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The sea-change on the left

Written By: - Date published: 1:59 pm, October 25th, 2010 - 40 comments
Categories: Economy, exports, film, jobs, Politics, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, Unions - Tags:

One of the strange things about helping to run a left blog like this is looking at the varied opinions of those on the left of the political spectrum, and then looking at the monolithic opinions that the right seem to have of the left. I was musing on this while reading Matt McCarten’s excellent Saturday article on the Herald website – “New-left rallies its forces to take on the new-right“.

Now you have to understand that Matt and myself are almost at the ends of the spectrum when it comes to politics on the left.

Matt McCarten is well, Matt McCarten. If you don’t know who he is, then perhaps you should read what he says. He operates from a completely different ideological and personal basis to myself. But we frequently agree, often for quite different reasons. He has been embedded deeply in actual politics for as long as I’ve known about him.

My instincts are quite centrist and frequently right on some things while quite left on others. What else would you expect from someone who has been brought up in a managerial family, worked as a operations manager, done an MBA, and for the last 20 years has worked almost exclusively as a computer programmer in small non-union teams of highly skilled programmers and engineers. I like building systems rather than being a servant to my employees. I’ve never been in a union and every dealing I’ve had with them has been on the other side of the negotiation table. Generally the stereotypes beloved by the right aren’t and were never true.

The reason that I support the ‘left’ is because I’m interested in building systems that work and are adaptable to changing circumstance. Consequently in my political action I tend to avoid being involved in politics – I build systems and campaign structures (like this site). About the only thing I have in common with Matt is a focus on putting structure in the future ahead of reflex reactivity characterizes the right.

Generally I’ve never seen that kind of system and structural focus in the ‘right’. It was and still is is full of populist short-term thinkers who have a fondness for slogans, actions that appear to be done without thinking of downstream consequences, bigotry with not real foundation, and no real ability to think ahead. The latter to me is the distinguishing characteristic of the right. They’re not adaptive and don’t work for things that they want – they prefer to cling to outmoded ideas that don’t work.

You only have to read the comments by many on the right here (and there are some great exceptions) or at the sewer to see it. There is a good example by Paul Holmes of a populist unthinking rant. It makes me glad that this idiot isn’t in charge of anything important as it shows a narrowness of vision that is incomprehensible in a broadcaster hosting a major political current affairs show. Reading his archives is an exercise in reading about trivia and with a completely shallow understanding of the issues.

By contrast, as much as I usually disagree with Matt McCarten, he is usually worth reading, listening to, and thinking through his ideas until you find out why you’re for or against them and why. I usually find the same happens with most of the left commentators and authors.

There are few on right that you can do that with. Most of them you can happily replace with a basic auto-response program with a slogan dictionary and have roughly the same conversation with. Their only real skill appears to be an inability to learn from experience coupled with a persistent dogmatism in retrying prescriptive slogans that have been shown not to work. Don Brash with his 2025 task force report would be the epitome of this type of thinking.

You don’t see this more clearly than when many on the right start talking about unions. Most of the slogans appear to come from the far distant past before I started working in the late 70’s. We’ve seen quite a lot of that this week in the comments section (this is the most readable of the forums).

The biggest issue that I usually have by contrast when arguing with those on the left is simply a matter of practicality. They over-rate the ability of a good idea to initiate change in the short-term to medium-term and get frustrated with the fact that they have to play the long game.

Politicians in a democratic society, just like the judiciary, are in the position that they really have to follow public understanding rather than leading it. They’re there to act more as a brake on hysterical demagogy like we’ve seen this week by such things as the Paul Holmes article. As a society we want to have our politicians make considered coherent decisions made for our collective future, not decisions made in the heat of the moment without considering future consequences. Our entire political and judicial system is based on slowing that type of silliness down. The contrast is the idiotic and arbitrary decision making that is currently being shown so clearly by the military dictatorship in Fiji at present.

But sometimes you get a change in the currents in the public mood. Matt correctly identifies that one such event showed up at the Labour conference last weekend. There was clearly a mood for a change in direction amongst the members, and the leaders at the conference provided it. I was extremely happy to see it.

No more “measured and responsible” nonsense that was the norm under Helen Clark’s regime. It was good rousing stuff. It wasn’t revolutionary – that would be too much to expect – but it showed Little’s real emotional connection to the workers’ cause.

