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It’s time for a different story

Written By: - Date published: 5:55 am, November 16th, 2016 - 68 comments
Categories: activism, Politics, us politics - Tags: , ,

A post-US election space for engendering solidarity and resistance, because it was requested. Feel free to share links, wrangle thorny issues, re-centre inclusive progressive politics, and tell a story that takes us somewhere useful. (And no, you can’t promote Tr*mp culture here). Please be kind and respectful.

Those who tell the stories run the world. Politics has failed through a lack of competing narratives. The key task now is to tell a new story of what it is to be a human in the 21st century. It must be as appealing to some who have voted for Trump and Ukip as it is to the supporters of Clinton, Bernie Sanders or Jeremy Corbyn.

A few of us have been working on this, and can discern what may be the beginning of a story. It’s too early to say much yet, but at its core is the recognition that – as modern psychology and neuroscience make abundantly clear – human beings, by comparison with any other animals, are both remarkably social and remarkably unselfish. The atomisation and self-interested behaviour neoliberalism promotes run counter to much of what comprises human nature.

Hayek told us who we are, and he was wrong. Our first step is to reclaim our humanity.

George Monbiot’s essay on neoliberalism and the deeper story that lies beneath the US election result.


68 comments on “It’s time for a different story ”

  1. TheExtremist 1

    Good initiative Weka! Love the turn towards optimism and forward thought. For my part I think we might be seeing a turn to the right globally (trump success will embolden the right) however perhaps out of the wreckageproper progressive politics will emerge.

    • Garibaldi 1.1

      Yes indeed….”out of the wreckage progressive politics will emerge”. We are definitely in for tumultuous times as the results of 30+ years of Reagan/Thatcher/Rogernomics get dealt to somehow or other. Hopefully WW3 may be averted somehow or other. Trouble is we are not going to avoid CC somehow or other.

  2. I have been heartened by the solidarity of those opposed to what has and is likely to happen.

    A number of U.S. liberal friends have closed their fbook due to fear.

    The racists are certainly enboldened and those opposed are standing against them, but people have to be careful and there is safety in numbrs.

    So with a strong enemy we can become stronger to counter. That is the hope.

    • Karen 2.1

      Marty, did you see this article by Sarah Kendzior that was written before the election result but is still relevant. With hate crimes increasing in Europe and USA I think this line in particular is very important.

      “We have a moral obligation to oppose it and document it, as others have in dangerous eras, in the hopes of negating threats to the most vulnerable.”


      • marty mars 2.1.1

        Thanks Karen that is exactly my view. Great article.

      • Carolyn_nth 2.1.2

        Thanks for the link to that article, Karen. It highlights some things I’ve been pondering about. The story of Elija Lovejoy and the continuation of race hatred today, indicate that both anti-racism and racism have a long legacy – 2 aspects of humanity in a long term struggle.

        The parts of the article that focus on the media, indicate to me that Trump benefited from some contradictions in the news media. Even those journalists who disliked his messages couldn’t stop themselves from giving him oxygen. this also is part of a long(ish) term development. We have seen the corporate media rise in power, while public service media has been under prolonged pressure. The mix of entertainment, click-bait, and ratings-chasing means that scurrilous hate-mongering of an extreme kind will get attention of the mainstream news media. Trump seems a master at playing this.

  3. Olwyn 3

    Here is one of the most heartening things I have read since the US election. It was in my mailbox this morning. https://yanisvaroufakis.eu/2016/11/15/new-statesman-interview-the-lefts-duty-after-trumps-awful-victory/ It is not a long interview and every word of it is worth reading. This paragraph stood out:

    In the past 30 years, we have allowed progressive values to become fragmented — there’s the LGBT struggle, the feminist struggle, the civil rights struggle. The moment a feminist accepts that having a women president or more women in the boardroom, means that a women migrant will end doing menial jobs in the home for below the minimum wage, the connection between feminism and humanism is lost. When the gay movement adopted consumerism as its mantra with slogans like “shop till you drop”, which took the place of confrontations with bigotry and the police, it too became part of the liberal elite. The solution has to be a progressive movement that is international and humanist. It’s a tall order but it’s what is needed to oppose both the liberal establishment and Trump. They pretend to be enemies but in reality they are accomplies, feeding off each the other.

