Missing From The Electoral Action: The radical Left's last forlorn hope, the "Missing Million", is generally despised by mainstream New Zealand and mistrusted by the respectable members of their own communities. They have moved well beyond the reach of conventional electoral politics.
TO SAY the Left’s reaction to Grant Robertson’s “Recovery Budget” has been mixed would be a considerable understatement. Everyone from Mike Treen and John Minto to Susan St John and Gordon Campbell have criticised the Coalition Government for failing to piggy-back a socialist programme on its economic response to the Covid-19 recession. To which I feel obliged to call: Bullshit!
Had Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson followed the advice of those who are now so loud in their condemnation of the Budget, their 26 percentage-point poll advantage would have evaporated practically overnight. Why? Because the additional 10-15 percent of popular support Labour appears to have attracted over the past two months can only have come from former National supporters. How long, I wonder, do Labour’s critics on the Left suppose these people would have stuck around had Jacinda decided to go all Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders on them? That is not a trick question. The answer is – not long at all.
The bad news wouldn’t have stopped there, however, it would just be getting started. Can Jacinda’s and Grant’s critics not imagine how right-wing commentators like Mike Hosking and Matthew Hooton would have seized upon the Government’s sudden lurch to the left as proof of its fundamental dishonesty. Oh yes, they may have pretended to be responsible managers of the New Zealand economy, but when the crisis/opportunity came – in the form of a critical public health emergency, for God’s sake! – they fell upon it cynically to implement a radical agenda – the content of which they had concealed from the electorate.
And what about that NZ First, eh? What about Winston Peters! The sly old fox had been a radical socialist all along. Forget about the Manchurian Candidate – this guy was the original Moscow Sleeper! And the rest of his caucus – what consummate actors! Ron Mark a socialist – who knew? I mean, the Greens never made the slightest effort to hide their radical credentials – and didn’t NZ First give them stick for it. That decision, back in 2005, to keep the Greens out of government: what a masterstroke! Put everyone off their guard. Talk about your long-term, far-left agenda.
Yes, I’m being facetious, but only to remind this government’s left-wing critics that it is a coalition; and that one of the constituent parties of that coalition was formed by a former National Party cabinet minister. Which is just another way of saying that even if Jacinda and Grant had been foolish enough to try and drive through the measures demanded by the radical Left, Winston would have vetoed them. Would that have broken up the coalition? Yes. Would Winston and NZ first have suffered for pulling the emergency hand-brake? No. Would Labour and the Greens have been punished electorally? Yes. Would Simon Bridges have become New Zealand’s next prime minister? Of course.
Now, I’ve been around long enough to know exactly how the radical and revolutionary Left would answer these arguments. They would say that driving all those cross-over Nats back into Simon’s waiting arms wouldn’t matter, because the political consequences of a radical left-wing response to the Covid-19 induced recession would, on balance, be favourable to the Government. All those beneficiaries whose lives would have been improved immeasurably by its decision to implement the Welfare Expert Advisory Group’s recommendations, for example, would have turned out in their droves to re-elect Jacinda and her colleagues.
This is yet another iteration of the “Missing Million” argument: a political proposition that the Left has been kicking around for at least the last three general elections. Give the poor and marginalised something to vote for and they will reward their political benefactors at the ballot-box.
Except they won’t.
Increasingly, electoral politics is an activity restricted to those whose lives are still buoyant enough to warrant engagement with “mainstream” New Zealand institutions. Unionised workers; church members in good standing; newly-minted professionals who have scraped and clawed their way out of the immigrant communities into which they were born. By-and-large, these are not people with a revolutionary mindset. On the contrary, many of them have little or no respect for those who, as they see it, have given up the struggle to make a better life for themselves and their children. That’s why the Missing Million is generally despised by mainstream New Zealand and mistrusted by the respectable members of their own communities. They have moved well beyond the reach of conventional electoral politics.
Whenever the Missing Million argument is used by left-wingers seeking to reconcile electoral politics with revolutionary aspirations, I think of Len Richards in Mangere. Len, a staunch and thoroughly engaging socialist, stood for the NewLabour Party against David Lange in 1990. He ran a very good campaign, winning 11.79 percent of the votes cast – more than twice the NLP’s 5.16 percent of the popular vote nationally. And yet, even after everything the Labour Party had done to the working people of the Mangere electorate; even after six years of Rogernomics; even with unemployment skyrocketing; David Lange romped home with 51.1 percent of the votes cast.
