Dark visions

Written By: - Date published: 9:53 am, July 26th, 2009 - 29 comments
Categories: privatisation - Tags:

I still get the chills some times remembering how close the Left came to losing the 2005 election. If it hadn’t been for Brash being caught out in his lies over links with the Exclusive Brethren’s smear campaign, National might just have squeaked the win.

The Hollow Men would have been in charge. Wholesale privatisation, slashing benefits, no minimum wage, regressive tax system, strategic deficit, policy for sale to business interests, Iwi and Kiwi at each other’s throats. What a nightmare.

These neoliberal ideological follies would, as they have in the past, have taken New Zealand quickly backwards. We would have entered the 2008 world recession already well in decline, and the impact of these current events would have been that much more catastrophic..

Thank goodness we dodged that bullet. Instead we got three more years of sane government, and entered this recession with historically low unemployment and a sound economy. Things are rough and they will get rougher, but not nearly as bad as if Brash Co. had been running the place into the ground.

But of course the hydra has many heads. The neoliberal agenda didn’t go away, it just changed its suit and got a bit more patient. And now that the Hollow Men judge that the time is right, they are testing the water by wheeling out Brash again, to get back to his unfinished business. Soon they’ll be telling us that “there is no alternative”. Brash in charge of “productivity”? The lunatics are running the asylum.
— r0b

29 comments on “Dark visions”

  1. Johnty Rhodes 1

    Hydra is associated with the left, not NatACTMP. Get some originality.

  2. Anita 2

    I worry that the lesson that the Nats took from 2005 was the in-your-face neoliberalism and overt incompetence were vote losers. So look competent and obscure your agenda a little better and it’s landslide victory time.

    I agree it changed its suit, but I’m not convinced it got more patient.

  3. Tim Ellis 3

    Interesting analysis r0b.

    Instead we got three more years of sane government, and entered this recession with historically low unemployment and a sound economy.

    The high points being the electoral finance legislation, the pledge card funding fiasco and Labour’s staunch defence of Mr Peters?

    • Socialism is Poison 3.1

      Not to mention another 3 years of what has turned out to be 10 years of the most abysmal productivity growth, the continuation of the massive blow out in core state sector drones, the Mary Anne Thompson fiasco at Immigration, etc. etc.

      • Marty G 3.1.1

        interesting handle.

        I assume you don’t believe in the law and police. After all, those are socialist institutions – they force issues between individuals to be dealt with collectively by the State.

        • Socialism is Poison 3.1.1.1

          Sorry Marty, just because policing and justice are currently provided by state actors doesn’t mean they originated from state action nor does it mean that they are thereby socialist..

          Policing was originally provided by private providers before it was taken over by the state. Likewise justice provision originated in private courts, like the ‘Pie Powder’ courts associated with medieval fairs, before being subsumed by state provision.

          I don’t deny the need for a mix of collective action and individual responsibility. But socialism as a political programme is a bankrupt 19th century anachronism.

          • felix 3.1.1.1.1

            Whereas pie powder courts, on the other hand…

            Out of curiosity, when did you come up with the idea that pie powder courts predate the state provision of the function? It’s actually pretty funny. Were you high?

    • r0b 3.2

      The high points being the electoral finance legislation, the pledge card funding fiasco and Labour’s staunch defence of Mr Peters?

      No, the high points being Working for Families, Kiwisaver, Kiwibank, record low unemployment, interest free student loans, massively reduced debt, falling poverty rates, falling crime, falling numbers of beneficiaries, gradually closing the inequality gap and the wage gap with Australia, an independent and sane foreign policy – that sort of thing.

      And on “scandals” – remind me again which major party lost its leader because of public outrage at their disgusting unethical behaviour? Oh, that’s right, it was the National “bye bye Don” Party.

      • Tim Ellis 3.2.1

        Okay, I accept I took your bait r0b, but this isn’t a very constructive debate. It’s quickly become a “look what damage you did” and a “oh but look what good we did” he-said she-said slanging match.

