“We are all socialists now”

Written By: - Date published: 12:09 pm, February 17th, 2009 - 21 comments
Categories: capitalism, economy, national/act government - Tags: ,

“We are all socialists now”, or so says the cover of the latest Newsweek. And to be fair, you’ve got to start wondering when the United States is in the process of nationalising the means of exchange and a Tory Prime Minister of New Zealand is looking at effectively buying out a chunk of one of our largest manufacturing firms.

But as satisfying as it’d be for a leftie like myself to think the Right had finally given up and adopted the tenets of the Communist Manifesto, the reality is a lot more complicated than the cover of Newsweek suggests. The parties of the Right have not embraced socialism, they still stand as always for the wealth and privelige of the few and for the economic interests of Capital over Labour.

What’s changed is the current short-term interests of Capital. At a time when credit is freezing up, financial institutions are collapsing all over the show and firms are seeing their profit margins descend into freefall there’s not much appetite among business for laissez-faire. Suddently “government interference in the market” doesn’t seem like such a bad thing when it’s your interests the government is interfering in the market to protect.

That’s why the likes of Roger Douglas and ACT have become increasingly marginalised, even by business, and are struggling to have their ideas taken seriously. The last thing people like John Bongard from Fisher & Paykel want right now is a government that keeps its hands off the market and lets businesses fail.

The National Party, ever aware of its fundamental role as the political arm of business, has adapted its policy accordingly to meet the changing needs of the local business class. Sure, they still believe in privatisation (prisons and ACC are early examples) and in restricting the rights of Labour in order to improve the profit margins of Capital. But they’re not going to let firms like F&P go to the wall in the name of market purity.

There may be positive spin-offs from this – a Fisher & Paykel bailout could lead to a public share in the company similar to Air New Zealand as well as saving 1600 good quality jobs. But let’s not fool ourselves for a second that this represents any kind of ideological step to the left from National, or that it’ll last longer than the current economic downturn.

21 comments on ““We are all socialists now””

  1. BLiP 1

    Its a fairly perverted form of socialism. As amazed as I am at this, I tend to agree with the New Zealand Fox News Herald business headline in relation to that mad man Doouglas’ ideas(something like) – Privatising gains and socialising debt. It is a perfect description of the current situation with nations bailing out the privateers and yet another example of private enterprise gorging itself at the public trough.

    When are these bucaneers going to stand on their own two feet and practise what they preach?

  2. Redbaiter 2

    “The parties of the Right ”

    Wrong wrong wrong. Australia’s Liberals, NZ’s Nationals, America’s Republicans are not parties of the right. Right wingers have been submerged over the last few decades by a tidal wave of leftism as the socialists have incrementally gained control of our public institutions and our political parties and to a large extent our culture.

    There is right now no real organised “right wing”. (Very small government, low taxes, minimal regulation.) The political sentiment though is growing, and the future will see real political conflict as the left become more oppressive, and victims decide they will not stand for that oppression any more, and become more active in resisting the left.

    Civil war in the US and other countries is a real possibility. People will just not stand for this shit forever.

    PS: Douglas is “right wing”? Have you forgotten his origins??

  3. @ work 3

    Reality has a left wing bias.

  4. Rudith 4

    I am from the Conservative Right and I feel better than James Brown.

  5. Pascal's bookie 5

    The political sentiment though is growing, and the future will see real political conflict as the left become more oppressive, and victims decide they will not stand for that oppression any more, and become more active in resisting the left.

    Civil war in the US and other countries is a real possibility. People will just not stand for this shit forever.

    Your ideas are intriguing to me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  6. Tane 6

    I am from the Conservative Right and I feel better than James Brown.

    You are aware James Brown is dead, right?

  7. Santi 7

    Socialism and communism have only given miserable lives to the peoples under their yoke, so nothing to relish about the prospect of becoming socialist, as you put it.

    F&P should be left to fail, no prop is required.

  8. Rudith 8

    I am well aware Tane poke your tongue,”I Feel Better Than James Brown” was a song from my favourite band Was Not (Was).

  9. Billy 9

    I have a question, Tane.

    You know that hard-right secret agenda that you guys all assured us that National would follow,once elected. When do you think they’ll start pursuing that?

    Things to do: raise the minimum wage (check), nationalise Fisher & Paykel (check). Let’s see, what’s next: legalise the use of nine year olds as chimney sweeps remunerated solely in gin. Yup. Makes sense.

  10. Matthew Pilott 10

    You’ve called commenters here up often enough for this, Redbaiter.

    People will just not stand for this shit forever.

    Which ‘People’ do you claim to represent, Redbaiter?

    Right wingers…

    Who are these, if not the right wingers that describe themselves as right wingers but hold less extreme views than Redbaiter?

    The political sentiment though is growing…

    Among whom? Redbaiter, clearly. Anyone else?


