Wednesday, 31 May 2017

No Place For White, Middle-Class Men?

But, Honestly, I had No Idea! Was Rohan Lord being serious last week on RNZ's "Morning Report"? Was he actually asking us to accept that being male and middle-class is an impediment to advancing through Labour’s ranks? That, in a party where all of the key decision-making positions are currently occupied by men, being a bloke will limit your future prospects?
 
DISCRIMINATION on the basis of race, gender and social class. Gosh! Imagine that! Should be a law against it!
 
And, of course, there is – sort of. It is, indeed, illegal to discriminate against one’s fellow citizens on the basis of their gender, ethnicity, sexuality, age, religion, and even their personal political beliefs. But the Bill of Rights Act has absolutely nothing to say about discrimination based on social class.
 
This is hardly surprising. A Bill of Rights Act that outlawed discrimination based on social class would be utterly revolutionary – both in intent and effect. It would outlaw capitalism. It would undermine hierarchy. It would – not to put too fine a point upon it – change the world.
 
Which is why the Bill of Rights Act will, until the final victory of the Revolution, remain deathly silent on the subject of class. Our economic system is quite capable of coping with the abolition of sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, religious intolerance and political witch-hunting. What it cannot abolish, however, is social class: that “homicidal bitchin’/ that goes down in every kitchen/ to determine who shall serve and who shall eat.” (Leonard Cohen) Because, as another great Jewish writer explained: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.”
 
All of which is by way of contextualising the comments of Rohan Lord, former Labour Party candidate for the seat of East Coast Bays and erstwhile holder of the seventy-second slot on Labour’s Party List.
 
On Tuesday morning Rohan told Radio New Zealand that while he was very appreciative of Labour’s consideration, and although he fully supported the party’s policy platform, his list-ranking had led him to the conclusion that he wasn’t really the sort of candidate they were looking for.
 
“Wrapping it all up really, there’s probably limited future prospects’, he told RNZ’s Morning Report. “I’m white, middle class, male, I couldn’t really see a long term future.”
 
Seriously, Rohan? You’re actually asking us to accept that being middle-class is an impediment to advancing through Labour’s ranks? That, in a party where all of the key decision-making positions are currently occupied by men, being a bloke will limit your future prospects?
 
Mate, if you’re sincere in these observations, then you haven’t been paying attention – for about thirty years!
 
Oh yes, I know, the party was dominated by Helen Clark for fifteen of those thirty years. But, in neither the Labour Party, nor in New Zealand society generally, has gender been the primary determinant of our recent history.
 
The crucial change of the past thirty years has been the destruction of working-class power. The crippling of the trade union movement offers the most glaring confirmation of that historic defeat. If the political wing of the labour movement had not already been taken over by lawyers, university teachers and civil servants, however, then driving the working-class from the national stage would not have been so easy. The middle-class capture of the Labour Party in the early 1980s was crucial to the demobilisation of the labour movement as a decisive economic, social and political force in the 1990s.
 
So, Rohan, it was neither your gender nor your class origins that limited your future prospects, it was your ignorance of the way things are done – not just in Labour, but in all political parties.
 
To rise in any political organisation it is necessary to prove that you have what it takes to be a politician. Can you organise yourself into a safe seat – like Helen Clark and John Key? Can you keep your mouth shut in the interests of party discipline? Can you be relied upon to remain staunch in the face of disappointment and defeat? Can your comrades trust you not to publicly spit the dummy when the decisions of the party bosses don’t go the way you expected?
 
Well, Rohan, I think you know the answers to all those questions. And, I agree, when it comes to the people in charge of the Labour Party – middle-class to a man – you are most definitely, “probably not for them”.
 
Don’t feel too bad about it though. Be comforted by the fact that Kris Faafoi, Labour’s Shadow Minister of Tourism, when called upon to condemn the thoroughly bourgeois practice of tipping (a no-brainer for any genuine socialist!) happily pleaded guilty to tipping the odd worker himself.
 
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, 26 May 2017.

21 comments:

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Remember the old mantra, "You realise that the top 3 jobs in this country are held by women!!!" :)

pat said...

nailed it....his class(or lack of) and /or gender were irrelevant...lack of patience however.....

Kat said...

Wouldn't surprise me if he wasn't put up to it. Sort of act a certain onetime 'perk-buster' would applaud. There is another pile of nonsense at Stuff about some Benge fellow "leaving the left". It would appear the bottom of the barrel has long been scraped away by the anti left brigade.

Jens Meder said...

While what you say about the political perceptions of Rohan Lord is quite correct, would not the abolition of profitable private and public capitalism be a retrograde step backwards into human labour power based slavery in poverty ?


And how can a Socialist society outlaw the inevitable capitalist inequalities (and potential discrimination?) between those with more capital invested in their education and those with a more humble education ?

Frit said...

You have no path to Government or intellectual engagement following this course Chris. The majority are obviously wrong, but they choose their own leadership. You are actively choosing to be the under represented 'right(eous)'.

