Bringing Liberalism Down.

Written By: - Date published: 9:30 am, May 4th, 2017 - 138 comments
Categories: capitalism, elections, Europe, International, Left, Media, Politics, Propaganda, social democracy - Tags: , ,

The French presidential election has come down to a choice between two evils – one greater and one lesser. Liberals ‘everywhere’ are demanding that voters put their cross, tick or mark next to the neo-liberal banker Macron to thwart the chauvinistic nationalism of Le Pen. For what it’s worth, that’s their ‘lesser of two evils’ argument.

But does it stack up? Is it the only game in town?

This is from Olivier Tonneau writing in the Guardian.

I had lunch in a Parisian cafe recently with a journalist who had spent the whole French presidential campaign vilifying the leftwing candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon and trumpeting the merits of the centrist Emmanuel Macron in the columns of a respected (if declining) centre-left weekly.

I asked him if had there been a deliberate effort among intellectuals and mainstream politicians to engineer a run-off between Macron and the far-right Marine Le Pen in the second round of the presidential election. “Why, of course,” he laughed. “We’ve been at it for a year.” Considering how obvious the strategy had been, I cannot claim to have revealed much of a secret. Still, it’s nice to know I was not being paranoid.

The crucial bit Tonneau misses, is that alongside the vilification of Mélenchon, there was the hyping of Le Pen. She was the ‘bogey man’, set to deliver France to Macron and liberalism.

Liberal media keep doing this – perversely building up chauvinistic nationalism and/or its spores by running around like the ‘bubble-headed booby’ from Lost in Space screeching “Warning! Warning! Danger, Will Robinson!” – and pointing to the threat they themselves are busy trying to fashion from muck they’ve scooped up.

It was the basic game that played out in the US. Sanders was vilified. Trump was hyped. And Clinton stood by, ready to sweep to victory, courtesy of the assuredly negative reaction to the ‘pussy grabbing and what-not’ hype of Trump. In that instance it didn’t work out.

In the UK, where the ‘bogey man’ has been UKIP – while Labour has been relentlessly hammered across all media because Corbyn and “left” – well, it kind of isn’t working out there either. UKIP policies now appear to be part and parcel of the Tory – Ukip in suits – election package.

But let’s assume this works out in France – that voters flock to Macron and the chauvinistic nationalism of Le Pen is temporarily set back?  What then?

France had the notion after WW2 that they’d be the coachman of Europe driving the German workhorse of Europe. Herr Schäuble will be disavowing them of that notion under a Macron presidency. The neo-liberal Macron will use his Presidency to lay the groundwork for the Troika to triumphantly drag the chains and shackles of austerity up the Champs-Élysées. And against a likely backdrop of growing resentment, the liberal establishment will continue to vilify the left and fear monger around a chauvinistic  right. They’ll be banking that a crushed left and the fear of the ‘bogey man’ will keep delivering the voters back their way. But it’s not going to work forever. At some point, people will have had enough and cast around for somewhere else, or someone else or anything else to give their vote to.

But where will they go if the liberal establishment’s hammering of “the left” has been successful? And by the way, it has to be successful, because liberalism, in France as in other places, now depends to an extent on being an undisturbed parasite within the host body of Left parties. (Macron spawned from the French Socialist Party)

It ends badly. Liberalism yet again (not entirely unlike the 20s and 30s) successfully suppresses “the left” and becomes the handmaiden to forms of fascism.

So maybe if you happen to be French, have a vote and want liberalism ended to create the space for the beginnings of a decent society; even just a social democratic one that puts society before finance, then cast some form of tactical vote for Le Pen.

And then, crucially, organise and agitate like a bunny.

Le Pen would  head the powerful Council of Ministers (essentially the Cabinet) who are appointed from the National Assembly. But the Front National currently has a grand total of only 2 members from a total of 577 elected members of the National Assembly and the next election for the National Assembly is on 11th and 18th of June. It would look like a one term, lame duck Presidency is in the offing, as opposed to a powerful Macron Presidency enjoying support from his old party and from across the political spectrum.

Under Le Pen, media will have lost the ‘bogey man’ that’s meant to deliver voters back to the tender mercies of the bankers and financiers and they’ll be hard pushed to vilify “the left” during the term of a Le Pen presidency when that would only serve to bolster the chauvinistic nationalism they apparently regard as being so ghastly.

And in that scenario, “the left” gets space to breath – to prosper and grow, while liberalism and threats of totalitarianism both fade as a direct result of that.

Aw, but you know what? Whether you’re French or not and regardless of what situation liberalism’s creating in your country, it’s maybe for the best if you don’t bother yourself by thinking about it. It’s probably safer and easier to just keep following instructions. Do your docile duty and vote for the supposed lesser of the two evils and at best wind up snaggled in a liberal hell stretching down through an endless stream of tomorrows. Aye… do that.

138 comments on “Bringing Liberalism Down. ”

  1. millsy 1

    Macron in basically a French Tony Blair.

  2. Johan 2

    The heading is somewhat misleading compared to the rest of the post. Most informed people know that neo-liberalism benefits only a small part of the population. Those supporters who believe that the trickle-down theory still works are sadly mistaken.
    Canada, federally and provincially has successfully, the Liberal Party for many years.
    Terminology is rather important.

  3. I dunno. The lessor of two evils argument is subjective. I’d rather have anyone than trump including a neolib. And this poor shafted Bernie by the neolibs line – talk about fragilisation trev. Bernie is a seasoned politician who has survived – he just lost the numbers.

    • aerobubble 3.1

      Meat. Major export for NZ. So climate change means meat alternatives are on the rise, while costs of production are rising. Drug resistance means chemical washes are even more needed in getting food to a retail quality. And thirdly, fewer customers as market give all the added value to fewer and fewer stomaches, sorry, rich customers. This is as you point out, neo-lib, leave value for the market to concentrate in fewer hands. Wakeup NZ its not just financial markets on a precipice, its the whole economy.

  4. rhinocrates 4

    The title’s pretty descriptive:

    “The fading American dream: Trends in absolute income mobility since 1940”

    In short, social mobility has undergone a drastic, continual decline in America since the 1940s.Poverty is entrenched and multigenerational. Before you say ‘Well duh,’ I’m offering this as empirical information in arguments to counter the neoliberal bullshit about ‘meritocracy’.

  5. rhinocrates 5

    Be careful for what you wish for…

    I really have a great deal of difficulty in the kind of sophistry that in its ultimate meaning boils down to ‘vote for a fascist and a racist, it’ll be good in the long run.’ I’ll file that alongside ‘a simple plan’ and ‘what could possibly go wrong?’

    I draw an absolute line at voting for fascism. Neoliberalism is not the only evil in the world and it’s naive to think that letting a fascist in is only going to serve the medium-term aim of combatting neoliberalism and nothing more. It has its own agenda as we all know.

    The enemy of my enemy is not my friend; the enemy of my enemy will use me as a weapon if I let them.

    • Bill 5.1

      The post header speaks of liberalism, not neo-liberalism. That’s because I’m talking about liberalism.

      Liberalism is neither left nor progressive and contains within it the seeds of totalitarianism. Those seeds seem to always sprout when a general disillusion with hopelessly endless liberal reforms reach a given point.

      I’d argue we’re at that point, and so face a certain urgency in giving effective expression to progressive/left ideas.

      Two forces oppose progressive/left politics. One is liberalism and the other is authoritarianism, and like I say, they both go hand in glove to some extent.

      I might hold some hope that France is currently in a unique situation whereby there’s potential for progressives and leftists to break society free from the influence of both of those forces.

      • Psycho Milt 5.1.1

        Liberalism … contains within it the seeds of totalitarianism.

        Everything contains within it the seeds of totalitarianism for someone who’s determined enough to find some. You’d have to work pretty hard to find them within liberalism.

      • Wayne 5.1.2


        Where on earth did you learn your political science? Presumably not the same place as Trump learnt the history of the civil war.

        Liberalism does not contain the seeds of totalitarianism, in fact it is the antidote to totalitarianism.

        On your analogy I would say social democracy carries the seeds of Leninism and Stalinism. That would also be a nonsense.

        Liberalism and social democracy are both sourced in the rule of law, equality of people and representative democracy. In both cases they are the antithesis of totalitarianism.

        • Bill

          Oh, I see.

          So Front National and UKIP, those fellas from the 30s and many others besides, do not and did not emerge from a ‘stressed’ liberal environment, and did not ‘take off’ from the back of widespread disillusionment with liberal, reformist parties, but rather, came from outer space or some such?

          • KJT

            Bill. Again. Your use of “Liberal” is almost the opposite of the common understanding of the word.

            Which sort of obscures your meaning.

            Note. “Liberal” in the USA also does not mean the same as it does in the UK and NZ.

            Neo-Liberal is not my favourite term, but it has become the description for a self serving form of Liberalism which consists of only one “freedom”. That of the rich to make money, by ripping off the rest of us, and to keep it.

            Note: Neo-Liberals are very keen on Government control of private ownership, and copyright laws and supplying Police forces and Armies. Not so keen on regulation of business, monopolies, safety and environmental standards, except where it keeps their market dominance.

            • Bill

              The meaning of liberal is the same everywhere. If you want to limit criticism to the economic sphere, then sure, maybe use the term neo-liberal. (Though in reality, economically it’s no different from classical liberalism)

              To my mind the problem and danger we face is far broader than mere economics and encompasses the entire liberal ideology.

              As I’ve said in comments elsewhere, the liberal project is and always has been a secular version of ye olde Christian universality that sought to “save” all the heathens (usually by delivering them straight off to heaven). With liberalism, “one way” has replaced “one God”. It has to go.

              Maybe it’s because of the perceived innate goodness that liberals have of liberalism that leads them to be wedded to notions of reform (incrementalism), but whatever the reason, it means they are not progressive. Liberal incrementalism then, is a barrier to deep systemic change.

              And that’s hugely problematic in contexts such as AGW that demand urgent and radical changes – ie, the rapid development and adoption of new economic, cultural and political paradigms

              • KJT

                You wont get any headway by using a word in a context and way that no one understands except you.

        • WILD KATIPO

          Where on earth did you learn your sanitized version of political science , Wayne?

          Are you either ignorant of its origins like most dim witted right wingers , too scared to inquire , – or just deliberately denying its original source ?

          New Right Fight – Who are the New Right?

          For further enlightenment of what you ultimately support – see comment 7.1 and also the the information on what the Thule society is all about.

          • greywarshark

            Wild Katipo
            It’s different from the received wisdom taught 50 years ago WK, if political science was actually taught then. Possibly timelines of British Kings and dates of battles and affrays.

            But the old stuff is well entrenched in the brain cells, all this newfangled theory has got to be basket-woven through the basic model.

            And all the time there are the know alls knowledgably critiquing posts and comments who don’t know the difference between liberal and neo liberal.

            • WILD KATIPO

              Yes there is a difference between classical history ( Sumerians through to Roman ) the history of the Enlightenment period of Europe , and the history of the post industrial revolution onward’s to late 19th century and 20th century political thought.

              It is because of many of the false imperial assumptions based on error designed to enhance the superiority of one race over another and finding false reasons for their 19th century notions of ‘ manifold destiny ‘ that many of our ANZAC soldiers lie in their graves.

              Fighting FASCISM. More specifically in the 20th century , – NAZISM.

              And MOST people think Fascism and its NAZI ghost was laid to rest in 1945.


              New Right Fight – Who are the New Right?

              Thule Society – Wikipedia

              Young Hitler – Excerpts Appendix | The Thule Society

              And while this is very ‘ Euro – centric’ ,- it also has much to do with modern day NZ , – whether we like it or NOT.

              And to which we would expect far , far more from our politicians to at LEAST display some sort of knowledge of what our troops were exactly fighting against and for than they have done over the last 33 years of the neo liberal bastardization of our democracy.

              • greywarshark

                Wild Katipo
                Your comment about where fascism lies now and the lack of knowledge about its past history reminds me of a recent comment.

                Hundertwasser is the project de jour in Whangarei where they are trying to get enough money to establish a museum that will feature his work (also Maori creative work and historical). The comment from an elderly man there about Hundertwasser was that he was in the Hitler Youth, implying that he was tainted by Hitler and Nazism.

                This man couldn’t think how deeply he is immersed in NZ society, and could well have trained as a cadet at school, belonged to the territorials, etc. In a time of intense patriotism people join up to groups or are forced by peers and conformity, they get enthused to belong to the group and go and do things with others that are approved of by the society that you are in.

                It seems to me that our understanding of our world is hardly higher and less effective than an ant’s is. Despite our celebrated universal education we are not taught or encouraged to think widely and critique our society, and ourselves personally, or the actual material and
                facts and conclusions that are passed to us. (If we had been thinking, we would not have accepted Roger Douglas et al and have saved ourselves from suffering a fragmented deteriorating country.)

            • WILD KATIPO

              Mind you , this is different from the focus of the main article , which is the dilemma the French now find themselves in,… barring the same sort of subterfuge that is obviously guiding certain political party’s tactical decisions , …

              Or is it?

              On the one hand , we have overt fascism, on the other , we have covert fascism…

              Both vying for control.

              The trick is,… how to drive a wedge between the two and neutralize both of the shitter’s ? , … And be under no illusion , – liberals are nothing more than insipid sweaty soft palmed control freaks with steel fangs , when you start threatening their cash stack potential…

              Perhaps Bill is right.

      • rhinocrates 5.1.3

        OK, now I get that you’re writing about liberalism instead of neoliberalism as I’d assumed/interpreted. I’m afraid however that to me this is even worse (I see neoliberalism and its resulting plutocracy being a greater threat to freedom than liberalism).

        I do get your implied argument that liberal reform often amounts to a band aid on cancer, that mitigating symptoms allows the underlying structural evils to continue but I think that you’re stretching things to conflate liberalism with authoritarianism and claim that they’re symbiotic (in effect, not intention).

