Where to the nation?

Written By: - Date published: 8:04 am, December 23rd, 2014 - 143 comments
Categories: Globalisation, Politics, uncategorized - Tags:

In whose hands?

In whose hands?

Left wing politics in New Zealand bends most of its attention and energy inwards onto the nation state. This is of course understandable because traditionally Parliament has been the prime locus of power.  But no longer; two quite distinct forces are at work to change this picture.

The first is globalisation. We are in its second major round, the first being dated roughly from about 1840 through to 1914 launched off the back of the Industrial Revolution. This second round was built off the ruinous crash of the first, but added in cheap oil and quantum mechanics – two crucial developments which have utterly transformed our relationship with the planet at every level.

This transformation has many aspects, but there is one we rarely think about. It is this; for the very first time in millions of years of human life we are now a single global civilisation. All our eggs are pretty much in this one basket. Yes there remain big power blocs and a multitude of cultural components, but for all practical purposes, trade, transport, communication and so on – we are already one planetary world. We just tend not to think of it like this because of two factors; the nation-states still dominate the political agenda, and the implementation of effective, democratically accountable global governance has eluded us. The United Nations was of course formed with the hope we might permanently transcend the political failures which had led to the horrors the world had just endured, but over the past 60 years it has only fulfilled part of that hope.

And there are of course plenty of people who look at our existing nation-state governments and conclude, not without some justification, that any kind of global governance regime could only be worse. Yet few stop to ask; if we label a nation with ineffective, or no government as a ‘failed state’ – what are we to call a global world that lacks the same?

Running counter to globalisation is another force which lacks a well-recognised label, but I’ll term cultural fractionation. Elsewhere it gets called devolution, or separatism. Humans adhere to a far greater diversity of identities and loyalties than there are nation states. They take many forms, cultural, religious, racial and so on. With rare exceptions the boundary of the nation state does not usually neatly encompass one single human identity, thus creating internal fault lines. (And given the energy expended on a so many issues these days, it seems we are busy adding more potential fault lines along class and gender lines as well.)

Cultural fractionation expresses itself just as diversely as the causes which drive it. Some explode into hot conflicts (eg Sri Lanka) where one mans freedom fighter is another’s terrorist. Others simmer as low level only to be triggered into flash violence (eg Fergusson) by specific events. Many appear quiescent for decades and stun with their viciousness when they do finally unravel (eg Yugoslavia). Some (eg Northern Ireland and Scotland) are the source of much historic conflict, only to eventually ameliorate through a democratic process. And these are just the more openly apparent forms. New Zealand itself is of course not without it’s own fault lines; class and culture being the two most prominent examples.

What they all have in common however is the desire for a part of the population to wrest a better deal off privileged hierarchies entrenched as the power elites of the nation state they are part of.

Together these two forces could be visualised as metaphorically tearing the nation state in two. In one sense the nations are bleeding power and influence to globalisation, in a space dominated by corporates and massive financial institutions answerable only to their shareholders and secluded agendas. And at the same time the very legitimacy of the nations itself is being challenged by a wide range of often conflicting human identities seeking a greater independence to determine their own path.

The debate even here at The Standard often reflects this dichotomy. Sometimes our attention is captured by the impact of globalisation, the unaccountable power of the corporates and a fatally growing inequality; and when we view the same issues through the prisms’ of our own cultural fractionation – we see something else again. And never quite succeed in generating a coherent picture or model to explain it.

This is of course an opinion piece and it leaves a great deal unsaid. It would be a conceit to pretend it is anything more. But ultimately I contend that a large part of why the left has failed to maintain traction in the face of the neo-liberal agenda is that we have abdicated the global space to the corporates to make money and thus wield real power. While at the same time the present and legitimate demands of cultural fractionation have frequently divided and weakened our energies. The left could once point to a strong thread of internationalism (Helen Clark being perhaps the last most visible proponent of it locally) – and I would argue we have let it decline at considerable cost.

143 comments on “Where to the nation?”

  1. karol 1

    A thoughtful piece, RL. It highlights some of the problems and dilemmas for the left in a corporate-dominated globalised world, where nation-states still have significant organising and electoral power.

    I somewhat disagree with this bit:

    Running counter to globalisation is another force which lacks a well-recognised label, but I’ll term cultural fractionation. Elsewhere it gets called devolution, or separatism. Humans adhere to a far greater diversity of identities and loyalties than there are nation states. They take many forms, cultural, religious, racial and so on. With rare exceptions the boundary of the nation state does not usually neatly encompass one single human identity, thus creating internal fault lines. (And given the energy expended on a so many issues these days, it seems we are busy adding more potential fault lines along class and gender lines as well.)

    Manuel Castells also looked at the tension between nation states and globalisation dominated by the wealthy elites. He saw some responses as being reactive focused on local identities and issues. He saw others as leading the way for a (left) global basis of organisation.

    Castells identified 2 movements that led the way on this: the environmental movement and feminism because they transcended national boundaries.

    Edit: He also saw local forms of governance (involving all sections of the local community and below the nation-state level), as a way to engage people locally against the global elites and their agendas.

    • batweka 1.1

      I also had a problem with that paragraph. Humans are evolved to work in tribal and extended family patterns. That’s a core feature of how Homo sapiens developed. Such structures are not fractionated or devolved or separatist by nature. To define human societies in such negative terms is unhelpful I think. It also implies there is some desired state of oneness, and I’m not sure that is possible, or optimal.

      I don’t believe the planet is one civilisation. I think that’s what some of us tell ourselves because we’re connected into the internet and observe and experience other aspects of globalisation, but these things aren’t universal and aren’t all encompassing. Globalisation is a blip on the scale of human societies. The form of globalisation we have now will fall over because it’s inherently unsustainable, so for me the questions are what do we do about it in the meantime, and what do we want to come next?

      In terms of left wing responses to globalisation, I like what karol has just said. I’m also mindful of the many organisations that have structures that model how humans evolved ie working in small groups that are connected into larger groups, and those larger groups then networking over bigger distances. There are lots of forms of that, but we could be pursuing the ones that foster representation/participation, democracy and localisation and resist heirarchies that end up with people at the top of the pyramid making decisions for everyone else (don’t really want to see a left wing version of globalisation).

      Fortunately most of that work has been done. I think the issue is connecting all that up politically. That we all sit here on ts theorisings is both hopeful and problematic if we don’t take it any further.

      • RedLogix 1.1.1

        A couple of thoughts:

        1. I agree we evolved in a tribal setting, but that has neither defined nor limited us. Some have suggested that around 150 is the largest number of individuals who can ‘naturally’ form a social unit – but clearly we have also evolved a range of techniques to greatly exceed that.

        2. I’m not suggesting that our global civilisation is fully formed, mature or stable. But I would argue that we are transitioning from the Age of Empires – to a new political condition as a necesary response to the immensely greater connectedness of the world we now live in.

        3. Yes globalisation is a relative blip on the scale of human history, but not necessarily on the scale of a human future.

        4. A left wing response to globalisation does not imply abandoning local or national structures. Quite the opposite.

        5. There are lots of forms of that, but we could be pursuing the ones that foster representation/participation, democracy and localisation and resist heirarchies that end up with people at the top of the pyramid making decisions for everyone else

        Exactly. How to achieve global governance that is democratically accountable to all of its components. That is the big question – and I’d suggest there is a century or more of work to be done on that one.

        For today we will probably just theorise. 🙂

        • batweka 1.1.1.1

          1. I agree we evolved in a tribal setting, but that has neither defined nor limited us. Some have suggested that around 150 is the largest number of individuals who can ‘naturally’ form a social unit – but clearly we have also evolved a range of techniques to greatly exceed that.

          Yes, and look where that’s gotten us. Seriously. We on the verge of unmitigated disaster, and even if that weren’t happening, there’s still plenty wrong with the structures we are using: poverty, colonisation, resource depletion, industrial warfare, etc.

          Not sure about the 150 context. Kāi Tāhu are around 40,000 people I think.

          2. I’m not suggesting that our global civilisation is fully formed, mature or stable. But I would argue that we are transitioning from the Age of Empires – to a new political condition as a necesary response to the immensely greater connectedness of the world we now live in.

          How do you fit that in with the approaching crises of AGW, PO and the next GFC?

          3. Yes globalisation is a relative blip on the scale of human history, but not necessarily on the scale of a human future.

          Well history tells us that civilisations inevitably collapse. I don’t see anything different about this time. Do you?

          4. A left wing response to globalisation does not imply abandoning local or national structures. Quite the opposite.

          I agree. I just don’t see world governance as the only option or the desirable one.

          5. There are lots of forms of that, but we could be pursuing the ones that foster representation/participation, democracy and localisation and resist heirarchies that end up with people at the top of the pyramid making decisions for everyone else

          Exactly. How to achieve global governance that is democratically accountable to all of its components. That is the big question – and I’d suggest there is a century or more of work to be done on that one.

          Again I have to ask how you are factoring in AGW/PO/GFC? It looks a bit abstract without that.

          (I think democratic global governance is an oxymoron. As Tom says above, once things get very big, you can’t need a heirachical structure, and that’s never going to be democratic if the heirarchy is the core structure.)

          For today we will probably just theorise. 🙂

      • Tom Jackson 1.1.2

        There are lots of forms of that, but we could be pursuing the ones that foster representation/participation, democracy and localisation and resist heirarchies that end up with people at the top of the pyramid making decisions for everyone else (don’t really want to see a left wing version of globalisation).

        Then you are wasting your time and everyone else’s. Any large scale political organisation is going to require a bureaucracy and a hierarchy. Nobody has come up with any other workable way of organising very large groups of human beings – mickey mouse schemes that exist only on paper don’t count.

        • RedLogix 1.1.2.1

          Any large scale political organisation is going to require a bureaucracy and a hierarchy.

