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Smile!

Written By: - Date published: 4:45 pm, July 7th, 2018 - 98 comments
Categories: capitalism, Deep stuff, Economy, labour, Left, liberalism, national, political alternatives, Politics, social democracy, socialism, vision - Tags: , , , ,

If we imagine the extent of our politics to be represented by a line similar to the line drawing of a smile, then apart from a happy wee graphic, we might have the beginnings of a useful if basic schematic to envisage or capture current political possibilities and realities.

One side of the smile then, represents politics being steadily more dominated by social democratic political settings that culminate in statism. The other side of the smile represents increasingly market dominated politics of liberalism that culminate in a free market.

If we imagine a vertical line bisecting the smile at some subjective point where liberalism and social democracy are reckoned to form a “balance” such that neither market nor state really dominates, then the picture’s complete. For simplicity, we might place that vertical line at the centre point.

Whether politics are traveling in the direction of the free market or statism, conservatism will be located closer to that vertical line, acting as a brake or moderating influence on whatever movement is underway in the realm of politics.

So, in a social democratic setting (ie – when social democratic priorities are to the fore), we’d expect a Tory Party/National Party to be occupying the conservative space set somewhere towards that centre line, and pulling back on what conservatives would view as social democratic excesses. And similarly, in a liberal settings (ie – when market priorities are to the fore) we’d expect a Labour Party to be occupying the conservative space set towards that centre line and pulling back on perceived excesses of liberalism.

Generally speaking, that’s what we see.

But when there’s a reversal in movement (and obviously it’s not always a smooth or gradual transition) things can change in odd ways. So in NZ, when the Labour Party jumped from favouring social democratic settings to preferring liberal settings, it temporarily left the National Party occupying the newly formed space of conservative liberalism.

Nowadays, the Labour Party is back in that conservative position (essentially a conservative liberal one) and the National Party is positioned more towards the free market end point of liberalism.

The position of NZ Labour as conservative liberals contrasts somewhat with the UK Labour Party that, having embraced social democratic priorities these days, isn’t merely putting a brake on liberalism, but is seeking to change the direction of politics.

Last bit to the graphic.

Extend the lines from the top of the smile until they come together to form a circle. (Make it a dotted one if you want). See. That’s the totality of capitalism. And both social democracy and liberalism are wholly contained within it. And every parliamentary party gives succour to a mix of liberal and/or social democratic ideas and ideals of capitalism.

There’s a reason the term “left” hasn’t been used up until now. “Left” has always been an alternative to capitalism, not a variant of it, and so has no place in the rudimentary schemata drawn up above.

Some social democrats might disagree with that assertion.

Original Labour Parties were formed with the promise of bringing socialism about by parliamentary means afterall. Which is a fairly “left” intent. But that idea was always contested on the grounds it wasn’t logical or realistic. And after over 100 years with nothing to show on that front, I think we can safely conclude that social democracy is not a bridge between capitalism and socialism that we’ll all traipse across some fine day, but rather,  just a variant on capitalism that reigns in aspects of market liberalism while tending towards authoritarian statism.

If people who self identify as Left can’t break with capitalism in all of its forms, as well as the parliamentary parties of capitalism and rediscover the political roots of what the Left is and always has been all about, then we have a problem beyond simply and for ever seeking to avoid authoritarianism of whichever bent.

As William Hawes puts it in a recent article entitled “Ecology: The Keystone Science”

there will be no squaring the circle of mass industrial civilization and an inhabitable Earth.”

before going on to observe that

“many with the most influence on the Left today, such as Sanders, Corbyn, and Melenchon want to preserve industrial civilization. Theirs is an over-sentimental outlook which warps their thinking to want to prop up a dying model in order to redistribute wealth to the poor and working classes.”

Taking that as a read –  and I do –  it’s just as well we drew a wee smiley graphic for ourselves then, aye? But what do you say (anyone with pretensions to be being left or progressive), that we stick two wee eyes on this post’s graphic, and then open them? (Might want to draw up a pair of legs to walk away on too 😉 )

98 comments on “Smile! ”

  1. patricia bremner 1

    “Walk away?” or could it be “Walk towards a different future?”
    We can’t continue as we are without the doomsday guys getting it right.