The most fundamental problem confronting the radical Left has never really been about the people who don’t vote. It’s always been about the political parties supported by the people who do. New Zealanders will vote for parties positioned to Labour’s left – sometimes in impressive numbers – but only when those parties are offering policies demanded by a significant percentage of the electorate, and which Labour, for reasons best known to itself, refuses to endorse.
Clearly, this is not the situation in 2020. In this year’s election there will be only one viable party to Labour’s left, the Greens, and the policy differences between the two are now marginal – at best. On its current standing in the Newshub-Reid Research poll (56 percent) Labour will be looking to retain office with the support of former right-wing voters – not radical leftists. It’s not a situation which any democratic-socialist activist enjoys, but one that cannot be avoided without giving up the game of electoral politics altogether.
Grant Robertson’s Budget is offering what most New Zealanders are hoping for – economic recovery. More importantly, it’s offering what the New Zealanders who actually vote are demanding. Is that the same as offering what so many poor and marginalised New Zealanders desperately need? No, it’s not. But if people’s economic and social needs are not translated into serious political demands, then they are unlikely to be fulfilled in any serious way. In the immortal words of the Black abolitionist and former slave, Frederick Douglass: “Power concedes nothing without a demand – it never has and it never will.”
When the wretched of the earth – and that includes the people of Mangere and Porirua – organise themselves to the point of convincing mainstream politicians that there is more to be gained by acceding to their demands than ignoring them, then their lives will improve immeasurably. Put enough community organisers in New Zealand’s most deprived suburbs and all the exclusions of the 2020 Budget, which have so upset the radical Left, will very rapidly become inclusions.
Until then, Labour – riding so very high in the polls – will go on listening to and meeting the demands of those who know how to make themselves heard where it counts – in the ballot-box.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Tuesday, 19 May 2020.
Chris: "many of them have little or no respect for those who, as they see it, have given up the struggle to make a better life for themselves and their children."
Good luck getting folk that have "given up the struggle" to take an interest in their own future or that of their community and nation in a way that isn't suffused with that most vile and self-destructive emotion; resentment. What possible value, for all concerned, is there in stoking that? A large cohort of biblical Cains as the path to a better future?
Here's a very interesting essay on the problems of "the underclass".
"If he has any awareness of a future, it is of something fixed, fated, beyond his control: things happen to him, he does not make them happen. Impulse governs his behavior, either because he cannot discipline himself to sacrifice a present for future satisfaction or because he has no sense of the future."
"Moral agency is alien to him. He takes “no interest in his work,” if he works at all. He suffers from “a feeble, attenuated sense of self.” His relationships are devoid of trust, “aggressive yet dependent.” He often does not marry, resents authority, and nurses grievance. Lower class men frequently abandon any sense of responsibility for their offspring, leaving the mother (or her mother) to head the household. And this poverty of values is inter-generationally transmitted: “once children have passed babyhood they are likely to be neglected or abused, and at best they never know what to expect.” Deprived of a stable household and responsible father, the lower class teenager will likely “join a corner gang of other such boys and to learn from the gang the ‘tough’ style of the lower-class man.” Ultimately, these deleterious influences create a person predisposed to the degeneracies of the slum: “a game, a fight, a tense confrontation with the police; feeling that something exciting is about to happen is highly congenial to people who live for the present and for whom the present is often empty.”
From this analysis, Banfield concluded that the dysfunctional elements of city life are not the fault of external forces that demand amelioration by federal or local authorities, such as misallocated economic and material resources, political disenfranchisement, or race-based discrimination. Although he acknowledged the obvious existence of racism, he found that “overemphasis on prejudice” encourages people to define all “troubles in racial terms,” which leads to “the adoption of futile and even destructive policies and to the non-adaptation of others that might do great good.”
Culture—the habits of mind, conduct, beliefs, and values—“determines the success of a society,” and that politics is far too limited an enterprise to change the deeply ingrained cultural orientation of those who comprise it. That is a lesson it is never too late to learn.
