Wednesday 15 December 2021

There’s Something Happening Here – Again.

Time For Another Change: The social-liberal revolution in which New Zealand seems certain to be engulfed will be even more wrenching than the neoliberal revolution which spawned it, and which it so closely resembles. Its purpose is straightforward: to forestall the political mobilisation of neoliberal capitalism’s economic casualties by aggravating the racial, sexual, and gender issues dividing them.

ONE OF THE BENEFITS of getting older is that you get a feel for when something really bad is happening. The experiences of youth, especially those events leading to profound societal change, tend to be so vivid that those who live through them become acutely sensitised to any experience which feels even remotely similar. That is why I feel obliged to say that, from the events occurring all around us in 2021, I am picking up a truly terrifying feeling of déjà vu.

The last time I experienced the same ominous feeling that something bad was unfolding: something that would change the lives of thousands of New Zealanders forever, and for the worse; something that could not be stopped; it was the early 1980s.

Yes, that’s right, the early 1980s was the period in which the ideology of neoliberalism first began sinking its roots into New Zealand society. It wasn’t called “neoliberalism” then, it’s promoters preferring to identify its goal as the establishment of a “free market”. To achieve this goal “more-market policies” were required. Thinking back to the “New Left” movements of the 1960s and 70s, political journalists took to calling this radical movement towards “economic freedom” the “New Right”.

What made this new ideology so chilling was that its effects were already apparent in the two countries with which New Zealanders (and Australians) most closely identify: The United Kingdom and the United States. Margaret Thatcher had been elected in 1979 and Ronald Reagan in 1980. Free Market policies were, therefore, bound to make their way here. In Australasia, the dominant ideas of London and Washington are culturally irresistible.

As Editor of the University of Otago student newspaper Critic in 1981, I felt obliged to publish articles from students excited by the radical new economic theories percolating through the academic community. It was disconcerting for those of us positioned on the extreme-left of social-democracy. We, too, wanted a shake-up in the way New Zealand’s economy was run – but not like this.

With growing unease, I began to see the post-war Keynesian status-quo coming under fire from both the New Left and the New Right. What I could not see, however, was the New Left winning this intensifying ideological struggle. Not with the USA and the UK weighing-in on what looked like the New Right’s unabashed call for a return to the laissez-faire capitalism of the nineteenth century.

The most important aspect to grasp about the success of the neoliberal revolution in New Zealand is that the revolutionaries were located overwhelmingly in the senior ranks of the public service, academia, and the news media – most notably in the Reserve Bank, the Treasury, and the business press. In these locations, they were ideally placed to exert a steady (and ultimately decisive) influence over the two groups essential to translating neoliberal ideology into practical action “on the ground”: politicians and business leaders.

That the Labour Party ended up being the vector for neoliberalism was due, firstly, to the exhaustion of Keynesian economics as a source for policies that hadn’t already been tested to destruction; and, secondly, to the pig-headed refusal of the National Prime Minister, Rob Muldoon, to embrace the New Right policies of Thatcher and Reagan. Labour’s politicians were desperate for a policy template they could offer up as an alternative to Muldoonism, and were delighted to discover that the people whose help and support they would most need to make it happen – the Reserve Bank and Treasury – were keen as mustard to get the revolution started.

Hence the sense of déjà vu. All around me I perceive the same secretive re-positioning of pieces on the board that characterised the early 1980s. There’s the same apprehension that within the public service, academia and the news media, the key ideological transitions have already been made – at least where they count. Once again, the two essential adjuncts to translating a rapidly consolidating ideological orthodoxy into practical “reform” on the ground – a willing political party (or parties) and a facilitative business sector – are already in place.

All that’s been missing is the “trigger” event: the equivalent of the Snap Election called so foolishly by Rob Muldoon in June 1984. Then came the unprecedented tragedy of the 2019 Christchurch Mosque Massacre, closely followed by the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic. If the next policy revolution is not already in motion, then the Sixth Labour Government is certainly getting ready to turn the key in the ignition. It would have been the purest folly to let these crises go to waste!

The social-liberal revolution in which New Zealand seems certain to be engulfed will be even more wrenching than the neoliberal revolution which spawned it, and which it so closely resembles. Its purpose is straightforward: to forestall the political mobilisation of neoliberal capitalism’s economic casualties by aggravating the racial, sexual, and gender issues dividing them.