    Are you their organised support group, representative and self-elected leader now?

    Comment by your own standards Redbaiter.

  11. James Brown is dead???

  12. Tane 12

    Billy, there’s no doubt they still want to do all these dastardly right-wing things (they said so themselves in those tapes, and elsewhere) but they’ve got a few problems.

    a) Given how often they were forced during the election campaign to promise there was no secret radical agenda, they really don’t have much choice now but to at least present themselves as centrist.

    b) There’s a major global recession going on, which is something of a game-changer. See the post above.

    c) Bill and John are playing the long game, they realise the country doesn’t want a far-right agenda so they’re looking to cement themselves in power and implement it over two or three terms.

    d) They’ve done some pretty right-wing stuff already – fire at will law, privatising prisons, boot camps, supporting three strikes to select committee, tax cuts that take money from the poor to line the pockets of the rich. Plus there’s more to come, like the ERA changes and the privatisation of ACC.

    Of course, there’s always the Jordan Carter view that the Nats don’t actually stand for anything other than power, but I think their ideological baggage and business support base suggests they do have an agenda, that it’s a right-wing one, and what we’re seeing is its pragmatic implementation.

  13. Billy 13

    I read Jordan’s post with interst. I think he’s bang on. Actually, that’s actually tru to form. Aside from 1990-1993, the Naitonal Party has never really stood for anything.

  14. Bill 14


    Lets say the government bails Fisher & Paykel. What strings do you reckon will be attached?

    A commitment from F&P to reverse its headlong dash offshore and develop its manufacturing base in NZ?

    Probably not.

    How about a wage freeze for the remaining workers?
    An attempt to diminish the union?


    It appears to me that Key wishes to peddle and maintain a façade of populism, but that beneath the façade, the same old tired right wing agenda will play out as best it can in the current environment that is, let’s face it, not altogether conducive to the right wing policies of the 90s that the Nat’s nevertheless seek to resurrect.

  15. Kerry 15

    Redbaiter…you so dont know shit!

    Santa: yep let F and P go under and forget about the 1600 unemployed that would create! Do you right wingers ever think anybody else except yourselves??????

    How bout getting rid of the business round table? (those old bludgers need a career change) spose right wingers would be beside themselves at the thought of rich old men having to sit at home and drink their cask red by candlelight..crisis!

    [lprent: Attack the ideas – not just the person. Otherwise I’ll demonstrate how I attack people. You may not agree with the redoubtable RB (I usually don’t), but if you cannot argue with him then ignore him until you can.]

  16. bobo 16

    Look at the crap Labour took from the Nats when they bailed out Air NZ which so many exporters depended on to have a national carrier. It’s a tricky situation for Key to offer a token possible handout to F&P as no one knows how long the recession will last and a few 100million might be a drop in the ocean, but at least F&P was making nice profits before credit crunch unlike Obamas dilemma with GM and Ford bailouts prolonging the inevitable..

  17. DeeDub 17

    If Was (Not Was) is really your favourite band I humbly suggest you check into a secure facility somewhere.

    It was a not-to-be-taken-seriously side-project of excellent West Coast producer Don Was… although their number one hit ‘Walk The Dinosaur’ aptly sums up the right trotting out it’s old economic dictums one more time…

  18. BLiP 18

    Billy said:

    ” . . .Things to do: raise the minimum wage (check), nationalise Fisher & Paykel (check). Let’s see, what’s next: legalise the use of nine year olds as chimney sweeps remunerated solely in gin. Yup. Makes sense. . . ”

    Remove workers’ rights, check – eliminiate citizens’ ability to protect their environment, check – prevent the functioning of parliament by using urgency for unannounced legislation, check – facilitate the transfer for public wealth to the private sector, check.

  19. northpaw 19

    Right wingers have been submerged

    Figures.. the insidious bit.. right!

  20. Curious why those who care so much about F & P aren’t buying shares and clubbing together with their own money? Oh yeah that’s right, can’t be arsed. Far better to force everyone else to do so than convince them.

  21. rave 21

    Don’t let National’s centrist front fool you.
    Its right wing to redirect workers taxes into corporate profits. They use the national interest “too big, too iconic, too kiwi, to fail”.
    When the right abuse the state and praise the market its because they want taxes to go to their profits and not the social wage.
    Taxes are just a contestable form of surplus so the more right you are the more you want taxes to be on wages and redirected to your profits, i.e. a wage cut.
    Nationalisations have always been used by the right to bail out bankrupt firms and enable them to survive. Air NZ.
    Left support for the bailout to save jobs is shortsighted because it means that the rest of the workers pay their wages not F&P.
    Need to go all the way and demand nationalising without compensation under workers control along with its foreign plants i.e. socialisation.
    This would put the workers in charge and enable them to plan which firms are useful and which not to meet the needs of workers.

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