          Yes. But there remains the observation that hierarchy and bureaucracy, however well-intentioned, finish up as self-serving and corrosive.

          What happens is some people fall prey to the temptation to conflate their positional power within a hierarchy with their personal power. When this happens, personal self-interest slowly overtakes the collective interest, corrupting the purpose of the hierarchy in the first place.

          The other is that bureaucracies are essentially ruled-based organisations, rules which express their underlying values in a fair and even-handed manner. But over time the letter of the rules tend to become more valued than the principles which inspired them in the first place.

          I would argue these are problems which can be solved.

        • batweka 1.1.2.2

          “Then you are wasting your time and everyone else’s. Any large scale political organisation is going to require a bureaucracy and a hierarchy. Nobody has come up with any other workable way of organising very large groups of human beings – mickey mouse schemes that exist only on paper don’t count.”

          You missed the point Tom. I’m saying we don’t need large scale political organisation.

          There’s nothing wrong with using heirarchies appropriately. I’m saying that we shouldn’t use them to the extent that power ends up residing in the hands of a few at the top of the pyramid (the situation we are in now), especially re decision making.

        • Draco T Bastard 1.1.2.3

          Any large scale political organisation is going to require a bureaucracy and a hierarchy.

          Not necessarily.

          Nobody has come up with any other workable way of organising very large groups of human beings

          That is incorrect. Democracy is quite capable of organising large groups of people and with modern technologies such as Loomio and Liquid Democracy that capability is expanding.

  2. batweka 2

    Thanks Red. Can you please explain what you mean by internationalism as something the left could do better?

  3. Colonial Rawshark 3

    In NZ, the Left needs to be building left wing infrastructure and economic assets (eg conventional and new media channels, as we have talked about on The Standard many times before).

    Being overly focussed on getting timid mainstream political parties (who are *all* focussed on winning the vote of “middle NZ”) into parliament is damaging and distracting to the political left.

    • karol 3.1

      I agree. But how to provide an alternative to the powerful trans-national corporate media that dominate communications?

      Perhaps gain power for an alternative media and communications by networking, and working with overseas alternative media?

      • Colonial Rawshark 3.1.1

        A very good question. Perhaps I am being overly optimistic but even funds of $100K pa would enable a group of keen volunteers to power up: a YouTube ‘interviews and commentary’ channel, as well as a website which contained occasional paid for pieces written by top professional commentators (I am thinking the Gordon Campbells and Marilyn Warings of NZ), and a micro-radio station which was also hooked up as internet radio.

        It could also be related to, and help The Standard move into the next stage of its development…

        • batweka 3.1.1.1

          Good ideas. What do you think is stopping the left from doing these things?

          • indiana 3.1.1.1.1

            The left has a reliance on other peoples money?

            • karol 3.1.1.1.1.1

              * yawn *

              Go try that misinformed right wing tr0ll line over on the Sky City thread.

              And/or explain the relevance to left developing an alternative media, in a context of transnational mainstream media funded by wealthy and powerful transnational corporates.

              • Coffee Connoissuer

                I wouldn’t yawn at this Karol it is actually part of the problem like it or not. Turkeys are never going to vote for an early Christmas.
                It is something that needs to either be acknowledged and actively persued or abandoned for alternative solutions.

                The Right have done a stellar job at highlighting the redistribution of wealth model from the Left (in fact to be fair it is fairly obvious.

                The Left need to do a better job at highlighting the redistribution of wealth from the Right.
                Corporate Welfare
                High Immigration (leads to downward pressure on wages)
                Weakening of Labour Laws
                High CEO Salaries that are used as incentives to streamline (remove middle management), Automate, Offshore
                All leading to downward pressure on wages.

                Having said that both Left and the Right will get nowhere fast on the evolution of society by continuing the same battle.

                A new approach is required and a solution that solves both the problems of the left and the right and for each and every individual for that matter.
                Unlock that message and the hearts and minds will undoubtedly ask how do we get there?

                • karol

                  I * yawned * because it was a one liner that frequently gets used on TS and without any explanation, it’s just repetition of a tr0ll line – it has also frequently been rebutted here, but the tr0lls never seem to take much notice of that.

            • batweka 3.1.1.1.1.2

              “The left has a reliance on other peoples money?”

              Do you print your own money? If not, you are reliant on other people’s.

            • Colonial Rawshark 3.1.1.1.1.3

              Hi indiana,

              Do you know how stupid you sound?

              Skycity has their hand out for tax payers monies.
              Chorus has their hand out for tax payers monies.
              Rio Tinto has their hand out for tax payers monies

              Are you now saying these are all left wing organisations? It seems to me that it is the Corporatocracy who love getting their hands on other peoples money.

              • tracey

                New Zealand got Don Brash and then John Key cos of a very small number of “other peoples money”

          • Colonial Rawshark 3.1.1.1.2

            Good ideas. What do you think is stopping the left from doing these things?

            Well, we already have a successful example of how something can be created out of nothing – The Standard.

            It’s a case of getting 6 to 10 of the right people together (not a case of getting “The Left” together, thank god) to form a core team which has the skills, the motivation, the team work and the access to $ to start making something happen.

            • batweka 3.1.1.1.2.1

              “(not a case of getting “The Left” together, thank god)”

              ha ha ha, I quite agree.

              “It’s a case of getting 6 to 10 of the right people together (not a case of getting “The Left” together, thank god) to form a core team which has the skills, the motivation, the team work and the access to $ to start making something happen.”

              What do you think is stopping that from happening?

              • Colonial Rawshark

                These kinds of people are usually already pretty busy and have plenty enough going on in their own professional lives to take on substantial new projects. And unlike the Right Wing, individuals on the Left are not predisposed to launching purely vanity projects.

                • batweka

                  These kinds of people are usually already pretty busy and have plenty enough going on in their own professional lives to take on substantial new projects.

                  That’s what I was thinking. I also think there needs to be a certain confluence of the right people, ideas, passion, funding, that can’t exactly be created.

                • tracey

                  Can you be more specific about the six to ten you have in mind?

                  What skills do they need to have? Please anyone feel free to address this question.

              • RedLogix

                Probably not a great deal. We’ve made a start on it already.

                CV is on the nail, the left does need to develop its own economic base. Probably if we looked in the correct places – especially outside of the relatively narrow confines of New Zealand – we would be surprised at what opportunities might turn up.

                It’s a big damned world.

      • batweka 3.1.2

        karol, or develop local models that can interact and export those to the world. Someone’s probably already doing this mind. I think the issue is more that we don’t have the local infrastructure.

        • phillip ure 3.1.2.1

          “..Someone’s probably already doing this mind..”

          whoar…whoar…whoar…whoar…

          ..still the handwringing that ‘nobodys’ doing it..!..fret..!..fret..!..’

          ..i fucken do it..

          ..every fucken day..

          ..and a clear example of this is in the feminism-thread from the other day..

          ..where i linked to my femin-archives..

          ..and just that link takes you to the over fifty pieces of high-quality writings on feminism i have linked to..this year..

          ..plus there are the other years of archives stacked up behind that..

          ..and if there is a publication in nz..that has led you to more high-quality feminism-stories in the past 12 months..

          ..please tell me..

          ..and i will link to them..drive readers to them..

          .what you are all moaning about the absence of..

          ..is right under yr fucken noses…

          ..and everyone is asking..’why can’t the left work together..?’

          ..the left can’t work together..’cos the left are shit at working together..

          ..they are all looking out for fucken number one..

          ..and are not collegial in the least..

          ..i have experienced this in both the greens and mana..

          ..and i find it really fucken depressing..

          ..and don’t think they can/will ever get their shit together on their own bat..

          ..and change will be driven by outside forces/happenings..

          ..not by them getting their shit together..

          • phillip ure 3.1.2.1.1

            and funny story..

            ..despite whoar being the best/(only?) source/collector/archivist of high-quality feminist-writings..

            ..in nz..

            ..the resident ‘feminists’ here..

            .would rather gouge their eyes out with old copies of broadsheet..

            ..than click on that cheeky-chappy @ whoar..

            ..eh..?

            ..which all kinda goes to proving the (non-collegial) case i am making..

            ..eh..?

            ..multiply that out..

            ..and you have the left..

            .and their moaning/fretting..’poor me!’..in unison..

            ..and that is about all the ‘unison’ you will get from them..

            ..eyes locked firmly on their own navels..

            ..as they mainly are..

            • Stephanie Rodgers 3.1.2.1.1.1

              “..despite whoar being the best/(only?) source/collector/archivist of high-quality feminist-writings..”

              Maybe our 🙄 has something to do with the way you downplay/ignore the work of many, many other bloggers and the long-running Down Under Feminists’ Carnival?

              Or maybe we 🙄 at your dismissiveness about iconic, important feminist projects like Broadsheet?

              I definitely 🙄 at the way you scare-quote the word feminist in order to undermine the women who blog at The Standard just because they refuse to praise you for being a linkspamming, attention-seeking troll.

      • marty mars 3.1.3

        I am put in mind of trout and ries and their book ‘positioning’ – I don’t think we can actually move within the current setup and the left are now ‘positioned’ solidly within the current communication and media networks – we need to change the game and in fact create a new game rather than try to win at a game we cannot. The new game has to be social media, crowd media and alternative media – I like the idea of micro-issues interconnected – for instance Fresh FM runs Community Access radio and that covers many issues all under the same banner. There is no conflict, there isn’t too much content or a crowding of issues – it works.

        http://www.freshfm.net/

        • Colonial Rawshark 3.1.3.1

          I think your comments are spot on. Trying to win over the MSM so that they are your friends will never happen and is a fools errand (even if reporters and sub-editors are left friendly, their corporate bosses will never be).

          Only strong innovative, alternative media like you have described can force the MSM to lift their game.

          • batweka 3.1.3.1.1

            I agree with the point about creating a new game. I think building solidarity with, and support those within the MSM is crucial too (without getting distracted into trying to win over the larger MSM). There will be the crossover journos too (eg Gordon Campbell).