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    many with the most influence on the Left today, such as Sanders, Corbyn, and Melenchon want to preserve industrial civilization.

    Actually, the problem is that they want to maintain capitalism.

    Industry can be done sustainably. Capitalism can’t.

  3. greywarshark 3

    Business confidence is down – not so low for 7 years. Labour Anti Business. The link between confidence and performance is fragile. It is just political bias.

    Amy Adams in her ‘confident’ voice. Low business aptitude and National had to puff up their pillows. That is why Fletchers have had to restructure etc. – Greedy boys wanting all the goodies and elbowing other competitors out of the way.
    Oooh er.
    Higher fuel taxes
    Reforms
    Shutting down oil and gas.

    The task for all NZ people caring citizens – Find a businessman or woman and help
    them by smoothing their brows, and offering them panaceas to help them get out of their fright. Be kind, but firm.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/focusonpolitics/audio/2018652563/focus-on-politics-for-6-july-2018 16+mins

  4. McFlock 4

    Good luck with the revolution, comrade. In the meantime I’ll keep trying to help people in the real world.

    • Bill 4.1

      Do you have anything worthwhile to say about the descriptive analysis offered? Maybe some intelligent opinion on the viability of capitalist arrangements in the face of global warming?

      Or is petty put down and puffery all you’ve got by way of engagement?

      • McFlock 4.1.1

        Do you know how many drafts I went through for that? Tour post strikes me as just another flavour of why Tories have such an advantage in a democracy: lefties love to pretend that they are the only left in town.

        Firstly, the vertical line is not a balance that most social democrats would aspire to, where corporations are just as strong as governments.

        Secondly, complete removal of capitalism is fine, unless people want to own or sell something. Then your flavour of socialism butts horns against democracy. Therefore Democratic socialism can’t exist, simply because your trite smiley face lets you claim the words “left” and “socialist” for yourself.

        • R.P Mcmurphy 4.1.1.1

          that is just twaddle flocky and barely coherent. just adducing a string of perjorative words does in no way constitute a well formed argument

        • marty mars 4.1.1.2

          why you bother I’ll never know McFlock

          • David Mac 4.1.1.2.1

            I love McFlock’s comments. I think he/she has an active mind, tells no fibs and a wonderful turn of phrase. Agree or disagree, what more could one wish for in a blog jockey?

            I think you have much in common with McFlock Marty.

            • McFlock 4.1.1.2.1.1

              Wow. Thanks 🙂

            • marty mars 4.1.1.2.1.2

              Yeah I rate him too.

              • David Mac

                You 2 and a few dozen others keep me coming back here. The authors are crucial, firestarters, but It’s the potpourri of opinion where the intrigue lives.

                Over the Herald, weather, utube and Trademe, I click on my Standard link, curious to hear what the dirty 2 dozen have to say.

                To all the regular contributors here, thanks, love your work.

        • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.3

          Secondly, complete removal of capitalism is fine, unless people want to own or sell something.

          False dichotomy.

          Removal of capitalism means the removal of private ownership of capital assets. Not the private ownership of products.

          So, the self-owned business you work for can still go to the factory (self-owned business) to buy their products and then on sell them. You yourself will still be able to go to the shop and buy them and they would then be yours.

          That’s if we still use a market system to distribute goods and resources.

          If we don’t then you’d simply order the product from the factory and it will be delivered. Once it’s delivered it will be yours. The factory would be a self-owned ‘business’.

          • McFlock 4.1.1.3.1

            Money is capital. As long as we have a means of exchange in private possession, capitalism exists to some degree.

            • Pat 4.1.1.3.1.1

              ‘Money’ is a promise….not capital.
              Even so the majority of us are capitalists….whether we know it or not.

              • McFlock

                If a corporation raises caputal, what does it usually accrue?

