Should The Left Do Authoritarian Populism Like The Right Does?

Written By: - Date published: 10:17 am, June 21st, 2017 - 54 comments
Categories: Donald Trump, International, Jeremy Corbyn, uk politics, us politics - Tags:

Another election for UK Labour, another (close) loss. Sigh. But wait! There’s France’s Macron! Can’t he be the leftie anti-Trump? He now has as big a majority in his government as Trump’s Republicans do.

So what if the left had an authoritarian populist in power and got some stuff done?

Why can’t the left generate candidates like Donald Trump who upset diplomatic orders, dominate public discourse, and set out an alternative view for an advanced rule-based democracy?

With climate change, environmental degradation, property crises, poverty crises, and decades of vision-free national policy, isn’t real force necessary? Can the left yearn for executive authority?

Or is this just wrong to imagine? Jeremy Corbyn, for example, appears to be a Labour leader without demagogic capacity, preferring detailed policy prescriptions retold in his trademark grey-whiskered scruffy style for public consumption.

Part of the answer is in the history of the left over the previous century. It’s been really easy to tar the left as being on a continuum that supported spectacularly bloodthirsty revolutions in Russia, China, eastern Europe, central Asia, central Africa, south-east Asia, and beyond. We don’t need another Stalin. Too few of the left foreswore revolution, so that tarring has been easy. So why does a leftie Trump seem so hard to imagine, so off-putting? Isn’t this the kind of scale of disruption that the world needs, from the left?

The first answer is, of course, no-one needs a leader as rude or ignorant. Successful politics is about more than making omelettes with eggs. It’s possible to achieve really useful stuff diplomatically, and it’s hard.

The second, is that every country is different. National leadership matters because countries still matter. Each historical and social context demands a different response, within its own democratic framework.

But it’s easy to feel frustration. With the comprehensive economic and societal restructures that New Zealand has gone through, there’s a real question about why we have not seen the rise of more radicalised populist parties. Moderate policies over 6 elections here have generated very moderate results here. What we are seeing across many developed economies is a politics responding to sluggish or declining growth, resistant high real underemployment, no wage and salary growth, declining regions, and whole manufacturing economic bases of social life simply shipped out. Worse than here.

What is being observed through much of Europe, the UK, and the USA are manifestations of a rising tide of right-wing populist politics that really is taking power. And the left, to be honest, is being left behind in every country I can think of.

In little old New Zealand, rather than observing New Zealand First rise to pre-eminence here, they remain between 9-12% and have never been a challenge to the largest two parties. Why?

Let’s look at a couple of comparators.

Singapore is about the same size in population, and is like us a very young nation with a sensitive local population significantly displaced by immigrants. Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party won the country’s general elections, but earned its lowest percentage of the popular vote since coming into power more than half a century ago.

Lee Kuan Yew, father of modern Singapore, could be seen as a populist authoritarian leftie. His policies about media influence, housing ownership, state ownership, and highly prescriptive economic policies have formed a different kind of society than that which we could imagine or countenance here, but it is strong, dynamic, and filled with public ownership.

But their elections are getting more competitive. There are signs of political liberalisation and maturity. Their context for elections is a paternalistic and technically rational administrative state, reasonably credited with the republic’s remarkable success and largely insulated from political pressures, united by one leader with immense charisma and drive who determined to stay the course, crush opposition, and embed his political successor and his policies. So “populism” in that sense really means a much stronger democracy than they have yet had.

Singapore – clean, meritocratic, pragmatic – has had its origins set down a particular form of democracy and state that is different to the liberal democratic trajectory.

And then there’s France. Macron is no hard leftie. He wants a harder, stronger, more self-reliant Europe. So does Trump. But Macron once taught philosophy and can cite Moliere from memory – doesn’t that make him at least bourgoisie-sympathetic? Hmmm. He’s certainly supportive of climate change: “Lets Make The Planet Great Again”. But that’s comparing him to Trump’s refusal to deal in facts. Macron’s economic policies on employment would fit pretty well with those of Prime Minister Bill English – although that’s comparing to the still highly regulated labour conditions found in France. Macron’s first bill will be aimed at “moralising” French politics by imposing term limits and barring MPs from hiring family members or working as consultants. You could almost describe it as … draining the swamp. I also suspect that the United States and United Kingdom will no longer be able to effectively outsource foreign policy to Merkel’s Germany with a more assertive Gaullist in France.