        It really isn’t very helpful or relevant.

        The jury reached its verdict in November last year. Labour lost. Quite overwhelmingly.

        • felix 3.2.1.1

          “…this isn’t a very constructive debate. It’s quickly become a “look what damage you did’ and a “oh but look what good we did’ he-said she-said slanging match…”

          Weird. I wonder how that happened?

  4. mike 4

    and the hollow men know where you live rOb – they are watching you…

    • Chris G 4.1

      beauty [flaw?] of the internet that you can safely sling that around like a tough cookie. Now in real life….

      • r0b 4.1.1

        S’ok Chris, I think mike was frustrated at his inability to construct a rational argument, so he was attempting a “joke” that he thinks I’m paranoid about the Hollow Men. I don’t think it was any kind of dick waving threat thing.

  5. It seems like the key Hollow Man was Steven Joyce. I wonder what role he’s playing in this recent shift to the hard right?

    (OK I admit it, I really don’t like him. He’s a terrible transport minister).

  6. Tom Semmens 6

    Neo-liberalism and its followers have a guiding idea, a simple and easily prolytised dogma of a darkly Manichean world of the right way and the wrong way, immune to external correction and one that animates and excites its disciples like all revolutionary doctrines from Christ to Rand.

    The biggest problem is we, out of fear of the implications I think, refuse to see neo-liberalism for what it is – a neo-fascist political ideology. The reason for this is “fascist” these days so devalued as a general insult as to have lost any real meaning. Leftists and liberals refuse to take fascism seriously as a political idea, despite the fact it had great appeal to many important intellectuals, from Martin Heidegger to Milton Friedman. Therefore few on the left bother to study fascism beyond visions of nihilistic and racial violence, of uniforms and discipline and not-so-subtle undertones of sexual perversion.

    But the overriding characteristics of fascism are not the Germanic ones we automatically associate with it as a result of the virulent racist Nazi variant of it we are most familiar with. Fascism’s greatest strength is it is a SYNCRETIC ideology that can vary significantly from country to country, and can borrow from both left and right, whilst at the same time drawing away from these traditional political platforms and presenting itself as a radical, and alternative “Third Way”.

    Because fascism is so syncretic, it’s latest variant, which we politely call neo-liberalism but I think would be better described as’market fascism”, has been able to co-opt the successful revolutionary tactics of Bolshevism to further its agenda. Take the Leninist vehicle of revolutionary change from above, the Vanguard Party. With a Vanguard Party the engine of revolution is highly disciplined group of radical intellectuals. Now considering that, think about the role of Treasury, the ACT political idea of the Super City, the tightly disciplined market fascist radicals who largely make up the BRT or the “mood of the Boardroom.” These groups effectively constitute the Vanguard party, the bearers of market fascist ideology, trying to determine the general development of our society, its policies, and to alter the very character of the population. Leon Trotsky, a contemporary of Lenin, believed in a globalised permanent revolution, in which the “Vanguard Party” was a global coalition drawn from many nations, which is remarkably similiar to the sort of language used by the proponents of globalised business. These ideas of revolutionary change imposed from above (The “moral imperative to lie” to quote Don Brash) have been syntheseised into the ideology of modern market fascism.

    So, to quote Lenin again, what is to be done? It seems clear to me that market fascism has achieved syncretic legitimisation in New Zealand, which means it has succeeded in convincing at least a section of our mainstream elites that it can serve their purposes better than our existing political structures. It is equally clear to me that any kind of fascism and democracy cannot co-exist. To recognise market fascism for what is, then, is to imply a confrontation that many on the traditional left – and the traditional right – shrink from in fear of the consequences of that confrontation.

    • rave 6.1

      This is a very confused piece.
      Bolshevism and fascism are not comparable.
      Bolshevism is the vanguard of the proletariat, it acts for and in response to the interests of the proletariat. It does not dictate to the proletariat but articulates and organises its interests. Read Trotsky on the History of the Russian Revolution to confirm this point.