                • Pat

                  lol…these days an electronic transfer…so data, and in times gone by, bits of paper…. nothing real or tangible.

                  • McFlock

                    Transfer of what? Paper with what writing – Tolstoy? No. Money. The means of exchange.

                    • Pat

                      means of exchange where and when…what is the constant?…there isn’t one. ‘Money” is a promise that someone will exchange your bits of paper (or data) for something you desire….what guarantees that? the strength of the issuer…if the issuer cannot meet the promise what is its use?

                    • McFlock

                      You might as well ask what guarantees the ownership that is exchanged, as well as the money which is often the means of such an exchange.

                      All interesting questions, but money is still capital.

                    • Pat

                      and therein lies the misconception….you can create all the ‘money’ you desire and have insufficient capital…..real capital is useable resources, for without them nothing else matters.

                    • McFlock

                      A misconception that is our current reality.

                    • Pat

                      No…a misconception thats our current misconception….reality dont care what we think.

                    • McFlock

                      Well, maybe you barter for goods more often than I do.

                    • Pat

                      lol…probably not…but I suspect I’ll be less surprised than yourself when my bits of paper cant supply my needs.

                    • McFlock

                      Lol yeah but when that happens there are worse things to worry about than the ATM.

                      Edit: I’m one of those people who needs complex infrastructure to stay alive. A real collapse of society would have me immobilised and screaming in a week after my meds run out.

                    • Pat

                      indeed…except if it was understood then perhaps the impact could be lessened….but that seems very unlikely.

            • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.3.1.2

              Actually, money isn’t capital. Even the economists admit that. That’s why they have the term financial capital. To differentiate between money and capital.

              It is the ownership of capital (Land, factories, etc) that makes someone a capitalist.

              And trade is not solely capitalist. That is another wrong assumption on your part. The Australian aborigines traded but they neither owned land nor had money.

              • McFlock

                So money is a form of capital. The financial bit.

                And yes, if we restricted ourselves to barter I doubt capitalism could exist.

        • Bill 4.1.1.4

          There is no suggestion that most social democrats would aspire to that balance. The post was fairly explicit in suggesting most would want to take things off in the direction of more statism.

          Did you even attempt to understand where I was coming from with the post, or did something in there press a button that set you off?

          • McFlock 4.1.1.4.1

            The bit where you literally said that the left “has no place in the rudimentary schemata drawn up above” (the schema that includes social democracy) pissed me off a bit, but everything else in the post seems to me to be a contrivance to support that bit of apparent exceptionalusm.

            • Bill 4.1.1.4.1.1

              Can you point me to any writings by Marx or Bakunin or any other writer who might sensibly be regarded as either socialist or anarchist or communist (ie- Left), whose proposition was a variation of capitalism?

              Social Democracy sought to accommodate capitalism, and bring about socialism by parliamentary and legislative means. I covered this in the post. It’s an idea that Labour Parties originally ascribed to. And after over 100 years, where is the instance of social democracy unfolding into socialism? There isn’t one, and on the basis it’s a precursor to statism, there won’t be one. (Did you never wonder why Labour Parties attracted statists like the Trots and Leninists?)

              Anyway, wikipedia has a fairly succinct take on social democracy as it exists today.

              Social democracy is a political, social and economic ideology that supports economic and social interventions to promote social justice within the framework of a liberal democratic polity and capitalist economy. (my bold)

              As for the rest of the post, it offers up a way to place and understand the positioning of (in a NZ context) the Labour Party, NZ First and the Greens – something that seems to have bamboozled people if past commentary is anything to go by.

              • McFlock

                The Fabians seem a bit more moderate than the communists.

                And again, my point isn’t that social democrats don’t believe in eliminating capitalism, my point is that their acceptance of some level of capitalism doesn’t mean they’re other than “left”.

                And after 100 years, there isn’t any instance of a socialist or communist state either, by your definition. Has there been any state where the production has been controlled by the people rather than a select elite, with no capitalist trade at all?

                As for placing and understanding the positioning of the government, your smiley face is no help at all. All it says is that your exceptionalist definition of “left” is somehow different from every political organisation of any note in the country, with no indication of the depth of the gulf or how we might cross it, or the direction existing organisations might move in order to do so.

                The idea of a contest between the state and capital for control over society is equally useless if it doesn’t describe the nature and objectives of that control.

                • Bill

                  Point me to the writings of recognised major thinkers/theorists of the left where the proposition is for a variation of capitalism.

                  Left was and is an anti-capitalist position – even the original idea embedded in social democratic theory was (as I keep repeating) that socialism could be brought about by legal and parliamentary processes.

                  I don’t understand your point about there never having been a socialist state. It’s a howling contradiction of statism and socialism in theory and (in practice) statism – eg the USSR.

                  There’s nothing “exceptionalist” in what I’ve written. And unless you’re going to maintain that just because ‘everyone’ says a thing, it must mean that thing is true, then so what if it’s different to an acceptable way of viewing things? The point is whether it’s accurate and coherent. And as far as I can tell, and in that absence of any substantive argument to the contrary (“I don’t like what you’re saying!” doesn’t count), it’s both of those things.

                  I’ve been explicit on where the contest between capital and state can go. (Fck, Again. Did you actually read the post before commenting?)

                  There is only one example I can think of where a serious effort was made to use existing structures to bridge the gulf you mention. That was and is the Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela – seeking to use the power of the state to undermine the state through supporting the formation of parallel, highly democratic governing structures.

                  By the way, was there any comment from the leader of NZ Labour on the occasion of Chavez’s death? What about from UK Labour? I’ll help you out here. Andrew Little said fuck all. Corbyn noted the man and his achievements.

                  But then, one of those leaders is a conservative liberal and the other a social democrat – so that silence versus acknowledgement is to be expected.

                  And maybe while we’re on the topic of this social democracy you claim to hold so dear, what was your take on Sanders and the re-awakening of social democracy in the US he represented again? I seem to recall you basically decrying the fact he hadn’t packed up and gone home to Vermont sooner. And what has been the depth of support you’ve expressed for Corbyn, or for the SNP (those being the other two instances of a social democratic push in the English speaking world)?

                  I’m asking because, surely, as a committed social democrat, your support should be more vociferous than my anarchist and therefor conditional voice of support, no?

                  • McFlock

                    Point me to the writings of recognised major thinkers/theorists of the left where the proposition is for a variation of capitalism.

                    Do you regard Fabians as left wing?
                    Was Norman Kirk a socialist?

                    Dunno about committed or holding it dear, I’ve never been overly concerned with labels. But I quite liked Sanders. If a chunk of his followers hadn’t been a bunch of self-immolating jerks who went to trump, life would have been nicer, though. Trump would probably still have won if that alone changed, but it was a shame seeing once again supporters of “the left” support capitalists just because their ordained one true path wasn’t followed by their closest allies.

                    Further reading of your comments tells me that apparently statists can’t be socialists, so therefore can’t be left wing either. Nobody is left wing except a few anarchists and pan-globalist communists, it seems.

                    A very roundabout way of returning to my initial comment.

                    • Bill

                      Of course statists aren’t socialist. Where and how the necessary level of democracy for socialism in a statist set up?

                      How many supporters of Sanders voted for Trump? Are there any indicative and reliable numbers been produced or published anywhere?

                      The Democrats lost the US election for the same reason that Brexit went the way it did and May nearly blew a General Election – people are “over it”.

                    • McFlock

                      Was Norman Kirk a socialist?
                      Are the Fabians socialist?

                    • Bill

                      From the Fabian Society’s NZ page – we will focus on the fundamental requirement that New Zealand shapes a sustainable economic future for itself. Via a series of lectures and seminars, we will provide a forum for critiquing the prevailing economic orthodoxy and the advocacy of viable alternatives and reforms.

                      Turning a blind eye to their promotion of Blair and what not, Social Democratic then.

                      And Norman Kirk was a solid social democrat.

                      Maybe you’d rather label them as socialist, just like many in the media and beyond label Corbyn as socialist? And you can do that. But in doing it, you’re ignoring reality and the limits of both parliamentarianism and the legislature in relation to socialism and/or that democracy and socialism are synonymous.

                    • McFlock

                      So neither the Fabian Socialists nor Norman Kirk are/were socialist – most would call them pretty “left”, though.

      • McFlock 4.1.2

        OK, answer me this. So you’re the latest champion of the people to realise he’s beyond or outside the conventional political paradigm, and anyone who disagrees is a Tory apologist. Great. Now: how does that observation change anything or help anyone?

        Except 1% who like to see the other 99% bickering amongst themselves.

        • adam 4.1.2.1

          Liberalism or the highway, ah Mcflock?

          Of if it not gradualism it’s not working for people?

        • Bill 4.1.2.2

          I didn’t say I was “outside the conventional political paradigm”. You know full well what my politics are and have known for years. You’re also aware I’m supportive of a social democratic shift – as is happening in the UK, and (so I hoped) was going to happen in NZ with Cunliffe leading NZ Labour.

          Neither have I called you or anyone else a “Tory apologist”.

          So basically you’ve invented a position for me to answer to instead of engaging with the substance of the post.

          But to answer you in a broader sense, perceiving something of the nature of a thing is a prerequisite, or at least an aid, to understanding that thing, and understanding can lead to relevant decisions and actions being better, clearer or more complete.

          In relation to the substance of the post

          If you don’t think capitalism is a mix of social democracy and liberalism (except at the political extremes), then what is it that you think it is?

          If you don’t think that social democracy is bound to capitalism, then put forward an argument to that effect.

          If you think that Left and Progressive exists within capitalism and can (through a social democratic platform or otherwise) bring about socialism, then make the case.

          If you think the Left or Progressive has nothing to do with socialism, then again, make the case.

          Or otherwise offer up some form of acceptable engagement.

          But if all you’re going to do is engage at the level of personal abuse and accusation, then please, leave the thread instead of derailing it.

          • McFlock 4.1.2.2.1

            No you just said that the term “left” has no place on the same chart as social democracy.

            Whatever. There’s a good film on telly so I can’t be bothered.

            • Bill 4.1.2.2.1.1

              Well no McFlock, I didn’t “just say”, but laid out some basic reasoning as to why (which can be contested) and sign-posted the historical roots of when the Left was initially co-opted by parliamentarian politics (which again, can be contested).

              Hope the film was enjoyable.

              • McFlock

                Yeah it was quite a sweet wee film. Not a huge roller coaster, but nor a saccharine overload neither.

                Anyway, some on the left use parliamentary politics, and I don’t believe that to be left or socialist one must exclude all capitalism.

                The opponent the left faces is the same one that goes back to Wat Tyler. Now they use stockpiles of money to stake their fiefdoms. You can pretend there’s much of a difference between conservatism and liberalism, but they’re basically the same thing.

                There’s the people who have the power and want more of it, and there are the people who want the power distributed more equitably. That’s really the only taxonomy that matters.

                • Bill

                  I haven’t said that parliamentary politics or the parliamentary environment should not be used or engaged with. What I am saying is that there are limits to how far things can be taken via those vehicles or routes.

                  And I certainly haven’t said that “to be left or socialist one must exclude all capitalism”. No socialist I’ve ever known has “excluded” capitalism. They’ve confronted it, engaged it, sometimes found alternatives to it…but never excluded it. That would (I think) mean living the life of a hermit in a cave or some such.

                  When I use the term conservative, I’m using in the classical sense – ie, “averse to change” (not necessarily a bad thing). That’s why I’m saying that politically, that space can be occupied by a Tory Party or by a Labour Party depending on which way the wind blows (ie – towards free markets or towards statism).

                  On your last para. Capitalism will always concentrate power and wealth. And to be very short hand about it, a Liberal will tend to celebrate that, while a Social Democrat will seek to limit it, and a socialist to dissipate it.

          • Gabby 4.1.2.2.2

            What’s on the vertical axis? What is signified by the height of the corners of the smile relative to the centre?

            • Bill 4.1.2.2.2.1

              The “smile” terminates in authoritarianism. On one side, the authoritarianism associated with statism, and on the other, the authoritarianism and brutality inherent to a free market.

  5. CHCOff 5

    Socially conservative and pragmatic when it comes to collectivism.

    Socially progressive and sensible when it comes to co-operation.

    NZ1st!

    • corodale 5.1

      Would NZF be brave enough to lunch a digital currency, crypto at the Central Bank level, aiming to stablise Pacific Island economies? As the required global debt default kicks in… It’s that level of innovation and change that is required, if this Smile writing of Bill’s has anything of substance.

  6. David Mac 6

    A government can steer capitalism. I don’t think solutions lie in crushing it but the manipulation of it.

    Not punitive measures but incentives to do the right thing by our nett society.

    Make it work for more, like a co-op of family orchardists with a few acres each providing the blueberries for a Fonterra fridge ready dairy product for the Chinese market. Joe and Suzie’s place vs Nestle.

    Great NZ marketing story to tell in a corporate maelstrom like urban China.

    • corodale 6.1

      Good plan. Though risk of co-op struggling against other strong businesses, under debt pressure, leading to casualties. Govt would have to back with State Cash, and work towards a Globle Agreement on Debt Default.

      • David Mac 6.1.1

        A government has the power to make such a venture less risky for participants. A weather bomb could wipe out a crop in one growing region, if a co-op the weather unaffected growing regions could prop up the bottom line.

        It’s just an example. I’m of the opinion – give 25% of the company to the workers = above average prosperity. People with a direct stake in outcomes care more.

        • David Mac 6.1.1.1

          With a percentage of ownership in the company the rise of the robots becomes something to be welcomed, bring on the 3 day weekend.

          • David Mac 6.1.1.1.1

            Sweden don’t have the same hassles we do with our provincial locations. They’ve got a 1000 year head start on us with this global trade malarkey but they’ve made a great job of injecting prosperity into their Taihapes, Kawakawas and Turangis.

            Provincial locations became specialists. Where I lived, they had been digging up and shipping iron ore to Sheffield for 100’s of years. My modern provincial neighbourhood was built on the back of Swedish company Sandvik. Half of the locals worked there. Their tool steel is the best money can buy. People that work there got a sweetheart deal on share ownership, I didn’t meet any Sandvik workers that didn’t own some of it. I think it prompted them into making sure their tool steel is the best in the world. From the cleaners on up, they were all in it together.

            From what I could see, it worked quite well.

            • greywarshark 6.1.1.1.1.1

              David Mac
              If a company like Sandvik made a success in NZ it would have very quickly been sold to an overseas firm and a pub built on the incomes earned by the workers.

              Unless it was like Taits that I believe was put into trust.

              • David Mac

                Yeah I hear you grey but a government has the power to tip favour towards the guys with sweat on their brows.

                There is little Sandvik workers could do about an aggressive attack on the Swedish share market.

                A government has the power to instruct the new controlling entity that nothing changes re: those that make it happen, the workers and their 25% share.

                • greywarshark

                  David Mac
                  Hail to that.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Yeah I hear you grey but a government has the power to tip favour towards the guys with sweat on their brows.

                  And the best way to do that is to remove the business owners.

                  • David Mac

                    Business owners are not out to get you Draco, relax. Count the Matariki stars. I can only speak for me but I don’t want to see you hobbled.

                    Fly Draco ….(I’ll catch you if you fall)

        • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1.2

          People with a direct stake in outcomes care more.

          You may not have noticed but workers at a business have a direct stake in the outcomes. If the business fails they’re out of a job, can no longer afford the mortgage and may even lose their family.

          In the capitalist paradigm those workers have no say in how well the business is run.

          • David Mac 6.1.1.2.1

            When everyone’s Christmas bonus is geared to how well the company does, everyone cares Draco. Everyone does their best or feels like an outsider.