Yep your logic and arguments are sound...
However... When we talk about that other factor of life. Ethics... You find that when you very loudly tell the world your new government "declares capitalism a failure" to get elected then when you have the best opportunity ever to change that zeitgeist and fail to deliver change...
In fact when you and your spin doctors deliberately avoid any mention of the anti capitalist rhetoric well then thinkers think...
What's going on?..
You say one thing to get elected then do nothing?
People are hurting so bad we need to restart the capitalist engine just to mitigate pain?
I thought capitalism was causing the pain, including globalisation et Al.
But you can pander to the taste driven electorate Chris...what have ethics ever had to do with peddling those addictions?
The poor in the MacDonald's queues really need their obesity?!?
I used to be quite a lefty, not a hard out socialist or Marxist but that way inclined. A few years ago I put all that in the bin; I realised that the problems and solutions of the poor were fundamentally not political but psychological and spiritual and cultural.
My home town is low decile with a large number of under/un-employed. Despite that the volunteer fire brigade is chronically undermanned to the extent they often fail to muster enough for a call-out and substantial recruitment drives haven't been able to alleviate the problem.
What can you say about a community that doesn't give a stuff if granny's house (and her along with it) goes up in flames. Or one that can't even be bothered to turn out and vote. Pretending they have a political problem is expedient nonsense; the deflection of responsibility ultimately destructive and dangerous.
People talk about money as if producing more of it, and handing it out to everyone will solve all problems. But unless there is some reference in producing it to the things it can buy it can't serve anyone's needs, it can only cause inflation.
There is an extraordinary disruption to the world economy at a moment at time when it was critically fragile . The government has taken a huge risk of triggering an episode of hyperinflation that will be no help to beneficiaries. In fact the position of those who were already on benefits when this crisis appeared, are the lest effected by it. It is hard to see in fact , that unless a period of increased inflation occurs that they will be effected at all,and in comparison to the average New Zealander they will be much better off if the economy is hit as hard as is feared.
On the electability of this government whatever happens though , I am not sure I agree that the missing million is entirely out of reach. Many of them are young people who have their minds on other things. Many find the politicians they are expected to vote for the most tedious uninspiring creatures on the planet. But Jacinda is not. She is going to feel to these people like one of them. One of them who is as you would expect, far more competent at running the country than any of those boring creature who usually have that job. i think the missing million might be where the difference is made this time.
D J S
"In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve". Especially those who can't be bothered to vote. RobbieWgtn.
Thanks for the nod Chris. A "revolutionary mindset" is not a spontaneous reaction to even the most shocking of societal events and circumstances. This, however, doesn't stop revolutions actually occuring periodically.
A concern for the survival of humanity is an entrenched instinct in people; a link between that fact and the experience of a failing social system that is the cause of the threat to our survival can surely be made. A revolution is required. We have to make sure it succeeds. Eco-socialism or extinction!
I've considered the fact that New Zealand voters intensely dislike radical policy shifts. I sincerely hope that Labour breaks out of this Third Way cul-de-sac if and when they get their absolute majority.
I'm not sure that they will though.
It is a hard lesson for old school lefties–that emotion counts for a lot in electoral politics. Yes, our glorious ex leader Mr Key predominantly worked for International Finance Capital–but hey, who cares right? We likes him… A lot of people, including me, like Jacinda too, despite the band of largely under talented time servers in thrall to institutional neo liberalism, that surround her.
New Zealand is loaded to the gunwales with self employed and aspirational small and SME operators who do not like to think too much about stolen land or the massive, enduring, underclass created by ‘Roger’n’Ruth’ that enables their enterprise.
All my life I have put up with this “real politik” refrain from various people in regards to the NZ Labour Party and its class collaboration. Through FPP years and and MMP. It is seemingly never the “right time” to push for more.
If the twin existential crises of Climate doom and C19 are not reason enough to institute a Basic Income and disestablish WINZ/MSD what on earth might be?
Kiwi Dave. I would love to critique your man Banfield, but I'm afraid Brandolini's law* comes into operation yet again. I spent hours reading your conservative pundits, except of course for the crazy lady – but I might be excused for that. I listened to their lectures, I read their works, and came to the conclusion that only one of them was a real thinker.
