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Guest Post – What is wrong with the left?

Written By: - Date published: 8:24 am, January 10th, 2020 - 168 comments
Categories: education, health, Left, Media, Unions, workers' rights - Tags: ,

There’s something, as a dyed-in-the-wool Leftie, that I’ve never fully understood about my ideological opponents. Between them the Centre and the Right have governed New Zealand for almost its entire history, they have ample amplification via the media, they’re well funded by people who like the idea of low-taxes and state subsidies of low wages for workers. They’re the winners of life, the hard-grafters who made it all by themselves without any help from hard-left organisations like the public health or education system, or those roads they drive on every single day. They are the men (mostly, let’s be honest) who have it all.

And yet, despite all of this, there is a common insecurity which reveals itself on a regular basis. Whether it’s Mark Richardson getting aggro about a woman having a job and a child, a Christchurch tradie with a history of quite nasty abuse turning books over or that weird obsession Kate Hawkesby has with Meghan Markle, it seems any sort of material change to their perception of the world; a young woman in a position of power, a young woman in a position of power, or a young woman of colour in a position of power – unleashes an uncontrollable fear that everything that they know, the world that gave them everything (which they earned on their own, thanks) is slipping from their grasp.

This fear only increases when you highlight it. The last few weeks have seen no less than three comment pieces which utilise one of the examples above, and the mix of anger and mocking it provoked on Twitter, as an excuse to very pain-stakingly explain What Is Wrong With The Left.

As far as I can tell, the problem is that the Left is not nice enough to people, because after all – we’re supposed to be the nice ones. The Left is supposed to care (except not in the way that the Prime Minister does because people protest about it) and by taking a zero-tolerance line on sexism, racism and bigotry they’re not caring about the sexist, racist bigots out there like they’re supposed to. How, we are told, is the Left going to ever win if it’s not going to appeal to the many sexist, racists and bigots who weren’t ever going to vote for us anyway because there are plenty of other parties out there who openly traffic in all of those prejudices anyway?

This argument seems to rest on the idea that people don’t like being told their views are sexist, racist or bigoted, which is because the Left is just too damn offended all the damn time. And this, we are told, is a bigger problem than other people being the victims of sexism, racism or bigotry which is actually naturally occurring event like the Australian bushfires and is therefore responsibility of nobody. And this is where that fear comes sweeping back in, like a great big cloud of dirty smoke from a bushfire your Uncle on facebook says was definitely set by those Lefties in Extinction Rebellion.

That fear is why it’s never about the chorus of islamophobia which accompanies the book-turning campaign, the incredibly lazy stereotyping of Maori or Pacific communities or the horrendous misogynist abuse that politicians like Jacinda Ardern and Golriz Ghahrahman experience every single day – all of which comes from people implacably opposed to the Left. It can’t be about that, because to accept that the Right have some deep-rooted prejudices that deteriorate both the lives of individuals and the fabric of society itself would mean recognising not only that they have a problem, but that the Left has a bloody good point.

And what is it that underlies the insistence that the Left sort itself out, this repetition of the things the Left must do? It’s a demand for change. Or rather, a demand that the Left stop demanding change. Stop insisting a better world is possible, because it isn’t. And while you’re at it, you could be nicer, because you don’t get anywhere without being nice. Look at Mark Richardson. Or don’t. Actually, don’t. 

The idea that the world is changing, has changed and will continue to change is critical to the insecurity both of Centrists, who haven’t worked out third-way politics are useless in a post-GFC climate crisis world, and the Right, who decry identity politics while simultaneously insisting sexism, racism and bigotry are unchangeable and protected identity qualities of the majority of New Zealanders. The Left, by comparison, has always recognised the necessity of accepting, welcoming and forcing change in order to make the world better.

The Left identified that the beginning of the forever wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan would be a calamitous disaster that would poison the politics of participating nations while draining them of money. Those damn Left Greenies have been banging on about climate change for nearly half a century now, and spent most of that time being dismissed as boneless tofu eaters right up until everything started to either die or catch fire. 

We don’t separate out the need to handle a refugee crisis that’s only going to get worse, transition to a low-carbon economy that doesn’t see us all catch malaria in 2090 and root out and destroy prejudices that harm our society. Because they’re all part of the same thing. Make the world a better place. What’s wrong with the left? We’re not doing it fast enough.

old maaaaate cans

168 comments on “Guest Post – What is wrong with the left?”

  1. RedLogix 1

    This OP should have stopped at the first sentence.

    • mickysavage 1.1

      Why is that RL? I found myself nodding in agreement with most of it.

      • Andre 1.1.1

        Maybe because it spends the rest of the OP reinforcing misunderstandings and prejudices lefties hold about their opponents? Rather than, y'know, maybe trying to develop some insight and understanding?

      • Psycho Milt 1.1.2

        Most obvious to me is that nobody in the history of the world has been persuaded they were wrong via the experience of being called names by people they despise. It's also unlikely that anyone has been persuaded of the superiority of a particular philosophy by watching its practioners call other people names. Those things alone make a post defending the practice unpersuasive.

        • mickysavage

          But are we really at the stage where we just have to be nice to each other? The three Stuff columns all made claims that all member of the left are just nasty, whereas imho we are just frustrated.

          And we are at a time where we need radical change.

          And attacks on for instance Golriz are often motivated by some pretty base beliefs. Why shouldn't they be called out?

          • Psycho Milt

            That people like Karl du Fresne are going to write columns about the left being nasty is a given – people on the left could act like saints and du Fresne would still write about what awful people they are. That's just standard operational bullshit.

            That people like Ani O'Brien are writing it is a bit more worrying and should give us pause to think about whether calling people names is really an effective strategy. After all, does anyone imagine Golriz Ghahraman is persuaded she's wrong by getting all that hate mail?

            • Louis

              So, why not call it out?

              • weka

                who is saying don't call it out? It's not the calling out that's the problem, it's how it's being done.

                • Louis

                  Just an impression.

                  • weka

                    As one of the people now arguing for nuance in this debate, and who reasonably often says we need to look at how we approach critique, I often have people assume I am saying to not call out, or to be nice, or to whatever, and they're always wrong and miss my point.

                    Please consider that your impression might likewise be missing something important.

                    • Louis

                      Dont recall saying I got my impression from you.

                    • weka []

                      true, but if you won’t say who you mean, then I can only respond generally. I was sharing with you my experience of people thinking I’m saying don’t call out, because it illustrates how impressions can be off.

                      Is there a reason you won’t be specific?

                    • Louis

                      Dont know what has happened to the reply icon. Weka, I didnt feel the need to, just the discussion in general.

                    • weka []

                      Which discussion? In this post/thread? On twitter? In the MSM? Without specifics it’s hard to get anywhere.

                      The reply buttons end after a certain point in subthreads otherwise the text would end up very narrow. Just scroll up to the first reply button above the one you want to reply to (which is what you just did 🙂 ).

              • Sacha

                'Call it out' to persuade who?

            • weka

              That people like Ani O'Brien are writing it is a bit more worrying and should give us pause to think about whether calling people names is really an effective strategy.

              This is what worries me, that lefties think we can afford to have people radicalising away from the left. I really don't get it, in NZ we're not even close to being half the population and the Overton Window sits to the centre/right of our politics despite concerted effort to wrest it back. The impression I have is that liberals think we will win because we are right (and increasingly because we can force people to adopt our values). Evidence suggests otherwise.

              After all, does anyone imagine Golriz Ghahraman is persuaded she's wrong by getting all that hate mail?

              Yep. Although I think the value for the right of attacking her isn't in trying to persuade her to change, it's to dogwhistle as well create an aggravated political environment because the right are more likely to win in that. This is what is missing from the post, a coherent strategy for how not to buy into the shit fight, because we won't win. We can still push back against the lies and bullshit and abuse, but there needs to be a much bigger push for what we want and why it's good for everyone.