        I must say again that a ‘strategic’ vote for fascist forces is not a solution, medium or long term. Their stated opposition to liberalism and neoliberalism does not mean that they’re going to facilitate the progressive left at all. Quite the opposite as history has shown.

        • Bill

          I’m not conflating liberalism and authoritarianism. I’m arguing that when liberalism loses its sheen people look to alternatives, and the only alternatives available in situations where the left has been suppressed are authoritarian ones.

          Liberals today are marginalising the left/progressives. And as far as my knowledge serves me, they marginalised the left/progressives during the 20s and 30s too.

          I’m also not suggesting that fascist forces facilitate the progressive left. I’m saying that they, or hyped fears about them, are used by liberals to bolster their own position at the expense of the left/progressives – it’s a dangerous game that didn’t end well last time around and, somewhat predictably, will end badly this time around too.

          But right now, in France, leftists/progressives have (I’m arguing) an opportunity to neuter the liberals and end the prospects of fascists.

          edit – the opportunity is presented because the Front National has next to no representation in the National Assembly, and who-ever is President must form their Council of Ministers from elected representatives of that Assembly.

          • WILD KATIPO

            There’s some wisdom in what you are saying which is basically ‘ divide and conquer’ – to which any Roman General would be proud,… but as even you are saying… it is a dangerous game.

            • greywarshark

              We live in interesting times, and have to plot our way through dangerous waters. We might make it if we keep alert, not too fearful, not overly venturesome. The Titanic was well built but I understand that people crewing it were too reliant on its hype, and dropped the cautious good
              practices. We have already done that. We are post-Titanic but our vessel hasn’t gone down yet and we are trying to patch it and sail back to harbour.

              In France they are in between a rock and a hard place. So Bill’s planning might work. It’s a special bespoke model made to fit the place and the fashion of the times. It would have to sail between the reefs – take a calculated risk, and a lot of political and psychological skill.

          • rhinocrates

            Sorry, you can interpret ‘conflate’ loosely. However you did say ‘hand in glove.’

            Liberals today are marginalising the left/progressives.

            OK, that’s the Fabian versus revolutionary conflict and could be explored in another thread: “does liberalism serve to mitigate and thus perpetuate structural inequality or does its cumulative effect result in real change over time?”

            I’m also not suggesting that fascist forces facilitate

            You appear to suggest that the effect putting a fascist in the presidency would serve as a mechanism to advance the left. I argue that Le Pen is smart and will have her own agenda and she will not in any way help the left in the short, medium or long term and may do irreparable harm. Fear of fascism is not ‘hype.’

            liberals to bolster their own position at the expense of the left/progressives

            Agreed – my beef with The Guardian is pretty much yours. Political homeopathy, a band aid on cancer, fairweather friends and all that.

            But right now, in France, leftists/progressives have (I’m arguing) an opportunity to neuter the liberals and end the prospects of fascists.

            That is where I disagree. I don’t think that a fascist leader is in any way an opportunity. There will be no silver lining in this cloud. Rather than being constrained by the more moderate representatives, she would ‘legitimise’ far-right demagoguery and authoritarianism, especially so after Trump – and she’d only give further support to him.

            • Bill

              Liberalism perpetuates structural inequality in my book (but yes, another day).

              I’m suggesting Le Pen as President would create a situation, not serve as a mechanism. And as I say in the post, it would be absolutely necessary for the left to agitate and organise like bunnies were the situation to arise.

              Fear of fascism isn’t hype, but fascism can be hyped – ie, made to seem like a clear and present danger in situations where it really isn’t. And no, I’m not saying expressions of fascism should be treated lightly, but they should be evaluated accurately and soberly – and that is not something that msm have being doing.

  6. Stunned Mullet 6

    I’m sure there were a number of people arguing in a similar manner in Germany during the earlier part of the 20th Century…surely the National Socialists are better than the Weimar Republic.

    …sure they’re extreme but we’ll be able to mediate that part of their policies what could possibly go wrong.

    Surely there’s a better way to change things than shred everything and start from scratch ?

    • Bill 6.1

      Except that the post (to follow your comparison) is not arguing that Front National is better than Macron and his future backers. The post is about how the left can successfully navigate its way beyond two hells.

    • s y d 6.2

      well the ‘number of people’ were all agreed that the communists had to be stopped at any cost, and if Nazism was the cost, so be it.

  7. Gosman 7

    France should be something most of the left hold up as highlighting the achievements of hard left economics. Instead it shows how they ultimately fail and doom large sections of society (such as youth) to a depressing status that they struggle to get out from.

    • ” Instead it shows how they ultimately fail and doom large sections of society (such as youth) to a depressing status that they struggle to get out from.”

      Much like your ‘ Fascism by stealth’ neo liberalism does , eh Gosman?

      New Right Fight – Who are the New Right?

      Who Is The Mont Pelerin Society ?

      This looting and destruction of the nation-state of New Zealand was planned and implemented by the London-based Mont Pelerin Society.

      In 1947, Mont Pelerin founder von Hayek lamented that the war had drastically strengthened nation-states, which must be replaced, he said, with the classic, anti-state free trade “liberalism” of eighteenth and nineteenth century Britain.

      Many of those continental Europeans present, like von Hayek, carried the prefix “von” before their surnames, signifying that they came from the noble families which had governed Europe for centuries.

      Mont Pelerin shared the same “conservative revolution” philosophy as the Nazis. It also shared some of the same personnel.

      For instance, Max von Thurn und Taxis was a sponsor of von Hayek and his new society. Thurn und Taxis’ family had founded another society in southern Germany before World War 1, which was composed entirely of aristocrats, known as the Thule Society.

      Thule in turn formed a special “workers division” known as the “National Socialist German Workers Party” (NSDAP). The NSDAP, into which an Austrian corporal named Adolf Hitler was recruited, later became better known by the abbreviated version of its name, the “Nazis.”

      In 1989, Max von Thurn und Taxis attended a meeting of his Mont Pelerin Society in Christchurch, New Zealand, to judge, first hand, the results of the “worlds most radical free market revolution.”


      • WILD KATIPO 7.1.1

        ” A primary focus of the Thule Society was a claim concerning the origins of the Aryan race. In 1917, people who wanted to join the “Germanic Order”, out of which the Thule Society developed in 1918, had to sign a special “blood declaration of faith” concerning their lineage:

        “The signer hereby swears to the best of his knowledge and belief that no Jewish or coloured blood flows in either his or in his wife’s veins, and that among their ancestors are no members of the coloured races.”

        Thule Society – Wikipedia

        Young Hitler – Excerpts Appendix | The Thule Society

  8. saveNZ 8

    The left have to be prepared to share power and ideas. Think if Hillary and Bernie had actually joined forces and defeated Trump. Yes, Hillary would have to give up some of her neoliberal ideas and Bernie might have to shift some of his views as well. But overall it would be a better outcome for both Bernie, Hillary and the rest of the USA and now looking like the world.

    Likewise if UK Labour were prepared to support Corbyn and reach a settlement of ideas. Then Brexit might not have happened and May being in charge and about to create a train wreck of the UK (and possibly take EU down too).

    The we have NZ. If NZ Labour had accepted Cunliffe and if Cunliffe had been able to reach a compromise with the ABC’s, Greens, NZ First and Mana then we might have had a different election result. (Of course that might have been the toxic electoral advice given, who knows).

    Likewise with the Greens, if Sue Bradford and Metiria had been able to reach a compromise that allowed both to stay in the Greens. Too many key Green MP’s seem to be leaving and their votes are static. Getting rid of the activists and putting in the careerists seem to be the opposite of what they should be doing – at a time where there is the biggest backlash against the mainstream!

    Key and English were rivals, but although I personally think Key has been appalling for NZ, at least he was able to reach out to English, offer him a decent position and move on. That approach kept him in power for 3 terms!

    At least a little hope for the future with Andrew Little taking a collaborative approach. Reaching out to the Greens and to NZ First. I think if they reached to Mana too, then they would be on even firmer ground.

    There needs to be multiple views not just one or two with a fixed idea around the ‘working’ class and ‘gender and race’ equality from the ‘elite’ who talk for ‘all’ . One of the biggest issues I see with Labour and Greens is that it is the middle class MP’s who have never been poor or marginalised putting their often impractical policy views on others, which are irrelevant and out of date with 21st century globalism.

    Of course National are far worse!! They just openly lie straight to voters faces and are actively trying to generate social injustice. Think guarding WINZ offices so that those that need welfare can’t even get in!

    It will be those politicians that can collaborate and who can reach new ideas that voters like, that will be the winners.

    And those world electoral teams that are engineering all these battles between neoliberals against right wing nationalists might find that the result is much worse for world stability than just trying to create more equality in each country by using left ideas, and reaching common and practical ground.

  9. “Tactical vote for fascism so the left will do better than it does under liberalism” is an interesting idea, but “interesting” covers a lot of territory, not necessarily including “good.” It always astonishes me there are people who’d rather vote fascist than liberal, but I guess it shouldn’t.

    • Bill 9.1

      Where’s the quote from PM?

      • Psycho Milt 9.1.1

        It’s a paraphrase of a number of paragraphs of your post.

        • Bill

          It’s a clear misrepresentation is what it is.

          The post is not about the left being ‘under’ liberalism or anything else. It’s about removing the influence of both liberalism and authoritarianism from the political environment.

    • Stunned Mullet 9.2


      [Trolling of this nature will result in a ban. Don’t repeat] – Bill

      • Stunned Mullet 9.2.1

        Don’t sweat it Bill – I’m off on holiday for a month anyway.

  10. Antoine 10

    Is there anyone here, other than Bill, who actually sees liberalism as a bad thing?


    • Bill 10.1

      Do you have any comment to make on the content of the post Antoine?

      • Antoine 10.1.1

        The tactical vote for Le Pen sounds like the sort of clever idea that can go badly wrong, TBH. In the long term it’s better to be straightforward; Support the candidate you prefer most, and if you can’t bring yourself to support any, then abstain.


        • Bill

          The option of abstention isn’t being viewed kindly by liberal media.

          eg – a Guardian piece and another from the Independent.

          Interestingly, and this is in line with what I was saying in the post, they rather insistently refer to Macron as ‘centrist’ and Melenchon as ‘hard left’ or ‘far left’.

          • Poission

            Abstention and the sound of breaking glass.


          • Cemetery Jones

            The fact is, these useful idiot ‘journalists’ couldn’t bring themselves to support Jean-Luc Melenchon for one reason, and one reason only: he tells the truth about the European Union. Macron does not, so he’s their man. The surprising part is that they were able to be honest about neglecting their journalistic duty and blatantly playing surrogate for him (I guess the media is the surrogate daddy to the surrogate mummy he met at high school eh?).

            In their journalistic capacity, they aren’t working towards informing the public, and they don’t care a shred about France. They are thralls of the European Union. They share the aspirations of Martin Schulz, Guy Verhofstadt, and of course Jean-Claude Juncker: three political re-treads (or should that be skidmarks?) who seem to love the idea of a European superstate more than the sovereignty of their own nations.

    • left_forward 10.2

      In the context of Bill’s excellent thought provoking piece, the pursuit of liberalism at all costs can and has had negative consequences beyond all belief.
      If he is right, then surely you and others would take pause to consider this. I don’t think its is helpful to see it in such a black and white way.

      He is saying I think that the suppression of the left by liberal intellectuals and media paved the way for the fascist and communist authoritarian regimes of the last century – a failure of massive proportions to the notion of liberalism.

      Since the 19th century there has been raging philosophical debate about liberalism and where it sits within the spectrum of the limitations of the power of authorities vs the rights of individuals.

      The left favours an idea of social liberalism that seeks freedom from abuse and inequality, whereas the right seeks the freedom of the individual – to either succeed or fail. For both centre right and left, liberalism is important, although expressed in different ways.

    • mikesh 10.3

      Liberalism is just a word. One needs to look at the ideas and policies of persons who call themselves, or are labelled, liberals, and these seem to change with the passage of time. The same applies to “fascism”, though few would call themselves this because of the term’s pejorative connotations.

  11. Ad 11

    Bill you need to re-think what success feels like.
    The right is winning across the developed world.
    The strongly socialist parties are barely registering in the polls.
    The remaining social democrat parties are going backwards at a rate of knots:

    Greece: PASOK nearly wiped out since being at 44% in 2009
    UK: UK Labour trailing by 12% going into election despite socialist leader Corbyn
    Spain: PSOE vote collapsed to 22.6%
    Netherlands: Dutch Labour at 5.7%
    Iceland: Social Democrat Alliance down to 5.7%
    Sweden: Social Democrat Party now down to 20.8%
    Ireland: Irish Labour at 6.6%
    Luxembourg: Socialist Workers at 20.2%
    Canada: New Democratic Party at 19.7%
    Germany: The Left Party under 10%, Social Democratic Party currently 27%

    Don;t even ask about the global chances of Greens in Parliament anywhere beyond 1 or 2 seats tops. Other than here.

    All we can do right now inside democratic representation is save what we have from further annihilation.

    • Bill 11.1

      Five years ago, it would have been a real stretch to imagine Melenchon getting about 20% of the vote….or someone like Jeremy Corbyn becoming leader of UK Labour…or the Canadian Liberals (somewhat cynically) outflanking the New Democrats on the left to secure electoral victory….or Bernie Sanders coming so close to ‘rolling’ the Democratic party…

      I’m not familiar enough with a number of those parties you’ve listed to know whether they are ‘captured’ left parties (like NZ Labour) or if they have held somewhat true to their founding principles and values.

      But the fact that almost all mainstream media hammers any reasonable expression of leftist politics should be telling you something Ad. And that they remain on a steadily upward incline in spite of ‘blanket’ negative press should tell you something else in addition.

      I’m not quite sure what it is you’re trying to save, or on the assumption it’s liberalism you’re referring to, why you’d want to save it. It fundamentally acts against progressive/leftist interests.

