Maybe Trump is what the left needed

Written By: - Date published: 8:30 am, January 28th, 2017 - 72 comments
Categories: activism, democratic participation, election 2017, International, Politics, us politics - Tags:

Nothing like a dragon arriving to focus the village to action.

I am certainly not accusing the broad left of complacency. Nor lack of warning about what a Trump presidency would look like. Nor am I looking for silver linings.

But direct threats are energising, especially to political participation. Lack of direct social participation in politics is the Achilles’ heel of democracies. It’s not always restrained as it should be. That’s especially the case of newly emerging democracies, where it’s so much easier to fall into the preference of family clans, payoffs, paybacks, and simple mass revenge, instead of orderly change at the ballot box through those time-honoured but terribly dry processes called voting. But it’s also a risk in fully developed countries, like the United States, or little old New Zealand.

We can and must be civil about restraining the exercise of power.

Many leaders of newly emerging nations in the 20th century – including many of New Zealand’s postcolonial neighbours – professed as their goal the foundation of a democratic regime, but then go out of their way to prevent the formation of civil society, free media, and bottom-up participation in politics. Their only use for it was mobilising core supporters as a defence against other leaders seeking power. So we know what political decline and lack of restraint looks like.

The U.S. and New Zealand traditions of free and rambunctious journalism, together with great protest movements, have in the past made for a reflexive and properly contested political sphere. That’s not something to lose.

This is especially now the case with powerful blogsites including in New Zealand, who encourage far more direct engagement with political thinking and events than the television-dominant era.

We are civil society. In particular, The Standard is a big part of New Zealand’s civil society. The stats are good.

Civil society is easily corroded even in well-developed countries. In Russia, Turkey, and Venezuela, decades of unfree democracies have ensured no effective defence against the rise of personal rule. It’s easy for one person to rule with little restraint if the mainstream media is weakened, but harder for one person to rule if the newer media are networked and firing their collective synapses to do their job. The women’s marches this week were a fantastic globally networked initiative, and there will I am sure be more.

In this country we are going into election year. Donald Trump is not the only politician with a Twitter account. On Twitter alone, Trump is showing the way around MSM dominance of political discourse. There’s so much that can be done to enable civil society to be stronger in holding power to account, and to let the powerful and the people alike express themselves politically.

As Prime Minister Bill English pulls the trigger next week on eight months of both promoting and restraining power, let’s get the village together here.

We have to keep reminding ourselves that we do not live in normal times, and that the future of our much cherished institutions depends not on others but on ourselves. We are all individually responsible for our institutions. Including this one.

Which is a way of saying: as election year starts next week, get your friends on to The Standard. Pull their minds and their responses into discourse. Both globally and locally, it takes a village to defeat a dragon.

72 comments on “Maybe Trump is what the left needed”

  1. Nick 1

    I think you are right on the money!!

  2. weka 2

    Nice one Ad.

  3. Sabine 3

    Tthe left, the women, people of colour, non heterosexual others, and all other thinking people don’t need Trump. They know what a deep pile of shit this administration is going to be. And for what its worth, they did not vote fro him either and again for what its worth more people voted against the Trump then for him.

    As for Donald Trump being a “Dragon”, he is not, he is an able body with enough digits on his hands to sign every piece of paper Bannon and the Republicans put in front of him.

    Grover Norsquist stated in 2012:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/02/13/grover-norquist-speech-cpac.html

    Quote: “All we have to do is replace Obama. … We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don’t need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget. … We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don’t need someone to think it up or design it. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate. […]
    Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States. This is a change for Republicans: the House and Senate doing the work with the president signing bills. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared.”

    This was said about Romney and it was achieved with Trump.

    Think about that. The left does not need Trump, never needed Trump to get out to vote cause we do get out, we are active, we volunteer, we work hard to get out people elected, honestly elected. . Those that want to disparage the left, those that want to destroy society to build a better future they need the ‘ strong man’ the ‘daddy rather then the nanny’ the one who has god / guns on his side, the one that will talk about the poor white disenfranchised male worker at the exclusion of all the other poor workers, they need Trump. they need him to echo all of the above because at the end they know that the world is neither left nor right. Its all over the show, and someone might vote left, centre and right depending on time and location.