    • Olwyn 3.1

      I should add that Varoufakis in this article indirectly addresses hostilities of the kind that have come up recently here on TS. He does not like Putin, but does not think that this justifies the build up of US-NATO troops on the Russian border. He does not like Trump, but can see why people might have pinned their hopes on him without expressing disdain for their intelligence or questioning their decency. E.g: …the numbers who switched their political religion from Barack Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016. Anyone who voted for Obama last time can’t be easily dismissed as a racist. He also thinks that both Trump and UKIP show that you can break through the media-establishment stronghold if you are ambitious enough. In short, he does a good job of not mistaking the other players for the ball.

      • Bill 3.1.1

        I’m thinking that here’s a class war, the likes of which none of us have seen, about to unleash across the globe.

        In the middle, acting as a block to any progress or change, and rightly assailed from both sides, there’s liberalism.

        We’ve already seen that liberals will happily condemn and dismiss anything and anyone that threatens their control over a pretty dismal status quo.

        The result will either be (broadly speaking) a fascism for the 21st C or a socialism for the 21st C. You can decide for yourself which threats to the status quo have pointed in either of those two broad directions.

        And if people get it wrong and throw support at a more fascist or regressive tendency, I’ll leave it to liberals to condemn them as some basket of irredeemables. I’m much more interested in engaging with them and creating a pathway for who-ever with all of their flaws (whatever they may be and no matter how numerable they may be) that leads to them lending support for progressive change.

        What’s coming is a numbers game…a battle for hearts and minds as it were. And condemning people loses them.

        At the end of the day, some who would back a more regressive future will prove, along with a fair number of liberals, to be hopelessly irredeemable. But in the meantime…

        • ropata

          I wouldn’t blame “liberals” in general (as a mass movement, it’s been a beacon of freedom and equality) but rather the establishment “liberal” elite. The elites have been very good at co-opting/undermining/sabotaging any true grass roots democracy and popular movements. The longer this goes on the more likely that the disaffected masses will resort to more radical solutions to the entrenched problems in western “liberal” democracy

          Yes there is a class war coming, the elites and the professional class that have captured all the wealth of the last 40 years have set up the conditions for widespread social unrest

          • aerobubble

            Trump is said not o like disloyalty. Yet Ryan is still the rank Rep on the hill and yet dump on Trump. So what gives, surely Trump want assert himself on the Party, ask for a more favorable leader of the majority. Yet instead Trump hires a close Ryan counsel. Did Trump have a game going, did Trump want Reps, to rain on him, to get a non-elitist image.

            Now Trump wants Roe-Wade overturned, given that replacing the most right leaning justice Scalia is a guesing game,they maybe liberals wearing conservstive robes,and maybe a justice dies before his four years are up, still.
            So Trump talks up States rights, state geting to decide abortion rights.
            yEah you figure thst, a women win the majority of votes, and Trump wants in his first a hundrend days to take abortion rights way from women.

            Trump was pushed over the line by voters fedup with the jerrymandered by republicians, obama healthcare scheme, and Trump is already about to deliver them a reduction in healthcate costs. Its like Reps knew they needed a wedge issue to take these three states.

            So really has anything changed no, has Trump delivered, yeah, just winnning and then walking back healthcare its done, he can retire.

            • aerobubble

              Clinton’s bad issues were not hers to control, Trumps were, all self created, all designed to get meda rage, etc. Trump was in control and media fawning after his latest nonsense. Media elites won him the election, along with the Republician congress setting up the Obama scheme backlash.

              Democrats had no chance unless they also targetted the Congressian seats. So the US election is so rigged that a DEmocrat can win the majority of votes yet lose seats in Congress and the Presidency.

              So no, i dont think Trump has the ability, the power, or even the will to change America properly, rebuild the hollowed out middle classes that were the greatest defend the US ever had.