              • This is what is missing from the post, a coherent strategy for how not to buy into the shit fight, because we won't win.

                That's the wording I was failing to come up with. When it comes to name-calling and jeering, the right will win hands-down every time – there's no point in picking fights on the other side's terms.

          • weka

            I don't think it's an issue of being nice, so much as respect. And having strategy that makes LW politics attractive to people.

            We can push back against the RWers who are being nasty, running DP lines and so on, and that needs to be done, but we also need to keep an eye on the people who are apolitical, or without a political home, and meet them half way. Not in terms of compromising on our values, but in terms of building relationships across difference.

            There's a difference between calling out problematic values and behaviour (eg the attacks on Ghahraman, and attacking people ourselves.

            Consider who needs calling out, who needs calling in, and who needs an inspiring demonstration of what our values actually are. Maybe it's time we re-examined our values while we're at it, because liberal values no longer necessarily means kindness and respect.

      • RedLogix 1.1.3

        There is no doubt it's written to appeal to our innate personality types, it reaffirms that the progressive left is high on openness to experience, empathy, fairness and how we are natively good at visionary ideas to change the world for the better. When I read the OP I too could sense it tugging at my inner forelock.

        According to Moral Foundations Theory, differences in people's moral concerns can be described in terms of five moral foundations:

        • Care: cherishing and protecting others; opposite of harm
        • Fairness or proportionality: rendering justice according to shared rules; opposite of cheating
        • Loyalty or ingroup: standing with your group, family, nation; opposite of betrayal
        • Authority or respect: submitting to tradition and legitimate authority; opposite of subversion
        • Sanctity or purity: abhorrence for disgusting things, foods, actions; opposite of degradation

        These five foundations are argued to group into two higher-order clusters – the person-focused Individualizing cluster of Care and Fairness, and the group-focused Binding cluster of Loyalty, Authority and Sanctity.The evidence favoring this grouping comes from patterns of associations between the moral foundations observed with the Moral Foundations Questionnaire.

        Now I emphasise this is just a model, but it correlates to a lot of hard data that clearly shows left wing, progressive types place a high value on the first cluster, caring and fairness, while conservative types place a more balanced weighting on all of them. Yes … the numbers are in, while liberals are generally more open to experience and certainly put a lot of weight on kindness, conservatives are more rounded people morally. I didn't like it when I first read this, hard truths are like that.

        I was quite sincere when I said the OP should have stopped at the first sentence … the left really does struggle to understand it's 'opponents'. We're just not wired for it.

        • mickysavage

          I thought it was a very good defence of the left against some rather weird attacks. It is not meant to be a campaign blueprint to win hearts and minds, that is something entirely different.

          And I would find it difficult to consider the current group of conservative leaders to be well rounded morally.

          • Louis

            Agree mickysavage, thought it was a great piece.

          • Anne

            Agree mickysavage.

            So, the right are allowed to ridicule the left and call them cowards, lazy good for nothings, tree hugging – nut eating fruit-loops, parasites, commie bastards, benefit bludgers (right wing euphemism for being poor) rent a protesters and general all round unwashed no-hopers (because that is pretty much what they are saying all the time), but the left aren't allowed to reciprocate in kind?

            Bullshit to that.

            • RedLogix

              but the left aren't allowed to reciprocate in kind?

              Well we do all the time. Not in quite such colourful language, but we routinely describe them as greedy, amoral, racist, misogynist, authoritarian bullies and so-on. The OP would make a decent cite.

              My argument is that increasing levels of antagonism and polarisation are rendering our political process increasingly impotent. Therefore someone has to stop the yelling and name calling … are you going to wait for the right to do it first?

              • Anne

                We have to continue to call them out Redlogix. My comment was a tad exaggerated to make the point. We don't have to indulge so much in the name calling, but if we let the right get away with their lying and distorted claims then we're handing them a stick to beat us with. Imo, Labour and the Greens have been far too lenient with them in the past.

                My Xmas Day family gathering was an eye-opener. Several of my 'nearest and dearest' were criticising Jacinda Ardern using the same talking points Simon and co. have been spreading for months…. she's a useless lightweight. What has she done? Nothing. We need a proper leader who knows how to lead.

                That was followed by a general running down of her personality and name calling. They are not dyed in the wool Nats, but they have fallen for the Nat line. On that occasion I chose not to respond so they got away with it. Next time it will be a different story.

                • Louis

                  +1 Anne, excellent point, demonstrates the cut through Nats lying and distorted claims, aided by a complicit media I might add, are having.

                • RedLogix

                  I get your frustration Anne, been there myself many times. But here's the thing … if you want to call out the right's lies and distortions with moral credibility you will need to take responsibility for your own team's shortcomings first.

                  • Louis

                    So, say nothing? but the rights lies and distortions has no moral credibility.

                    • RedLogix

                      There are indeed times to bite your tongue. Careful speech and good timing are much more likely to have a persuasive, positive outcome.

                      Also don't ever expect immediate results; rarely will anyone acknowledge a change of mind or heart in the moment. It takes time for people to assimilate new ideas.

                      Also never discount the possibility that they have something of value to teach you in turn.

                    • Louis

                      Get that good speech and timing is important for politicians, but that didnt really address the point about the rights amoral lies and distorted claims that flood our newspapers and screens on a regular basis.

                • James

                  And yet Anne – you happily call MP’s from the other side “bitch” – attacking the person which is worse than the people calling jacinda a light weight and asking what she has done.

                  perhaps you should look at yourself before having a go at others.

                  • Anne

                    Well, well, whoever it was must have deserved the title.

                  • And yet Anne – you happily call MP’s from the other side “bitch” –

                    Funny you should mention that, when the opinion pieces that are the subject of the OP berate the left for, among other things, not liking it when "turn Ardern" fuckwit ColTheMan referred to Ardern as a bitch. Perhaps you should look at yourself before having a go at others. Or, more to the point, perhaps you should look at what gets directed Golriz Gahraman's way and ask yourself how far you want to be associated with that. In short: if you have a problem with personal abuse, start the clean-up with your own side.

                    • James

                      I call out abuse and In Anne’s case hypocrisy – where I see it.

                      I don’t have to clean up any particular side.

                    • Incognito []

                      Yes, James, we know you do cry wolf often. It is not terribly conducive to further conversation with you, generally – an understatement, of course.

                      Keep up the ‘good work’ and keep your nose clean; you are not responsible for other people’s snotty noses unless they are your children.

                    • Funny how restricted the field of view for "where I see it" turns out to be, isn't it?

            • Louis

              Yes, that's how Im reading it too Anne.

            • Sacha

              the left aren't allowed to reciprocate in kind?

              If you argue in their terms, you are letting them dictate the framing which is what sticks in people's minds (eg: 'Tax is not a burden, Uncle Fred') and motivates their actions (eg: ‘must vote for party offering to reduce taxes’).

              Please, please read about why this idea is important for political movements. Starter: https://medium.com/@ennuid/george-lakoffs-framing-101-7b88e9c91dac

              When the word “tax” is added to “relief”, the result is a metaphor: Taxation is an affliction. And the person who takes it away is a hero, and anyone who tries to stop him is a bad guy. This is a frame. It is made up of ideas, like affliction and hero.

              The language that evokes the frame comes out of the White House, and it goes into press releases, goes to every radio station, every TV station, every newspaper. And soon the New York Times is using tax relief. And it is not only on Fox; it is on CNN, it is on NBC, it is on every station because it is “the president’s tax-relief plan.”

              And soon the Democrats are using “tax relief” — and shooting themselves in the foot.

              If the left does not learn how to present a better plan for the future without adopting the right's language then we are all deeply screwed.