      Fascism is the ideology of the capitalist ruling class in a crisis of falling profits and under extreme threat from the proletarian revolution. It is forced to mobilise elements of the petty bourgeoisie and lumpen elements of the working class to provide the shock troops to smash the proletariat. Read Trotsky on The Strugge Against Fascism in Germany to confirm this point.

      Neither have anything to do with the market at such. The market is only a vehicle for capitalist exchanges of commodities already produced, or signals what should or should not be produced. So market fascism is an non-sequitur.

      And neither have much to do with NZ at the moment. Bolshevism as a force or movement does not exist in NZ. If it did then, the threat of revolution would bring fascism out of the cupboard.

      What we have under Key is just the efficiency of the ruling class able to manipulate ‘democracy’ to impose policies that increase their profits at the expense of the working class.

      More important, Bolshevism (and Trotskyism) is in total contradiction to fascism, and they are not reducible to some abstract equivalence as forms of fascism.

  7. gobsmacked 7

    Vote now for which far-flung volcanic island nation you would like to have been a citizen of for the last three years:

    a) New Zealand
    b) Iceland

    Finger nails that might need a trim, or amputated arms? Take your pick.

  8. Nick 8

    Yeah, Brash is so thick Labour re-appointed him as Reserve Bank governer. I’d much rather have Steve Pierson heading it.

    And Jarbury, It seems like the key Hollow Man was Steven Joyce. I wonder what role he’s playing in this recent shift to the hard right?

    WTF? Key is a Bolger in disguise – a pragmatic centrist. Have you been smoking some of Nandor’s stuff again?

  9. Some balance on those ‘high points’. Under Labour the number of beneficiaries dropped but only because of lower unemployment due to the strength of the worldwide economy. Sickness and invalid beneficiary numbers continued growing and the DPB was virtually static when taking into account many recipients changed from receiving a partial DPB to receiving the In Work payment. Semantics.There is a crisis in mental health with growing rates of depression which account for unprecedented numbers turning to a sickness/invalid benefit. Drug and alcohol abuse is worsening.

    Recorded violent crime grew. Prison numbers grew. The justice system has gotten slower and slower to process cases. The doctor shortage worsened considerably while waiting lists were distorted by reclassification. WFF alienated young childless workers who left in record numbers. Teenage birth reversed its downward trend and now more young Maori women than ever are defaulting to lives on welfare. NCEA has produced as many problems as it purported to solve while truancy rates increased. Violence in schools increased.

    Kiwisaver just changed where people saved rather than increasing overall savings. Our productivity failed to keep pace with Australia and NZ dropped another place in GDP per capita ranking.

    The only good things that happened under Labour were the passage of legislation giving same sex relationships more legal protection, lowering the drinking age and decriminalising prostitution. But they were all of govt votes.

    • r0b 9.1

      Some balance on those ‘high points’.

      Some balance on the “balance”.

      Under Labour the number of beneficiaries dropped but only because of lower unemployment due to the strength of the worldwide economy.

      Wrong wrong wrong.

      and the DPB

      Just incidentally, do you agree with John Key that mothers on the DPB are “breeding for a business”?

      There is a crisis in mental health with growing rates of depression which account for unprecedented numbers turning to a sickness/invalid benefit.

      According to the Ministry of Social Development:

      Changes between 2003 and 2008 which have affected the number of Sickness Benefit recipients include the ageing of the population, and increasing movement of people with incapacities into the community.

      Changes between 2003 and 2008 which have affected the number of clients receiving an Invalid’s Benefit include an ageing population and increasing movement of people living with long-term incapacities into the community.

      Recorded violent crime grew.

      Good thing you put “recorded” in there, indeed it did, thanks to a huge publicity campaign on reporting domestic violence. And overall crime fell.

      Prison numbers grew.

      One of Labour’s failures I agree, and it’s one that National is continuing.

      WFF alienated young childless workers who left in record numbers.

      Proof please? See I think it was the prospect of a National government that caused them to leave.