              • ropata

                Sounds like a great rallying cry:

                “rebuild the hollowed out middle classes that were the greatest defence the US ever had”

                We need more FDR-like figures.

                Sanders, Corbyn and our own Cunliffe face(d) a huge battle against entrenched vested interests screwing democracy and scamming the system. There are others like Elizabeth Warren waiting to step up. The existing so-called “left” parties can either embrace the movement (like Corbyn’s Labour) or face extinction.

                • aerobubble

                  Articulating why elites need to move over is harder if like Clinton, Cunliffe, etc live in elite surrounds. Even Corbyn and Sanders have age against almost, like Obama, their purpose was no to change just to keep the distractive narrative of hope and concern bubbling beneath yet never satisfied. Take housing, its obvious to all Key has stop support in big housing and big finance not to want change, meaningful change. That he can get away with pushing the risks of ovecrowding, ghetto diseases thanks to a lack of a free health care system, coupled with monied muddied academia whose inability to produce heckers is showing iour present MPs, both govt backbench and opposition.
                  On a positive note, Trump better deliver change or lots more churn in politics will result.

        • Olwyn

          Hi Bill – I am late to reply because I have been away from the computer.

          Liberals seem to be spread across the political spectrum, but liberalism is not, and cannot be, the be-all end-all of what it is to be on left, although it has been sold to us as such for a few decades. I liked Varoufakis’s point about the practical differences in liberalism where it is, or is not, linked to a broader humanism. I also think that groups with somewhat differing orientations within the broad left can function as allies where applicable, rather than attempting to think in lock-step with each other.

          • aerobubble

            Liberals believe everyone can be a criminal and so want fair access to justice, Conservatives reliougous believe they should suffer for their sins and so want punnishment to mean that. I believe our courts are not there to punnish, rather they are like the school principal who seperate the protagonists, have them sit in remand outside their office, and when ready humiliates them in front of their peers and family, even expellng them from society for a time. Punnishment not a part of the process because like a liberal i dont believe in authoritarianist states. Thus capital punnishment is not justice. A conservative however believes that state is a force of cohersion, one either operating for them or against them, never as them. Essentially, modern conservatism has been hicked by anti-democrats, as givt is for the people, of the people and by the people. Not our enemy, not our friend, just of us.

            • Olwyn

              There is more than one way of thinking that is described as liberal. Don Brash, for example, has described himself as socially liberal but economically conservative. The kind of liberalism you describe islinked to a broader humanism, since you think that justice is about correcting wrongs rather than sinking the authoritarian boot in. I agree.

    • greywarshark 3.2

      Good piece, in fact excellent words that should be preceded by trump-ets!
      Varoufakis consistently comes up with speeches like this that show a thinking mind directed to practical ethics for solving our problem of a rusty, holey fighting armour against the carelessness and badness that has settled because of loss of vision.

      I suggest TS read Bowalley Road regularly to get a somewhat different take so minds stay active, and Varoufakis link is in the blogs-read on the left. Easy to get at, also others good in that list.

      • Olwyn 3.2.1

        Thanks geywarshark: I get the speeches Varoufakis puts up on his website by email; I must have put my name down on a list at some point.

        • KJT

          I am a fan of Varoufakis’ thoughtful analysis. Robert Reich is another worth reading.

          Chris Trotter is yet another who is contemptuous of ordinary people. I can see him in my minds eye, muttering about, “Deplorables”.

          • greywarshark

            Chris Trotter floats ideas as well as putting up some certainties, some devil’s advocate approaches as well. You do yourself a disservice by rejecting his approach because it doesn’t stay faithfully to your well-trodden track. You are allowed to disagree with him or ask him how he justifies some opinion. I have done so and haven’t been cut off in my prime.

    • Carolyn_nth 3.3

      Interesting to compare Varoufakis interview with the article linked above about Lovejoy and the perpetuation of racism in the US. The Lovejoy article goes on to put quite a bit of blame on the media – see my comments above about that.

