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Bryce Edwards: The State of the political left (in the Age of Outrage)

Written By: - Date published: 6:10 am, May 31st, 2021 - 134 comments
Categories: Culture wars, democratic participation, Left, liberalism - Tags:

Political commentator and analyst Bryce Edwards lays down some challenges for the left. Commenting is welcome, and the usual rules apply: focus on the issues raised in the post, refrain from attacks on the author – weka

Cross posted from The Democracy Project with permission.


What role has the political left played in helping create some of the changes to the current way politics is debated? Below is a short five-minute speech I contributed to a panel discussion at an event hosted last week by Diplosphere, entitled: “Living in the Age of Outrage”. The questions posed for speakers at the event included the following: “• Has political correctness gone too far? Where do we draw the line between freedom of expression and discrimination? In an age of extremes, where is middle ground gone? Can we listen to the other side?”

We live in incredible times, and the subject of our discussion tonight is a huge one with many aspects to explore. One crucial element in understanding where we currently are at is to comprehend how the “political left” has evolved in recent decades.

To start with it’s worth thinking about what we mean by “the political left”. When I talk to my students, I’m always interested to hear what “leftwing” and “rightwing” means to them. Here’s some of the words and phrases that I get repeated back to me as being leftwing: anti-racism, diversity, gender, censorship, cancel culture, boycotts, LGTBQ+ rights, political correctness, identity politics, environment and peace.

It’s interesting that their definitions of leftwing are quite different to traditional ones. They don’t talk so much about working class, economic inequality, poverty, trade unions, collective struggle, universalism, etc.

I think this illustrates how the political left has indeed evolved over recent decades. The leftwing parties, activists and politicians are now quite different to what they were for most of the twentieth century.

A short version of what has happened on the left is the following:

From the 1970s and 1980s, the forces of the political left – especially the political parties – transformed into more middle class vehicles. The highly educated took over the NZ Labour Party as members, activists and MPs. And unions declined as a social force.

The left also started to lose the debates on economics, everywhere. In NZ this meant the introduction of neoliberal economic reforms, in our case by the Fourth Labour Government.

Those on the left generally gave up on economics, and chose to focus from this time more on non-economic issues: social issues, foreign policy, post-materialism, and what is often called the “culture wars” – involving personal morality and behaviour. Hence, since then the left has become more associated with cultural issues, gender, ethnicity. They don’t focus so much on class anymore or talk so much about the issues that they’re interested in.

In a sense, the left has swung from one extreme in the 20th century, whereby everything was about economics and class (and other important issues around gender and ethnicity were not given their due focus) to one where the focus is mostly on non-economic issues.

In a sense you could say that the “political right” won the “economic debates” of the 1980s and onwards – setting up an economy that we’ve still got, that is structured in favour of wealth, business and elites. Meanwhile, the “political left” have won the “social debates”, largely setting the agenda on issues of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and culture.

The modern version of the left – what some might call the “woke left”, the “liberal left” or the “middle class left” – clearly has some very different ways of pursuing political change. Largely it’s an elite top-down model of politics, reflective of the left being made up of the highly-educated stratum of society. They confidently believe that they know best.

This leftwing elite approach is very compatible with a more censorious approach to politics. Whereas the traditional left has been the force in society that is most favourable to “free speech” and towards mass participation in politics, it’s now quite the opposite. Traditionally it was forces of the right and the Establishment that clamped down on political expression and activity. Historically, the left has championed the rights of the oppressed or marginalised to organise, to communicate politics, in order to win human rights and political gains. And this is why it’s somewhat surprising that increasingly the left want either the state or society to put limits on political debate and expression.

The rise of “culture wars” has been incredibly important for the political atmosphere that we are now in. Quite simply it doesn’t lend itself to debate and discussion, or finding middle ground. Instead, it’s more polarising – it lends itself to the labelling of opponents as racists, sexists, or in the case of Hilary Clinton, talking about the masses as “deplorables”. So, there’s a strong strain of sneering from many on the left – especially against those that are seen as socially backward. The old slogan of: “The personal is political” now underpins the focus on how to fix the problems of the world.

The logical consequence for many on the left is take an approach of “language policing” and concern for “cultural etiquette” in an almost Victorian way. Again this is rather topsy-turvy – as it used to be conservative or rightwing side of politics that was concerned with policing people’s behaviour, and looking down on the less educated and enlightened.

The contemporary left also has a newfound mistrust in the ability of society to make the right decisions or to understand the world. In an elitist way, many on the progressive side of politics view the public as being too uneducated or lacking enlightenment. Hence, the view of gender or ethnic inequality or oppressions is often understood as something to do with personal behaviour and “bad ideas” (racism, sexism, homophobia) – rather than in a structural sense (as the left used to see these things).

In this climate it’s not surprising therefore that there is now much heightened sensitivity about “misinformation” – with this idea that the public are easily led.

Of course, the misinformation issue is an important one that we should take seriously. But sometimes there is too much emphasis in the debate on the almost-conspiratorial idea that disinformation is coming from foreign, rogue sources like Russian internet bots etc. What’s often missing from the debate is a concentration on the propaganda and lies originating from government departments, politicians and the Beehive. What needs more focus is the fact that New Zealand now has many more public relations practitioners than journalists.

In conclusion, I think when the political left swings back towards class politics and mass participation, away from its overly-obsessed orientation to “culture wars”, we are likely to see a very different type of political debate and landscape – and one that is more democratically healthy and progressive.

134 comments on “Bryce Edwards: The State of the political left (in the Age of Outrage) ”

  1. Maurice 1

    Widely known as the Death of Expertise.

    Many just do not believe any of them any more.

  2. Descendant Of Smith 2

    The left has found itself seemingly unable to walk and chew bubblegum at the same time.

    Even where unionised many of the unions hopped into bed with management. It has been sad watching working conditions people went on strike for and argued and fought getting traded off for lump sum payments for a casualised workforce that just don't have any sense that in the long run a %age increase is better for them.

    Strategies such as one year contracts to enable the ability to strike annually (junior doctors get this) as the last vestige of legal power left were rejected, the inability to share work around so economic power is spread and we do not have this situation of lots of people with no work and too many working long hours.

    And in many cases the diversity solutions developed by unions sleeping with management are just tick box exercises to protect management rather than any real change for to get to the top you have to "fit in" and as a result your diversity of thinking – if you had it in the first place – gets suppressed by conformity. On the surface statistical disparity exists but underneath it's the same managementspeak thinking.