      Teenage birth reversed its downward trend and now more young Maori women than ever are defaulting to lives on welfare. NCEA has produced as many problems as it purported to solve while truancy rates increased. Violence in schools increased.

      Links to the figures please, I’d be interested to have a look.

      Kiwisaver just changed where people saved rather than increasing overall savings.

      To great benefit to NZ however.

      Our productivity failed to keep pace with Australia

      On most indicators comparing NZ and Australia we did much better under Labour than under National. As for “productivity” I might have a guest post on that up in a day or two.

      and NZ dropped another place in GDP per capita ranking.

      Yes, but only because because other countries changed the way they calculated GDP.

      The only good things that happened under Labour

      None so blind as those that will not see I guess.

  10. Lindsay 10

    I have already commented extensively at the 2nd two links attached to “wrong,wrong,wrong’.

    Yes, ageing is contributing to the SB/IB growth but “Some of the growth in inflows can be explained by population growth, population ageing, and the effects of the rise in the age of eligibility for New Zealand Superannuation. However, more than half cannot be accounted for by these factors and is explained instead by an increase in the proportion of people aged 1559 taking up Invalid’s Benefit.”

    http://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/journals-and-magazines/social-policy-journal/spj29/understanding-the-growth-29-pages127-145.html

    The fastest growing incapacity for needing a SB/IB is psychological/psychiatric reasons.

    “Breeding for a business”? No. I wouldn’t put it that way. But I do believe the DPB incentivises young people in particular to put less effort into acquiring educational qualifications and skills. It is a lifestyle too easy to default to.

    For teenage birth rates (climbing since 2003) see Statistics NZ Births and Deaths. The number of 15-19 year-old females on DPB/EMA has steadily increased alongside that growth. Check MS benefit fact sheets.

    For truancy http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/series/2503/11879

    Re the violent crime increase being solely due to the domestic violence campaign I hope you will continue to push that explanation when it continues to climb under National.

    Thanks for taking the time to put up a substantive response.

    • r0b 10.1

      I have already commented extensively at the 2nd two links attached to “wrong,wrong,wrong’.

      Indeed you did, and anyone interested can refer to those debates.

      The fastest growing incapacity for needing a SB/IB is psychological/psychiatric reasons.

      Do you think that was on account of government policy? Do you think it’s going to go down now?

      For teenage birth rates (climbing since 2003) see Statistics NZ Births and Deaths. The number of 15-19 year-old females on DPB/EMA has steadily increased alongside that growth. Check MS benefit fact sheets. For truancy http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/series/2503/11879

      Do you think these were on account of government policy? Do you think they’re going to go down now? (Childhood poverty fell under Labour, for the first time in ages. That was on account of policy. Hopefully some years down the track we’ll get better social outcome stats as a result.)

      Re the violent crime increase being solely due to the domestic violence campaign I hope you will continue to push that explanation when it continues to climb under National.

      Well if they run another big advertising campaign on it I think that would be fair.

      Thanks for taking the time to put up a substantive response.

      Likewise I’m sure.

      Keep an eye on all these social indicators that you study so assiduously Lindsay. I hope for the sake of NZ that they all get better. But if they don’t, I look forward to you telling us here whether the government is or isn’t to blame…

    • Draco T Bastard 10.2

      It is a lifestyle too easy to default to.

      Or, perhaps any other lifestyle is too hard to get to.

  11. Lindsay 11

    Correction. The lowering of the drinking age didn’t happen under Labour. It was earlier in 1999.

  12. Lindsay 12

    Draco, That’s a fair comment. Any children coming out of homes that don’t value education are up against it.

    Rob, I am not expecting much to change under National.

  13. Razorlight 13

    ROB I love your unconditional support for Labour. With people like you Labour will continue to flourish no matter what their short falls are.

    You keep slapping that back of the mighty reds and continue to tell us how wonderful things were under Helen and how silly we were to turf her out. Keep saying that and I am sure you will bring the mighty Gabour coalition back to their rightful place of power in 2011.

    Reading your posts i cannot work out what we were doing voting in the Nats as Labour were obviously without fault.

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