      • Ad 11.1.1

        It’s the extremes on the rising hard right that need worrying about rather than attacking the remaining centre left. They are on the rise and will be defeated not by countering with more extremism that is a perpetual downwards vortex, but by appealing to calm and stability.

        Your point about mainstream media and the left I have no sympathy for. The MSM hammer the hard right far more. And if the left haven’t figured out how to communicate around the MSM by now, they have lost everyone under 40 well and truly.

        I can tell you what I’m trying to save.
        And I can define it better than you can define “liberalism”.
        But that’s another post entirely.

        • Bill

          This ‘left centre’ – you mean Macron!!!?

          And well done you for missing the point I make that in spite of msm hammerings, the left is experiencing a steady rise. What it hasn’t really had is that widespread multi-country break-through. Yet.

          There has been Scotland where the avowedly social democratic SNP sits on about 50% after 10 years in government (which is a beginning or a stepping stone) and the situation in France would seem to be presenting an opportunity for it to happen there now.

        • Cemetery Jones

          If we want to see the rising ‘hard’ right cede ground to the remaining centre left, these parties need do only one thing: start showing some respect for the abandoned working class, whose message is perfectly clear.

          They want their sovereignty back. They want their borders protected. They want to see unemployment slashed, housing fixed, and health and education systems functioning before half of the third world is let in, and to that end they want to see the wars which create these refugees and the deficits which are run to fund them brought to an end.

          Instead they get nonces like Hillary Benn worrying about how to bomb Syria (the govenment of course, not the extremists!) while their social system is getting torn to pieces by the tories; in France they get Marie Antoinette-Macron referring to the spate of terrorist attacks in France as an ‘imponderable problem’; and in Canada, they get Justin Bieber Turdeau being more interested in making any criticism of Islamic extremism prosecutable Islamophobia under M103 while working class Canadians try and figure out how to pay their heating bills.

          • Bill

            That’s over-view (not those examples) is precisely what was pointed out to Andrew Little back when he was contesting the leadership of the Labour Party.

            The example used was the popularity of the SNP running on basic social democratic principles. It elicited blank stares – a certain dumbfounded non-knowledge.

            He was then asked when or if Labour would publicly acknowledge and apologise for ’84. The room got animated in a positive way. But again, no dice.

            And that’s the thing about the so-called “remaining centre left” – it’s not. It’s liberal and it’s not focused on us or our world and or experiences. it’s almost as though all of that (us and our shit) is an adjunct to some greater purpose or design we’re simply not privy to. Of course, there is no greater purpose or design, just disconnect and cluelessness.

            • Cemetery Jones

              The left is stuck with two turds which won’t flush. First, 70s intellectuals with their insistence on carving the working class up into ‘communities’ who can all be bought with special interests in some kind of competition with one another, instead of just cooperating. Second, 80s neoliberals who took the blue pill of Austrian economics and formed a coalition with 70s intellectuals to outflank those who resisted their Balkanization of working people, in the process making pretty much all of the institutional left into useful idiots of capital and the plaything of sociopathic anti-western ‘internationalists’ who share the monetarists’ desire to end the nation-state. For different reasons of course, but it all follows that path of people creating little ponds to rule over instead of sharing the lake, without realising that their ponds aren’t strong enough to resist what’s coming.

    • swordfish 11.2


      It’s the extremes on the rising hard right that need worrying about:.


      The right is winning across the developed world.
      The strongly socialist parties are barely registering in the polls.
      The remaining social democrat parties are going backwards at a rate of knots:.

      You have a bit of a tendency to cherry pick between (1) election results and (2) opinion polls Ad – here I’ll employ the former …


      .Ad “Greece: PASOK nearly wiped out since being at 44% in 2009”.


      September 2015 Greek election = an unexpectedly-large victory for Alexis Tsiprass’ Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), which fell just 6 seats short of an absolute majority – SYRIZA = 36% (so strongly socialist parties not “barely registering”)

      Social Democratic PASOK-DIMAR Coalition rose to 4th place = 6%

      Communist Party =6%

      Mildly Social Democratic The River (To Potami) = 4%

      Popular Unity = Left (split from SYRIZA) = 3%

      Antarsya ( Greek Anticapitalist Left ) = 1%

      Broad Left = 55% (so Left still doing well)


      Opposition Center-Right New Democracy (ND) remained stagnant at 28% –

      Independent Greeks (Right-Social Con) = 4%

      Society (Koinonia) (Right-Social Con) = 1%

      Broad Right = 32% (not “winning across the developed world”)

      Far-right Golden Dawn (XA) = just 7% !!!


      Ad “UK: UK Labour trailing by 12% going into election despite socialist leader Corbyn”.

      True – yet many (Corbyn-McDonnell-introduced) Labour policies – as distinct from leader’s personality – are highly popular


      Ad “Spain: PSOE vote collapsed to 22.6%”

      As in Greece = because popular new anti-austerity forces of Left

      Left-Wing Unidos Podemos = 21%
      (so (not “barely registering”)

      Republican Left of Catalonia = 3%

      Basque Country Unite = 1%

      PSOE = 23%

      Broad Left = 47%


      PP (Centre-Right) = 33%

      Citizens (Centre- Centre-Right) = 13%

      Broad Right = 46%

      No discernible Far-right !!!


      Ad “Netherlands: Dutch Labour at 5.7%”

      D66 (Lib-Mildly Social Democratic) = 12%

      Green-Left = 9%

      Socialist Party = 9%
      (So Left Parties replacing Soc Dems) (so (not “barely registering”)

      Labour Party PvdA = 6%

      Partij voor de Dieren = 3%

      Denk = 2%

      Broad Left = 41%


      Broad Right = 41%

      (Far-right = 13%)


      Ad “Iceland: Social Democrat Alliance down to 5.7%”

      Yes but – Left-Green = up 5 points to = 16%


      Ad “Sweden: Social Democrat Party now down to 20.8%”

      Social Democrats = 31% Last election

      Green = 7%

      Left Party = 6%

      Feminist Initiative = 3%

      Broad Left = 47% (up 3 points !!!)


      Broad Right = 39%

      (Far-right = 13%)


      Ad “Ireland: Irish Labour at 6.6%”

      Yes but – Leftist Sinn Féin = up 4 points to = 14%

      Left-Wing Anti-Austerity Alliance = up 2 points to = 4%

      Newly-formed Left-Wing party Independents 4 Change = 2%

      Newly-formed Social Democrat party = 3%

      Green = 3%


      Ad “Luxembourg: Socialist Workers at 20.2%”

      Socialist Workers’ = 20% (virtually unchanged from previous election)

      Greens = 10% (virtually unchanged from previous election)

      The Left = 5% (up 2)

      Communist Party = 2% (virtually unchanged from previous election)

      Broad Left = 37% (virtually unchanged from previous election)


      Broad Right = 52%

      (Far-right = just 7% !!!)


      Ad “Canada: New Democratic Party at 19.7%”

      Yeah – because Trudeau’s Liberal Party (39%) ran to NDP’s Left


      Ad “Germany: The Left Party under 10%, Social Democratic Party currently 27%”

      In both cases up on previous election

      • Bill 11.2.1

        Thankyou for that Swordfish – i just couldn’t be bothered spending the time required to unravel Ad’s spin.

    • swordfish 11.3

      Right – so on to the 2nd half of the equation = opinion polls

      Do recent polls buttress Ad’s argument ? …

      ie hard right rising … broad right winning … strongly socialist parties barely registering … social democrats going backwards

      (1) Spain

      Left-Wing Podemos … 2016 Election = 21% (recent opinion polls = 18-25%)
      (thus not “barely registering” … actually holding pretty steady … not going backwards)

      Republican Left of Catalonia … 2016 Election = 3% (recent opinion polls = 3%)

      Basque Country Unite … 2016 Election = 1% (recent polls = 2-3%)

      PSOE … 2016 Election = 23% (recent polls = 17-25% … thus social democrats holding pretty steady … not going backwards)

      Spanish Broad Left = averaging pretty much what they received last Election

      PP (Centre-Right) … 2016 Election = 33% (polls = 30-37% … holding steady … no dramatic rise)

      Citizens (Centrist- Centre-Right) 2016 Election = 13% (polls = 11-17%)

      Spanish Broad Right = averaging pretty much what they received last Election

      No discernible Far-right !!!

      Verdict – Fails to sustain Ad’s argument


      (2) Iceland

      Left-Green … 2016 Election = 16% (recent opinion polls = 22-27%)

      Social Democrat Alliance … 2016 Election = 6% (polls = 6-11%)

      So Icelandic Left well up (and not “barely registering”) … Soc Dems mildly-to-well up

      Independence Party (Centre-Right – traditionally major hegemonic Party of Iceland) … 2016 Election = 29% (polls = 24-32% … holding steady … no dramatic rise)

      Progressive (Centre-Right Rural) … 2016 Election = 11% (polls = 7-12%)

      No discernible Far-right !!!

      Verdict – Fails to sustain Ad’s argument


      (3) Ireland

      Leftist Sinn Féin … 2016 Election = 14% (recent polls = 14-23%)

      Left-Wing Anti-Austerity Alliance … 2016 Election = 4% (polls = 2-6%)

      Newly-formed Social Democrat party … 2016 Election = 3% (polls = 1-4%)

      Green … 2016 Election = 3% (polls = 2-4%)

      Thus Leftist Sinn Féin = up (and not “barely registering”) … other Left parties = pretty steady

      Labour … 2016 Election = 7% (polls = 4-6% … so yes Soc Dems slightly down … but broad Left up)

      No discernible Far-right !!!

      Verdict – Largely Fails to sustain Ad’s argument (excepting mild Labour poll Fall)


      (4) Germany

      SPD … 2013 Election = 26% (recent polls = 28-33% … mildly up)

      The Left (DIE LINKE) … 2013 Election = 9% (recent polls = 7-11% … holding steady)

      Greens (GRÜNE) … 2013 Election = 8% (recent polls = 6-8% … holding steady / slightly down)

      CDU-CSU (Centre-Right) … 2013 Election = 42% (recent polls = 31-37% … well down)

      Alternative for Germany (Far-Right) … 2013 Election = 5% (recent polls = 7-11% … mildly-to-clearly up)

      NPD (neo-Nazi) … 2013 Election = 1% (recent polls = unknown – subsumed within “other”)

      Verdict – Largely Fails to sustain Ad’s thesis (excepting Far-Right poll rise)


      (5) Greece

      Radical Left (SYRIZA) … 2015 Election = 35% (recent polls = 18-25% … thus well down- though not just “barely registering”)

      Social Democratic PASOK-DIMAR Coalition … 2015 Election = 6% (recent polls = 7-10% … mildly up)

      Communist Party … 2015 Election = 6% (polls = 6-11% … mildly up )

      Mildly Social Democratic The River … 2015 Election = 4% (polls = 1-3% … mildly down)

      Popular Unity = Left (split from SYRIZA) = 3% (polls = 1-4% … pretty steady )

      Antarsya ( Greek Anticapitalist Left ) = 1% (polls = 2-3% … mildly up )

      Broad Left = roughly averaging mid-late 40s (down from 55% 2015 Election)

      Opposition Center-Right New Democracy (ND) … 2015 Election = 28% – (polls = 33-39% … well up)

      Independent Greeks (Right-Social Con) … 2015 Election = 4% (polls = 2-4%)

      Broad Right = well up – but still very close Left-Right race (Right rising but
      far from dominant)

      Far-right Golden Dawn (XA) … 2015 Election = 7% (polls = 7-10% … mildly up )

      Verdict – Partially-to-Largely supports Ad’s argument


      (6) Sweden

      Social Democrats … 2014 Election = 31% (polls = 22-30% … down)

      Green … 2014 Election = 7% (polls = 3-6% … down)

      Left Party … 2014 Election = 6% (polls = 6-9% … mildly up )

      Feminist Initiative … 2014 Election = 3% (polls = 1-3% … holding steady / slightly down)

      Broad Left = down

      Broad Right = steady

      Far-right Sweden Democrats … 2014 Election = 13% (polls = 16-27% … well up )

      Verdict – Largely supports Ad’s argument


      Overall = mixed bag but generally undermines Ad’s rather sweeping thesis

  12. McFlock 12

    So people elect Le Pen but she can do nothing, loses her monster status, and this buys the left breathing space.

    It also means that a fascist loses her monster status, can blame all her failures on not having support of the assembly, and this buys credibility for fascists.

    Maybe the left can build against liberalism with a Le Pen presidency. But it also gives outright fascists more of an advantage that it ever would the left.

    The penalty for failure of your plan is a mainstream fascist party in france. That’s a heavier penalty than liberalism continued.

    • Bill 12.1

      No. Le Pen doesn’t lose her “monster status” – the liberal establishment loses its its ability to hype her ‘bogey man’ status in a way that sends voters fearfully scurrying into their clutches while they simultaneously do what they can to demolish the left.

      It’s the loss of their ability to vilify the left that gives the left space.

      There are elections to the assembly next month. The Front National are not going to go from two members to some scores of members in those elections.

      What does the self assigned credibility of fascists mean when ‘no-one’ votes for their party? Where is the advantage to fascists in losing the hype afforded them thus far by liberal media?

      The result of going with the ‘lesser of two evil’ argument is that the left is marginalised and vilified by liberals when it’s only the left that can avoid the scenario of desperate people turning to ‘a Le Pen’ in significant numbers as the only alternative to liberalism.

      • McFlock 12.1.1

        Of course she does. President Le Pen turns out not to be all that bad. The sky doesn’t fall in. They get a platform in the middle of the establishment. Having a fascist leader becomes normal. That will lead to assembly votes – not a landslide, but more than a trivial number and again, enough to normalise fascism.

