Friday 30 May 2014

L’État c’est Sue

You'll Do It My Way: Observers have noted the extraordinary condescension of a middle-aged Pakeha and former Green MP setting forth the correct moral path for a party dominated overwhelmingly by young, marginalised Maori. Her refusal to be bound by their votes, followed by the very public repudiation of both their judgement and their party, has given rise to considerable speculation concerning exactly who Sue Bradford thinks she is – much of it less-than-flattering.
THERE’S NO SHOW WITHOUT PUNCH, they say. But on the left of New Zealand politics it’s more a matter of there being no show without Sue Bradford. Hone Harawira and Vikram Kumar may have been the ones up on the platform announcing the formation of the Internet-Mana electoral alliance, but it was Sue who, once again, gate-crashed the party.
Since the decision to join forces with the German millionaire, Kim Dotcom, clearly struck at the heart of everything Mana stood for, Sue told the world, she was left with no other choice but to quit the party in protest.
No other choice? Well, not exactly, Sue. You could have decided to abide by Mana’s democratic decision-making processes. Having put forward the case against an alliance with the Internet Party to Mana’s membership, you could have left the final determination to them and accepted the outcome with good grace.
But, you weren’t willing to do that, were you, Sue? Right from the start, when you very publicly hung the threat of your resignation over Mana’s head, you made it very clear that if the party rejected your advice, made the wrong decision, then you were out of there.
Now, an unkind commentator might draw his readers’ attention to the extraordinary condescension involved in a middle-aged Pakeha and former Green MP setting forth the correct moral path for a party dominated overwhelmingly by young, marginalised Maori. He might even observe that her refusal to be bound by their votes, followed by the very public repudiation of both their judgement and their party, might give rise to considerable speculation concerning exactly who Sue Bradford thinks she is – much of it less-than-flattering.
And, while he was at it, that commentator might also question why a person steeped in the writings of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong, and possessing an encyclopaedic knowledge of twentieth century revolutionary movements, should be so down on politically motivated millionaires.
Was it not the Belarussian millionaire, Alexander Parvus, who bankrolled the Bolsheviks into power? And wasn’t it Parvus’s gold that paid for Lenin and 30 of his comrades to be spirited across Germany in a sealed train to join a Russian revolution that had had the temerity to start without them?
JFK’s father, Joseph P. Kennedy once quipped to his son: “A man only needs three things to become President of the United States. The first is Money. The second is Money. And the third is … Money!” The same formula clearly works for revolutionary leaders.
And maybe, Sue, that is the real reason behind your rejection of Kim Dotcom’s money. That it might make Mana into something more than a mere pin-prick in the shins of power. That with the funding Mr Dotcom will undoubtedly make available to the alliance, Mana’s Annette Sykes will have a better than even chance of knocking Te Ururoa Flavell – and with him the Maori Party – out of Parliament. That with the Dotcom dollars behind him, Hone Harawira will be able to bring into the House of Representatives your erstwhile comrade, John Minto. (Not since the days of Harry Holland will our Parliament have welcomed a more revolutionary MP!) Isn’t that the unspoken explanation behind all your many party entrances and exits over the years, Sue? That, to remain pure, your parties must relinquish any prospect of political success?
If I’m wrong, you have my sincere apologies. It’s just that, sometimes, I think the entire New Zealand Left would rather cling to their principles in a state of weakness than compromise some of them from a position of strength.
Revolutionary ambition is made of many things. For Hone Harawira it was the crushing effect of the Pakeha nation’s economic and cultural power upon an indigenous people beaten to their knees by 150 years of settler injustice and racism. For John Minto it was the obscenity of Apartheid South Africa.
And for Kim Dotcom? Perhaps it was the experience of having his home invaded and his family terrified by 80 heavily armed police officers acting on information illegally supplied to them by the Government Communications Security Bureau, at the behest of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, and with the smug approval of the New Zealand Prime Minister.
Sometimes, Sue, the story’s about more than your principles.
This essay was originally published in The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 30 May 2014.


Anonymous said...

You who think that convicted German fraudsters buying political power in NZ is a good idea , if it's 'For the Left' ?
Your much vaunted principles are cheaply sold.