        • tracey 3.1.3.2

          Excellent. New game rather than try to change rules of old one

        • Coffee Connoissuer 3.1.3.3

          ” we need to change the game and in fact create a new game rather than try to win at a game we cannot. The new game has to be social media, crowd media and alternative media”

          Agreed but your also not going to win pushing a left wing agenda in what is essentially a Right wing system. This part and the long term message of the left needs to change from a redistribution of wealth model.

          Automation and its ever increasing pace and the impact it will have on society under the Capitalist model is what the Left needs to keep talking about in the forms of media you have mentioned above.

          There is no reason that the Standard can’t be the start of this shift and the development forum for this message. I would even go so far as to say that the message needs to no longer be about L vs R.

          It needs to be about the future of society and the world as a whole in my view.

  4. “the present and legitimate demands of cultural fractionation have frequently divided and weakened our energies”

    I’m not sure I can see the ‘left’ concentrating (as in creating a hierarchy of issues) and I think wide areas of interest and concern are a strength not weakness. You state it in this sentence – “present and legitimate” – those attributes create urgency and add weight to the view that they must be addressed and shouldn’t be put on the back burner for another time, another fight.

    For me any injustice put to one side for expediency is unacceptable because it means I/we am making a value judgment that reduces that injustice and that is insulting for those who believe that injustice is important. I just cannot accept triage on these things and that is why I don’t think energies have been divided or weakened, not to the extent usually ascribed. Diversification is a strength not a weakness, lots of issues and concerns bind us together tighter and interweave those bindings creating impregnable material. I believe we are sucked in to the right wing narrative when we think our strength is our weakness.

    Once we redefine, retake and re-own this strength we will move more people, affect and influence more people and ultimately create more equality and justice.

    Good post red – thanks

    • RedLogix 4.1

      Fair points marty.

      But I would argue that it has worked very much to the advantage of the right to keep the left intellectually herded into the cultural fractionation corner, expending time and energy on triaging issues without access to the power or opportunity to do much about them.

      • karol 4.1.1

        The right has attempted to co-opt everything good for its advantage. The left needs to find a way to take it all back – or rebuild the commonweal with all its diversity.

        • Colonial Rawshark 4.1.1.1

          The Left needs economic power – to me that means the media channels that we have already started discussing – but also democratic, co-op industries. Nursing homes owned and run by the nurses. Hair salons owned and run by the hairdressers. Automechanics owned and run by the mechanics. Bars owned and run by the staff. Software companies owned and run by the developers.

          Silicon valley giants like Apple launched on the basis of equal share democratic co-operatives where every founder had an ownership stake and a voice in running the company. It is a commercial for profit model which works.

          And very importantly, it is a model which can also be used for non-profit enterprises.

          • millsy 4.1.1.1.1

            …worker owned co-ops bidding for central/local government contracts..

            • RedLogix 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Something I did think seriously about trying to do. But on my own I simply lacked the clout and resources.

              • Colonial Rawshark

                Yep need to start with a strong team…perhaps a virtual team in the cloud…when an opportunity arises appropriate and interested members can form an ad hoc project group.

        • philip Ferguson 4.1.1.2

          I think one of the problems is that the right has appropriated the word freedom and the left has become associated with control freakery, through political correctness and so on.

          In the 1960s the right was all about restricting people’s freedom at an individual and collective level: restrictions on women’s right to work, on the right to contraception and abortion, on the right to equal pay; anti-gay laws; lots of legal and social controls on young people; and so on. The 60s generation left was largely defined by the struggle to break down these restrictions, to have a much freer society.

          Today, ‘freedom’ has been redefined to mean freedom for the market and, of course, many of the social changes achieved by the left have proved perfectly compatible with capitalism – the left had failed to uderstand just how flexible capital can be and thought campaigning for those changes would be some kind of threat to capitalism whereas, in fact, what the changes did was modernise the system.

          The left, defeated by the triumph of the free marketeers and the collapse of much of the union movement and the collapse of social movements such as the women’s liberation and gay liberation movements, fell back on being santimonious and in favour of lots of social control. Much of the working class don’t like the left because they see the left as overly moralistic, sanctimonious, socially controlling and quite elitist – basically the left is associated in lots of people’s eyes with middle class liberalism rather than with anti-capitalism.

          I think we need a new left. One which is class-based and class-focussed and seriously sets about winning back the working class. And by that I don’t mean ignoring questions of oppression such as women’s, Maori and gay oppression. A class-based new left would, as part of its core politics, be explaining that the working class can’t be free unless it also takes up the banner of the liberation of all the oppressed – in other words, workers have to act as the universal class.

          At the same time, such a new left would have no truck with political correctness and social control and the kind of dour, sanctimonious elitism that is a mark of far too much of the existing left. The left should be as libertarian as possible in terms of personal freedom and in terms of collective freedom, from the right of workers to organise (no restrictions on trade union organising, the right to strike and so on) to the right of women to abortion to the right of people to say things we don’t like and to offend us.

          Phil

          • karol 4.1.1.2.1

            In the old left “worker” and “working class” were quite masculine concepts. It put the male “bread winner” as central, and was defined by paid work within the capitalist work force.

            Most often it failed to acknowledge the role within capitalism of the majority of women doing highly exploited unpaid work in the home and community, plus the role of the elderly, children and those unable to work in the paid workforce.

            A new left needs an expanded notion of “worker” within the wider community. Ultimately emancipation of the working class from capitalism would probably do away with the notion of “worker” and “working class”.

          • Murray Rawshark 4.1.1.2.2

            I support the idea of a libertarian left 100%. During the Spanish Revolution, the POUM were identified as libertarian communists. I know Trotsky had his criticisms, but if I’d been around then, I would have shouldered a rifle with them.

            I find it strange that middle class liberalism picked the opposite from Marxism. They have inherited the dour and sanctimonious attitude of Stalinist apparatchiks and handed the arguments to the right on a plate. We see this often enough with some of the commentators here.

            This is exactly what makes me hopeful about Mana. They are taking a new approach and even Hone was able to put aside his personal feelings about cannabis. It was a real tragedy that the grey bureaucrats of Labour combined with the right to keep Mana out of their sandpit.

            • Chooky 4.1.1.2.2.1

              MR +100…and joining with the Internet Party was brilliant imo …but unfortunately the right wing msm saw fit to attack Dotcom

      • batweka 4.1.2

        “But I would argue that it has worked very much to the advantage of the right to keep the left intellectually herded into the cultural fractionation corner, expending time and energy on triaging issues without access to the power or opportunity to do much about them.”

        Are you talking about identity politics? In which case more of a problem than the right has been the neoliberals in the left.

        • philip Ferguson 4.1.2.1

          The new left we need certainly needs to turn its back on identity politics and all the silliness that accopanies it in its various guises.

          While the right often seems, or pretends, to dislike identity politics, those politics are idea for 21st century capitalism. Market economics disaggregates (‘fractionates’) society and the result is a load of identities which become easy to control – everyone in their separate boxes banging on about how ‘special’ and ‘different’ they are – and, at the same time, make for a whole new set of niche consumer markets.

          In place of a gay *liberation* movement, which was consciously anti-capitalist in its heyday in the late 60s/early 70s and was seen as a threat by the establishment (and for good reason) – we have a gay community which is thoroughly integrated into capitalism, loves being thoroughy integrated into capitalism, and is no threat at all and consists of people who want to be seen shmoozing with John Key at the Big Gay Out.

          In place of a women’s *liberation* movement which fought for real, *material* gains for women, we now have International Women’s Day champagne breakfasts for females execs to backpat and network, just like the old boys network.

          We need to put class politics and the politics of *emancipation* back on the table and clear off the thoroughly bourgeoisified stuff that has filled the vacuum for the past few decades.

          Phil

          • Colonial Rawshark 4.1.2.1.1

            In place of a women’s *liberation* movement which fought for real, *material* gains for women, we now have International Women’s Day champagne breakfasts for females execs to backpat and network, just like the old boys network.

            Women also deserve entry into the oligarchic power elite. Surely that is a win for all women.

            Just like Barack Obama being President of the USA has been a win for oppressed dark skinned people all over the world. Right?

          • karol 4.1.2.1.2

            I agree, philip.

            I dislike the term “identity politics”. It tends to involve a narrowing of the original (strongly left wing) intent of emancipatory politics.

          • tracey 4.1.2.1.3

            I understand your points and concur to an extent.

            The gay community was never as one dimensional as you portray it because like all group think, it can never purport to speak for everyone in the group. Portraying a group as representing everyone was a masterstroke for tjose wanting to neuter it because it can more efficiently and effectively turn it into an object for ridicule. Same with the so called womens movement. For example feminist has become a sneering put down. The term feminazi is used wimpunity, including in the msm,, but make a shylock crack t the PMs love of money…

            The TPP protests I have been on include gay, maori, feminist, environmentalists, parents and many others who alone become defined as you have outlined but together form TPP protesters.

            We have been well programmed to believe we are powerless to change anything. Yet historically groups of less than ten have changed the world. Those folks tend to come from the bourgeois because they have the time to organise. The poorly paid are too busy fighting to keep their heads above water to cry “help”.

            • karol 4.1.2.1.3.1

              I think, philip wasn’t talking about the “gay community” (which is a more recent term) so much as the “gay liberation movement” (which was overtly political).

              • tracey

                Thanks. I thought he might be but wasnt sure.

                Interestingly the film Pride is essentially about 6 gay folks but many credit their achievement to the gay movement. You would have been in the UK at the time of the 1984 miners strikes?

                • karol

                  I was. I think it started earlier than 1984? Just thinking of my work timeline. At the time I was working at a school where the staff were pretty political. The female staff (a couple of us lesbian) had a day outing together to Greenham Common for a one day protest. Some miners came to talk to the staff in the lunch hour. After that, there was a regular collection of goods in the staffroom for the striking miners.