      Varoufakis says:

      We must stop explaining away our political failures as the result of a conspiracy among the establishment and the media. It is nothing but a litany of excuses. We don’t win because we can’t appeal to a substantial segment of the electorate. The entire American establishment was against Trump, even Fox News and the Koch brothers who have always in the past funded the worst right wing candidates.

      I can understand why some left wing political activists say that they need to focus away from the media and on getting the message to the electorate. The media will not change in the short term, and with elections today, an alternative focus is required.

      But I do think the media has played a major part in perpetuating the neoliberal story- about individualism, meritocracy, anti-public services, etc, and on shifting people’s focus from politics to entertainment and lifestyle issues. It’s no accident that since the 1980s, NZ’s meagre public service broadcasting has been under gradual, but relentless attack.

      The Trump example shows that issues with the media preventing a narrative of collaboration, inclusion etc, are not straightforward. Trump benefitted from contradictions within the corporate media.

      Therefore, changing the dominant story must require the right kind of mix between offline, in person, multiply-connected, diverse groups, using collaborative organisation, plus telling the story across a range of platforms, and genres.

      • Olwyn 3.3.1

        I will add the last bit of the paragraph that You quoted: What Trump, and Nigel Farage, know is that political revolution is possible. Brexit proved it, here in Greece for a short five months the Syriza government proved it before the leadership caved in. The silver lining of Trump’s awful victory is that we must become more ambitious.

        We need to really believe change is possible. We need to strike a note with like-minded people and build on our collective enthusiasm and conviction. While Corbyn is not the PM of the UK, he did get re-elected as leader of the PLP, after a full year of incessant media vilification and ridicule. Bernie Sanders built up a huge, enthusiastic following for his presidential bid while the media pretty much ignored him. The media is not all-powerful, but you need a strong, convinced and eager movement behind you to successfully bypass it.

        • Carolyn_nth

          I do think the flax roots in person organisations and the growth of a strong movement is crucial to real change that benefits those currently struggling, and/or who are the targets of hate and marginalisation – seems like going backwards right now for the ways some hate is being directed.

          But I think there needs to be more than that. The neoliberal shift as mentioned by Monbiot in the post above, included a shift in the media. Monbiot talks of Thatcher. What he doesn’t mention, as the same time of the story she promoted, she/her government, gradually shifted people into positions of power in main stream news media. That’s partly how their story got circulated.

          We have seen something similar here. Under John Key’s watch, we’ve had the rise of Paul Henry & Mike Hosking, etc. Meanwhile Campbell Live was axed by Key’s mates, TVNZ7 got axed, local/community-based TV channels got squeezed out with the shift to Freeview, RNZ’s funding has been frozen, and “Dirty Politics” was a concerted effort to influence reporting in the news media.

          I continue to believe change is possible. I do think it’s important to keep campaigning for change. But I am somewhat despondent at the moment. For about 3 decades I have been believing change is possible. But I’ve seen too many false dawns. Real change is slow.

          eg Syrizia’s victory was short lived. The wealth and power of the international elites is significant. And one of their tools is to use their wealth to influence the media (on and offline) and social media. I think we shouldn’t ignore that.

          Without understanding how the likes of Trump succeeded through the media, and flax roots movement by the left, will probably be short-lived – remember occupy? For a new story to gain deep and longer term traction, there needs to be an understanding of how to circulate that story: via word of mouth, offline meetings and organisation (yes grow a movement), social media, alternative online media, and mainstream media.

          • Karen

            I agree with all of that Carolyn.

            Interesting that you mention Thatcher – our equivalents Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble destroyed public service television when they made TVNZ a SOE. The Nats ran it down further and then when the Labour Party regained power in 1999 they dithered around for years before finally coming up with the charter as a way of ensuring TVNZ had some public broadcasting content. The problem was it was easy enough for the Nats to ditch it as they did with TVNZ7.

            The Nats put money into NZOA but also appointed John Key’s electorate chair onto the committee that made decisions on what to commission and have frozen funding as they have with Radio NZ. My worry is that neither Labour nor the Greens seem to be taking broadcasting seriously. They need to.