        • Psycho Milt

          Yes … the numbers are in, while liberals are generally more open to experience and certainly put a lot of weight on kindness, conservatives are more rounded people morally.

          Well, given that liberals reject the idea that blind loyalty to your group, subservience to authority and considering abstract concepts pure or impure are good thngs, you bet they're focused on the first two. Giving credence to the last three isn't well-rounded, because the last three are entirely conservative concepts of morality.

          • RedLogix

            Giving credence to the last three isn't well-rounded, because the last three are entirely conservative concepts of morality.

            Loyalty, respect and purity are the three social binding values, real because we can know them by their negation … betrayal, subversion and degradation; which result in social entropy.

            Liberal morality celebrates diversity, rejects authority and demands personal autonomy … yet unconstrained these conditions risk chaos. Conservative morality doesn't reject care and fairness (these are probably hard wired into all mammals) but places similar weight on three other values that promote stability and order … even at some cost to those at the bottom of the social order.

            Shiva and Vishnu … both locked into an eternal cycle.

            • Psycho Milt

              Liberals aren't keen on betrayal, subversion and degradation, sure. But it's a huge leap from there to claiming that loyalty to ingroups, submission to tradition and authority, and believing in sanctity and purity are foundations of morality. Only conservatives would claim that.

              • RedLogix

                The data shows that both liberals and conservatives place a similar weight on the two personalising values … care and fairness. It's hypothesised that these are biologically innate. Care for instance is absolutely necessary for the survival of our infants, regardless of your political leanings.

                Where we differ is that liberals discount somewhat (not to zero) the three socially binding or stabilising values, loyalty, respect and purity. Whereas conservatives tend to place a similar weight on all five.

                Each value can of course be taken to an extreme, purity for instance can be distorted into disgust, respect into tyranny, loyalty into blind jingoism. Indeed fairness becomes unjust when it demands everyone must be the same, and any practising clinician can tell you how care and empathy are so often used as a cover for manipulation and control.

                That humans are prone to misusing our social and moral tools is no surprise, the answer is understanding them better and using them more skillfully.

          • AB

            Yep the last 3 (loyalty, authority, sanctity) are a bit odd and scary – in that they could attach themselves to entirely inappropriate objects. Such as 'blood and soil' for example. I don't see them as part of any sort of moral framework at all frankly.

            • RedLogix

              Yep the last 3 (loyalty, authority, sanctity) are a bit odd and scary

              Which rather demonstrates my point … many on the left are quite blind to values which are critical to social cohesion and stability. Values that are really important to at least half the human race.

              If you think them unimportant … consider what happens when these values are transgressed. You most certainly know betrayal … it hurts. You know subversion … the left constantly splinters and fractionates to it's great dismay and disadvantage. And you know degradation … some things are beyond the pale and you know it.

              • AB

                It doesn't illustrate your point at all. I observed that these concepts (loyalty, authority, sanctity) can attach themselves to unsavoury, unpleasant or immoral objects – and as such are 2nd-level concepts with only a conditional moral value in themselves. To elevate them as primary components in a moral framework seems a bit daft – even to someone as ignorant in this field as me.

                • RedLogix

                  From an evolutionary perspective you are on the right path … indeed care and fairness almost certainly predate the others. Both are necessary for the survival of infants and small family clans, and for millions of years this must have been the core of our moral framework.

                  The other three values seem to have arisen later in the context of larger social groups, villages, tribes and cities. Many animals exhibit social bonds, but only humans can do loyalty on a mass scale beyond our immediate genetically related family.

                  Respect for authority was essential in order to enforce rules without resort to costly and excessive force. Laws and rules are essential to solve the free loader and cheater problem, care and fairness alone don't address this.

                  The purity one seems to have a deeply interesting connection to disease. Bacteria and viruses are our ancient enemy, social groups that observed cleanliness rules and controlled sexual behaviour tended to survive better. Again not so important for very small social groups, but as we aggregated into larger entities it became increasingly important and from there the notion of sanctity arose.

        • Dennis Frank

          I too could sense it tugging at my inner forelock

          An obeisance reflex?? Reminds us that `might is right' has been an influential rationale, and rightists aspiring to be mighty are still a thing. I guess the good news is that so few of them succeed nowadays.

          Take the essay-writer's reference to book-turning for instance. As the author of the book notes: "the fact that a group of men are so threatened by the image of a powerful woman that they can’t even bear to look at her face is not really all that funny." https://thespinoff.co.nz/books/13-12-2019/the-author-of-the-jacinda-biography-on-how-turnardern-turned-in-her-favour/

          It seems like serious evidence that Nat rightists are so scared of the emasculating effect of Ardern's charisma that they are unconsciously reacting to the book as totem. Magical thinking! Symbolism so powerful that it is herding them.

          • Wensleydale

            That 'Turn Ardern' thing is pathetic beyond words. I still can't get my head around the fact that actual grown adults are engaging in this behaviour.

      • Louis 1.1.4

        I did too mickysavage

  2. Dennis Frank 2

    What a mess of over-generalisations.. 🙄 But I do agree with the sentiment that the left ought to make progress happen. So what's wrong with the left is obviously that they aren't doing it.

    One could go further and psychoanalyse the reasons why not. The essay writer doesn't want to go there. Better to moan about the right instead. It isn't actually, because right and left bitching at each other perpetually doesn't get anyone anywhere. And few centrists are silly enough to consider Blair's faking of the third way as anything more than a passing fad. Around 95% of centrists are either opportunists or pragmatists. Then there's a niche in the centre occupied by people clever enough to have sussed that the left & right can't be trusted so it's better to herd the twin flocks of leftists & rightists by being the sheep-dog.

    He's right about leftist greenie perpetual bleating. That shit never gets anyone anywhere either. Actual progress has resulted from James Shaw operating the levers of power from his position in the centre. Mediation, negotiation. That's what gets results.

  3. pat 3

    "There’s something, as a dyed-in-the-wool Leftie, that I’ve never fully understood about my ideological opponents."

    …and then proceeds to explore everything except ideology….maybe thats what is wrong with 'the left'

    • mickysavage 3.1

      Do you prefer that we allow the right to define what we are?

      • pat 3.1.1

        There is no definition within that piece.

        and therein lies the problem, for there is no agreed definition, especially amongst those who define themselves as left but even more importantly (in a democracy) the overwhelming majority who are completely disinterested in such esoteric philosophical navel gazing.

        Don't agree?….try starting that form of conversation in any social setting and watch the room empty

        • Dennis Frank

          Excellent analytic response, worth rating 10/10 no quibbles. I predict nobody will engage with the substance of the issue (have been waiting for them to do so since 1971) but the necessity is as great as ever…

        • RedLogix

          for there is no agreed definition, especially amongst those who define themselves as left

          Same response as Dennis, that line nails it.

          Perhaps I could offer one more observation; this 'lack of definition' is the same thing as 'poor at boundaries'. For instance, the left highly values care and empathy and deplores harm. Identifying harm motivates us powerfully, so much so that we tend to expand the categories of harm without limit. Hence outrage culture.

          We value fairness highly, which explains why the social justice movement is so powerful on the left. Yet as it expands without limit, it tangles itself into increasingly contradictory knots.

          We value personal autonomy highly, yet if we allow that anyone can do anything they damn well please … without boundaries … the result is social chaos.

          Also we value new ideas, so much so that we tend to accept anything new as innately better, when in reality most new ideas need a lot of hard boring work to determine whether they are good ones.

          By contrast the right tends to be much better with boundaries; they love laws and rules (and tend to be quite good at gaming them too). They highly value predictable systems and proven methods … which is why they tend to accumulate wealth faster than the left.

          The two instincts need each other; the ancients knew this. In our modern hubris, we imagined the past had nothing to teach us.

        • Gabby

          uninterested patty, disinterested means unbiased.