There’s still some small hankering for a Trump of the left: a great roaring charismatic figure rising up the unwashed and downtrodden, dominating and reviving the fortunes of the left. That is, do what the right have done better. I still hear assumptions that the hard left will rise again as leftist party machines get their ideological mojo back on track. Instead the world is demonstrating that there will be more countries who are run by centrist pragmatists with strong personalities and outsider status parties.

Since 1990, our own Prime Ministers have been exceedingly well mannered and only mildly clever even when pushed on the international stage, and also very careful to implement societal change through technocratic means not force, supported by MMP coalitions that widen their social mandate.

The historical memory of the left is more sensitive to charges of authoritarianism than the right. Maybe that’s just for old people. I also have a sneaking suspicion that the left needs its leaders to always obey the system they have created: the rules-based order of the state must function more perfectly for the left than the right, because they need the restraining force of the state’s legal instruments against the market a whole bunch more than the right does. Because the left needs the system more, the leftie leader must always defer to the system more. Perpetual taming.

But there are looming crises that the left cares about that are particularly hard to solve without really discomfiting paradigm-smashers like Donald Trump. If Trump succeeded as Lee Kuan Yew did by bluntly smashing norms to sweep aside the paralysis of ideological and political deadlock, and installed a technocratic government focused on performance and results, upon which actual legitimacy of popular support are staked, then that question of “the leftie version of Trump” will arise again.

54 comments on “Should The Left Do Authoritarian Populism Like The Right Does?”

  1. mordecai 1

    “But wait! There’s France’s Macron! Can’t he be the leftie anti-Trump?”
    It seems authors on this blog are having a bad week with facts. Macron is not a ‘leftie’. He was a member of the Socialist party of France until 2008, but has recently distanced himself from any connection with socialism. Macron is pro-business, pro-trade, and a self described centrist.

    • Ad 1.1

      OMG I spent a full paragraph explaining all that, and in more precise detail. I even compared his parallels with Trump policy positions. Read the damn post.

      • mordecai 1.1.1

        You claimed macron is a leftie. He isn’t. Oh, and BTW, the socialists got trounced in the French elections.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.2

        You’re wasting your time. Mordecai doesn’t do English Comprehension. He’s now fixated on the “fact” that you said Macron is a leftie and no amount of explanation will change that.

        You can spell it out in tiny words, point out that the question “But wait! There’s France’s Macron! Can’t he be the leftie anti-Trump?” is what we hu-mans call “rhetorical”, whatever.

        None of this will make the slightest difference other than to provide an ongoing illustration of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

        • McFlock 1.1.2.1

          He’s pretty funny though.

          He’s a bit like Trump’s lawyer referring to the investigation, then accusing the interviewer of putting words in his mouth when the interviewer simply repeats what the guy said. Complete refusal to reflect on self. And when all else fails, pretends to lose any knowledge of the English language 🙂

  2. greywarshark 2

    Jonathan Pie might like the idea of forcing something useful to people through.
    Papering over Poverty – one of his good rants with good points.

    • Ad 2.1

      Jonathan Pie is just Bomber with even less governance experience.

      • Lara 2.1.1

        Oh no, come on now. Jonathan Pie is entertaining. Bomber, with all his “comrade” BS is just annoying.

        And Pie does tend to make rather a lot of sense really.

  3. McFlock 3

    There be dragons.

    Thing is, for every Mandela who steps down constitutionally, there are a dozen Mugabes or whomever. Authoritarianism can end well, but almost never does, and I also think that the “good” authoritarians have likely been fondly remembered as the bad they did is oft interred with their bones, papered over by the bumper-sticker “made the place tidy and built up the economy”. Be interesting to see the opinions of people who got on the wrong side of them.