    I always found it interesting that on one hand unions were complaining how the changes made through the ECA etc broke up unions and made their job harder but at the same time they were consciously taking on more and more issues with less and less resource. They to a large extent were the problem – too busy chewing bubblegum (in all it's different flavours and colours) to be able to walk.

    It's not surprising therefore that we see the disparity of wealth that has occurred – strategy for economic and class issues has taken a backseat for a very long time.

    The much stronger economic interest of workers approach taken by First and E-Tu unions has been refreshing in recent years.

    Even understanding and communicating that in the broader sense colonialism was a capitalist and class construct rather than a racist construct seems beyond them. That has allowed the racist components to dominate whereas the capitalist ones were much more important e.g. the need to exploit resources for profit, the deliberate paying of Maori 1/10th the wages of European workers, that the collectivism notions of Maori were evil communism, and so on.

    So now we have lots of poor people but the good news is, is that we know what race, gender, age, sexual preference, etc they are. We can fit them in two, three, four or maybe five boxes. How much productivity is lost by this over analysis and this over targeting?

    The old fashioned notion of universality should be the staring point eg the old family benefit. The notion that we should pay more tax also seems to be off the table – how much money has been lost through for instance John Key's removal of stamp duty – simple, easy to collect. So many, many taxes removed for the rich and the well off over the years.

    It would be nice to see the pendulum swing back a little to economic and class issues.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 2.1

      Stamp Duty Abolition Act 1999
      Maybe you meant the Gift Duty that Key did remove to help his rich mates. The offshore Trusts loved that one as they could transfer cash from straw trusts in tax havens to the mega wealthy via NZ as tax free

      • Descendant Of Smith 2.1.1

        No I was thinking stamp duty but thought it was Key's government that removed it not Shipley's.

        I do remember Key removing the gifting provisions – partly intended to disenfranchise women as well in matrimonial separations in my view.

  3. Ad 3

    Weird commentary coming from New Zealand since we are both managed by the most successful social democratic government in the world and also the most socially liberal Prime Minister we've ever had.

    In New Zealand at least, all our government departments are going through deep cultural Treaty and gender sensitivity changes, and we are regularly ranked one of the most efficient and least corrupt public services in the world.

    Also, Covid19 is a precise riposte to the splitting and meaningless extremes he rails against because the Covid19 response has forced bureaucratic centralisation, epistemic certainty in fact-based decisions, and solid belief that there is such a thing as society that is worth defending.

    Edwards is just catastrophically wrong.

    • Gabby 3.1

      It does look just a wee bit like the old rightie trick of accusing the opposition of your own faults.

      • Ad 3.1.1

        It's just a complete misunderstanding of New Zealand politics.

        He's look more accurate if Trump had won a second term.

        Then we really would be a true global outlier.

        • Adrian Thornton 3.1.1.1

          The only reason Trump lost that second term by a landslide was because of Covid…you would do well to remember that fact.

          • ghostwhowalksnz 3.1.1.1.1

            Not a fact at all. His approval ratings were consistently negative throughout the 4 years- apparently for more recent Presidents they are more stable than they used to be, ( between highs and lows) but Trump was still the lowest on average.

          • ken 3.1.1.1.2

            Because of his woeful mismanaging of Covid…..and because he went out of his way to offend absolutely everyone.

            Some people like that sort of thing, but most don't.

            [e-mail address corrected]

          • McFlock 3.1.1.1.3

            Funny, I reckon Labour did so well in 2020 in no small part because of their response to covid.

            And yet dolt45 lost because of covid? Such a mystery, the difference between the two results with the same input…

            • Adrian Thornton 3.1.1.1.3.1

              I agree, however that wasn't really my point, my point was that Trump was lined up to win that election, despite being so epically fucking awful and then even with the Trump/Covid disaster movie happening as the election is being played out, Biden sill only just wins, says volumes about what a hollow, uninspiring party the Dems and Biden is.

              • McFlock

                Or the insanity and media empire they were up against.

                • Adrian Thornton

                  What are you talking about, what new media empire were Biden/Dems up against that Obama or Hillary wasn't?

              • Phillip ure

                Do you totally discount the multi-trillion policy-parcels he has banged thru..

                one of them has been cited for lifting 50% of american children living in poverty out of that poverty..

                and who I wanted..bernie…is holding the senate purse-strings..

                biden has surprised me..so far he has far exceeded my expectations of him as president..

                all of the above is why I am surprised at yr sneering at him..

        • Patricia Bremner 3.1.1.2

          I must admit to finding Bryce's take on Murupara and the ideas behind the Insurance scheme, lived real and though provoking.

          This topic feels like much of his work, highly constructed and not wholly convincing. There is no way this Government is fascist in any respect.
          When Governments are trying to control lies deceit and harm on the internet is not removing the ability to talk about these problems.

          The idea that they "don't trust the public" has been shown to be rubbish. It is these sorts of sweeping statements which are at odds with what is happening on the ground, and it undermines other points.

    • Stuart Munro 3.2

      most efficient and least corrupt

      They're not particularly objective assessments unfortunately – we've had systematic corruption in immigration for a long time now, and although there are efforts underway to deal with that to some extent, the corruption assessment at its height never even considered it.

      The permitting regime around housing, created during a frenzy of ass-covering subsequent to the leaky homes debacle, is by no means efficient, and, embodying as it does significant layers of cost without corresponding benefits or regulatory body responsibilities can probably be rated corrupt also.

      The process by which selected businesses rort consents, as Ocean Spring did to gain control of Christchurch water rights without meeting the standards a fresh application would have required was neither pragmatic nor did it exemplify responsible, much less good governance.

      NZ could use an anti-corruption commission in fact – it would be an ongoing commitment to good government.

    • swordfish 3.3

      .

      As with Stuart (below), it appears you haven't actually read Edwards' piece.

  4. Stuart Munro 4

    The really sad thing is that some people might think there was anything in Edwards's dubious construction of the Left.

    Maslow, back in the day, came up with this hierarchy of human needs, which can be alliterated as needs to live, to love, to learn, and to leave a legacy. Notice that living comes first. Economics matters to the extent that it affects that need to live, and of course, the matter becomes increasingly fraught the closer one gets to the not-making-it line.

    All the identity politics issues except the structural prejudices that affect opportunity, are second tier – they become valid after survival needs are met. A country with as many homeless and housing insecure as NZ has much to do before it gilds its gingerbread with Edwards's flakiness.

    • swordfish 4.1

      .

      Not too sure which Bryce Edwards piece you've been reading but your response doesn't appear to bear any relationship to his analysis in this post.