I spent so much time on it that even now, half my fucking YouTube recommendations seem to be Jordan Peterson lectures. And yet when I came back to these pages to discuss them, your reaction was "Meh" you're wrong I'm right and I'm not going to do you the courtesy of reading any of the critiques of their stuff because I know in my heart they are correct. Which makes you a true believer in the Eric Hoffer mould. And to be honest, now that we are at level II there are just too many things to do.
So all I say is that whatever Banfield wrote is almost certainly bullshit and leave it at that.
*also known as the Bullshit asymmetry principle is an internet adage which emphasizes the difficulty of debunking bullshit. The law states that "The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it."
One should never say never but never will there ever be a revolution in this country that those on the far left of the political spectrum call for. It is simply just not the Kiwi way. What we have witnessed over recent months with Jacinda and Grant is as close as we have been to something akin to the Savage Labour govt that responded to the great depression of the 1930's. The good ship Aotearoa/New Zealand has certainly changed course a few degrees to port though and the challenge will be to stay the course.
I was puzzled by the contradiction of this item, with that of last Friday "The Day Labour Came Home". Just five days ago, you were saying the Budget (at least the words of the speech) presaged a much more radical approach by Labour, essentially the end of "neo-liberalism." Now you are saying that the huge increase in support for Labour indicated by the recent poll, which has largely come from National, is because many voters have come to the view that Labour is not a dangerously radical government, that is, not dangerous to the voters who switched. No swingeing new taxes, no nationalisation, but moderate government within the range of governments of the last twenty years.
The last twenty years covers virtually a whole generation. It seems to me that New Zealanders are essentially quite comfortable with the type of governments we have had over this period. In my lifetime, I would say the last twenty years has, in a relative sense, been a time of tranquility and general contentment. Obviously that is not to say everything is perfect, but for most people it has been pretty good.
Features include full employment (3 to 4% unemployment for most of the time), low inflation, reasonable growth, a reasonable spread of prosperity. Now of course I live in North Shore, which has nearly 10% of New Zealand's population. This is an area where people generally feel pretty good. I know not all of New Zealand is like North Shore. Parts of South Auckland, but nowhere near all of it are in more difficult circumstances. The areas of deprivation are essentially Mangere, Manurewa, Otara and Papatoetoe. But Howick, Botany Downs, Pakuranga and Papakura are doing well. As you note, this is where a lot of aspirational and upwardly mobile immigrants live.
All of this puts Labour's campaigning platform in quite a quandary. They will want to keep much of the new support, but they can only do so if they are moderate and a safe bet.
Labour is much the same position that National was in from 2011 to 2017. The 47% of votes that National got then included a fair chunk of soft Labour voters. They thought that National had shown in government that it was reasonably safe. John Key, in particular, was acutely sensitive to this. Often people would say to him "spend your political capital", invariably it would be for some unpopular policy. Key would say, "Political capital is to be saved, it is the equity of a party and a strong political party keeps a good reserve of equity. That denotes political strength. It is not to be squandered on unpopular policy. It has to be saved to win elections".
I am sure both Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson will be well aware of the political lessons that the Clark government and the Key government have bequeathed to them.
If the social analysis provided by Kiwidave was better understood by our political decission makers, then we might have avoided the dysfunction he describes; one in which a growing number of Kiwis presently exist.
My sense is that we are beyond political solutions for this group who are a product of our own stupidy. We ought to have known that it's easier to make slaves of free people than it is to make free people from intergenerational welfare slaves.
Politicians in all Western democracies of all dispositions are ideologically committed to 'doing good' rather than simply 'doing no harm'. The latter would have been sustainable, the former is not, as we will eventually discover.
Does not the observation that in normally balanced times government elections are determined most of the time(?) by the floating vote between "Left" and 'Right" indicate, that the most stable and lasting political future is along the "Third Way", upwards for all ?
That means, the Right has to move slightly towards the Left, and vice versa.
And according to that line of thought, does not the "Ownership Society" concept actually satisfy and meet the basic aspirations of the Left and Right by:
1.- abolishing poverty, and -
2.- extending at least a minimally meaningful (or higher) level of personal property ownership (potential) to all citizens eventually?