      • Anne 3.1.2

        Do you prefer that we allow the right to define what we are?

        See my

  4. Adrian Thornton 4

    The real root of the problem with the Left is this…centrists, the Right are no threat to the Left because they are the known enemy, no the real enemy is this insidious cancer that has so divided and distorted the Left as a coherent political movement from within, Bernie and Corbyn have probably done more to fix this than anyone during the past 30 odd years.

    Here is your typical centrist…

    Obamaworld Hates Bernie—and Has No Idea How to Stop Him


    Centrists (like many on this site) would rather lose to the Right than win with a real transformative progressive Left wing Socialist (though few would admit this in public, lack of self honesty is one of the many traits of a centrists)…but for some reason known only to themselves still identify themselves as Left wing, sort of like those parasitic Blairites in the UK.

    I have never understood why these centrists have never had the strength of their convictions enough to go and start their own political parties, they obviously have little in common with the traditional aims and aspirations of the Left as a political movement, they are ideologically from another planet.

    Turn labour left!

    • Andre 4.1

      Left-leaning centrists have a party that mostly fits their views – that would be the Labour party. Which generally does quite well electorally, except when it swings a long way left.

      In New Zealand, there is another party that is generally somewhat to the left of Labour. You may have heard of them, they call themselves the Greens. If Labour is insufficiently left for you, you could consider voting for the Greens.

      If the Greens are really truly insufficiently left for you, then by all means lend your support to one of the parties that regularly pops up. It only takes the support of about 1 in 25 of the voting-eligible population to put 6 MPs into parliament. If your views really have the popularity you've self-gaslighted yourself into believing they have, it's a hurdle that should be easily clearable.

    • Dennis Frank 4.2

      "In November, Politico reported that the former president once said that if it looked like the senator were close to winning the nomination, he would speak up in some capacity to help stop that from happening." [from your link]

      Obama feeling that much antipathy to Sanders strikes me as a brand thing. Not personal. He's worried that socialism will taint the Democrat brand. The best way to rehabilitate socialism is to explain how it could work for the common good. Bernie & Jeremy have consistently refused to do so. Gross incompetence.

    • Dennis Frank 4.3

      Somewhat contradictory to my other comment, Adrian, I must concede the evidence that Bernie is once again getting traction.

      "A pair of new CBS News/YouGov polls released on Sunday show Sanders leading the pack in New Hampshire, earning 27 percent, with nearly half of his voters in the Granite State saying they have definitely made up their minds. In Iowa, the Vermont senator is in a three-way tie with Biden and Buttigeig at 23 percent."

      "In addition, in a series of recent early general election polls, Sanders has shown an ability to beat Trump. An Emerson University survey from mid-December places Sanders at 52 percent over Trump’s 48 percent. A CNN poll from the same time frame indicated similar results, with 49 percent of respondents preferring Sanders to Trump’s 45 percent."

    • Wayne 4.4

      Corbyn was decisively beaten, and it wasn't just on Brexit.

      Most New Zealanders have no desire that our country take a sharp turn left. When they choose Labour it is because leaders like Clark and Ardern are careful to position themselves as moderate left.

  5. Adrian Thornton 5

    Spoken like a true centrist that can only now be considered 'left leaning' because the political field has skewed so far to the right.

  6. weka 6

    Good to see a thought and debate provoking Guest Post. Thanks @cansfordaysmate

  7. Just a question..why do 'we' on the Left feel the need to continually question ourselves with "Whats wrong with the Left' pieces…the msm write enough pieces telling us what we're doing wrong, doesn't mean we have to listen to their well meaning concerns (Ha!).

    Which is a point you cover..but then still feel the need to worry over it…its a distraction, and it is the problem..instead of fighting the good fight we're trapped in our little corner self critiquing ourselves into oblivion…and I use the term 'we' lightly, most of the committed Lefties I've ever met or read have more pressing political concerns

    Lets celebrate..our most successful Left politician these days is Bernie..and despite 'our' best efforts to kneecap him with claims of 'Bernie Bros' and 'African Americans don't like him', and the agism carry on, and a deep desire to try some anti-semitism accusations..he's still there, and further more..no one, absolutely no one, has managed to accuse him of being "Not Nice Enough'…wheres the blog headlines celebrating that?

  8. Puckish Rogue 8

    Seems to me the big problem with the left is that the left is leaving the working class behind in favor of the university educated middle class, look at the UK as an example.

    The working class wanted Brexit, Labor said they'd respect the referendum, the referendum was in favour of Brexit and the Labor party betrayed the working class by wanting another referendum.

    Who wanted to remain, who wanted another referendum, not the working class but the university educated middle class in London.

    Look at this post, anything about working conditions, housing? Nope but theres plenty about sexism, global warming etc etc

    The working class is being ignored by Labour and thats whats wrong with the left.

    • pat 8.1

      define working class

      • Puckish Rogue 8.1.1

        Nope not going to get sidetracked by trivialities

        • pat


          6 mentions of the working class in that brief post, is at the core of its substance and its too 'trivial' for you to define

          • Puckish Rogue

            The point is that Labour is moving from the working class to university educated middle class, not what the working class is

            So I know how this'll go, I'll state what i think the working class is, you'll jump on some minor point thus proving (in your mind) that the left (represented by Labour) isn't moving away from the working class even though Labour (in the UK) received an absolute shellacking

            So no I'm not playing your little game

            • weka

              Your tense is wrong. It's not moving from, it's moved from.

              • Puckish Rogue

                Seems to me (and Boris Johnson and Donald Trump) that theres a lot of votes there to scoop up

                Which of NZs political leaders will go for it do you think?

                • weka

                  It's an old argument, in the NZ context I don't see much changing for this election. But pat's Q is pertinent, because we don't have the traditional class structure that we did 40 years ago.

                  In the UK, the issue was about Labour ignoring the depoliticised working class, but mostly it was Brexit.

                  Afaik the whole working class for Trump thing is a myth. Who voted for him and why was much more complex than that (ethnicity and guns play into it for instance).

                  • Puckish Rogue

                    I agree there probably won't be, best we can hope for is Winston booted out of parliament for good

                  • Sacha

                    we don't have the traditional class structure that we did 40 years ago.

                    Yes, and I wish people would update some 1970s-era understandings and stances accordingly.

            • pat

              so who won that argument with yourself?….

              So working class are not wage and salary earners? Does the term include the unemployed and/or those in unpaid employment? What class are the retired? How about a sole trader involved in direct contracting? Does a university education automatically preclude you from being working class?

              • McFlock

                What about someone getting paid less than a plumber? Or is the university plumber not "working class", either?

                • pat

                  is pay rate the definition?….care to have an attempt at defining 'working class' as PR seems to think its some form of trap?

                  • Sacha

                    People who sell their labour by the hour?

                    People who do not own the 'means of production'?

                    Do tradie contractors fit those?

                  • McFlock

                    Not sure I can, but I do think the old "les mis" protrayal doesn't really work anymore. There are loads of university-educated people in low-income and/or precarious employment even in "ivory towers". And there are tradies who make mint doing jobs traditionally regarded as "working class" because they're "company directors" and everything else goes into a trust, so if they get done for seriously mistreating an employee they just fold the company and work for another one.

                    • pat

                      indeed….so who are 'the working class'?…it seems to me to be a defunct term.

                    • It's a defunct term, huh? Fuck me, it's good to know that the means of production are no longer owned by capitalists and people without capital no longer have to sell their labour to capitalists for a living, that's a great improvement. Can you explain why that doesn't match what NZ and most of the planet actually look like, though?

                      [Minor typo in user name fixed]

              • pat


                Everyone who has a kiwisaver account is technically an owner of capital, as is every homeowner…..lawyers sell their labour by the hour (or rather 6 mins)….many tradespeople are owners of the means of production and employ staff.