            I am not sure how to grow the kind of movement that will be able to bypass the MSM but I agree we need to.

            • Carolyn_nth

              Thanks, Karen.

              I don’t think it’s necessary to by-pass the media. I’ll be interested to see what Team Monbiot and/or associates have in mind for a spreading a new story, and the role for the MSM.

              The problem is that left political parties have become too subservient to the media – fear of their power. But aiming to bu-pass the media also subscribes to the MSM as being all-powerful.

              If we build it (a movement), the media will come anyway – they did for occupy, for anti-global protesters, etc.

              I think it’s more important to consider how the media can be changed in the long term to one that serves the public interest – that is necessary for democratic engagement.

              In growing a movement, it’s important to have a story, that everyone can repeat in person, to the media, and across all kinds of platforms and contexts, and with a range of concrete examples.

              eg – how people support each other during disasters; stories of how the homeless can be enabled to get to live in safe and secure homes, etc.

              • Karen

                “I think it’s more important to consider how the media can be changed in the long term to one that serves the public interest – that is necessary for democratic engagement.”

                So there needs to be much better funding of public broadcasting on one side and at the same time a better coordinated media campaign from left wing activists on the other. The increase in public broadcasting funding won’t happen unless there is a Labour/Green government but we will need to get the co-ordinated media campaign going in order to get the Labour/Green government.

                There are good print journalists in NZ but there are few outlets willing to pay them for anything except clickbait. Newspapers seem to prefer to fill their pages with a plethora of right wing opinion pieces and I can’t see that changing. More online options like The Spinoff may be an answer.

                I agree something needs to be done long term – just not sure how.

                • Carolyn_nth

                  I’m currently looking at the possibilities.

                  Many countries have more public broadcasting than NZ, including Aussie, UK, South America and many other countries.

                  Peter Thompson of Vic Uni suggests different ways of funding public service media and I think currently favours a levy – maybe on commercial channels, to be redistributed to public service media.

                  A recent report in the UK also discusses funding public service programmes to be shown on commercial platforms – would need to be free-to-air or free-to-view-online, to be truly public service. Kind of like NZ OnAir funding.

                  But, yes, there needs to be the public will, and then as a result, the political will, for that to happen.

                  And media savy activists. I get the impression Auckland Action Against Poverty is fairly pro-active in letting the media know what they are up to. Also they produce videos of their Actions.

                  Then there’s EZRA.

  4. esoteric pineapples 4

    I think people who are focusing the election result around angry white workers are ignoring an equally important reason for Trump’s win – Christian fundamentalism. I am amazed by how many people I personally know who support Trump. A great many of them are Christians. I think abortion in particular was a button issue, more than ever. But also the election result was a push back against secularism in American society (secularism in the sense of freedom to believe whatever you want to do, not the common misconception of the term as being a non-religious society). Obviously it was also racist reaction to having Black President, along with anger at people’s economic situation. All of these forces were rolled up into one in the vote of white American voters.

    • ropata 4.1

      Yes I observed the same. And like many other Christians I was horrified. The fundamentalist strain is a danger to the world. Apparently Bush and Blair held a private prayer meeting before invading Iraq… the devil masquerades as an angel of light.

      However there are also many good Christian folk in the States who are not completely nuts. Usually the educated ones on the coast. It’s a problem of education and socio economics, as well as abuse of religious ethics.

      The Rust Belt was majorly f*cked over since Reagan, and now the entire Union is in danger. Maybe Trump will help the neglected midwest states, but the chances are he will just pay lip service and find a way to ignore them.

  5. The lost sheep 5

    [deleted by request]

    Look there is an obvious beginning to the story…..
    Regardless of race, belief, or politics, we are all on this one World together, and our absolute priority is a healthy Earth.

    Next I would add…
    All of us on this one World desire to have sufficient of the basic necessities of life: Food, Shelter, Water, Security. What we want for ourselves, we have a duty to ensure for all others.