      • Gosman 6.1.2

        Why would a country that NZ exports to allow the State to fund the exporters? There would be immediate calls of unfair trade practices.

        • Hongi Ika 6.1.2.1

          The problem NZ has is country’s like the USA impose import tariff’s on our product, like our dairy products and this is actually a form of protectionism and is against Free Trade Principles ?

    • Draco T Bastard 6.2

      A government can steer capitalism.

      No they can’t. In fact, all indications are that it’s the capitalists that steer government making us an oligarchy or plutocracy.

      I don’t think solutions lie in crushing it but the manipulation of it.

      There are no solutions that way – we’ve tried. Had the fastest rising living standards in history – until the capitalists fucked it over and now we have the fastest rising poverty.

      Make it work for more, like a co-op of family orchardists with a few acres each providing the blueberries for a Fonterra fridge ready dairy product for the Chinese market.

      We can’t actually afford the exportation of our scarce resources. A country can only feed the people living in it and even then only if the food produced is properly recycled back to growing more food.

      • David Mac 6.2.1

        Hey you know how you hate capitalists, where on Earth do you get your internet connection?

        Are you touching the enemy on the willy Draco?

      • Gosman 6.2.2

        There is no evidence supporting your view that there is the fastest rising poverty here (or anywhere else).

    • Bill 6.3

      Hey David. I think the jury’s back. Capitalism and its attendant industrialism is incompatible with a worthwhile future.

      Now, you can tweak it and twiddle it as much as you like, but no matter which way you look at it, and no matter what you do with it, capitalism’s dead.

      The only question remaining is whether we are noble, desperate and stupid enough to go down with the ship, or whether we give ourselves a chance by abandoning it.

  7. Hongi Ika 7

    Reminds be of John Key ? The most popular PM in the history of NZ ?

  8. Robert Guyton 8

    “If we imagine the extent of our politics to be represented by a line similar to the line drawing of a smile, then apart from a happy wee graphic, we might have the beginnings of a useful if basic schematic to envisage or capture current political possibilities and realities.”
    What ?!?
    You’d have us accept the open curve as a metaphor for politics in New Zealand here and now?
    On a butter-yellow, ACTiod, schizoid (just yoking) background? With echoes of a relentlessly happy emoticon, only lacking eyes and nose, blind as justice and unable to sniff the breeze?

    Why???

    • Bill 8.1

      Because I’m a bad mushroom? Because a McDs graphic was a step too far? Because of an Eric Idle ditty?

      Whatever, deaf, dumb and blind does seem somewhat appropriate, no?

      The line terminates at both ends btw. We’re not talking in terms of “above the curve” and “below the curve” 😉

  9. New Zealand I think is tiring of both National and Labour. People have realized both are wedded to the neoliberal model. This is why house prices are sky high, why although Labour is spending a lot of money it also has not made a real swing to the left and back to its core – when it does, that means it has made an honest go of:

    1) Fixing the housing crisis
    2) Sorting out the tax system – I think scope for raising taxes on high incomes (say over $180,000) exists, but that too much emphasis is on incomes and G.S.T.
    3) Fixing our bung ministries – particularly M.S.D., Health and Education
    4) Initiate a waste revolution: simply having a review is not good enough when e-waste for example creates 600 kilogrammes of gold waste a year and 600 tons of copper waste – good money to made out of this

  10. Gabby 10

    In what sense is ‘that’ the totality of capitalism?

    • Bill 10.1

      Can you identify any other politics that support, underpin or work within capitalism? Social democracy (and its statist extreme) through liberalism (and its free market extreme) would seem to encapsulate it. But I could be wrong and am open to suggestions.

      • Gabby 10.1.1

        What lies in the area beneath the upper semicircle, dotted or not?

        • Bill 10.1.1.1

          tsk. Have you any other organised polities in mind, besides shades of social democracy and liberalism that you think might accompany capitalism?

          • Gabby 10.1.1.1.1

            Are there any others?

