web analytics
The Standard

Populists v Plutocrats

Written By: - Date published: 8:15 pm, November 4th, 2013 - 12 comments
Categories: community democracy, local government, political alternatives, socialism, us politics - Tags:

There’s an interesting article in today’s DomPost headlined “Delight and horror at rise of ‘comrade'”. It details how Democrat Bill de Blasio is almost 40 points clear of his Republican rival in the race for Mayor of New York City. Bill de Blasio is no Third Way Democrat – the article starts:

His parents were investigated for communist sympathies. An anti-apartheid poster hangs on his kitchen wall. His wife is black and a former lesbian. He loves Europe’s social democrats, admires Latin American liberation theology and is poised to confound the conservative trend in US politics by sweeping to an improbable triumph as the next Mayor of New York in this week’s elections.

I can’t link to the article, it’s not on the Stuff website, perhaps because it is sourced from the Sunday Times and so will be behind a Murdoch paywall. But this article titled “Plutocrats vs Populists” by Chrystia Freeland in today’s New York Times is worth a read as she makes some interesting points. Here’s a few tasters:

The limits of plutocratic politics, at both ends of the ideological spectrum, are being tested. That’s a surprise.

Business leaders of the postwar era were individually weaker but collectively more effective; C.E.O. salaries were relatively lower, but the voice of business in the national conversation was much more potent, perhaps in part because it was less exclusively self-interested.

Surging income inequality doesn’t create just an economic divide. The gap is cultural and social, too. Plutocrats inhabit a different world from everyone else, with different schools, different means of travel, different food, even different life expectancies. The technocratic solutions to public-policy problems they deliver from those Olympian heights arrive in a wrapper of remote benevolence. Plutocrats are no more likely to send their own children to the charter schools they champion than they are to need the malaria cures they support.

People might not mind that if the political economy were delivering for society as a whole. But it is not: wages for 70 percent of the work force have stagnated, unemployment is high and many people with jobs feel insecure about them and about their retirement.

Plutocrats, as well as the rest of us, need to rise to this larger challenge, to find solutions that work on the global scale at which business already operates. The other task is to fully engage in retail, bottom-up politics — not just to sell those carefully thought-through, data-based technocratic solutions but to figure out what they should be in the first place.

Mr. de Blasio will be the next mayor of New York because he built a constituency among those who are losing out and those who sympathize with them. Politics in the winner-take-all economy don’t have to be extremist and nasty, but they have to grow out of, and speak for, the 99 percent. The pop-up political movements that come so naturally to the plutocrats won’t be enough.

Food for thought indeed. It strikes me that the most important poll conducted in New Zealand in the last few months was by far the largest in sample size, even though many decried its extent. The local body elections in October saw identifiably Labour mayors elected in Auckland, Rotorua and Christchurch, and a Green mayor in Wellington. Masterton’s  new mayor Lyn Middleton  told us in the DomPost last week that she was currently reading Max Rashbrooke’s “The Crisis of Inequality” and would have Helen Clark as one of her  dinner guests.

It may well be that the 99 percent in New Zealand as well do want politicians that grow out of and sympathise with them – in Chrystia Freeland’s words, who provide “retail, bottom-up politics.” It’s about engaging, listening, identifying the issues where they are felt the keenest and devising solutions that are inclusive. Liberation.

Perhaps Bill de Blasio is the harbinger of a return to social values at the local level. The last word goes to him:

He denies that he has ever been a card-carrying Marxist but last week he told New York magazine: “My grounding in progressive movements is pretty solid and it continues to be a way I think about the world. I don’t think there’s any question about where I come from ideologically.”

To quote Yogi Berra, the great Yankees catcher: “Whould’a thunk it?”

12 comments on “Populists v Plutocrats”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    IMO Karol’s post should be the lead at the moment, not local politics in NY.

  2. North 2

    Fascinating. And warming. Away with the Greedies !

  3. Mike Smith 3

    You’re right and I see it’s been fixed. My post isn’t just about local politics in NY though.

    • karol 3.1

      Mike, I think your post is very important and is relevant here.

      I do hope you are right and there is a shift towards stronger social values happening.

    • Morrissey 3.2

      You need to do some serious research before you start tapping out encomia for these Democratic Party machine creatures, Mike.

  4. QoT 4

    “A former lesbian”? Sigh. Media really don’t know how to deal with anything but the most basic concepts of sexuality.
    http://politicker.com/2013/05/bill-de-blasios-wife-opens-up-in-essence-again/

  5. vto 5

    This fulla in Noo York would appear to be the equivalent of what we are seeing in NZ with the tide rapidly running out on the old thinking.