        Under a liberal regime, the left can pick up votes just as much as the right. Even more – look at SNP. There will always be swings and roundabouts in any form of democracy, but voting for fascists is voting for a move away from democracy. I’ve never gone along with the idea that sudden and abject surrender is the best form of attack. Why, when the liberals lose votes to a fascist, would that mean that the left would be in a better position? “Space to breathe”? The fascists won’t pause for breath.

        But my main objection is that anyone who votes for a fascist is voting for a fucking fascist, even if they try to justify it as some cunning plan to move left from liberalism. It’s literally ticking a box to endorse a fascist as leader.

        I don’t have many categorical imperatives in my moral framework, but “never vote for a fucking fascist” is definitely in there. They will never be able to claim my support. Anyone who follows your plan… not so much.

        • Bill

          Seems like the French left also disagrees with you McFlock.

          edit – the National Assembly elections take place in little over one month’s time. You seriously suggesting the Front National can get traction between now and then? I mean, you do know how the French electoral system works, yes? (I linked in the post if you don’t)

          • McFlock

            Well, if they want to vote for a fucking fascist, it’s on them.

            I look forward to a french socialist utopia in ten years. /sarc

            edit: 60:40 in favour of Macron at the moment, though

            edit the second: I’m suggesting that FN could increase their vote, and the more votes they get without actually getting control of the assembly then the more normalised they will be. The backlash will only happen after they gain power and show their true colours. Like trump.

            • Bill

              I’m assuming Macron will become President. At which point, keep your ears open for the sound of ‘the Troika’s’ iron being dragged up the Champs-Élysées.

              And come the next Presidential elections, watch some authoritarian fuck waltz into the position of President with much, much more potential backing in the National Assembly than Le Pen could currently even dream of. 🙁

              • McFlock

                Don’t be so sure. Pendulum might be swinging the other way by then.

                • Bill

                  And what will be there if there’s any validity to the charge that Liberalism is crushing “the left”? Anything other than some form of authoritarianism?

                  • McFlock

                    Well, if there’s any validity to that charge, that doesn’t mean that the only alternative is authoritarianism.

                    Liberalism likes to take many of the sentiments of the left and do nothing with them. That is why there is an overlap with leftists. But the main characteristic is to do nothing, so disengagement with liberals also increases engagement with people looking for concrete action.

                    Unless the main “left” entities shoot themselves in the foot (Jim fucking Anderton), they’ll always have that advantage of concrete activity over liberals. Look at how Sanders came into a party and within a couple of years was a credible contender for the nomination. A liberal couldn’t do that with vague nothings. A fascist can only do that if nobody takes them seriously and especially if their opposition is divided (look at trump vs 16 other contenders). But a liberal against 15 liberals/conservatives just disappears in the grey.

                    • Bill

                      Hang on. Seriously. If “the left” is diminished by an never ending onslaught from msm sources, what alternatives to Liberalism remain that aren’t authoritarian?

                      That’s not a trick question.

                      I come up blank.

                    • McFlock

                      Are you drawing a blank because you’re looking at it in a vacuum? If we take the position that the left is targeted by msm because it’s a threat to liberalism, when a bigger threat to liberalism comes along, that threat will instead gain the attention of msm, surely?

                      At the moment the media managed to crap on the left, so a chunk of folks voted fascist in the first round. Now the msm is crunching on Le Pen (and rightfully).

                      Sooner or later liberalism will fall. All things do. The question is whether it falls to the left or to the right. What the left should do is give liberalism a nudge when the liberal bicycle is wobbling to the left, not to the right. The result will be a mixture of judgement and luck.

                    • Bill

                      No. I’m drawing a blank because authoritarianism increases as democracy decreases. And the only meaningful expression of democracy I’m aware of exists on the left.

                      That (meaningful democracy) is always going to be the main threat to Liberalism outside of any external authoritarianism or totalitarianism (eg – state communism).

                      And of course liberal msm are now hounding the ‘bogey man’ they hyped. But like I say in the post, that tactic’s got a shelf life and has already failed in other places (maybe most notably in the US).

                      All things fall, as you say, but I’d be saying it matters whether it gives way to something liberatory or authoritarian rather than whether it falls left or right. (there are plenty of non-liberatory factions and schools of thought on both left and right)

                    • McFlock

                      Meaningful democracy is only the biggest threat as long as it is the most likely threat.

                      Normalising fascism is just as bad for liberalism as more meaningful democracy. If not even worse.

                      Voting for fascism is not going to improve the chances of meaningful democracy emerging. Quite the reverse.

                    • Bill

                      Read the post again and then tell me where there is any suggestion that fascism or any other authoritarianism should be encouraged or normalised.

                      You may think that a chauvinistic nationalist having a single term as a President in France with no support from the National Assembly and against a backdrop of a left that is busy organising in an environment lacking in liberal msm vilification being angled left would ‘normalise’ fascism. But you’d have to put forward an argument rather than just throwing one liners.

                      As for the suggestion that liberalism cannot accommodate fascism (fascism being worse for liberalism than democracy), you might want to reflect on liberalism’s relations with the fascist government in the Ukraine – the one that EU governments aided and abetted. Or Turkey, or Saudi Arabia or former relations with Chile, Columbia and a list of other countries past and present as long as a double length ‘cotton soft’)

                      No vote for either fascism nor liberalism will aid the emergence of meaningful democracy or even just the emergence of social democracy – but creating a situation where those two tendencies are weakened holds potential.

                    • …the fascist government in the Ukraine…

                      Too much Russian propaganda really is bad for you.

                      … liberalism’s relations with the fascist government in the Ukraine – the one that EU governments aided and abetted. Or Turkey, or Saudi Arabia or former relations with Chile, Columbia and a list of other countries past and present…

                      It’s “liberalism”that has/had relationships with those countries, not governments with perceived national interests to promote? Since when?

                    • McFlock

                      “Chauvinistic nationalist”? Le Pen is a fascist. Dressed up compared to her dad, but still a fascist.

                      And liberals will also work internationally with any “meaningfully democratic” country you care to mention. But to actually have either a democratic or authoritarian government in their own country? Either can be bad for business, but fascists have quicker courts.

                      And if liberalism can accommodate fascism in its own country, how would voting for a fascist weaken either?

  13. adam 13

    Nice piece Bill.

    The history of liberalism joining up with totalitarianism has modern examples as well. Ukraine and the former Yugoslavia come to mind.

    The other is the damage that liberalism did in Russia, and look how that turned out – so much fun for LGBTI people, not to mention the arrest and detaining of political opponents. Some whom, just happen to be friends of mine.

  14. So firstly, there’s a huge difference between neoliberalism and liberalism. I believe in liberal values. I despise neoliberalism, because it pretends to be liberal why kicking you in the stomach to steal your lunch money. (ie. actually being right-wing)

    Secondly, the choice between Macron and Le Pen in france is not a “false dichotomy.” This is how a runoff election works, the second round is a real dichotomy. Voters actually need to choose between voting for Macron, voting for Le Pen, and abstention. Abstention might indicate a genuine dissatisfaction with both choices, but there is a legitimate argument that in a runoff system like the French Presidential vote, you should vote for the lesser evil in the second round, because you’ve already had your chance to get other candidates over the line.

    Defeating Le Pen is a good idea, especially if French voters actually like the EU. Nationalism is a problem, even if it’s “nice” left-wing nationalism like Labour’s dipping its foot into.

    • Disagree.

      All French politics said and done, moderate nationalism is never a problem. Particularly when the general populace says so.

      This playing one off against another is a dangerous game and is not always as cut and dried as it seems at first. Even the Romans saw that . Perhaps Bill is right. Perhaps that is the only way to divide and conquer both factions.

      But it will take a power of discipline and patience and keeping the foot soldiers in line in order to bring the final desired results. Any military general could tell you that. And they would also tell you that the longer that process goes on , the higher the chance of capitulation of some important member of the link in the chain.

      And history tells us that that sort of capitulation happened all too frequently.

      It could get messy very , very quickly.

      • You have a point, and I probably should have specified that I was referring to xenophobic nationalism, but moderate nationalism is not what Labour’s playing around with. They think theirs is “nice” because it’s about reserving jobs and infrastructure for the use of kiwis, which is not in fact moderate nationalism, it is a literal “New Zealand first” policy that lies about the benefits of immigration. We may need to turn the tap down on immigration for a bit, but the plan needs to be to turn it back up in the long run, because modern New Zealand is born of immigration, and we can’t turn our backs on it, and it’s a bad idea to even try.

        Now, if we were instead talking about say, a moderate Māori nationalist movement like a Māori Party that was a bit more aggressively demanding concessions about Māori language, culture, and tino rangatiratanga, I would say it potentially had a place in civilised democratic politics. But that hypothetical doesn’t mean we should put up with the genuine strands of xenophobic or even racist nationalism that is running through Labour and New Zealand First rhetoric.

        • KJT

          Another privileged person claiming to be left.

          Working people know what excessive immigration does.

          There is NOTHING zenophobic about it. We see first hand what excessive immigration does to our jobs, wages, infrastructure, quality of life and cost of housing.

          Only the “Academic left” is for immigration, and a great many right wingers who love the results above.

          The “advantages of immigration” are way overhyped. Even treasury has had to admit that the so called “economic advantages” have been oversold.

          Maori can tell you all about the effects of excessive immigration from a different culture.

          • Matthew Whitehead

            I think you may be assuming some things about me that are incorrect.

            I support turning down the tap on immigration right now, at least if we can’t convince more people to settle places other than Auckland. Please don’t assume that being anti-xenophobia means that I think we can exceed the limits of our infrastructure, that’s National-party BS.

            This doesn’t mean that engaging in “immigrants are taking our jobs” hysteria actually makes it a case. There is no good evidence that the economy works this way, in fact all the data we have shows that historical correlations between immigration and unemployment have been negative. (but I suppose caring about the actual impact of policy makes me part of the “academic left” now even though you’ve been quite happy to agree with me in the past for several years when I made points based on actual evidence? What tall-poppy anti-intellectual nonsense, that’s the sort of shit the right are supposed to pull. If you want to call me out of touch, just say that instead) It is possible that something weird is going on and at the moment the negative correlation isn’t holding, because maybe immigrants aren’t what actually causes the boosts in employment, they may simply be closely associated with it. If we have evidence that’s the case, I’m perfectly happy to hear it, but I already agree in principle we need a bit less immigration than National have been allowing.

            I also agree that we shouldn’t use immigration as a proxy for undermining working conditions like the government has. This is in fact the other main thing we should be reconsidering about immigration, is how it effects existing New Zealanders, and whether we can therefore continue to offer a quality of life for new New Zealanders that would be up to standards we consider to be acceptable if we let them in to live here.

            It is totally fair to point out that huge influxes of immigrants that can wield power against the existing population can undermine the existing culture, or bring in different social norms that can require our institutions to adapt in order to prevent problems. (for instance, some immigrant communities have less awareness of domestic violence protections, not that DV isn’t a pandemic in general, but people in those communities often need to be made aware that they are entitled to call the police) Fortunately nobody is talking about that kind of influx in the future, not even the National Party with its out-of-whack immigration policies designed to undermine unions, and we are taking measures to make amends and preserve Māori heritage now, like we should have done from the beginning, which while it isn’t enough is a start, and gives us a basis to continue to make things right from.

            You should also remember that the position I hold now that immigrants are beneficial to our society so long as we maintain some basic controls at our borders, and we shouldn’t be afraid to let them in when the country can hold more people, is a completely orthodox Labour and Green belief that the Greens still maintain in their current policy. Labour believed in it pretty strongly under Clark, and it’s part of the rationale for actively wanting, for instance, a higher refugee quota, and when Labour first started putting its toes into this water we were all appalled at their stupidly misaimed “chinese sounding names” debacle, that at least looked a bit like xenophobia even if you accept that it came from a place of wanting to look after kiwi interests. People are frequently needing to tell Iain Lees-Galloway, someone I had a lot of respect for, that he is being problematically xenophobic in his rhetoric now, and he’s not listening because he likes how it’s playing out electorally.

            If you don’t care at all about opportunities for people overseas who also need a fair go, you’re not really a leftist, you’re just a nationalist in disguise, and immigration is one of the ways we help people get a fairer go of things around the world, by letting people move to where they would like to live if they have the resources to do so. It certainly has its issues if you don’t regulate it, but that’s not to say that it’s inherently bad.

            • KJT

              Mostly I agree with you, about refugees I certainly do.

              The fact is that immigration does affect jobs. And it is mostly middle and upper classes if it is from the third world. The poor cannot afford it.

              The boost to numbers in employment for the last 9 years has been way behind the number of people added.

              Maybe that is not so apparent in middle class enclaves, but it is where I live.

              Tell “immigration adds jobs” to:

              The young Maori kids I know that couldn’t get the apprenticeships they desperately wanted, because the jobs are already taken by trained South Africans.
              (Several hundred leave Northland polytech every year. Only a dozen or so get an apprenticeship).

              The young Kiwis who couldn’t be trained for harbour pilots, or rail ferry jobs because there is an endless supply from the UK, Kiribati and India.

              The wharf jobs in Auckland going to immigrants, because New Zealanders like to have a life. Instead of being on call 365 days of the year!

              The IT training that is not offered to New Zealanders, because it is cheaper to recruit from overseas.

              The endless number of zero hours, and underpaid hospitality jobs when there is 92000 unemployed youths who could do them, if wages were lifted to a level where they could afford to work.

              The barns full of exploited Philipinos on Dairy farms.

              Houses on the coast in Northland unoccupied for 8 months of the year owned by wealthy Americans, Chinese, Germans, Dutch and South Africans.

              We are being sold out. And it is time it stopped.

              New jobs that offer 10 hours a week, while expecting employees to stand by for every other hour of the week, like fruit picking, are not jobs. They are tax payer subsidized hobby’s which only those who do not pay NZ living costs can afford to do.

              • I agree unemployment is getting worse. I think that is largely due to other sorts of National Party economic mismanagement, (like misdirected spending and unnecessary tax cuts to the wealthy) not the immigration settings, although they’re exacerbating the effect because of the real impact the immigration settings are having.

