China as an increasingly right-wing nation- social orthodoxy coupled with communitarian values and an increasingly liberal economy driven by a sense of duty. I certainly wouldn’t call them communist anymore, they’re just social authoritarians in drag.

    But anyway, it’s highly irrelevant whether China is left-wing or right-wing. There’s a bigger difference which means they have less in common with any New Zealand political party than our parties have in common with each other: We believe in, to varying degrees, a pluralistic multi-cultural state with meaningful elections and debate. China believe in one-party monolithic state that can dictate whatever it likes. Let’s all be thankful for a minute that nobody who believes in that sort of BS is taken seriously in our country, because the idea of supreme centralised power, especially without debate or dissent, is the really conservative throwback.

  60. Ari 60

    Oh, and back on the main topic, I should point out that while the left-wing tends to be progressive, and the right-wing tends to be conservative, there are definitely notable politicians that cross those lines. Think of Katherine Rich, who was widely expected before her resignation to be in cabinet this time around, or Phil Goff’s views on prisons. There’s also issues-based divergence too: The Green Party’s view on local food could be described as conservative, ACT is often behind on civil liberties and to a minor degree supports queer rights, etc…

    Framing an issue as one of conservatism against progressivism is useful because it talks about an idealogical focus, not because the parties all fit neatly into those categories. It’s a question of whether you view society as capable of progressing or just degenerating.

  61. vto 61

    Lew, way back up there somewhere.. ta, I kind of hoped that someone would jump in and explain in more detail rather than try myself and mangle it up. As I said, both have been responsible and essential for basic human survival and growth since, well, probably Lucy and earlier.

    Interesting times right now with the global meltdown – are people becoming conservative or progressive? Somebody further up suggested progressive with some of Rudd’s actions, Obama’s election and the like. But equally, people I think are retrenching in reaction to the turmoil, which is entirely natural and to be expected. Things like planting vege gardens and putting money under the mattress.

  62. burt 62

    Felix

    Apart from the last quote, I don’t really see what you find controversial about any of it.

    It’s not controversial, it’s just simple and pathetic general nonense. Still it’s not about the content of thread for you is it?

  63. Daveski 63

    The thing that gnaws away at me about this post and some of the comments is the emergence of a form of left wing fundamentalism.

    Fortunately on the whole it also seems to attract smarter, more compassionate people.

    What worries me is that some here believe in the moral superiority of their views.

    As with other forms of fundamentalism, if you truly believe you are superior, that provides a moral and ethical justification to do whatever you think is right based on that superiority.

    Strangely, that’s not a very progressive attitude!

    Any view of the world that proclaims its own superiority over others based only on its own views should be eschewed by us all.

  64. Lew 64

    Anthony: So all that’s required is to have an opinion? Because, let me tell you, I have plenty of opinions about boneheaded confused homophobic pseudo-libertarians such as you seem to be. I’m sure a few others here do too.

    L

  65. tsmithfield 66

    That was my point. As I said in the portion you quoted from me, their conservatism has been thawing due to rubbing shoulders with western society which tends to be much further to the right.

    I think it is highly relevant. Communism shows the ultimate progression of socialism toward “the state will do it all for you”. Under this sort of system, those under the control of it have very little opportunity to be progressive, regardless of how progressive those in charge think they are. Surely, a truly progressive system is one that extends beyond political ideology and fosters the ability to be progressive amongst all its members. It seems that as socialism increases in intensity, the ability of those within the system to be think progressively decreases.

  66. tsmithfield 67

    Why is my previous comment awaiting moderation? While I take an opposing view, I don’t think I have been out of line.

    I notice this post has gone through fine, without the “awaiting moderation” sign.

    Also, a good portion of my post seems to have disappeared and I can’t edit.

    [sprout: sorry about that, not sure why but it’s not intentional. appears to be displaying ok now]

    [lprent: There are a number of words that will cause comments to get auto-moderated. Typically deliberate misspellings of peoples names or words or phrases that consistently get over-used in out of context statements. It auto-moderates them so we can look to see if it should be handled as a comment by a troll.

    Have a look at your comment and you’ll figure out the word pretty fast. Massively used out of context in 80% of all statements. Usually a pretty good troll indicator. You just happen to be the exception. But think of it as the cost of having minimal trolling here.]

  67. It’s true that my characterization of C and P is pretty superficial, so I’m grateful to those who’ve contributed some meat to the rather bare bones. Rather than being a high-brow philosophical thesis it’s meant to be a starting point for a consideration of the two positions. 