Little’s example fired up the latent leftie sentiments still lurking in the faithful. Even Phil Goff got in on the act, revelling in his new role as the “left-wing” leader, dissing everything he once advocated for on behalf of his old boss Roger Douglas.

It was a bit forced and it was hard to swallow his Road to Damascus conversion. But I’ll play along for now.

But most of what the conference did mattered little. It was rather the universal acceptance by conference attendees that the new-right experiment was wrong and it’s now over.

The support for keeping our economy quite so economically ‘pure’ waned for me in the mid-naughts. I was exporting with a currency that could and did fluctuate 40% in value within a year. That showed me that there was something seriously wrong with the basis of our economy. We are a country that more than any other in the OECD depends on trading our goods and services offshore, and yet we were in a position where we couldn’t plan investments because there was no way of figuring out a potential return. At the same time we were seeing the abomination of virtually all of the investment capital being sucked up into property speculation.

There was clearly a problem then. But it has taken about 5 years, a severe global recession, and some ideological idiocy by a knee-jerking NACT government for it to get to the point of having widespread ‘left’ support and enough public support to be viable politically. I’d have to compliment the members of the Fabian society for helping to publicize the economic choices and alternatives amongst the left.

So there is a growing alternative to the failed extreme neo-lib doctrine happening. It is supported not only by people like Matt McCarten but also by the right-wingers of the left like myself. Increasingly it is also resulting in more widespread dissatisfaction with the failed prescriptions of the past. People have seen what they do in the past and aren’t fooled by the mask. Rather than trying to deal with the consequences after bad decisions are made, they’re preempting them with massive action beforehand. The movement against mining in the national parks was one. And as Matt says:-

But what got me genuinely excited this week was that union workers turned out in their thousands in mass rallies around the country to protest the National-Act government’s anti-worker laws. They were the biggest in 20 years. Workers know these new laws have no intention of “helping vulnerable workers” get jobs, as Key pretends.

Instead they are intended to make workers scared and compliant. The pretence from Key is over and the nastiness of this government is obvious.

If you had any doubt just look at the knee-jerk reaction from Key and his ministers who couldn’t help themselves from jumping into an “industrial dispute” and side with an international conglomerate against a small group of Kiwi actors.

The actors’ crime, it seems, is that they dared to ask their fellow actors to not work on a job until their overseas employer agreed to discuss their pathetic pay and conditions. No doubt after some ritual grovelling Key will agree to give the US film bosses who own the hobbits another big tax break.

I’m rather expecting that as well.

Currently I’m agreeing with Matt more than I did in the past. That is not to say that we don’t disagree – but that is often what we agree on.  He does play the long game and I suspect he has been getting better at doing it. May he have many more years for our disagreements to continue.

40 comments on “The sea-change on the left”

  1. wasi 1

    i have been actively involved in national and regional politics on the left in NZ since the early 1990`s…and it is my privilege to know Matt personally and to have worked with him on many occasions in the dark days of ruthanasia and the shipley govt…a great strategist…a great leader…and a wicked sense of humour…i honour you Matt…as i said…it has truly been a privilege..

  2. tsmithfield 2

    One of the strange things about helping to run a left blog like this is looking at the varied opinions of those on the left of the political spectrum, and then looking at the monolithic opinions that the right seem to have of the left.

    Lprent, you are simply describing a symptom of outgroup homogeneity bias. Those on the right would think exactly the same about those on the left for exactly the same reasons.

    • lprent 2.1

      Not exactly. I spend most of my time with people of default center to right persuasions outside of the relatively small time I can spend on political stuff. Most of my rather large extended family have a strong tendency to the right. Not to mention my circle of friends has a strong tendency towards the right especially those from the rural side – pretty predicable bearing in mind my background and contacts over time. Programmers and engineers are who i work with mostly. Not exactly a highly left wing bunch

      I spend considerable amounts of time here, but that is only a couple of years compared to the nearly 30 years I have been interesed in politics. Even then it is minority of my spare time.

      That is an observation based on a lot of experience across the spectrum, but largely around people to the right of centre.