    Don Brash, Jeff Key (ha ha), Roger Douglas, Bill English, the lot of them are already useless. The things they spout resonate with fewer and fewer people each and every day. Nobody believes them anymore. They are being sucked out to sea with the receding tide… clutching at mud crabs and covered in barnacles, not even the pipis dare open their shells to them…

    They may have had a point some long time ago but they failed to think further than the first thought and so ended up with pretty much dead-end policies. If they had had more wisdom they may have foreseen their shortcomings and moved to embrace more than just those first thoughts.

    But nup – no wisdom. Not in the true sense. So they fail. Not that they would even recognise such failure – not them. They are the best and brightest, they went to the best schools, everyone always told them so, it must be true.

    So the next questions must be – where are we going then? How do we know it will work out? Will it go to a different extreme? When will interest finally be outlawed in the west?

  6. alwyn 6

    I don’t think you got this quite right.
    If New Zealand, in Auckland, had followed the NY line we wouldn’t be talking about Len Brown as mayor of Auckland.
    Instead of that silly old fool we would be celebrating the election of John Minto, who would have won in a landslide.

  7. fambo 7

    Not criticising the informative blog at all, but Masterton’s new mayor is called Lyn Paterson. It would be hard to tell if Lyn was pro National or pro Labour without her coming out and stating the fact herself. The Wairarapa has traditionally chosen its mayors based more on local identity politics than political leanings. For instance, Carterton had Georgina Beyer who was later a Labour MP and currently has Ron Mark is an ex NZ First MP. That said, it tends to be fairly conservative these days with plenty of neo-conservative arrivals over the past few years, but not as conservative as Tararua district further north which is old school conservative.

  8. Morrissey 8

    He has anti-apartheid poster on his wall? That’s strange, since he’s a supporter of the most vicious apartheid regime in history….
    http://mondoweiss.net/2013/10/blasio-learned-israel.html

    Or was he just against the comparatively benign South African version?