    • Ad 3.1

      Can a future leftie government go far further than Helen Clark or other incrementalist governments while not resorting to non-authoritarian means?

      I think the first question before you get into government is: what can you achieve within the limits of the powers you have?

      Then figure if you have appetite and will to achieve even more by getting even more power.

      • McFlock 3.1.1

        The Triumph of the Will is all well and good, but I think that above a certain level the strength of will and what that enables one to sacrifice in order to achieve your ends becomes inconsistent with the nominal ends you had when you started that journey.

        The left is about cooperation, socialism. Not about dictation. “What I say, goes” is inconsistent with “liberty, equality, fraternity”.

        • Ad 3.1.1.1

          God I just wish that had been true in the history of the lefts’ governments across the last century, I really do.

          I even wish that had been true of social democrat governments.

          I would like to think there were definitional limits that ruled out the human will to power, capitalised or not. We are all too human. Left or right.

          This is the right debate to have though.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1.1.1.1

            I think you’re missing a fundamental feature of social democratic governments: they have to survive against the forces that would tear them apart.

            The opposition isn’t supine when the left is in government. Far from it.

            • Gosman 3.1.1.1.1.1

              This is the excuse most totalitarian leftist governments use to excuse their oppressive policies. “We had to protect the revolution from the reactionary forces arrayed against us”.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Really? How fascinating.

                Meanwhile, I was talking about social democratic governments. That’s why I said “social democratic governments”, to give readers a hint that that was what I was talking about.

                You really are fucking useless at reading, as well as being a lying hypocrite.

          • In Vino 3.1.1.1.2

            Consider also that the field was always slanted, given Capitalism’s hostility to the very idea of socialism/communism. And a determination to stamp it out.

            Socialism/communism was only ever tried in poor countries, never in the industrialised rich countries. (Russia was big enough to have industry, but on income per capita, always remained a poor country.) (And don’t quote Argentina, which, like NZ, was rich from primary industry for a while. But primary industry provides only a temporary window. Rich countries need heaps of heavy industry.)
            Secondly, Socialism/communism has never been tried in a country with democratic traditions. Russia had a history of despotism under the Czars, and it is well argued by some that Stalin was the most recent of the great Czars. Despots took over and destroyed the socialistic ideals of all those revolutions.

            No fair trial ever held. Right wing rednecks who claim that socialism/communism is a proven failure are simplistic morons who have no depth of historical knowledge.

            • RedLogix 3.1.1.1.2.1

              Socialism/communism has never been tried in a country with democratic traditions

              Exactly. Look at how long it took to get from the Magna Carta to the modern Westminster democracy. And how much blood got split along the way.

            • dobby 3.1.1.1.2.2

              the latest attempt in Venezuela hasn’t worked either. What’s the excuse there?

              • Stuart Munro

                Perhaps you should have a look at the failures of non-socialist states to give you some perspective. In principle Venezuela should resemble Saudi, with significant oil-financed social spending. But instead a corrupt elite decided to contest ownership of the oil assets – resulting in simmering instability.

          • McFlock 3.1.1.1.3

            It’s not that the will to power is inconsistent with any definitional limits, it’s that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

            So some people who might have started out with noble causes, like Mugabe, lose all their original principles after being in total power for a while. That’s why Mandela is so spectacular: he achieved his goals and walked away.

            To continue the theme, once you look into the abyss of power through force, the abyss looks back into you…

  4. gsays 4

    the reason we don’t see these people is that they are worn down by the status quo then torn apart by fellow comrades for not being right on enough.

  5. One Anonymous Bloke 5

    Corbyn suggesting requisitioning private property in response to the centrist mass murder at Grenfell. He’s quite capable of wielding authority if you ask me.

    • Ad 5.1

      Aye well, let’s see when he’s actually in power.
      I’ve seen plenty talk poetry on the hustings and hear it go straight prose when in power.

    • Incognito 5.2

      Hmmm, are authority and leadership one and the same?

  6. Stuart Munro 6

    First Dog on the Moon was addressing this question or a related one just the other day.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/20/who-is-australias-socialist-atheist-saviour

    • Ad 6.1

      Yup that’s pretty awesome cartooning.