    The resouce plunderer, the wanna be do gooders in the name of god and the preborn, the ones who think that nothing is ever their fault its always the fault of someone not like them, they need some poor deluded idiot like Donald Trump signing away his country, his rights (and yes everytime he signs one of these paper he is signing away his families rights too) and one day, when the Tea Party (there are no more republicans, they are now the Tea Party) has no more use for him, impeachment for the many many breaches of ethics and conflicts of interests, and so on and so on and so on.

    No we don’t need another screed about how ‘the left’ needs to be, WE need another screed about those that profess to ‘not be the left’ ‘that want the left to go ‘left’ that want a differnet party then the ones they have cause not good enough, how they should just look at the Donald Trump selection – how their attitude may have influenced people to vote for Donald Trump in the us or at least support him elsewhere, and ask themselves if they want the same shit happening here.

    Cause us on the ‘left’ we were shouted down over the last few month cause we saw what and stated that the pile of shit in the living room is indeed a pile a shit and not a big classy and tremendously beautiful flower arrangement.

    • “the left, the women, people of colour, non heterosexual others, and all other thinking people don’t need Trump. They know what a deep pile of shit this administration is going to be. ”

      yep – those in the know don’t need to be energised into fighting for freedom and equality. Sure maybe the mythical middle swing voters who oscillate between their various self interests may need reminding that there is a fight on. Activists have been on this front line since the year dot and trump is just the latest iteration – not worse or better just the next one in an unending line of oppressors.

      • Red 3.1.1

        54m people voted for trump,they where women . People of colour, non heterosexual and every other human being attribute . Until the regressive left get rid of thier identity bs and take people as individuals and stop thier condascending bull shit, we no best and if we don’t get our way we will insult, have a melt down hissy fit, organise a violent or so last year yawn protest you are basically rooted Trump was created by the left, yep he is a narcissist twit but he voices the silent majority view disgust of the regressive left world view

        • marty mars 3.1.1.1

          a couple of wee points

          identity is identity and it is the way it is. People identify for all sorts of reasons and I can understand that – it actually is just as it is and doesn’t need praise or condemnation imo

          if people don’t like something then they can make their displeasure known through all sorts of means including protests and activism – that is a good thing in my book

          trump wasn’t created by the left – the left warned people about trump and his ilk and the desperate people voted for him anyway as some last grasp hope for their future – imo they grasped a very slender plant which is quickly uprooting in front of their eyes above a very long fall to a stony and uncaring bottom.

          • Red 3.1.1.1.1

            identity is a construct it does not mean all people in that construct think the same as the left seems to portray eg plenty of women voted for trump

            Freedom to show displeasure, yes but don’t undermine western values that give you that freedom or abuse the right to show displeasure

            Trump was very much created by the left as a response to the left, many of trumps policies are left wing without the social engineering bs He gets away with his economics as the US does not really need anybody else. such a policy prescription for nz would be disastrous

            • marty mars 3.1.1.1.1.1

              yes identity is a construct with recursive tendencies – everyone can be in or out depending on where you draw your lines.

              Protesting can never undermine western values – it is western values personified.

              Just don’t agree with that last paragraph Red. Maybe he is beyond left/right – I can see that, especially with the hit1er comparisons but the left did not create trump, not even slightly.

              • Red

                I would agree to a point he transcends left and right, probably has a more dictatorial streek, in essence once in power he jumps to left and right that suits his purposes. He is not the first president to hwve this trait , ie Nixon, Roosevelt etc, thankfully the US system of checks and balances keeps them under control in the longer term. what is more interesting is what brought Trump to power, here I feel the regressive left, its supporters in the media, celebrities, Obama etc created a fertile ground for his creation and continued support

                • Fair comment and commentary.