      The Bryce Edwards I read critiques the middle class capture of the political Left & its subsequent de-emphasis of traditional leftist concerns like economic inequality, poverty, trade unions, collective struggle, universalism & the interests of the broad working & lower-middle class in favour of often esoteric cultural & moral issues and, more specifically, divisive bourgeois Identity Politics grounded in a very narrow & authoritarian dogma of highly dubious ancestry.

      As a corollary, the movement's moved away from its inherently democratic & egalitarian roots to something much more elitist, censorious & condemnatory of "ordinary" people & majority sentiment.

      Whereas you appear to believe that Bryce Edwards is arguing that we should indeed be downplaying fundamentals like housing & poverty in favour of ID Politics. In which case, you've read the inverse of his actual thesis.

      • greywarshark 4.1.1

        I don't get what swordfish's comment stems from – is it in reply to 4 from Stuart Munro? It doesn't seem to match.

      • Stuart Munro 4.1.2

        You're right – I did run over it pretty lightly – it being a while since I’ve taken BE very seriously.

  5. roy cartland 5

    It's a lot like old Trotter's post over on TDB, where he seriously tries to make a case in favour of the Friends reunion. Apparently its deliberate lack of diversity and focus on inane petty problems of rich kids is something to celebrate. Somewhere where "we" can all feel safe from the ravages of the woke, diverse and, evidently, thinking people.

    Rather close to Judith Collins' "is there something wrong with me being white" comments. Who's really abandoning the so-called values of the left?

    • weka 5.1

      The Labour Party? NZ liberals?

      do you remember the protests of the early 90s? Why isn’t that happening now? Apart from climate, where is the mass mobilisation around housing, benefits, child poverty? NZ is very comfortable with neoliberalism now, including large parts of the left.

      • Drowsy M. Kram 5.1.1

        They don’t talk so much about working class, economic inequality, poverty, trade unions, collective struggle, universalism, etc.

        Wealth tax? Capital gains tax? Not on Ardern's watch. Reducing inequality takes tax; how else to make NZ society more resilient? We face national and global challenges.

    • greywarshark 5.2

      I can't understand what you're going on about roy c. You have imprinted your own negative perceptions on what Trotter has written. And then you extrapolate out to Judith Collins' ideas. And you state your opinions with such superiority, entirely unjustified. Some of you writing on TS can't stand Trotter apparently because he plays around with your perceptions and holds them up to a light, which you have never got round to turning on.

  6. Adrian Thornton 6

    “In a sense you could say that the “political right” won the “economic debates” of the 1980s and onwards – setting up an economy that we’ve still got, that is structured in favour of wealth, business and elites. Meanwhile, the “political left” have won the “social debates”, largely setting the agenda on issues of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and culture.”

    1. The Neoliberal, laissez faire free market economic ideology we in the West live and operate under today was installed by the Left, now more accurately described as the Centre…re; Clinton in the USA, Blair in the UK and Lange in NZ.
    1. Once the Neoliberal project became the political hegemony, it was plainly obvious that it was never opposed to issues of race, gender or culture, so there was never any real war to be won, more like a few battles and some mopping up.
      Liberalism as an ideology is only interested in 99% of humans by their capacity to be active consumers (not citizens) or to create consumption ..which is also of course why Climate Change will never be addressed in any meaningful way under a Centrist (endless growth) ideology.
    1. I am not quite sure why Edwards who is obviously a lot smarter and informed than me doesn’t acknowledge Free Market Liberal Centrism as it’s own unique and defined ideology?

    “I think when the political left swings back towards class politics and mass participation, away from its overly-obsessed orientation to “culture wars”, we are likely to see a very different type of political debate and landscape – and one that is more democratically healthy and progressive.”

    Here I absolutely agree with Edwards, however as we saw with Corbyn and with Sanders, anyone who is a serious Left Wing threat to the Liberal centrist hegemony will be relentlessly brutalized by the establishment press, always starting with the so called ‘progressive’ press (like The Guardian) so getting a real progressive class based left wing movement off the ground is going to take a transformative leader, staunch supporters and probably at least one main stream news source on their side.

    • solkta 6.1

      The Neoliberal, laissez faire free market economic ideology we in the West live and operate under today was installed by the Left, now more accurately described as the Centre…re; Clinton in the USA, Blair in the UK and Lange in NZ.

      Bollocks. Do you not remember Thatcher and Reagan?

      • Adrian Thornton 6.1.1

        OK, fair enough, so that was a bit misleading, I guess I should have framed it thus…

        Clinton and Blair, whom both, while being leaders of the traditional Left leaning parties of their respective countries, by abandoning the working classes in favour of embracing and implementing even more radical neo liberal economic reforms, cemented into place the ideology of Free Market Liberalism as the political hegemony of western politics…making Thatcher’s phrase of “no turning back” an actual reality.

        Of course there is good reason why Thatcher regarded Blair as one of her greatest successes..

        “when asked once to name her greatest achievement, she is said to have replied: “Tony Blair.”

        https://www.ft.com/content/100a5d78-a040-11e2-88b6-00144feabdc0

        The Guardian, Phil McDuff
        Blair built on Thatcher’s legacy. That’s a simple fact

        https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=Blair+built+on+Thatcher%E2%80%99s+legacy.+That%E2%80%99s+a+simple+fact

        • Stuart Munro 6.1.1.1

          The idea that these values, the neoliberal norms, can be cemented in doesn't quite work – because neoliberalism doesn't.

          As a country with among the fastest growing inequality in the OECD, we are going to have to face problems outside comfortable middle class presumptions sooner rather than later – and Judas goats like Blair or Douglas could only delay reform, never establish anything permanent.

          • Adrian Thornton 6.1.1.1.1

            "and Judas goats like Blair or Douglas could only delay reform, never establish anything permanent."

            That's true, but even these 30 odd years of this one political/economic ideology with little to no inbuilt moral or social code, and only seemingly governed by it's endless need for growth, controlling the levers of power over most of the world has been enough to seriously damage the planet and the humans on board.

            And no end for these Liberals can been seen on the horizon yet…

            • Stuart Munro 6.1.1.1.1.1

              The end may be developing at present – there's a bit of a swing against neoliberalism developing in the US atm I feel – as might be expected given they took the stupid a bit further than most places.

              The neoliberal swing mostly coincided with the end of the Cold War. Where ordinary folk might have thought with the decline of organized Left opposition (however riddled with totalitarian crap) should have swung the pendulum towards a moderate centrism, the 'great and good' figured "OK, now we can double down on the trickledown bullshit."

              I think the general perception of neoliberalism is as less trustworthy than pre Covid, and with some way to run on that the pendulum may gradually start to swing the other way.