    [edit – This post isn’t about the mythical collective left and people’s theories about what ‘it’ does, and it’s not a place to have another fight on this. Please think about that before posting again, and if you don’t understand, it might be time to listen and watch for a while – weka]

    • The lost sheep 5.1

      I take your point about the conflict thing Weka, but on the other hand I made a couple of concrete suggestions on where the ‘different story’ might start.

      I’s welcome any positive discussion of those, or other commenters concrete suggestions on how the story might develop?

    • The lost sheep 5.2

      Weka, I was thinking about the kaupapa of your Post, and concluded much of my comment above is disrespectful to your intent.
      It’s too late for me to edit, but I’d appreciate it If you could delete everything in my post above except for the suggestions for an obvious beginning to the story?

      • weka 5.2.1

        thanks tls, I appreciate that. I’m just clarifying something in the back end about deleting content, might take a while.

  6. Gosman 6

    I don’t think you (as a collective) actually know what you want and therefore you are never really going to be able to effectively combine to bring about a new “progressive” movement. I see that a number here think the movement should be confrontational and militant in nature. In my mind that will just alienate large sections of society that the left should be trying to win over. One thing about the right is that generally it doesn’t mind working with disparate groups so long as it’s underlying agenda is moved forward. I just don’t see that happening anymore with the left.

    [“I see that a number here think the movement should be confrontational and militant in nature.” Too trolly, and you are missing the kaupapa of the post by starting off telling the mythic collective left what to do. RWers are welcome in this thread if they can offer something that makes this place safer instead of a fight, but left-bashing is not welcome no matter how nicely worded. – weka]

  7. Scott 7

    John Oliver got in right in the most recent episode of “This Week Tonight”. The focus (at least over there) ought to be on ensuring that the Dems do better in the mid-term elections (Congress and Senate).

    I fear that taking the current protests too far may undermine that.

  8. weka 8

    Here’s one of the explanations of why many in the US are so worried. Whole thread.

    Steve Bannon is a nazi. When given power, he will kill Jewish people.

    • joe90 8.1

      They’re going to make the trains run on time, too.

      “Bannon is going to be keeper of the image of Trump as a fighter against the status quo, and Reince is going to utilize his personal connections with the speaker and others, to make the trains run on time,” said Ken Blackwell, a former Ohio state official and a member of the transition team.


      Just like "American First" isn't accidental," nor "trains running on time." They are the language of those versed in fascist literature. https://t.co/CwHRtD2RtE— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) November 15, 2016

      "Drain the swamp" was a Mussolini rallying cry (a literal swamp, the Pontine marshes). This stuff isn't accidental.— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) November 15, 2016

      • Plan B 8.1.1

        I am pretty sure that there is a major Myth that Washington DC is built on a swamp. It is well known to have a terrible climate in the summer months, way too hot a humid. according to Quora
        :No, not really. It was built in a low area, fed by several streams of clear water, … and Washington got its reputation as being built on a swamp.”
        The myth has been around a long time, it does not look like it has anything to do with Mussolini

    • Plan B 8.2

      Steve Bannon ran Breitbart named after Andrew Breitbart – Wikipedia
      He was the adopted son of Gerald and Arlene Breitbart, a restaurant owner and banker respectively, and grew up in the affluent suburb of Brentwood, Los Angeles. He was raised Jewish; his adoptive mother had converted to Judaism when marrying his adoptive father.

  9. Bill 9

    Maybe of interest.


    Live feed of arms expo blockade in Auckland. Third(?) post from top. No need to be signed in to fb.

  10. BM 10

    Millennials do want to make the world a better place – 84% consider it their duty, according to a report from Deloitte. But they are doing it differently to older generations in three ways.

    1. They will work within existing systems. Over 90% believe that business is the way to solve problems like unemployment, the Deloitte study found. And three-quarters think governments should address society’s challenges.

    2. They have the tools to act. In a digitally connected world, social media platforms enable young people to promote causes and hold institutions to account directly.