Essentially, the social-liberal revolution has been unleashed to protect the socio-economic interests of the professional and managerial class (PMC) which administers neoliberal society. If neoliberalism was the ideological expression of a capitalist ruling-class under pressure, and its fundamental objective was to smash organised labour and break the power of the working-class, then social-liberalism is the necessary ideological adaptation of the PMC, whose role it is to keep the working-class smashed and broken.

Like neoliberalism, social-liberalism can only be imposed from the top down. This is because all historical precedent suggests that the strongest impulses of those on the receiving end of economic and social injustice is towards unity and solidarity. It requires constant, conscious effort on the part of the ruling-class and its enablers to break up that unity and unravel that solidarity. Hence the need to obscure the common interests of working-class Māori and Pakeha; working-class men and women; working-class cis and LGBT. The elevation of identity over class is the critical cultural project at the heart of the social-liberal revolution.

Many of those destined to play a role in the social-liberal revolution will recoil from this analysis. They do not see themselves as facilitating the continuing upward transfer of wealth from the poor to the One Percent. Quite the reverse. They would position themselves firmly on the Left. Subsuming the struggles against racism, sexism, and gender inequality to those of class, they would argue, is reactionary. If the Sixth Labour Government is prepared to legislate in favour of what the Right calls “Wokeism”, then that just confirms the genuine progressivism of Jacinda Ardern and her colleagues.

What I would invite these aggrieved social-liberals to do is engage in a little comparative historical research.

Compare the early mass struggles of Māori against the failure of Pakeha society to honour the Treaty of Waitangi (back in the 1970s and early-1980s the preferred slogan was “The Treaty Is A Fraud!”) with the wealthy, iwi-based corporations, and the powerful iwi leaders’ group, that have emerged from the Crown-controlled Treaty settlement process of the past 30 years.

Contrast the United Women’s Conventions of the 70s, the mass campaign to reform the abortion laws, and the trade union-led struggle for the Working Women’s Charter of the early-1980s, with the current neoliberal indicator of female equality – the number of women seated around the boardroom tables of New Zealand’s largest corporations.

Turn the same spotlight on the contemporary trade union movement. Compare the lively public debates of the 400+ private-sector working-class delegates who gathered in Wellington for the annual conferences of the Federation of Labour, with the tiny, behind-closed-doors, biennial leadership conclaves of the “middle-class” public sector unions” (PSA, PPTA, NZEI, NZNO) that dominate the Council of Trade Unions.

It has always been a sure-fire way of determining whether or not you are involved in something genuinely progressive, or are simply promoting the interests of a narrow elite: pose the classic revolutionary question. Who? Whom?

Progressive revolutionary change bubbles up from below as the consequence of ordinary people transforming the unity and solidarity they have developed while fighting injustice into mass political action. If the only people to actually benefit from your top-down legislative revolution are a small, privileged, and well-remunerated minority: an elite group already in possession of enormous wealth and power; then you can be absolutely sure of two things:

It ain’t progressive.

And …

It ain’t a revolution.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Wednesday, 15 December 2021.


Odysseus said...

"The elevation of identity over class is the critical cultural project at the heart of the social-liberal revolution." My goodness, I think you're onto it! That is what I detest so much about the modern "progressive" agenda which would divide us all by race or gender or whatever other fashionable marker, and it is why I despair of our future as a country.

Unknown said...

A true Left analysis on the reality of Social Liberalism. It's the successor to neoliberalism undermining the working class - not the solution., There will be conniptions from identarians and their fellow travellers . Thank goodness Chris Trotter is prepared to explain trends that other journalists studiously ignore

Don Franks said...

Lot of pertinent points there but the formulation "working-class cis and LGBT" is not valid. The very recent imposition of "cis" on the language is applied to lesbian and gay people as well as straight. The political purpose of this new fiction is to assign supposed 'privilege' to 'cis 'people. It is but the latest cultist invention of identity politics to advance an agenda which comes at the expense of women, children, lesbian and gay people.

Mike Grimshaw said...