              • Adrian Thornton

                I agree that there seems to be a general slow steady swing away from neoliberalisim, and the very term itself it has become a tainted word that is for sure, hence, IMO, the centrists reluctance to cut their ties to the word and vibe of the ‘left’ and just own completely their own Third Way Centrism.

                This unsightly situation we find ourselves in, as I have already said, is a major problem for the actual Progressive Socialist Left.

  7. Byd0nz 7

    I notice he never mentioned what 'his students' perception of – right wing was, seems like he only likes to troll the left.

    The true left, would be more in tune with Marxism, but how many of his students have been taught anything about Marx from a Marxist point of view?.

    • weka 7.1

      It was a short talk and he chose to focus on the left. I find it refreshing. We can bitch and moan about the right but if we’re not willing to look at our own faults I doubt there is a way out of neoliberalism until climate takes it all down.

      The point about the students is that those students have that perception of the left. Why is that?

  8. Anne 8

    This leftwing elite approach is very compatible with a more censorious approach to politics. Whereas the traditional left has been the force in society that is most favourable to “free speech” and towards mass participation in politics, it’s now quite the opposite….

    Historically, the left has championed the rights of the oppressed or marginalised to organise, to communicate politics, in order to win human rights and political gains. And this is why it’s somewhat surprising that increasingly the left want either the state or society to put limits on political debate and expression.

    This is a nonsense.

    He appears to be passing judgement on a significant global event which only occurs once in a hundred plus years [pandemic] and requires firm control in order to save lives and the country's economic well-being. He knows the kind of censorious actions this Labour led government has taken is compatible with any successful government's response to an international crisis and does not apply to governance in normal circumstances.

    There has been no censored actions against free speech nor an attempt to put limits on political debate and expression. Nor has there been any oppression of the more marginalised in society as he seems to claim. There is a good argument to suggest they have been slow to significantly improve the lives for some sectors in society, but that is now being addressed as evidenced in the latest budget.

    Edwards started off well and I found myself nodding my head in agreement over some of his reflections, but then he descended into shallow interpretations of government actions to date and attempted to make a case for some sort of elitist Labour driven conspiracy.

    I'm not impressed!

  9. Pat 9

    Thoughtful analysis by Edwards and co but would suggest that it is by no means certain that their conclusion will come to pass.

    "In conclusion, I think when the political left swings back towards class politics and mass participation, away from its overly-obsessed orientation to “culture wars”, we are likely to see a very different type of political debate and landscape – and one that is more democratically healthy and progressive."

    It is entirely possible 'the left' will fragment to such an extent that it is no longer a viable political force.

    • Incognito 9.1

      It is entirely possible 'the left' will fragment to such an extent that it is no longer a viable political force.

      That might be the end of Class War but not of Class Struggle; we’re almost there already angrycrying

  10. Pat 10

    It is difficult to have a classless society when its governed by a political class….should a leftist goal be government by random selection for a fixed term?

    The Irish have experimented with a limited version of such with their 'citizens assemblies'

    • weka 10.1

      Participatory models would probably open up solutions to that. Not sure how we get from here to there though, given how much power is vested in the hands of the people positioned to make that change,

      I was also wondering about the apparent problem of left wing push for education producing a University led class in political parties long before education is universal. What’s the ideal there? Obviously NZ got shafted by neoliberalism eg student loans, and the devaluing of on the job training, but what are the safe guards that should be built into parties?

      • Pat 10.1.1

        Randomly selected Parliamentarians would be the end of 'Parties'….and a good thing imo.

        Getting there is I would suggest a question of will rather than any practical difficulty.

        • Descendant Of Smith 10.1.1.1

          Hiding parties makes no sense – people will just form them anyway and it won't be visible – bit like the way groups took over councils and school boards of trustees – you are much better off knowing who is aligned to who.

          • Pat 10.1.1.1.1

            You are ignoring the basis of my comment…a time limited randomly selected Parliament…no manifestos, campaigns, opportunity to form factions.

            Akin to jury selection

    • greywarshark 10.2

      Citizens assemblies in Ireland. Sounds interesting.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens%27_Assembly_(Ireland)

      http://www.citizenassembly.ie/

      This from Politico. To see it you have to sign up to some system that will give access to your baking or something. Just warning! /sarc. https://www.politico.eu/article/the-myth-of-the-citizens-assembly-democracy/

      https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/government_in_ireland/irish_constitution_1/citizens_assembly.html
      .

      The Irish Citizens' Assembly | Heinrich Böll Stiftung …
      https://us.boell.org › irish-citizens-assembly
      The Citizens' Assembly places Irish citizens at the heart of the decision-making process on constitutional and policy issue. It brings together 99 randomly-selected …

      • Tricledrown 10.2.1

        The Irish situation was brought about by the end of the Catholic churches dominance in every day lives of Ireland keeping conservative policies like anti abortion ,womens rights etc .

        Because of the outing of pedo priests solo mums children being abused removed neglected and maybe murdered by the Catholic Church.

        Where the Church dominated every aspect of Irish life it is now struggling like churches in most modern well educated countries.

        We don't have the same problems here so I doubt very much we need another quango to be involved in our democracy.

        • Sacha 10.2.1.1

          Constitutional arrangements deserve broader informed discussion than politicians, favoured stakeholders or referenda can offer. NZ will get something like that 'assembly' when we are mature enough to transition to a republic.

          • greywarshark 10.2.1.1.1

            Oh beautiful, some time in the future when there is a change of top banana, we will amazingly learn a 'New Way'. Dream on you republicans, the word has the same syllables as barbarians doesn't it? We can go that way now if we don't clear our heads or later if we go for this wait future republicanism bosh which will leave huge cracks of disagreement that some authoritarian power can grow in.

            We have had plenty of time and resource invested in people to make us wise now. The chant is ' What do we want? We want a return on our education in wise and far-sighted thinking, informed discussion based on reality and needs not theory and future utopianism, and we want it Now, Now…'

            Not after the fall of the people's democracy under the Queen in favour of a century's tragic stumbling and aggression implementing the imagined utopia of republicanism FGS.

        • greywarshark 10.2.1.2

          You could look more widely than religion as corroding human life and humanistic standards Tricledrown. I am dimly perceiving capitalism in its present form felt by NZs as similar to a religious cult, Religion has always had to fight against the false god of money, power and the icons representing those. Neolib and freemarket have summoned and enforced obedience and achieved it here with a concomitant set of morals peculiar to these beliefs, along with acolytes from Unseen Universities to flash their magic at us and make us genuflect to smaller government, increasing gaps in incomes from space-high to gutter-snuffle, leaky homes, shoddy standards for everything, doublespeak about savings etc. I think we need a citizens assembly here toot sweet.