    3. They make doing good part of their lifestyle. This includes the careers they choose, the products they buy and how they spend their free time.


  11. joe90 11

    Much like how the white middle NZ I know is concerned about income, housing, debt level, health care and education yet I’m told that white middle NZ is concerned about Te Tiriti payments and special privileges held by Māori, the threat from the criminal hordes, immigration, unions are bad, etc, – McDuff writes about how the concerns of white working people in Britain have been used to provide cover for the xenophobes and racists.


    “I can’t get a council house because they’ve all been sold to private landlords” gets nothing. “I can’t get a council house because they’ve all gone to bloody Muslims” gets on the front page of the Express.


  12. Chrys Berryman 12

    …….and in the mean time my two nephews [6@8]are coming home from their Public School in Jackson Heights[NY] in tears ,because their worried some of their classmates are going to be sent south of the border.

  13. Ovid 13

    I don’t think we can solve in a week what the Left can do to re-engage with the public at large. In New Zealand’s context there is still a reasonably popular prime minister one year out from a general election.

    I remember expressing incredulity over the opposition to showerheads and lightbulbs. But at it’s core, people don’t like being told what to do or more insidiously, what to think. Secondly, New Zealand’s Left suffered from a perception – real or imagined – of instability within Labour’s caucus. That’s why people like Matthew Hooton keep calling for Little to stand down with every sub-30% poll result for Labour: because it would further that perception of instability.

    So what do people want? I don’t know. I would hazard a guess that it’s security. That they won’t lose their homes in a flash just because their landlord has decided to put it on their market. That their job can cover the bare necessities and then some. That they have a safety net in the case of redundancy. That they can rebuild after natural disaster.

    But like I say, I don’t know. The past couple of years have taught me that I don’t have my finger on the pulse of the polity. I’m sure a lot of policy work is in place, but is there a mood for change? What can Parliament’s Left tap in to?

    And remember, it doesn’t have to be 100% of the voters. A coalition of 51% of them will do nicely.

    • Siobhan 13.1

      “I remember expressing incredulity over the opposition to showerheads and lightbulbs”…this is so true, and was basically the reason my in laws didn’t vote for Helen the last time round, but then weirdly, try riding your bike around without a helmet.
      Or a not wearing a hi-viz jacket.
      You’ll even get people who look like P-dealers yelling abuse at you as they drive past. Or walk around without shoes when collecting your kids from school. The comments and looks..NZers are actually sticklers for rules and do not like anyone doing their own thing.
      I think the light bulb and showerhead issue was some sort of weird reaction to realising that life styles would have to change due to global warming.
      Sure, the majority may acknowledge climate change, but we would like someone else to make changes and pay the price…not us.
      Same with house prices…yes its terrible the kids can’t buy a house, but no way to ‘my’ house value not rising.

      The issue for the Left and the more aware centrists is not only ‘re engage’ with the voter, but to then convince ‘middle nz’ that actual real changes are needed to our economic system, and changes to our life styles, the ‘head in the sand’ policies so favoured by National are going to extract a heavy toll in a very short length of time.

      • Scott 13.1.1

        I think the problem is the other way around (at least in part). Trying to convince middle NZ that they have their head in the sand may merely push them further away. I think the opposition need to find a way to accommodate middle NZ rather than re-educate it.

        • Garibaldi

          “Accommodate middle NZ”. Therein lies the problem for the left. Key owns the middle ground and is thoroughly cashed up,and clued up, to defend it. I think the left has to show a better way forward than neoliberalism.

          • Scott

            Yes. But I don’t know that labels help (be it “progressive” or “neoliberal” or whatever). They hit buttons for the converted and the beltway, but they put off the very people that need to be persuaded.

            I suspect what “middle NZ” needs to hear is more like… you want these things, so do we, and here is what we think is a better way to achieve them. As opposed to… you are wrong, you’ve been sucked in, this is what you should want.

            A part of that is doing what Ovid suggests, actually understanding what it is people want (in a realistic way) – not so much the voters that are already on board, but those that need to be persuaded.