You rail against right wing NZers using their $ to further their political interests - (how dare they!)

I don't normally have much time for Bradford, but here she's the only one showing any backbone.

Incidentally , being 'steeped in the writings of Mao' isn't a virtue. Mao was a vile murderous culture destroying bastard . Or is that too OK, if it's 'for the left'?

Kat said...

Sue is a very intelligent woman, there is no disputing that fact. However I must agree with you here Chris in that it appears Sue is locked into the failure victim cause of the 'beneficiary sector'. It's almost as if Sue regards this 'beneficiary sector' as an industry requiring continual management and technical support.

Sue would achieve more for the disenfranchised by applying herself inside a political force such as Mana. Outside, unfortunately, she is just another protestor.

Tiger Mountain said...

Some socialist friends were talking about Parvus recently and there is a long tradition of such bankrolling.

Of course like intellectuals these donors can be open to vacillation when the heat goes on, but so what in the scheme of things. And Dotcom has had more heat on him than many could bear and still function–FBI, MPAA, GCSB, NZ SIS, NZ Police special forces, media dirty tricks dept., NZ Prime Minister etc.

Sue is a well known leaver of organisations, from New Labour to WCL, the Greens being one of her longer stays. Kudos to her for virtually singlehandedly advocating for beneficiaries through Labour’s “Jobs Jolt” and the two Paula’s “War on the poor”. Not so many kudos for the needed but highly devisive S59 reform. In a few generations when no one whacks little Damien or Hannah she will probably get her due on that one.

Everyone has a use by date and hers may have been reached unlike Hone, Laila and John Minto who have embraced a new opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Contrary to the article Lenin, Stalin and Mao were not really socialist in that the regimes they created were totalitarian rather than democratic. Not what Marx envisaged at all aruguably more along the lines of what Bakunin foresaw.
Hopefully mana dotcom will maintain more of a democratic bent despite the 'parvus fundin'. Sue has done some good things it seems but she wants it to be all about her, ditto for Jim Anderton's response on Laila..
Hone is a moron but I think i will still have to vote mana dotcom as the least worse option.
Given the way John key and the Labour candidate are bagging it it must be a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. Is this not the same enthusiasm you showed for the democratisation of the Labour Party that led so unerringly to . . . David Cunliffe. Better luck this time, Chris. Your implied thesis that the addition of money to the already volatile mix of Harawira radicalism and hard left politics will lead to electoral benefit will soon be tested.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

What's the bitch? Another interpretation of she blackmailed them is – she was upfront and told them if that's what they were going to do she'd leave. Honest. Helen Clark didn't leave the Labour Party under Douglas, and she was philosophically opposed to what was going on. I'd think better of her if she had, but she said she'd sooner be inside the tent pissing out an outside the tent pissing in. Fair enough but I can't admire her for it. At least Bradford knows what she will die in a ditch for.

Joe C said...

"Revolutionaries take risks for the good of all. Conservatives play the same old game and paint by numbers. I’m proud of the leaders in Mana who’ve helped build a movement with the Internet Party that provides the strongest left alternative to the status quo Aotearoa has seen since the Alliance " Please share!

Craig said...

'Steeped in the writings of Mao'.
Jesus Chris, really? Has your revisionism crossed the line into delusion? In the last two posts we've had mass murders and convicted criminals held up as virtuous. You're really showing your true colors here Chris, anything goes as long as it's 'left', nice. I'm looking forward to your Holocaust denial post when some Saudi Oil tycoon decides to donate to Mana.

Chris Trotter said...

Not sure what your point is, Craig, other than that Mao Zedong was responsible for many deaths. He was also, of course, a colossal historical figure who changed the course of Chinese and world history.

And I really don't see where "revisionism" comes into it. Nowhere in the posting is there the slightest evidence that Mao is being held up as "virtuous".

You need to learn that historical figures like Mao are a wee bit beyond our likes and dislikes. They existed, and because they existed the world we live in is as it is.

The same applies to "our" heroes. Winston Churchill heartily approved the RAF's use of poison gas bombs against rebellious Iraqi tribesmen in the 1930s. Does this unsavoury fact negate all the other achievements of his long career?