  11. In a sense you could say that the “political right” won the “economic debates” of the 1980s and onwards – setting up an economy that we’ve still got, that is structured in favour of wealth, business and elites. Meanwhile, the “political left” have won the “social debates”, largely setting the agenda on issues of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and culture.

    I think both of these are explained by materialist and realist philosophies having lost to post-modernism among people on the left. With few materialists/rationalists remaining on the left, it has little capacity to argue successfully against the neo-liberal consensus, but it does have no end of well-off participants with too much time on their hands and too much familiarity with brain-rotting post-modernist ideologies.

    • swordfish 11.1

      yes Bang on.

    • Tricledrown 11.2

      Those who have don't want to give anything to those who don't have.

      It reflects natures pecking order the strongest survive by taking the most while the weakest get by on the leftovers.

      Civilization has only tweaked natures culling.

      Humans think we are civilised but that's just a myth .

    • Ad 11.3

      No one would accuse this Cabinet to be packed with Lacanians, Derrideans, Kristevans, or Irigaraeans.

      The left are in power right now. It's by a long way the most left-leaning government we've had since the first Labour government. That's where the activists are right now: exercising power.

      The closest you get in this Labour caucus to intellectual life is Minister Woods who did her PhD on boring stuff like 1960s Maori urbanisation trends, and Deborah Russell who specialised in tax policy after her PhD on northern Italian clans like the Medici's and Borgias etc then further specislisation in ANU.

      Otherwise Labour’s cabinet members are the standard lawyers, unionists, teachers, social workers and a few doctors.

      You'd be at a stretch to find even a postwar Frankfurt Marxist amongst the whole of caucus.

      • Ad 11.3.1

        Also Stuart Nash who did quite sensible Masters degrees in law, forestry, and management. Has a brain.

        None of them out on the woke spectrum, and far as I can tell neither are their staff.

      • Psycho Milt 11.3.2

        It's true that philosophical theories aren't exactly at the forefront of government MPs' minds and probably not in the background of them either. It doesn't matter – the brain-rot of post-modernism and queer theory have well and truly entered the mainstream. There'd be very few govt MPs who'd reject the idea that if someone 'identifies' as something we have to respect their 'identity.'

        Even classic materialist terms like 'working class' that have actual meanings have been re-hashed as identities now – witness all the middle-class people 'identifying' as working class because their parents were.

  12. McFlock 12

    This came up a few days ago.

    I still reckon he diagnoses a couple of the problems, but attributes it to the wrong cause.

    An interventionist economic policy was dominant from the 1950s through to the early 1980s. With little opposition to that view, yes economic thought atrophied. Stagflation wasn't supposed to happen. The more interventionist things got, and not just blaming Muldoon here, with things still going wrong the more opening there was for the Chicago School acolytes. Walking the country back from that has taken a generation.

    But people are more than just economic units. We have differences, and ignoring those in a society filled with systemic inequality based on those differences simply continues that inequality. If those inequalities are a higher priority for younger people than class, that's maybe a problem with the older commentariat who avoid those problems in favour of cliched polemicising.

    • greywarshark 12.1

      That is a mouthful of truth McFlock – 'The truth, can we handle the truth?'

    • weka 12.2

      My concern isn’t how different generations prioritise that so much as neoliberalism successfully removing class politics from the agenda.

      that we’ve walked back neoliberal economics is quite a claim. Labour are doing the best they can within that, but that’s not the same as walking back.

      • McFlock 12.2.1

        Neoliberalism didn't remove class politics from the agenda. Class politics is an economic argument, and left wing economics broke in the 1970s. When that broke, class politics lost its foundation as a model to examine socioeconomic relationships.

        If anything, the decline of a monolithic class debate provided some room for "identity" politics to rise, but I'm not even sure there's a major relationship in that direction, either. Māori resurgence, Pasifika visibility, queer activism, and feminism all had substantially non-economic discrimination claims, as well as structural economics.

        The advances in the 1970s and 1980s against social conservatism and homogeneity were, in my opinion, seperate to the economic argument being lost at the same time.

        Heck, if one really is at the expense of the other then I'm not sure I'd prefer to go back to 1970s social attitudes for the sake of mass unionisation and nationalised rail. Dawn raids, legal domestic abuse of spouses and children, no Waitangi Tribunal, illegal homosexuality, and everything else. Oh, and let's not forget that one reason we have "historic" sexual offences going to court is that lots of organisations covered up for sexual offenders.

        And no, the economic argument hasn't been walked back completely. But we drove off a cliff. We've climbed a fair way back to the road since then, especially under this government.

        • Psycho Milt 12.2.1.1

          Materialist class analysis still offers the best explanation of socioeconomic relationships. Nothing's changed in that respect, ie just like 100 years ago we still have private ownership of the means of production and a society in which those owners are the ruling class and run society for their own benefit, a working class of people who have to sell their labour to live, and a middle class of minor capital owners and technocrats.

          It's also entirely capable of dealing with other inequalities, eg women are a sex class, Māori are an ethnic class, homosexuals are a sexual orientation class etc. 'Queer activists' aren't a class, but then they're part of the problem.

          What's collapsed is not the ability of materialist class analysis to explain society, but the left's commitment to materialist class analysis. If material reality isn't front and centre in your analysis, you get the kind of thing we've now got: white people 'identifying' as black, men 'identifying' as women, pedophiles 'identifying' as an oppressed minority, whatever the fuck 'non-binary' is supposed to be etc, and few on the left able to say why fantasy isn't a good replacement for reality. For a political movement, rejection of physical reality doesn't lead anywhere good.

          • McFlock 12.2.1.1.1

            But that's the problem with Marx right there, innit. Sure, it can reduce any social problem one cares to recognise (even the "postmodern" ones you dislike) as being some sort of class conflict driven by economic scarcity.

            But Marxism, and materialism in general, is crap at solving those problems. The "physical reality" that social conservatism masquerading as materialist class analysis causes is incarceration, injury, and death.

            Just because you don't understand a self-identified group of people doesn't mean that they're not as exploited and alienated as much as any class your strict materialism chooses to recognise. It doesn't matter that you don't understand them, or why they might say what they say. That group exists, and as a group they might be marginalised and alienated from others in society. Material enough for you?

            • Psycho Milt 12.2.1.1.1.1

              I'm not a Marxist, so share your view of the downsides of thinking he had some kind of prescription for utopia. The point is more that rationalism provides a better basis for understanding social problems than irrationalism.