    • lprent 2.2

      Ummm I’d also point out that I’m not exactly a group type person. I only do it if it is required to get a task done. Normally I am just contary by nature. I like poking holes in group think

      • tsmithfield 2.2.1

        Iprent, you’re sort of fighting an immutable law here. Once we identify with a particular group, ingroup/outgroup biases kick in without us even thinking about it.

        That’s why, for instance, we tend to see people from other races as having similar physical characteristics and see other races as physically similar, but notice the differences in physical characteristics within one’s own race. This stuff is quite deeply embedded in our human psyche so its quite difficult to recognise in ourselves and quite difficult to avoid. Helps to explain the roots of racism and other forms of prejudice.

        I had this experience in hospital recently. I had been seen by an asian doctor. I had another question, and thought I saw the same guy in the ward. When I spoke to him, he didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. It was a different doctor. Then it clicked that I had been duped by the ingroup/outgroup stuff.

        Similar things happen on this site. For instance, how many left leaning bloggers get banned here compared to right wing bloggers? I suggest that moderators, without even realising it, are more likely to notice bad behaviour in outgroup members rather than ingroup ones. Not complaining. Its just the reality when groups collide.

        Probably the key is to recognise that we are all susceptible to ingroup/outgroup effects, then we are able to take action to avoid them.

        • lprent 2.2.1.1

          Far more from the right. But on the other hand, the ones on the left have a far far greater reason to want to keep the site in existence. They don’t try to actively disrupt threads which is the most common reason for us to notice someone.

          I really notice that when I warn or ban someone from the left I seldom get any arguments about the decision. They just go away and serve their time or change their behavior.

          But I get pointless arguments from those on the right at least half of the time. It is pointless because my standard response is usually to escalate the sanction geometrically to discourage the practice. I have been doing that ever since we started moderating.

          Of course as our about and policy clearly states, we are quite deliberately biased. This is primarily a left forum. I land quite hard on people who attempt to subvert that. But I leave people alone if they just argue without overt tactics or if they are challenging ideas rather than our inherent structure. Basically I defend the integrity of the site, not only with commentators, but frequently with authors and moderators. These are the things that are required to build a community rather than a ego based forum that inevitably disintegrates from guru effects.

          I’m always aware of in-group and out group effects. I use it as a tool all of the time here especially the sysop / luser metaphor – which is clearly and quite overtly deliberate. Hell I state that at least once a week so people are aware that is the ruleset. Don’t make work for the sysop because that will disturb him and then he will inflict pain on the luser that does it. Otherwise the sysop doesn’t care much what you say provided it falls within the policy guidelines. Read the policy…

          You have to remember I come from a managerial family which has some pretty strong leadership usage. We grew up on the deliberate practical usage of social structures from birth. The army, psych training, and MBA merely added a veneer of language over techniques I already knew.

          You can’t be a good manager unless you understand this stuff and how to apply it. But as any OCS or managerial course will emphasize over and over again, you can’t apply it effectively unless you’re aware of it in yourself and know how to control it

          Incidentially I am not the best at this stuff in my generation. My sister is far more formidable.

          • tsmithfield 2.2.1.1.1

            I actually think you are quite fair. I suspect Irish is more likely to be affected by ingroup/outgroup type affects since he bans people on the basis of them pissing him off. It seems to me he is much more likely to get pissed off by those from the right.

            Irish might disagree, and I will be open to his response given that I don’t want to “piss him off”.

            Ingroup/Outgroup categorisations are quite obvious here and on Kiwiblog. RWNJ or “right-wing troll” for instance for someone from the right who is merely expressing an opinion.
            Same sort of thing on Kiwiblog of course. Just shows we are all human I guess.

            • Colonial Viper 2.2.1.1.1.1

              After spending a bit of time on Kiwiblog this weekend, I would say that some posters there enjoy making provocative, personal and morally superior judgements of others. Many literally cannot seem to help themselves, and the absolute hating misogyny directed towards Kelly, Malcolm etc. was quite eye watering at times.

            • lprent 2.2.1.1.1.2

              Irish seems to have reduced his more abrupt banning for the moment and instead seems to be writing some of the best posts I’ve seen from him.

              Generally, I’ll even let the right wing trolls through once they get past their first approved comment (a lot die there because they clearly haven’t read the site). The point that I’ll kick them is when they become repetitive, have no sense of humor, or look like they are trying to ignite a irrelevant flamewar in a post and they don’t take a warning. I just have to look back to the boring discussions on posts here in 2007 to see what i don’t want to see.