                If (lack of) ownership of the means of production is the measure it quickly becomes apparent that the measure is too broad and conflicted to be definitive in todays world….now that may not remain so as capitalism runs its course but at this point in time it appears that the cohort labelled working class is much diminished (and elusive)…..and may explain its lack of political power in democracies.

                • Everyone who has a kiwisaver account is technically an owner of capital…

                  Big whoop. Having a kiwisaver account or owning a house doesn't make you an owner of the means of production.

                  …lawyers sell their labour by the hour…

                  In itself that means nothing. What counts is who they're selling their labour to – if it's to their employer, yes they're workers.

                  …many tradespeople are owners of the means of production and employ staff.

                  And are therefore not working class. Many people make the mistake of thinking "working class" is some kind of cultural thing in which people who work with their hands or haven't been to university identify as "working class." The fact that it's a common mistake doesn't make it any less untrue.

                  …at this point in time it appears that the cohort labelled working class is much diminished (and elusive)…

                  That's simply untrue. NZ is full of people who have to sell their labour to an employer for a living. Again, you're interpreting "working class" as some kind of cultural/identity thing, which it isn't.

                  • pat

                    so in your opinion everyone who sells their labour to an employer is working class….so all wage and salary earners ….and irrespective of any capital holdings?

                  • Sacha

                    If working class is not an identity, how do you rally people around it politically?

                    • pat

                      or if working class is an identity, is it a self identity that takes multiple forms with disparate interests?….and if that is the case the same problem remains, how do you coalesce it into a voting block?

      • millsy 8.1.2

        PR's version of "working class" is a Kentucky or West Virginia coal mining family. Goes to church on Sunday, watches football on Saturday and DOESNT belong to a union.

        The kind of working class that Johnson and Trump likes, because they dont start asking questions like "is there really a God","Perhaps Darwin was right","why have my wages not risen while even though the company has made a record profit, "does a family really have to compose a mother, father and 2 kids", or "surely the government can pay for universal health care by closing down all those bases it has all over the world?".

        Once the Virginia coal miners start forming unions, and asking for PPE to stop them getting black lung, you can be sure that Trump will send in the National Guard and machine gun them in the streets.

        By the way, Puckish Rogue is on record as being angainst women getting abortions, because his magical sky fairy in the air told him so. He would ban abortion completely, and have any women thinking of getting one, taken out back and shot.

        And we put people like him in charge of our prisons.

      • Puckish Rogue 8.2.1

        Yeah that's a bit strange, not quite sure what happened there

        • adam

          US spell check just read as normal smiley

        • The Al1en

          Seeing as you had used the correct spelling later in the same post, I logically rejected a U.S. Spell checker as the culprit, and wondered if you'd temporarily transmogrified into an Ozzie or Yankee Doodle. Lol

    • mauī 8.3

      Tend to agree PR.

      The left has sided with the elite in many contexts and abandoned the little guy.

      • The Al1en 8.3.1

        So in the context of the post you've replied to, the working classes ditched the left because the left have sided with the elites and abandoned them, so they decide to vote for the not at all elitist Tories instead. Okay.

        • mauī

          Yes, you're starting to get it.

          • The Al1en

            I'm understanding the lunacy if that really is the case, where people who are thought of as left, get disappointed at liberal elites abandoning them, so then go and vote for the moneyed elite who don't, and haven't ever, given a shit about them (unless it's to fight their wars for them).

            I'd struggle call those "little guy" traitor people left wingers, though those same people did vote for Blair three times and gave him 2 super landslides and 66 seats to Boris’ 80 into the bargain. How does that work into your narrative?

  9. AB 9

    The right are tough and brutal opponents – this sort of whining about aspects of their character and ideology that are already well understood seems a bit superfluous and weak. I wouldn't give them the pleasure of observing our navel-gazing.

  10. Ad 10

    The problem with the left isn't anything to do with how it emotes or whatever.

    The problem with the left is that it's declining about as fast as harness racing.

    • weka 10.1

      that’s a consequence of what the problem is. Framing that as the problem doesn’t tell us why or how to remedy it.

      • Ad 10.1.1

        It's also a cause because it's of such a scale that it's a vicious circle that strips the remaining movement of

        – will

        – money

        – capacity

        – charisma

        – leadership capacity

        – rising talent, and

        – popular attractiveness.

        All the post does is talk about fear and moaning. It doesn't even try for solutions. And it doesn't even work as therapy.

        • weka

          yes, I thought it fell short of solutions (or at least, I disagree that carrying on the way we are heading is a useful strategy).

          Also agree about the vicious cycle. That the left is declining, or at least stagnating, seems self-evident (although apparently not to some), it's what to do about that that interests me. The left's current inability to take feedback and adapt in response to that is worrying me more and more.

      • Ed1 10.1.2

        1. Always give original sources – the discussion has mentioned three Stuff stories and two "reporters" but without giving urls. Stories without being explicit about the objectionable material being identified may well be "may up"- after all looked at from the right perspective, doesn't everyone try to manipulate discussion? If an article is posted that purportedly comes from the National Party, how can we tell if they were not just made up by National's opponents?

        2. Recognise that "the media"will take a cheap story if it is fed to them – and that includes descriptions of twitter discussions, which, even if true descriptions, may mistake deliberately misleading posts by the "right"made to look like "lefty outrage." In the case of 'turnardern' I suspect there was some laughter from the left that irritated, so the argument was 'helped along'- particularly when the perpretrator had been identified (by the media, not the left) as being an supporter of the right who did not have the wit to blame someone else . . .

        3. The left should not post "nasty stuff" ourselves, and we should object when it appears others are doing it. It is quite hard to claim 'but they started it' when all the right want to do when caught being nasty is to be able to show 'but everyone does it."

        4. We should also seek to know a bit more about just what all those communications staff in The National Leaders Office do all day – taxpayers should not be paying for malicious political attacks on other political parties . . .

        • Gabby

          The left should stick to nasty stuff that's true, and get stuck into the lying shitbag rightits for the lying shitbags they are.

  11. David Mac 11

    Roundly slagging competitors is generally a flawed business strategy. If I claimed that the car-yard next door are liars and cheats, it doesn't make someone want to buy a car off my lot. This is why we don't see much comparative advertising in NZ.

    Nothing earns the support of others as effectively as doing what I said I was going to do, delivering.

    • Dennis Frank 11.1

      Yeah, well put. Competitive tribalism as obsession is the problem. Neither tribe are taking into account what voters want. And (as you seem to imply) the prospects of continuance of our current govt post-election hinge on mass perceptions of delivery.

      I've made the point before that the electoral contract is part of the broader social contract. Novices see business as irrelevant to politics but the link is the transaction designed into representative democracy. People vote on the basis of promises to deliver something, and feel they contract their representatives to deliver as expected. Politicians, in effect, tell voters `you give me power, I will help you prosper'.

    • weka 11.2

      or if you can't deliver then be honest and make arrangement for an alternative (timeframe, product, whatever).

      • David Mac 11.2.1

        Yes weka. None of us take on major tasks without making errors. If we're not making mistakes we're not trying hard enough. We all know this yet politicians are useless at owning mistakes. We expect set-backs, reshuffles, miscalculations and nobody shifts a political allegiance because of them. How they're handled, the delivery, will move someone's political allegiance.

        The business that doesn't own and address customer satisfaction miscalculations in a timely manner isn't around long.

  12. McFlock 12

    There's social change, and there's policy implementation. Some policy implementation (left and right) requires social change. Some small social changes can be achieved via policy implementation (but that's the unpopular stuff by definition, like banning child-beating or lightbulbs).

    Additional actors in the policy realm can help implement social change – the supermarkets jumped on the plastic-bag ban because it saved them cash.