              The fact that I don't understand a self-identified group of people may indeed not mean that they aren't exploited and alienated. However, if there's no material basis for that identity, no way of recognising the people who claim it via any common physical features or behaviour, and no obvious oppression or exploitation that's happening to them based on that identity, we can be pretty confident we're dealing not with an oppressed class but with spoilt children of the well-off.

              • McFlock

                Rationalism, huh?

                Let's see:

                • if there's no material basis for that identity,

                Occasionally untrue, but usually in a "too rare for me to abandon my preconceptions" sort of way

                • no way of recognising the people who claim it via any common physical features or behaviour,

                The behaviour is the claim

                • and no obvious oppression or exploitation that's happening to them based on that identity,

                there are none so blind, and all that

                • we can be pretty confident we're dealing not with an oppressed class but with spoilt children of the well-off.

                Seriously? Gosh, that's convenient, innit. I mean, if only people from rich families are e.g. non-binary, and none of them are ever disowned and thrown onto the streets when they come out, then obviously there's nothing for anyone to care about.

                • Sacha

                  Disabled people, so wealthy.

                • I mean, if only people from rich families are e.g. non-binary, and none of them are ever disowned and thrown onto the streets when they come out, then obviously there's nothing for anyone to care about.

                  More like: if some things like 'non-binary' are simply a belief some people hold about themselves, ie they have no basis in physical reality and there's no conceivable way for others to know about this alleged identity unless the person identifying as such tells them; and if there's no social disapproval or proscription of the alleged identity; and if it manifests itself mainly among children of the well-off; then yes, we can be pretty confident we're dealing not with an oppressed class but spoilt children of the well off with nothing significant in their lives.

                  • weka

                    Evidence that it’s mainly children of the well off rather than them simply being more visible?

                    I do tend to agree this is a social phenomenon and needs to be examined as such. Why did it not become apparent in the 70s and 80s when gender bending was on full display (among men at least). How many people who ID as NB will still do so in twenty years? What should society do in response to the people who believe their gender ID changes daily? How does society navigate the materialist and the social? Why is the left so keen to prioritise individual identity over collective materiality?

                    • Anecdotal based on who I notice identifying as NB. This is one reason I'm actually OK with Stats NZ including gender beliefs in the next census (as long as they do it without obfuscating sex, which seems to be a big ask) – ie it would be nice to have some real evidence to work with.

                  • McFlock
                    • they have no basis in physical reality

                    more of that "too rare for me to abandon my preconceptions"

                    • and there's no conceivable way for others to know about this alleged identity unless the person identifying as such tells them;

                    or presents in an unconventional way

                    • and if there's no social disapproval or proscription of the alleged identity;

                    lols at the "social disapproval" dripping from the term "alleged identity"

                    • and if it manifests itself mainly among children of the well-off;

                    "Mainly", huh? More of that "too rare for me to abandon my preconceptions".

                    • then yes, we can be pretty confident we're dealing not with an oppressed class but spoilt children of the well off with nothing significant in their lives.

                    Keep telling yourself that if it helps you preserve your social disapproval.

                    • weka
                      • they have no basis in physical reality

                      more of that "too rare for me to abandon my preconceptions"

                      no. There are plenty of NB people. It’s either wholly a social phenomena, or it has a material basis some of the time but we have no way of observing so we are left with self id.

                      • and there's no conceivable way for others to know about this alleged identity unless the person identifying as such tells them;

                      or presents in an unconventional way

                      again no. Plenty of conventional looking NB people, plenty of GNC people who don’t ID as NB (or queer for that matter).

                    • McFlock

                      Not having an obvious physical basis is still not the same as having no physical basis. Even if the difference is not distinguishable to anyone else, nonbinary can still have a physical basis rather than just being a belief held by a spoilt rich kid.

                      Fair call about "conventional looking". I got fixated on "conceivable ways other than telling".

                    • nonbinary can still have a physical basis rather than just being a belief held by a spoilt rich kid.

                      I'd be interested in hearing hypotheses of possible physical causes of the recent development of these beliefs, if it weren't for the fact that Occam's Razor would make short work of them.

                      lols at the "social disapproval" dripping from the term "alleged identity"

                      I struggle to respect people who make up things about themselves in lieu of having a personality, yes. Funnily enough, judging from my online interactions with them, many of them struggle to respect materialist rationalists. Neither of us is thereby oppressed or exploited.

                      or presents in an unconventional way

                      I see weka's covered this one.

                      Keep telling yourself that if it helps you preserve your social disapproval.

                      Meh. People are entitled to what they can argue for. If they want to declare that they have an immortal soul or are imbued with the Holy Spirit they can shout it from the rooftops for all I care, but they can also expect me to adopt a policy towards them of "only fooling yourself, mate."

                    • McFlock

                      I'd be interested in hearing hypotheses of possible physical causes of the recent development of these beliefs, if it weren't for the fact that Occam's Razor would make short work of them.

                      The first question Occam might ask is "what is so special about Western Europe that it had almost no cultural tradition of recognising non-binary people"?

                    • weka

                      that's not really true though, is it. It's more that we've controlled GNC people in much more rigid ways. Not surprising when we look at how western cultures treat women, children, nature. The whole JudeoChristian thing about power and relationship aka the patriarchy.

                      Not aware of any cultures that think that GNC males are literally female though, so the west is weird in that way too.

                    • McFlock

                      Not aware of any cultures that think that GNC males are literally female though, so the west is weird in that way too.

                      I suspect the recent ability to surgically alter sex with a decent survival rate has something to do with that.

                    • weka

                      I meant biological sex. Surgery creates an image of sex change, it's not a literal sex change.

                    • McFlock

                      Meh, even so I was raised to believe that eating a wafer every sunday was literally cannibalism, so who knows what some societies believe.

                    • Lol, GNC people in non-western countries are 'non-binary' now, are they? Is there any gender-woo grouping they haven't been unwillingly conscripted into?

                      If you look at the groups in that map, you'll notice the overwhelming majority involve males being treated as honorary females. A materialist analysis of sexism can tell us something useful about that – a postmodernist analysis has nothing useful to say.

                      Best one on the map: Iran, where transgenderism is welcomed by the authorities because homosexuality carries the death penalty. Pretty ironic that the Ayatollahs understand this stuff better than 'rainbow' organisations in NZ do.

            • weka 12.2.1.1.1.2

              Never having read Marx, I'm not sure I get the nuances, but isn't the analysis that socioeconomics, sex and race are the three axes of class that are exploited on the basis of what labour they can be compelled to provide? Whereas sexual orientation, disability, gender ID and so on are subject to prejudice and bigotry individually and systemically but it's a different kind of oppression?