Of course not.

I really think you need to read a lot more history before making another foray into the commentary threads of Bowalley Road.

Anonymous said...

Too right Chris. Mao committed grievous crimes in the latter half of his time as leader of the PRC, that's not to be disputed.

But the amazing feats of uniting China, ending feudal bondage, emancipating the peasants, building infrastructure, providing basic health care and starting to educate the people characterised the early period of the Peoples' Republic before the extremist experiments of the 'Great Leap Forward'.

China's current prosperity wouldn't have been possible without the mass education programs and infrastructure building of the Mao era.

In an article (in the Listener) by a NZ businessman who has lived in China for the past 30 years, said businessman describes meeting NZ communist Rewi Alley in the late 80's

Rewi had since become disillusioned with China's 'socialism' but remembered the early years before the revolution.

When living in Shanghai he recalled sacks full of the dead bodies of children worked to death in the foreign-owned factories in the city.

So Anonymous and Craig, I advise you to think carefully about the historical context of China's revolution before you paint your one side portrait of a purely evil oriental despot.

Anonymous said...

Have you people all lost your minds? This is simply vile.

I gave up my youthful Marxism in the early 1970s when some demented Marxist was defending Pol Pot's efforts in Cambodia - can't make an omelette without breaking eggs. although ultimately the reason for dropping it all was the intellectual bankruptcy of the communist project, as well as the consistent outcomes, desperate poverty and a river of blood.

Chris writes of Mao has a colossal historical figure who changed the course of history - but hardly for the better - many deaths.

An unfortunate and somewhat understated detail.

At somebody else attributes Chinese current successes as due to the sound foundation built by Mao. This is infantile. It is due to the market economy and the extraordinary skills, determination, resilience and entrepreneurialism of the Chinese people, which can finally bloom.

That you can consider this German crook bankrolling a political project as in any way a step forward for anything is laughable. You have all lost your minds. This is like stepping back into those amusing socialist groups in the 70s where people addressed each other, as comrade. Sad. Hone and Mana are unsuccessful not because of lack of money. It's because most people know that what they stand for is a fantasy. You have to change peopl'e's minds, not try and buy them.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Carbon Guilty.

You vituperative prose contravenes the Bowalley Road Rules.

When you have learned to express yourself like a civilised human-being, give us another try.

Unknown said...

Now, an unkind commentator might draw his readers’ attention to the extraordinary condescension involved in a middle-aged Pakeha and former Green MP setting forth the correct moral path for a party dominated overwhelmingly by young, marginalised Maori.

An even less kind commentator might point out that there is probably just as much condescension involved in a middle-aged male Pakeha left wing commentator 'explaining' the reasoning of a female former politician of said party dominated overwhelmingly by young, marginalised Maori without being privy to it.

And, while he was at it, that commentator might also question why a person steeped in the writings of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong, and possessing an encyclopaedic knowledge of twentieth century revolutionary movements, should be so down on politically motivated millionaires.

Or, and this is just a guess mind, Ms Bradford couldn't see the value for Mana in cooperating with a misogynist felon of dubious racial sensitivities who effectively bribed his way into New Zealand in the first place and then gave a crapload of money to the mayoral campaign of the most right wing conservative fundementalist in mainstream NZ politics. It might look a little hypocritical, n'est-ce pas? Not to mention the visceral reaction to a prominent tino rangatiratanga activist using a Maori seat to get a Pakeha party into Parliament. Perhaps she gazed into her crystal ball and foresaw that a party that didn't believe in intellectual property probably wasn't a particularly good match for a party rooted in tikanga and kawa, or perhaps she just hates neoliberals with libertarian tendencies as much as most people further left than Labour do, but wasn't prepared to suck it up for thirty pieces of silver.

CarbonGuilty said...

Unknown, you have an elegant turn of phrase but I'm not up to following your drift. I don't know who these political people you describe are, but care little. I like what you say in your long drifting last paragraph.
However as I have been found guilty of vituperbulance I shall shut up for now. (And regroup)

CarbonGuilty said...