    We can positively affect change. Do nice social media, offer peace and mung-beans, spend ages patiently explaining why we might have policy X. We can eventually tweak social attitudes to accept our policy intentions. Look at Sanders and Warren.

    But so can the conservatives.

    So what policy changes are the conservatives looking for with their attempts to achieve social change? Also look to the US for that answer. I don't want to live in a country with those issues.

    So the other essential role is to negate the desired conservative social change: don't let that attitude appear normal. Don't sanction it with silence. Make everyone who wants to say it a little bit worried about how it will be received. Yes, the conservatives hate it. Yes, with intensive counselling and cups of tea we might or might not be able to get them to change their opinion,

    But there are so many arseholes and so few cups of tea.

    • Dennis Frank 12.1

      Well any true conservative gets freaked by the prospect of change. To conserve is to keep things how they are. You can imagine the consternation when some nutball first suggested that people ought to live outside caves.

      The powers that be probably organised to get the dangerous radical lynched. Everyone knew the idea of making houses out of trees was just too wacky to even think about, but some got upset by the notion and the enforcers had to restore peace and calm.

      • McFlock 12.1.1

        It's the push back to things how they were that worries me.

        There's little difference between the immigration controls dolt45 tried to put on Muslims and the controls they (and NZ) had on Chinese immigrants 100 years ago.

  13. David Mac 13

    The Left is home of the perpetually offended. I think we need to get better at responding to the N'er be pleased with a "So what?"

    It's ok to be offended. We choose to take offence.

    I'm offended by nature. My constantly running eyes and nose. I just asphalted my 2 acres, I hate trees and gardens, it's offensive muck.

    • McFlock 13.1

      Offence is one thing.

      A jury saying a guy beat a gay man to death in self defense because the victim asked to have sex with him and the accused panicked… that's more than just "offense".

      A years-long campaign of harrassment and bullying of someone to the point they commit suicide is a bit more than "offense".

      Denying someone basic services because you don't like their ancestry is a bit more than "offense".

      Making all of these things permissable and acceptable in society is more than mere "offense".

      Causing offense isn't dangerous when everyone's on an equal footing. But society isn't structured that way.

      • David Mac 13.1.1

        Yes, nobody wants to hurt another's feelings but this whole thing of being offensive is entirely subjective. I'm reminded of the guy that was looking at years in a hell-hole Asian jail because he ran a press ad featuring a Buddha figure wearing headphones.

        I think trying to ban being offensive is a futile pursuit. I think our efforts should be focused on 'Hey, it's ok to be offended, we all are to some degree or another. What are we going to do about the way you feel?'

        With such an approach, I think suicide would diminish as an option.

        • McFlock

          Nobody is trying to "ban being offensive".

          Legal approaches to hate speech involve speech that encourages violence and discrimination.

          The "offense" thing is a red herring.

          The trope "cancel culture" is simply the fact that if someone is a dick, people have made it clear that they will not support organisations that support that dick. Some companies have embraced it, and cater to dicks (e.g. some internet thing just tried to sell me "joke" red lobster socks, like the peterson merch).

          The only thing a company can't do is market to both groups at the same time.

          • David Mac

            Ha! New rules list. So concise…

            'Don't be a dick.'

            In motor racing it's 'Don't die.'

            I wonder if lots of us have a few people in our lives who have the power to whisper 'Stop what you're doing right now, you are making a dick of yourself' and we know we're best off heeding that advice…. When I get those words from a few I just know I'm doing more damage than braying like a donkey on kareoke night….chances are strong I'm shooting for gold in the being a dick stakes.

            • McFlock

              Most of the people who get pinged by it are in the zone where they get ratings by being "controversial", and then they over-egg it, pull a Clarkson, and get their arse fired. But then rehired by another group that wants the ratings.

              Then there are comedians or whomever (I'm most familiar with the comedians) who tweet something (or come to prominence and then old tweets/routines come out), and there's a fresh round of "you're being a dick". How they deal with that goes to how bad the repercussions are – nobody's really come up with a better idea than Hugh Grant had in the 1990s, the apology tour. Roseanne tried blaming ambien, to which ambien tweeted "racism is not a known side-effect of ambien" (or something similar) – she got ditched.

              Denial and evasiveness just make people think they haven't been heard and keeps it going. There's an interesting doco on netflix that follows Kevin Hart during his response to the Oscars debacle – it tries to illustrate that it was a process he was going through to acknowledge his fuckups and get going again (think sort of Kubler-Ross stages of coping). He was on a career high and a roll, and didn't figure out that he had to switch gears and deal with it properly, and listen to the people around him. Yeah, it's an authorised doco, but it was an interesting perspective on what happens at the other end of the storm.

          • Psycho Milt

            Nobody is trying to "ban being offensive".

            It's actually much, much worse than that. For example, in the UK the police might interview you to see whether you should be arrested for saying that a woman is an adult female human. It's hardly surprising that a lot of people in NZ don't want to see that taking root here.

            The trope "cancel culture" is simply the fact that if someone is a dick, people have made it clear that they will not support organisations that support that dick.

            You do get that "is a dick" is a matter of personal opinion, right?

            • McFlock

              And if that comment was allegedly part of a months-long campaign of harrassment using multiple accounts, you might even be charged and scheduled for trial in 2020. But then that is a question of fact followed by a question of law. Interviews aren't prison sentences. Would you rather police don't investigate allegations of crimes against trans people?

              I used the term "dick" because it's a matter of opinion. That's the actual issue most common when people talk about "pc culture" and all that crap, not criminal harrassment. You want to keep your job in the public eye? Don't piss off so many people advertisers don't want to be seen near you.

              • I'd rather that pointing out commonplace truisms weren't arbitrarily declared to be "crimes against X people," which oughtn't to be a big ask in a liberal democracy.

                You want to keep your job in the public eye? Don't piss off so many people advertisers don't want to be seen near you.

                I thought that pressuring advertisers and sponsors as a political tactic was a dick move when the Moral Majority were doing it in the 80s, because it was. Why would I suddenly be OK with it because an equally unpleasant set of moralists are doing it these days?

                • McFlock

                  I'd rather that pointing out commonplace truisms weren't arbitrarily declared to be "crimes against X people,"

                  The police are arbitrarily declaring crimes now? I thought you were talking about one interview?

                  • The police can't arbitrarily declare commonplace truisms to be crimes, but the government can, without even breaking a sweat.

                    The police don't just interview people at random, they interview people they suspect to have committed a crime – by, for example, having said that the definition of "woman" is "adult female human."

                    And of course, the more that crimes are based on postmodernist bullshit, the more police interviews are carried out and the less clear it is who's committed a crime and who hasn't.

                    None of these are good things.

                    • McFlock

                      Oh, so there's a law that bans calling people an "adult female human"? Which statute is it?

                    • Of course there isn't a law that bans calling "people" adult female humans. However, in the case of my example, the UK, there are laws against "hate speech." Laws based on postmodernist bullshit tend to have ridiculous outcomes.

                    • McFlock

                      Well gosh, I'm surprised that someone saying that once in a perfectly civil manner would result in a police complaint for hate speech. You totally certain that's the full story?

                      Your story reminds me of the time when Dunedin bouncers were the topic of discussion on local talkback radio, and everyone who called up had done absolutely nothing wrong when the bouncer roughly picked them up and threw them out for totally no reason at all.

                    • If you pay no attention, things that are happening in other countries can sound unlikely, sure.

                      [Minor typo in user name fixed]

                    • McFlock

                      Or, like, you could link to the case where a person was interviewed (shock, horror) by the UK police for only saying that.

                      And doesn't include, like, several months of harrassment that didn't quite make the lede.

                    • Sorry, I mixed up two incidents – same person, different events. The 'adult female human' one was a cancel-culture incident, in which billboards were taken down because they had that definition written on them. The police interview was for a tweet about a woman who'd taken her son to Thailand for a sex-change operation when he turned 16, in which the alleged criminal said the son had been castrated (which he had). In another incident, a woman was interviewed by police for having "misgendered" someone on Twitter. These two examples are nothing unusual – people have been jailed in the UK for posting offensive comments online.

                      You can sneer about people facing police harassment for holding opinions if you like, but others don't find it so trivial. And this shit is being driven from the left, which results in, as weka put it, people "radicalising away from the left." It should bother us that that's happening.

                    • weka

                      without going and looking it up, from memory it's multiple instances now (more than two), and in some cases at least, the police were upfront about there being no law broken, but the visit was to ask people to reconsider what they were tweeting with the idea of wrongthink (police didn't use that term, but are getting close to it).

                      When these first came up I thought the background must be ongoing harassment, but I'm less convinced now. The war between trans activists and gender critical feminists is intense with people on both sides doing stupid shit, and both sides goading and setting each other up. However that's a moderation issue for twitter, not a matter for the police. I'm in the middle of writing a post about UK anti-terrorism police including XR as an org to be reported as radicalising where school kids are wagging or expressing strong sentiment about climate change. Like PM, I think the left should be looking more closely and with more nuance at shifts in the culture/philosophy around power including with the police. At the moment we are often stuck in binary thinking.

                      We might also want to consider how and why police are doing home visits or requesting people come to the station for tweeting about trans issues when they're not also doing the same for the regular rape and death threats that feminists get subjected to online.

                    • McFlock

                      So, in order of your links: multiple tweets, only the tweeter's side of the story presented, a complaint was made concerning a new law, police investigated because no case law to guide interpretation, no crime was found to have been committed (which will guide treatment of similar cases).

                      Second link: multiple tweets, only tweeter's side barely presented (“ Although she said she could not remember her tweets in October, she said she “probably said ‘he’ or ‘son’ or something” before saying: “I have done nothing wrong.”), police interview. Turns out she outright accused the kid's mother of child abuse, among other things. So not applicable to misgendering.

                      Third link: yeah, we lock people up for similarly objectionable stuff (Arp comes to mind), and I have zero problem with that.

                      If the police get a complaint, they investigate it. This often involves interviews. None of your links related to one comment about misgendering or "having said that the definition of "woman" is "adult female human."". They were all much more complex and/or more serious than that, either involving possible ongoing harrassment or specific encouragement of violence.

                    • I acknowledged that I'd mixed up two incidents when I wrote that the police interview had been over the "adult female human" incident, and apologised. However, those links demonstrate that, yes, people are being interviewed under caution to see if they should be arrested for tweeting something obviously true (and I realise that, to postmodernists, giving your son a trip to Thailand to have a sex change for his 16th birthday isn't "mutilation," or "castration," or "sterilisation," but as usual with postmodernism, physical reality begs to differ).

                      Just to refresh your memory, this discussion began with me disputing your comment "Nobody is trying to "ban being offensive"." After much back and forth, we've arrived at the conclusion that, yes, actually some people are trying to ban being offensive but you "have zero problem with that." Glad we could clear that up.

                      EDIT: bugger – apologies to the moderators for failing to fix the cached spelling mistake in my user name. It’s not like you didn’t tell me about it already. Still, embarrassment is a good teacher…

                      [Gggrrrr … 😉 ]

                    • McFlock

                      Encouraging violence is not merely "offensive"?

                      As for the 16y.o, "child abuse" and "mutilation" are not "obviously true" descriptions of a young person getting the procedures they desire with their parents' assistance.

                      You are misrepresenting the stories to suit your bias.

                    • Encouraging violence is not merely "offensive"?

                      It's the criminalisation of opinion, it's being driven by the left, and it's a likely reason why people are "radicalising away from the left."

                      You are misrepresenting the stories to suit your bias.

                      The stories are examples of the criminalisation of opinion. That's not a misrepresentation.

                      As for the 16y.o, "child abuse" and "mutilation" are not "obviously true" descriptions…

                      "Child abuse" is a matter of opinion, "mutilation," "castration" and "sterilisation" aren't. Physical reality is unaffected by sophistry and euphemism, which is one reason it's a tragedy the left has become infected with postmodernism. How many humanists/rationalists will want to be associated with a movement that pretends physical reality can be changed by sophistry?

                    • McFlock

                      Margaret Thatcher was "left". oklol. Blairites updated it to include modern communication, but these legal principles are old.

                      And the only one that was solely "criminalisation of opinion" was the one that went "Personally im glad that teacher got stabbed up, feel sorry for the kid… he shoulda pissed on her too". Found to be "grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing nature".

                      The others also involved elements of harrassment and outright falsehoods, even if they didn't result in charges.

                      As for you believing child abuse is a mere matter of opinion… oklol. Judicial opinion maybe.

                    • Margaret Thatcher was "left". oklol.

                      And Judith Collins, also not famously a left-wing politician, gave us NZ's version. Conservatives are also keen on punishing people for wrongthink, sure, but who's pushing the concept of "hate speech" legislation? Seen Judith Collins using that term recently, or ever? How is it that all of a sudden UK police forces are using that long-standing law to harass people for the expression of opinion? (Hint: the answer isn't "Those damn right-wingers!")

                      And the only one that was solely "criminalisation of opinion" was…

                      …all of them. If the Police have to come and interview you to see if those opinions you expressed were an offence or not, that's criminalisation of opinion. Getting out of the interview without having your collar felt doesn't change that.

                      The others also involved elements of harrassment and outright falsehoods…

                      Having an opinion on something isn't harassment, and pointing out that sophistry doesn't change physical reality isn't "falsehood." And even if it were, if "someone is wrong on the Internet" were to become something that needs police intervention, we're going to need one motherfucker of a police force.

                      As for you believing child abuse is a mere matter of opinion… oklol.

                      Maybe you're not a parent, if you've never heard parents calling other people's crap parenting child abuse before. It's not a judicial finding, it's an opinion – which is the whole point.

                    • McFlock

                      If the Police have to come and interview you to see if those opinions you expressed were an offence or not, that's criminalisation of opinion.

                      No, in the links you provided it's the criminalisation of:

                      • expressing encouragement for murder; and/or
                      • ongoing and repeated harrassment
                  • expressing encouragement for murder;

                    Big whoop. I blog in a right-wing environment, and this last week has seen a lot of expressing encouragement for murder (of Suleimani and al Muhandis), but it wouldn't be a good use of taxpayers' money for the Police to be going round interviewing people about their opinions on that subject rather than investigating actual crimes.

                    ongoing and repeated harrassment

                    If you run a charity aimed at doing something to children that many parents will find appalling, and you appear in the media talking about how you did it to your own kid, yes people are going to tweet about it and no that isn't "harassment."

                    • McFlock

                      At least comments about killing an Iranian general have some relevance to political expression (unlike comments suggesting the murderer of a teacher across town should have pissed on her, too).

                      As for what you think is harrassment and what isn't, you can't even get the story straight. Multiple tweets from the same person about you? Exactly the same as some stupid guy repeatedly tweeting or blogging about the woman he fixated on. And yeah, they get interviewed by the cops for that, too.

                    • Do you get that how you personally feel about the merits of different opinions shouldn't be relevant to whether the holders of those opinions are allowed to express them or not?

                      Also: If you run a charity aimed at doing something to children that many parents will find appalling, and you appear in the media talking about how you did it to your own kid, yes people are going to tweet about it and no that isn't "harassment."

                    • McFlock

                      You do realise that the British CPS doesn't ask me my opinion on what constitutes a crime?

        • David Mac

          I don't use the word nigger because of the law. I don't use it because it's use would say more about my calibre than it would the person I'm directing it towards.