    I chose this dichotomy specifically because the terms themselves can be quite blurry, indistinct and at times paradoxical – which makes them unhelpful for the fruitless excercise of pigeion-holing, but useful as a starting point for discussion.

  68. Rob 69

    What I noticed in sprouts postings that there was only negatives on the C side of the ledger none at all on the P side

    .Is the world really like that? If the P side is so perfect why doesn’t the whole world change now? Or is sprouts objectiveness clouded perhaps by ideology

  69. Ben R 70

    “The weakness of a conservative position (apart from the obvious moral problem of disregard for those at the bottom of the heap), is that it doesn’t deal with change very well.”

    Interesting observation by economist David Friedman (Milton’s son) on the different approachs to evolution by Christian conservatives & those who I guess you’d say were progressive:

    “”And the religious right has been the chief force against teaching evolution.”

    (Quoted from Barbara Forrest, a Southeastern Lousiana University philosophy professor and prominent critic of creationist science.)

    It’s a widespread view, but true in only a narrow sense. People who say they are against teaching the theory of evolution are very likely to be Christian fundamentalists. But people who are against taking seriously the implications of evolution, strongly enough to want to attack those who disagree, including those who teach those implications, are quite likely to be on the left.”

    http://daviddfriedman.blogspot.com/2008/08/who-is-against-evolution.html

  70. Redbaiter 71

    The political spectrum extends from big government to small government. That is the only distinction that really counts. Big government always brings the threat of totalitarianism. Its why I will always advocate for small government.

    Its that simple. Small government or big government.? Where do you stand? Ask yourself that question, answer yourself honestly (hard I know for the left) and you’ll know what you want politically.

  71. Felix 72

    burt I feel for you.

    Yes, you’ve interpreted the post in the most simplistic possible way because you’re a simple person.

    Which is like a colourblind man looking at a rainbow and saying ” Of course I see it – it’s black, white and grey and it’s boring.”

    You’ve superimposed your preconception that everything must be a party line onto your understanding of everything in the thread.

    And no burt, I haven’t been trying to wind you up. That’s paranoia. Get off the pipe.

  72. @ work 73

    Redbaiter:
    Its that simple. Small government or big government.? Where do you stand?

    Medium government.

  73. Redbaiter 74

    “Medium government.”

    Fine except that “medium” governments have a habit of becoming big governments. Just look at any western democracy today, and compare with twenty, fourty or sixty years ago, for an example.

  74. @ work 75

    Redbaiter
    January 28, 2009 at 11:39 am
    “Medium government.’

    Fine except that “medium’ governments have a habit of becoming big governments. Just look at any western democracy today, and compare with twenty, fourty or sixty years ago, for an example.

    Thats what people are voting for though?

  75. RedLogix 76

    Small government or big government.?

    Tired old false dichotomy. What people really want (as Mr Obama put it) is government that works. Size is simply a question of ‘how big a tool is needed to do the job’?

    Small govt is just fine in a small society with small needs. It’s a bit like computer OS’s, they start out small and compact, but demand always drives them to become larger and more complex. (As one product manager once told me, “I never get customers phoning me and demanding that I stop adding features”.)

    Now it’s perfectly true that Windows has become a bit of a bloated beast, so much so that the lastest incarnation Vista, has been pretty much rejected by the market and Microsoft have been compelled to rethink what they are doing with Windows 7… but there is no demand to throw it out and replace it all with DOS. (And for the purposes of the analogy I’m deliberately ignoring other OS’s like Linux.) What will happen is that with time, the redundant and inefficient bits will get pruned out, while at the same time new ideas and more powerful features will be added in. Some of these will be bits of ideological idiocy like DRM, and others will hardly ever get used or turn out to have unintended consequences (such as security holes)… but with time it will get patched up, and future service packs and releases all keep the monster creaking forwards in a direction that more or less keeps most of us happy.

    Is Windows perfect? No. Is it the best we can do? Of course not, but what will NOT happen is that it will ever get smaller and less powerful. As long as the underlying computer hardware continues to get bigger, faster, better linked and cheaper… the demand for more powerful and larger OS’s will remain.

    Now if you want to advocate the political equivalent of running everything on DOS with your small primitive govt concept… go hard young man…. but please don’t be so dissapointed if the rest of us think your retro-hobby quaint and rather cute… but hardly useful.

  76. Redbaiter 77

    “The rest of us”

    You people are so nauseatingly unable to think outside the frame of collectivism. Your imagined majority, even if real, would be no guarantee of your correctness.