              And isn't the class vs identity false binary because those two things get presented as either in opposition or as the same, instead of acknowledging the differences?

              • McFlock

                Marx was an early Victorian-era writer who died in London in the 1880s.

                He wasn't particularly woke about ethnicity or gender relations, as I recall from study.

                So if they can be significantly retconned into his economic class theory, I'm sure a multitude of other social differences can be similarly retconned. Particularly when "cancel culture" often manifests itself as "can't sell" culture, targeting the revenue streams of advertisers and employers.

                • weka

                  are you saying that the concept of exploitation of labour isn't necessary?

                  • McFlock

                    More that anything can be retconned into the theory, into a variety of ways.

                    e.g. recognising diversity in a population takes effort, which is labour. Therefore the groups are alienated from other people because the other people are conditioned to believe that (like other non-productive social experiences) adding a ramp or a bit more thought into a workplace requires the expenditure of capital. Or even just that the extra effort required lowers the value someone's relative productivity.

                    But even getting to the stage of recognising someone's differences is a failure for capitalism. The worker is only as valuable as their labour, and perfectly interchangable. Making the worker adapt themself to exist in a homogeneous workplace gives more power to the capitalist (easily replaced) and makes the worker become alienated from their own being. This is the dude who provides the basis for dialectical materialism (it's from a quote site, but vibes with what I recall from an essay I had to write lol):

                    Supposing that we have produced in a human manner; each of us would in his production have doubly affirmed himself and his fellow men. I would have: (1) objectified in my production my individuality and its peculiarity and thus both in my activity enjoys an individual expression of my life and also I looking at the object have had the individual pleasure of realizing my personality was objective, visible to the senses and thus a power raised beyond all doubt. (2) In your enjoyment or use of my product I would have had the direct enjoyment of realizing that I had both satisfied a human need by my work and also objectified the human essence and therefore fashioned for another human being the object that met his need. (3) I would have been for you the mediator between you and the species and thus been acknowledged an felt by you as a completion of your own essence and a necessary part of yourself and have thus realized that I am confirmed both in your thought and in your love. (4) In my expression of my life I would have fashioned your expression of your life, and thus in my own activity have realized my own essence, my human, my communal essence. (23)

                    Under capitalist exploitation, all of that is lost.

                    Then one can wander in and say that much social conservatism is actually conflict encouraged by capitalists to keep the workers divided in exactly the same way as nationalism does in Europe or the USA (but not, as someone recently pointed out somewhere I seem to recall, if it's a marxist revolutionary group in a colonised country, in which case nationalism is part of the revolution against capital). So a key step to uniting workers in the true fight against the capitalist is to break the illusion of those differences.

                    But personally, in the meantime a more accepting society would be a nicer place to live during my lifetime, lol

                • weka

                  and yep, my coming of age into political life was following second wave feminists who left socialism because the Marxists still thought they should be making the tea.

              • No need to read Marx! References to him are a red herring. As McFlock says, he was a Victorian-era philosopher, not the Messiah. But the method of materialist class analysis he proposed is still the best one we have for explaining how society works.

                I don't agree that things like sexual orientation or disability are matters of identity. They're covered by material class analysis in that homosexuality or disability have a basis in physical reality – disability obviously so, homosexuality less so but these days we have means of measuring arousal and homosexuality definitely has a basis in reality rather than belief. The fact that these features that make them an identifiable class doesn't lead to exploitation of their labour doesn't mean they don't suffer exploitation/oppression.

                I see class vs identity as the things above vs things that are strictly a matter of belief, eg persecution of particular religious beliefs or gender identies. The way we deal with class issues is necessarily different from how we deal with identity issues.

                • weka

                  Agreed about disability and sexual orientation being material rather than social.

                  The point I was trying to get to the other day is that theories of exploitation of labour applies to sex, race, class, but not other things that are still material. This doesn't mean the other things are lesser, or not material, just that there may be use in understanding the differences. I see GCFs arguing for the three axes as super important and I'm not quite sure why. McFlock tried to explain but I didn't follow it quite and I think we were talking about different things. The GCF argument is around the difference between exploitation and oppression?

                  And yes, there is something about identification that needs to be understood distinctly too. Religion imo straddles both (it's belief and it's culture and it's often intertwined with ethnicity).

                  • I assume it's a leftover from Marxism, in which if you're not being oppressed via exploitation of your labour, you're not being oppressed. It seems like an obvious, egregious blind spot to me.

          • Anne 12.2.1.1.2

            If material reality isn't front and centre in your analysis, you get the kind of thing we've now got: white people 'identifying' as black, men 'identifying' as women, pedophiles 'identifying' as an oppressed minority, whatever the fuck 'non-binary' is supposed to be etc, and few on the left able to say why fantasy isn't a good replacement for reality. For a political movement, rejection of physical reality doesn't lead anywhere good.

            Thanks Pyscho Milt. Worth a repeat.

            For some people on the Left reality has flown out the window. They relish identity issues with their multi-faceted illusions, but the majority in the Labour Party are far from convinced and, for the most part, let them rabbit on for the sake of peace. When it comes to remit voting time however they invariably drop out of sight.

            • weka 12.2.1.1.2.1

              will be interesting to see what happens with the upcoming legislation around gender ID. Betting there aren't too many in Labour willing to stand up for women's sex based rights. Will be glad to be proved wrong on that.

              • Sacha

                Of course you would first have to define what "women's sex based rights" are, as distinct from the "women's rights" that most politicians would be familiar with and our laws contain.

                • weka

                  I think most Labour MPs and members would understand the difference between biological sex and gender identity. For instance if Andrew Little said his gender identity is as a woman, most people would understand that he's not biologically female.

                • I think we need some non-circular definitions of 'gender' and 'gender identity' to come first.

          • solkta 12.2.1.1.3

            Forty years ago many stale old lefties said that homosexuals were not a class but just a collection of people with a mental illness.

            • Anne 12.2.1.1.3.1

              A Labour government legalised "homosexuality" in 1986 and they began the fight years earlier at much personal cost to those spearheading the campaign.

              Yes, there were a few "stale old lefties' who opposed the move but they were in a minority.

            • Psycho Milt 12.2.1.1.3.2

              Forty years ago, male homosexual sex acts were illegal in this country. The people who drafted that legislation and defended it in the 1980s knew well enough which class of people they were directing it at.

              • solkta

                Not sure what your point is. The people drafting legislation today to improve rights for trans people know what class of people they are directing it at.