          Society filters out the offensive by itself. I don't pay the male and female contractors that work for me the same $ because of the law. I don't need to pay them the same, they're contractors. When enough 'What are we going to do about the way we feel' come together, we shift.

          • Cinny

            It's easier to fob someone off as being offended rather than attempting to try and understand another point of view.

            More recently 'offended' has become a word flounced around by the right to excuse their own shortcomings.

            • David Mac

              Offended is fine but the power will gravitate towards 'So what are we going to do about it?' People are drawn to that attitude, kinetic energy.

              "I'd top meself but I've got too many letters to write."

              National aspire to flex their kinetic energy by coming down hard on gangs.

              Everyone knows that the seat of the problem is the 13 year old kid that aspires for nothing more than to be patched up. A kid that never went fishing, camping, motoxing, kite flying, hugged a man that loved him more than anything.

              • David Mac

                I wonder if we could invest in expanding the 'Big brother' program and save money? Spend 20 million at the swings and save 200 million at the roundabouts.

                I think it needs the red tape of a Police etc background check but bona fide participants would be pleased to see that. An online platform matching kids with their interests. Whether that be learning to fly, sail, fish or surf. I'd gladly take a couple of kids out diving, fishing and surfing for the day and happy to meet my costs. There is joy in sharing with interested others. If the state picked up the costs of getting them to the ramp and home again…make it easy for us to be the good people we are.

                • Cinny

                  Currently Miss 12 has been complaining without even attempting to think of any solutions, or consider any that's been offered to her, it's been doing my head in. I really hope it's just a 'stage', my forehead is becoming bruised from banging it against a brick wall lololz.

                  I like that idea DMac, about big brothers/sisters etc, very much. There's a number of kids round these parts who would benefit tremendously from such.

            • Psycho Milt

              It's easier to fob someone off as being offended rather than attempting to try and understand another point of view.

              It's also easier to fob someone off as being bigoted, racist, transphobic, misogynist, [your epithet of choice here] etc rather than attempting to try and understand another point of view.

              • David Mac

                Hell yeah, far better chance of changing someone's mind with a "Do you mind if I ask what makes you feel that way?' response as opposed to 'Nazi'

                • David Mac

                  'Nazi' would be funnier, but bridges to build and all that. We need to put on our best frock and seduce the Mums and Dads with 2 houses.

                  Lets embroider Winston's name on an RSA stool. I think he'd still look youthful in the LCD glow of Amazon Gold Big Cash Payouts.

                  The best way for the Left's spinning tyres to find traction is to deliver. Swinging voters are comfortable, they want this Government to provide a hand up to the guy that is sleeping and urinating in their shop-front.

                  Conservatives don't want to hold the government's hand, the less they see of them the better. Those that need a boost, they need some State leg-up.

                  I don't need government help. I don't think I'm alone with my desire to see a government that got on with sorting things out for those that are having 3 Minute Noodles for the 3rd night in a row.

                  Our kids being warm, comfortable, healthy, educated, loved and secure. All of our kids. That wins votes right across the political spectrum.

  14. David Mac 14

    Good comedians are masters at making humans smile at what dorks we can be.

    Aussie comedian Steve Hughes' take on being offended starts at about the 4 min mark.

  15. sumsuch 15

    The froward path is force. And from the Right's victories, being human. Apparantly it's only allowed Right populists. Trump not being entirely acute is a path in the grass. Correctitude is so frequently about the elite's correctitude. Hence , Bernie!

    • sumsuch 15.1

      All the people who established our demo-cracy were terrible to their wives except the religious and bachelors.

  16. Incognito 16

    The OP doesn’t really address any valid points made in those articles in Stuff of which I’ve read two, I think (hard to say without specifying them). However, it struck a chord (or hit a raw nerve?) and generated good discussion, which was quite revealing in parts.

    Calling out does not equal providing an alternative. This is a general problem with much of the critique nowadays; it is negative and not constructive by any means. Calling out is also reflexive; it doesn’t identify what you are or stand for but what you are not or not stand for. That leaves it completely open what it is to be Left or whatever you aspire to be and call yourself.

    The Right will have a laugh when they read the commentary under this post because we cannot even agree on concepts such as “working class” or “class” in general. Their meanings have changed over time and the Left seem a little behind the eight ball.

    So, what defines it to be Left? Why would I identify as Left?

    Without going all academic (intellectual) and invoking theories and models (yes, the irony is not lost on me), I personally use this as a starting point: we stand together. In other words, we look after ourselves and after others and the common good. In yet other words, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

    This is the foundation from where I can add other bits & bobs, but they have to be consistent and fit with(in) my starting point. For me, it means being inclusive, respectful, kind, et cetera, and being polite is a bonus but not a must. That builds Trust without which we become divided and fall to pieces.

    It is an open ‘definition’, if you like, that allows many (all?) to identify with and to fill in as they see fit. A strict definition has boundaries and limits. It is not or no longer effective IMO.

    Unfortunately, the Left is not immune to the hyper-individualism that raves and ravages the globe.

    Some of us tend to go feral against anybody they don’t agree with and/or anybody who doesn’t agree with them. The Left has a tendency of tearing itself apart, which goes completely against unity and solidarity. I think the reason for this is that we don’t recognise the common ground and common goals. We see each other as competitors for the same limiting resources. Instead of joining forces and consolidating resources, we (rather) hack each other to death, figuratively speaking.

    If more people want to come into the tent, we have to make room and accommodate them. For example, we have no problems with net migration of thousands into the country each year but we balk at the idea of letting in a few more international refugees. However, some like to push others out of the tent and refuse to let others in, ideologically speaking. To me, that is not what the Left is about. IMO, the Left stands for diversity and is poly-tribal. But again, individualism, selfishness, and egotism rear their ugly sides and people ask “what does the tribe do for me” (i.e. “what’s in it for me”) instead of “what can I do for the tribe” – a similar attitude to paying taxes is always a good way to separate Left from Right (and nobody really likes paying taxes!). The social cohesion is gone, i.e. the things that used to bind us together and united us seem to have weakened or disappeared altogether.

    Meanwhile the Right is laughing all the way to the bank and gets on what they do best: looking after Number One.

    The common or greater good is the only reason why people would make personal sacrifices. Think local solutions to global problems such as Climate Change. Selfish attitudes will hinder finding and implementing solutions for the greater good of all. No need for morality, just simple facts.

    Ok then, but surely, it is ok to rip into people from the Right, right? Uhhmm, no. Firstly, because this will never win them over to come into your tent. Secondly, it would contradict my starting point that we are all in this (life) together. I cannot make it any simpler than this and I don’t need to.

    PS Crikey! Way too long for a comment (708 words) and perhaps I should have turned this into a post, which is what I wanted to avoid 🙁

    • The Left has a tendency of tearing itself apart, which goes completely against unity and solidarity. I think the reason for this is that we don’t recognise the common ground and common goals.

      I think it's an inevitable feature, because our focus is on the greater good rather than our own interests. The right doesn't tear itself apart the way we do in part because its participants are focused on their own interest, unencumbered by baggage about what's good for everyone else. That means you can avoid making a big deal out of other people's bullshit opinions as long as the overall direction is furthering your interests.

      If you read Kiwiblog's comments threads, which I used to until recently, they featured incredibly vicious disputes between right-wingers, mostly between religious conservatives and the more libertarian types. None of them would portray that as a problem with the right, because when it comes to politics the overall direction of the right is furthering their interests. We don't have that, and can't really.

      • RedLogix 16.1.1

        Moral Foundations theory suggests a deeper psychological reason; that right wingers simply place more value on the cluster of values that promote social bonding. Yes they may well disagree, sometimes quite vociferously, but when group loyalty, respect for authority and sanctity undergird your thinking … well this means they are just a lot better at maintaining unity than we are.

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