  14. Observer Tokoroa 14

    . Lets get the basics right

    . Whether you are coaching a rugby team; building a business; teaching a class; or flying an airplane, or designing software – the old saying still applies.

    A political party that wishes to gain power or remain in power, must put most of their weight behind the essentials of Living.
    1. The air must be clean. The water must be pure
    2. Housing must be available and affordable. Rentals also !
    3. In a wet and cold place like New Zealand, Heating must be available and ……affordable.
    4. Health Services must be available and affordable. Waiting lists an exception ..not
    the rule

    5. Education must be managed, designed and delivered by highly talented teachers. -Not Politicians (who are always unaccountable in NZ.)
    7. Education should be free of charge to students who study diligently. Young n old.

    8. Jobs must be provided to every able adult. Wages must be absolutely adequate.
    …. Able Persons who do not work or have no skills should not get paid.

    9 Government must provide Infrastructure for each of these projects
    10. Immigration is adjusted according to the Infrastructure available.

    A Political Party which cannot willingly provide The Basics should not seek Government.

    • DoublePlusGood 14.1

      “8. Jobs must be provided to every able adult. Wages must be absolutely adequate.
      …. Able Persons who do not work or have no skills should not get paid.”

      Well, that’s not providing the essentials of living to an awfully large number of people.

  15. Karen 15

    Owen Jones has written a great article that neatly sums up all my concerns about the analysis of how the left should respond to Brexit and to Trump’s election.


    “The working class, apparently, consists only of straight white men: not women who want rights, not ethnic minorities, not migrants, not LGBT people.”

    I have been saying this for ages – really sick of the Trotter and various commentators on The Standard talk about the working class as straight white men. They are usually, like Trotter, middle class white people who have little contact with working class people.

    The conclusion is good too:

    “The emancipation of the working class means the whole working class: men and women, white and black, straight and LGBT. We live in an age when many bigotries have been given official sanction. Ugly demons have been unleashed on both sides of the Atlantic. The right has already won two massive votes this year. If we surrender to their agenda, we’ll be gifting them yet more victories.”

    • Carolyn_nth 15.1

      Yes, that’s a very good piece. The diversity of working class experience needs to be included in a class analysis – and continually repeated. it’s been a long struggle on the left to get that inclusion, with many still continuing to resist – eg with the disparaging use of the term “identity politics”.

      Also, as with socialist feminism, and intersections of race and class, there needs to be an acknowledgment of the ways in which race, gender, sexual, and ablist oppression sometimes are sources of damage to people and society beyond class categories.

      eg: with respect to sexual violence and race hatred, or anti-LGBT violence, or marginalisation of differently abled people.

      Though, it also should be remembered that the well-off in all these groups have better means to defend themselves against the worst of these different oppressions.

      • Karen 15.1.1

        The following 2 comments were supposed to be in reply to you but have come through as new comments.

  16. Karen 16

    “Though, it also should be remembered that the well-off in all these groups have better means to defend themselves against the worst of these different oppressions”.

    Yes, definitely. This is still a class issue primarily.

    In twitter Stephanie Rodgers mooted the idea of saying “inclusive” instead of “identity” politics.

    • Carolyn_nth 16.2

      Thanks, Karen.

      I like the idea of using “inclusive” rather than identity. i tend to use inclusive more often myself.

      Yes, definitely. This is still a class issue primarily.

      Yes… and not always.

      I think these days, income and wealth inequalities, and the dominance of the corporate and financial elites are such big problems they dominate most other issues. It hasn’t always been the case in the past, and may not always be the case in the future.

      But, sometimes race hatred and oppression, and misogyny operate independently of class: eg Islamophobia can result in violence by people of any class towards Muslims of any class. And the same has happened with anti-Jewish anti-semitism. And sometimes sexual and/or anti-LGBTI abuse and violence can be carried out by people of any class, towards women and/or LGBTI people of any class.

      Remember the past treatment of Oscar Wilde, Alan Turing, Martin Luther King, middle-class suffragettes imprisoned and force fed….etc.

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