                The negative effect of the current immigrantion settings is largely that they relieve pressure on employers trying to offer unreasonable working conditions that, realistically, not even new immigrants should want, but they’re more willing to put up with than second-(or-higher-)generation New Zealanders. This puts a downward pressure on wages, which in turn lowers circulation, which in turn depresses GDP, but because in terms of the percentage of the economy that these slummy employers represent isn’t too large a chunk yet, we’re still managing to pull off some economic growth due to heroic efforts on the part of particular industries, like that milk powder boom, or huge expansion in kiwi software firms. Really the Nats are bloody lucky the Canterbury quakes happened, otherwise they wouldn’t have had the billions of dollars in the NDF to dip into as an economic stimulus to offset their moronic economic settings, and they might only have managed two terms.

                You’re completely right on everything else and I wouldn’t have dreamed of contradicting any of that. I just don’t think it adds up to a reason to argue against immigrants in general, who are largely good people who want a chance to do better (or even just try something different) here in NZ, when what’s wrong are the settings that are causing worker exploitation and are now slowly sapping the momentum from the economy, and even after adjusting them there’ll still be room for a lot of the good sorts we really want in NZ, and they deserve to feel welcome when they get here, as it’s not the immigrants’ fault if National is running the economy into the ground for their mates’ benefit.

                • KJT

                  I would never blame the immigrants individually.
                  I like most of them I have met. They also, mostly, think that 70k immigrants, and 120k work permits, a year, is mad.

                  Except for the ones who are charging their own countrymen to supply low paid jobs, and residency.

                  The blame for excessive immigration is entirely at the door of our politicians for the last 30 years.

                  I agree that immigration, and the CHCH earthquake, have masked National’s almost total ineptitude.

    • Richard McGrath 14.2

      ‘Liberal values’ and ‘neoliberalism’ have much in common – free speech (including speech that some luvvies might find offensive), free trade in goods and labour, freedom to cross international borders, and security in one’s private property. The use of force to change the behaviour of peaceful people is not permitted in a liberal society. Tariffs, trade barriers, restrictions on free speech, and taxation are all anathema to a liberal.

      • Whoa there, steady on.

        Think “liberal” like democracy, not “liberal” like classical liberalism. I’m talking about social liberalism. I think some free trade is good, (but that it needs to be handled more carefully so too-slowly increased wages in developing countries don’t cause decreased wages or decreased employment in developed countries, which in turn would cause blowback against fairer terms of trade) and I think some restrictions on free speech are necessary. (ie. incitement to murder should be illegal, and we should allow enough space in our free speech protections for private boycotts of hate speech like nazism/alt right movements)

        Social freedoms like rule of law, presumption of innocence, intersectional feminism, secularism, queer equality, racial equality, general human rights, and a gradual shift towards transnationalism. (ie. globalisation between individuals rather than mediated through large institutions. The internet is an excellent example of transnationalism) Those sorts of things are what I’m referring to when I say liberalism, basically.

        Neoliberalism and classical liberalism definitely want a right-wing economic policy that we don’t need and is objectively harmful. But you don’t need ironclad property rights if you live in a society where poverty is viewed the same way as violence, and where we recognise that treating all workers with dignity is actually better for society as a whole even if some individual millionaires may miss out a bit from it.

        But a left-wing economic policy is insufficient for a good society. You need a liberal-democratic social policy as well, especially because left wing movements don’t succeed without the broad coalition that social liberalism brings to the table.

        • Bill

          All these individual equal rights that a liberal democracy presumes to confer didn’t exist in the first place under a liberal democracy….why? So the state that persecuted an individual for being x. y. or z can, in a show of benevolence confer a right that it itself had with-held in the first place, and we are meant to party and we are supposed to be grateful and celebrate how enlightened and progressive that state is….why?

          • Psycho Milt

            Because a lot of people aren’t liberals, and they get to vote and participate in government too. It’s not rocket science, nor some devious conspiracy.

            • Bill


              Are you suggesting that inequity exists within liberal governing structures because there are people in society who are not liberal!?

              And does that mean you’re also suggesting that liberals are of some higher moral order than non-liberals?

              • Yes to both.

                1. There isn’t some Central Committee of Liberalism that dictates how things are in liberal democracies. It’s a liberal democracy, ie a conservative’s opinion has the same value as mine, numbers count, and liberals like me aren’t exactly numerous.

                2. For my money, people who believe in freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free markets, civil rights, democratic societies, secular governments, gender equality and international cooperation (to quote Wikipedia) are you-fucken-bet the moral superiors of people who reject those things. The “free markets” stuff may be over-rated, but the rest of it ought to be a starting point for everyone who isn’t an authoritarian scumbag.

                • KJT

                  The “free market” types believe markets should be free to the extent they have extracted the money from them.
                  Then the same “Liberals” want their monopolies, property and “intellectual property” protected from the rest of us. So not “Liberal”.

          • Matthew Whitehead

            Because democratic liberalism is a process, not a binary. It doesn’t stop when women get the vote, for instance, it keeps going on to other marginalized social groups and other issues that were less urgent or simply less prioritized. It is the process of personal growth to realize that most types of social freedom aren’t harmful, and that you can trust and rely on other human beings to act as positive parts of society even when we all give each other our freedom.

            And no, we are not supposed to be grateful or celebrate how progressive or enlightened we are. The state granting us our rights isn’t an achievement for the state, it’s an achievement in personal growth for the people who were not actually affected by the issue but decided to trust in those that are that they would be responsible with their freedoms. It isn’t the gay man who’s been dignified when we grant him his rights, it’s the straight people who conceded them who have grown.

            It’s self-congratulatory bullshit to idolise the state for “granting” human rights- they aren’t granted, they’re demanded by the people, and sometimes they succeed in enshrining them in law. We’re supposed to be relieved that we’ve finally caught up on specific issues and are able to put the coercive suffering that conservative overreach can cause behind us, and to keep fighting to make the world better for the things we haven’t caught up on yet. And putting that progress at risk when you’re not one of the people who would potentially suffer is at best selfish, and at worst morally contemptible. It isn’t the place of white people to say “if we vote in a nationalist it might not harm you” to everyone else who is potentially at risk. They are far more accurate judges of what the harm to them would be, and we should trust them if they say that they need social liberalism in their leader.

            The purpose of liberalism is to identify harmful social barriers in society and push them down, and to fight tyranny. The purpose of conservatism is to slow down liberalism enough so that it doesn’t suffer backlash, and to identify those social barriers that actually do serve a genuine purpose and protect them from liberal over-reach. Conservatives have a place in a balanced political framework, but they need to realize it’s a defensive one, not an offensive one. Milt’s point is also valid around why liberalism hasn’t won everything immediately: It has to win the argument against conservatism on each social issue it brings up, so the very nature of adversarial politics ensures that issues have to be fought one-by-one.

            There’s also the fact that as technology changes and society evolves, old issues face new complications that liberalism needs to address. Feminism might have made a lot of advances for instance, but now women have to face things like cyberstalking, doxxing, photo leaks, revenge porn, and so on. Liberalism in general and feminism in particular couldn’t solve these issues before because they didn’t exist prior to the popularisation of the internet, and because of changing technology and social norms, liberalism inherently has moving goalposts.

            • Bill

              So let’s look at “free love”.

              I suspect the first thing that comes to your mind is some hippy related stuff, but free love was a demand of Spanish anarchists during the civil war that denied the authority of the state or the church to determine legitimate relationships.

              And here we are some 90 years on from then and the church and state in NZ still determines legitimacy and even extends that legitimacy through the draughting of same sex marriage legislation etc.

              And that extension of authority was regarded as a good thing in quite a few quarters.

              Which is the price to be paid in support of mythical liberal notions of progress I suppose.

              • Sometimes liberals get it wrong too and overreach, no political ideology is perfectly correct because there are at least some useful values in all of them, or at least all of the ones actually based on values. The state has a valid role in recognizing official relationships, so long as it does so without discrimination. It’s made progress on that one, but I think there’s still some further liberalizing to go in terms of polyamory, and instead of free love we’ve had better laws protecting people in defacto relationships and successfully eliminated some of the stigma around being deliberately single.

                I don’t regard progress as mythical, but I do think we’re not always correct ahead of time on where we think progress can and should go. Back in the day we thought technological progress should be flying cars, but now we have the internet and I think most of us prefer that. Social progress is likely to have the same sort of divergence happen, and eventually we might reach a point where all avenues of future “progress” really are counterproductive. We should want liberal progress where it actually helps people, not because we believe that being more liberal is always more correct.

                • Bill

                  Why in your view, is the state valid at all?

                  Is it anything besides a political construct that facilitates the exercise of unilateral control over a given geographical area and a moral authority over people? Assuming it’s not much else besides that, how can it be viewed as legitimate or valid?

                  • Before I address your question, I’ll quickly say that I still think you may be misunderstanding what I’m talking about a little in the direction you’re taking with this discussion. My point is that we shouldn’t throw the baby of social liberalism out with the bathwater of right-wing economic policy in our shared aim to embarass and defeat neoliberals, and we should be aiming towards a soildarity-based liberal-left coalition of enviro-socialists in the long run. You know, basically something like the current Green Party or older Labour Party in New Zealand, but aiming eventually to socialise programs where practical and disestablish personal currency when we’re able to meet people’s basic needs without it, a point even New Zealand is fast approaching. I’m not some sort of radical left-libertarian anarchist who wants to smash government just because I think it’s a good rule of thumb that the government should leave people alone on social issues where nobody’s human rights are being violated, rather I just know as a bisexual man that intersectional liberalism married with leftism is the only way to guarantee the rights of people like me and people whose lives I care about.

                    But going back to the premise of the OP, I also accept that while neoliberals are bad, I would rank them ahead of right-wing nationalists in terms of political movements I can deal with. I totally understand the desire to smash the elite establishment, but we should be doing so with left-wing populists, not right-wing ones, and we should be careful about throwing away everything the establishment supports just because, because some of it is actually good for us. If I were voting in France, I would try to elect a genuinely left-wing Parliament rather than voting in Macron’s neoliberal stooges, (I think that’s the most important part of the election, actually, but it looks like he’s going to get his backers in Parliament as well as win the Presidency if the polling is accurate, and unlike the US there’s no electoral college to throw off polling) but I would be voting for Macron as President because I think the EU is a good idea and that it has been effective in protecting people’s rights and promoting peace and prosperity accross Europe, mostly, even if it has a lot of problems to sort out and its bankers need to be put firmly in their places, and because I think Le Pen is dangerously close to being a Nazi, and one Nazi in power is one too many, even if she couldn’t appoint anyone she really liked as Prime Minister due to the fact that Parliament would just vote them back out again.

                    I don’t know whether that will clear things up or not, but if it does, great. If not, on to your question.

                    The concept of a state is valid and reasonable because we vote for it as citizens and we give it the legitimacy to represent us, and we’re not having some sort of civil war to overthrow it or anything. In theory in a democracy, the state is us, it’s how we make decisions on a scale that’s too large for everyone to vote directly on, and how we administer and executive those laws and give them direction, because good luck overseeing any sort of necessary bureaucracy for national programs through direct democracy with no formal leaders or representatives. 🙂

                    As long as the state remains accountable to the people, (both through voting occuring and in the broad trend passing laws that enjoy public support) follows its own constitutional norms, and has an effective media safeguard present, it’s a legitimate democracy.

                    At the very least, we need a state to mediate in cases where people’s freedoms would interfere with each other, or would constitute violence, or create practical problems that need to be solved before they can be realised, or to allow us to collectively fund programs that ensure economic opportunity, that address past wrongs, that develop infrastructure too expensive to fund privately, or simply improve quality of life. Because states are a reality, we also need to be a state in order to have that political machinery work together with other states on our behalf, too, although I realise there’s a certain circularity to that particular argument.

                    If technology or changing societal norms address some or all of those reasons, we can always rethink the idea a state, what it should be, or even if we really need one. (I imagine that if we manage to sort out global warming in time, that national governments may eventually become less powerful in the future as political ideologies begin to converge on what works. Maybe. But that relies on ordinary human beings becoming harder to fool. We’ll see if that’s actually the case) But right now questioning the idea of a state seems stupid to me.

                    • Bill

                      Going to ‘bullet point’ this as much as I can for the sake of brevity. Hopefully you can follow which parts of your comment the following is relating to….

                      What makes you think that virtue resides only within the realms of social liberalism?

                      How effective can a liberal/progressive ‘coalition’ ever be when it’s a marriage between incrementalists and radicals? (It becomes a one way street of support that defaults to the conservative and of the spectrum)

                      I think we’d probably agree that some socially democratic focused government is the realistic short term goal. (Medium and long term we probably diverge)

                      I am a left libertarian anarchist, but I don’t want to smash a damned thing – just usurp some shit 😉

                      No rights or tolerances or understandings can ever be guaranteed. I’d suggest they are more secure with more immediate and empowering social and governing structures than they are under remote ones though. You going to ‘fuck over’ any of the people you are constantly working through day to day and important decisions with on the basis they are ‘different’? I think not.

                      On the OP. Left wing populism versus right wing populism – we agree.

                      Work to elect a genuinely (we’re only talking social democratic) left wing National Assembly? Absolutely.

                      I don’t share your view of the EU. It should (ideally) have been a social union but was always principally an economic one that has (now) largely divested itself of the trappings of even notional democracy.

                      I never gave anyone the right to represent me and I never gave permission for control of the commons to pass into the hands of selective groupings who then govern them by rules I had, and have no meaningful input to.

                      Meaningful democracy isn’t about direct votes, but that’s maybe for another day. On scale and complexity, aside from human affairs, I struggle to think of a single example from the world around me where complexity and scale is imposed from above. Everywhere I look it appears to ‘self generate’ from fairly simple initial conditions – ie, it’s a bottom up dynamic.