              But generally I like the umm robust discussions between the various groups. They are entertaining, force people to think outside their boxes, and provide pretty good testing of ideas and concepts. Frequently they extend me beyond what i already understand. It is what I like about reading Matt and occasionally talking to him, talking to farmers, arguing with engineers, boozing with unionists, and reading here

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    Chris Trotter says that Goff, Labour and the union movement are going to come under increasing fire from the Right, beacuse they are now a serious threat to the longstanding NZ elites neo-con consensus. We are seeing it already. He urges Labour to take their message of economic sovereignty directly to the voters.

    • Carol 3.1

      Yes, we should expect more onslaughts from the right, like we’ve seen this week over unions and Hobbits, and probably some that get even more viscous. It’s provided some good lessons, tested resolve, and shown that many on the left are fully up for it.

      People as diverse as Helen Kelly and anonymous leftie lurkers will have learned much that is useful.

  4. sica 4

    Talking about the right and onslaughts ( and now that i can do links i think). View this shocker.Just shows what good film editing can do:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-news/8079483/British-actor-Martin-Freeman-wins-lead-role-in-The-Hobbit.html

  5. The ‘right’ are a little difficult to define. Goff and King , for example, are well and truly ensconced at the far right extreme of the political spectrum- they were key supporters of the introduction of the neo-liberal experiment inflicted on New Zealand during the mid-eighties. I worked as a (Post Office Telecom) lineman/cablejointer during those days and I will never forget the vicious assault on the New Zealand population that those ‘Rogernomics’ policies entailed.

    I doubt you would find a politician in the Labour party who would be prepared to admit that the rise in crime, communicable diseases, family break-downs, unemployment, desperate acts of pointless violence and psychological illness were a direct consequence of the political direction this country took under the Lange regime. The mantra that correlation is not evidence of causation is not applicable to the neo-liberal experiment. When similar economic policies were inflicted on other countries the consequences were exactly the same.

    The greatest dilemma the ‘right’ must confront is the reality that: the more successful they are politically; the closer they get to complete social and economic meltdown. The ‘right’, globally, have had almost complete economic control over the last twenty years, the consequence has seen the planet brought to the brink of economic collapse. Apparently, destroying the ability of the working class to accumulate financial capital was going to ‘unleash’ the power of the free-market and set the world on a new economic paradigm. Even big bad ‘Red’ Aunty Helen was prone to laud the majesty of the ‘new’ economic model.

    Unfortunately (not to mention: completely predictably), destroying the spending power of the West’s major consumers (workers) almost killed off economic activity. The only way economic activity could be sustained was through the financialisation of the landscape – those aren’t homes you’re living in, they are the security on which you can raise easy financial capital. The party’s over. There is no mass of well paid consumers to drive ‘growth’ and the supply of security against which loans can be leveraged is thin on the ground.

    As well as Phil Goff, I recently heard that other champion of free-market fundamentalism, Ken Douglas, attempting to sanitise his participation in the decades long economic disaster on National Radio. There is no ‘sea-change’ on the left, just the first of the rats fleeing the sinking ship of neoliberalism.

  6. Politicians in a democratic society, just like the judiciary, are in the position that they really have to follow public understanding rather than leading it.

    That’s the crux of the debate I have with myself every day (and with other people almost as frequently)… how much of a politician’s duty is to lead and how much to follow?

    On the one hand I’m a strong supporter of direct democracy and other manifestations of “people power”. But I’m only too well aware of how easily that can turn into ugly demagoguery, especially with a lazy and compliant media. Michael Laws is the perfect example… he taps into, and often creates, division and prejudice, demonises and ridicules his opponents, then runs a referendum knowing the result is a foregone conclusion. And people hold him up as an exemplar of the “listening politician”.

    On the other hand, I also regularly bemoan the lack of leadership and vision shown by those we elect. But I’ve also seen what starts out being leadership turn into hubris and contempt for those with an opposing view.

    I disagree that it’s not possible to do anything other cleave to public understanding. To take the example I know best, I spent a lot of time in pubs and RSAs and Workingmen’s Clubs in the 90s listening to people talk about foreigners and their role in NZ. There was racism and xenophobia there, yes. But underlying that was a genuine concern for NZ’s future in terms of ownership of its land and assets.