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

1 2 3 8

  • Dairy price drop a blow to neglected regions
    The biggest drop in global milk prices for four years is yet another blow to the dairy industry and the many neglected regions that rely on it, says Labour’s Economic Development Spokesperson David Clark. “This 13 per cent drop in… ...
    19 mins ago
  • Plenty left to do on human rights
    Labour is backing calls to have a Parliamentary Select Committee take responsibility for overseeing and monitoring human rights issues. “A just released three-year study into New Zealand’s track record on human rights, funded by the Law Society, makes uneasy reading,”… ...
    3 hours ago
  • Many regions need by-election levels of support
    Northland is not the only region struggling under the National Government, but unfortunately places like Gisborne, Whanganui and Tasman do not have by-elections on the horizon, Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David Clark says. “A desperate National Party has thrown money… ...
    21 hours ago
  • Real changes must come from CYF review
    A well-overdue revamp of Child, Youth and Family cannot be just another cost cutting exercise, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. “Labour has been pushing for a review for some time. It was part of our policy at the election. ...
    21 hours ago
  • Latest Air NZ plan carries on regional snub
    Christchurch Labour Members of Parliament have secured a meeting with Air New Zealand boss Christopher Luxon following the airline’s decision to cut its Christchurch to Tokyo summer flights.  They are also calling on the Minister of Transport Simon Bridges to… ...
    2 days ago
  • Carmel Sepuloni back in Social Development role
    Andrew Little has reinstated Carmel Sepuloni as Labour’s Social Development spokesperson following the sentencing of her mother in the New Plymouth District Court today. “It has been a tough time for Carmel, but we both agreed it was appropriate she… ...
    2 days ago
  • Government taking Kiwis for April Fools
    Many Kiwis will be wondering if the joke is on them when a raft of Government changes come into effect tomorrow, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “First is ACC and National’s unwillingness to end its rort of Kiwi businesses which… ...
    2 days ago
  • Time to show RMA housing affordability plans
    Labour is challenging the Government to reveal its plans to make housing more affordable through amending the Resource Management Act, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Labour remains willing to consider the proposals on housing affordability on their merits and… ...
    2 days ago
  • John Key now admits no broad support for RMA changes
    John Key has now been forced to admit that he never had the broad political support to gut the Resource Management Act, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson Megan Woods. “Cornerstone legislation such as the RMA should never be changed without genuine… ...
    3 days ago
  • National’s changes leave student bodies in chaos
    The chaos created by National’s scrapping of compulsory student association membership may force the 86-year old Union of Students Association to fold, Labour’s Tertiary Education spokesperson David Cunliffe says. “National’s 2011 Voluntary Student Membership Act has left student associations with… ...
    3 days ago
  • Tragedy must be impetus for better training
    The Police Minister needs to explain why unsworn and inadequately trained custody officers were put in a situation of caring for a medically unwell prisoner on a busy Saturday night, Labour’s Police spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. Commenting on an IPCA… ...
    6 days ago
  • Government must be more transparent on investor state clauses
    The Government must be more transparent around the draft investor state dispute settlements in the TPPA, says David Parker, Labour’s Export Growth and Trade spokesperson. “Labour is pro trade, and is proud of the FTA we negotiated with China, which… ...
    6 days ago
  • Protect university staff and student voices
    The Green Party believes ensuring student and staff representation on university councils is important. National recently passed a law reducing the size of university governance councils while increasing the proportion of the members nominated by, guess who… Steven Joyce. The… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    7 days ago
  • C’mon Nick what’s the truth on the RMA
     “Nick Smith has got to fess up and tell us what is happening to his much vaunted RMA reform, Labour’s Environment spokesperson Megan Woods says.  “With just a day and a half to go before the polls open in Northland,… ...
    7 days ago
  • SSC salaries sink National’s spending spin
    Massive pay rises at the State Services Commission prove National’s claims of clamping down on spending in the public sector are simply fantasy, Labour’s State Services spokesman Kris Faafoi says. “Salaries in this one department are almost $70,000 more than… ...
    7 days ago
  • We can fix Christchurch and keep our assets
    The Christchurch City Council is seeking public feedback on its proposed 10 year plan for Council revenue and spending. This is probably one of the most significant 10 year plans ever to be written by a local council because of… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    7 days ago
  • Epidemic of serious assaults in our prisons
    Labour wants stab proof vests and pepper spray for all corrections officers to keep them safe from the epidemic of serious prison assaults that are occurring around the country’s jails, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis.  “There have been five… ...
    1 week ago
  • Thanking our caregivers
    Let’s celebrate and thank our caregivers. This week is caregivers’ week. It’s a chance to acknowledge the thousands of women, and occasional other person, who are caring for the elderly and disabled in our country. They hold people’s lives in… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • Roundup: UN finds it “probably” causes cancer
    At last the UN has spoken out against the widely-used weedkiller Roundup. The UN’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has identified glyphosate, the principle ingredient in Roundup, as a probable carcinogen. They also include as probable carcinogens the insecticides… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    1 week ago
  • World water day: eight rivers in one day
    Our photo journey started by the Waioweka (also known as Waioeka) River which flows from Te Urewera to Opotiki, and is surrounded by beautiful forest. The water looked great! Kopeopeo Canal It contrasted greatly with the Kopeopeo Canal near Whakatane,… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • We all benefit when education meets everyone’s needs
    As Dyslexia week comes to a close,  Dyslexia NZ have reminded us that around 10% of our citizens are dyslexic and are entitled to better support. One of their strongest arguments is that failure to provide identification and support for… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • Big change starts small
    Today marks Race Relations Day in New Zealand. Race Relations Day coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  The United Nations General Assembly chose this day as it marks the day in 1960 when 69 peaceful… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Israel, Palestine and the question of statehood
    The knife-edge election in Israel complicates the Middle East situation, even more than usual. The Prime Minister-elect, Binyamin Netanyahu, is moving to form a government. Netanyahu has indicated that, during his term, a Palestinian state would not be established. That… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Christchurch transport goes backwards
    The Green Party has a vision of a liveable, accessible Christchurch with a sense of identity and strong connected communities. Instead, 2013 census figures released by Statistics New Zealand reveal a fractured community, and tell a story of frustrated Christchurch commuters… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Super Fund should divest $140 million in high risk coal
    The Green Party is calling on the New Zealand Super Fund to divest their $140 million investment in coal companies that are vulnerable to becoming financially stranded according to a damning new report from Oxford University. The Smith School of… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Learn to count with Mark Osborne: 0 + 1 = ?
    The adage about the first casualty of war being truth is one that might often be applied to the political battle for hearts and minds, and of course votes. A rather unfortunate example of this has been arriving in the… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Is it still a safety net when the holes are this big?
    Over the last few weeks I’ve been wondering how safe our income support system is for people, especially those with cognitive or learning disabilities. I’ve been trying to support a young man who was severely injured in a workplace accident… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Pasifika – protecting the Pacific needed now more than ever.
    Over the weekend thousands of Aucklanders flocked to celebrate our city’s diverse Pacific communities and cultures at the annual Pasifika festival and the Greens were there to join them. The Pasifika festival has been held every year for 23… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Sounds Stakeholders Seek a Sustainable Future
    It was heartening to see a large number of people who care about the Marlborough Sounds come together at the Marlborough Marine Futures’ forum in Picton on March 8. Fellow Green MP Steffan Browning, who lives in Marlborough, and I… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    3 weeks ago

Removed at the request of The Daily Blog.
Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere