The Pablo-Trotter interchange – whither the left?

Written By: - Date published: 8:50 pm, January 23rd, 2014 - 169 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, Economy, Left - Tags: ,

Pablo’s post about the (alleged) sad state of the left in NZ, posted on Kiwipolitico, raised some issues that got a response from Chris Trotter.  Pablo then replied to that – with some mentions about the responses to his first post on the Standard’s Open Mike, 21 January 2014 – discussion started here.

I agree with parts of what both Trotter and Pablo say, but not everything. Basically, methinks Trotter doth protest too much about Bomber sucking up to Dotcom.

However, Pablo really does an old school Marxist analysis – it’s like the whole struggle between feminists, anti-racists, etc within the left, over the last few decades, never happened. It has been a long struggle to get some understanding and inclusion of these within the left.  Pablo tends to be dismissive of, and marginalise the politics of “race”, (by implication) gender and sexuality, and climate change to the margins.  For him it is all being about the “working class” being front and centre – while he does however acknowledge the difficulties of defining “working class” these days.

The term “precariat” for instance has some great significance in the 21st century, as does the focus on paid work, subordinates the role of domestic labour, child care and collaborative community activities.

I could be wrong, but  it seems to me that Pablo is being dismissive of gender and sexuality politics when, in his latest post he says:

It may not be armed conflict but the NZ market project, be it subtle, buffered or stark, is a war against the working classes, one that is based on the atomization of said classes via the destruction of class-based unions and ideological diversions that promote narrow sectoral representation based upon collective assumptions about the primacy of individual self-interest over solidarity, and which privileges greed over empathy.

My bold.

I think Pablo is correct about many things to do with the compromise politics of the left during the early 20th century, and with his criticisms of the (so-called) “neoliberal” class war.

However, I do think such a class analysis needs updating – to include climate change, and various oppressions such as that of “race”, gender and sexuality – there’s a lot of intersections between these and class oppression – but sometimes they run parallel.  These are not individualistically-based.  They impact on large sections of society – as much a collective group as any class – and in ways that can only be successfully combatted with collective, collaborative actions. Any left politics also needs a strong focus on environment and resources.

Running through Pablo’s posts seems to be the old Marxist economic base- cultural superstructure hierarchy- with the economic base being the ultimate driver.  For me, those two things are constantly interacting and intertwined – and it can be seen in Pablo’s coverage of things like the hegemonic struggles and the struggles against dominant ideology – even while referring to “ideological distractions” at least once.

Any left politics needs to focus on both the cultural constructions and dismantling the “capitalist institutions” simultaneously.

I also don’t agree that the NZ left is “dead” – just struggling against some pretty powerful manipulations and controls by the corporate backed transnational elites.

169 comments on “The Pablo-Trotter interchange – whither the left? ”

  1. mickysavage 1

    Thanks Karol.

    Pablo’s post annoyed me but also made me think. I made a comment about how his analysis was 1970s based and I now see that his refusal to acknowledge gender or race as being important is the reason for this annoyance.

    Trotter is someone who causes a number of responses and occasionally he gets rubbished. But I have always respected his analysis. He wrote a column in the 1990s about how the traditional left-right worker- employer division had been replaced by something different.

    The new lefties were the community people, those people who dedicated themselves to improving the plight of their local community. It struck a really strong chord with me and if Chris can dig it out and repost it I would be really pleased. Because this idea of “community” encompasses race, sex, sexual preference and any other important sector into what could be an organic whole.

    Pablo is wrong in that the left is not dead or dying, it is now spread amongst a number of sectors with people willing to do all sorts of things to improve the world that they live in.

    United we will all stand …

    • karol 1.1

      Thanks, micky. For me, some of Trotter’s posts/articles nail it, others don’t, and yet others have a bit of both.

      I’d be interested to read Trotter’s 1990 piece.

    • geoff 1.2

      The new lefties were the community people, those people who dedicated themselves to improving the plight of their local community.

      I am sure there are a great many people in NZ who dedicate themselves to helping their local community yet vote National.

  2. just saying 2

    This makes me feel sad and disillusioned – pitting different oppressed groups against each other. It feels like writers such as Pablo, and many on here are saying we can only have one or the other – the socialism of the past in which some advantaged people within it reign supreme – with all the hierarchies that necessarily entails, or capitalism – with its own systems of advantage and disadvantage.

    I don’t want to fuel any more unfruitful discord, but it feels like the crises that we are facing are being used by some to push back against hard won progress by disadvantaged groups, and to reinstate lost unearned privilege in the name of some nebulous “greater good”. It makes me deeply suspicious.

    Where is the conflict Pablo? Why do the needs of one identity group matter while all others are derided as self-interested and individualistic. That doesn’t even make sense to me. I’m a working class woman with a disability, but only my membership of one of these groups is considered valid, yet all impact on my freedom, my humanity and ultimately, my survival as the crises we face unfold and resources are less and less available.

    I don’t see any solution to this impasse. I’m just glad you haven’t given up on us Karol, it would be easier to conform to the pressure to talk about the matters on which the left is mostly united and stop ruffling feathers.

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      I don’t see any solution to this impasse. I’m just glad you haven’t given up on us Karol, it would be easier to conform to the pressure to talk about the matters on which the left is mostly united and stop ruffling feathers.

      Well, there are always opportunities to ruffle a few feathers.

      I think Pablo’s main points are easy enough to understand. Is there something difficult to grasp around what it means for the Left to be “spent as a political force”?

      To me it means that you cannot rally a mass of people, resources and leverage around socialist causes. To me it means that you cannot propose or persuade the public on policies concretely delivering on universal values of justice for all, nor concretely delivering on radical socialist change. To me it means that you cannot deliver on promises to significantly and concretely improve the lives of the mass of people, or even the sections of the community in the most dire need.

      Some mildly helpful middle of the road centrist change can still be produced, now and then, of course.

      • just saying 2.1.1

        I was responding to the same part of Pablo’s rhetoric on the “left is a spent political force” as you did in open mike a few days ago, CV. Why does my raising it mean that I’m not grasping the main issues? Was that the reason you raised it?

        • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1

          I disagreed with some of your analysis.

          I don’t think that Pablo highlighting serious (at least perceived) differences and deficiencies within the Left is equivalent to “pitting different oppressed groups against each other.” Neither do I see Pablo “pushing back” to return privilege to those who never earnt it, and taking it away from disadvantaged groups who did earn it.

          In my mind his analysis about the Left as a spent political force remains spot on.

          That is not to say that centrist politics of a mildly social democratic and socially liberal flavour doesn’t still have plenty of get up and go to it. It does.

      • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 2.1.2

        Your comment here, CV is easier for me to understand than Pablo’s

        “To me it means that you cannot rally a mass of people, resources and leverage around socialist causes. To me it means that you cannot propose or persuade the public on policies concretely delivering on universal values of justice for all, nor concretely delivering on radical socialist change. To me it means that you cannot deliver on promises to significantly and concretely improve the lives of the mass of people, or even the sections of the community in the most dire need.”

        Whilst I see your point – and agree that it is kind of frustrating that people aren’t gathering in HUGE masses raging against what is going on(!) – we have to be careful not to allow our frustration at not witnessing stronger reaction get in the way of the facts of the situation and I believe, as I’ve already mentioned, concluding that there is no reaction is patently untrue and this is a main error I believe Pablo has committed.

        For example, we just had a referendum on whether people agreed with asset sales being [partially] privatised – this was a mass movement which required a lot of helpers ‘on the ground’ and achieved mass support. Also, as you well know the largest left-wing party in the country just elected a leader speaking clearly against neo-liberalism – this also required large groups of people to mobilise. The GCSB bill opposition was huge and included both ‘the left’ and ‘the right’. All these events go directly against the first sentence of the quote of your comment (that I have copied above).

        As for ‘radical socialist change’ – now that is another thing entirely and is perhaps why Pablo should have taken time to define what he meant by ‘the left’ in the first place.

        This is important – because to my understanding the term ‘left’ came into existence by the reference to those who sit on the left in the British parliament (or was it the French?) – this actually means it is not a narrow term and in New Zealand it includes a wide range of differing political ideas – the thing I would point to that those who sit ‘on the left in parliament’ (and whom support them) have in common would be an attitude of ‘people before profit’ – they are a group of people who see that market theory, leaving things to the market, does not address all of societies needs.

        You may wish the left to solely refer to people who are anti-market completely – or anti-capitalist – however this is not, at present, the case in reality – we have been in a mixed market economy since at least around the end of World War 2. Therefore it is better -more accurate and relevant – to define the left as those who push for more intervention of the market in order to address social issues* and do not want the market to be left to ‘run the show’. I do not think an accurate definition of the left would discount people who still believe in some aspect of market mechanism being applied.

        Related to this, yet requiring some emphasis, I would have thought a major common trend in the left is an awareness of the effects of us all living together interdependently – that although we all want to be individuals – sometimes our own desires and freedoms can interfere with the desires and freedoms of others’ and therefore there is some sort of thoughtfulness required when it comes to what political and economic approach is applied to our communities and in this way we all actually achieve more freedom to be who we want than if it is all left to ‘individualism’ to decide how our country is run.

        *There might be a slight clause re this ‘people first’ aspect of the left when it comes to the Greens. They have a deep concern and passion for the wellbeing of ‘nature’ – and there are probably some whom do not fit into the ‘people interests first’ aspect of the left (rather it may be ‘nature first’), however many within the Green movement will be motivated by a ‘peoples’ interests’ awareness (as well as a passion for nature in itself) – i.e people benefit from a healthy environment – in fact require it for life.

        I am in no doubt that ‘the left’ face large challenges to getting their message out and getting their views acted upon – most of these challenges are external. These challenges have a lot to do with left views being against the orthodox economic theory of the last few decades – which became quite extreme (and is also clearly failing) – and, as you already know, that theory is about leaving things to the markets as much as possible and attempting to not interfere with them.

        The non-interference aspect is what has become particularly extreme because that theory believes that society just ‘works’ when markets are left to themselves – any interferences stops this effect from function, so the theory goes…. (Sadly, those following this theory don’t appear to have noticed that the ‘invisible hand’ is failing to do its job and appears to be much happier spending its time ‘doing the fingers’ at us)…..

        Those that are profiting from this theory, however, are the ones with the most money and political clout – they don’t want the oil industry – the weapons industry- the energy industry – the banking industry to be interfered with Sacre Bleu!! And that these people have huge wealth and own the media companies and having professional fulltime lobbyists and lobby groups is the largest obstacle the left have in ‘getting its voice heard’ – not any petty squabbles we might be having amongst ourselves. I suggest that a lot of these squabbles are arising from this main obstacle – that only some of us seem to be able to get our voice out at a time – and although, yes, ,b>it is excellent that we work together and become tactical about it – to focus too closely on the squabbles may well create more whereas realising where the real problem lies and focussing on that – is more likely to lead us to where we all want to get.

        • Colonial Viper 2.1.2.1

          Hi BL. Like you, I believe that many who are left leaning within the general public may not appear visibly politicised. They may not appear at first glance to be paying attention, but IMO are actually keeping a casual but fairly regular eye on what is going on in politics. Many of these people are probably non-voters from 2008.

          In that sense, I agree that the Left being forthright about universal values of justice and economic fairness for all, will be noticed and will garner votes – especially if we have Parliamentary leadership which backs that up.

          What I will say is that I don’t view the flocks of mild socially liberal social democrats (+ assistants) that seem to hang out in our political parties, as being particularly centre left. They really are political-economic centrists. Where Labour seems to prefer sitting just left of centre and National prefer sitting just right of centre. Perhaps the Greens and Mana start to approach a centre left political economic space.

          • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 2.1.2.1.1

            “What I will say is that I don’t view the flocks of mild socially liberal social democrats (+ assistants) that seem to hang out in our political parties, as being particularly centre left. They really are political-economic centrists. “

            That is interesting and especially enlightening for people who don’t get to relate with or see such circles.

    • I’m a working class woman with a disability, but only my membership of one of these groups is considered valid…

      By whom? Point out this enemy of straw, that we may smite him.

      • weka 2.2.1

        Real politics = class

        ‘Identity’ politics = second class

        It’s in Pablo’s post, and we had a bit shit storm fight about it on ts at Christmas.

        • Colonial Viper 2.2.1.1

          Thats indeed a clever synopsis.

          Of course, in reality its inverted as it is the politics of class which has been sidelined or minimised in the last 35 years, not the politics of identity. So its the politics of class which has become “second class” using your own terminology.

          • just saying 2.2.1.1.1

            …it is the politics of class which has been sidelined or minimised in the last 35 years,…

            Never by me CV, and not as far as I have seen by any of the most prominent commenters who are disagreeing with you on TS. None of us are arguing that the politics of class be sidelined. I’ve spent time and energy over the past couple of decades fighting for the people at or near the bottom of the heap. I’ve also spent a fair amount of time at or near the bottom of the heap myself. None of my politics are some kind of self-indulgent intellectual exercise. Real people, real lives (and deaths).

          • QoT 2.2.1.1.2

            Of course, in reality its inverted as it is the politics of class which has been sidelined or minimised in the last 35 years, not the politics of identity. So its the politics of class which has become “second class” using your own terminology.

            And here I think we hit the nail on the head of recent arguments. Because you know what, CV, no one who champions identity politics has ever argued that class politics haven’t been sidelined by Labour over the past decades.

            The problem is that your framing (and by “your” I mean “every leftwing dude who has complained about identity politics”) implies that class politics got sidelined by identity politics. It assumes there are only two ways the pendulum swings, either towards “working class” issues or towards “identity” issues (and of course that we can’t address both at the same time.)

            The reason this causes such strife is that from the point of view of a feminist, it’s a total fucking joke to act like the last twenty years, or even the last Labour-led government, were overwhelmed with progressive social justice ideologies. Working for Families shat all over beneficiary parents, who are far more likely to be women, people of colour, or people with disabilities.

            It’s like on the one hand you want to dismiss achievements like civil unions and prostitution law reform as “boutique wins” which the right “gave” us, then with the other point at those achievements and say “see!!!! Your silly identity politics are dominating the conversation!!!”

            The force which gutted Labour’s soul over the past 20 years was a force of neo-liberal bullshit. Sometimes a few glimmers of giving a damn about the oppressed – whatever their class – escaped, but the basic foundation of a strong state which supports the vulnerable was fucked.

            So as soon as the champions of the workers and the champions of women and people of colour and queer folk most of whom are also workers stop letting the ideologically bereft has-beens of the 80s pit us against each other I think we’ll do fine.

            • geoff 2.2.1.1.2.1

              I agree. Clark and Cullen didn’t have the will or the bravery to stand up for workers and so they focused on passing progressive laws that wouldn’t ruffle the feathers of capital too much. To blame identity politics for wrecking the Labour party completely misses the reasons why this occurred.

  3. Pablo 3

    Thanks Karol, for the considered response.

    We live in a world capitalist system, with local cultural, political and socio-economic conditions backdropped and structured by collective military and political histories of conquest and defeat.

    I am acutely conscious of all of the things you claim I neglect. Believe you me, having Anita and Lew as interlocutors makes me very aware of identity politics and other post-industrial concerns. Believe me when I say that I may be structuralist when push comes to shove, but I also have an academic record of highlighting the primacy of superstructural conditions at specific moments, in different historical contexts.

    Chris and I differ in many ways but our fundamental difference is methodological, He adheres to the inductive school of social science thought, whereby any personal experience or anecdote is coupled with the amount of books and articles read over time to equal expertise on many political subjects, especially those of a Leftist flavor.

    I have a more deductive approach towards explaining social phenomena, especially before I put my ideological interpretation on them. It involves comparative qualitative research, which requires working or living in and of the entities of which one purports to speak.

    • karol 3.1

      Thanks Pablo, for your reply.

      This:

      We live in a world capitalist system, with local cultural, political and socio-economic conditions backdropped and structured by collective military and political histories of conquest and defeat.

      I would also say that it’s a world capitalist-patriarchal-imperialist system: These systems of power have been supporting, interacting and influencing each other, throughout their “collective…. histories”.

      I’m for an evidence-based approach – but our engagement with the evidence will always be from some persepctive or other.

      I should imagine that the way you live within the context your are researching, would differ from the way someone like Sue Bradford does that – and she describes herself as “ecoocialist, feminist, Mana member, co-chair Auckland Action Against Poverty, PhD student at AUT” – on Twitter anyway. The kinds of communtiies we chose to engage with, and how are always already “ideoogical” to some extent, based on our passed experience and learnings.

      And Bradford is someone who I see as very much engaged poltically with challenging the oppressive system we are currently living in.

      And as just saying commented @ 9.32pm – her particular experiences of being a working class woman, with a disability gives her a crucial awareness of how this interlinked systems impact onher daily living.

      • Pablo 3.1.1

        I think that Sue is the real deal.

        However, the circumstances of her AUT Ph.D. are dependent on one person, not the scholarship in her Ph.D. field.

        Interpretation: Sue good, AUT permissive enrollment bad.

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.2

        I would also say that it’s a world capitalist-patriarchal-imperialist system: These systems of power have been supporting, interacting and influencing each other, throughout their “collective…. histories”.

        Yes. And then what?

        It still boils down to how to confront and resist these systems of power.

        What are the messages that the Left is going to communicate to the masses of disengaged people ‘out there’, in order to politicise them?

        What are the goals and the vision that we are going to communicate?

        The ones I espouse focus on confronting issues of economic justice for all, in the context of climate change and resource depletion. It just so happens that this approach will also gain significant electoral support as the issues front and centre in an election year.

        Of course, the Left can do more than one thing at a time. So many other issues and policies cannot be pursued at the same time in campaigning, in ways which win net votes, not lose net votes.

        • Colonial Viper 3.1.2.1

          “So many other issues and policies CAN be pursued at the same time in campaigning” sorry typo

          • karol 3.1.2.1.1

            CV, I gave the example of Sue Bradford. Part of my reason for that is because, she doesn’t just live in the same location as the “entities of which she purports to speak”. She engages with them in the streets, in the WINZ offices and on political actions. And she does so in plain language without reference to abstract theories or methodologies. Talking with them rather than over their heads. And she listens to what those people are saying. At the last AAAP impact day at New Lynn WINZ, the AAAP produced audios of beneficiaries talking of their experience.

            Behind that, Bradford is widely read, and has much academic knowledge, and political knowledge, and is clear that any left action involves understandings of the politics of the enivonment, gender, and Maori.

            And she isn’t pondering on the death of the left, but getting out there and engaging in positive actions around current political, social and economic problems.

            • Colonial Viper 3.1.2.1.1.1

              I’ve only ever talked to Bradford once or twice. She is leading the utmost vanguard of the Left movement in NZ. What she does is crucial and an example to us all.

              But her activity and leadership doesn’t necessarily negate Pablo’s points re: the Left as a spent political force. For instance – I imagine that she has one or two fairly critical views on how the Greens and Labour are representing the Left in Parliament versus how they are representing the Centre in Parliament.

              • karol

                Oh, I don’t think you need to imagine what Bradford thinks about the parliamentary Green Party – she said some things about how they had moved away from their principles when she resigned from the party. And she is skeptical about how a future Labour government will respond to the need for social security reform – Bardford has signalled clearly that she will be there holding a future Labour-led government to account.

                In his posts Pablo differentiated betwen the political left (parliamentary left + “rank and file union and interest group activists”) and the “cultural left”. I think he may include in the latter the “chattering left” – the “armchair leftists in academia and the commentariat” in which he includes himself.

                He argues that the rank & file political left and activists have been weakened by “their leaders”.

                Everywhere he sees divisions and fragmentation. I don’t think these groups are all as separate and as weakened as Pablo claims – I for instance see Helen Kelly doing a stirling job raising the issue of deaths in the forestry industry – began to be picked up by the MSM journos a while back – Kelly keeps it on the mainstream agenda. Ditto Jane Kelsey and TPP (although the MSM choose not to write too critically of the TPP).

                I think the diversity, and overlappingand intersecting networks of the left are more of a strength than a weakness.

                I’m wondering if Pablo is harking back to a past time when a (largely white male dominated) political left spoke in one voice in “solidarity”? That was possible in pre-digital times of the broadcast era of the media, with a relatively similar bunch of people on the labour/Labour left. The circumstances have changed. The politics now need to be relevant to the networked digital context; more flexible and adaptable, with allegiances being formed for particular struggles – new kinds of alliances for each struggle: e.g. anti-mining; pro alternative energy sources/uses; anti-asset sales; pro-sovereign control of NZ assets; anti-rape culture; pro- collaborative & nurturing approaches to communties and “work”….. etc.

                And MMP is best suited to such on-going (re)negotiations: not a uniform left walking lock-step in unchanging “solidarity”.

                • Colonial Viper

                  You see, I completely agree with you that Helen Kelly has done a great job of highlighting the very many forestry industry deaths which occurred last year. Yes, over the course of the year, as deaths mounted week after week, she did well at ensuring maximum MSM attention on the issue and the need for change.

                  Where we disagree is that I see the above as a shocking sign of *weakness* of the Left, not as the show of strength that you appear to interpret it as.

                  Again I therefore lean towards Pablo’s thesis.

            • Colonial Viper 3.1.2.1.1.2

              Nice quote from Hedges by the way.

  4. geoff 4

    Is working class that difficult to define?
    Working class is just people who are employees. How could it be otherwise?

    And on that basis class warfare is waged, right? Capitalists vs workers.

    • karol 4.1

      Not all employees are the same – these days there are various levels of management, with some “employees” having a considerable amount of power. Is the cleaner at work the same as one of the middle or upper managers?

      Working class often used to mean “manual workers” or tradesmen (men being the operative term).

      And some consider the unemployed to be working class – others might describe them as an underclass – especially long term unemployed – those unable to work for some reason.

      • geoff 4.1.1

        Yes fair enough, exclude the managers from that definition.

        I wouldn’t include the unemployed. The capitalist game doesn’t function if too many people are unemployed, which is what is happening now.

        • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1

          The capitalist game doesn’t function if too many people are unemployed, which is what is happening now.

          What’s your rationale for this, please? I don’t think that it’s a correct statement.

          • geoff 4.1.1.1.1

            Taken to the extreme, if unemployment goes high enough then the economy can collapse, due to lack of demand, to the point where the owners of capital are just as screwed as the unemployed.

            I think the world is slowly moving to that point as indicated by all the jobless economic ‘recoveries’ occurring around the world. This is caused by the ever increasing capabilities of technology to replace human workers and if history is anything to go by then the pace will only speed up over time.

            • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Taken to the extreme, if unemployment goes high enough then the economy can collapse, due to lack of demand, to the point where the owners of capital are just as screwed as the unemployed.

              What you are saying is happening in the US right now. Check out the collapse-in-progress of JC Penneys and Maceys.

              http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-01-15/blistering-recovery-continues-week-after-macys-jcpenney-fires-2000-closes-33-stores

              The thing is that the owners of capital – and I don’t mean the ordinary lemming shareholders because they are usually screwed when these companies collapse – but the CEOs and the Board have plenty of options. They pull their capital out and feed it into the high returning financial markets.

              Therefore we get the cycle we are seeing now: the implosion of the US real economy as capital is extracted out of the real economy and fed into the burgeoning financial economy. And on the way, tens of thousands lose their jobs monthly.

              • geoff

                The thing is that the owners of capital – and I don’t mean the ordinary lemming shareholders because they are usually screwed when these companies collapse – but the CEOs and the Board have plenty of options. They pull their capital out and feed it into the high returning financial markets.

                They have those options at the moment but I reckon in the long run (and that may be a depressingly long time) those high returning financial markets will reveal their true value, ie nothing.

                • Colonial Viper

                  I’m expecting GFC II this year, probably starting in China or India, so it might not be too far away…

            • Flip 4.1.1.1.1.2

              Taken to the extreme, if unemployment goes high enough then the economy can collapse, due to lack of demand, to the point where the owners of capital are just as screwed as the unemployed.

              Depends how far you take it. They are never as screwed as the unemployed as long as they have resources be that financial or other. They will always have choices that are not open to the masses. The greater the resource control the greater the choices. They do not surrender that easily. The amount of resource (normally financial as that is a proxy for other assets) control indicates where a person sits in a class struggle.

              • geoff

                I agree with you to an extent but my main point is that the economy collapse ruins the game for everyone.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Correct.

                  I wonder if you are assuming that the power elite are going to act rationally and with a long term view.

                  Everything we see them do lately undermines such optimism.

                  History already gives us many examples of what the elite try and do when the rest of their civilisation collapses around them. They retreat into fortified strongholds like Versaille or the Forbidden City, or even the Führerbunker, taking all available resources with them, leaving the rest of the people on the outside to suffer the destruction that they hope to avoid for themselves.

                • Flip

                  It ruins the market economy game ultimately. Other games have existed historically (feudal/serf, slavery, communism to name a few).

                  I do not think we want ‘the game’ to collapse, so to speak, as that gets ugly and leads to even more suffering. A change in the rules are required to even it up, make it fairer and more human and to reduce the control of the few.

                  The elite have a choice; allow the rules to change and share, or enforce their position. Do the second and given enough time, suffering and force; revolution results.

        • SHG (not Colonial Viper) 4.1.1.2

          The capitalist game doesn’t function if too many people are unemployed, which is what is happening now.

          The more unemployed people there are, the greater is the competition for jobs. Lots of potential applicants equals lower salaries and less job security. Supply and demand.

          • geoff 4.1.1.2.1

            Only to a point. If unemployment gets high enough, the economic system collapses due to demand destruction. Supply and demand is not a linear relationship, even though many economists would have us think it is.

            • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.2.1.1

              Hmmm. True, as evidenced by the rapidly declining fortunes of Macys, KMart and JC Penney in the USA, as I mentioned above.

              But the real wealth is no longer in the real economy, it is in the electronic financial economy.

              And yes, that means that the real economic system is collapsing, but the evidence of the actions of the power elite over the last 5 years should tell you something about their by-now-obvious strategy: they are going to scoop up everything they can carry from you and me, then run for the fire exits, leaving the rest of us stranded in a world which is burning down all around us.

              • geoff

                …run for the fire exits, leaving the rest of us stranded in a world which is burning down all around us.

                lol, such optimism! ;P

                • Colonial Viper

                  If I were the 0.1%, I could delude myself that it was a workable ploy. And seeing how they want to transform NZ society, as well as the completely inadequate responses to climate change and resource depletion, I’m guessing that some of the 0.1% already have.

  5. greywarbler 5

    OOh er. Pablo’s approach sounds like the old rugged cross of the working class male thinking because he does the heavy lifting he can order around the females who may be bold and sharp but not quite accepted as good enough to be a ‘brother’. ‘Get us a coffee will you.’ (Picture Soviet posters on the wall showing a muscled arm with large biceps holding a hammer aloft.)

  6. Xtasy 6

    I can say I find this a very interesting discussion and debate, and it will surely not end here. It must continue, and it is highly likely that many of us learn something out of it, no matter where we stand.

  7. Ad 7

    I see Mr Pablo’s pessimism, to start with, in historical terms.

    The great surge of utopian thought in New Zealand within the 1930s formed with the global rise of socialist states, the maturation of socialist theory, and the rise of distributive institutions such as social welfare. This weakened only a little through to the 1960s. For New Zealand, fresh collectivist institutions worked to propel (along with mechanisation) statist modernism.

    The second great wave of utopian thought accelerated at the end of Norman Kirk’s era. Their activist shapes hardened as reaction formations against Muldoonist authoritarianism. This broad rainbow of idealist telic drives deflated after the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, and the dismantling of the modernist state under Lange.

    But, while we have lost the grand analogue surges of Crowds and Power, we have gained newer forms of agency. Third Sector agents (eg post settlement iwi and urban authorities) and their agencies now have freedom, and accumulative and redistributive heft. Digital social movements reappear in analogue space very powerfully (eg TransportBlog).

    Fonterra is taming the old agribusiness class into a common view of environmental interest, financial self-interest, and national interest within a cooperative collective with global heft. Even the drystock farmers are calling for effective national cooperatives to form within common national interest. It is no triumphal arc of collectivist will, but it’s a long way from Special Constables 1951 versus the rest. Air New Zealand builds its brand on environmentalist credentials. The capitalist ideological extremes have been burnt off, and the base of agreement is far deeper and broader.

    MMP is also well recognised as an ideological taming force. Those who ought to be extreme have purged their militancy and been co-opted to contribute openly to changing the system the way they want it. MMP actually enables ideological diversity, rather than suppressing and militarising the politically excluded.

    Blogs, texts, and democratised devices are quickly trouncing and surpassing the MSM. Burn your banners. Our activist clicks lead whole markets.

    The grand old modernist left is dead, but its locus has survived it, and into that hollow space is a future blueprint of freedom that the legion activists on this site, collectively, are continuing to achieve.

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      But finally, you can’t threaten the status quo nor the establishment powers, with rants on blogs nor with Face Book likes. At some stage, somewhere, actual organisation and action in the real world has to occur.

      Fonterra is helping to educate and persuade farmers to tighten up on their environmental practices, yes. But not so much that you’ll be able to swim or drink out of NZ’s worst waterways ever again.

      The Special Constables have not been resurrected – oh, unless you look at the UK and the USA. Where modern versions are back in full force. That’s 2 of the Five Eyes. And typically, we are what, 10-15 years behind them?

      Air NZ’s brand is a joke. They use offsetting carbon credits as a PR exercise while trying to close down NZ facilities, fire NZ staff, in order to hire cheap Asian crews at super low cut price rates and poor conditions. Surely not an example to be used for an argument that the Left lives.

      Re: MMP as a taming force. Yes that is probably true. Given that, who thinks that the nation’s political class will be able to deal with oncoming extreme climate catastrophe and the severe threats posed by trans-national corporations by taking a slightly laid back, middle of the road course without so much as a touch of “militancy.”

      A legion of clictivists is handy to have on side; but legions of real world activists: now that would be something to see.

    • Sosoo 7.2

      You should ask for the university fees you paid to be refunded.

  8. Debbie Brown 8

    I think it’s awful sad to see people who surely share many of the same ideals, fighting and arguing and bringing each other down.

    Maybe I’m a bit simplistic but wouldn’t it be nice to show a united front? Especially in an election year?

    Let’s face it, Labour, the Greens, Mana all need each other. But if someone wanders into a left wing blog, or worse picks up a mainstream paper, and sees everybody attacking each other and pointing out each others flaws, well it’s a bit of an own goal really isn’t it?

    Maybe rather than arguing over the things we differ on, we could all get a lot further by focusing on the big picture and working together on the issues that matter most?

    • Pablo 8.1

      Indeed Debbie, that is he first step. But what is the common ground?

      • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 8.1.1

        Indeed Debbie, that is the first step. But what is the common ground?

        My views on our common ground can be found at comment 2.1.2 above

        [+1 Debbie Brown ]

    • Xtasy 8.2

      Sadly, it is not that simple, there are and will be differing policies and solutions and the must be put to the voters, so there is competition, and democracy needs some competition, and after the votes have been cast, then we can refocus on unity. There is some unity already, but accept please, there must be debate and discussion on the smaller print of what a future alternative government may look like.

      That competition should not be divisive, as it can be conducted under fair rules by fair sports-persons.

    • lprent 8.3

      I tend to dread the times when the left has some kind of united front because all of the same old simmering arguments are brewing away in the background. It just tends to cause the people who are isolated from the discussion to wind up in self-referential cabals. It will eventually and inevitably break out into full blown internecine warfare that provides the ammunition for the myths of the left beloved by the right.

      Personally I find ongoing public bickering amongst the broad range of views that is the left to be a much better alternative. Sure it is kind of messy. But it also allows people to figure out exactly where they will find common cause with others and where there is disagreement. But it really prevents the problems of flappers that Jonathon Swift so elegantly satirised in teh 18th century and are still an issue today. But also the various types of cabals and gatekeepers who tend to wish to constrain widespread discussion – as is so evident inside National at present.

      That is why we started this site in the first place and was made pretty clear in the about. We try to have quite a wide set of views of the labour/left/green movements in the authors. But even if that isn’t enough, we have a wide range of leftish blogs in the feed. We also try to help other blogs get off the ground – the reason that this site has been helped TDB through its nascent phase. Having a diversity of left sites helps with making the views of the few more widely known across the whole of the left and greens.

      It tends to force discussions to happen as commenters cross-pollinate via arguments and headted discussions in a way that hasn’t been possible before. It tends to work pretty well both at grass roots action and all the way through to policy and caucuses. It merely looks random and uncontrollable. But it has produced some of the most polite discussions I have seen on the left in decades.

      • Xtasy 8.3.1

        VERY helpful advice, lprent!

        • lprent 8.3.1.1

          The short version is…

          I cordially (and sometimes less than cordially) disagree and dissent with almost everyone I know on almost everything. But I will work with almost anyone if I think a project is worth working on. That was how I got drafted into this project at the start of 2007.

          But it is like science. You don’t work out what is valid and worth supporting until you’ve had a damn good disagreement about it and examined every damn corner for flaws.

      • geoff 8.3.2

        So do you think any persistent, widely agreed upon ideas ever get successfully birthed from the messy bickering process you champion? Or is it just an arena for never-ending arguing by those who are pathologically inclined to do so?

        Edit: I’m just not clear on how the mechanism you describe can ever generate actual progress.

        • lprent 8.3.2.1

          It has no “process”. It isn’t a political party or even a political movement. This is how the net operates and how it was formed – as a meeting place that ignores most physical limitations to seeing what others are thinking.

          If you want to see it in action, then look at almost any of the RFC and other standards that underpin the net. They’re thrown out there as ideas by one of more people and other people decide if they’re going to follow them. When enough do, their individual cooperation becomes a standard. But there are always many other ideas (old and new) out that that can be followed if required.

          It is pretty good at providing the basis for future agreements simply because you know how others are thinking and a sort of consensus forms well before the “process”.

          In our local political scene I’d say that the voting outcome in the recent leadership elections inside of the NZLP was heavily influenced by exactly that “process”.

          • geoff 8.3.2.1.1

            I’m going to interpret that answer as a “yes,widely agreed upon ideas do get successfully birthed”

            Just to clarify, by process I didn’t mean something formal, I mean’t a pattern of behaviour that can be identified.

            Yeah the NZLP leadership election is a good example.

            What I’m curious to find out is if what happens on The Standard is ever going to be, in some way, the basis for a policy platform. We have fits and starts where there seems to be some consensus on ideas like UBI, etc but even when the detail of ideas such as that get fleshed out in the comments it doesn’t really have any condensed record, except in the minds of the participants.

            At the moment TS appears to have a degree of influence in the real political sphere just because politically-inclined people read and contribute to it, it’s a left wing meme generator of sorts. In the future will it/could it be anything else?

            • Colonial Viper 8.3.2.1.1.1

              The radio station idea of karol’s is outstanding.

              I have long thought that TS could do the occasional fact checked, left framed but very neutrally written current affairs post which essentially makes the grade as a news piece which could be syndicated. Novel content could be introduced in such pieces by having outstanding commentators standing by to provide quotable quotes and insights. Left leaning academics who never otherwise get quoted by the MSM, former Green MPs, etc.

            • lprent 8.3.2.1.1.2

              What you always have to be aware of in NZ’s political scene is just how small the numbers of active participants were. By active I mean above the level of simply people complaining about politics and actively doing something as simple as just knocking on doors on election day.

              My original guess was that there less than 10,000 people in a voting population of roughly 3,000,0000. These days I think that it is closer to 50-60 thousand based largely on the numbers of unique visitors who actively read one or more political blogs at least weekly (which is an active choice as it is a bit turgid reading any of them).

              Of course I’m mostly guesstimating that based on the numbers of people going through this site and my awareness of the people on the left who have never even heard of the site. We have at least 25 thousand who read this blog online (ie through the site an not through RSS) at least once per week in a month. Of those between 55% and 70% in any given month would read the site more than 200 times per month (the max that the stats show).

              It acts like a conduit of information and ideas out across the left, greens and even parts of the right of the political spectrum. Personally I find that a useful and efficient addition to the political sphere.

              Efficient: It costs between $250 and $600 per month to do so (the variance due to spambots and elections), and a moderate amount of volunteer time. It also requires very very little organisational time because we run it as the loosest of cooperatives.

              Damn good thing as well – because I have no real time to do anything structured and nor (I suspect) have any of the authors and moderators. If anything more is going to happen, then someone else will have to run it. Let me know where I can help out and I may decide to make some time – which was how my part in the project started…

              • geoff

                Nice to get some numbers around the visitors to site, cheers.

                It costs between $250 and $600 per month to do so (the variance due to spambots and elections), and a moderate amount of volunteer time.

                Wow that’s quite a variance!

                It acts like a conduit of information and ideas out across the left, greens and even parts of the right of the political spectrum. Personally I find that a useful and efficient addition to the political sphere.

                Absolutely and so do I.

                • lprent

                  Ah December’s deluge of spambots desperately trying to find a outlet for their creative advertising. From akismet’s blog for last year (B=billion)

                  They killed more than 100 Billion spam comments last year. However akismet couldn’t really keep up during late november and december and I went to an alternate system that didn’t slow my servers by waiting for akismet’s servers..

                  But that xmas spam comment rush does nasty things to our servers because it costs to read them enough to make a decision as to if they are spam.

                  I ran throughout december with two high-end (and expensive) web servers, a file server (also a fallback web server), and a database server.

                  Right now we’re running with a mid-level web server during the day and the file server which also acts as a web server at night + database server. A whole lot cheaper

                  • geoff

                    That’s pretty fascinating. Do you know what percentage of total comments are spam?

                    • lprent

                      It is hard to tell as they get dumped by a multi-layered defense systems and some of them don’t really report much. Just at present I don’t get any reports at all because of the three tools that I am using.

                      But when they do start leaking through from a change by the spambot strategy (happens every few years) I typically get about a third of comments that we have to deal with being spam. But even then most of the older styles are still being blocked.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      If there are billions of spam comments a month, and just tens of thousands of real person comments in the same time frame, I’d say that spam outnumbers humans hundreds to one…

                    • geoff

                      CV I think the billion refers to all the blogs that akismet defends, not just TS.

    • bad12 8.4

      Debbie Brown, i disagree with your analysis, politics cannot be a matter of just blind faith, by having a continuous debate on the things we, as a broad left differ on, we then broaden the consensus and understanding of where, in terms of that broad left, the middle ground on any issue is to be found,

      While many, specially here at the Standard will hold fast to their stated positions in such debates you can bet that 99.99% will be voting for one or other of the Parties of the left,

      Where i believe more ‘unity’ is needed by the left in general, and the blogesphere in particular, is where a perceived conflict develops between the parties of the left over for instance, deep sea oil drilling, and we all then have a tendency to become a little ‘tribal’, it is in fact here i would suggest we fully exercise our collective intelligence, focusing our minds on debating such issues in such a way that produces ‘compromise’ positions where the relative parties of the left most of us support can find common ground…

      • geoff 8.4.1

        Debbie has a point though.
        How many people take a look at the bickering on the comments section of blogs like The Standard and think ‘no thanks, not my cup of tea’ and never return.

        Also, lots of the posts on TS are ‘negative’, ie complaining about something. In contrast, something like transportblog is more frequently ‘positive’, ie suggesting solutions to problems.

        Now I’m not telling people what to post (I’ve heard that can get you into trouble around here) and I personally think the posts that are ‘negative’ are usually helpful at drawing attention to a problem. But I could easily imagine there are lots of people who can’t relate to the balance here between ‘positive’ (synthetic) and ‘negative’ (analytic).

        • bad12 8.4.1.1

          i definitely see what you are saying and the best advice i could give to anyone ‘put off’ by the continuous ‘brawl’ as some fight to hold to their stated position is in fact to ‘join in’ by simply stating where they stand on any issue and leaving it at that,

          The merit of such statements, if there is any, are then read by others which may or might not provoke further debate on a related but differing tangent,

          There are plenty of commenters i happily read who choose to simply state a point and choose not to engage in ongoing debate and i don’t think that this devalues the point made in any way…

    • greywarbler 8.5

      Debbie B
      Why not put forward your ideas of what are the issues that matter most, and how you think they could be dealt with, in what order, and whether it would save money in the short or long run, or if there would be additional costs and what advantage would this result in? Then we could get a look at the big picture.

  9. lurgee 9

    I think that the left in the sense that Pablo intended has effectively perished and we’re left (pun intentional) with a zombie left which is based on a series of compromises with capitalism. It makes me sad to here Ralph Miliband’s son talking about “a more responsible capitalism” and reforming the banking system by introducing … more banks. It’s like Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past, saying that you can’t win in gambling, but “There are ways to lose more slowly.” That seems to be all that’s left for the the left (puns again intentional)

    The Leninists used to say that while the evolution of society was historically inevitability, the revolutionary vangard of the proletariat could be at hand to “lessen the birth pangs.” Perhaps they got it the wrong way round and the only real funtion of the left was to administer palliative care to the dying corpse of humanity.

    Unless Marx really was right all along (yeah, that pun was intentional as well) and at sun unclear point in the probably distant future the whole shoddy enterprise collapses and something new emerges. Though human history doesn’t suggest much hope for revolutionaries building utopia in the rubble.

    Well, that was cheerful!

    • Xtasy 9.1

      What about a compromise society, where a “holding agency”, state owned, people owned, allows tenders for best delivery services for whatever the “state” sees as totally essential? It must be surely locked into state control but the tenders should be offered some leeway to deliver, within legal bounds of course, ensuring liveable wages paid to workers, decent and legal working and other conditions, and so forth.

      The old command “directorate” will not work but things can be done smartly, within social and economic bounds that safeguard society and members of it.

      Is that not also partly, how Singapore did it? And is this also not done in some smart European countries? I have lived in a number of countries, and the Anglo Saxon way of laissez faire and favouring corporate and other business is to me the least convincing model to achieve a more equitable society. That is apart from 3rd world dictatorships, where an elite dictates whatever anyway.

    • mikesh 9.2

      Capitalists, usurers and landlords are still pocketing “surplus value”. Communism was supposed to put a stop to that by capturing ” surplus value” for the state. Communism however proved to be a not particularly efficient system from the point of view of production.

      Nevertheless the “surplus value” problem still remains. Either we have lost sight of this, or perhaps it is no longer considered important.

  10. Will@Welly 10

    Working class is not about sex, religion, ability or even mild wealth. It is all about a mind-set.
    If you are born into a working class family, you learn knowing your place. Society re-iterates it for you, from your first breath till your last. Even if you “achieve” wealth, you still look over your shoulder, knowing full well at any moment someone can snatch it away.
    That is the curse of the working class. Never free.
    In the last 30 years or so, we were told that if we worked hard, and followed the neo-liberal ideology, wealth was obtainable. For most working class people the wealth was purely illusionary.
    Prior to that we were told if we worked hard we could better ourselves, have a good job, even own our own homes, which some of us did. We thought we were made. But even though we rose above the basic “working class” background, we never made it into the middle classes. Oh sure, some of our progeny or siblings “attained” middle class, but always there were “conditions”.
    And that’s the thing. Here we are quibbling over who’s more working class and who isn’t. Do you put dripping on your bread in the morning, or is it foie gras with your ciabatta? A long black or a cup of tea? And at night, is it mince on toast or is it oysters, caviar and filet mignon for dinner?
    If you’re so busy try to decide who’s more working class than the other, chances are, neither one is, certainly not Chris nor Pablo, they remind me of a Monty Python sketch, and lads, those chaps were and still are very much mired in traditional English middle class.

    • Colonial Viper 10.1

      Well, with this tack you might as well say that Marx wasn’t a true lefty because he came from a privileged background and spent too much time with ivory tower types.

    • bad12 10.2

      Well said, while enjoying a ‘read’ of Trotters columns/essays i have never seen Chris as working class, and have never seen him claim to be so,

      How these days do we define ‘working class’, if by income alone then even today’s Wharfies would have to be described as middle class…

    • Yoza 10.3

      I have enjoyed this exchange, from my first encounter with it over at Kiwiblog to the original post at Kiwipolitico followed by Chris Trotter’s critique to here then on to Paul Buchanan’s reply to Chris Trotter. If the Left is going to prevail, and I don’t just mean win the next election, this conversation needs to be at the forefront of any discussion involving working-class/socialist aspirations.

      Will@Welly 10
      23 January 2014 at 11:25 pm

      Working class is not about sex, religion, ability or even mild wealth.

      No, the term ‘Working class’ is used to create a narrative of the former circumstances of proponents of the far right extreme, as in ‘John Key’s working-class roots”. In fact, apart from being a device to connect business-class objectives with their victims, ‘working-class’ has become an unword in the mainstream dialogue – apparently we are all ‘middle-class’ now.

      • Will@Welly 10.3.1

        At high school, I meet a kid who arrived out here from the east end of London, purely working class. My mother used to hate it when I said we were working class, she tried to deny the fact that we were working class. Her parents were a Scottish labourer and a housekeeper, not that I was ever embarrassed. That was life then.
        My father was a manual worker, when my mother went to work, so was she. Remember, early on in New Zealand society, married woman didn’t need to/have to work. Today’s society is predicated on both partners working to “make ends meet”.
        So the “working class” exists today – we just don’t see it. Also we have developed a class that belongs to the working class, but we prefer to call them an “underclass”.
        I matey, am working class. Maybe you aren’t. No illusions here.

        • Yoza 10.3.1.1

          Will@Welly 10.3.1
          24 January 2014 at 10:31 am

          I matey, am working class. Maybe you aren’t. No illusions here.

          I left school at 16 and worked as a telecom lineman/cablejointer at the NZPO, all my life I have been involved in manual labour. My father still works as a carpenter, as he has his entire life. I have lived in Newtown, Wellington since ’81. I am nothing but working-class, … matey.

          The point I was attempting to make, and which seems patently obvious in my post, was that the term ‘working-class’ seems to have been effectively expunged from the lexicon of the mainstream media. The only time it crops up is when some corporate functionary is going through a PR humanising campaign and in the attempt to make them appear more human to their quarry, if they have, their working class roots are paraded about in a banner waving fashion.

    • karol 10.4

      Will: Working class is not about sex, religion, ability or even mild wealth. It is all about a mind-set.
      If you are born into a working class family, you learn knowing your place. Society re-iterates it for you, from your first breath till your last.

      Will, I tend to agree with your second sentence. There is that aspect of “class” that is as much the result of cultural processes as soci-economic ones; and that is where class is as much an “identity” as for other oppressions or disadvantages.

      The same processes are also invovled with gender, sexuality, “race”, disability etc. And, with them in mind your second sentence could as easily be re-written as:

      If you are born female/Maori/LGBTI/disabled (etc), you learn knowing your place. Society re-iterates it for you, from your first breath till your last.

      • vto 10.4.1

        It applies to every group of people Karol, not just those listed by you. Every person is subjected to generalisation, prejudice, re-iteration at all times, based on their physical appearance and cultural background.

        • karol 10.4.1.1

          Yes, vto, but some are in a more advantaged position than others – see for instance your dislike of middle-upper class English accents (as apparently championed by Trotter) – according to what you say @ 8.21 am, such Englsh accented speakers are as much on the receiving end of prejudice as those with cockney or Afro-Carribean accents, or non-middle class Kiwi accents.

          • vto 10.4.1.1.1

            absolutely

            the question then might become – is there ever any basis to the prejudice? (imo there is when it comes to attitudes of rounded-vowelers)

            • karol 10.4.1.1.1.1

              So you only see a basis to prejudice of middle/upper class accents speakers, but not when it comes to prejudices about/disadvantages experienced by women and girls, LGBTI, Maori, etc?

              • vto

                Karol, why on earth would you think that? Of course not. If there is a basis to prejudice in one sector, there is likely a basis to prejudices in others. Does that make sense? Or do you think that no prejudices have any basis, or credibility to them? Would be interesting to make a comprehensive list of all such prejudices against all sectors and try and evaluate. … might take a rather brave soul to attempt such though… bags not …

      • just saying 10.4.2

        THIS:

        If you are born female/Maori/LGBTI/disabled (etc), you learn knowing your place. Society re-iterates it for you, from your first breath till your last.

      • Will@Welly 10.4.3

        karol – when I wake up in the morning, I am who I am. I was taught by my parents not to discriminate. In those days, people “outside” the norm gender-wise were rare or hidden, but as you encountered them, you soon realized they are no different to anyone else, so why discriminate. I’ve always believed you treat everyone equally until they prove otherwise.
        I may or maynot have valid reasons for being discriminated against, but my working class roots make me want to show those who want to discriminate against me, the proverbial.
        I am who I am, working class.

    • just saying 10.5

      That is as good a definition of working class as I’ve seen WW.

      It has always seemed to me that middle-class status can never really be “attained”, too much intensive childhood training has been missed. There is an essential sense of being entitled to and deserving that can’t really be faked. If this attitude is adopted by a working class person “made good” it is worn like a coat not as a skin. I think settling into the middle-class takes a generation or two.

      It is difficult though, and I think this is part of the problem, to talk about class nowadays, in the terms that were invented to describe very different times and circumstances. People are more alienated from each other. In the neighbourhood I grew up in, most people were doing, and paying attention to most of the same things. This allowed for a common intuition that probably can’t be (and in my opinion, shouldn’t be), replicated today.

    • But even though we rose above the basic “working class” background, we never made it into the middle classes. Oh sure, some of our progeny or siblings “attained” middle class, but always there were “conditions”.

      Really? Culturally I’m about as middle-class as it gets, but my parents were Lancashire proletarians from a long line of same.

      One thing I’ve kept from Marxism (partly out of self-interest, given my class) is that there is no moral value inherent in being a capitalist or a worker. Your individual capitalist can be a lovely bloke and your individual worker a right cunt. The “good” or “bad” comes from the effects of organising things so that there are capitalists and workers.

      Which makes the left project not about whose attitudes are annoying, but about how you can change the way things are organised. Which in turn makes something like “marriage equality” legislation something all of us can get behind, and “but some people still have anti-gay attitudes” something that leaves a lot of us shrugging our shoulders and saying “Gee that’s too bad.”

      • geoff 10.6.1

        +1 Psycho.
        Although cue complaints about your choice of language in 3…2…1..

      • karol 10.6.2

        It’s not the anti-gay attitudes that are the problem – it’s the damaging way they are given graphic and material form and consequently impact on people’s behaviour.

        Changing the “way things are organised” only partly works against such damaging “attitudes”. Such widespread “attitudes” are not just thoughts in some people’s minds – they are there in daily discourses, cultural exchanges, media representations, institutional practices, etc. These things have material impacts on people’s daily lvies. And we live in a very media/communications saturated world continually inserting these damaging “attitudes” into people’s lives in graphical and very immediate ways.

        And this just doesn’t work to put down LGBTI people – there are similar processes maintaining the “neoliberal” scam – meaning that even with well-intentioned left wing polticians in parliament, they are continually having to negotiate all these culturally-embedded, pro-capitalist memes.

        • vto 10.6.2.1

          As difficult as it is Karol, but one way to help avoid that sort of damaging cultural baggage is to turn off the media-saturation. Go about one’s day with just some cash in the pocket, walking shoes, no phone, attend to the daily work requirements, walk back home, don’t look at signage and avoid vehicles and especially any sort of shop, dig the garden, go for a swim, cook some vege and meat for dinner and then read a book.

          mmmmmmmmmmmm bliss

          • stargazer 10.6.2.1.1

            another way is to work at reducing discrimination rather than turning a blind eye to it, as you are suggesting. because your suggestion works equally well for class-based discrimination as well. it shouldn’t exist, it does, but let’s just not look, let’s pretend not to see. then we don’t have to do anything about it.

            • Colonial Viper 10.6.2.1.1.1

              Of course, vto’s suggestion of turning down the corporate media saturation in our everyday lives is an important and necessary one for individuals to undertake.

              It certainly does not equate to some kind of moral callousness (“turning a blind eye”) that you appear to be self-righteously implying.

              Quite to the contrary, it is in fact an active and deliberate form of resistance against and undermining of corporate influences that any person can choose to participate in.

              • stargazer

                again, an individualistic approach. yes, some people can turn a blind eye to the media saturation. others of us have to live with the consequences of it, and can’t. so i’d prefer to support the kind of stuff the JTO has been doing in terms of training people studying journalism, in conjunction with the human rights commission. i’d prefer to encourage marginalised people to have a voice in the media. i’d prefer to increase funding to community access broadcasters, which provide broadcast access via radio to margninalised communities, and see how we can broaden that access to other forms of media.

                there’s lots that can be done, instead “turning off” and pretending it’s not there.

                • vto

                  Well stargazer I did say it was just one way of dealing with it. And by doing such does not mean “turning a blind eye” to it. It is entirely possible to see the problem and acknowledge it but not partake in it don’t you think? It may even be possible to work against the problem while not partaking in it do you think?

                  Of course it is.

                  But you should try it – actively turning off some of the shit actually works. Try eftpos for a start and use a wholly new technology – one with privacy guaranteed, faster payment times, no queues and the added bonus of making you feel richer. Yes, cash. The fastest, most convenient, most private, most enjoyable medium bar none, except maybe gold.

                  Try it some time, I dare you. It’s liberating, dear stargazer.

                  • stargazer

                    you missed the point vto. i can do as you say ie not partake in the problem, but i can’t opt out from living with the consequences of it.

                    i hate cash. my first ever job, while i was a high school student, was counting money at a large department store in hamilton. we had to count all the coins and notes from the tills. by morning tea, my hands would literally be totally black. i’d wash them for tea, then by lunchtime, they would be totally black again. that stuff is filthy. i prefer my card, which nobody touches but me.

                    • vto

                      So you mean that it is impossible to avoid the world of media-corporate-saturation? Sure, depending where you live, but and you can duck one hell of a lot of it.

                      And regarding the number of hands touching cards versus cash…. are you sure about that? Seems to me that today less and less hands are touching the cash (it is restricted to the few of us who still enjoy it) and most everyone touches their cards which all get pushed into the same small tight gap and then withdrawn… what sort of bugs get jammed in that gap do you think?