                      The state is not accountable, there is no ‘fourth estate’ (never was) and representative democracy is an entirely hollowed out, fairly ugly and utterly meaningless caricature of democracy.

                      Why cede authority or over-sight to an external agency again? If we’re incapable of individually and collectively managing our affairs then not a one of us, surely, is capable of managing the affairs of many disempowered others.

                      Sans a state, our infra-structure, much of it probably by necessity decentralised, may well have been much, much smarter, better and resilient than what we have.

                      AGW. We have not dealt with it. We had the chance and chose (or rather ‘our betters’ chose) to do not a damned thing.

                      And I’m stupid. Authority has always experienced problems with me 😉

                    • No problems, I’ll try and follow along.

                      I don’t think social liberals are inescapably right all the time. But off the top of my head, I can’t think of any time we’ve succeeded in getting a policy in that has later proven to be unadjustably wrong, either. (Hell, I’m struggling to think of a genuinely liberal idea that has succeeded in being implemented and then actually “gone bad” in a way that isn’t basically conservative propaganda, like their irrational dislike for no-fault divorce) My bias is in favour of liberal social policies because evidence shows they work, and because once people have the necessities of life, it’s reasonable to let them decide their own direction so long as that doesn’t hurt anyone else.

                      As for gradualists- are you talking about liberals or leftists? I suspect you mean liberals, but either way, but IMO there’s both gradualists and radicals in each ideology. If you’re saying you don’t think social liberals do radical, I’d question how you’re defining that term, because most recent radical change we study in the history books was of the social kind, not the economic kind. We balance the speed of reform so that the gradualists don’t get whiplash but the radicals don’t get impatient wherever possible, but inevitably extreme outliers in either direction will be unhappy. This is part of why governments change every once in a while even when they’re objectively successful- coalitions just don’t stay together forever without change, and the inertia of being in government often frustrates people with its pace, and prevents the change in perspective (or in fresh faces!) needed to maintain popular support.

                      Usurping some shit could be a good idea theoretically, depending on what you mean, lol.

                      I agree that it’s ideal in the long-term to devolve most powers to a local level so long as there’s a solid framework in place that guarantees basic rights to people of all localities and stops the problem of people being asked to get out if they don’t like the local laws when all they want is their human rights respected. (ie. nobody should allowed to be the taliban just because we devolve more power to local authorities) I don’t think that will eliminate the need for higher authorities, but I do think if things go well we might see more nations becoming something like states of super-national entities like the EU, and therefore national politics diminishing in importance as they become less relevant in powers either being devolved downwards or delegated upwards, so it might start looking a little more like anarchy in the long run even if we don’t call it that.

                      I’m pretty sure we actually agree on what’s wrong with the EU, I just want to see it reformed into a democracy on the EU level without any more key national departures actually going through. If France or Germany leave, the EU is done, and it may never come back, even though I think something like it, but more sustainable, is necessary for world peace and stability.

                      AGW is what really worries me right now, it is the #1 concern and it’s infuriating that we can’t get all of the left to agree to take it as seriously as we need to, and that so many nations have elected right-wing idiots that are going to make the problem worse. If we manage to limit things to at most a 2°C temperature rise, then we can handle everything else IMO. If it goes over that, I honestly don’t know what will happen. Trump is probably the most unhelpful development in this regard and if he ever gets over his incompetence he could end up screwing the whole project over. Fortunately right now all they’ve managed is a 1% cut to the EPA, which is still bad, but not as disastrous as it could be.

                      For me, the issue with authority was always the other way around- I chafe under mismanagement, so I need someone really competent in charge to respect authority, but even incompetent leaders tend to like me, at least until they know I think they’re incompetent anyway. 😉 Maybe that’s down to perfectionism, who knows. But that’s a big part of why I think that being cautious with interfering in social policy is a good idea for governments- because it’s hard to mismanage things you don’t touch, and the stuff they really need to touch either way is in fighting economic inequality.

                    • Bill

                      This would have been a good real world and real time discussion.

                      You’re obviously a die in the wool liberal. I’m obviously not.

                      And web based discussion isn’t colourful or dynamic enough for either of us to do much other than restate our respective broad positions in endless, uninterrupted screeds of writing in wee boxes – it doesn’t exactly lend itself to the important subtleties that are a part of verbal exchanges.

                      Shame really.

                      If you’re ever in a pub near here… 😉

                    • I did say I was a (social) liberal from the outset, to be fair 😉

                      And yeah, it would be a far more productive discussion in person, as I think we’d figure out more quickly where we agree and disagree, and much more easily.

      • WILD KATIPO 14.2.2

        ‘ Tariffs, trade barriers, and taxation are all anathema to a liberal.’

        The abandonment of all three – are what I perceive as absolutely destructive to any national protections for its people . Therefore I oppose it utterly.

        As for ” restrictions on free speech ” , … I cannot think of anything more damning to a people of a sovereign democratic state than this.

        It is completely odious.

    • Bill 14.3

      There is essentially no difference between liberalism and neo-liberalism. If you believe that there is, then you’d have to list or name those essential differences. The term ‘neo-liberal’ was simply coined to indicate a resurgence of liberal ideology during the 1970s. (From the end of WW2 until then, it had been somewhat blunted or subsumed by the emergence of social democracy as a western norm)

      Something that confuses me somewhat is that most liberals I know would condemn the attempts of Christianity to “save the heathen” and the ‘universality’ that project presumed.

      Yet liberalism is not much else but a secular expression of that same project, but one where ‘one way’ has replaced ‘one God’. And it’s not particularly democratic and it doesn’t promote equality and it doesn’t, as claimed, offer liberty.

  15. Richard McGrath 15

    By the way, Macron should win the French run-off, and deservedly so. His main flaw is an indecisiveness on dealing with the increasing Islamisation of France. Islam and Sharia law are incompatible with Western liberal values, as Germany and France have found.

    • And in true democratic tradition ,… that is up to the French people to decide.

      And nobody else.

    • Conservative Islam is incompatible with liberal democratic values, the same way conservative Christianity is too, as the USA has found. And let’s not even get started on conservative Judaism in Israel and in enclaves elsewhere.

      Picking specifically on Islam is silly. All conservative religious groups have the same problem, and it’s unfair to moderate and liberal religious group bearing the same name who are perfectly capable of being productive and valued members of society.

      And the fact that I as an atheist have to be the one explaining this to people makes it even more silly, because I think in the long run everyone would be better off if they (voluntarily!) shed even the liberal religious beliefs, but I know trying to force them to change makes things even worse. Part of the reason France has a problem with Muslims because France is not a secular nation anymore, (and therefore not really a liberal democracy) and persecutes signs of Islamic faith. If Muslims can’t trust the French government and french laws to broker fairly for them, of course they’re going to turn to other answers, like more radical sects and Sharia. (which, incidentally, should not be called “Sharia Law” for the same reason you shouldn’t refer to “ATM machines.” My understanding is that it’s essentially just Arabic for “law”)

      • WILD KATIPO 15.2.1

        1 ) ‘ Part of the reason France has a problem with Muslims because France is not a secular nation anymore’

        Soooo,… hang on a minute ,…

        France is NOT a secular society anymore?… if so , what is it?

        2 ) ‘ If Muslims can’t trust the French government and french laws to broker fairly for them, of course they’re going to turn to other answers, like more radical sects and Sharia. ‘


        Hang on a minute , mate ,… are we talking France or a middle eastern country ?

        And if its France , – then don’t they as a sovereign nation state get to say what goes on in their neck of the woods?


        I’m not so sure I like the way this is leading up to,… a sovereign state is just that . Which includes Customary laws and and ( hopefully ) a democratically elected govt that serves the will of the people that elected it. If a religious group doesn’t like that – they are under NO OBLIGATION to continue living there.

        AT ALL.

        So where exactly is the problem?

        • A secular society is the compromise between atheism and every religion, where the religions each get their freedom to worship in any way that doesn’t impact the human rights of others, and the atheists and the minority religions get assurances that more influential religions can’t form a cultural coalition and seize control of the state, and can’t succeed in persecuting other religions without facing the consequences of the law. A secular nation does not ban the symbols of a particular religion but leave the symbols of others intact. It doesn’t pick and choose who is dangerous based on their affiliations but rather based on their actions.

          France has left behind secular values in its haste to fight Islam, seeing it as some sort of cultural threat. Muslims aren’t inherently dangerous, just like Christians and Jews aren’t, or any other religion for that matter. Terrorists are dangerous, but not all muslims are terrorists. In banning traditional Muslim attire without any good reason, France may still be a democracy, but it’s no longer a secular democracy. It has accepted that it can oppress the reasonable rights of certain religions without an objective reason in law.

          France can absolutely decide to abandon secularism. But it doesn’t get to talk about how it is a tolerant liberal democracy anymore, and it should arguably be facing consequences in the EU courts for doing so, given the EU’s law requires secularism of member states. Secularism is an inherent part of the mix that makes a liberal democracy, the same way human rights for any other group are.

          • Bill

            Your first paragraph has a nice feel to it.

            I was initially going to make a comment about Syria and its secularism in relation to that, alongside noting the support afforded by western liberal regimes (including France) to religious elements within Syria that want to overthrow the state and suppress other religions.

            But instead I got to thinking about Switzerland and how it banned the construction of minarets. And that flowed to more general and widespread thoughts on just how intolerable and hollow liberalism’s “all equal before the law” claims are when regarded against the fact that all social indicators point to deep systemic bias against….well, anyone not quite fitting the image of “successful liberal” really.

            • Matthew Whitehead

              I actually agree with you that that kind of “liberalism” isn’t liberal. Liberals have to be on the side of minorities, especially when that minority is “people who are poor and unsuccessful.” It is part of why liberals and leftists have traditionally been allied movements, just like conservatives and right-wingers. Sometimes you get the odd mix of liberal right-wingers or conservative leftists, but not often. (we get a fair amount of liberal right-wingers in NZ in general and the National Party as a result because the consensus around liberal values is part of our national identity, but that’s because a sort of relaxed, often rural liberalism is so strong here, not because right-wing liberals are a common phenomenon in general. Think Jim Bolger, John Key, etc…)

              And yeah, we need to be really careful about supporting religious groups in wars because it can cause so many unpredictable problems in the future. Al Quaeda and ISIS are great examples.

              Neoliberals and other liberals obsessed with cults of urbanisation and economic success are, imo, traitors to liberal democratic values in the same way conservatives can be “class-traitors” to their own interests when they vote for right-wing policies due to conservative wedge issues. You can’t have successful liberalism without economic leftism, and you can’t have successful class politics without liberal politics. I would go so far as to say that this was one of the fundamental errors of the Soviet Union, in fact. (not the largest one though, obviously) I just think the correct way to fight this sort of hypocrisy is by insisting on genuine liberal values, rather than by abandoning them altogether.

              • Bill

                Hmm. A bit rambly…

                S’okay. I’ve never considered myself as being a liberal. In previous exchanges (with Weka) I’ve said that, yes, insofar as social liberalism is concerned, I hold what many would take to be liberal values. (Broadly speaking a “live and let live” attitude.)

                Liberals have to be on the side of minorities, especially when…

                And straight off the bat, I ask myself – Why are there ‘sides’ and why are there ‘minorities’ and where does this notion that liberals get to play arbiter come from and why would they want that position to exist?

                Rewinding sideways a wee bit, my main beef with political liberals is that they are addicted to reform and resistant to systemic change (maybe that’s a basic ‘rule of thumb’ difference between a liberal and a progressive) – so systemic inequity persists on the back of notions about the essential or innate goodness of liberalism…even though liberal structures produce ‘sides’ and ‘minorities’ and the space for ‘a referee’.

                I also don’t place my political world view within the ‘playing field’ of states and nations (in the liberal sense of those entities and the authority invested in them) but see those things as having to be dismantled or supplanted if we’re ever going to get a shot at collective and individual freedom.

                I also don’t buy into the notion of progress which, as far as I’m aware, is pretty central to liberal thinking. I live for “however long”. I won’t be around forever and I won’t be coming back from some ‘beyond’. Whatever there is that is possible has to be realisable in the present, or it’s no better than a “just desserts in heaven” story line.

                That doesn’t mean that everything I do must yield results in my life time.

                It’s perfectly reasonable for me to plant fruit trees or lay in whatever other works there may be that will not come to fruition before my death – and that will only benefit people I will never know. But we’re talking physical works – certainly not anything that would add to a tradition (as in a world view) that could then become a barrier to future generations exploring the possibilities inherent to dynamic endless change.

                On economics (as in systems of production and distribution I’d position myself as a market abolitionist. It never fails to amaze me how many people think that means an end to production and trade. Kind of scary to think we’re so inured to something that we think of it being completely natural and all that is possible…

            • KJT

              NZ has banned church bells.


              It does not invalidate the fact the Switzerland has a functioning Democracy. We do Not!

      • Psycho Milt 15.2.2

        Conservative Islam is incompatible with liberal democratic values, the same way conservative Christianity is too, as the USA has found.

        Not in the same way at all. Punishment for blasphemy and apostasy isn’t “conservative Islam,” it’s just “Islam.” It’s quite specific in that respect. You can say that in practical terms there’s no difference because Christians have also punished blasphemy and apostasy, but there’s nothing inherent in Christianity that prescribes punishment for those things and democracies have managed to suppress Christians’ ability to apply those punishments without needing to oppose Christianity itself. Any government that suppresses Muslims’ ability to punish blasphemy and apostasy is in opposition to Islam itself and will be opposed by those who actually believe the bullshit.

        • Spikeyboy

          To imply that Christians only read the new testament is a very biased (rascist) analysis of religion. All conservative Christians take the old testament to heart and with all its very strong and jealous god who is vengeful and violent to those who oppose

          • Tinfoihat

            Racist ? How so…

            • Spikeyboy

              Where muslim is associated with middle east and christian with europe. Otherwise just biased

          • Psycho Milt

            To imply that Christians only read the new testament is a very biased (rascist) analysis of religion.