    The point is, you do not test your theories with an opt out choice. Why not include within any taxation collection system, the opportunity for those who do not want to participate in collectivist social schemes, a simple yes or no tick box?

    You wouldn’t do it because you know as well as I damn well know, that nobody would tick yes. Your whole system is an exercise in compulsion and the kind of perversion of democracy that the founders of the US Republic were attempting to avoid when they authored the Constitution.

  77. Matthew Pilott 78

    How much more complex would any collective system be if it had to overcome economic fundamentals of free-riders and non-exclusionary goods? You are so nauseatingly simplistic in your anaylsis yet you wonder why you aren’t taken seriously.

  78. Redbaiter 79

    No problem. All wishing to partake of the socialist delusion would be given plastic ID cards for whatever facet they wanted to be part of. No card, no theiving socialism. It works for driving licences.

  79. Matthew Pilott 80

    Sure. Not carrying a card will automatically cut you off from street lighting, power, roads, footpaths, the courts, police protection, the tangible and intangibles of our diplomatic, trade and defence systems, health, education, welfare, sports, public advocacy, arts and anything else that taxes pay for. Just like magic eh, it really is that easy.

    It works for driving licences does it? So no one has ever used a motor vehicle in New Zealand, without the requisite licence? No one has ever driven a car without registering their vehicle or paying RUC? Or did you just miss the problem, and my point?

  80. Redbaiter 81

    No it wouldn’t. You see. You are the real dimbulb. I’d say that most people would tick the boxes associated with protection from criminals and international security. Not that such fundamental government services should even be included. The rest of your dimbulb blather is not worth responding to. Do away with driving licences should we?? Idiot.

    If ever I needed convincing that left wing politics attracts the stupid all I need to do is read a Matthew Pillock post.

  81. Pascal's bookie 82

    How many people ticked the Libertrianz box?

  82. Lew 83

    RB: Capital idea! Stand for parliament on this sort of ticket, I’m sure your idea will immediately garner the level of support it so richly deserves.

    L

  83. Lew 84

    PB, stop stealing my ideas. Again.

    L

  84. Tim Ellis 85

    Redbaiter, you really would do more to advance your ideas if you didn’t go around abusing people. From the looks of this thread, it doesn’t look like you’re baiting any reds successfully at all. They seem to be baiting you. And succeeding.

  85. Lew 86

    Tim: Well, it’s not like he makes it difficult.

    Perhaps instead of adding a certain prefix instead of `Red’, he should just swap the final `r’ for a `d’?

    On second thoughts, doing both could work.

    L

  86. @ work 87

    Pascal’s bookie

    How many people ticked the Libertrianz box?

    1176 people this time, and last time redbaiter stood he got 57 votes.

    Mind you with the ammount of tax fraud amongst ACT and Liberterianz supporters, it’s unlikely they woudl notice any difference if they were to opt out of paying tax.

    Redbaiter, what do you think would be a good way of getting every one to vote better next time?

    I assume the primary methods to choose between would be either compulsary re-education camps for those who dont vote correctly, or just wholesale disqalification from voting for those who voted wrongly in the past. Maybe a combination of those methods would be the best option do you have any other suggestions?

  87. Pascal's bookie 88

    1176 people this time, and last time redbaiter stood he got 57 votes.

    Oh dear. I guess there must be an awful lot of false consciousness about.

    Lew: Sorry. Fools have similar notions I suppose, or however that saying goes.

  88. Lew 89

    PB: Great minds think alike, dumb ones reckon the same. Clearly, we’s the VLWC.

    Mighty quiet around here now, innit?

    L

  89. Matthew Pilott 90

    So, Redbaiter, your form of ‘small government’ is all the socialism YOU want, excluding the socialism anyone else wants. Well spoken, tovarishch, I’ve never seen someone blend collectivism with individualism so effortlessly and cynically.

    Not that you have the intellectual honesty to follow an argument logically when it doesn’t suit you, but my point is that in not ticking boxes to certain ‘socialist experiments’ you are excluded from paying the taxes that fund them, but in reality could not be excluded from taking advantage of those services provided – the point being that unlicenced drivers still do drive, and people use roads in cars that are not registered.

    It’s a fairly simple analogy that still you still managed to miss, and prove so with the spectacularly irrelevant comment:”Do away with driving licences should we?? Idiot.