Very true Chris and this is what american commentators like Nancy Fraser have been saying in their critiques of progressive neoliberaism and its focus on identity politics.
The first stage of this was the co-opting of the old 1960s-1970s New Left into the 1980s yuppies and then the New Democrats in America and the resulting 1980s-90s culture wars.
There was also the widespread influence of ideas from the french thinker Michel Foucault who was arguing, in 1979, for neoliberalism as a technology of the self to free individuals- and in doing so he was explicitly aligning himself with Hayek.(remember Hayek wrote "Why I am not a conservative" in 1960 and this was seen as a progressive, liberal, rallying call...)

Two other things happened- the collapse of socialism being seen as a viable alternative(and this happened from the 1970s onward) and the collapse of liberal bourgeois capitalism. What occurred was a form of postmodern counter-revolution for capitalism, or rather, for neoliberal capitalism and for the freedom of self.

The new new left of contemporary identity politics and cancel culture is the legacy of the old new left turn into the 'progressive' social wing of neoliberalism. They don't even realise- because they cant realise [not knowing their history]- that they are just another form and expression of neoliberalism...

Archduke Piccolo said...

A few points -

What Mr Trotter calls the New Left, I call a right wing faction. That factionalism has been apparent in this country since the 1980s, about the time the stirrings of this 'free market' drivel was becoming policy. I am certain in my own mind that Big Business knew very well for the nonsense it was the Milton Friedmanite, Chicago School, Neo-Classical 'theory' embraced by the likes of Reagan, Thatcher, Douglas and Richardson. Who, given the wherewithal to make something of it, will pass up the chance to plunder the Common Weal?

I have known ever since the disillusionment of the Barack Obama presidency - which offered so much and delivered sod all - that identity politics is a luxury we can no longer afford. If we ever really could. The Fat Cattists know this, and are exploiting identity politics for all they are worth. Anything to keep the pitchforks away.

I charge the New Zealand Unions and the public sector service organisations for the betrayal of their members during the 1980s and 1990s. The one organised body of people who might have gone into bat for the working class simply rolled over, and left their members with no means to fight. 'We aim to preserve jobs', said they, and failed to carry even that pusillanimous objective. 'We aim to preserve incomes' or 'We aim to preserve livings' might have been far better slogans, and fight for them EVEN AT THE RISK OF DISSOLUTION (such as carried out by Thatcher, Reagan and Bliar against unions that fought). Perhaps the jobs the unions aimed to preserve were their own.

There is no such animal as a 'free market' (or for that matter 'free trade'). Examine Neo-Classical economic theory. A free market is predicated upon perfect knowledge. Yes, that word 'perfect' is there in the 'theory'. Perfect knowledge of the market that is, the market as was, and the market as will be. Perfect knowledge. Since perfection is an impossible ideal, there can be no such thing. This elementary conclusion - and believe you me the 'theory' - taught, mark you in academia, and which STILL informs policy - gets even more nonsensical from there.

Ion A. Dowman

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"The elevation of identity over class is the critical cultural project at the heart of the social-liberal revolution. My goodness, I think you're onto it! That is what I detest so much about the modern "progressive" agenda which would divide us all by race or gender or whatever other fashionable marker, and it is why I despair of our future as a country."

Oh dear here we go again. No one is dividing us. We are already divided. Individual groups of people have far different experiences with the political/legal processes – hence so-called "identity politics". Socialists don't like this very much, because it diminishes the perception that class is the big divider. In my view that's a mistake, but it seems embedded in their ideology and they are reluctant to shift. But at the same time, not doing a great deal to point out to minority groups the benefits of concentrating on class. If there are any.

Possibly because there are so few socialists left, and all the so-called left and centre-left parties have accepted neoliberal ideology. At least economically. Until minority groups have the same experience with the political/legal processes identity politics is here to stay. And let's not forget it was identity politics that got women the vote, identity politics that got black people vote in the US, identity politics that got Irish independence and so on. Identity politics can be a good thing – and until people understand that I despair of our future as a country.

Barry said...

Next step - eugenics .
Now wont that be interesting.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Don Franks.

My thanks, Don, for pointing out my mistake.

I had assumed that "cis" was merely a synonym for "conventional".

Clearly that is not the case. The metastization rate of IdPol has overtaken my ability to keep up with the play!

Kat said...

"Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid........."

Then along came Nash with this anthem, most relevant today, for what its worth......

Don Franks said...

Cheers Chris, I know the feeling. Trying to keep up with some political fads is a mission indeed.

Odysseus said...