                      And anyway, you could try avoiding shops. That is also fun and at times quite challenging. Gotta keep it sharp.

                    • stargazer

                      again, vto, you’re not getting it. when i say i can’t escape the consequences of it, i can’t escape the fact that other people watch it, are influenced by it, and it affects the way they behave towards me. i can’t turn that off unless i sit at home, never let anyone into my home, never interact with anyone. it also affects policy makers and decision makers, eg the sort of people who get to decide whetber or not i get a job or a rental house or access to a specialist or any number of other things. i can’t turn off their media-influenced beliefs, even if i don’t watch any of it myself.

                      re the cash: i’d challenge you to spend a morning counting cash today. i bet the results would be exactly the same. and yeah, i already avoid shops. i really hate shopping as a passtime, and tend to only go in when i need something specific.

                    • vto

                      Fair enough, can’t escape the effect it has on others around you, true.

                      But is that where you stop and give up? What do you do?

                    • stargazer

                      of course i don’t stop and give up. see that list of policies i’ve written above, about the JTO and community access broadcasting? we can do those. i’m on the board of the waikato community broadcasting charitable trust which runs the community access radio station Free FM. i’ve done media training, i’m a media spokesperson for an organisation & i try to be pro-active in creating positive media, mostly in my local paper but sometimes in other papers. all of this on a voluntary basis, outside of my paid employment.

                      which is why it would be really nice to have government supporting those who do some wonderful stuff in this area. this government hasn’t given any increases in funding to the access radio sector since they came into power. they killed the old channel 6 & 7 which was doing some brilliant stuff. a new government could undo all of that, which would make the lives of so many people better in ways that are never measured because there isn’t a straight up, easy to calculate, monetary measure for the outcomes.

                    • vto

                      I see. Good on you – keep it up. But I still think you should try giving up eftpos and use cash again. All these slow pokes using cards – I cringe every time someone pulls one out…. it just makes no sense…

                    • stargazer

                      just to add to the last comment: the other thing i do is challenge people who keep telling me that this isn’t a priority, it isn’t as important as economic issues, it’s taking attention away from things that are “more important”, it’s not a “concrete” issue, and any other number of ways that people keep trying to tell me to stop talking about it because “identity politics is just bad didn’t you know”?

                    • karol

                      Thanks, stargazer. I partly withdrew from this discussion today as it was looking to become too time consuming and I would do little else today but keep replying to comments.

                    • stargazer

                      tell me about it. there are very few days when i can actually engage in work hours like this. that’s the problem for me on the standard – the conversation has usually moved on by the time i can sit down to look at it. i’m glad there are others here who are able to engage more regularly.

        • Colonial Viper 10.6.2.2

          Changing the “way things are organised” only partly works against such damaging “attitudes”. Such widespread “attitudes” are not just thoughts in some people’s minds – they are there in daily discourses, cultural exchanges, media representations, institutional practices, etc.

          I’m really not sure why you felt you needed to put damaging “attitudes” in quotation marks throughout.

          What are you saying here? That you feel that it is the job of the political left to police or regulate these daily discourses between people? To set enforceable standards that these cultural exhanges and media representations have to follow? To review and if necessary revoke institutional practices throughout societal organisations and groups if you find their practices wanting?

          That it is somehow the job of the political Left to persuade or pressure people to take on more enlightened attitudes?

          Not only does none of that deal with the concrete daily issues facing those struggling in the bottom half of society, but IMO there will never be widespread electoral support for such an agenda: from either the most secure and privileged in society nor the most insecure and underprivileged in society.

          • stargazer 10.6.2.2.1

            doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.

            and why shouldn’t be done by the political left. shouldn’t the left be supporting the human rights commission, reversing funding cuts, supporting their programmes such as taku manawa which involve active community engagement in promoting a human rights based approach, strengthening their mediation processes. we already have standards around media – i’d like to see independent bodies rather than industry bodies regulating these.

            cultural change does happen over time. being gay was illegal, now it’s not. homophobia was much higher than it is now, though it’s still a problem. women used to face a lot of barriers that they don’t now, but still a lot more to be done. why on earth wouldn’t you have policies around accessible childcare, for example, that support single mothers who want to (re)train and join the workforce. turns out that helps a lot of insecure & underprivileged, and they do support those policies. some of the poorest people are those on disability benefits, and raising income will help, but it won’t deal with accessibility issue ie having decent footpaths and curbs, having comprehensive public transport that has disability access etc. these are concrete issues for those people, & i reject your notion that the insecure & underprivleged (which includes people with disabilities) won’t support such policies.

            the way you choose to define “concrete daily issues” seems to be that any issue that doesn’t personally affect you isn’t “concrete”.

            • Colonial Viper 10.6.2.2.1.1

              well, that’s untrue of course, and is merely prejudicial projection on your part.

              If you are talking about providing systems of community democracy, improved foot paths, better mediation services, improving public transport, accessible childcare etc. they are certainly all examples of the “concrete daily issues” that I am talking about, and which I am very supportive of.

              Of course, issues of economic justice for the bottom 50% of society remain first and foremost, but that’s not to say that the left cannot do several things at the same time.

              • stargazer

                remain first and foremost for you. you can’t project that onto everyone else. and i don’t see that you get to define what is first and foremost for anyone else.

                and if you want to come to some consensus on what should be political priorities, then it really helps if you don’t dictate to people in the way you’re doing here. and the things i’ve mentioned are “concrete issues” per your definition of them (which seems to be a changing movable beast), then maybe it’s time for you to accept that for many people, those issues are more important to their daily lives than the priorities you’d like to impose on them.

                • Colonial Viper

                  I’m sorry, but you do understand that I am not in any official position of power, governmental or otherwise right? I have no power, ability or wish to “impose” diktats on anyone, thanks.

                  So to clarify; you as an individual may not believe that concrete issues of economic justice for the bottom 50% of society should be first and foremost, but it is my OPINION that they are first and foremost.

                  And by coincidence, I reckon that’s where the votes also are.

                  • stargazer

                    no but you have the ability to dominate conversations here, and have had the ability to shut down others in the way you interact with them. also you are open about your political activities and no doubt have some influence there.

                    you treat economic justice as if it exists in isolation from other social justice issues, when that’s clearly not the case. karol & so many others have shown in detailed comments here why.

                    you might think that’s where the votes are, but you’ll find that many people respond to a broader set of policies. it isn’t all about what you “reckon”.

        • Psycho Milt 10.6.2.3

          Sure – people’s attitudes translate into real-world behaviours, and attitudes held en masse get reflected in the media, institutions, traditions etc. The question is, what is a political party supposed to do about that? What a government can do is pass legislation and set an example via its own practices. What it can’t, or at least shouldn’t try, to do is govern people’s attitudes. That’s where I think this point of conflict over class vs ‘identity’ politics arises – a government has straightforward and legitimate influence over the country’s economy and real-world behaviour, but if the problem is that your husband thinks his career comes first or that housework is your job, there is no government role in sorting the schmuck out for you.

          • just saying 10.6.2.3.1

            Changing attitudes will lead to the structures of class-based oppression being dismantled, and dismantling those structures will lead to attitude change .

            And changing the structures of patriarchy, institutional and other racism, of discrimination against the LGBT communities of the structures that oppress people with disabilities… will lead to attitude change; plus attitude change will lead to structual change

            What’s the difference exactly?

            • Psycho Milt 10.6.2.3.1.1

              I only speak English and German so am not sure what the above actually means in terms of actions a government might take, but a quick squizz at modern Russia should be enough to correct the mistaken view that dismantling structures leads to attitude change.

              • just saying

                In terms of government actions (in no particular order) abortion reform, strict accessiblility rules for public spaces and in codes for all other buildings, human rights legisation and enforcement with teeth (including honouring the treaty), employment law change to accomodate the needs of disadvantaged groups……etc.

      • Will@Welly 10.6.3

        Psycho Milt – some of the biggest shits I’ve worked with were “union delegates”. Smug, self-serving pricks. Too many sold out those they were supposed to be representing. Having said that there were two very generous ones as well. They would be would naming. One has long since passed away.
        As I said, “class” is a mind-set. Some people are born deluded – look at all the poor voting National/Act.

      • Colonial Viper 10.6.4

        Which makes the left project not about whose attitudes are annoying, but about how you can change the way things are organised. Which in turn makes something like “marriage equality” legislation something all of us can get behind, and “but some people still have anti-gay attitudes” something that leaves a lot of us shrugging our shoulders and saying “Gee that’s too bad.”

        This.

        And of course, this understanding is what has made the Right Wing so successful. They know that outright socioeconomic reorganisation, revolutionary societal restructuring and environmental conditioning does all that heavy lifting for them.

        Don’t rely on positioning smokers as bad people who refuse to understand the damage that they are doing to others. Just change the system so that smoking in public spaces is not permitted and let the other messages seep out over time.

        • karol 10.6.4.1

          Banning smoking in public places is hardly a major societal restructuring. It is a political and legislative change – on their own they can contribute to attitude/cultural changes, but not do all the work. Decades on from the equal pay act, women still don’t get equal pay. There are various ways the system is manipulated to favour traditional masculine values re-work.

          Smoking bans are part of an ongoing change in cultural attitudes. It has followed long term struggles against the messaging of tobacco companies, Previously, there had been a significant amount of struggle around cultural understandings of smoking. One of the first changes followed critiques of the way smoking had been glamourised in Hollywood movies. Then followed bans on cigarette advertising, criticism of the use of cigarette sponsorship in sports etc.

          A lot of cultural “heavy lifting” re attitudes etc had already been done before banning cigarette smoking in public places. Regulation changes, on their own, don’t necessarily work and/or bring about the intended changes. There needs to be a significant amount of support in the general public for the new regulations to work. Look at how inadequate prohibition of cannabis use/growing/sales have been.

          Changes in regulations, laws etc, are always impacted by the diverse attitudes, cultural practices and beliefs already in circulation through a society. And some of them involve various cultural, political and economic struggles – all interwoven, and impacting on each other.

          Take 19th-early 20th century temperance/prohibition campaigns. Intitally temperance was championed by the British Liberals – particularly targeting the working classes. Temperance was seen as a way of presenting the working class as being responsible enough to be given the vote.

          In NZ Temperance was partly taken up by feminists as a way to stop anti-social behaviour by men, and making society a little safer for women and children. In the US prohibition had the opposite of the intended outcome, partly because booze was already favoured by many in the population, and had strong associations with certain kinds of gendered behaviour, and liberal beliefs – also because many saw a way to profiteer from prohibition. The outcome was a further glamourising of drinking culture, partly because of its status as an outlaw culture.

          There are no simple, isolated magic levers that can be pulled, that aren’t firmly intertwined with cultural processes, attiitudes, and social institutions. The whole wider complex needs to be addressed for real change to occur.

  11. Colonial Viper 11

    The term “precariat” for instance has some great significance in the 21st century, as does the focus on paid work, subordinates the role of domestic labour, child care and collaborative community activities.

    Sometimes it’s simply not necessary or helpful to mention all people and all activities in all situations in all essays. And it’s not necessarily a sign that everyone else and everything else not explicitly mentioned is being victimised or marginalised.

  12. vto 12

    Hey Mr Trotter, on a tangent to this thread but in line with your opinion piece this week about how rounded-vowels make a person’s opinion more worthy…. I suggested you take that theory to England where rounded-vowels are the most concentrated and see how that land fares in most every measure of human conduct and behaviour….

    … and here is another test. A fine rounded-vowel chap expressing the type of opinion that they are known for… your desire for the company of these people reduces your own position Mr Trotter. …

    http://metro.co.uk/2014/01/22/fury-at-sneering-ex-pat-banker-who-thinks-he-is-king-4273833/

    Not to mention the very real whiff of French-style revolution coming from the reaction..

    what say thee? anything? nothing? probably nothing…

    • karol 12.1

      vto, I agree with your distaste on praising Whyte or his middle/upper class English accent. I have wondered if Trotter was being mischevious with that. Given that National seems to be favouring Boscawen as their Epsom ACT implant, I wonder if Trotter was attempting to throw a spanner in the works by appealing to the snobbery of the Epsom elite.

  13. Lefty 13

    Lets not pretend we can just gloss over the differences on the left and magically just start all working together.

    There are a a number of difference between those who describe themselves as left that will be very difficult to overcome.

    The first step toward doing this might be to identify and acknowledge them.

    The first is between those who see no alternative to capitalism and those who are anti capitalist.

    The former (which basically includes all social democrats) has a long history of taking over or watering down progressive action and thought. This presents a huge barrier to combined action from the point of view of the anti capitalist left because every time they initiate a campaign they risk some self serving Labour or Green hack using it for self promotion and watering its kaupapa down.

    It is difficult to have a rational political debate with the most social democrats for two reasons – they refuse to accept the social democrat experiment has any flaws, let alone might be an irredeemable failure, and they fall back on the old argument that communism failed in Russia and China therefore there is no alternative to trying to build a kind capitalism.

    The second is between those who understand they are in a class war and have consciously taken a side and those who don’t really get it.

    Too many individuals and organisations that see themselves as left refuse to accept a class analysis and waste time bleating on about unfairness instead of identifying the structural causes of oppression and getting in and fighting them.

    Another important difference is between those who are determinedly respectable, forever seeking approval of the boss class’s media and popularity rather than being prepared to speak truth to power. There are all sorts of excuses posing as analysis for this behaviour, and each of them is crap.

    There are important differences between left activists, left intellectuals and the commentariat.