                  I see his arising as a combination of – very desperate circumstances for desperate people, multiple pronged attacks on the integrity of the media and commentariat, a search for a Savior, and deliberately, deviously dishonest positioning from the don and his team. The confluence of perfect storm elements creates opportunities for the type of politician trump is to arise – is that fascism? probably.

                  I don’t blame trump on Russia, Clinton, the democrats, the left, MsM and so on.

                  What got trump to power is one thing – I’m more concerned with what he (and his willing minions) will do with that power and the signs are very very disturbing to me, but not unknown because they were predicted by the left many many times.

                  • Reddelusion

                    I agree placing blame at one specific actors feet is probably unwise but then again blame can be attributed in regard to Russia taking advantage of elements, and democrats, the left , media etc all failing in countering the Donald, in context of the perfect storm, possibly hindsight is a great thing here and it is human to look for blame that seems so more obvious after the event However it appears the media et al have still not learnt thier lesson in countering now President Trump

                • red-blooded

                  The “US system of checks and balances” is what stymied Obama (eg gun control) and made it seem like he was breaking promises (eg to close G Bay) or watering them down (eg Obamacare). He was boxed in by Republican House +Senate for most of his time. Trump doesn’t have any “checks and balances” – he has his own party in control of all 3 arms of government. The only checks and balances are within his own party.

                  When you say “Obama etc created fertile ground for his creation and continued support” I’d argue that it was the perception of a government that couldn’t/didn’t DO anything much that created that environment, especially given the effects of the GFC in the US. It seemed that things were grinding to a halt – and that’s in large part because of the “checks and balances” that were blocking Obama et al.

        • Sabine 3.1.1.2

          And there were still a larger amount by about 3 million that did not vote for Trump.

          so what ever.

          Fact is, less people voted for Trump.

          more white people voted for Trump then Hillary.
          more women voted for Hillary then Trump.
          but 42 % of white women voted for Trump.
          that means of the white women that voted 48% voted for Hillary.
          and we can play that over again and again and again.

          And as long a bunch of men, most of the time white men, white heterosexual man often self proclaimed christian, that are often also very rich, often come from rich back grounds want to take away rights from those that are not white male heterosexual beings from a well to do back ground, i will vote with my vagina. Cause i identify as a women. Others will vote with the colour of their skin. Cause they identify as non white. Others will vote with their sexual identity that is not heterosexual, cause identity. Others will vote with their religion, cause identity and they are not christians and don’t like being persecuted.

          And and and.

          I have never ‘rooted’ for Trump. Mate. Find one fucking comment of mine where i am not on the record against this shitstain of humanity. OR his evangelic religious nutcase enablers that will use him as they on their own are so fucking abhorent that they can’t even get one of their 13 nominees to get the nomination. No they needed Trump, fucking selfserving sexual predator serious banrupcy no morals no standards no principe useless prick tiny hands Trumps…to get their poor misunderstood unemployed white heterosexual males to vote for him..

          As for the white unemploye heterosexual male, if you can’t get a fucking job, while those that are not you get one, maybe you need to move to where the jobs are, or get a better education, or just get the fuck up of the couch and take the jobs that are instead of whinging and whining for the jobs that ain’t gonne be coming back. Lazy useless pricks.

          It aint the left that is trying to roll back the clock where the only one who got rights left to squander away is the a white heterosexual male.

    • Ad 3.2

      The dragon thing was an allusion to Beowulf. Not calling President Trump an actual dragon. Because unless I’m mistaken, it would be foolish to think dragons are real. I’d hoped intelligent people would understand that dragons really aren’t real.

      Norquist was not anticipating Donald Trump, who is no mere imprimatur Republican. Norquist’s point doesn’t hold. Clearly he wanted a mere puppet or political palimpsest. These are specific times. Trump is a spectacular figure for global politics. Trump is his own person who does not merely echo the Republican policies. He is a specific phenomena to deal with.

      I wouldn’t be so bold as to preach to the converted about what the left could or should be. I suspected you’re already converted. This post isn’t about that kind of person.