  90. Ari 91

    What I noticed in sprouts postings that there was only negatives on the C side of the ledger none at all on the P side

    .Is the world really like that? If the P side is so perfect why doesn’t the whole world change now? Or is sprouts objectiveness clouded perhaps by ideology

    Haha, fair enough 😉 The plus to conservatism is that sometimes when we change things we get it wrong and make things worse. This is the issue with being open to change. However, usually progressives have a somewhat scientific attitude about these experiments, and just know that they want to improve on the current situation. It’s people who are driven by other ideologies that don’t let go of a particular solution.

    The left wing isn’t wholly progressive or wholly leftist, so there will be parts of it that support things that can be improved upon even when there’s the power to change them. Such is politics.

    In reality an extreme version of either ideology is transparently wrong- what we have are leanings towards wanting to improve society by trying new things, and wanting to improve society by returning to old solutions.

  91. Ag 92

    You wouldn’t do it because you know as well as I damn well know, that nobody would tick yes. Your whole system is an exercise in compulsion and the kind of perversion of democracy that the founders of the US Republic were attempting to avoid when they authored the Constitution.

    For over 10 years Redbaiter/Sovereign Individual has been in denial about market failure, which is in any good first year economics textbook.

    10 years of wasted rhetoric simply because of ignorance of a fundamental economic concept. Highly amusing.

  92. Redbaiter 93

    “Redbaiter, you really would do more to advance your ideas if you didn’t go around abusing people.”

    Who the fuck do you think you’re lecturing you pompous twat? You can tell me how to treat these braindead leftist fuckwits when you have some provable record of success in the methods of persuasion you claim should be used.

    You haven’t any such record of course, for on your watch, NZ has fallen deeper and deeper and deeper into the leftist chasm while nice little fellahs like you have sat around with your fingers up your arse, fawning over communism disguised as democratic socialism.

    If you think you’ve got a working remedy to the suffocating totalitarian social conditon that exists in New Zealand, then show me the evidence. I say that whatever method you have been using has been an abject failure. Never before has my country been held so fast in the grip of these dangerous bastards, and you should be shamefully silent about that rather than lecturing others on what you percieve as their faults.

    The left have oppressed and stifled political dissent in NZ for too long, and it is people like you Mr. Ellis who have allowed them to do this. The only thing that will ever have any real effect on their thinking is the anger of their victims. Wake up.

  93. Redbaiter 94

    “So, Redbaiter, your form of ‘small government’ is all the socialism YOU want, excluding the socialism anyone else wants”

    Providing a legal framework based on property rights and individual liberty and limiting the size and power of government through a Constitution is not socialism.

    Socialism is alll about perverting a non republic style democracy and then using government to promote socialism at the expense of all of these things. That is the difference between what you and your equally tyrannical and ignorant lackies support, and what Redbaiter supports, and its why what you cheer for is so utterly dangerous and evil. (as history has shown)

  94. Redbaiter 95

    More moderation? What now for chrissakes???

  95. Felix 96

    More moderation? What now for chrissakes???

    I dunno, maybe because you come across as a batshit insane raving drooling semi-literate crack addict with nothing interesting to say.

    [lprent: Yeah we all know that you know how to avoid the auto-moderation. No need to skite – there isn’t any need to bait the animals…]

  96. Lew 97

    Actually, it’s probably just the choice of language. The mods normally give an explicit warning before auto-moderating, but there’s sometimes no helping peoples’ immoderate language.

    But damn, ain’t it cute when he gets riled like this?

    L

  97. Redbaiter 98

    “I dunno, maybe because you come across as a batshit insane raving drooling semi-literate crack addict with nothing interesting to say.”

    Naaah, can’t be that, or 99.9% of what you collectivists write wouldn’t get through.

  98. GPT 99

    The first few comments and the banning reactions sum up the differences between conservatives and socialists/progressives (or whatever the current label is): ‘agree with us b/c we’re morally superior – or pay the consequences.’ You warn a bloke for polite, reasoned disagreement? Unbelievable.