                  The gay, lesbian and women’s movements in London in the 70s and early 80s were pretty strongly based in left wing networks.

    • tracey 4.2

      Have you seen the film Pride?

  5. tinfoilhat 5

    Really good thought provoking post RL ….more please.

  6. Ad 6

    The state is still the best chance of a common good existing and being sustained with rational and accountable instruments.

    The post-monarchist state is a hard-left
    /revolutionary invention that no alternative governmentality has bettered, despite many monumental statist outrages.

    The state is also the summed balance of the entropy you describe between regionalism and internationalism – stabilising an otherwise atomising ruthless capitalism that seeks to smash common interest through endless competition.

    That’s a couple of reasons we focus on the state.

    • RedLogix 6.1

      But consider how the modern nation states arose in the first place. Are they not just an aggregation over time of many smaller principalities and local power centres?

      And yet despite this aggregation, local politics has not vanished either. The same logic applies here, the evolution of global governance does not require the abandonment of the nation state.

      • Ad 6.1.1

        Most modern nation-states arose out of reforming or overthrowing monarchies.

        No need for further strong global governance when global networks – accelerated by technology – respond with more precision and fluidity.

    • Colonial Rawshark 6.2

      The state is still the best chance of a common good existing and being sustained with rational and accountable instruments.

      And when the state has become an executive agency of corporations and billionaires, as in the USA?

      Every left wing change in the western world was brought about by the development of widespread pressure groups and mass movements outside of government, which then pressured government to do right by the people.

      By focussing on winning power via the state first and foremost, we have put cart before the horse.

      • Ad 6.2.1

        Winning the state remains the most efficient – and accountable – route to change stuff. All other power sources are parasitical to it. NGO movements are certainly needed to refresh parties – in NZ Labour has been propped up by union activity since inception. It’s no coincidence Labour’s core vote has tracked down with the decline of the unionist activist base.

        • Colonial Rawshark 6.2.1.1

          Winning the state remains the most efficient – and accountable – route to change stuff.

          I don’t see any great examples of this happening actually happening in the last quarter century, TBH.

          Because of their economic reach, the right wing on the other hand can effectively progress their agenda both when they are in governmental power and when they are not.

          • Ad 6.2.1.1.1

            I can think of dozens. Possibly not as left as you’d like.

            The state is precisely the only current foil to the multinational corporation. Not always strong, but enough for corporations themselves to focus their persuasive powers upon them more than any other power source.

            • dave brown 6.2.1.1.1.1

              “The state is precisely the only current foil to the multinational corporation. Not always strong, but enough for corporations themselves to focus their persuasive powers upon them more than any other power source.”

              CR is right you are putting the cart before the horse.
              The capitalist state appears to be autonomous of economic classes.
              But that is an illusion derived from the ideology that capitalism creates wealth by the actions of landlords, capitalists and workers.
              All are assumed to be equal in the market because they all buy and sell commodities at their value.
              The concept of the citizen presupposes the ideal of equal individuals in the market.
              Hence the state’s appearance rests on an ideology that masks the fact that while workers sell their labour power at its value, it has the capacity to produce more value than its own value.
              That value is surplus-value which is appropriated by the landlord and capitalist as their purported ‘shares’ of value – rent and profit.
              The ability of the capitalist and landlord to appropriate the surplus-value requires that the productive worker be dispossessed of her/his means of subsistence.
              Hence the capitalist state functions to reproduced those economic conditions of appropriation/exploitation, or, capitalist relations of production.
              Any appearance that power resides in the state and is contested by corporations and unions applies only to reforms that do not fundamentally change these relations of production.

              • Ad

                Spare me the Marx 1978 tutorial and visit earth. I wasn’t proposing that the state would “fundamentally change the means of production”. Nor was RedL.

                We are not in a revolutionary world. The current conception of possible change is limited, and shrinking. But there is no viable alternative to taxation and redistribution as the response to unfettered calitalism other than on an irrelevant communitarian scale.

                • Murray Rawshark

                  Great that you’ve decided for us. The current need for change is urgent, and growing. Let’s start from that instead of grovelling on our knees saying “Please sir, can I have some more?” Spare us the Dickens 1868 tutorial.

                  • G’day Murray. Thanks for that.
                    Hope you and I are still around to celebrate the viable earth when the revolution happens. The social democrats will be long extinct by then.
                    Did a piece on Picketty vs Marx you may be interested in.
                    http://redrave.blogspot.co.nz/2014/12/nz-piketty-vs-marx.html

                    • Murray Rawshark

                      Thanks. I could never understand Piketty’s popularity. He starts from emotion and wants a better world, but seems to lack a fundamental understanding of capitalism. The 1% are doing pretty well and control most governments – why the hell would they make things easier for the 50% at the bottom? Not because someone wrote a best selling book, that’s for sure.

  7. Seems to me that if you start with the history of the “Left”, you arrive at a general theory.

    “Left” if you go back to its origins during the French Revolution means the ‘bourgeoisie’ as the rising force that overthrew feudalism and introduced capitalism.

    Today “Left” either means liberalism which still defines itself in terms of liberal capitalism in continuity with the French Revolution, against all reactionary movements, or the ‘proletariat’ as the rising force that motivates the revolutionary change of capitalism into something new.

    To test that general theory, not only should you point to the counter-indications but the indications that it holds.
    For all the divisions within the proletariat, national, gender, religious, cultural etc., there is a common unity that is also emerging.

    When you look at the slogans that are raised in most of the protest movements and civil wars today, from Palestine to Ferguson, the world ‘humanity’ is usually at the centre, either directly or in demands such as ‘equality’, ‘liberty’ and ‘fraternity’, in its current meaning, ‘internationalism’. We are all Palestinians!

    What this suggests is that the universalism inherent in ‘humanity’ is being articulated by the poor and oppressed, in other words, not by the bourgeoisie, but by the proletariat (meaning roughly what Andrew Little means by it, those who work for a living, rather than use their money to work for them).

  8. Tiger Mountain 8

    Back to basics I say;
    “workers of the world unite!”
    –where workers means every sector with an interest in restraining and hopefully removing capitalist class power; bar the 1%ers and their top layers of underlings and state forces.
    –where unite means global and local direct action and solidarity action

    Nation states maintain borders when it suits them and form wider allegiances and mechanisms also to maintain class power such as 5 Eyes. Union groupings like IUF and IndustriALL operate internationally on behalf of the exploited.

  9. George Hendry 9

    Red Logix you are on a roll today and so is this thread 🙂

    (As per your contribution on the other one as well.)

    Encouraging to see that over here at least people have if anything powered up for the ‘Xmas break”. The political tactic of dumping reports they hope won’t be noticed just got that much riskier.

    In a good way I find this discussion harder to follow (takes more thought) as the IQ level seems to have shot up. Perhaps future ‘Xmas breaks’ will become the time when the really good ideas get seeded to inform the work for next year.

  10. b waghorn 10

    One of the reasons I see for The Labour movement struggling is that it is a victim of its own success to a certain degree.
    Sure there’s bad bosses and people getting pushed around but in general the large proportion of workers don’t work much more than 40hrs and earn enough to make a living and enjoy 4 weeks holiday.
    Until recently workers have probably had more safeguards on there side than ever before.

    • Colonial Rawshark 10.1

      Still, maybe only 1/4 of NZers lead properly comfortable and secure lives. And 1/4 lead rather thin, precarious lives. And for many other people who do work, if their pay stopped coming in for even one or two months, it would be an utter crisis.

      I do think a lot of people have got complacent. Illusioned by the propaganda and electronic marketing. Where are the penal rates, the over time rates. Why are corporate bosses being paid 50x or 100x what an ordinary worker is being paid. Why is Telecom (Spark, cough) laying off workers even though it is making billion dollar profits.

      And that’s just the short term. We are unavoidably heading into a climate crisis and a low carbon crisis. None of our leaders are doing sweet FA (apart from policy posturing) about what is going to be a very uncomfortable future for all.

      We have now set up every Kiwi under 10 to have a pretty crap adult life dealing with a whole lot of nasty deteriorating shite. And yet we keep sailing on care free.

      • b waghorn 10.1.1

        ‘Still, maybe only 1/4 of NZers lead properly comfortable and secure lives. And 1/4 lead rather thin, precarious lives.’ Couldn’t agree more but it’s how to convince the masses that we could find another way and what that other way should be is not that clear.

      • tricle up 10.1.2

        Colonial rawshark your comment touched a note (Illusioned by the propaganda and electronic marketing)instead of individual rationally our society seems to be governed by a collective intelligence that comes from the surrounding flow of ideas ,we pretty much learn from others and they from us, governments and corporations understand this, individuality is pretty much dying ,adjust your privacy settings..touch the individual in the street on the subject of better government and listen to what they want and what they would like to see appreciate there thoughts and ideas as well as raising there awareness to previous comments .In the time frame of electioneering you may well not reach saturation or any meaningful re pore .Share your concerns.Climate change,concern will lead to alarm followed by revolution or change depending on your definition i am sure the government understands this but is reluctant to turn there scheme of things around, big business hasn’t adjusted well or even moderately or is a case of wait and see, where is the blueprint?

    • Olwyn 10.2

      Until recently workers have probably had more safeguards on there side than ever before.

      In my eyes, this points to one of the particular dangers that arise when inequality is reintroduced to a system that was previously more egalitarian. With the bourgeois, capitalist model, “getting ahead” generally means becoming middle class. This is particularly so with the extended conception of the middle class that gained currency after WW2, for which one qualified by having a mortgage in an acceptable part of town, fairly conventional habits, a mowed lawn and an OK job. The absorption of almost everyone into the middle class, under this description, has meant the end of a working class estate. Prior to workers gaining comparative equality, life was hard but at least they had a place in the world. However, you cannot have a place in a world that only acknowledges a middle class standard but denies you the means for meeting it.

