Pablo’s post about the (alleged) sad state of the left in NZ, posted on Kiwipolitico, raised some issues that got a response from Chris Trotter. Pablo then replied to that – with some mentions about the responses to his first post on the Standard’s Open Mike, 21 January 2014 – discussion started here.
I agree with parts of what both Trotter and Pablo say, but not everything. Basically, methinks Trotter doth protest too much about Bomber sucking up to Dotcom.
However, Pablo really does an old school Marxist analysis – it’s like the whole struggle between feminists, anti-racists, etc within the left, over the last few decades, never happened. It has been a long struggle to get some understanding and inclusion of these within the left. Pablo tends to be dismissive of, and marginalise the politics of “race”, (by implication) gender and sexuality, and climate change to the margins. For him it is all being about the “working class” being front and centre – while he does however acknowledge the difficulties of defining “working class” these days.
The term “precariat” for instance has some great significance in the 21st century, as does the focus on paid work, subordinates the role of domestic labour, child care and collaborative community activities.
I could be wrong, but it seems to me that Pablo is being dismissive of gender and sexuality politics when, in his latest post he says:
It may not be armed conflict but the NZ market project, be it subtle, buffered or stark, is a war against the working classes, one that is based on the atomization of said classes via the destruction of class-based unions and ideological diversions that promote narrow sectoral representation based upon collective assumptions about the primacy of individual self-interest over solidarity, and which privileges greed over empathy.
I think Pablo is correct about many things to do with the compromise politics of the left during the early 20th century, and with his criticisms of the (so-called) “neoliberal” class war.
However, I do think such a class analysis needs updating – to include climate change, and various oppressions such as that of “race”, gender and sexuality – there’s a lot of intersections between these and class oppression – but sometimes they run parallel. These are not individualistically-based. They impact on large sections of society – as much a collective group as any class – and in ways that can only be successfully combatted with collective, collaborative actions. Any left politics also needs a strong focus on environment and resources.
Running through Pablo’s posts seems to be the old Marxist economic base- cultural superstructure hierarchy- with the economic base being the ultimate driver. For me, those two things are constantly interacting and intertwined – and it can be seen in Pablo’s coverage of things like the hegemonic struggles and the struggles against dominant ideology – even while referring to “ideological distractions” at least once.
Any left politics needs to focus on both the cultural constructions and dismantling the “capitalist institutions” simultaneously.
I also don’t agree that the NZ left is “dead” – just struggling against some pretty powerful manipulations and controls by the corporate backed transnational elites.