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  • Budget 2015: What does it mean?
    ...
    13 hours ago
  • What next?
    It feels really, really surreal to nearly be done with my degree. And terrifying, mostly. Right now I have a single 2000 word essay remaining for Politics of Protest and then three exams mid-way through next month, and… that’s it.… ...
    The little pakehaBy chrismiller
    15 hours ago
  • Solo parents forced to work; but where are the quality jobs?
    The Government is increasing the expectations of paid work from solo parents without any thought as to where the jobs will be, the Council of Trade Unions said today. “There are already 100,000 part time workers who are wanting more secure… ...
    CTUBy andrew.chick
    15 hours ago
  • April-15 Patronage
    Another month and another good patronage result from Auckland Transport – particularly for rail. Patronage in April is naturally down on the madness that is March due to the combination of a 30 day month, ANZAC day, Easter and School Holidays/Uni holidays.… ...
    17 hours ago
  • April-14 Patronage
    Another month and another good patronage result from Auckland Transport – particularly for rail. Patronage in April is naturally down on the madness that is March due to the combination of a 30 day month, ANZAC day, Easter and School Holidays/Uni holidays.… ...
    17 hours ago
  • Children and steady-as-you-go – but how steady?
    There are three political dimensions to the budget’s star “children in hardship” item. One is John Key’s ownership. That fits his protestations of concern about disadvantaged children — though action has been slow coming. He made his pile in… ...
    Colin JamesBy Colin James
    18 hours ago
  • Thoughts on budget 2015
    There’s a Herald summary here. I’ve been saying for a while that ‘neoliberalism’ – ie a belief in the efficacy of free markets, the distortionary evil of taxes and benefits and the minimalisation of the state – is dead. There… ...
    DimPostBy danylmc
    18 hours ago
  • What if your MP was decided on the flip of a coin?
    The provincial election in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island finally came to an end a couple of days ago when its last MLA was declared elected following a judicial recount.(What - you didn't know that Prince Edward Island… ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    1 day ago
  • Gordon Campbell on Budget 2015
    From the outset, the slogan for yesterday’s Budget – “The Plan Is Working” – begged to be mocked. There’s actually a plan for the national economy? Who knew? And its been working for whom, exactly? Not for families in poverty,… ...
    1 day ago
  • Building better connections between Asia and the Pacific
    Speech – New Zealand Government I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak at this International Conference on the Future of Asia.22 May 2015 Building better connections between Asia and the Pacific (speech delivered to 2015 Nikkei Forum, Tokyo,… ...
    Its our futureBy ScoopBlogPush
    1 day ago
  • Budget 2015: Media releases and tertiary education coverage
    We will update this page over the next few days with media releases and news stories on Budget 2015 and its effect on tertiary education and on employment. Radio NZ: Govt tightens education purse strings The Government is expecting fewer… ...
    1 day ago
  • Helping Our Heritage Come Alive – Mt Eden Rd
    This is an image from Mark Bishop. Here are the previous posts: Queen and Wellesley, Newton Rd, Kingsland These images were developed by merging together various historic black and white photographs (all from the “Sir George Grey Special Collection” –… ...
    1 day ago
  • Budget 2015 shows no plans for public sector wages
    The Public Service Association (PSA) says this budget does not address the wage rises needed across the public sector. ...
    1 day ago
  • Don’t expect to see chemical safety data sheets in restaurants
    I keep coming across this very naive form of chemophobic scare-mongering – the use of safety data sheets to frighten consumers about trace chemicals in their environment, food and drink. Here is an example anti-fluoridation propagandists continually use – safety data… ...
    1 day ago
  • World News Brief, Thursday May 21
    PunditBy Daily Digest
    1 day ago
  • Hard News: Mediaworks: The only horizon they see
    When it emerged last month that Campbell Live was facing the axe, I ventured that Mediaworks had become far more Julie Christie's company than it was John Campbell's. And I think that's the reality behind the news that Campbell Live… ...
    1 day ago
  • Andrew’s little Poem
    by Don Franks Twas the night before Budget When just for a change Andrew Little’s thought’s did more widely range Labour’s leader cast round in his mind for an angle On which a publicity moment might dangle Some little device… ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 day ago
  • One good thing
    Today's budget is a dismal affair, as the government shuffles money around and announces new spending while conveniently forgetting to mention that its a sub-inflation rise and that health and education are going backwards - as they have every year… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 day ago
  • Budget tougher for students – NZUSA and TEU media release
    Lowering the annual fee increases for students from 4 percent to 3 percent means universities, polytechnics and wānanga will have less money, say national student and staff unions NZUSA and TEU. Slightly slower fee rises are no good if the… ...
    1 day ago
  • Blah Budget: Lala-land forecasts on housing investment
    Some of the forecasts in the Budget beggar belief, and when they almost inevitably turn out wrong they spell disaster for New Zealand families. Here’s the clearest example. In the last year, investment in residential property ballooned by 16%. In… ...
    PolityBy Rob Salmond
    1 day ago
  • Blah Budget: Cynical bribery on the horizon
    Bill English has said time and again that new spending initiatives of around $1 billion each year are the responsible thing to do, and are the new normal. And, in the next two years, he is as good as… ...
    PolityBy Rob Salmond
    1 day ago
  • Blah Budget: Share of the economy going to workers continues to fall
    The BEFU documents today have unwelcome news for workers. Over the next four years, the share of the economy that ends up in the hands of workers through their wages will fall by around 1.3%. That 1.3% of GDP,… ...
    PolityBy Rob Salmond
    1 day ago
  • Bill English’s Budget illustrates complexity in welfare system
    Budget 2015 has been touted as a package for the poor. And it certainly delivers them more money. However, it gives with one hand and takes away with the other, revealing the confusing and perverse nature of our welfare system.… ...
    Gareth’s WorldBy Geoff Simmons
    1 day ago
  • Blah Budget: Pathetic half-measure on housing
    Yesterday, Paddy Gower thought he had a big scoop. He had leaked Budget docs alluding to a big government-lead house-building programme in Auckland. Today, the pathetic truth is revealed. The Budget puts only $52.2m – as a one off –… ...
    PolityBy Rob Salmond
    1 day ago
  • Blah Budget: Good idea on child poverty. Pity about the tinkering package.
    I can only speak personally, but I am genuinely pleased that the government is following through on its promise to focus on child poverty. New Zealand’s rates of child poverty are appalling, and anything that helps to bring them down… ...
    PolityBy Rob Salmond
    1 day ago
  • Blah Budget: Why there won’t be a surplus next year, either.
    Having failed to reach surplus in this, his promised year, Bill English looks set to fail next year, too. Having been over-optimistic this year to the tune of almost $1.2b – comparing BEFU 2014 to BEFU 2015 - Treasury has… ...
    PolityBy Rob Salmond
    1 day ago

  • Another new tax, another broken promise
    National has unveiled yet another new tax in this budget – a rural broadband levy that will almost certainly result in an immediate price hike for internet and telephone connections across New Zealand, Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran said “The… ...
    7 hours ago
  • Anniversary of Sri Lankan Tamil Massacre
    This is not going to be a happy story but if the Green Party of Aotearoa doesn’t want to know who else will? May 18th marks the anniversary of what is known as the ‘Mullivaikal massacre’ of Tamils in 2009 at… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    7 hours ago
  • Labour MPs join youth to take part in 40 hour famine
    A team of Labour MPs took part in the 2015 World Vision 40 hour famine and we were told by World Vision and the young people, that it was the first time MPs had joined them and how appreciative they… ...
    8 hours ago
  • Rodeo: ‘Family entertainment’ or animal abuse?
    Recently  TVNZ ran a story with confronting footage showing rodeo animals being punched, repeatedly shocked with electronic prods and having their tails violently twisted over their backs. It was clear that significant force was being used behind the scenes to make… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    8 hours ago
  • Budget puts the squeeze on police
    The Government has cut funding to the New Zealand police force in the latest Budget, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “The reduction is a whopping $15.3 million that could put front line officers at risk. ...
    8 hours ago
  • Crucial social services take another hit
    The Government looks set to slash half a million dollars of funding for critical social services, including Women’s Refuge and Barnados, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni “Taking $500,000 from organisations aimed at improving the lives of vulnerable families… ...
    8 hours ago
  • Saying it Loud on Climate in Christchurch
    The Government’s Christchurch consultation meeting on New Zealand’s emission targets was inspiring – not for what was in the Ministry for the Environment’s (MFE’s) defeatist video about the obstacles to changing to a low carbon future, but for what the… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    11 hours ago
  • Budget silent on small business
    The Government has completely ignored one of the most important sectors of the economy – small and medium-sized enterprises – in Budget 2015, Labour’s Small Business spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. "A stunning 41 per cent of jobs were created by… ...
    11 hours ago
  • Thank you John, it’s been bloody marvellous
    The departure of John Campbell is a blow to current affairs investigative journalism, Labour’s Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran says. “Campbell Live stood out in its field. Its axing comes as local broadcasting in New Zealand remains in a state of… ...
    11 hours ago
  • KiwiSaver cut shows no long-term plan
    National’s cutting of the KiwiSaver kickstart is incredibly short-term thinking, typical of a Budget that is woefully short on ideas to generate wealth and opportunity, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “New Zealand’s savings rate is far too low. KiwiSaver… ...
    13 hours ago
  • National hits the panic button for its 7th Budget
    National has hit the panic button for its 7th Budget in a desperate attempt to look like they’re taking action to reduce our shameful child poverty rates, but they are giving with one hand and taking with the other, Opposition… ...
    1 day ago
  • Panic and back-flips can’t hide twin deficits
    National’s token measures to fight fires they have left burning for seven long years can’t hide a Budget that is long on broken promises, short on vision and fails to reach surplus, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “After being… ...
    1 day ago
  • Auckland land measure seven years too late
    National are so desperate to look like they are doing something about the Auckland housing crisis they have dusted off Labour’s 2008 inventory of government land available for housing and re-announced it, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Despite National… ...
    2 days ago
  • Access to gender reassignment surgery essential
    I was frankly disgusted to hear the Minister for Health say that funding gender reassignment surgeries is a “nutty idea”. A recent study found that in New Zealand 1% of young people identified themselves as transgender, and 3% were unsure… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 days ago
  • Global milk prices now lowest in 6 years
    The latest fall in the global dairy price has brought it to the lowest level in six years and shows there must be meaningful action in tomorrow’s Budget to diversify the economy, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Dairy prices… ...
    3 days ago
  • Big risks as CYF checks stopped
    Revelations that Child, Youth and Family is no longer assisting home-based early childhood educators by vetting potential employees should set alarm bells ringing, Labour Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. “Doing away with an extra mechanism for checking potential new employees… ...
    3 days ago
  • Housing crisis about real people not numbers