      When Winston Peters can still look like the Tom Jones of politics, there’s something missing.

  7. AB 7

    Occasionally for amusement I read comments on the Daily Telegraph. A number of people commenting there see Corbyn as a rabble-rousing, populist Marxist. Whereas I would have thought he lacks the rhetorical and verbal firepower to be a traditional populist of that sort. I’m thinking for example of the speech that landed Eugene V. Debs in jail during WW1 as a contrast to Corbyn’s polite, reasonable meanderings.
    However he does seem to be popular if not ‘populist’ – perhaps when the ‘rabble’ is ready to be roused it takes only a light touch. So maybe we shouldn’t typecast our populists so much, I think they might come in many forms.
    On authoritarianism – a primary goal of the left should be to limit the unaccountable private power of one citizen (or corporation) over other citizens. This makes left wing ideology anti-authoritarian in its purpose. But if private power can be broken only by state power, how do you avoid becoming the thing you oppose? In reality though, most ‘left’ governments don’t even get to run up against this dilemma because they are so timid when it comes to challenging private economic power due to the damage that can be inflicted by disinvestment and capital flight. I don’t see this situation changing any time soon – even a Corbyn-led government would be very, very cautious on this front.
    So a populist left- yes, but an authoritarian left just isn’t a possibility right now.

    • Ad 7.1

      Yes I would agree with you generally – what I am pointing to is a democratic dilemma. The crises are growing in force, but it appears as if only the right has the will to seize and break power structures.

      I don’t agree that this statement: “a primary goal of the left should be to limit the unaccountable private power of one citizen (or corporation) over other citizens” means that left wing ideology is anti-authoritarian in its purpose.

      It is leftie governments formed the modern instruments of state, together with its massive and grinding Leviathan of coercive instruments. And for the left, it is the state that needs the power and the courage to challenge markets and regulate them to rebuild coherent society again. The left have had plenty of authoritarian governments that have done this.

      • McFlock 7.1.1

        Authoritarianism works in countries that have systems which support monolithic party blocs, parties that can have a majority without coalition or compromise.

        The “left” tends to shun monolithic blocs, fracturing into a thousand pieces on the continuua of incrementalist to revolutionary and authoritarian to acentric. Tories like monoliths more.

        A left-wing government thats authoritarian just enough, but not too much, is a very rare beastie indeed.

        • Ad 7.1.1.1

          I’m not sure about that first point. Corbyn and Sanders come from pretty different political cultures. I’m not sure bloc formation is the ground for authoritarianism. The ground for authoritarianism is fertile whenever there are both sufficient crises to warrant a population willing to take commands, and when charismatic leaders rise who can play with these crises towards popular command of a singular public agenda.

          We definitely have a personality deficit on the left in New Zealand. Winston still looks good, and that’s a pretty low bar. Joyce looks interesting, English is looking coherent, Little just appears little.

          I still don’t trust a future Labour-Green government to have the will to wield the instruments of power that are still available. Even in housing, where they are making the largest promises. In fact after this amount of time I don’t think there are public servants left who can remember how to really crack heads across Departments.

          • McFlock 7.1.1.1.1

            Corbyn and Sanders both work in variations of FPP systems where it largely comes down to Party A vs Party B, rather than having to find common ground between any mixture of Parties A through F on an issue by issue basis.

            Labour and the Greens recognise that it’s not a case of them having a single will to wield power, it’s a case of everybody’s different wills working together to push the mass in a different course. It’s not as efficient as one propellor, or all propellors pointing in the same direction, but that’s the reality of politics: some party propellors point more left or right than others, and it’s the combined force that determines the eventual direction.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1.2

        …leftie governments formed the modern instruments of state, together with its massive and grinding Leviathan of coercive instruments.

        The coercive instruments were there long before that; cf: The Code of Ur-Nammu, Magna Carta etc… no-one expects the Spanish Inquisition either.

        • Ad 7.1.2.1

          Let’s stick to the postwar state for clarity of discussion please.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1.2.1.1

            Why?