    So I got Winston talking about those issues, but in such a way that we were attacking not just the people taking advantage of a laissez faire approach to trading citizenship for unproductive “investment” in property but, primarily, the politicians and regulators responsible.

    Certainly some people chose to view that through a prism of prejudice but I had journalist after journalist admit to me (reluctantly, in some cases, it must be said) that they could find no quote to lift out of anything I wrote which they could hold up as racist.

    Gradually the vast majority, who were simply uneasy at the way things were and vaguely understood that “foreigners” had something to do with it, came to understand that it was offshore ownership, not immigration by people committed to a life in NZ, which ought to be the focus of their concerns.

    That sort of unease; that feeling that things aren’t quite right for a raft of ill-defined reasons people can’t quite crystallise – often occurs. It’s occurring now. And while you can’t change the public’s mind on that (nor should you… they’re inevitably right), if you’re persistent and treat them as capable of understanding more than a 20 second soundbite you can shape that feeling into support for the things in which you believe.

    Here endeth my sermon 🙂

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      Yep. Very good. Ed Milliband said that politics is not about managerialism, it is about leadership. And politicians are not here to be managers, but to be leaders willing to make a positive difference to society.

      The problem with half our pollies today – they are followers of public opinion. And the other half – they are managerial civil servants. Maybe good ones. But that’s all they are.

      A few others are on to it though.

      NB you can only be an effective leader if people are willing to follow you.

    • lprent 6.2

      I’d agree. But if there aren’t enough of the public willing to do a shift, then you can’t crystalize a direction change. What many fail to recognize is that there hasn’t really been such a shift in economic feeling since the mid 80’s after the failures from national under Muldoon..

      I think that there are a lot of people willing to listen for an alternative measure now. It is across the spectrum in the people I talk to and is a direct consequence of the excesses in the global financial markets and it’s fallout.

      • Colonial Viper 6.2.1

        That’s where I like the work of the Fabian Society. Get out there, travel the country, meet with people and communicate new ideas. The GFC poses many problems and many questions. Time to present some answers and to ask people to think through the issues for themselves.

  7. I’m just can’t wait to witness the unions’ next PR masterstroke, a family fun day clubbing baby fur seals perhaps. The Actors Equity tanty has been a great leap backwards for NZ unionism, the CTU support for them makes me cringe. It would not surprise me in the least to learn that it was always the plan to film the bulk of The Hobbit in another country, all these actors have done is ease the way.

    When I think of the struggling worker, the ordinary person -people like Robyn Malcolm and Jennifer Ward-Leyland don’t feature.

    The (CT)unions don’t need to be attacked, all they need is for someone to hand them a sufficient amount of rope.

    • KJT 7.1

      Someone else who can’t see past his nose.

      If you really believed in helping the “struggling worker” you would not be downing the CTU and you would be demanding the end of our failed experiment in giving away all our jobs.
      Governments since 1975 have done far more harm than any Union could ever do.

      • Draco T Bastard 7.1.1

        I was going to say “especially the right wing ones” but they’ve all been right wing 🙁

    • Colonial Viper 7.2

      Helen Kelly brought in the expertise of the CTU when it was clear that Equity was struggling to do the right things. Jackson deliberately began a (very effective I might add) PR war after the substantive issues had been settled at a meeting that SPADA, Jackson, Brownlee, Equity and the CTU were at.

      When I think of the struggling worker, the ordinary person -people like Robyn Malcolm and Jennifer Ward-Leyland don’t feature.

      Maybe you should learn to recognise when someone is a labourer in a relatively low position of power, regardless of the specific job or pay they are receiving. Or the apparent glamour of the work they do.

      The (CT)unions don’t need to be attacked, all they need is for someone to hand them a sufficient amount of rope.

      As I have explained elsewhere, this situation is a deliberate if opportunistic attack on a union, with the main thrust of the US film studios and their NZ agents an economic blackmail against our entire country, the NZ Government and its tax payers. Actors Equity threatened Jackson and the studios, they in turn threatened our country.

      More than ever this scenario underlines why NZ must regain its onshore decision making economic sovereignty and its high value industrial diversity.