Chris you are exhibiting Intersectionality and should perhaps Check Your Privilege.
The Left at times appears to be, to quote Julie Burchill, a radical feminist socialist, ‘A screaming, squawking, grievance-hawking shambles’, not to be too vituperbienpensant about it m’lord.
She wrote an amusing bit on this ( which the brainier of you left street fighters might enjoy. And it is on topic, tangentially, with this handful of well-worn women here on the far left, party hopping about and the general left angst about using a dodgy capitalist’s dirty money to emancipate some assumed group of the oppressed. (self-oppressed I would call them, not that they exist, as I assert below)
She describes well what has happened on the left in it’s descent from the good old working class left of the good old days …… you know the one.
Was it in the Eighties that your team got diverted into the politics of diversity? We conservatives warned them but they did not listen and the simple (later shown to be simplistic) Marxist group view of society which had the workers against the capitalists and their lackeys, then fragmented into the shambles of ‘the rainbow coalition’. Biblical Babelling nonsense really.
Now that has warped into Intersectionality I see, and so we have the irony that it is the left that embraces Thatcher’s idea that there is no such thing as society. ‘We’re all individuals’ has become ‘We’re all in our own oppressed group’. Well I’m not.
So there we are now. The left is well on the way to becoming a seething in-fighting back-biting pit of vipers. Meanwhile the conservatives believe in nothing much perhaps but we do believe in Society, where character counts but not characteristics. That is where Sue got this one right at last. She decided the German was a suspect character. Well spotted.
Good luck with forming a government guys if we 50%ers don’t get JK back. Would it last until Christmas? With so many disparate desperate groups all shouting me me me?

Anonymous said...

I would prefer a vituperwar party to a tupperware party.

Down and dirty is the briar-patch of brothers but the internet has ruined this native taonga for me. I now find myself uttering the muffed oaths of my parents, 'Christmas!' and 'Well I never!'.

But thanks for that great word Chris - I hope to hear it in spoken speech soon. In the old days you only knew you were dealing with a real unionist if they used the minority but legitimate pronunciations of 'basic' and 'proven', short a and long o respectively.

Anonymous said...

Is proving the left is just as cynical as the right a good strategy for encouraging disillusioned young people to vote
in the long term?
That is just one of the unwelcome questions Bradford (and others on the left) is asking amidst the hysteria so successfully generated by Dotcom.

Chris Trotter said...

Vituperative (vi-tu-per-a-tive) adjective: uttering or given to censure : containing or characterized by verbal abuse.

File it away in your word-hoard, folks. People have been using vituperative since the 18th Century - it would be a shame to see it fall out of common usage in the dumbed-down 21st.

Oh, and BTW, may I congratulate you, Carbon Guilty, for your thoughtful (and only a little bit vituperative) contribution.

Welcome back.

CarbonGuilty said...

Cheers Chris and I agree with your bit in The Press this morning, sort of.
But if the Greens do very well (15%)and Labour say gets 35% as they should if they keep calm and look like government leading material, that will do the trick without needing Impish Dotty-Commie support. (I hope I'm not being a little vituperative here: I can write it and I do like it, I just cannot pronounce it. Anon is right, we need to hear those fine voices again. Perhaps you could do short podcasts?)

Guerilla Surgeon said...

For God's sake, Burchill is as barmy as a box full of badgers :-).

Don Franks said...

In these days of rationalization of any shitty thing for money or position Sue Bradfords's stance was bound to stand out.

Many times I have disagreed with her political position, not this time.

Good on her.

CarbonGuilty said...

None of us are exactly normal people either eh GS. I know I'm not!
Birchell is bold as brass for sure, brave even, in her defence of her values and I admire that. And her Dad sounds like a working class hero too. I'm a conservative so wild left characters don't usually interest me. None of the Kiwis ones do as they are usually dripping with hypocrisy, prejudice, envy & spite.
Most of all I find her entertaining which covers a lot of sins. Being bored to death is a an ever present risk.

Dex said...

Looks like Sue was one of the few on the left who wasn't willing to sell out. Pathetic purile personal attack piece on someone who deserves better.

Chris Trotter said...

Do you know Sue, "Dex"?

Ever worked with her in a political party?

Ever talked to people who have worked with her in a political party?


Thought not.