            If you insist, I’m pretty sure Nixon, Thatcher, Pinochet, Reagan, Bush, Bush, Milosevic, Netanyahu and Howard had something to do with the formation of the modern instruments of state too.

            That is to say, they took paradigms that have existed for millennia and chose the ones that suited them best.

      • AB 7.1.3

        “leftie governments formed … grinding coercive instruments”
        I think it’s useful to distinguish authority that is based (even distantly) on democratic processes, from authority that isn’t. They are different in nature even if it may not feel like it if you are on the receiving end.

        “it appears as if only the right has the will to seize and break power structures.”
        I think the will to do so may come from having the power to do so. Easier to break structures that you are already a member of (e.g. Trump)

  8. Stuart Munro 8

    I think a moderate authoritarian left government would play rather well right now – the problem is more the crowding out of such possibilities by other parties who style themselves left.

    The rationale that was used to loot assets like rail and electricity generation has proven to be utterly false; these could be renationalized without a murmur except for the whining of far-right bloggers.

    • Ad 8.1

      Could you imagine a Rogernomic-force and Rogernomic-speed government of the left?

      • One Anonymous Bloke 8.1.1

        Sure. I can also imagine how stupid and disruptive such a government could be unless it took great pains to keep its head well pulled in.

        Democracy actually works if you apply it. Consultation produces far better decisions than diktat.

      • Stuart Munro 8.1.2

        Yes – but not among contemporary parties as I see it at present.

        The market at all costs movement is clearly a failure, so a streamlined version of what we had pre-Rogergnomics would presumably provide measurable gains.

        However, the appeasement of significant monopolist interests by major parties, seafood and road transport for example, suggests that they would struggle to find the political will however blatant the need.

        Labour is not producing reformist/economist leadership, so a clear template for that kind of reform is not coming from them.

        The Greens have many excellent policies, but not a raising grassroots prosperity tide driver like Rewi Alley’s Gung Ho.

        Winston would be amenable to such a process so long as he is in the driving seat (It’s good to be the king!) but plays his cards too close to his chest for any predictions to be made.

        The Gnats are simply too corrupt to function at all, much less contrive a coherent reform.

        ACT is merely a flaccid vesicle of adipose tissue – it’s reforming days are behind it.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 8.2

      There might be a bit of capital flight too, unless said return of stolen and fenced property was managed very carefully.

      • greywarshark 8.2.1

        We would have to be mot careful. Chile was big gungho and was taken out by its generals with USA assistance, as their interests had much to lose and wouldn’t stand for it. The USA will be back for another practice run of possible intervention here in October.

  9. BM 9

    MMP rules out NZ ever having to suffer the trump like fuckwitteries America is facing.

    Left or right, any asshat who wants to be a dictatorial wanker is pushing shit uphill, our political system and ratios doesn’t allow it.

    Which is NZ has been so centric for the last 20 years, that’s all you can be in an MMP environment.

    • Stuart Munro 9.1

      Rubbish – Key was every bit as irresponsible as Trump, he just didn’t tweet his meltdowns to the whole world. Both equally worthless – no governance happened.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.2

      MMP rules out NZ ever having to suffer the trump like fuckwitteries America is facing.

      We just had one such fuckwit retire.

    • Ad 9.3

      If that were the case, we would expect other countries with similar electoral systems to also have strong politicians like Trump from rising. I don’t see any evidence for this claim.

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    The government has released its Arms Legislation Bill, containing the second tranche of changes to gun laws following the March 15 massacre. And it all looks quite sensible: a national gun register, higher penalties for illegal possession and dealing, tighter restrictions on arms dealers and shooting clubs, and a shorter ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • California bans private prisons
    Private prisons are a stain on humanity. Prison operators explicitly profit from human misery, then lobby for longer prisons terms so they can keep on profiting. And in the US, prison companies run not only local and state prisons, but also Donald Trump's immigration concentration camps. Faced with this moral ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Why PPPs are a bad idea
    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    6 days ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    6 days ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    6 days ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    7 days ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    7 days ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    1 week ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    1 week ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    1 week ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago

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