  11. Tracey 11

    Perhaps a start would be to ensure through a novel concept called sharing the means to provide food water and shelter on a sustainabke level to all people. Then help people to understand that developing an understanding of “other” as primary and self as secondary goes a long way. Preservation of self is often made easier by placing other first.

    • Ad 11.1

      Got any particular redistributive instrumentality in mind?

      • Tracey 11.1.1

        Yes. I call it sharing. Unless all the rhetoric about our superior minds and technology has been nonsense and we are mere animals, we could work out how to make it work…

        • b waghorn 11.1.1.1

          ‘Rhetoric about superior minds’ that’s about all we have as far as I can see there is plenty of other species we being born into the family or being savager than the opposition comes with privileges.
          Edit what I’m trying to say is that we are not much different than hyenas and apes for example hyenas have a class system and chimps use aggression and alliances to control each other.

          • tracey 11.1.1.1.1

            I am sorry but I tried to make sense of that, three times, can you write it again, more simply?

          • Olwyn 11.1.1.1.2

            We are different from most other species in this respect: we are less instinctive and more reliant on our capacity for learning. This carries over into how we raise our children – because of our comparatively large, thinking/learning heads, we give birth at an earlier stage of maturation than other mammals. Hence we give birth to less mature offspring but lack the instincts for taking care of them – we have to learn how from other members of our species. And because we are learning things, our childhood is relatively long.

            Plato seemed to think that we should put our large thinking brain to the task of better understanding reality, so as to participate in it well, rather than as a tool for the animal-like domination of others. I tend to agree with him.

            • Draco T Bastard 11.1.1.1.2.1

              Plato seemed to think that we should put our large thinking brain to the task of better understanding reality, so as to participate in it well, rather than as a tool for the animal-like domination of others.

              Which is rather interesting considering that Plato thought that slavery was essential to the economy.

              • Olwyn

                I did not claim that he found the ultimate solution to living well, only that he thought we should go that way.

              • Mike S

                “Which is rather interesting considering that Plato thought that slavery was essential to the economy.”

                He was right. It’s just that the concept of slavery has changed a bit from what it was to make people think they are not slaves.

                Just because you have a job, live in a house, have a car, etc, doesn’t mean you’re not a slave.

                If you own a slave, they are an expensive investment. You have to feed them, house them, clothe them, take care of their medical needs, etc.

                If you’re a smart slave owner, you tell them that they are free and can make their own decisions. You get them to work for you and use the pitiful wage you pay them to pay you for renting the house you own, pay your corporation for the food they buy, etc,etc.

                That’s why so many corporations are against the living wage because it would lift incomes above what it would cost to own a slave (as we know the term)

                You also give them an election every few years to make them think they have a say in how the nation is managed. You also brainwash them into thinking that anyone can rise up to become say president of the USA. When in fact in the USA and it’s becoming this way here to, only rich people seem to hold political office. How does having a bunch of millionares in government possibly represent the people.

                I would guess the majority of workers don’t do their job because they love it, they do it because they have to pay rent, mortgage, buy food, etc. To spend a large percentage of your life doing something you don’t enjoy is not living, it is just another form of slavery.

                Sorry, that’s my rant for the day.

        • Ad 11.1.1.2

          Why can’t the world just learn to OMG share?
          Whywhywhy????? I mean, OMG!

          Any common good larger than a Christmas tree needs a redistributive system.
          If it ain’t the state, name it.

          • tracey 11.1.1.2.1

            for fucks suck Ad I never said it wouldnt be done by nation states. They choose not. Conscious well thought out choice to not share. We keep voting for people who dont want to share and you suggest voting in a labour party who might share a bit more than national as an answer. like voting for dishomest people ensures dishonesty prevails… but its ok as long as its “OUR TEAM being dishonest for the greater good.

          • RedLogix 11.1.1.2.2

            Two thoughts.

            At no point have I suggested dismantling the nation state. As you correctly point out, it is uniquely placed to perform some essential functions and it does them well.

            At the same time I would suggest that all of the really critical and dangerous problems facing the human race at the moment are global in scope (AGW and the GFC being two examples already mentioned) – and ultimately demand an authoritative solution at a global level.

            Because so far the nation states have proven quite unable to address them effectively.

            • Ad 11.1.1.2.2.1

              No human instrument can now save us from climate change.

              The GFC isn’t primarily a regulatory failure – it’s a far deeper problem. Namely: the developed world no longer responds to crisis (other than as managers). Not 1968, not collapse of Soviet bloc, not Asian Financial Crisis, GFC, narco-wars, not Occupy, collapse of oil( ir even its price!), collapse of Iraq-Syria-etc. Nada. Nor have leftie theorists provided fresh organisational impetus.

              I’ve seen lots of lefties give up on politics and join NGOs. Fair enough as idealism goes – make your life’s work making a difference. But we’ve seen how unstable and ineffective the EU is. Other regionalist groupings like APEc are reduced to shirt contests. Even NATO is stuttering. The UN was once a good idea.

              The state remains the strongest idea, in theory and in practice, to enable millions of people to live regulated, redistributed, protective lives with sufficient self-identity to sustain culture.

              Only superior model I’ve seen is strong city-states, and you still have big democratic trade offs. Not saying I like it.

              • batweka

                “No human instrument can now save us from climate change.”

                Except human action could make the difference between big change and catastrophic change.

                • Colonial Rawshark

                  Yes, but that is likely a purely hypothetical possibility with minimal actual chance of being realised in practice; although once climate change consequences become severe enough some real action may be taken – maybe in 15-20 years time?

                  • batweka

                    I think we will have various tipping points before then (I mean human tipping points). Consider how much has changed in the last 5 years in terms of acceptance of CC. That’s not enough, but it shouldn’t be underestimated either. It’s consciousness that needs to change before action.

            • RedLogix 11.1.1.2.2.2

              No human instrument can now save us from climate change.

              True we probably no longer prevent it, but there will be human consequences that will demand a response. It will be either a political response or a military one. That choice remains to us.

              Yes the UN has fallen short of expectations, as did the League of Nations before it. But neither am I willing to join the ranks of sceptics who then write them off as useless. Early versions of something new are often flawed and need multiple attempts to get them working well. Our existing nation states certainly did not leap perfectly formed into existence either.

              Yes the existing regional groupings are not stable; they were only partial, incomplete solutions in the first place.

              But what am I to say about the city state? The last really successful one was Rome and I’m not at all sure that’s what you had in mind. Surely not?

    • Coffee Connoissuer 11.2

      What I don’t get is why you seem happy to tinker with a system that is broken systemically on a number of levels.

      “Perhaps a start would be to ensure through a novel concept called sharing the means to provide food water and shelter on a sustainabke level to all people.”

      It would be a start but if you are going to introduce this concept then why not simply bring forward Maslows Hierarchy. What person in society doesn’t want to be happy?

      • lprent 11.2.1

        What person in society doesn’t want to be happy?

        I don’t. Lets ignore your ridiculous interpretation of what he did say. I thought about that when I first ran across that rather weird misinterpretation of ‘happiness’.

        I came to the conclusion that happiness sounded way way too boring. I subsequently picked a profession that had a pretty continuous 25-30% learning curve merely to stay current. Then I started to specialise in building systems that required greenfield solutions. I simply like having to struggle at something damn hard for me to do (my actual base skills tend to be in writing and people handling – programming is a learnt skill for me). It stops the world from getting too boring. I’m seldom actually happy and I tend to be distinctly unhappy with myself when I can’t figure a way around the design issues.

        But of course (as I alluded to earlier) you have misquoted the tiers anyway….

        Maslow used the terms “physiological”, “safety”, “belongingness” and “love”, “esteem”, “self-actualization” and “self-transcendence” to describe the pattern that human motivations generally move through.

        No one really knows what he considered self-transcendence to be. Self-actualization is usually considered to be the top without people dying from pompastic starvation.

        Self-actualization
        Main article: Self-actualization
        “What a man can be, he must be.”[10] This quotation forms the basis of the perceived need for self-actualization. This level of need refers to what a person’s full potential is and the realization of that potential. Maslow describes this level as the desire to accomplish everything that one can, to become the most that one can be.[11] Individuals may perceive or focus on this need very specifically. For example, one individual may have the strong desire to become an ideal parent. In another, the desire may be expressed athletically. For others, it may be expressed in paintings, pictures, or inventions.[12] As previously mentioned, Maslow believed that to understand this level of need, the person must not only achieve the previous needs, but master them.

        Doesn’t sound like happiness does it. Most of our best artists, parents, athletes, and the like are pretty damn tortured people. Sure they are doing what they love to do. But they are seldom happy about it or their own performances.

        • b waghorn 11.2.1.1

          I’m sorry but I have to say I’m still laughing about “people handling” being one of your skills ,I got a visual image of a guy with a whip and a chair which I think is quite appropriate in your case.

          • RedLogix 11.2.1.1.1

            The Battle Ring Master model would be the only thing that would work in this place …. clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right

  12. Miracle Worker 12

    I read the Standard every day, following it on my PC and mobile, however I rarely comment, preferring to observe from the sidelines.

    However, with regard to the creation of an alternative media, an issue I am passionate about, I would like to offer the following observations:

    1: Marketing is not about creating a better mousetrap and then convincing people to buy it. Marketing is about finding out what people want, and delivering it to them. If it is being done partially or wholly for commercial purposes, then of course due diligence would need to be done in order to determine whether or not it can be delivered to them sustainably, or at a profit.