  8. Rharn 8

    When the Labour Party makes an apology to the many who lost their jobs due to Rodgernomics I might, just might begin to believe the new direction they claim they are taking. I left Labour in disgust when the Douglas cabal rode roughshod over those that put them in power. The fact that no apology was forthcoming at the Labour conference leaves me with a no change attitude to Labour. They will get ‘one’ of my votes (maybe two depending on environment policies on river issues) this election only because the party I now belong to will go out of existence.

    On the plus side Goff may be able to pull off a win. We have never seen him in election mode as a leader nor have we seen him up against Key. Goff’s a politician, Key is just playing as one. If Goff can score hits where it counts and can develop a killer instinct before the next election……….he’s in with a chance………..but he has ‘gota’ start making somebody blows…… soon

    • M 8.1

      Don’t think we’ll ever get a full mea culpa from Labour but the acknowledgment of what has been done in the past hasn’t worked is a start.

      Agreed on the body blows thing – Goff needs to hone some really good ripostes to Key’s smartarsery because if he can show up Key’s surprising lack of intellect and leave him looking slack-jawed catching flies while he fishes for an answer voters will see Key for what he is, a sockpuppet. Labour needs to start filling its war chest with not only ripostes but some good attacking manoeuvres.

    • Colonial Viper 8.2

      When the Labour Party makes an apology to the many who lost their jobs due to Rodgernomics I might, just might begin to believe the new direction they claim they are taking.

      Your pain is real, and I can understand that. At the conference, and on Q&A that weekend, Goff said that mistakes were made and that the answers that Labour tried in the past were not the answers which are right for NZ. That the next Labour Government will be very different from the 4th and 5th Labour Governments. He made a firm break with the past and set expectations that the Labour Party is not going to tolerate a country of two New Zealands any longer. I talked to both him and Cunliffe and they are very very serious about following through.

      Having said all of that, I do not really believe that it is Phil’s responsibility to apologise for redundancies signed off by Lange, Douglas and Prebble, and carried out 20-25 years ago against many vehement objections from the Labour Party itself against a rogue enclave of Parliamentarians.

      As Chris Trotter has written, Labour has broken New Zealand’s long standing neo-liberal politico-economic consensus. We are going to shake apart the National Government at the seams over the next 6-8 months, and then soon after, we are going to unceremoniously turf all of those ****’s out in a firm statement that our New Zealand is for the many, not the few.

      • handle 8.2.1

        Dude, Goff was part of that “rogue enclave” unlike the newer intake. Of course he needs to apologise if he wants to be taken seriously.

  9. I still want to hear a lot more about labour’s environmental policies, and also their climate policies in relation to coal.

  10. deemac 10

    of course some people believe that anyone who was a member of NZLP during Rogernomics agreed with the everything Roger did when actually most of them either didn’t understand enough about economics to argue against him or were powerless to stop him – or both. You can go on feeling bitter about the past (now the fairly distant past in political terms) or you can engage with the 21st century. It’s your choice.
    Incidentally I find that if I mention “Rogernomics” to young people, they have no idea what I’m talking about. This may be awful but that doesn’t stop it being true.

    • RedLogix 10.1

      That has to be so true. It’s so easy to forget how hard it was to get information pre-Internet that wasn’t filtered by the media in some way.

      Recall too that Douglas and his very small cabal were carrying out their own form of ‘bliztkreig disaster capitalism’, leveraging off the crisis Muldoon had bequeathed them, to ram through a series of dramatic changes that almost no ordinary people or party members had a clue about.

  11. Drakula 11

    I think that the answer here is thinking out side the square (I hate that cliche, but it will have to do) with regards to politicians.

    I have a deep distrust of politicians because they tend to behave like the archetypal hagfish (see other post: Two Conflicts don’t Make a Right).

    I sympathasize very much with AndrewsK’s sentiments as I was around when the Labour Party got Rogered by the Prebble cable. There was no excuse for it the Labour Party knew exactly what Douglas’s agenda was when Rowling sacked him a couple of years earlier.

    So Andrew makes a valid point; are Goff and King any better than the hagfish that are in now? Especially when they were sympathetic to the neo liberal ideology.

    The only way to change the prevailing zeitgiest is to consider (even if one is not ideologically alligned) to what Lenin had to say about such dialectical confrontations and that is ‘a strike is worth eleven elections’.