Like your writing, but parochial got you to where you are, and keeps you there.

Cheers
Frit

Slugger said...

Aunty Helen did her time when she stood for the Piako seat - and got trounced - after she lost the Auckland Central nomination to Prebble.

Good experience to stand & build up political standing in a political party.

The trick is, over time, to maneuver yourself to a safe seat. A long term approach is required as well as an eye for an opportunity.

Adern seems to have done this.

Whining like a 10 year old brat in the schoolyard won't achieve anything.

jh said...

The crucial change of the past thirty years has been the destruction of working-class power
...
No it has been the crippling of ethnic solidarity

Nick J said...

Jens if I read you correctly I would restate the question as how does any society remain free of entrenched privilege or enforced slavery?

The answer for the Left who are against enforced privilege aka class systems is split. As I see it there are those (myself included) who seek equality of opportunity. There is another faction who seek equality of outcome (aka Marxist utopias). Both require some coercion that curtail freedoms, but one curtails freedoms totally. Hope that helps frame the question.

Nick J said...

I would suggest Chris that you are in a practical way correct. There may be however a deeper malaise.

By going down the route of defining representation outcomes on the party list to reflect gender and diversity you cannot but help being party to "identity" politics. The inevitable result is that some "identities" will perceive this as a challenge to their own persona.

The real issue at hand for the Left is that representation of identity groups by mandate attracts easy opportunities for divisive politics from opponents.

A better option is a uniformity of purpose and policy that transcends"identity" and delivers for all concerned. No quotas, just people committed to a common goal.

Victor said...

I don't disagree with you, Chris. But another way of looking at what the aptly named Mr Lord is saying might be that, as a white middle class male, he has other more attractive and viable futures to choose from. He's probably correct in this.

Polly said...

Would have loved to have seen his face when he scrolled down the list to find himself at 72, he would have yelped.
Rohan's wife 'it could have been worse you could have got 'place 73', what's that it only goes to 72, Oh well it least you got a place'.
Kid next door, Hi Rohan need some help with my math, what's 6 times 12?
Woman next door, my Dad is 72!.
The postlady, 'hard luck Rohan I see you just missed out'.

jh said...

Given that very few of the public share the Labour Party's penchant for identity politics or rape culture or recognise a knapsack white privilege (probably see it as good behavior), I suspect Rohan Lord is right, since the brand is toxic.
Thank goodness for Jordan Petersen, Gaad Saad, Johnathon Haidt etc.

greywarbler said...

I think Mr Lord feel entitled. I sort of expect to hear this approach from sporting successes. They set their mind to the single goal of winning when competing, which is a simple one. Life has numerous goals, nothing is simple, and just being the fittest and very skilled doesn't mean that you are a shoe-in for a role. But they have great confidence in themselves, and some hubris. As Andrew Little said, it is his first time standing for the Labour Party.

He has stood for Devonport-Takapuna local board election where he seemed part of a leftish team. The male/female ratio was male high at 10, female 5. Then there was the age ratio, it seemed about equal between youngish to oldish. He finished up with about six others in the 4000+ category. Of the first six, two were women, so one-third.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/north-shore-times/84133249/local-elections-2016-devonporttakapuna-local-board-candidates

David Stone said...

Nick J
You could add to that the point Chris makes that the party and politics generally is already heavily dominated by whit middle-class males. This inevitably means that if gender and ethnic balance is to be established , far fewer spaces are available for W M Ms per aspirant. So to a degree when you think that through,Rohan is right about his prospects. I would have thought though that with the Nat incumbent retiring, that an inspiring Labour candidate in East Coast Bays would have a shot. E C Bs has been an adventurous electorate in the past.
It was the honest thing to do though , if he has sussed the situation as a lost cause and get on with something else instead, but it would have been polite to wait till after the election, but perhaps he thinks someone else will do better for labour in E C Bs.
I have to say it seems not that far fetched to think that someone engaged and inspiring could rise quit quickly through the ranks of the party at the moment. Perhaps if he thinks he has been disparaged in the list placing, it was because he was seen as a threat to the incumbents . What else could he say fronting an interview on withdrawing? At least he seems to have been honest rather than pretending family issues or some other bs like most politicians would have done.
Cheers D J S

Anonymous said...

As a life-long working cyclist(versus crazy recreational ones)the perfect metaphor for privilege for me is when you're biking against the wind it's bloody awful, when it's following you it's all pleasure but it's like there is no wind at all.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

You know what, eventually everything goes too far – but this hasn't. There is a strange idea going round that women should be treated fairly and equally and I for one can't see a great deal wrong with putting equal numbers of men and women on various – particularly government – bodies. It's not as if we are choosing from such a small group that we can't get equal numbers of talented people surely? And it seems a bit strange to call that identity politics, considering women are 50% of the population. I would have thought that was a broad enough political base TBH. The problem is not so much with the women, as with those who make sure that women have separate political issues. People who feel under threat will band together politically to try to combat that threat. Just look at JH and his merry band of white supremacist anti-PC heroes. (Many of whose names you can't spell incidentally. Makes it really difficult to look them up sometimes.)