    2: I have no idea who is behind the Standard, but with regard to the issue of them being too busy with their own careers etc, or lacking in funding, or whatever their reasons are for not committing fully to take it to the next level, I would suggest that all of these excuses are red herrings (no pun intended). I suspect it has more to do with the fact that most of us, the Standard owner(s) included, need to make a living somehow, and if the Standard doesn’t return a profit or provide a means of making a living somehow, then it has to remain ticking over until some kind of miracle solution appears to propel it into the public stratosphere in terms of click through rates and traffic, or the funding appears to promote it heavily.

    Either way, most people are not capable of, or willing to apply critical thinking skills, or analyse the issues affecting our society and economy.

    And in the vast majority of cases, most people will continue not to do so until or unless their own personal circumstances become so dire that they have little choice but to think for themselves.

    This means that if you want to take on the MSM at their own game, you need to produce information in soundbites, conveniently packaged to ensure maximum punch from headlines, appealing to people’s sensations.

    The fact is we live in an era where headlines *are* all the proof most people need of innocence or guilt.

    People make their minds up about all sorts of issues based on scant information because they are no longer *time rich*.

    Sticking stoically to a format that requires critical thinking and analysis from the vast majority of people will always be a recipe for failure for a website like this one, in a world where they are running faster and faster like gerbils on treadmills, trying to maintain their incomes and lifestyles, increasingly suffering compassion fatigue and information overload in the process because of it.

    When their focus needs to be on self preservation to the point of virtual breathlessness, the question becomes “how can I/we reach those people in a way that appeals to their senses?”

    I mean no disrespect whatsoever to any of the regular commenters here, many of whose opinions I frequently agree with or learn from, however the fact is there is a core group of you who are holding this site together by regularly wading in with your comments and feedback.

    And that is my whole point.

    There is only a core group of you engaging.

    And successful web businesses, even ones that want to walk the careful line between advertising revenue and selling out on principles, need high volume traffic and click through rates in order to impress advertisers and attract revenue.

    Which is why I am suggesting that if you want to beat the MSM at it’s own game, you won’t achieve it by trying to be different, because the public clearly won’t engage (their brains or emotions) with that.

    What you will need to do instead, is do what the MSM does in order to push people’s buttons, only better.

    Just my two cents worth.

    • RedLogix 12.1

      Keep commenting mate. I’m all ears.

    • tracey 12.2

      Thanks for this contribution Miracle Worker, greatly appreciated.

      You wrote

      “There is only a core group of you engaging”

      Isn’t that like saying the only people who listen to
      the radio are the ones who call in?

    • lprent 12.3

      If you look carefully at the site, you’ll see that its current policies are not about influencing the general public. They are about influencing the opinion formers. They tend to be the largest group of lurkers on the site.

      The journalists, political commentariat, politicians, political staff, bloggers of all persuasions, activists, and others of the chattering classes. They may abhor the site, but they are very sensitive about what it is written here – especially when it is critical. That applies both to the posts and the comments.

      But the primary purpose of the site is to allow the different opinions and disagreements within the general left to be aired in a non-siloed manner in public. In the opinion of the people like me who founded the site, that was and still is its primary purpose. Lancing the festering sores in public mean that we can concentrate more on working on the things that we are able to work together on, than the things we disagree about.

      Personally, as a person with some skills in operations and of business, I don’t think that there is a sufficient revenue stream in NZ to build sustainable business out of it anyway. You’d inevitably have to target overseas audiences in a way that means its impact on NZ is very limited. Look at Whaleoil for an example of click-baiting overseas audience for commercial reasons.

      Almost every viable strategy to do so will inevitably destroy the effectiveness of what it does so efficiently now. That will also almost certainly mean that the site will probably run from hand to mouth dependent on the largesse and goodwill of others.

      As it operates right now, the site has no obligations to anyone apart from the goodwill of the authors. Consequently it is able to (and does) act as a source of critical review of the political and social spectrum in NZ without fear or any particular favouritism except from individual authors. That probably explains why I get so many complaints from all sides 😈 and so much ‘help’ like yours that doesn’t address the site’s intentions.

      I’d say that your ideas about what is effective are rather constrained by your inability to think about efficient solutions to the actual problems this site was designed to address.

    • Mike S 12.4

      “Marketing is about finding out what people want, and delivering it to them.”

      Hmmm. In my opinion, marketing goes hand in hand with public relations and advertising. The three combined are not about finding out what people want, they are about brainwashing people and telling them what they want, even though they don’t need it, then selling it to them.

  13. Miracle Worker 13

    If you analyse the comment threads here, you may see dozens, and in some cases hundreds of comments under each item.

    But break that down and you will see that the same core group are doing the majority of commenting, effectively carrying on a conversation, a debate.

    The secret to commercial success, however, is not simply the number of people engaging.

    It is the number of people *visiting* and *clicking on things*.

    That is what turns advertisers on, not lengthy debates about society and/or the economy.

    Advertisers pay good money for billboards beside motorways, because of the amount of traffic that drives past.

    I am neither left nor right, virtually apolitical, but I do sincerely believe that there needs to be an alternative to the MSM, by a country mile, because of the degree to which people are being blatantly lied to and deliberately misled.

    The longer term consequences of not at least attempting to counter that are too frightening to imagine.

    Sadly those longer term consequences can probably now be counted in terms of “less than five to ten years”.

    A compelling clue to the need for alternatives can easily be found by reading the comment sections under NZ Herald articles.

    Nine times out of ten, the most “liked” comments effectively trash the article(s).

    A good example is this article, which I commented on yesterday under the same pseudonym I use here – if you click the “most liked” button:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11377653

    Ultimately, the issue for the Standard to grow relies on it’s owner’s asking themselves the following questions:

    1: What are our intentions with this – what are we *really* hoping to achieve here? (some soul searching and self honesty may be required).

    2: If it does involve commercial gain, what are our bottom lines/ boundaries with that? (at what point do we consider getting the “truth” out there more important than advertising revenue?)

    3: Are we willing to be apolitical to achieve those aims? (a requirement for broad appeal and to avoid being marginalised by the right – or left).

    4: How much time/energy/resources are we willing to commit to developing it once we have got clear about our answer to question #1?

    5: Having answered questions 1 through 4, how should we format and present it, what content should we include?

    With regard to the last question, if it were my website, would be to go and look at what my “competitors” are doing well, and work out how to do it better.

    Just my *three cents worth*, now 🙂

    [lprent: Nearly moved this to OpenMike as I was having a problem seeing any relationship between this and the post – which is what you were replying to. But I see RL is treating it as being something more than a moran..

    If you were actually responding to someone, then reply to them. Because when it comes to comments addressed into the vague distance, you’ll find you are talking to me. And wasting my valuable time answering a set of foolish statements.

    The definition of what the site is for is written down in the about and the implementation in the policy (check out the policy especially the bits about wasting our time). To date there hasn’t been any particular reason shown to change them. Your comments appear to be how to make a commercial success out of it – but why would we want to?

    FYI1: The number of people who are commenting are probably less than a two thousand in any usual month. 80% of the comments being done by a few hundred.

    However the number of unique visitors per month (according to google analytics) who access and read the site ranges between 35,000 and 50,000. Of which more than 2/3rds read the site many times during that month, almost entirely from NZ, and the rest are clickbaited by google. Essentially you appear to have fallen into the usual stupidity trap of thinking that commenters are the only people on the site. The lurkers are the main audience, not the commenters.

    FYI2: After some assiduous cost management, the site currently costs under $300 in cash to run – even in election year. Currently I’m planning on removing advertising because it simply isn’t worth anyone’s time to chase around (certainly not at the rates that I usually get charged out at). It is cheaper and more efficient for the site to rely on donations – including mine.

    If you don’t know what in the hell you are talking about, then I’d suggest that rather than being a complete wanker spraying your mindless stupidity all over the site, then use the damn search function or ask someone. All of this information is stuff that at one point or another I have written down. Please don’t waste my time – I get cranky when people can’t use the reply link on comments. ]

    • Miracle Worker 13.1

      What do you do if your kids spill their milk?

      Murder them?

      Good luck making any kind of commercial success with this site.

      You will need it, because you obviously confuse it with skill.

      Please, please, please ban me….it will be like being threatened with a good time.

      • karol 13.1.1

        You obviously confuse political debate (and skill) with commercial success.

        What part of, ‘the site isn’t intended to be a commercial success’ don’t you understand?

        Using the yardstick of “commercial success” pretty much puts you on the right wing of politics. Anyone can say they are neither left nor right, but that doesn’t make it true – the proof is in the ideas expressed and actions.

      • Ad 13.1.2

        Figure out what TS is actually doing and come back.

        Speak unreconstructed marketing here and you’ll get more of the responses you’ve got.

      • Colonial Rawshark 13.1.3

        Miracle Worker: you say you read The Standard every day no matter where you are or what you are doing.

        Why then are you daring the mods to ban you??? You must know that is the exact class of threat that RWNJs who are acting out routinely deliver on The Standard trying to prove that the moderators here are undemocratic or unreasonable or both.

      • Chooky 13.1.4

        Miracle Worker …dont ban yourself ….imo you make good points! …however many of them have been thrashed over before…this site works well on limited resources and a lot of skilled work from the blog’s owner Iprent

        however because it is a good interactive , anarchist , grassroots democracy site …people start to think how it can be better used to challenge the msm….but this is not what it was designed for, although it does do this

        ….what you suggest would probably have to come under separate enterprise(s)…different mediums, different skills , different audiences ( eg a book writer does not take charge of the film of the book( or rarely)

        …there does need to be a challenge and an alternative to the corporate owned msm eg radio stations, newspaper , tv…but it will require more resourcing than The Standard ( and why change something which works very well within its own parameters?)

        … as you say sound bites and headlines are everything these days…like fast food the msm has become infotainment fast food…if you are going to challenge it it has to be at least partially on its terms imo

        …i think in order to challenge the NZ msm with genuinely Left alternatives you have to look at what works overseas…for me The Independent is a good newspaper model …and rt a good tv model…now go and get the money or a sponsor …(where is money bags Dotcom?….not going to jail for challenging the US corporate Hollywood i hope.)