            1. Didn’t imply any such thing. However, there isn’t any dispute within Xtian theology about JC declaring a new Covenant that replaces the Jewish one, declaring that he who is without sin gets to cast the first stone etc.

            2. Racism is a cheap shot for people who can’t address the actual argument. Naturally you fall back on it.

            • Spikeyboy

              I guess that explains why the most aggresive nation that has been responsible for the most death and destruction since the second world war is also the most conservative Christian nation. Thet took on board all the bits except the values of Jesus. Funny that they should be readers of the bible rather than the koran. Hence the bit about racism. The facts dont fit the picture you paint

              • It’s kind of funny when people who can’t argue abstract concepts without reducing it to “Yeah but those people did this bad stuff” want to cry racism.

                • Spikeyboy

                  Abstract may be all good fun for you but when you let your mask slip and your disdain and outright malice for others who dont fit your world view comes through it needs to be called in much the same way as you say Le Pen needs to be called. Attempts to belittle me dont change that

                  • And yet only one of us has written comments on this thread showing disdain and malice for others who don’t fit our world view.

        • So, on Islam:

          You are proceeding from an incorrect premise. There are liberal Muslims who believe that punishment for blasphemy and apostasy is wrong. They might not yet be as strong a group as in some other religions, but that is because Islamic people have been oppressed more recently than, say, Christians. If the oppression stops, then the liberal religious values are likely to spread. Literally every Muslim I have ever met personally and had a reasonable chance to ask about those issues is in this group, so I’m not sure how you can say with a straight face that they don’t exist. I know they exist, I have met them, and I have heard them vociferously support peace and human rights even where it contradicts reasonable interpretations of their religious text. These are the sort of people we should want in our society, and as an atheist, I consider them better allies than fellow atheists who would categorically attack entire religions, because they have credibility in talking around conservative Muslims to a nonviolent viewpoint that I would not.

          You are advocating views that would cause a backlash that would worsen the very problem you want to solve.

          I agree that their book says what it says. I agree people that take that book literally, (at least for the problematic sections) and advocate unwavering literal adherance are conservative Muslims, and that they present a problem to democratic society. I don’t agree that any degree of conservatism in interpretation automatically makes a Muslim dangerous however. If they believe that they can’t or shouldn’t act as the Qur’an tells them to when it advocates violence, then they should be a welcome part of liberal democratic society. We have the same concerns, I just think your strategy is wrong, and it fails to see liberal Islam as the reformist ally it can be.

          You don’t eliminate false beliefs by screaming about how wrong they are at the top of your lungs all the time. Sometimes that sort of direct opposition is tactically necessary in certain situations because you have to save someone else. But in terms of convincing people they’re wrong, it’s counterproductive. You convince them by being a good neighbour and friend and modelling better values, by not questioning their beliefs unless implicitly or explicitly invited to, and by letting people keep or even providing reasonable accomodation for any beliefs that don’t challenge human rights without being judgemental about it.

          (And yes, I think all religions contain false beliefs, and the true beliefs they contain are still problematic because they’re believed for the wrong reason, which also leads to false beliefs. Ideally I’d like people to believe things that are true and believe for true reasons as much as possible, but I accept that the universality of both those ideas is impractical in reality, and thus there will always be religion, or woo, or pseudoscience. That’s okay so long as we progressively limit their harmful influences over time)

          On Christianity:

          You are simply incorrect to say there is nothing inherent in Christianity that opposes liberal democratic values, and are trying to move the goalposts specifically to the flaws of Islam rather than acknowledging that there are equally flawed, but different beliefs in conservative Christianity. A generous interpretation of the New Testament from a liberal Christian will of course be compatible. But not all Christians are liberal. You’re going to tell me that the beliefs of Destiny Church are compatible with liberal democracy? Because they’re just not, nobody acting in good faith and understanding liberal democracy could say so. Stop focusing on Islam and realise that all religions share the same problem, it’s simply that some are associated with people who have more factors that lead them to a conservative interpretation. The problem is the confluence of conservatism, religious literalism, and the ability to condone violence or break laws.

          It’s also worth noting that not every Christian ignores the Old Testament the same way theologians would, as the typical objection to some of the odious parts of Christianity is that they’re contradicted by the New Testament, which supercedes the old in Christian doctrine. However it’s very common that people pick and choose the parts of each book that they follow, and misinterpret or ignore the parts that contradict their interpretation, while being very literal about the parts they like. (This is because all people get their values the same way, and it’s not usually from being instructed in them from a book, rather it is from people they trust modelling them) This isn’t a problem when the parts they like tell them to be good and decent people, of course, but it is when they talk about repressing or punishing lust, (not usually a harmful part of human nature) or hating sin, (which includes self-hatred and guilt) or tolerating slavery, or use language that (perhaps merely from symbolism, perhaps not) suggests white supremacy. And those are all from the top of my head. If I felt like going on a digging expedition, I’m sure I would find many more problematic memes within the bible, and be able to link them to groups that actually believe in them in culturally Christian democracies like New Zealand or the United States. Predominantly white religions aren’t any better than the predominantly brown ones, yet coincidentally it’s always the predominantly brown ones that get treated less fairly.

          • Bill

            Matthew. I take it you’re aware you’re addressing your comments to a person who, if their other comments on Islam hereabouts are anything to go by, is a deeply toxic bigot? Don’t expect any sensible or reasonable response from them is all I’m saying.

            • Matthew Whitehead

              Oh, I’m quite aware. 😉

              That doesn’t mean it isn’t useful to give a counter-argument. Even if Milt doesn’t want to listen to me, it will help stop other people from listening to Milt.

          • Psycho Milt

            There are liberal Muslims who believe that punishment for blasphemy and apostasy is wrong.

            Of course there are. I’ve met plenty of them myself. However, their understandable decision to ignore the fact that their religion declares blasphemy and apostasy crimes that deserve punishment doesn’t alter the fact that their religion declares blasphemy and apostasy crimes that deserve punishment.

            You are advocating views that would cause a backlash that would worsen the very problem you want to solve.

            Special pleading. Facts remain facts regardless of any unpleasant effects you might fear from people knowing them.

            You convince them by being a good neighbour and friend and modelling better values…

            This being pretty much the exact opposite of the approach you were advocating when some right-wingers tried to set up a dubious White Pride club at UoA.

            A generous interpretation of the New Testament from a liberal Christian will of course be compatible. But not all Christians are liberal.

            So what? As mentioned above, whether or not people are liberal has little to do with their religion – they ignore or emphasise things dependent on their political outlook. My comment is about what’s in the religious ideology itself, not how individuals choose to manipulate it in their own interests.

            • Matthew Whitehead

              * I’m glad we agree on the existence of liberal muslims who don’t believe in the things you are specifically concerned about. It’s rather confusing that you still insist that there’s any relevance to lumping all of Islam together still when you’ve conceded that the beliefs that you claim are your reason for opposing Islam are not universal within Islam. You’ve essentially gone from “All Muslims are problematic” to “Some Muslims are problematic” in this concession, which is what I claimed all along, and even if I expect that the “some” group is smaller for me than it is for you, you haven’t given any specifics I disagree with yet. You can’t go back to the words of the Qur’an to undo your admission that your premise is invalid, because the liberal Muslims whose existence you’ve conceded to now admit themselves they do not follow every word of the Qur’an literally, therefore the presence of those words is not necessarily relevant. I fail to see any way to a winning argument for your position from here without any identified universal problematic beliefs within Islam, and you’ve already pulled out your big guns there.

              * Backlash isn’t special pleading, it’s a known social phenomenon, and it’s not an “exception to a rule,” it’s the reality that if you try to oppose all Muslims rather than the ones that are actually believing in problematic things, you make the most problematic beliefs more prevalent because the hatred caused by mistreatment makes them more sympathetic to extreme interpretations of their beliefs. I can’t even figure out why you’re citing the special pleading fallacy here at all tbqh, as it essentially relies on you pointing an exception that has no relevant relation to the matter at hand. The only exception I’m making is that some people don’t believe the things that YOU identified as the problematic aspects of Islam, (for the sake of simplicity I am referring to these people as liberal religious believers, but I acknowledge in reality it’s a little more complex than that, with unproblematic beliefs being mostly distributed among liberal believers, somewhat among moderates, and occassionally among conservatives, and the reverse distribution for the problematic ones. I’d be very surprised if the distinction wasn’t relevant on a statistical level) which is only irrelevant if you were lying about the reason you find it problematic.

              * I was talking about liberal Muslims at that point, not conservative Muslims, and I don’t advocate we organize private boycotts of or deny speaking platforms to liberal Christians either, which would therefore be the inconsistency you would be looking for, rather than Nazis, which are pretty conservative as people claiming to be Christians go. I don’t know if I was unclear or not about that, but I’m pretty careful about inconsistencies in my worldview, and when I catch them, I make a decision as to which rule is better and admit I was wrong about the one I decided against, assuming such an inconsistency actually exists, of course. You might not like that for me the relevant factor is how seriously they take their religion and how willing they are to force their beliefs on other people, but it’s perfectly consistent for me to base my decisions on that factor ahead of what the religious text actually says, especially as I ignore some pretty horrific things in the texts of Jews and Christians under the exist same rationale, and you aren’t calling for them to be kicked out of the country.

              Nazis and people who want to stone apostates belong in the same category of people who need to be denied private platforms to speak whenever we can manage it, as I told you in the comments of that post when you took issue with me lumping white extremists like Nazis in with other terrorists in terms of shutting down their rhetoric. In terms of actually changing the mind of conservative Muslims, like with conservative Christians, you generally need someone within their religion to do it, and it generally has to be someone they respect. It’s hard to swing that if you’ve alienated all the liberal and moderate religious figures by opposing the whole lot like you advocate, as sometimes some of them have said enough things the conservative groups like that they can have some sway. Hell, some of the conservative religious people don’t approve of violence either, and will help in preventing it, too, even if they’re a problem on other social policy. And if we can’t change their minds, then yes, we may need to imprison violent people or engage in counter-terrorism as evidence suggests it’s necessary. But it’s much better to try and change their minds before they hurt anyone, or have any influence with their hateful ideologies, and to do that, we need allies in their communities whose freedoms we have genuinely protected, and who feel we are being respectful when we ask for their help.

              * You are incorrect in claiming that religions are completely defined by their holy text when they have one, although I agree it’s not completely irrelevant, the style of interpretation followed is arguably just as important as the actual words used. As a writer, I can say quite definitively that the same set of words can have several different interpretations even when you think you’ve been perfectly clear, and this is with modern language that’s well-understood purely due to synonyms. We’re dealing with ancient texts that are often translations of translations and copies of copies, so the meaning is so variable between the original and the interpretations that sometimes the differences taken as a whole are unrecognizable.

              As such, religions splinter like glass when you drill into them. It’s very rare that two believers actually interpret the meaning of a text as a whole in exactly the same configuration of ways with no slight variations, even when they agree on the overarching theme. At least, not if you get them down to specifics. But religions avoid this problem in three ways- by convincing people back to orthodoxy where a divergence in values is considered critical, by purging heretics when that fails, (causing a split if the purging either isn’t with deadly force or isn’t successful, and the heresy manages to persist) or by simply encouraging communication of values in a way that’s so vague it doesn’t tell you anything meaningful, with words like “spiritual.” If religions simply followed the text literally at all times, it would be difficult to have as many religious sects as we do.

              The political outlook of religious believers is formed by the same values that determine whether they interpret their religion in a liberal, conservative, or moderate fashion, (you don’t meet many people who like stoning apostates who are willing to admit the Qur’an isn’t the literal word of God, for instance) and there is absolutely relevant interplay between those values. None of the problems you have identified with Islam are practiced by liberal Muslims, and there are many problematic interpretations of Christianity that would be just as bad when paired with a person that doesn’t value non-violence, as we see with many so-called “lone wolf” right-wing terrorist attacks in the USA.

              • It’s rather confusing that you still insist that there’s any relevance to lumping all of Islam together still when you’ve conceded that the beliefs that you claim are your reason for opposing Islam are not universal within Islam.

                It’s only confusing because you don’t distinguish between assessing an ideology and assessing individuals who follow the ideology. I’m arguing that a religious ideology that, for example, prescribes punishments for blasphemy and apostasy is patently an illiberal one. Your counter-argument that there are liberal followers of that ideology who don’t believe the illiberal bits is irrelevant – the ideology itself is illiberal. How we relate to and behave towards other people is a separate subject.

                Re backlash, you’re arguing that we shouldn’t consider this particular illiberal ideology in the same category as others because it might encourage racists. To me, that’s special pleading. It’s also appeal to emotion, but I think the special pleading is more significant.

                Liberals shouldn’t be trying to deny anyone a platform to speak unless they’re advocating or inciting violence. Actual Nazis and some Muslim preachers fall into that category, students whose opinions you dislike don’t.

                You are incorrect in claiming that religions are completely defined by their holy text when they have one…

                You have to assess an ideology on some basis, and what’s written in its basic texts and believed by most of its followers is a good place to start. Fascism and communism also have wide ranges of interpretations by different people, but that doesn’t alter the fact that they’re illiberal ideologies.

                Re political outlook, I’ve lived in a Muslim country and visited others, and I can tell you that you that liberalism is not a feature of Muslim societies, regardless of any Muslims you might have met here. That isn’t a coincidence.

                • Ideologies aren’t in themselves dangerous. What is dangerous is the individual beliefs they’re composed of, why people believe them, (because a problematic reason for a benign belief can lead to a problematic belief elsewhere) and how serious they are about it. In the case of liberal religious groups, both the “why?” and “how serious?” questions generally have benign answers for almost every issue you ask them about, and yes, “even” in the case of Islam, and those are the critical questions in determining if someone will oppose democratic norms.