      There is great space here to broaden and invite in those who only get old-style political discourse. We can be that space for far broader-scale discourse and conversion.

    • Siobhan 3.3

      Maybe a better approach would be to not worry so much about Trump, but rather to figure out why ‘The Left’, so called, aren’t winning elections, by a country mile. They appear to be determined not to change tact….

      The sight of Debbi waserman-shultz and Cory Booker on the podium at the woman’s march being a case in point.

      http://observer.com/2017/01/cory-booker-bernie-sanders-amendment-prescription-drugs/

      http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/jul/24/debbie-wasserman-schultz-immediately-joins-hillary/

  4. UncookedSelachimorpha 4

    I hope the positive you see comes of this. On the other hand, try godwinning the title of this post…

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    We have to keep reminding ourselves that we do not live in normal times, and that the future of our much cherished institutions depends not on others but on ourselves. We are all individually responsible for our institutions.

    Democracy is not a right but a duty and failing to participate is an abrogation of that responsibility.

    • Ad 5.1

      Why don’t you do a whole post on that kind of social contract?

      Politics in New Zealand is increasingly stale, and sits on the shelf increasingly unsold. They are relatively poor advertisers. And no, they can’t require your attention. They have to earn our attention, and earn it even harder to get our support.

  6. Adrian Thornton 6

    I personally believe until the western ‘Left” actually acknowledge and address the fact that there are two diametrically opposed fractions operating within the overall Left, Progressive, Liberal sphere/political movements, namely on one side, the free market neo liberal centrists, on the other, citizens who work for a more traditional left movement ..maybe broadly speaking advocating for a Socialist Democratic path forward….the Left will remain as toothless and pathetically ineffectual, as it is now.

    I mean the Left, as we speak is so deluded that in the Woman’s march ( which I of course support) they actually had Debbie” Wasserman Schultz, on the podium, and so lacking in self awareness that the DNC is blatantly positioning Cory Booker to run in 2020, the same Cory Booker who while taking millions from the medical corporations, voted against Sanders new cheaper medicine bill…

    https://theintercept.com/2017/01/12/cory-booker-joins-senate-republicans-to-kill-measure-to-import-cheaper-medicine-from-canada/

    While here in NZ Labour don’t even mention working or poor people in their plan on housing, no just ‘affordable’ housing at $500 – 600,000, so effectively damning a huge swath of working families to a life of rental slavery.
    Pretty hard to get passionate about that ‘Left” platform.

    Turn Labour Left.

    • Ad 6.1

      Not sure how this addresses the post at all.
      There’s no magic formula for winning elections – and this post isn’t designed to propose one.

      Go to Open Mike today and have a look at Stephanie Rodgers’ speech notes.
      Her view is clear and different to yours; solidarity, not further purity purges, is her answer.

      • Adrian Thornton 6.1.1

        I think I addressed your post specifically…you stated..

        “Maybe Trump is what the left needed”

        …..I disagreed, a serious and courageous self examination of Left is what is needed at this moment is what I said.

        …how can the liberal ‘Left’ defeat your Dragon when it is essentially ideologically aligned to the Dragon itself?…well it is certainly closer to the Dragon than it is to a progressive Socialist Democratic Left ideal, that much is for sure.

    • McFlock 6.2

      Here’s how that worked up until 1984:
      The extremists pushed hard, even in public, but at the end of the day almost everyone on the left still voted Labour even if they weren’t 100% happy with the manifesto that year.

      Now it seems they’d rather have Tories in power than a moderate left party. They sure campaign better for Tories than anything leftist.

      • Adrian Thornton 6.2.1

        I agree, the centre Left now inhabit the space the centre Right did not all that long ago.

        I have actually been accused of being on the radical Left, by people on this site, for daring to suggest we push Labour toward a platform of fairness and equality for all New Zealand citizens.

        Very disturbing to see what people are willing to allow to be normalized in our country and communities, and how fantastically low they set the bar for what they expect from our Labour Party.

  7. rhinocrates 7

    Here’s a good agenda to address:

    The Project’s Waleed Aly lists everything President Trump has done in his first week of office.

    If Trumplethinskin’s successor is halfway decent, they’re going to have to be an octopus in a tank of Red Bull to be able to sign orders retracting four years worth of this crap.

  8. weka 8

    I’d be interested in some conversation about the commentariat’s role during the election year, esp on TS. We’re the biggest left wing blog in NZ. Readership will be increasing. The Herald used a Wayne Mapp comment here the other day as the lead in to writing about a topical issue. People are going to be watching what happens here. What do we want them to see?

    • Sabine 8.1

      Well, what do you want them to see Weka?

      People being called loyalists because they support Labour?
      People being called ‘Killary Lover’ cause they don’t support Trump”
      People being called ‘mighty white’ because they want to discuss domestic issues and why people want to consider these domestic issues and vote on them?
      People being called snowflakes and other assorted bullshit because they want others to have a place to live, enough food to eat, freedom to live their sexuality as they please etc.
      People being called all sorts of stuff because they don’t trust that Russia is going to be the saviour?

      You know what i would like to see? An author actually putting up some of the Policies of the Parties in NZ, for discussion.
      And author actually talking about what we want in the future instead of rehashing the old neo liberal bullshite of 35 years ago and how we can’t go back in times to change.

      This is not so much a political page as it is a bunch of very vocal people saying the same thing, namely that they won’t vote Labour cause stuff that happend 35 years ago. People saying that they want a ‘Corbyn’ or a ‘Sanders’ or a ‘Saviour’ instead of the people they have.

      I just for once would like to open this page and see a post of someone comparing the policies of Parties. In an english that everyone can understand.

      This high english phylisophising that is happening here is only for a few select. The rest like so many, especially women just don’t come here anymore. What for? To be told they should not insist in identity politics cause that gives some blokes who only have run the show for a few thousand years a sad.

      So Weka, what would you like to see on the standard?

      • weka 8.1.1


        You know what i would like to see? An author actually putting up some of the Policies of the Parties in NZ, for discussion.

        And author actually talking about what we want in the future instead of rehashing the old neo liberal bullshite of 35 years ago and how we can’t go back in times to change.

        I’d be happy to put up Guest Posts on either of those things. You could be writing Sabine, you are good with words, you get straight to the point, and you pack a punch. That way of writing would be a good complement to what we have already here. I’d be happy to help if that’s something you want to do.

        Myself, I already have a very long list of yet to be written topics. I’m unlikely to do the policy one you suggest, although I like the idea. It’s just too much research for me. We could crowd-source such a post though.

        I’m more likely to write about what we want in the future. I have some drafts going on that.

        I take the point about pointy heads. Am open to ideas on how to balance that out.

        As for what I would like to see,

        – more women writing
        – a safer space for people to write and comment
        – a focus on what we can do rather than so much on what’s wrong (what’s wrong is important too, it’s just we have too much of that).
        – more collaboration and less arguing. We could be working together. Hard to change the baseline culture here though, which is to argue with each other or at each other.

        – going into election year, I think we should be seeking to up our game. Less bitching and moaning and attacking (each other, politicians, journos, whoever) and more constructive criticism and proactive approaches.
        – less round and round on the same old thing. Some innovative thinking would be good.

        • rhinocrates 8.1.1.1

          Yes, I’d be very happy to see more of Sabine here, for the same reasons.

        • red-blooded 8.1.1.2

          Weka and Sabine – I am absolutely with you. I’d love to see more policy discussions and to have a broader range of people writing. I’d also love to see people more future-focused and ready to commit themselves to working with whichever party they think is the best fit for their own political viewpoint. No party is going to be perfect, but that’s not an excuse for someone who cares about politics to just sit back and criticise or name-call. We only get change if we make it happen.

          I think the idea of getting more people to opt in to writing posts is a good one. Perhaps there could be a space on the site to share ideas for future posts, let people register interest in writing a post, allow people to connect up with a mentor if they feel a bit unsure about writing a post…? People could register and then share discussions/organise together as part of the process of producing TS? Of course, established posters could carry on doing their own thing, but this might help to draw in a new intake and to let people plan ahead (be more proactive, rather than reactive).

          Thoughts?

          I think moderation can also be an issue, but widening the pool of people writing for TS would be a really good first step and it would also have the benefit of lessening the pressure on the regulars.

          • weka 8.1.1.2.1

            Lots of good ideas there. The main issue is that the existing authors are all busy. Taking on mentoring etc would be great if someone set up that system (I’d love to), but it is a lot of work. I occasionally put the offer out to individuals re putting up Guest Posts, but no-one’s taken me up on it other than Robert Guyton (which worked really well because he did the work). Offer still stands, and there are other authors who will do this too. Point being, it’s probably more up to the commentariat if things are going to change. It is a step from being a commenter to having a post up under one’s name though, and I understand why some people who can write wouldn’t want to do it, for all sorts of reasons.

            I also think the commenters could be self-moderating the site more which would take the workload off the authors. I see lots of good comments put up that get little or no response because there is a more ‘exciting’ bun fight going on somewhere else. Might be time for TS to have a like button.

            • lprent 8.1.1.2.1.1

              The biggest problem with guest posts is that they are always shipped in bloody useless formats like word or raw text with links which are a pain to translate on to the post systems. Then they seldom give images for the front page, excerpts, tags or categories, and useful links to the material they’re writing. All of which are of high importance to make the post searchable and readable. Generally I think that guest posts are more time and effort than they are worth.

              I suspect that the best way to mentor authors and guest posts would be to simply give people (who look like they can write something that fits) contributor logins. That means that they can write, but not publish. I’ve fixed the User system so that it can be used again (it relies on a mail system – and my home system is a teeny bit paranoid). I’d have to check, but I think that Editors can make new logins below their own level (ie contributors and authors).

              Robert would be a good candidate.. He can write (as is obvious from his rather long-winded (but informative) blogs on his site) and could probably use our system with very little mentoring.

              We still have to mentor most new authors, so that is (as you say) a burden on existing editors – ie those who can release posts. But the idea would be to run them on contributor for long enough to transition them to the unsupervised author.

              I’m going to try that out on a few people.

              • weka

                I’m happy to help with that if people want some support e.g. introducing people to the WP editor. I could probably write a tutorial on that.

                I can also do some of the Guest Posts if you are getting submissions via the main email address. I don’t mind the finding photos, writing the FP blurb stuff. If the formatting is unusable I’d send it back and ask for plain text though. Again, we could have a style guideline written on this (give me a space in the back end and I’ll start writing drafts).

            • Rosemary McDonald 8.1.1.2.1.2

              “Might be time for TS to have a like button.”

              You’re joking right?

              Can be hard to tell sometimes.

              God forbid that TS goes down the same path as Farrar’s feral farm.

              • weka

                I wasn’t joking as it happens 🙂 I used to be really against them. But I think it might be interesting to see what comments that don’t get replied to are still appreciated.

                Don’t read KB as a rule, so not sure how it works there. Pretty sure someone will have figured out how to do like buttons on the internets well by now 😉

        • adam 8.1.1.3

          Yes please Sabine, write. I always read what you write, and it would be a real pleasure to have you do what you suggest.

        • Ad 8.1.1.4

          Fully support that Weka.

          Stretch your legs Sabine and put your views up for contest. It’s good fun Sabine and will force you to hone your thinking.

          • weka 8.1.1.4.1

            +1 that’s one of the major advantages of writing, how it pushes one to sort one’s thinking out.

    • Stillwaters 8.2

      I generally enjoy reading the Standard but I do not like the way the group treats dissenters from the norm. I have been dismayed when provocative and interesting commentators who challenge the status quo have been goaded, derided and banned.

      As a long time green feminist I am used to advocating for opinions that run against the grain. I try to debate in good humour, with restraint and respect. I have thought about writing small pieces on matters that interest me in the comments, but have been put off by some of the grandstanding and the moderation rules, which I find complicated.

      This is not my space, I do not make the rules, I do not expect them to change to suit my tastes, but if you want to retain and motivate readers, I think you need to lighten up. The political spectrum spans authoritarian to libertarian approaches across several axes, e.g. personal, political and economic. Anyone remember the Political Compass?
      https://www.politicalcompass.org/

      My sincere thanks to all those who write here honestly and fearlessly, often with verve and wit. I find a lot to reflect on and have spent many hours reading through comments and articles. I really appreciate the love and labour that has built and maintained this site over the years.

      • mickysavage 8.2.1

        Thanks Stillwaters for your comments and in an ideal world the comments would show restraint and respect. But online does not work like that unfortunately although I think we should try and coax everyone to be analytical and respectful as well as passionate.

        • Stillwaters 8.2.1.1

          Ha ha, well that is my preferred style, but I also do not always observe it in the heat of the moment.

          I read quite a lot of comment on the internet, some of it is extremely vile and hateful, my partner moderates on some technical boards, I appreciate it is a thankless and tiresome task! Passions run high in the political arena.

          What I meant by respectful was more about trying to understand the others’ viewpoint, to put myself in their shoes, we will all disagree on some matters but we must find our commonalities if we are to work together to build a better future, one that can be sustained across changes in government and political divisions.

      • lprent 8.2.2

        The moderation is designed to control behaviour because moderators really don’t have time or the interest to be bothered with dealing with questions of political axes.

        What the moderation is designed to do is to allow room for people to argue their various viewpoints. There are a number of things that it targets that have in the past shown to cause various types of boring flamewars, personality conflicts, arguments about unexplained ideological doctrinal points, and things that cause authors to stop writing. All of which are often of close interest to the participants, but bore the crap out of other readers and moderators who have seen all of that kind of crap before in the 1.2 million comments on this site.

        The moderators job is to simply guard the boundaries of the debate to stop these kinds of behaviours from escalating out of control and spoiling the site for other readers. We expect and hope for commenters to control their own behaviour and avoid drawing moderator attention. When they don’t, then we usually warn and if required ban them from commenting for time periods long enough to dissuade them from repeating whatever behaviours caused us to waste time on them in the first place.

        Over the last decade I have observed that the ‘climate’ here moves in cycles from being able to comment in good heart for long periods through to quite long periods of bad-tempered and highly repetitive and boring spats. The most recent one (from my perspective as an antique moderator) was derived from the US election where we eventually wound up with long bans on a lot of the more recidivist participants. Periods like this cause moderators to remain in a state of grumpiness and short triggers for some time afterwards. Which makes it riskier for those pushing the bounds of behaviour.

        I’d also point out that comments like yours about moderation have been going on since we instituted in back in early 2008. Curiously the style of moderation that we run here appears to foster the number of comments. The average length of and statistical density of comments increases markedly when when moderate harder. Probably because commenters explain more about what they are thinking. However high levels of moderation wear down moderators, so we don’t bother sustaining those levels of effort for extended periods.

        • Stillwaters 8.2.2.1

          Thanks lprent, I am pleased the readership and comments are increasing, which of course increases the moderation workload.

          Perhaps we need a tech innovator to build an AI to take some of the strain! The hard part of course, is in how to codify the “business rules”.

      • Ad 8.2.3

        It ain’t tidllywinks mate

      • weka 8.2.4

        I like it when people take the time to give constructive feedback on moderation etc. It’s even more helpful if people can give examples. I can maybe guess what you mean by lightening up, but without knowing which moderations you think are heavy handed it’s just a guess.

        I did a lot of the moderation during the US election period last year. I would prefer to have moderated harder tbh. As a long time commenter and having been writing for 6 months, I saw a lot of damage done to the community of commenters from letting things get nasty.

        The moderation rules are complicated and the process fairly Anarchic, and best understood by following what happens when people get moderated. But that takes time and not everyone has that.

        • Stillwaters 8.2.4.1

          I know little about the workload involved in moderating the site and nothing about the options available in the site software, so it’s hard to comment sensibly on this. Ideally I prefer readers to self-moderate where practical but this could increase brigading and heighten divisions on hot topics. I’m not sure what options WordPress offers anyway, it might all be quite moot.

          Maybe a form could be designed to ease the problems with guest posts? It all takes time to set up, of course, the benefits need to justify the effort.

          • Sacha 8.2.4.1.1

            It’s more about the people and the community than the technology.

          • weka 8.2.4.1.2

            “Ideally I prefer readers to self-moderate where practical but this could increase brigading and heighten divisions on hot topics.”

            What do you mean by self-moderate?

            • Stillwaters 8.2.4.1.2.1

              As a simple example, you could allow readers to maintain their own “ignore” list, so they can choose to exclude comments from people on their list.

              Or allow readers to report comments, if enough readers or a power user report a comment, it appears a) greyed out, so readers must click to reveal it, or b) it is deleted when if a predefined threshold is met.

              Likes and dislike buttons allow readers to rate comments but can be problematic, some like them, some consider them divisive.

              The software that runs the site would need to have these options available though.

              I guess their usefulness would be determined by their success in reducing moderation efforts and improving the quality of comments.

  9. Glenn 10

    The more I see of Trump the more he reminds me of Harold Saxon.

  10. Tamati Tautuhi 11

    Well neoliberalism has been a right f$#k up, supported by both the right and the left and the elite are the only ones to benefit?

  11. Tanz 12

    The irony with so called ‘progressive’ politics is that in reality, what that really means is regression and going back to the dark ages.

    • lprent 12.1

      I thought that was what Trump was doing.

      Perhaps you shouldn’t mention it to him.

      Firstly he might go off chasing that instead of the mythic illegal voters. According to Trump it is the truth because it was told to him by some golfer who swears that he didn’t tell him anything, but subsequently might have been hearsay from someone else of an unsubstantiated tale.

      Secondly he might start rounding up all purported “progressives” to throw them in camps or gulags so that they can’t pinch his ideas, and then possibly invent an idea about ovens.

      FFS Tanz – do you ever listen to yourself thinking? If you want to see the dark ages happening, I’d suggest that you have a close look at Trump in the White House and compare his actions with the later days of Henry VIII after he decided that he needed a second wife. At least with Henry we could probably blame whatever disease he was carrying.

  12. Tanz 13

    Progressiveness is a kind of tyranny though – ‘agree with us or else, let’s run roughshod over the will of the majority, and if they don’t agree too bad’. Look at all the referendums that get ignored, including so far, Brexit. Dark ages and rule of the elite of the day, who think they know best.

    • Ad 13.1

      Those tyrannical “progressives” you actually see them in power right now, all around us, doing all that roughshod dark-ages stuff.

      The Pacific? Definitely. The USA – oyeah
      South East Asia perhaps?
      It’s that Tea Party y’see, actually run by this progressive elite network thing.
      Hillary got in and Trump’s just fronting for her.
      I know, it’s that Clinton Trust isn’t it, conspiring for world domination.

      All those referenummy thingies, all those durn it votie type things, and if they don’t agree too bad.

      God these progressivie-weasels are better’n I thought.

      Who do they think they are?

  13. Observer Tokoroa 14

    The Way Ahead

    . Trump, Corbyn, Bernie Sanders, Little, Peters, Greens -do have quite a lot in common. They are concerned that wealth is going massively to too few.

    . They are concerned that millions of manufacturing jobs are being unnecessarily undertaken by low cost Asia at the request of domestic Corporations.

    . They are against untrammeled immigration which unevenly threatens earning power of citizens.

    . En Masse, people cling to the Right because the Right has access to the very wealthy Corporations and very wealthy Individuals. The Left languishes miserably because it has access to less and less.

    . In time the Right will have enslaved the Common Man so thoroughly that they will lose not only their wealthy glamour but their possessions and their heads.

    For the Planet does not belong to the wealthy.

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