    • Draco T Bastard 13.2

      I am neither left nor right, virtually apolitical,

      No, you’re hard right as your demand that this site be commercially successful shows.

      There is a hell of a lot more to life than mere commerce.

      • Coffee Connoissuer 13.2.1

        Not necessarily DTB
        Commercialization is but one option and not necessarily the best one

        “1: What are our intentions with this – what are we *really* hoping to achieve here? (some soul searching and self honesty may be required).

        2: If it does involve commercial gain, what are our bottom lines/ boundaries with that? (at what point do we consider getting the “truth” out there more important than advertising revenue?)

        3: Are we willing to be apolitical to achieve those aims? (a requirement for broad appeal and to avoid being marginalised by the right – or left).

        4: How much time/energy/resources are we willing to commit to developing it once we have got clear about our answer to question #1?

        5: Having answered questions 1 through 4, how should we format and present it, what content should we include?

        With regard to the last question, if it were my website, would be to go and look at what my “competitors” are doing well, and work out how to do it better.

        Just my *three cents worth*, now :-)”

        The quote above is simply an extension or additional viewpoint from Ads post a couple of weeks back on what should be the future of The Standard.

        For me the first question is the most important as there are a lot of clever people who understand the issues and can formulate a good argument but will it bring about the changes to the system that many want to see? If not are you going to be happy with that. If not what is a better forum for doing that? Talking to our politicians? Not with the current ones (although AL may yet prove me wrong on this and I certainly hope so.

        I think that like Miracle Worker there are many who do understand thefailings of the current system and as a result don’t like to think of ourselves as Left or Right but in understanding the problems we do gravitate toward the left wing side of the argument as the desired outcomes are the same.
        We just don’t see how it is possible in a sustainable manner through wealth redistribution under Capitalism and if it is achieved it won’t provide the freedoms (by right for everyone) that people like myself, miracle worker, Ad, just sayin and I would have thought even yourself want to see in society.

        The other key Gem in Miracle workers post is this

        “1: Marketing is not about creating a better mousetrap and then convincing people to buy it. Marketing is about finding out what people want, and delivering it to them.”
        I’ve spent 20 years in a job figuring out what it is that people really want for systems. In all that time what people said they want was actually what they really wanted on only a few occasions.

        As an example a person might say I need to earn another 20k per year. When you delve a little deeper you may find that they have a family with 5 kids so what they actually want is to have enough good quality food to feed their family and a healthy home.
        Provided your thinking isn’t constrained by the current system and a belief that it can deliver truly effective solutions for everyone in society sustainably and for the long term. then their are potentially a number of ways to deliver on the ‘True Requirement’

        Until then we will most likely continue to sit on the sidelines, waiting, hoping dreaming of a better system for everyone.

        • Draco T Bastard 13.2.1.1

          Talking to our politicians?

          As LPrent points out – we are talking to our politicians through this site and I’m glad of it. I would like to see more interaction on their part but, to a large degree, it’s enough to know that they’re reading.

          I think that like Miracle Worker there are many who do understand thefailings of the current system

          Miracle Worker shows no sign of understanding the failings of the system. In fact, he seem to be in total agreement with it.

          We just don’t see how it is possible in a sustainable manner through wealth redistribution under Capitalism

          That’s because such is not possible under capitalism. Capitalism itself is the the problem.

          if it is achieved it won’t provide the freedoms (by right for everyone) that people like myself, miracle worker, Ad, just sayin and I would have thought even yourself want to see in society.

          Under the present system the only freedom we have is the freedom of choice in the market. In other words, none at all. We don’t have a say in what’s available in the market or how our resources are used. That’s been delegated, through the capitalist system, to the private owners who get richer from the poverty that they produce.

          “1: Marketing is not about creating a better mousetrap and then convincing people to buy it. Marketing is about finding out what people want, and delivering it to them.”

          Last century I went on a business course and learned the fundamentals of marketing. The conclusion I came to from that was that the purpose of marketing was:
          To find out what people wanted and then sell it to them

          My experience in market research clarified that for me but, as you say, what people say that they want isn’t really what they want. People are influenced by their peers and so they want what they think their peers will be impressed by.

          The only conclusion from that is that marketing, as it stands, is a con of the first order.

          • Coffee Connoissuer 13.2.1.1.1

            Marketing in the political context is simply in many ways the same as campaigning. It is simply getting your message across to the punter, whether the message is to obtain a vote to change the system or to sell a product matters not.

            “That’s because such is not possible under capitalism. Capitalism itself is the the problem.”
            You and I are in complete agreement on this. My frustration is that many on the left and on the Standard fail to see this and still try to obtain the outcomes they want to see in society from within the Capitalist system. Many completely ignoring the simple fact that there is an opposing group of voters that want outcomes that are completely the opposite to the ones that the left want to achieve and as such if it is anything other than things like gay marriage you will never get anything other than very small incremental change over 10 year. Its difficult to accept when you have seen the potential and power of automation first hand. Its also difficult to except when you are awake to the fact that our entire system is simply based on debt based slavery that is insidious and so pervasive in nature that there is no escape from it. It is completely at odds with what people need and want to be happy. Its severely depressing and BS.

            As for the politicians listening its a start but this is the very reason why many see a glimmer of hope here. We just want the next step to be taken so that it goes out to a much wider audience so that these poor down trodden, time poor people can have an alternative that they can start to fight for. Something that really would be a better future for everyone. Its good that they read it but unless it gets far enough into the public psyche in order for it to transform into votes … well then lets face it listening is all they will ever do. Consider that fact against a backdrop of alternatives that could end war, poverty, the battle for equal rights almost overnight.

            FFS we have the knowledge and skills within society to determine how systems should work for any purpose, for anything and for anyone but do we employ this thinking to the system we all live under. No of course we don’t. We happily employ it in the pursuit of profit or in finding greater efficiency to reduce costs even if that greater efficiency makes 50, 100 or 1000 people redundant. Meanwhile while we sit around and talk about how to solve this problem or that problem by tinkering with this or that under the current system, the control of corporatism over our current system continues to grow.

            To me this makes politicians just as corrupt as the system itself. They continue to tinker whilst Rome burns so to speak. (a little dramatic but I’m sure you get my point.

            It makes me mad as hell.

            “Miracle Worker shows no sign of understanding the failings of the system. In fact, he seem to be in total agreement with it.”

            Perhaps but reading between the lines on
            this
            “Either way, most people are not capable of, or willing to apply critical thinking skills, or analyse the issues affecting our society and economy.”
            and this
            “I am neither left nor right, virtually apolitical, but I do sincerely believe that there needs to be an alternative to the MSM, by a country mile, because of the degree to which people are being blatantly lied to and deliberately misled.”
            Says to me the guy is awake. Yeah some of his thinking is still within the system or possibly he understands that you still have to work within the system to a large degree in order to change it.

            Your comment taken at its worst is akin to a right winger on the use of fossil fuels argument coming out and saying if your against big oil don’t use anything that uses oil.
            ….that is of course if my assumption is correct of course.

            If people took a step back to see the TRUE requirements of the left and the right and could open their minds beyond the realms of the current system, they would see that there are viable and superior alternatives that meet the needs of both sides of the political divide.
            That is unbelievably powerful but they need to wake up to it first.

            The problem is how to get this message across with all the required detail in something as short as a blog post and how to find the time to do it properly in a way that is succinct enough for people to read and understand whist dealing with the demands of the current system.

        • lprent 13.2.1.2

          Sure and it is a viewpoint. But if we’d wanted to head down that route don’t you think that we would have years ago?

          FFS: I have a bloody MBA from when I was still interested in running businesses. Of course I thought about all this years ago. We all did. The last time we had this discussion was at the end of 2009. If I cared to exercise it, then I suspect that it wouldn’t have been hard to access money for the site as seed. But every ‘business’ plan I could come up with said that

          1. There isn’t enough revenue inside NZ to employ more than a small handful of people at pissant wages. Which means that it gets less ineffective with our current audience, and will effectively rip off its volunteer authors. I think that TDB may be an example of that progression.

          or

          2. Or it will get beholden to however funds its shortfalls on advertising. Kiwiblog and Whaleoil appear to have fallen down that hole. Arguably so did TDB with the internet party money that seemed to wash its way.

          or

          3. It gets targeted at a wider international audience. There it is subject to the vagaries of competition from better funded organisations. Local content gets washed out by the needs of advertisers for the larger audiences overseas. This appears to be the recent trend for Whaleoil.

          But to date I haven’t seen anyone who can tell me how to make a viable business out of this site without diluting its existing highly effective targeting. Nor have I seen an alternative from heading down one of those paths.

          Most of the plans are like the waffling from you or “Miracle Worker” who appear to have little or understanding of the business or operational issues. Since I’m a real hard-nosed and utterly cynical bastard when it comes to realistic business plans, I’m been uninclined to speculate on the half-arsed fantasies of people who don’t appear to have thought through much. After all I have been on the bleeding edge of the IT industry, much of it in startups, as a programmer for the past 20 years (since I dropped out of being a manager). I can recognize a hopelessly naive dream when I see one.

          The effective solution we have run with over the last 4 years is to figure out how to increase the capacity of the site while reducing the costs. No-one (including me) gets paid.

          That is something that I know will work without risk and allows us to provide a completely independent platform for diverse author and commentator views.

          If someone comes with a more effective plan, then I’ll look at it. I will get interested if I can’t figure out how it is likely to screw our existing objectives. Otherwise I’ll point out the pitfalls to whoever is wanting to attempt the near impossible with their new enterprise if they are willing to listen.

          • RedLogix 13.2.1.2.1

            I really do understand that breaking the current model for The Standard for some untried, untested bucket of wishful thinking would be completely wrong.

            On the other hand – it’s not the same place it was back in 2008 and it won’t be in another five years either.