    Some people can be all three but it is a mistake to think that all are. The commentariat in particular are often suspect and tend to bullshit on endlessly about things that are not important and distract the left from meaningful action. Yet somehow people like Bomber get lumped in with the left.

    The anti capitalist left has a problem with their ears when it comes working together too. Often small left sects have behaved arrogantly and manipulatively when they are part of broader coalitions. The propensity of some of the anti capitalist left to make long boring speeches telling people what they already know is also a real turnoff.

    Finally the anti intellectualism of the much of the left is astonishing.

    I work in the union movement and it astounds me that any unionist could still seriously think the problems of the poverty, inequality, insecure work, unemployment and the disengagement of much of the working class from electoral politics have anything to do with whether we have a National or Labour government.

    The blind refusal to accept they are equally responsible for the situation we are in, and that neither is going to anything significant to change that is mind blowing.

    Even worse is the pressure exerted to toe the line and not think independently (or at all) if you want to be accepted within the movement.

    The split between those who indulge in this sort of wilful blindness – it exists well beyond the union movement -and refuse to think or analyse, and those who would like to be part of a dynamic left with half a collective brain is probably the biggest impediment to left unity there is.

    • karol 13.1

      So many differences – and many of the ones you mention are overlap and intersect.

      The difference between socialists and social democrats is significant in the Pablo-Trotter interchange, i think – Trotter more a social democrat; Pablo more a Marxist.

    • Tiger Mountain 13.2

      Lefty makes some good points about differing basic political world views. The old adage “work with and struggle against” still applies. A main strategic task for all exploited and oppressed in Aotearoa to be achieved in 2014 is ending the Key gangs period of parliamentary office. This can be subscribed to and aided by just about anyone.

      The left is not expired it is compartmentalised. The marxist left in particular has since the 60s sliced and diced itself to near ineffectiveness initially through a wrong headed emphasis on international events (Sino Soviet split) and then by the sectarian attitude to unions and social democracy. Going from one respectable party (CPNZ) and a few minor sects to a score or more organisations formed from splits of splits. Not to forget the considerable penetration by SIS snouts.

      The social democrats have still not expunged the Rogernomes so they should not be too smug about the travails of the hard left. And Mana remains a hybrid experiment that has much potential for the future and present. Pablo should look at the Mana led GI housing fightback, the stopped motorway through Sth Auckland communities, the support for no drill protests, looks pretty left and in action to me. AAP’s “Stop the War on the Poor”, is again action, engaging the disengaged and alienated. GreenPeaces taking politics to the beach (where do you find people in summer?) recently in support of the no drill campaign.

      The working class is still around too and includes most of us. Middle class is a misnomer, it is mid level socio economic status not a separate class. All except the major capitalists and finance capitalists are exploited one way or another by banks and or employers and the state bureaucracies if a social security recipient. Post colonial NZ with its settler farmer history, high small business/self employed numbers and new wave of immigrants has presented unique issues for a strong left to prosper.

      The nearest some kiwis come to collective action is a Boxing day sale, but day by day there are many struggles happening out there for those battling ACC, joining unions, standing up on community and environmental issues. Pablo’s monolithic left will be a bit longer coming yet but a lot of us are doing our bit meanwhile in all sorts of forums.

    • Colonial Viper 13.3

      +1. That starts to point to the guts of it.

    • Ad 13.4

      Enjoyed the taxonomic splitting there.

      I have regretfully observed the sideways violence of those working within shrinking activist groups like unions. Doesn’t sound a pleasant or always constructive place for people who have the will of the collective good at heart. As activist groups shrink the implied disciplinary orders will get stronger.

      I hope you can make space on the left for public servants, post-Keynsians with money to spend, and those who generally work in the interstices between capital, the public sector, and society to develop and change for good.

    • [Social democrats] fall back on the old argument that communism failed in Russia and China therefore there is no alternative to trying to build a kind capitalism.

      We do, but not because there is no alternative to capitalism. There are plenty of alternatives to capitalism – feudalism, tribalism, various forms of totalitarian nightmare, etc. The problem is that: 1 – the alternatives are crap; 2 – that promoting armed revolt to impose a system that’s resulted in a murderous totalitarian dictatorship everywhere it’s been tried would be just plain wrong; and 3 – that in any case there is no popular enthusiasm for armed revolt for the obvious reason that the overwhelming majority of people don’t have it that bad.

      • Colonial Viper 13.5.1

        I’d settle for more localised democracy, economic structures which favours control by NZ SMEs and by NZ workers, and a push against extraction of money and resources out of NZ by trans-nationals.

      • Lefty 13.5.2

        A lack of imagination is apparently also a problem for social democrats.

        History has not ended, all possible choices have not been explored and capitalism has not been proved to be the least harmful, let alone the best, way to organise ourselves.

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead 13.5.2.1

          +1

        • Colonial Viper 13.5.2.2

          +2

          In some ways mild, middle of the road social democrats strike me as being extremely conservative in outlook. All they seem to want to do is to take the status quo, and massage the managerial settings and procedures which are applied.

        • Psycho Milt 13.5.2.3

          Sure. Things have changed, things will change, it’s a given. Even the thing we’re calling “capitalism” in western countries isn’t capitalism as Marx understood it. The point is that the current alternatives to what we’re calling capitalism are crap, and experience suggests that any alternative that has to be imposed on us through having disciplined cadres of progressives overturn our existing society will not have a good outcome.

    • Murray Olsen 13.6

      Great post, Lefty. You’ve saved me a bit of typing there.

  14. One Anonymous Knucklehead 14

    Basically “the Left” isn’t going away any time in the near future. It’s a product of capitalism, of that arbitrary split between bosses and workers.

    According to a fair few recent articles about psychology and brain physiology, there are quite significant differences in the structure of left and right wing brains. I doubt that’s going away any time soon either.

    The idea that the Left is a spent force seems somewhat ethnocentric to me. Just because Labour shat in its own nest in New Zealand doesn’t extend to the rest of the globe.

    Not to mention that the values and constituency are still here. Come on back, Labour.

  15. Flip 15

    Any left politics also needs a strong focus on environment and resources.

    ABSOLUTELY.

    Resource usage and ownership are the key issues driving inequality.

    The capitalist class if you like will have the resources to adapt to climate change. The poor who are not responsible for most of the climate change will bear the brunt of the impacts. This screams injustice. This is a global class conflict now.

    In NZ it is vital that its resources do not become exploited by a few for their profit. It is vital that the use of the resources are used for providing a sustainable future.

    • vto 15.1

      “The capitalist class if you like will have the resources to adapt to climate change”

      By flying to New Zealand and living here.

      We get to be their cleaners.

      All those rich arseholes from the northern hemisphere who have made their dollops of dollars out of their own environments and economies (and others) should fuck off back to where they came from. Retiring to our corner of the world goes down like a cup of cold sick. They do nothing for us and they are not welcome.

  16. Sosoo 16

    However, Pablo really does an old school Marxist analysis – it’s like the whole struggle between feminists, anti-racists, etc within the left, over the last few decades, never happened. It has been a long struggle to get some understanding and inclusion of these within the left. Pablo tends to be dismissive of, and marginalise the politics of “race”, (by implication) gender and sexuality, and climate change to the margins.

    And for good reason. Identity politics has failed to do anything to stem the assault on the welfare of ordinary people. Working people don’t really like the idea that the party they formed to advance their own interests has been largely taken over by simpering, middle-class liberals with their first world problems. So we stopped voting, and we won’t start again until you folks leave and bugger off for good to the Greens where you belong.

    Gay rights is great, but most of the National Party voted for gay marriage and has openly gay members. Maori concerns are important, but the Maori Party was easily co-opted by National. Minority representation is great, but National has been for some time been quietly bringing in minority MPs. When your struggles are embraced by your ideological opponents, you aren’t focusing on the right things.

    • Colonial Viper 16.1

      And for good reason. Identity politics has failed to do anything to stem the assault on the welfare of ordinary people.

      Unless the Left can focus on and deliver significant and concrete day to day improvements for those living (barely surviving) in the bottom 50% of society, it really is of little remaining utility to the people.

    • greywarbler 16.2

      Sosoo
      You make the point that the various factors in Labour’s broad general coverage of interests can gradually get peeled off leaving the pungent onion the true and obvious Labour heart.

      But without a heart that cares about other people, not just narrow-minded, narrow-focussed blokes and blokesses, what are you? Just another bunch of inward-looking, self-centred, tribal isolationists, a mirror image of the rich and powerful who you despise.

      Working people don’t really like the idea that the party they formed to advance their own interests has been largely taken over by simpering, middle-class liberals with their first world problems. Just remember that you aim to reach first world standards, those are the relative values that you measure your lives by, sodon’t put down the people who have got these as simpering, middle-class liberals. They do go on about themselves and their wants, and favour needs of some over others I think. But make sure that you don’t do the same from a different angle.

      • Sosoo 16.2.1

        Look, if we agitate to remove discrimination on grounds of gender, sexual orientation or race, we shouldn’t kid ourselves that this will result in anything else than more diversity among the rich people who are screwing everyone else over.

        National has made a pretty good job of helping foster Maori capitalism, but all that gets the rest of us are some brown faces among the people screwing the rest of us over.

        What really empowers actual women more? Telling a solo mother working a hard job that there are no formal barriers to her being a CEO because of equal hiring practices, or giving her more money, better employment conditions and a full employment society so that she can easily tell her boss to fuck off and get herself another job somewhere else? In a society like ours you cannot effectively discriminate against people who have the economic power to disassociate themselves from you at little cost to themselves.

        More women would be empowered (as in freer to do what they want and change their lives) if poorer people in our society (most of whom are female) were made economically better off. The same women wouldn’t have to depend on lowlife husbands who beat them if they could simply walk away – the prospect of economic insecurity is what keeps many people in toxic relationships.

        The left allows itself to be sidetracked from this and accept less, because they don’t have the wit to hold out for economic concessions which bring the rest with them.

        • karol 16.2.1.1

          I do agree that women on low incomes desperately need a better deal than they are getting now, especially those with children and other caring duties.

          So you think it’s only women on low incomes who are battered and raped? Or is it that you think it’s only men on low incomes who do the battering and raping, etc?

          And, when women do get better jobs, they still are left with the bulk of the domestic labour and caring work…. etc, etc.

          There’s far more to gender discrimination than straight forward financial deprivation.

          If the underlying patriarchal/masculinist attitudes, behaviours, and institutionalized culture are not changed, then any financial improvements are still likely to work out to be skewed in ways disadvantageous to a lot of women.

          It’s not just about the money – it’s the culture, and the institutions. It’s about the ay our society operates.

          • Colonial Viper 16.2.1.1.1

            Sorry, again you’ve lost me there.

            You’re saying that unless patriarchal or masculinist attitudes are changed, there will be no true progress except superficial progress? Do I have that correct? What’s your proposed pathway and timeline on that, and which political party do you see putting those steps in their election manifesto?

            Another point you mention is the income level of women who are battered and raped. You say that middle and high income women are also battered and raped, which is true.

            Given that, how do you recognise and prioritise the disproportionately higher level violence against poorer women and women in poverty (not just in NZ look at the Indian example), along with the disproportionately worse outcomes and options experienced by those women (again in NZ but looking elsewhere as well).

            To me Sosoo makes a simple point: change the lives of women via economic means now while working on the very uncertain and years/decades long project of changing institutional and cultural norms.

            Again, my preference is to focus on concrete changes which can be accomplished via politics quickly, help hundreds of thousands of people in their day to day lives in a significant fashion, all with little expenditure of political capital.

            • geoff 16.2.1.1.1.1

              Here’s what I don’t buy CV, there’s the implication in what Sosoo is saying that the acts of addressing identity politics issues has caused the marginalisation of work rights. That the special interest groups took over the Labour party.

              Now I disagree with that analysis, and here’s why…I think that the rightwing powers that be and those who kowtow to them (and I am including Labour caucuses in that) focused on those causes because they needed something to distract from the fact that workers conditions were getting worse and worse.

              Having the working class blame identity politics for ruining the Labour party has probably got the rightwingers laughing all the way to the bank.

  17. greywarbler 17

    I think this is a needed thread for discussion and hopefully some insight for me and others. The query ‘whither the left’ is good. If there is no deep thought and direction for relevance for today and tomorrow coupled with passion for the ‘ traditional values’ of Labour (which extended beyond just working class men) then it will be – ‘wither’ of the Left.

    And that would not result in an accompanying swing to the Greens I’m sure, as there is a distaste by some for the Greenies as being too far into something that they can’t embrace.

    And there is the trend for the simple-minded, self-oriented to coalesce behind hard-right parties with anxiety and anger against policies and events disagreeable to such people, being focussed on some chosen target. Channelling suspicion, envy, alienation, anger onto something or someone that can be hated and despised has a very uniting effect and soon draws a group of like-minded individuals. And they are strong, sour and focussed on getting their own way, no matter what. The hard-right are very unpleasant people. The hard-left need to be watched for as well, as they can be unexpectedly harsh in their approach. One doesn’t expect to be disadvantaged by those in supposedly the same culture of policy and action.

    That’s what the Left will have to contend with as times get hard. There has to be stronger fare than just good intentions. Or repeating the old values without fashioning their suitability for today and their proper place in the list of priorities. Time and opportunity for action will be lost if utopian feisty fans scrap amongst themselves on which is the more righteous of their favoured models.

    I have been following Trademe for a while and looking at feedback written. I have been surprised and dismayed at my observations. They don’t bode well for getting a groundswell of concerned voters, fired up, eager and willing to stir themselves in an effort to get a different, and hopefully better government.