Up to now, even the discussion of this proposition and the pros and cons of it has been rejected or evaded by both the libertarian Right and socialistic Left.
Is there a justifying reason for that ?
To: Wayne Mapp.
You're focusing on the contradictions, Wayne, when you should be looking for the synthesis.
Labour recognises the immediate general preferences of the participating electorate in the present crisis and is responding to them.
It also recognises - as, I believe, does a solid majority of New Zealanders - that the neoliberal model no longer offers a useful vehicle for New Zealand's long-term recovery and well-being.
Jacinda's and Grant's work in responding to the former should clinch them a solid election victory in September. Their acceptance of the latter raises hopes of many more to come.
Ain't dialectical materialism grand!
To: Tiger Mountain.
I share your frustration, Tiger, but there is some consolation in taking the longer view.
The ruling classes of the West launched a remarkable ideological counter-offensive in the 1970s and 80s which provided them with a quarter-century-long breathing space from the hitherto unrelenting encroachment of the subordinate classes, genders and races.
Unfortunately for these 1 percenters, the social and ecological costs of securing that 25-year hiatus have mounted to the point where a general crisis of legitimacy threatens to undo all their efforts. This multifaceted crisis is composed inter-alia of financial instability, rising inequality, climate change and, now, a global pandemic caused by the dangerous extension of the capitalist economy into the world's biological "hot zones".
As Martin Luther King so eloquently put it, Tiger:
"The arc of history is long - but it bends towards justice."
Hang on in there, comrade. Theirs has been the winter, but ours shall be the spring!
To Len Richards:
I always think it is very misleading to propose that humanity will go extinct if we don't embrace eco-socialism! Humanity will have to work very hard to go extinct. The worst that would happen is we might be set back to some more primitive ways of living, but extinction is absolute rubbish! Humans can and will always adapt to niches in the world until an external force brings it all to an end. I feel extremely sorry for the young children today who are exposed to such nonsense from the climate change brigade etc. as they suffer anxieties that are completely unfounded. Even in the worst case scenario the world will not end due to climate change - simply conditions may be less favourable for certain communities. Note in particular that environmental outcomes are best in wealthy countries not poor ones who have embraced some form of extreme socialism.
"The ruling classes of the West launched a remarkable ideological counter-offensive in the 1970s and 80s which provided them with a quarter-century-long breathing space from the hitherto unrelenting encroachment of the subordinate classes, genders and races."
Interesting analysis Chris. Personally I think that the 1950s to the 70s gave us a 25 year break from the unrelenting advance of neoliberal capitalism. Maybe I'm a glass half empty type person.:)
Someone on another blog put it far better than I could – as Marx predicted:
"Galloping inequality. Concentration of wealth. Spread of capitalism all over the world. Increasing division of society into antagonistic classes of a tiny minority of wealthy capitalists and a huge majority of propertyless workers. Perennial instability of capitalist economies, periods of growth and technological development punctuated by increasingly severe crashes. A permanent reserve army of the unemployed. Lengthening of the working day and increasingly intense exploitation of labor. Even, four, or five generations after Marx’s death, workers and other subordinate classes becoming revolutionary. It’s an astoundingly good record for any social theorist."
Those posts war years were something of a spluttering candle. It's interesting that neoliberals keep saying that people are better off with fewer taxes and regulations and so on, but in the US at least and I suspect New Zealand, wages and conditions were far better when people were taxed more, and the social welfare system was worthy of its name. And to those who keep glorifying the neoliberal paradigm I suggest you take a careful look at the USA.
We New Zealanders are in the main a very compliant lot, the past few months have shown that. New Zealanders are not up for political coup d'état and over the years have accepted various govts policies because they have been deemed to be best for the country. However since Rogernomics it has become increasingly clear that certain policies no longer work and must be changed for the good of all New Zealanders and not just those "contented" from the middle up.
The last couple of months have opened a few eyes out there in the electorate Wayne. There is now acceptance that the PM and her finance minister have the skill and focus to sort the social and economic disparities that exist and make New Zealand a better place for all. If that means a steady as we go dismantling of rampant neo liberalism to take the majority along then so be it. I suggest you embrace the new direction.
Thank you for your comment Brendan.