David Stone said...

Hi Chris
"Can you keep your mouth shut in the interests of party discipline? Can you be relied upon to remain staunch in the face of disappointment and defeat? Can your comrades trust you not to publicly spit the dummy when the decisions of the party bosses don’t go the way you expected?"
Isn't this blind loyalty to the name exactly what enabled neoliberalism in New Zealand? As personnel at the top of an organisation changes so can it's policies and its integrity. And the party can move faraway from the beliefs that you gave your lifetime to advance as happened to Jim Anderton , who was the only labour politician to behave with integrity during that era. All the rest including Helen Clark to Anderton's dismay opted to remain loyal to the name and the traitorous leadership team rather than to the parties' historic principles and presumably their own . In my mind holding to one's own espoused principles trumps party loyalty every time that they diverge. Obviously there must be give and take on minutiae though.
I'm not saying tha any such lofty principles motivated Mr Lord however.
Cheers D J S

peter petterson said...

Interesting and thought provoking post. Tell Kris no tipping. I was at a Labour Party regional council in the late 70's at Upper Hutt College of all places. We were discussing remits in committee. One was about the 'right to work'. I said there should also be a choice of work involved. Up spoke lawyer Bill Jeffries," That's just a cliche!". Bill Jeffries, a cabinet minister in the Lange Govt a few years later, and a publicly disgraced corrupt businessman just a few years back.He was given the opportunity to go to university and study law - cliche indeed!

Nick J said...

Dave Stone, yes Lord did seem rather honest, and told it with terms of reference that were within his grasp. Seems to me that somebody was politically naive, either in their expectations of him, or in his expectations of them.

I chuckled at the term you wrote, "someone engaged and inspiring", suspect these types are in rather short supply. Mind you Corbyn has done a good impression of one most unexpectedly and appears to be getting results, is there hope for Little yet?

jh said...

G.S.
"white supremacist"
........
Give the Chinese a few years and they will trounce us. As a Chinese guest pointed out (looking at my back yard): "if this was a Chinese family, that would all be planted in vegetables and they would be selling that at they market". I say "trounce" because I do not hold to the idea that migrants are rainmakers (as Professor Spoonley claims). They may not steal jobs as a migrant influx stimulates demand, but in the end we compete for resources such as: farms and realestate (motel sites), schools, high paying jobs. Competition is very obvious in the tourist industry [see buses at the steamer wharf].
https://www.google.co.nz/maps/search/steamer+wharf+queenstown/@-45.0335564,168.6568876,413m/data=!3m1!1e3
What I'm saying is this is our country and our politicians are supposed to look after us ( it just so happens that until a group of left-wing intellectuals decided our society was too homogenous we were 95% European.

Chinese netzins have a scornful word meaning "white-left":
, baizuo is used generally to describe those who “only care about topics such as immigration, minorities, LGBT and the environment” and “have no sense of real problems in the real world”; they are hypocritical humanitarians who advocate for peace and equality only to “satisfy their own feeling of moral superiority”; they are “obsessed with political correctness” to the extent that they “tolerate backwards Islamic values for the sake of multiculturalism”; they believe in the welfare state that “benefits only the idle and the free riders”; they are the “ignorant and arrogant westerners” who “pity the rest of the world and think they are saviours”.
...
The term first became influential amidst the European refugee crisis, and Angela Merkel was the first western politician to be labelled as a baizuo for her open-door refugee policy. Hungary, on the other hand, was praised by Chinese netizens for its hard line on refugees, if not for its authoritarian leader. Around the same time another derogatory name that was often used alongside baizuo was shengmu (圣母) – literally the ‘holy mother’ – which according to its users refers to those who are ‘overemotional’, ‘hypocritical’ and ‘have too much empathy’. The criticisms of baizuo and shengmu soon became an online smear campaign targeted at not only public figures such as J. K. Rowling and Emma Watson, but also volunteers, social workers and all other ordinary citizens, whether in Europe or China, who express any sympathy with international refugees.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/digitaliberties/chenchen-zhang/curious-rise-of-white-left-as-chinese-internet-insult

Nick J said...

JH apparently has a band of white supremacist anti PC heroes. Funny chaps, highly prominent psychologists one and all. If anybody has ever listened to Peterson the one thing they will implicitly understand is his humanity and high regard for morality. From what I have read of Saad the same applies. Where these two gents fall foul of "PC" types is in their common opposition to Bill C16 in Canada. Peterson makes the most cogent arguments against what he sees as an attempt to force, even criminalize and punish the right of an individual to use the term he or she when somebody insists on being called ze or whatever. His reasoning is very sound and worth listening to as he identifies it's progenitors; post modern academics who are the inhibitors of Marx in their intolerance of dissent and their construction of false social paradigms. For this the new authoritarianism of feminism and PC cast him into the outer darkness with that highly charged prejudicial epithet "white supremacist"...now interchangeable with white middle age male.