    The workers in France are doing exactly that! ! ! if they keep up the pressure Sarkosy will be cought between a rock and a hard place. If he digs his heels in and refuses to increase the retiring age, then he stands to lose the election. If he backs down he will lose support from his corporate backers. Either way it doesn’t look good for him.

    So are the French Unions looking towards the left-right paradigm of the next election? The answer is NO it could be too BLOODY LATE ! ! !

    • lprent 11.1

      And that is one of the very interesting things tat has been happening in politics. As redlogix said above, the internet wasn’t around in the 80’s or widespread in the 90’s. What has been interesting here is that when people are interested in a issue it can completely bypass the traditional media and people organize around multiple virtual organizations without requiring high cost permanent organizations.

      There are enough lists, blogs and social media that people will attach to to find out info and to do their own bits of organization. This site is pretty specific about what it covers – opinion on political and social affairs, but we have a monthly unique visitor stats that are pretty high when compared to many magazines or regional newspapers – even after you remove the rss feeds that may being read. Moreover, we’re still growing. But for most people who read here we are just one of their sources of opinion.

      I suspect that sites like this are helping the formation and spread of ideas below the radar in society. But what is interesting is that it isn’t mass movements – in every case it is a coalescence of channels where people decide individually that they will support something.

      The other great thing is that if you happen to be out of phase with the surrounding population, like a socialist in southland, you can now access and even write your opinions immediately. You can contribute to the debate despite your relative isolation.

      These are largely different to what I see happening in France. But the unions here are starting to use the net to do this type of small pocket connection as well – learn from the likes of the ngo’s

      • Colonial Viper 11.1.1

        Time to get a Facebook group and spread the good articles of the Standard further and wider?

      • Draco T Bastard 11.1.2

        I suspect that sites like this are helping the formation and spread of ideas below the radar in society. But what is interesting is that it isn’t mass movements – in every case it is a coalescence of channels where people decide individually that they will support something.

        An actual free-market actually working. Get the information, especially reliable information, out and people will make good decisions. Well, most of them will, some people will hold on to their preferred delusions instead.

  12. felix 12

    Lynn, this is only marginally on topic but I thought you might appreciate it: http://xkcd.com/810/

  13. Drakula 13

    Iprent I see the World Wide Web as a great liberating movement, after all ‘knowledge will set us free’. I am a socialist who does live among rednecks in Melvern Canterbury but I have run a business selling art so I do have insight in the risks that small businesses have to take and what it’s like not to sell anything for weeks and of course the windfalls that happen occasionally.

    We need to respect the the business people who are in pruductive industry but then there are more rapacious corporate bodies that only seek to exploit labour and natural resourses without having to be responsible to the consequences.
    The latter have gone offshore, rejected national identity only to cloak themselves as a new global oligarchy chasing the world markets for the cheap labour dollar.
    There is also strong evidence that such neo liberal oligarchs would like to bring back slavery.

    Has human nature changed all that much since the days of Wilberforce? I doubt it!!!!
    In these days of PC ‘slavery’ is not a cool word, but when Rodger Kerr extolls the virtues of eliminating the mimimum wage rate, he may as well climb the cathedral tower and shout “I believe in slavery” because to me there is absolutely no difference.

    This is why working people need to keep an eye on the ball and use the net to network and organise but the French should still be applauded in applying the wisdom of valuing their labour.
    The spin that the main stream Media are putting on this today is that “the nationwide strikes is costing the French economy many millions of dollers and it doesn’t look good for investors”.
    Well that is exactly their point; they have their foot firmly on the corporate throat

  14. Tiger Mountain 14

    Just when many had if not reinstated Matt McCarten, then at least acknowledged his many good points, He is back to his old tricks in Mana byelection.

  15. randal 15

    the sea change on the left is reflected in the inability of the left to take on the swinging whiners of the right.
    week after week richard long puts out the most dire right wing propoganda in his rag yet no one ever challenges him here.
    why is that?

    • Colonial Viper 15.1

      Richard Long is still alive? OK so he is, but he’s still relevant?

      Will wonders never cease.

    • lprent 15.2

      I don’t read it? Guess no other author does either (or they don’t feel it is important). You could always contribute a post…

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