Guerrilla Surgeon, all I can say, in my defense, is that I read widely but came to change my point of view from what I could see in the world around me. It's not pleasant to throw away your beliefs, they tend to become part of you; I can understand your trepidation.
I had something of an epiphany; lots of things, like the volunteer fire service story above. Another I clearly recall.
I'm a watchmaker and had done a small job for a woman, she had a boy with her (her son I presumed), bright eyed, about ten or eleven. He asked me what I did so I told him a little of my trade; he was genuinely interested. I asked him what he would like to do when he grew up. The "mother" quickly interjected; "there'll be nothing for him, he'll be on the benefit like the rest of us"!
That poor wee chap, his hopes, his entire future dismissed as nothing.
I should have said something but I had to turn away. I saw what Banfield saw.
Here's a short wee clip for you GS: inequality, universal basic income, ethics and some solutions.
From kiwidave at 8.33 -
What can you say about a community that doesn't give a stuff if granny's house (and her along with it) goes up in flames. Or one that can't even be bothered to turn out and vote. Pretending they have a political problem is expedient nonsense; the deflection of responsibility ultimately destructive and dangerous.
Here's your turn Jens M. You can come along and legitimately make your claim that people who have a share in the pie, who own something, will be more likely to be very involved in the community - if only to ensure that there will be a fire brigade in their area to put out their fire.
They may still not get out and vote though. Because that shows a commitment to a system that should show a commitment to everyone, and if they don't feel that they are part of 'everyone' (having somehow dropped through the cracks), they could decide to give it the fingers.
It's all a bit like being Boxer the cart horse in Animal Farm who keeps on toiling to assist with providing buildings for the farm, willing to sweat to help the community. And then, against an understanding of relaxed retirement, gets loaded on a truck. told some untrue destination, and driven away to be killed for horse meat and glue.
Many people in NZ in the lower orders of course, after decades of waiting for the golden future that everyone heard Douglas and his illk spouting about, are noticing that the trend is towards a type of knackers yard, and a poorly run one too.
To Kiwi Dave @ 13.24
I can see why you had to turn away. The alternative was a nasty argument with your customer, but I think that kid will break the mould.
You could still have asked him if he would like to come around and help after school though. I bet he would have and i also bet his mom would have been pleased underneath. Too many dashed hopes in her life.
D J S
Nice story Kiwi Dave. But you couldn't even answer my question "what would change your mind?" If you can't answer that you are a true believer. And now that I've had a chance to have a quick look on the academic databases not only has your man been taken to task by sociologists about his study on Italian people and selfishness, but a couple of economists – not usually communists – set up an experiment that proved him absolutely incorrect. So no need to change my mind – yet. But I still have in mind what evidence would get me to change it – unlike you.
Incidentally, it's a pity the kid was told that, but there is a certain amount of bitterness amongst people in the provinces who have been abandoned by governments – to the point where looking for a job is regarded as relatively futile. So unlike you I wouldn't blame her necessarily.
@ Wayne Mapp
How do you view the state of neoliberalism? Would you accept the definition of the term as in common speech as being capitalism with a minimum of interference from the State, and market forces determining the flow of goods and services , and remuneration , and the survival of efficient enterprises and failure of unprofitable enterprises?
If you accept that definition , how can you claim that neoliberalism still exists? The most successful organisations are those that have grown to be the largest. And over the last decade, and accelerating now, those large organisations are only able to survive by dint of the State infusing vast quantities of money into them to prop them up. It has become a welfare state but the welfare provided by the state is for the major companies and the banks instead of the people . Surely the model of a successful economy enthusiastically implemented by Roger Douglas is the complete inverse of how the economy actually runs now.
Do you have a significantly different concept from my definition, apart from disliking the term. It's hard to get away from the term as it is used so universally to describe the market led capitalism the Western world has lived in for the past 35 years. But use another if it helps to describe the status quo by all means.
I find it difficult to understand how anyone interested and informed can regard the way the economy was run for the 25 years before the GFC and especially now , as being the same as it has been run since.
Cheers D J S
You've done it again Guerilla; instead of reading and considering a POV on it's merits and how it relates to your own observations you've trawled through the net to find something, anything, that refutes it; that confirms your existing beliefs. You have to bare in mind that criticism is so often founded in belief, not reality, and that folk are often surprisingly willing (and increasingly so) to attempt to distort reality in favour of belief.