    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    3 days ago
  • Housing crisis about real people not numbers
    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    3 days ago
  • State of origin
    Kiwis are increasingly concerned about the food they give their families. New Zealand consumers have the right to know where their food has come from, particularly when it involves animals, and should be able to expect our Government to label… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    3 days ago
  • Relationships Aotearoa
    It is disturbing that Relationships Aotearoa, a voluntary organisation set up in 1949 to help couples struggling with their relationships following the upheavals of World War II, may be forced to close, says Acting Spokesperson for the Voluntary and Community… ...
    3 days ago
  • An economy that is just working for some is an economy that is not working
    The National Party presents itself as a great manager of the economy, but if the economy is only working for some we really need to question that assertion. Alongside the perpetually elusive surplus, the levels of risk in our economy are… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 days ago
  • An economy that is just working for some is an economy that is not working
    The National Party presents itself as a great manager of the economy, but if the economy is only working for some we really need to question that assertion. Alongside the perpetually elusive surplus, the levels of risk in our economy are… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 days ago
  • House prices to a crack $1 million in 17 months
    The average Auckland home is on track to cost $1 million in 17 months’ time if nothing substantial is done to rein in soaring price rises, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Auckland’s house prices have skyrocketed 63 per cent… ...
    4 days ago
  • Vital support services can’t be left in lurch
    The National Government has big questions to answer about how a provider of services to thousands of vulnerable New Zealanders is set to fold, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. Relationships Aotearoa which provides support and counselling to families, individuals… ...
    4 days ago
  • Treasury and IRD on a capital gains tax
    Both the Treasury and IRD have been advising the National Government on the benefits of a capital gains tax. Documents released to the Green Party under an Official Information Act request show that John Key has been selective with the… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    4 days ago
  • Charity legislation needs review
    It is unacceptable that the big corporate based charities claim  millions in annual income tax exemptions, while small community based and operated non-profit organisations  struggle to gain official charity status, Labour’s acting spokesperson for the Voluntary and Community Sector Louisa… ...
    4 days ago
  • John’s panic-Key response to housing crisis
    John Key needs to tell New Zealanders what caused his sudden change of heart that led to the Government’s scrambled and last-minute housing measures, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “The Prime Minister’s sudden rush of blood to his head followed… ...
    5 days ago
  • Keep our Assets Christchurch Campaign: An update
    I recently presented my submission to keep Christchurch Council assets at the Christchurch City Council’s public hearings on its 10 year plan on 13 May. The hearings are live-streamed and recorded so you can watch them on www.ccc.govt.nz. The Council’s… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    5 days ago
  • John Key finally admits there’s a housing crisis
    John Key’s weak measures to rein in the astronomical profits property speculators are making are an admission – finally – that there is a housing crisis, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “But yet again National is tinkering with the housing… ...
    5 days ago
  • Government stifles voices in CYFs review
    The Government’s exclusion of the Māori Women’s Welfare League in a panel on the future of CYFs is a cynical ploy to stifle views, says Labour’s Māori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta. “It's unbelievable that a significant review on the future… ...
    1 week ago
  • Speech to the Otago Chamber of Commerce
    Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here today. It’s a pleasure as always to be back in the town that raised me. Growing up in St Kilda meant that there was one thing that was a big… ...
    1 week ago
  • Key can’t just be Prime Minister for Parnell
    John Key must show New Zealanders in next week’s Budget that he is more than the Prime Minister for Parnell, and is also the Prime Minister for Pine Hill, Putararu and Palmerston North, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. In… ...
    1 week ago
  • Stop the conversions
    This week, some Waikato locals took me and intrepid photographer Amanda Rogers on a tour of some  lakes and waterways in their region, and up to the massive dairy conversions in the upper catchment of the Waikato River. It… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • More regional jobs go in Corrections reshape