@ Guerilla Surgeon: the expansion of the suffrage was a massive gain for freedom. The handmaidens of modern identity politics however include cancel culture, safetyism, and polarization which are accompanied by demands that freedom of expression be restricted and even thought itself controlled.

David George said...

"Its purpose is straightforward: to forestall the political mobilisation of neoliberal capitalism’s economic casualties by aggravating the racial, sexual, and gender issues dividing them."
You've made this allegation before, Chris, again without any substantiating evidence; I'm skeptical that this, for want of a better term, conspiracy exists. It can more readily be accounted for by some sort of collective insanity facilitated by social media echo chambers.
The cheerleaders, at least, seem pretty unhinged, this from Green party MP Dr Elizabeth Kerekere: ‘As a takatāpui, cis-lesbian fem ally to our takatāpui, trans and intersex non-binary whānau, I am very proud to commend this bill to the house.’

This strange amalgam of extreme liberalism and authoritarianism just doesn't stand to reason, it's a fundamental contradiction, a rejection of reality; a Marxian view?

Marx expressed views such as his belief in “the ruthless criticism of all that exists” (letter to Arnold Ruge) and “the forcible overthrow of the existing social order” (The Communist Manifesto). He expressed on a number of occasions his admiration for the words of Mephistopheles in Goethe’s Faust:

“I am the spirit that negates.
And rightly so, for all that comes to be
Deserves to perish wretchedly;
‘Twere better nothing would begin.
Thus everything that that your terms, sin,
Destruction, evil represent—
That is my proper element.”2

swordfish said...

Probably the most astute, brutally-honest & independently-minded MSM commentator in this Country at the moment ... your series of razor-sharp opinion-pieces over the last few months ... dissecting the active self-interest of this bloated, pompous, authoritarian PMC / Brahmin "Left" (as Establishment & Born-to-Rule as any Blue-Blood Tory), diligently consolidating their power, financial privilege & class position, while systematically scapegoating whole swathes of working people & camouflaging it all with ludicrous & ostentatious moral posturing .. have really hit the nail on the head every single time.

I've come to realise these people are substantially more dangerous to working New Zealanders than my Old Enemy: the political Right. They have captured & subverted not only traditional Social Democracy & the broader precepts of Liberal Democracy but in fact radically undermined ethics & morality in general. (and, just to be clear, I'm not speaking from some morally conservative standpoint here).

Whatever else they are ... this self-serving would-be elite ain't the Left.

Patricia said...

I just don’t understand anything anymore. It is like I live in a foreign land where I don’t understand what is said and even when I try it still doesn’t make sense. It is like using an app that you understand how to make it work until the day comes when they have remodelled it. That is my world now. Everything is being remodelled

Len Richards said...

The Gramsci of NZ speaks. A masterly (not meant in a sexist way) summary of what is to be done, or at least what is not to be done.
The failure of social democracy to be other than the handmaiden of the masters ofthe universe (who are mostly all men) is the tragedy of the organised working class project for a new form of society based on those values of solidarity, community and creative personhood that you have identified above.
Understanding the machine is the first step in successfully unleashing our rage against it.

David George said...

Some support Chris.
Joel Kotkin on Spiked, Excerpt:
"But class may be more critical to defining the current cultural conflict. The dominant cultural arbiters in the EU, Canada or US occupy the ‘commanding heights’ of media and politics, but their rejection of traditional culture does not resonate with adults who confront the daily struggle to make a decent living and find usable values for their offspring. This is reflected in the decline of public trust in media, academia, governments and, in the US, even in the now woke military.

Throughout the West, the working and traditional middle class – shopkeepers, small property owners, artisans – are moving towards conservative and even reactionary candidates. In contrast, the old parties of the left in the US, Australia, the UK and across Europe, have embraced the postmodern cultural agenda and lost their old constituencies. Overall, eastern Europe, and its conservative working and middle classes, are now the right’s bulwark against the cultural influence of progressives.

Those with the good fortune to live in pluralistic Western-style democracies, rooted in classical culture, should recognise how rare such open societies have been through history, and how much the vitality of these societies is threatened today. Historically, democracy has been like a flame that shines bright for a while – as in Greece and Rome – and then succumbs to autocracy or ossifies into hierarchy."

Perhaps some things are just the result of a willful blindness, of ignorance.