            • Bill 10.1.1.1.1.1

              Obviously Gabby, if there are, I’m not aware of them.

              If you want to fill in the space below the dotted line (and yes, I know the suggestion of closing the circle was messing with things by jumping from a simple linear representation of politics to a Venn Diagram), then I’d suggest filling it with such things as consumerism, chrematistics, racism, sexism, competition, industrialism, greed, patriarchy and a whole lot besides – a frothing, somewhat oozing mass of overlapping bubbles that all needs blowing away.

              And maybe we could incorporate a thousand rainbow sheens into the whole caboodle – an oil theme as it were?

              • Gabby

                So, what’s outside the circle described by solid and/or dotted curves, but inside the outline? Where does pompous conceit fit into the grand design? Is the torso absent because it disappeared up its own arse into a selfcontradicting vacuum?

                • Bill

                  What’s a “selfcontradicting vacuum” when it’s at home? Does it have a home? What’s on the mantle piece? And why bother with space bars when f’s and c’s can get all cozy like that sans socialising? What drinks do they sell btw? And can customers ever arrive without messing up the vacuous nature of space?

  11. David Mac 11

    Smooth cats and smiling

  12. David Mac 12

    Prosperity is worth pursuing, it offers choice, freedom’s bicycle.

    We need to get better at getting more of us on bikes.

  13. Jenny 13

    “there will be no squaring the circle of mass industrial civilization and an inhabitable Earth.”
    William Hawes

    We’re hearing it from everywhere nowadays.

    https://www.newscientist.com/article/2173636-chris-packham-lets-stop-sleepwalking-towards-mass-extinction/

  14. I am glum now because I haven’t seen any photos of the new PM’s baby.

    So I am suffering from (SNSBS) ‘sick not seeing baby syndrome.

  15. Pat 15

    Unfortunately the demise of politics will not solve the problem, that requires the demise of a species.

    Of course the former may lead to the latter.

    • Bill 15.1

      Politics other than those that are hide bound to capitalism might be good.

      But I’m not seeing much prospect for that at a world wide scale.

      It struck me last night, that most of the people reading here-a-bouts (older readership) have a chance of seeing their lives out (ie – not ended by some effect of AGW). In other words, many of us will fall over and be gone before our world arrives at the cliff top. It’s the generations coming behind, propelled or pulled on by the momentum we’ve built and maintained that will be going over the edge in their droves and billions.

      On the bright side, in a 100 years or so, there probably won’t be much in the way of anyone spitting on the graves of those who chose to do nothing against the stampeding herd that’s currently around us.

      They’ll be far too occupied eking out an existence to rail against the ghosts from today who just kept on dropping the kids off at school in the SUVs, and flying around the world with “off-sets” clearing their conscience – who generally and persistently, by their habits and actions, supported these economic arrangements that are to oil as a vampire is to blood… because retirement; because success; because wealth; because fear; because stupid.

      • marty mars 15.1.1

        Exactly bill.

        Most here will be gone and the next generations will have to face it. That’s why I don’t go doomer – what’s the point? Its just self indulgence – I focus on building resilience and community and frankly anyone not doing those things is in a form of denial and arrogance imo and just continuing the habits that fucked us up in the first place.

      • Pat 15.1.2

        If politics is the organisation of resources by those with power then what form it takes is irrelevant…there are simply insufficient….and thats not even accounting for the character flaws that exist within us all….but as you note, we are unlikely to experience the worst of it….cold comfort.

        • Bill 15.1.2.1

          I’d have thought economics should be about the “organisation of resources”, and that politics (in part) would be the array of decisions and processes that impact on that.

          None of the above has to be predicated on the exercise of some concentration of power. It could be democratic.

          But all and whatever, I suspect most of us will have to settle for that cold comfort.

          • Pat 15.1.2.1.1

            fair enough…but I’d suggest that politics and economics are so intertwined as to be indistinguishable….two sides of the same coin as it were, for both in essence are concerned with the allocation of the necessities of (human) life.

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