There is usually no single right answer to the issues that beset humanity, I guess the answer to "What would change my mind" is, if it didn't chime with what I can plainly see, I'd back my own observations. Unfortunately you will usually discover an ideological belief colouring most criticism you find and it's difficult to untangle oneself from that. We should, at least, try.
I can see, and believe, that the problems (as per the examples above) of meaninglessness are directly related to responsibility; responsibility for oneself, family and community and for the future. The comfortable, childless couple on their voyage to luxurious extinction just as much as the poor and resentful.
“We must each adopt as much responsibility as possible for individual life, society and the world. We must each tell the truth and repair what is in disrepair and break down and recreate what is old and outdated. It is in this manner that we can and must reduce the suffering that poisons the world. It’s asking a lot. It’s asking for everything.”
― Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos
Kiwi Dave – a few things for you. I might turn to your link when you can assure me you've read mine.
I have already read those (except the Mad in America one which I've just finished) and, unlike some, didn't shriek "bullshit" before I did so.
Oh dear, I've been trying so hard to be polite and then here you go saying "shriek" which I have never done in my life. But to be honest I had a bit of your form to go on let's face it. And blow me down when I did finally get round to looking at the man I was shown to be correct. But if you going to start with the trolley she insults like "shriek" or "liberal luvvies" or "Chardonnay socialists" any of the other insults that seem to come so easily to conservative brain – I shall have to refer you to rule 1.
What makes a leader?
What makes a leader popular?
The answer to the two questions will not necessarily be the same, and both questions have to be answered within a particular socio-political context.
We know that in a modern mediated liberal democracy appearance counts at the ballot box. It is better to be tall and good looking, to have a ready smile and a touch of humour. A good speaking voice is crucially important, as is the ability to project oneself in front of the camera.
These are all qualities that bespeak popularity rather than leadership of the old-fashioned kind, but in a mediated democracy to be a leader is to be popular and to be popular is to be a leader.
John Key was a popular leader. Jacinda Ardern is a popular leader.
When a leader assumes power in a mediated democracy their popularity rating increases literally overnight, because power and success are attractive in and of themselves and because many ordinary folk want to be on the winning side regardless of how they themselves voted. They don't want to be outsiders, and therefore they cleave to a leader who might not have been their first choice.
Principles are not that important. John Key's lack of principle, the whiff of corruption and malfeasance about his person, never dented his popularity. Hardly anyone among her supporters (or opponents) minds that Jacinda Ardern came to power pledging an end to capitalism and its inequities and now has taken dramatic steps to entrench and ossify capitalism with all its former inequities intact. No one is too worried that she has actually put in place a form of capitalism shorn of its redeeming virtues.
Jacinda's last year in power has been marked by four traumatic events. A massacre of innocents, a lethal volcanic eruption, an unprecedented drought and now an epidemic. Her popularity has soared because while those events have keenly registered in the consciousness of most New Zealanders, the actual effect on the lives of the vast majority has been very slight. It is the dysjunction between the perceived enormity of these events and their insubstantial impact on the daily lives of most of us that has taken Jacinda's popularity to great heights. There is a strange yet natural perception that Jacinda has saved the country from a multitude of dangers.
If we were to start digging into why these events occurred (three out of four appear to be "acts of God", but that is only half the story) and how either the events or their consequences might have been averted, then our assessment of Ms Ardern's performance might be less benign. But "we" don't go there, and neither will I at this point. It has worked to her advantage for the time being, and will continue to do so unless or until the lives of the majority of ordinary voters are thrown into serious turmoil.
When colonialist political leaders lose their hold on power and the popular imagination they descend into ignominy (Robert Muldoon) or irrelevance (John Key and Helen Clark).
So it will be with Jacinda Ardern. If people's lives begin to fall apart they will blame her where they once thanked her. There will be no sanctuary of principle to which they can retreat in loyal fellowship with her. Nothing but the barren social landscape left in the wake of political pragmatism and the cult of personality.