    I find that a large number of NZs on various large Trademe sites, probably young, actually make excuses for traders who give them poor service. They seem to accept that they don’t deserve to get fast and efficient response and delivery once they have paid. They are often unable to bring themselves to criticise slackness or absence of communication, and find excuses for the trader.

    They don’t seem to have any feelings of worth or the spirit and self-respect to demand reliability, promptness and fairness from certain traders and are like doormats. This confirms for me that NZ don’t like to complain, find it hard to offer considered negative comment other than in outbursts of annoyance, and lack feelings of self-worth and pride. Has anyone else noticed similar?

    • Colonial Viper 17.1

      In the US, the Right are superior at acknowledging the huge reserves of legitimate anger and grievance felt by the working classes and (former) middle classes. Of course, what the Right does at that stage is to channel that frustration against the targets of their choosing, usually those minorities who are most vulnerable and weak in society.

      The Left – well the US Left was gut punched around WWI and finally finished off in the McCarthy era. Today it’s just quiet echoes and shadows of what it used to be.

  18. blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 18

    From Pablo’s initial article:

    “Some Left media types jumped at the opportunity to work for Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party (which is clearly based on the Pirate Party model, originally from Sweden but now with an international dimension that is anything but working class based). Material and personal motivations rather than ideological affinity apparently pushed these people to violate rudimentary conflict of interest and ethical standards.”

    This paragraph appears to be full of assumptions and a little unfair in my view.

    Picture a person – let us call them Person A – who is passionately wanting more left-wing views to be out there in the media and represented in parliament. That person is a journalist for that reason.

    Now picture a person (Person B) who has a lot of money and personality and is good at articulating issues. Person B is capturing a lot of the media and becoming politically outspoken regarding the government of the day and on matters that the left are concerned about.

    Person B approaches Person A and asks for some advice regarding setting up a political party – and due to the subject matter this needs to be kept private.

    Person A agrees to the request.

    I think it is a little unfair to say that Person A is ‘simply doing it for money’, and should have disclosed the information immediately – despite the need for secrecy. (I do agree at the first possible moment after the secrecy is no longer required would be good).

    It is also unfair to say that it wasn’t for ‘ideological reasons’ that Person A agreed to the offer. It is still unclear quite what the Internet Party is going to stand for – or what their persuasion might be (left or right) – it stands to reason that this might also have been the case from the outset of the idea and therefore how is someone ‘compromising their ideology’ when they get involved with advising a political that is just starting? They might well be hoping to influence it to be a left-wing party.

    • karol 18.1

      The things is, BL, I’d have thought “person A” would have learned a little from past experience.

      I wasn’t keen when Bomber opted to go with Face TV and the move from freview to Sky. Bomber made the case it was necessary to keep public broadcasting alive. I could kinda se his point, but was reticent. He was an enthusiastic promoter of Face on his blog, publicising it’s programmes etc…. then he got dumped.

      So I’d have thought he’d be less enthusiastic about going with another capitalist enterprise, with hopes of it including some public broadcasting deals.

      • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 18.1.1

        The point I am trying to make, however, Karol – it seems ‘we’ are very quick to pull someone down and it can be read otherwise.

        There are a lot of negative assumptions involved with this judgement on Bomber (& Alistair Thompson but Bomber appears to be getting a lot). They are assumptions – yet stated as incontrovertible evidence – there is a more charitable way to read their actions.

  19. The ‘left’ means nothing if it does not put up an alternative future to capitalist destruction and human extinction.
    Try this one
    http://redrave.blogspot.co.nz/2013/12/labour-vs-capital.html

  20. adam 20

    A couple of problems

    1. Marxism is a discredited ideology, I mean all you so called Marxists have tried and failed utterly for about a 100 years now. Seriously you kill more people of the class you purpose to be the champions of – than of the other side. Indeed your theories are not based on science, but on the rantings of a boil infested misogynist. Who I might add, never worked in his life time, this is a man who didn’t pay his own maid, never visited a factory, and like all modern day Marxists attacks anyone on the left who doesn’t do it his way. So I for one are glad that the Marxists are moaning about no real left, because I don’t want to be part of a communist state. I’d rather take my chances with the capitalists.

    2. The authoritarian left is a bunch of ass. Seriously, class war is just a front for – How about we swap our guys (and yes they are males on the whole) for those guys in power. We will do such a better job, because we know best, and you dumb working people really need us to tell you what to do. Bugger off. Seriously, fool me once shame on me, fool me twice… There are those of us on the left who embrace other ideas and values LIKE! Freedom, Diversity, and Humanity. The slogans of the authoritarians are a sick attack on freedom of us as individuals and as members of our Whānau. They don’t want a free thinking working class, hell they might just question their rule, they might just put there real world experience on the table and that would discredit the ideology they cling to. The anti-authoritarian left is sick of you authoritarian bastards your lies, moaning, and bullshit.

    3. There is an anti-authoritarian left. Who are not scared of anyone. Were far from perfect. We get it wrong, but shit when we get it wrong, we don’t go out and kill people. We have a little thing called morals – Bertrand Russell and his new 10 commandments is a good place to start if your interested. Many other places to go look to. But as I support free thought, and freedom of choice – I’ll let you do the looking.

    Free, to be free, with dignity, to have the ability to obtain our full potential as human beings thats the left I’m a part of.

    • Tiger Mountain 20.1

      Your claims sound rather suspect Adam, for one thing there is no where for you to meet since the demise of telephone boxes.

      • Yoza 20.1.1

        Anarchism is making a resurgence, this appears to be what Adam has in mind. The appealing central tenet of anarchist philosophy being the legitimacy of any form of authority must be challenged – it would take more than a phone box to house those who would accept such a premise.

        • Colonial Viper 20.1.1.1

          One interesting thing about Adam is the deliberate and self-righteous tone he takes. He dismisses the rest of the Left, says that the rest of the Left looks down on everyone else, speaks of freedom for individuals, espouses diversity, and then without a trace of irony, implies that his way is the only moral way of the Left and the rest of us are cynically power hungry and immoral.

          Of course, this is the perfect path to authoritarianism. Which he says he despises. So either that is also a lie, or it is hypocrisy.

          The last interesting point is the “lies, moaning and bullshit” he claims all the rest of the Left participates in. When you examine his comment however, what he wrote is nothing more than several paragraphs which appear to be nothing if not “lies, moaning and bullshit” in of itself.

          Summary – Adam is either full of shit, or he hasn’t thought through enough to understand what he actually stands for.

    • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 20.2

      @ Adam

      I agree with some of your sentiments especially this one:

      “There are those of us on the left who embrace other ideas and values LIKE! Freedom, Diversity, and Humanity.”

      However I consider you completely wrong here:

      “Marxism is a discredited ideology, I mean all you so called Marxists have tried and failed utterly for about a 100 years now.”

      We do still live in a social democracy and that arose out of Marxism!

      http://socialism.wikia.com/wiki/Social_Democracy

      And the first sentence of the Wikipedia page on ‘The Communist Manifesto’

      The Communist Manifesto (Das Kommunistische Manifest), originally titled Manifesto of the Communist Party (German: Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei), is a short 1848 publication written by the political theorists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It has since been recognized as one of the world’s most influential political manuscripts

      [my bold]

      Also, would have been good to provide a link to Bertrand Russell’s 10 commandments.

    • Colonial Viper 20.3

      Looks like adam doesn’t understand the difference between Marxism and classic, centralised state totalitarianism. For a self-proclaimed “lefty”, that’s pretty shite. It actually suggests a serious lack of understanding of not only capitalism, but of socialist and alternative political economics.

      Adam also denies the existance of class war. Denial of class war is an ongoing tactic used by the neoliberal power elite.

      Actually seems to me like that’s where Adam is coming from, that and some mixed up ideas of libertarianism which he is trying to call “left”.

      • Yoza 20.3.1

        Marx was a bit of authoritarian nut and spent a disproportionate amount of time lurching about the show in an attempt to banish dissenting voices from the Internationals. Bakunin’s contempt for the authoritarian blend of socialism preached by Marx is well documented in Daniel Guerin’s,No Gods, No Masters.

  21. Yoza 21

    blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 20.2
    25 January 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Also, would have been good to provide a link to Bertrand Russell’s 10 commandments.

    The Liberal Decalogue (Secular 10 Commandments)

    1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
    2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
    3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
    4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavour to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
    5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found. 6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
    7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
    8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
    9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
    10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

    • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 21.1

      @ Yoza,

      I meant to look them up and hadn’t – they sound very interesting, thanks!

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    Hello! Here comes the Saturday edition of More Than A Feilding, catching you up on the past somewhat interrupted week. Still on the move!Share Read more ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    1 week ago
  • Coalition of the Unwilling?
    What does Budget 2024 tell us about the current government? Muddle on?Coalition governments are not new. About 50 percent of the time since the first MMP election, there has been a minority government, usually with allied parties holding ministerial portfolios outside cabinets. For 10 percent of the time there was ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    1 week ago
  • Of red flags and warning signs in comments on social media
    Somewhat surprisingly for what is regarded as a network of professionals, climate science misinformation is getting shared on LinkedIn, joining other channels where this is happening. Several of our recent posts published on LinkedIn have attracted the ire of various commenters who apparently are in denial about human-caused climate change. Based ...
    1 week ago
  • All good, still
    1. On what subject is Paul Henry even remotely worth giving the time of day?a. The state of our nationb. The state of the ACT partyc. How to freak out potential buyers of your gin palace by baking the remains of your deceased parent into its fittings2. Now that New ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    1 week ago
  • The looting is the point
    Last time National was in power, they looted the state, privatising public assets and signing hugely wasteful public-private partnership (PPP) contracts which saw foreign consortiums provide substandard infrastructure while gouging us for profits. You only have to look at the ongoing fiasco of Transmission Gully to see how it was ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The Illusion of Power: How Local Government Bureaucrats Overawe Democratically-Elected Councillors..
    The Democratic Façade Of Local Government: Our district and city councillors are democratically elected to govern their communities on one very strict condition – that they never, ever, under any circumstances, attempt to do so.A DISINTEGRATION OF LOYALTIES on the Wellington City Council has left Mayor Tory Whanau without a ...
    1 week ago
  • Lowlights & Bright Spots
    I can feel the lowlights coming over meI can feel the lowlights, from the state I’m inI can see the light now even thought it’s dimA little glow on the horizonAnother week of lowlights from our government, with the odd bright spot and a glow on the horizon. The light ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • Weekly Roundup 14-June-2024
    Another week, another roundup of things that caught our eye on our favourite topics of transport, housing and how to make cities a little bit greater. This Week in Greater Auckland On Monday, Connor wrote about Kāinga Ora’s role as an urban development agency Tuesday’s guest post by ...
    Greater AucklandBy Greater Auckland
    1 week ago
  • The Hoon around the week to June 14
    Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: The podcast above of the weekly ‘hoon’ webinar for paying subscribers features co-hosts and talking with:The Kākā’s climate correspondent about the National-ACT-NZ First Government’s moves this week to take farming out of the ETS and encourage more mining and oil and ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • Climate policy axed in broad daylight, while taxpayer liabilities grow in the dark
    In 2019, Shane Jones addressed the “50 Shades of Green” protest at Parliament: Now he is part of a government giving those farmers a pass on becoming part of the ETS, as well as threatening to lock in offshore oil exploration and mining for decades. Photo: Lynn GrievesonTL;DR: Here’s the ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • Rage Bait!
    Hi,Today’s newsletter is all about how easy it is to get sucked into “rage bait” online, and how easy it is to get played.But first I wanted to share something that elicited the exact opposite of rage in me — something that made me feel incredibly proud, whilst also making ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    1 week ago
  • Bernard's Dawn Chorus and pick 'n' mix for Friday, June 14
    Seymour said lower speed limits “drained the joy from life as people were forced to follow rules they knew made no sense.” File Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: My six things to note in Aotearoa-NZ’s political economy around housing, climate and poverty on Friday, June 14 were:The National/ACT/NZ First ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • Friendly but frank talks with China Premier
    It sounded like the best word to describe yesterday’s talks between Chinese Premier Li Qiang and his heavyweight delegation of Ministers and officials and Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and New Zealand Ministers and officials was “frank.” But it was the kind of frankness that friends can indulge in. It ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    1 week ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #24 2024
    Open access notables Wildfire smoke impacts lake ecosystems, Farruggia et al., Global Change Biology: We introduce the concept of the lake smoke-day, or the number of days any given lake is exposed to smoke in any given fire season, and quantify the total lake smoke-day exposure in North America from 2019 ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Join us for the weekly Hoon on YouTube Live
    Photo by Mathias Elle on UnsplashIt’s that new day of the week (Thursday rather than Friday) when we have our ‘hoon’ webinar with paying subscribers to The Kākā for an hour at 5 pm.Jump on this link on YouTube Livestream for our chat about the week’s news with special guests:5.00 ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    2 weeks ago
  • Geoffrey Miller: China’s message to New Zealand – don’t put it all at risk
    Don’t put it all at risk. That’s likely to be the take-home message for New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon in his meetings with Li Qiang, the Chinese Premier. Li’s visit to Wellington this week is the highest-ranking visit by a Chinese official since 2017. The trip down under – ...
    Democracy ProjectBy Geoffrey Miller
    2 weeks ago
  • The Real Thing
    I know the feelingIt is the real thingThe essence of the soulThe perfect momentThat golden momentI know you feel it tooI know the feelingIt is the real thingYou can't refuse the embraceNo?Sometimes we face the things we most dislike. A phobia or fear that must be confronted so it doesn’t ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    2 weeks ago
  • Gordon Campbell on how moderates empower the political right
    Struth, what a week. Having made sure the rural sector won’t have to pay any time soon for its pollution, PM Christopher Luxon yesterday chose Fieldays 2024 to launch a parliamentary inquiry into rural banking services, to see how the banks have been treating farmers faced with high interest rates. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bernard's Dawn Chorus and pick 'n' mix for Thursday, June 13
    In April, 17,656 people left Aotearoa-NZ to live overseas, averaging 588 a day, with just over half of those likely to have gone to Australia. Photo: Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: My six things to note in Aotearoa-NZ’s political economy around housing, climate and poverty on Thursday, June 13 ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    2 weeks ago
  • Our guide to having your say on the draft RLTP 2024
    Auckland’s draft Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP) 2024 is open for feedback – and you only have until Monday 17 June to submit. Do it! Join the thousands of Aucklanders who are speaking up for wise strategic investment that will dig us out of traffic and give us easy and ...
    Greater AucklandBy Connor Sharp
    2 weeks ago
  • The China puzzle
    Chinese Premier Li Qiang arrives in Wellington today for a three-day visit to the country. The visit will take place amid uncertainty about the future of the New Zealand-China relationship. Li hosted a formal welcome and then lunch for then-Prime Minister Chris Hipkins in Beijing a year ago. The pair ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    2 weeks ago
  • Fossil fuels are shredding our democracy
    This is a re-post of an article from the Climate Brink by Andrew Dessler published on June 3, 2024. I have an oped in the New York Times (gift link) about this. For a long time, a common refrain about the energy transition was that renewable energy needed to become ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Life at 20 kilometres an hour
    We are still in France, getting from A to B.Possibly for only another week, though; Switzerland and Germany are looming now. On we pedal, towards Budapest, at about 20 km per hour.What are are mostly doing is inhaling a country, loving its ways and its food. Rolling, talking, quietly thinking. ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    2 weeks ago
  • Hipkins is still useless
    The big problem with the last Labour government was that they were chickenshits who did nothing with the absolute majority we had given them. They governed as if they were scared of their own shadows, afraid of making decisions lest it upset someone - usually someone who would never have ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Exercising with the IDF.
    This morning I did something I seldom do, I looked at the Twitter newsfeed. Normally I take the approach of something that I’m not sure is an American urban legend, or genuinely something kids do over there. The infamous bag of dog poo on the front porch, set it on ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    2 weeks ago