            • lprent 13.2.1.2.1.1

              Sure it isn’t the same and it keeps changing. To remain static is to die a long painful death in the net. Something that I suspect kiwiblog is currently suffering.

              But all of the changes have been very gradual and essentially organically built. There is a lot of very quiet experimentation that goes on fairly continuously. If something doesn’t work, then it gets quietly removed about as quietly as it got introduced (usually one of the hardest things with innovations on site to build in how to measure utility).

              However the underlying strategies haven’t moved a lot.

              We still focus on volunteer posts with people falling into and out of writing. We don’t limit commenting or authors much. After Jan 2008 we exert a very limited but quite over-the-top and very variable levels of moderation on behaviour. This ensures that the risk is clearly carried by those behaving in a ways that cause moderation. We focus far more on developing commenters and authors with something intelligent to say than providing a meme factory by an ‘individual’ guru in the way that KB or WO do.

              The biggest single change over the last 7 years has probably been the shift of focus away from the original Wellington base of the authors and comment. Then I think I was the only author outside of Wellington. Now Mike and Stephanie’s occasional pieces are probably the only ones from there. I suspect that it is simply too “hot” career wise to write for TS in the very limited job markets in the capital.

              Apart from that, the similarities at a strategic and tactical level between what we did in 2008 are far more pronounced than our changes.

          • Coffee Connoissuer 13.2.1.2.2

            LPrent I understand and respect the work you do more than you can imagine (in fact it amazes me the amount of times you are able to comment. I at best have to pick a topic of interest and will generally only post on that topic on any particular day. Quite frankly I don’t know how you do it.

            I too have had a long career in IT and will have seen many of the things inside the system that you will have too. I have a business and all of the demands on my time that come with it. I am no longer a ‘consumer’. I have like many had to go through some very dark times to come to the realisations I have. I am doing everything I can to get my business to fly. One of my goals from the very outset was to enable me through the profits to help fund those looking for real systemic change and to enable me to be financially independent enough to free up my time to help get the message out. Ie. writing articles. Once I get it there (and I will) you will have the funding you need and it won’t come with any strings attached. (my wife gets to save the animals, I get to help change the world).

            My frustration is those who push single issues with an expectation that the system can and will solve it.
            I guess in some respects I should be thankful that they at least understand the issues where many still do not.
            I am also very thankful that there are many who do post on here that do get the entire picture. A realization that I have come to in the past couple of weeks. While I find many things frustrating, that frustration gives me the drive to ensure that I keep plugging away. The realization that others do get it was one of the best moments in the past seven years of my life and did put a big smile on my face for a couple of days (even now as I write this).
            It is frustrating and unfortunately it probably needs to be to keep the motivation strong.
            Since my limited time on The Standard I now have much, much more than a glimmer of hope. I can see an opportunity to help effect real positive systemic change and for that I am very grateful. You probably don’t get told it often enough but Thank you. It is not lost on me that the reason I have much more than a glimmer of hope is because of what you (and the team) have put together and the continuous effort you put into The Standard..

            For the record I personally don’t think The Standard should become a commercial venture. I think it would be the wrong energy for the changes that many want to achieve.

          • Ad 13.2.1.2.3

            Really, really helpful to see your thinking exposed and set out there Lyn.
            Appreciated.

    • RedLogix 13.3

      @Lynn

      I’m not so very exercised by MW’s contribution because I’m willing to see it as an ‘outsiders’ view what he/she is seeing here at The Standard.

      It certainly doesn’t come across as negative or trolling comment; I’m happy to read it as an authentic view.

      Of course the perspective this person is using is not one we usually apply to ourselves. What they are doing is comparing us to the commercial mainstream media, which may not be our conscious goal, but did provoke some thought.

      Having said that – it’s also true that The Standard doesn’t have a monopoly on what it is doing, and that I’m willing to listen to what other people think and say about us. It would be wrong to allow The Standard to become just the personal play-thing of the regulars like me.

      • Anne 13.3.1

        Yes. I see Miracle Worker’s comments as a genuine attempt to provoke discussion.

        Either way, most people are not capable of, or willing to apply critical thinking skills, or analyse the issues affecting our society and economy.

        And in the vast majority of cases, most people will continue not to do so until or unless their own personal circumstances become so dire that they have little choice but to think for themselves.

        This means that if you want to take on the MSM at their own game, you need to produce information in soundbites, conveniently packaged to ensure maximum punch from headlines, appealing to people’s sensations.

        I don’t think it’s the aim of TS to take on the MSM at their own game but nevertheless his over-all point has validity.

      • lprent 13.3.2

        It would be wrong to allow The Standard to become just the personal play-thing of the regulars like me.

        Agreed. However…

        I find it intensely irritating looking at someone pontificating about how we should run the site when they clearly haven’t thought about it.

        In the very very long ago when I was doing technical sales for refractories, one of the the points that was emphasised over and over again was that if you want to sell someone on something, you first explained how it would enhance their goals or their organisational goals.

        On this site, ‘advice’ from people about the site, when they quite clearly haven’t looked at the about and shows no framing about the existing stated objectives is pretty clearly not advice that has any value. I tend to view it as either being simple minded wedging or dumb stupidity.

        I don’t mind people who I disagree with. It is the stupidly incompetent that I have problems with. I like educating them about what they should avoid in the future.

  14. Paul 14

    Canadian documentary about increasing joblessness among the young.
    Could easily apply to NZ.

  15. McFlock 15

    Pretty dense reading given I’m in holiday mode, but I’ll as always chuck in my two cents 🙂

    I think that fractionalism is not strong if the society doesn’t really have enough inequality to apply pressure on the fault lines.

    I also think that global integration is increasing, (peak oil might affect that with physical movement unless better/equivalent technologies are developed in petrol’s absence).

    So that leaves three options: national power ceding to corporate power, national power ceding to some sort of world government (like some sort of mega-federal government with actual power), or business as usual.

    At the moment, the corporates are actively lobbying and manipulating national leaders to gain more corporate power eg TPPA. Personally, some sort of federalised UN with no scurity council vetos and binding General Assembly rullings would be my preferred option.

    • RedLogix 15.1

      Thank you. You’ve neatly expressed something that has been just eluding me – that globalisation and fractionation are linked by the corrosive impact of inequality. That’s something I want to follow up on.

      Well for what it’s worth I’ve concluded the same; that a mega-federal govt option – essentially a reformed version of the UN with real power – is the inevitable destination. Given that conclusion why would the left not want to be part of it?

      • McFlock 15.1.1

        Historically we always were – wobblies, Comintern and the various internationals, international unions and so on. Indeed, it was a core part of socialist theory that patriotism was a capitalist distraction, like religion. In WW1 there was the slogan “a bayonet is a weapon with a worker at each end”.

        There are some excellent international peoples’ actions going on, but they mostly seem to be ‘focused’ actions, on an issue by issue basis, rather than broad-interest international bodies as such. Greenpeace is possibly an exception as an umbrella body for diverse environmental actions, but from my outside perspective they seem to be more a corporate organisation than socialist.

        Corporations, on the other hand, have evolved their structures to both occupy/influence nations and exist outside of geopolitics, from Vickers (1900) through Ford and bankers (WW2) to Nestle and Sony and Goldman Sack-the-city.

        There was an interesting visual of international corporate networks doing the rounds a while back. The left hasn’t really evolved anything similar, IMO.

  16. Mike S 16

    “a mega-federal govt option – essentially a reformed version of the UN with real power – is the inevitable destination. Given that conclusion why would the left not want to be part of it?”

    I don’t believe it is inevitable and hope you’re wrong.

    Decentralization = Evolution

    • batweka 16.1

      decentralisation is also sustainable and resilient. World govt isn’t.

    • RedLogix 16.2

      You seem to have missed the point at which I talk about two forces acting at the same time – an impulse toward centralisation and another toward decentralisation. They both co-exist for good reasons.

      The idea that evolution is always about decentralistion just does not make any sense to me. What evolution is actually about is the adaptation and optimisation of species to new environmental niches.

      The new niche on the block is the global world created by cheap oil and electronics. The capitalists and corporates colonised it first. Our political systems will inevitably have to follow.

  17. Chooky 17

    imo …( and I have only just come in on this discussion) cultural identity, cultural values and history are important for human spiritual well-being as is the Nation State

    …it is in the multinational corporate interests to homogenize and globalise whole societies and move them around and annihilate identity ( cf. the Chinese Cultural Revolution and Cambodia’s Pol Pot) because this makes for a compliant workforce and stifles democracy and dissent eg over environmental degradation…humans become cogs and robots to serve the corporates’ maximising profit interests …which leads to human abuses

    …however in order to counteract 1.) the multinational corporate culture and power and 2.) crimes againt humanity perpetrated by certain countries …there does need to be a UN “with real power” and a World Court with real teeth…to ensure as far as possible international social justice and working towards egalitarianism and peace

    • Anne 17.1

      In the Herald today there was a piece by Rachel Glucina (who else) about what the celebs are planning to do on Christmas day. I take issue with her choice of celebs – a few of whom I’ve never heard of before. I obviously move in very non celebrity-like circles. But it included John Key and Andrew Little of course.

      John Key’s staying home in Parnell this Xmas and he’s cooking the turkey.
      Andrew Little is working at a charity lunch in New Plymouth helping serve food.

      I will hazard two guesses:
      1. John Key has never given up his Xmas (or part thereof) to help those so much less well off than himself.
      2. Andrew Little has probably done it quite a few times.

      There lies evidence of the difference between… those who support and work for multinational corporate interests, and those who work for social justice and an egalitarian way of life.

      I’m proud to be a member of the latter group.

  18. batweka 18

    A couple of great things about this thread. One is the diversity of interesting ideas its generated. Well done Red.

    The other is that we went a whole day without having a fight 🙂 I’ll take that as a good sign.

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