                  The issue with religions is that they’re not like political ideologies where people gather around relatively clearly-defined beliefs. Religions are ill-defined beliefs that accept broad ranges of people with broad ranges of ill-defined interpretations of that belief. You can’t clump them together in the same way you can, say, the ACT party. (hell, not even all political parties can be clumped together into a single coherent ideology. If you define a political party as requiring that, National is more like a coalition of two or three different parties, as is Labour)

                  I am done engaging you on Nazis, especially as I have adequately refuted your objections elsewhere. This post is not about your particular issues with my positions there, and you’re clearly not engaging in an actual relevant discussion to this post on that issue, you just think you’ve found an inconsistency in my liberalism when you clearly don’t even understand why I’m a liberal, or the order I actually prioritise my beliefs in. (I’ll give you a hint: liberal isn’t at the top, and neither is leftist) If people want to see me smack you down about Nazis too, they can go find the relevant guest post in the archives. (“There Are No Fascists In New Zealand”)

                  You are also refusing to acknowledge that other religions have ideologies that are every bit as violent as the ones you object to in Islam. Judaism told its followers to kill all their male non-believing neighbours and force-marry (ie. imprison and rape if they do not consent) their daughters. (and of course, some Christians by extension support that, because they’re not all of them disregard the Old Testament/Torah) Christianity officially tolerates slavery, its adherents invented “just war theory,” declared the Crusades, (which is objectively every bit as bad as conservative Christians find the concept of war as Jihad) and even within the religion, Protestants have called for genocide of Catholics, and Catholics spawned the Inquisition. (a historical precedent perhaps for what you want to do to Muslims? You tell me) If we looked selectively at the violent acts of some Christians, we would be just as justified in oppressing Christians as you think you are for oppressing Muslims, but in reality we have no real justification for either.

                  What has quietened down this violent ideology over time is the addressing of historical grievances, closer international relations between Christian and Jewish nations, and influence of liberal religious institutions who you refuse to give any credit in the case of Islam. Yes, the base ideology is problematic. We agree on that. But I am quite happy for people to call themselves “Muslims” or “Christians” or “Jews” or anything else so long as they don’t actually believe or act on the bad parts, and because most religious groups in New Zealand are the reformed types, I am happy to give them all the benefit of the doubt until contrary evidence emerges. Islamic violence is often caused by grievance, economic inequality, and oppression, not by Islam per se, and if you really want to solve the problems some Muslims have with democratic nations with Christian heritage, you should maybe be considering addressing their grievances and ensuring their nations get a fair share of economic development rather than simply going after security theater policies that don’t make you any safer, and sometimes actively make the violence more likely by creating additional grievances.

                  Finally, even if all of Islam were problematic, (which you have clearly agreed it is not, despite your protestations that someone’s favourite words are somehow more powerful and predictive than their past thoughts or actions, which anyone who understands the value of behavioural profiling will tell you is a stupid premise) you also refuse to realize that in wanting to isolate Muslims as inherently dangerous and keep them out of NZ, you are proposing a form of religious McCarthyism, or a Committee on UnChristian Activities, and that it’s better not to go there for obvious reasons.

                  • …I have adequately refuted your objections elsewhere.


                    If people want to see me smack you down about Nazis too…

                    In my experience, declaring yourself the winner of a debate isn’t a good guide to who made the most sense.

                    …in wanting to isolate Muslims as inherently dangerous and keep them out of NZ…

                    You seem to be arguing with someone else there. I’ve never suggested that, on the basis that it would be both illiberal and infeasible. Please restrict yourself to what I actually argue, not what you’d prefer I was arguing because it’s easier to refute.

                    You don’t seem to grasp how Islam is different from other religions (except Judaism, but Judaism doesn’t assign itself the prerogative of worldwide hegemony). It isn’t so much a religion as a totalitarian system, in which you submit yourself to the will of Allah, as expressed in a very lengthy list of do-this and don’t-do-that. Few other religions are a totalitarian system in that respect, and for that reason, few other religions are as toxic to liberalism as Islam is. It’s great that some of its adherents are ignoring the bits they find inconvenient, but that doesn’t alter the fact that, as an ideology, it’s fundamentally illiberal. A Buddhist, Hindu or Christian can come up with all manner of evil to match anything a Muslim can come up with, but there’s usually nothing inherent in their religion that demands it. Islam is illiberal when used as instructed, which is the problem. We should treat individual people as individual people, but ideologies aren’t people. In short: respect Muslims, but don’t respect Islam.

  16. Spikeyboy 16

    The problem is that liberalism is elitist as is fascism. For both power is for sale and leading doesnt in any way involve service to people. This means that liberal media will always prefer a straight contest between liberalism and fascism rather than giviing true socialism a voice. Both will attack the socialist voice first before resuming their own contest. You can see how close they are by looking at trump in usa. The liberal and mainstream media all put away their knives and went gaga for trump when he fired missiles at Syria. Same in France. Le Pen and Macron are closer than you think. Austerity wont be a lot more fun than racism and in fact includes racism. The lesser evil argument is fallacious because it always assumes you can make the correct choice and any way after enough iterations the distinction is pretty meaningless.

    • ‘ The problem is that liberalism is elitist as is fascism. For both power is for sale and leading doesnt in any way involve service to people. This means that liberal media will always prefer a straight contest between liberalism and fascism rather than giviing true socialism a voice. Both will attack the socialist voice first before resuming their own contest. ‘


      1) The problem is that liberalism is elitist as is fascism.

      Indeed it is , hence why I include this site constantly to rub in the nose of liberalists close cousins, neo – liberals…

      New Right Fight – Who are the New Right?

      2 ) For both power is for sale and leading doesn’t in any way involve service to people.

      Exactly . And this is what the neo liberal reforms in NZ were all about , – both back in 1984 through to 2017. Nothing has changed.

      3 ) ‘This means that liberal media will always prefer a straight contest between liberalism and fascism rather than giving true socialism a voice. ‘

      The ONLY reference to the French situation that the NZ Media have to offer to New Zealanders is NZ First ,- in a poor and failed example of media representation of fascism if ever there was – and yet that doesn’t stop the NZ Media from trying it on, – and failing miserably every time.

      And that is PRECISELY the conditions we have experienced in THIS country. And has been made noticeably worse under John Key with this media sycophancy .

      And that is WHY , historical critiques such as that provided by Hugh Price / Price Publishers is so vital to understand in this country today , and also the accompanying provided links regarding the Thule Society :

      New Right Fight – Who are the New Right?

      Thule Society – Wikipedia

      Young Hitler – Excerpts Appendix | The Thule Society

  17. Adrian Thornton 17

    Good piece there Bill, thank you.
    Sorry I missed the thread yesterday, looked like it was a great discussion.

    I particularly liked this little gem…
    (liberalism)”being an undisturbed parasite within the host body of Left Parties”

    As we all know there is that same parasite in-bedded within NZ Labour, and until it is removed, Labour will always look and feel as it does today, a political party that is emaciated and unwell, hollow and struggling for any direction that citizens can relate too, unable (and it seems unwilling) to over come the deep distrust of many former supporters, all the while trying desperately to cling to the centrist life raft, that is obviously (for all to see) slowly sinking itself…very painful to watch.

    • s y d 17.1

      spot on Adrian,

      and now I have a vivid image of Ad (see comment 11) standing in the absolute middle of the sinking centrist liferaft, ankles awash, demanding that those already in the water keep lifting the raft, lest his suit get wet.

  18. Wainwright 18

    Very easy for us white men on the other side of the world to advocate tactically voting for Le Pen. We won’t be the ones getting the sharp end of the fasces. My question is why Bill seems to think the left can’t stand up for itself right now. Why do we need the excuse of a fascist in power to fight free of liberal bullshit? Why keep getting cowed by the Kiwi Blairites telling us “we have to win, at any cost!” as they sell out workers and beneficiaries alike? I guess its easier sitting back going “woe is me, nothing I can do, I need a really really bad rightwing government to start fucking people over before I can do anything.”

    • Bill 18.1

      Erm – way to show that you really didn’t understand the post Wainwright.

  19. mikesh 19

    Perhaps they will eventually bring back the Bourbons.

    I hope we never get to become a republic. Too many problems, it seems.

    • KJT 19.1

      It certainly worked for Spain.
      The Kings first actions, when he got the power back from Franco, was remove the Fascists and allow other parties to contest elections.

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    Appointments to the Ministerial Advisory Group tasked with providing independent advice and assurance on the future of KiwiRail’s inter-island ferry service have been made, State Owned Enterprises Minister Paul Goldsmith says. “It’s important for New Zealand that KiwiRail is focused on ensuring safe, resilient, and reliable ferry services over the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Joint statement from the Prime Ministers of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand
    The Prime Ministers of Australia, Canada and New Zealand today issued the following statement on reports of Israel’s planned military operation in Rafah. We are gravely concerned by indications that Israel is planning a ground offensive into Rafah.   A military operation into Rafah would be catastrophic. About 1.5 million Palestinians ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Govt will deliver on expanded breast screening
    The coalition Government has made the first steps in delivering on its promise to  extend free breast screening to women aged 70-74, Health Minister Shane Reti says. “As part of the 100 day plan, the Government has now met with officials and discussed what is needed in order for the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government announces woolshed roadshows in support of sheep farmers
    The Government celebrates National Lamb Day (15 February 24) and congratulates sheep farmers on the high-quality products they continue to produce. Agriculture Minister McClay hosted bipartisan celebrations of National Lamb Day with industry representatives at Parliament this week to mark the anniversary of the first frozen lamb exports that left ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Speech: Address to the NZ Economics Forum
    It’s great to be back at the New Zealand Economics Forum. I would like to acknowledge everyone here today for your expertise and contribution, especially the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Head of the Waikato Management School, economists, students and experts alike. A year has passed since I was last before you, and ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government tackling high construction costs
    The Government is focused on reducing sky-high construction costs to make it more affordable to build a home, Building and Construction Minister Chris Penk says.  Stats NZ data shows the cost of building a house has increased by 41 per cent since 2019, making housing even more unaffordable for Kiwi ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s Three Waters legislation repealed
    The Coalition Government’s legislative plan to address longstanding issues with local water infrastructure and service delivery took an important step today, with the repeal of Labour’s divisive and unpopular Three Waters legislation, Local Government Minister Simeon Brown says. “Repealing this legislation is a necessary first step in implementing our Local ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Cost of living support for beneficiary households
    The Coalition Government is delivering on its commitment to ease the cost-of-living by increasing main benefit rates in line with inflation and ensuring the Minimum Family Tax Credit threshold remains aligned with this change, Social Development and Employment Minister Louise Upston says. The Social Security (Benefits Adjustment) and Income Tax ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government announces agriculture delegations to better support Primary sector
    The coalition Government has announced ministerial delegations to support key areas across the Primary sector to deliver for New Zealand’s food and fibre sector, Agriculture Minister Todd McClay announced today. “I will be supported in my roles as Minister of Agriculture, Trade, Forestry and Hunting and Fishing, by three Associate ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Waikato MoU reinforces Govt’s commitment to increase NZ doctors
    The Government has taken an important step forward in addressing a critical shortage of New Zealand-trained doctors, with today’s signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for a third medical school, Minister of Health Dr Shane Reti has announced.  “Today’s signing by the Ministry of Health and the University of Waikato ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Speech – Lunar New Year 2024
    Annyeonghaseyo, greetings and welcome all. It is my pleasure as the Minister for Ethnic Communities to welcome you to the first Lunar New Year Event in Parliament. Thank you to our emcees for greeting us in the different languages that represent the many cultures that celebrate the Lunar New Year. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More funding to Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti
    Urgent work to clean-up cyclone-affected regions will continue, thanks to a $63 million boost from the Government for sediment and debris removal in Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti.                                                                                                   The funding will help local councils continue urgent work removing and disposing of sediment and debris left from Cyclone Gabrielle.   “This additional ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Budget will be delivered on 30 May
    Plans to deliver tax relief to hard-working New Zealanders, rebuild business confidence and restore the Crown’s finances to order will be unveiled on 30 May, Finance Minister Nicola Willis says. The plans will be announced in the Budget which is currently being developed by Ministers.  “The last government’s mismanagement of ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government advances Local Water Done Well
    The Coalition Government is continuing work to restore council ownership and control of water assets by repealing Three Waters and appointing a Technical Advisory Group to provide expert advice on the implementation of Local Water Done Well, Local Government Minister Simeon Brown says. “The Government will pass a bill to ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister congratulates NZQA Top Scholars
    Education Minister Erica Stanford congratulates the New Zealand Scholarship recipients from 2023 announced today.  “Receiving a New Zealand Scholarship is a fantastic achievement and is a testament to the hard work and dedication the recipients have put in throughout the year,” says Ms Stanford.  “New Zealand Scholarship tests not only ...
    2 weeks ago
  • New diplomatic appointments
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters has today announced five new diplomatic appointments.  "Strong and effective diplomacy to protect and advance our interests in the world is needed now more than ever," Mr Peters says.  “We are delighted to appoint senior diplomats from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to these ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Speech to the Committee for Auckland
    It is great to be here today at this event as Minister for Auckland and Minister ofTransport. Let me start by acknowledging each one of you and thanking the Committee forAuckland for hosting this event and inviting me to speak here today. The Committee for Auckland has been a symbol ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Getting Transport Back on Track in Auckland
    Transport Minister Simeon Brown has today confirmed his high-level transport priorities for Auckland, in the lead up to releasing the draft Government Policy Statement on Land Transport. “Our economic growth and productivity are underpinned by a transport network that enables people and freight to move around safely and efficiently. At ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government to axe Auckland Regional Fuel Tax
    Transport Minister Simeon Brown has confirmed that the Auckland Regional Fuel Tax will end on 30 June 2024. “Today, I can confirm that the Government has agreed to remove the Auckland Regional Fuel Tax in line with our coalition commitments, and legislation will be introduced to parliament to repeal the ...
    3 weeks ago

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