    News that 194 Corrections staff are to lose their jobs will have ramifications not only for them and their families but for the wider community, Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. Prison units at Waikeria, Tongariro and Rimutaka face closure… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government’s climate meetings off to a bumpy start
    On Wednesday, I attended a hui and an evening meeting that the Government had organised in Nelson as part of its climate change consultation tour, to support the Nelson community telling the Government to take meaningful action on climate change.… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    1 week ago
  • Taxpayers the only ones left feeling blue
    Ministry of Social Development bosses could have saved themselves thousands of dollars in consultants’ fees by providing staff with rose-tinted spectacles, Labour’s State Services spokesperson Kris Faafoi says. A report out today reveals the Ministry is spending over half a… ...
    1 week ago
  • Why are the regions still facing restrictions?
    Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford is questioning why the regions should continue to be saddled with LVR lending restrictions announced by the Reserve Bank today. “Labour has been calling for the regions to be exempted from LVRs for the best… ...
    1 week ago
  • The high costs of weak environmental regulation
    Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere is described on the Department of Conservation website as “Canterbury’s largest and New Zealand’s fifth largest [lake], and an internationally important wildlife area.” But the lake is also polluted by nutrients leaching from farms in the catchment.… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    1 week ago
  • Submissions to Wellington City Council on their Gambling Venues Policy
    Every three years Councils across the country are required to check that their gambling venue policies are still fit for purpose and they can choose to consult on their policy if they are thinking of making changes. Councils don’t have… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Reserve Bank action shows Govt out of touch and out of ideas
    The Reserve Bank’s unprecedented measures today show it understands the serious risks of the overheating housing market – in complete contrast to John Key’s refusal to acknowledge the crisis, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The Bank is right to… ...
    1 week ago
  • Send us your snaps: 25 Years of the Green Party
    This year we've hit a milestone. We're turning 25.To help celebrate a quarter of a century, please send us your photos from the last 25 years of the Green Party Aotearoa New Zealand! Note: Photos must be jpg, gif or… ...
    1 week ago
  • 25 Years of the Green Party
    This year the Green Party sends 25. To help us celebrate a quarter of a century please send us you photos of 25 years of the Green Party!Photos must be jpg,gif or png and smaller than 2MB. If you are… ...
    1 week ago
  • Bay growth plan too little too late
    Today’s Bay of Plenty growth study from MBIE is another example of Government spin - lots of talk but little action, says Labour’s Regional Development spokesperson David Cunliffe.  “This is a region that desperately needs to develop the downstream processing… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government bows to ACC pressure
     The Government has finally buckled to pressure from Labour and the New Zealand public in making a half billion dollar cut to ACC levies, but the full benefits are two years away,” says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.  “$500 million over… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • False figures cloud Auckland transport facts
    The Prime Minister should apologise and issue a correction after both he and Transport Minister Simon Bridges have been caught out misrepresenting facts on Auckland’s transport spending, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. "Both John Key and Simon Bridges have… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Govt books confirm National can’t post surplus
    The last publication of the Government’s books before the budget shows National will break its promise of seven years and two election campaigns and fail to get the books in order, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The Government is… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • US state joins NZ with GE food labelling
    New Zealand has a similar law making the labelling of many GE foods compulsory, but the Government seems to let it slide.  Because the government has not monitored or enforced our GE food labelling laws since 2003, it seems the… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour Pays Tribute to Erima Henare
    “E ua e te ua tata rahi ana, Ko te hua i te kamo taheke i runga raa. No reira e te rangatira Erima takoto mai I roto I te ringa o Ihowa o nga Mano e moe e.” ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour Pays Tribute to Erima Henare
    “E ua e te ua tata rahi ana, Ko te hua i te kamo taheke i runga raa. No reira e te rangatira Erima takoto mai I roto I te ringa o Ihowa o nga Mano e moe e.” ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour Pays Tribute to Erima Henare
    “E ua e te ua tata rahi ana, Ko te hua i te kamo taheke i runga raa. No reira e te rangatira Erima takoto mai I roto I te ringa o Ihowa o nga Mano e moe e.” ...
    2 weeks ago

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