  • Reserve Bank chair reappointed
    Professor Neil Quigley has been reappointed as Chair of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Board for a further term of two years, until 30 June 2026.  “Professor Quigley has played a key role in establishing the new Board after the commencement of the new RBNZ Act on 1 July ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • School attendance increases
    School attendance data released today shows an increase in the number of students regularly attending school to 61.7 per cent in term one. This compares to 59.5 per cent in term one last year and 53.6 per cent in term four. “It is encouraging to see more children getting to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Record investment in public transport services
    The Government has announced a record 41 per cent increase in indicative funding for public transport services and operations, and confirmed the rollout of the National Ticketing Solution (NTS) that will enable contactless debit and credit card payments starting this year in Auckland, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.“This Government is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • GDP data shows need to strengthen and grow the economy
    GDP figures for the March quarter reinforce the importance of restoring fiscal discipline to public spending and driving more economic growth, Finance Minister Nicola Willis says.  Data released today by Stats NZ shows GDP has risen 0.2 per cent for the quarter to March.   “While today’s data is technically in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Women continue to make up over 50 per cent on public sector boards
    Women’s representation on public sector boards and committees has reached 50 per cent or above for the fourth consecutive year, with women holding 53.9 per cent of public sector board roles, Acting Minister for Women Louise Upston says. “This is a fantastic achievement, but the work is not done. To ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Government supporting Māori business success
    The Coalition Government is supporting Māori to boost development and the Māori economy through investment in projects that benefit the regions, Regional Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Tama Potaka say. “As the Regional Development Minister, I am focused on supporting Māori to succeed. The Provincial Growth Fund ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Better solutions for earthquake-prone buildings
    Building and Construction Minister Chris Penk has announced that the review into better managing the risks of earthquake-prone buildings has commenced. “The terms of reference published today demonstrate the Government’s commitment to ensuring we get the balance right between public safety and costs to building owners,” Mr Penk says.  “The Government ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Prime Minister wraps up visit to Japan
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has just finished a successful three-day visit to Japan, where he strengthened political relationships and boosted business links. Mr Luxon’s visit culminated in a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio followed by a state dinner. “It was important for me to meet Prime Minister Kishida in person ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Major business deals signed on PM’s Japan trip
    Significant business deals have been closed during the visit of Prime Minister Christopher Luxon to Japan this week, including in the areas of space, renewable energy and investment.  “Commercial deals like this demonstrate that we don’t just export high-quality agricultural products to Japan, but also our world-class technology, expertise, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Strategic Security speech, Tokyo
    Minasan, konnichiwa, kia ora and good afternoon everyone. Thank you for the invitation to speak to you today and thank you to our friends at the Institute for International Socio-Economic Studies and NEC for making this event possible today.  It gives me great pleasure to be here today, speaking with ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • National Infrastructure Pipeline worth over $120 billion
    The National Infrastructure Pipeline, which provides a national view of current or planned infrastructure projects, from roads, to water infrastructure, to schools, and more, has climbed above $120 billion, Infrastructure Minister Chris Bishop says. “Our Government is investing a record amount in modern infrastructure that Kiwis can rely on as ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Making it easier to build infrastructure
    The Government is modernising the Public Works Act to make it easier to build infrastructure, Minister for Land Information Chris Penk announced today. An independent panel will undertake an eight-week review of the Act and advise on common sense changes to enable large scale public works to be built faster and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • NZ enhances North Korea sanctions monitoring
    New Zealand will enhance its defence contributions to monitoring violations of sanctions against North Korea, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon announced today.  The enhancement will see the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) increase its contributions to North Korea sanctions monitoring, operating out of Japan. “This increase reflects the importance New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Speech to Safeguard National Health and Safety Conference
    Good afternoon everyone. It’s great to be with you all today before we wrap up Day One of the annual Safeguard National Health and Safety Conference. Thank you to the organisers and sponsors of this conference, for the chance to talk to you about the upcoming health and safety consultation. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Ōtaki to north of Levin alliance agreements signed
    Transport Minister Simeon Brown has welcomed an important milestone for the Ōtaki to north of Levin Road of National Significance (RoNS), following the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) signing interim alliance agreements with two design and construction teams who will develop and ultimately build the new expressway.“The Government’s priority for transport ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Improvements to stopping Digital Child Exploitation
    The Department of Internal Affairs [Department] is making a significant upgrade to their Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System, which blocks access to websites known to host child sexual abuse material, says Minister of Internal Affairs Brooke van Velden.  “The Department will incorporate the up-to-date lists of websites hosting child sexual ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New vaccine research aims to combat prevalent bovine disease
    A vaccine to prevent an infectious disease that costs New Zealand cattle farmers more than $190 million each year could radically improve the health of our cows and boost on-farm productivity, Associate Agriculture Minister Andrew Hoggard says. The Ministry for Primary Industries is backing a project that aims to develop ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Making it easier to build granny flats
    The Government has today announced that it is making it easier for people to build granny flats, Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters and RMA Reform Minister Chris Bishop say. “Making it easier to build granny flats will make it more affordable for families to live the way that suits them ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • High Court Judge appointed
    Attorney-General Judith Collins today announced the appointment of Auckland King’s Counsel Gregory Peter Blanchard as a High Court Judge. Justice Blanchard attended the University of Auckland from 1991 to 1995, graduating with an LLB (Honours) and Bachelor of Arts (English). He was a solicitor with the firm that is now Dentons ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Health workforce numbers rise
    Health Minister Dr Shane Reti says new data released today shows encouraging growth in the health workforce, with a continued increase in the numbers of doctors, nurses and midwives joining Health New Zealand. “Frontline healthcare workers are the beating heart of the healthcare system. Increasing and retaining our health workforce ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government to overhaul firearms laws
    Associate Justice Minister Nicole McKee has today announced a comprehensive programme to reform New Zealand's outdated and complicated firearms laws. “The Arms Act has been in place for over 40 years. It has been amended several times – in a piecemeal, and sometimes rushed way. This has resulted in outdated ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government delivers landmark specialist schools investment
    The coalition Government is delivering record levels of targeted investment in specialist schools so children with additional needs can thrive. As part of Budget 24, $89 million has been ringfenced to redevelop specialist facilities and increase satellite classrooms for students with high needs. This includes: $63 million in depreciation funding ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Major health and safety consultation begins
    A substantial consultation on work health and safety will begin today with a roadshow across the regions over the coming months, says Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Brooke van Velden.  This the first step to deliver on the commitment to reforming health and safety law and regulations, set out in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Growing the potential of New Zealand’s forestry sector in partnership
    Forestry Minister Todd McClay, today announced the start of the Government’s plan to restore certainty and confidence in the forestry and wood processing sector. “This government will drive investment to unlock the industry’s economic potential for growth,” Mr McClay says. “Forestry’s success is critical to rebuilding New Zealand’s economy, boosting ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government cancels forestry ETS annual service charges for 2023-24
    Annual service charges in the forestry Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will be cancelled for 2023/24, Forestry Minister Todd McClay says. “The sector has told me the costs imposed on forestry owners by the previous government were excessive and unreasonable and I agree,” Mr McClay says. “They have said that there ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Speech to the LGNZ Infrastructure Symposium
    Introduction Thank you for having me here today and welcome to Wellington, the home of the Hurricanes, the next Super Rugby champions. Infrastructure – the challenge This government has inherited a series of big challenges in infrastructure. I don’t need to tell an audience as smart as this one that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government boosts Agriculture and food trade with China
    Trade and Agriculture Minister Todd McClay and Food Safety Minister Andrew Hoggard welcomed outcomes to boost agricultural and food trade between New Zealand and China. A number of documents were signed today at Government House that will improve the business environment between New Zealand and China, and help reduce barriers, including on infant formula ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • NZ and China launch Services Trade Negotiations
    Trade Minister Todd McClay, and China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao, today announced the official launch of Negotiations on Services Trade between the two countries.  “The Government is focused on opening doors for services exporters to grow the New Zealand’s economy,” Mr McClay says.  As part of the 2022 New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement Upgrade ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Prime Minister Luxon meets with Premier Li
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang at Government House in Wellington today.  “I was pleased to welcome Premier Li to Wellington for his first official visit, which marks 10 years since New Zealand and China established a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,” Mr Luxon says. “The Premier and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Government and business tackling gender pay gap
    The coalition Government is taking action to reduce the gender pay gap in New Zealand through the development of a voluntary calculation tool. “Gender pay gaps have impacted women for decades, which is why we need to continue to drive change in New Zealand,” Acting Minister for Women Louise Upston ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Funding Boost for Rural Support Trusts
    The coalition Government is boosting funding for Rural Support Trusts to provide more help to farmers and growers under pressure, Rural Communities Minister Mark Patterson announced today. “A strong and thriving agricultural sector is crucial to the New Zealand economy and one of the ways to support it is to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Latest data shows size of public service decreasing
    Spending on contractors and consultants continues to fall and the size of the Public Service workforce has started to decrease after years of growth, according to the latest data released today by the Public Service Commission. Workforce data for the quarter from 31 December 23 to 31 March 24 shows ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Speech to the Law Association
    Thank you to the Law Association for inviting me to speak this morning. As a former president under its previous name — the Auckland District Law Society — I take particular satisfaction in seeing this organisation, and its members, in such good heart. As Attorney-General, I am grateful for these ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 25 years on, NZ reaffirms enduring friendship with Timor Leste
    New Zealand is committed to working closely with Timor-Leste to support its prosperity and resilience, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “This year is the 25th anniversary of New Zealand sending peacekeepers to Timor-Leste, who contributed to the country’s stabilisation and ultimately its independence,” Mr Peters says.    “A quarter ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Inquiry requested into rural banking
    Promoting robust competition in the banking sector is vital to rebuilding the economy, Finance Minister Nicola Willis says.  “New Zealanders deserve a banking sector that is as competitive as possible. Banking services play an important role in our communities and in the economy. Kiwis rely on access to lending when ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ministry for Regulation targets red tape to keep farmers and growers competitive
    Regulation Minister David Seymour, Environment Minister Penny Simmonds, and Food Safety Minister Andrew Hoggard have today announced a regulatory sector review on the approval process for new agricultural and horticultural products.    “Red tape stops farmers and growers from getting access to products that have been approved by other OECD countries. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Government to reverse blanket speed limit reductions
    The Coalition Government will reverse Labour’s blanket speed limit reductions by 1 July 2025 through a new Land Transport Rule released for public consultation today, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.  The draft speed limit rule will deliver on the National-ACT coalition commitment to reverse the previous government’s blanket speed limit ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Chair appointments for NZSO, CNZ and NZ On Air
    Minister Paul Goldsmith is making major leadership changes within both his Arts and Media portfolios. “I am delighted to announce Carmel Walsh will be officially stepping into the role of Chair of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, having been acting Chair since April,” Arts Minister Paul Goldsmith says.  “Carmel is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Government focus on long-term food, fibre growth
    Food and fibre export revenue is tipped to reach $54.6 billion this year and hit a record $66.6b in 2028 as the Government focuses on getting better access to markets and cutting red tape, Agriculture Minister Todd McClay and Oceans and Fisheries Minister Shane Jones say. “This achievement is testament ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Govt consulting on cutting red tape for exporters
    A new export exemption proposal for food businesses demonstrates the coalition Government’s commitment to reducing regulatory barriers for industry and increasing the value of New Zealand exports, which gets safe New Zealand food to more markets, says Food Safety Minister Andrew Hoggard.  “The coalition Government has listened to the concerns ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago

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