There is another young woman like Jacinda Ardern who also delivered a child to the world while leading her people through momentous times. The difference between Pania Newton and Jacinda Ardern is that Pania is loved for her devotion to principle and her personal sacrifice in pursuit of those principles. Whatever happens in her life from here on, her commitment and her sacrifice will not be forgotten. Even if her battle for Ihumaatao were to be lost, she would be honoured and remembered as a true leader.
That is just one more point of difference between rangatiratanga and colonialism.
The problem for John Minto et al is that within the colonialist political system they are like fish out of water. They really don't belong there. A point that you yourself have made quite well Chris.
To Chris @ 20 May 2020 at 10:56
You are right Chris, patience is a virtue. Everything shakes out in the end, but through struggle and contradictions being resolved, not passivity. The main victory of neo liberalism has been the psychological effect, both on individuals and institutions. But reality does intrude eventually on all of us if survival matters, it doesn’t seem soon enough when you are in the present.
I recall in the 80s going to a performance of Renee’s play on the ’51 Waterfront Lockout–“Pass it On”, off Galatos St in Auckland. Rob Campbell accompanied myself and GH Andersen. At intermission over beers, Campbell remarked jokingly “They should go back to work”…Bill laughed, but I just looked at Rob, it suddenly struck me, he was not joking! As later events and his life long trajectory working largely for finance capital have shown.
My point being, philosophy is a strong force in people’s lives whether they can articulate it or not.
I thought you were the 'radical Left'. Except you called it the cause of 'old New Zealand'. Strawman anyway. Don't think any of us believe in a million voters coming back. If you have something to say about your present political views? Are you now aligned with the '84ist Labour turd on the RNZ Monday morning politics segment?
Thanks to the 'possible' offered by the new polls I will not be voting for any of the present govt parties unless they commit to enacting the main recommendations of the poverty group as a deal-breaker in their next coalition talks.
If there was one free talker of enough respect and force to the left of this govt (not difficult on the left point) it would be decimated for 'focus grouping' the most desperate out of relief during this economic and health crisis. The perversity of 'Savage's' Labour! Now lets look at the '84 freemarket revolution during this time of understanding that the health and well-being of others is our health and wellbeing too. Among many things, by leaving the neediest behind it amounted to a War on Maori! These pudgy unclothed targets pass before our 'Old NZ' other-directed artillery. Another rhetorical attack point is where neglecting the neediest leads ... the end of the world, or America. The 'Queen' is learning on the job, she can look after her hometown Murupara now (stop there every NZer or lose your passport).
All it would require is for the active 'old NZers' to fishhook an MP into parliament to talk for the old NZ, shaming, and never going into a, Left govt. We lack a talking pulpit above everything.
You cut to the Left, you cut to the Right , according to ...? I really must take this statement as your real opinion. The columnists you criticised spoke our truth. As you point out, rightly probably, untactical. Both right, but hard to really speak for us, as you do so movingly, Chris, after this. Ramsay Mcdonald? Or my ancestor who got socialism passed as the official programme of British Labour at the 1908/9 conference only to be struck down by Mcdonald as unconstitutional, and in 1935 NZ wasn't allowed on the Legislative Council for being too confrontational for public view?
You do realise this is 1939 100 times over? Agree or disagree? Climate change and resource finitude make poverty pale into nothing.
Enjoy your poetically expressed true comments Geoff Fischer. Big ups to the majestically proud Whanau a Apanui. Love that completely open but unprotected beachside Anglican Church -- something about the beach is intrinsically augmenting, particularly via a church.
This-a-here economic/industrial/ creative boom from 1750 on was magnificent/ devastating but the fuel runs out and also destroys us.
Between the 30s and the so well recorded end of the Roman Republic we don't need to be imaginative, insightful about this time -- all laid out like a children's book.
So, the 'art of the possible' isn't enough. Ifitsa a mounting slope to a cliff rather than to manageable valleys.
But you know the reality. Thisahere concept doesna 'fit' these times.
The next 3 years isn't enough to save our comfort. The 'art of the possible' delivers us short. Reality matters more than ever. Your late address of climate change says a lot. It's not a laid-on lunch.
The computer prick in charge at 'The Standard' somehow stops me commenting without banning me, though that's just an unenforcable accusation.
Do you disagree, this is 1939? Ask and we will send money for our NZ truth.
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