                • weka

                  Either they do, in which case they’re saying it’s fine for any man to self ID for any purpose (ie trans isn’t the class), or they think trans people are the class and don’t know understand what they’re doing.

                  Happy to be shown I am wrong there eg wording in the Bill that specifies trans people and gives a legal definition beyond self identification.

                  • solkta

                    So we don't go on self ID when deciding who is a homosexual??

                    • The Crimes Act didn't care who 'identified' as a homosexual or who didn't, it criminalised particular sex acts.

                      In any case, homosexuals have never asked for anything remotely similar to this Bill, ie for people to be granted special privileges on the basis of a simple assertion about themselves, which makes homosexuality a pointless analogy in this case.

                    • weka

                      So you can’t actually address my point? Or don’t want to?

    • Adrian Thornton 12.3

      The problem with what you just said is that 'systemic inequality' is almost exclusively class based, so I fail to see how addressing 'inequalities' can be achieved in any meaningful way without addressing the class component?…sounds like those young people are about to find that out for themselves I guess.

      BTW, many young people I know are all too aware of class and it's negative effects on their own lives and society as a whole.

      • McFlock 12.3.1

        Yeah, when the synthesis finally happens all class problems will disappear and all divisions in society will handwavey away.

        Until then, while many young people you know are class-conscious, how many of them are only interested in the issue of class, and never turn up to a protest or discuss anything other than class? Nothing about gender, environment, 420, LGBTIQ, Te Tiriti, etc etc etc? Never discuss solutions that might be interim steps between now and the Great Economic Utopia?

        Kindly ask those young folk to enrol in Bryce's paper – it'll be a great boon the the societal dialectic when he proudly announces the Left has risen again.

        • Adrian Thornton 12.3.1.1

          I am sure some of them do, however unlike you, I guess they understand that without addressing class issues first and foremost, any battles fought on those fronts you mentioned will only be of limited use to them but as per usual will of course will largely benefit those with money and power…the #metoo movement being just one classic example of that.

          I know that any type of large scale worker or class solidarity seems like an unachievable ' Utopia' to you….that comes as no surprise to me, you are after all, the guy who seems to like always colouring well inside the lines….it's really funny how all the things you feel are worth fighting for are exactly one in the same as what all good Guardian readers are told are the issues worth fighting for…you are a classic pal.

          • McFlock 12.3.1.1.1

            How's that revolution coming along for you? Due next Tuesday? Or is it still some unknown time in the future?

        • weka 12.3.1.2

          Yeah, when the synthesis finally happens all class problems will disappear and all divisions in society will handwavey away.

          please tell me that is sarcasm.

          • McFlock 12.3.1.2.1

            From me it is.

            For some of the true left around here, maybe not so much.

      • Sacha 12.3.2

        'systemic inequality' is almost exclusively class based

        It may seem that way if you do not experience any of the other forms, I guess.

        • Adrian Thornton 12.3.2.1

          Well I lived and brought up my children on the notorious 'Ave' in Flaxmere for a few years, now live in Marewa in Napier, with the Mighty Mongrel Mob across the road and up the street (just to give you a flavor of the neighbourhood) , so I am actually observing class war first hand every day…and my family on my Mums side come from the Islands, so we have lots of Island blood coursing through our veins.

          BTW, if brown people were not New Zealand's primary underclass today, do you not think there wouldn't be just another section of society that would replace them as that underclass?…just look at the shifting class dynamics in the USA and UK over the past 150 years.

  13. Ad 14

    Labour are outflanking this stale pseudo-history. You only have to look at the scale and speed of their policies since the start of 2020.

    Labour are also a relatively young cabinet with even younger ones coming through. It's this government itself that is driving debate and ideological change in New Zealand, not some ghost called "liberal" or some other chimaera called "woke". The new version of the left Edwards seeks are in Ministerial offices. – guiding policy and politics together.

    It's this political left in power that is doing class politics, mass participation, and cultural change simultaneously. That's simply down to skill and excellent timing.

  14. Unfortunately a lot of the woke discourse that rails against mainstream NZ as being inherently bigoted, racist, sexist or whatever, achieves nothing. But it does create animosity and division.

    I like politicians that have a positive view of NZ. Yes we have flaws and problems and history, just like anywhere. But let's not go down some rabbit hole of cancelling everyone we don't like.

    Trotter's piece from yesterday (interest.co.nz) argued that instead of suppressing “bad” views we should expose them to the sunlight so their ugliness (or true substance) is revealed.

    “It is easy to believe in freedom of speech for those with whom we agree.” ~ Leo McKern

    • Sacha 15.1

      Oh, the 'free market view' of hate speech. How novel.

    • McFlock 15.2

      It is worth recalling that the catalysing issue behind the turnout of 300 ratepayers in Tauranga was the Labour Government’s decision to unseat the Tauranga City Council and replace it with commissioners, whose first major decision was to impose a swingeing 17 percent rate increase on the city’s residents. It is not difficult to join the dots between the audience’s anger at losing the right to set their own rates, and what they saw as the equally high-handed imposition of Maori language and culture upon citizens with little liking for either.

      Kim Williams is a Tauranga local body candidate. She reckons most of the noise in the clip where she spoke Māori was aimed at the couple of folks who loudly complained, rather than with them. So i'm not sure Trotter's spin is in the same direction as the facts: it was a minority of residents complaining about other residents' biculturalism.

      Interesting that Trotter's finally moving on from "Waitakere Man" to "Tauranga Ratepayer", though.

    • Incognito 15.3

      Trotter’s piece from yesterday (interest.co.nz) argued that instead of suppressing “bad” views we should expose them to the sunlight so their ugliness (or true substance) is revealed.

      Unfortunately, it is not this simple and ‘exposing’ lies, fake news, or ‘bad views often backfires because it repeats them, it magnifies them, it gives them another audience and platform to ‘infect’, and it spreads them wider, farther, and deeper. Basically, it can act like doing the ‘dirty work’ for the ones that you’d want to call out and expose. It is a know tactic AKA manufacturing outrage, which is a sure way to encourage mainstream and social media to pay attention even more AKA going viral.

      • McFlock 15.3.1

        If you chuck 'em outside for the sunlight, you also give them more oxygen, sort of thing?

        • Incognito 15.3.1.1

          Yeah, kinda. There are smart ways and there are stupid ways. They often count on the stupid ways, just like scammers from one unnamed African country used to do (and probably still do).

        • roblogic 15.3.1.2

          I think the principle of free speech is valid, but the practice, ie. toxic social media & Rupert Murdoch's disinformation networks, definitely needs rethinking

    • greywarshark 15.4

      Good to see roblogic.

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