David George said...

More from Joel Kotkin: Our Neo-Feudal Future

"Ultimately, our hopes for preventing a feudal future lie in a bipartisan ­alliance between the yeomanry and the serf class, one based mainly on economic goals. Neither class has much to look forward to under the neo-feudal regime. The economic benefits of this alliance may, in fact, overcome the race-fixations of the clerics, given that by 2032 more than half of working people in America will come from racial minorities who largely reject progressive ­cultural dogma.

Above all, a movement against neo-feudalism requires a reawakening of the spirit of resistance to authority that has long marked human progress and now seems far too rare. “Happy the nation whose people have not forgotten how to ­rebel,” wrote the British historian R. H. Tawney. Whether we can muster the will to assert ourselves as engaged citizens will determine the kind of world our children inherit."

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"the expansion of the suffrage was a massive gain for freedom. The handmaidens of modern identity politics however include cancel culture, safetyism, and polarization which are accompanied by demands that freedom of expression be restricted and even thought itself controlled."

You know what, sometimes I despair at what the New Zealand education system has not accomplished. And this statement encapsulates much of what I mean.
Cancel culture? More a feature of the right than the left in many ways. There are many memes about this which unfortunately this archaic comment system won't cope with, but you could go back to the 1950s, where "communists" were cancelled. And of course today we could see what the Dixie Chicks think about cancel culture or Colin Kaepernick or Jamal Khashoggi?
Similarly, we could perhaps cast an eye on other news organisations being "cancelled" in places like Russia, Poland and Hungary – not to mention India, Azerbaijan, Uganda.For every Apple daily, there are at least a couple of Vtimes or 7 Day News or Elevens.
So I don't see why all of a sudden it's the left that is stifling free speech when the right has been doing it for a long time. Except perhaps that the right can't be bothered investigating its own crimes, due to bias. In Western democracies, so-called cancel culture is a joke. How many times do you hear that someone has been "silenced" – yet you can't seem to get away from their interminable nonsense. Jordan Peterson being a prime example. There are simply too many outlets for idiots today for so-called cancelling to have any effect in a Western democracy. After all a prime example is this site, where differing opinions are pretty much given free reign.
So for Christ's sake, can you people just tone down the "we'll all be murdered in our beds" rhetoric for a little while. After all, it's close to Christmas.
Merry Christmas everyone.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Greater than all physical dangers are the tremendous effects of delusional ideas, which are yet denied all reality by our world-blinded consciousness. Our much vaunted reason and our boundlessly overestimated will are sometimes utterly powerless in the face of 'unreal' thoughts."
Unfortunately, Carl Jung's ideas about society's vulnerability to nonsense are seeming more and more prophetic today. If the world ends with a whimper or a bang, it will be the result of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds or Folk Devils and Moral Panics. :)

David George said...

A few weeks ago, on holiday, I talked with a higher up functionary in the Wellington DHB. One of the "managerial elite" I guess.
I expressed my concerns about the recent moves to remove direct democratic oversight in our health a water service providers. He was completely dismissive of the very idea that there is any value in the users having any say, a "we know what's best" arrogance. I rarely get the chance to talk to people like that and I found the encounter quite worrying.

Labour are too far gone. A genuine broad church National party needs to see where the wind's blowing; embrace the best of conservative values, prioritise the people, the moral and responsible individual and strong resilient families and communities not big and multinational business and not divisive "progressive" policies. Trust the people policies, populism in the best sense of the word.

Odysseus said...

The new feudalism is what the WEF-Davos elites have in mind for us under the "Great Reset". Cardinal Gerhard Muller recently described its engine in the following term: "On January 29 (2021), the German prelate told Pentin that two sides — “profiteering capitalism, big-tech giants of Western countries” and the “communism of the People’s Republic of China” — are today “converging and merging into a unified capital-socialism,” producing a “new colonialism.” You will own nothing, your thinking will be controlled for you, you will be happy.

Ken Horlor @KHorlor said...

I'm getting déjà vu too. However, NZ needed reform in the 1980's. Problem was, the reformers didn't know how to do it. They had the right idea, but were poor on execution. However, you seem to imply that the current Labour government are perhaps just capitalising on circumstances. They can't be, they're not that foolish. What we are experiencing now is a global takedown, and the usual left/right divide seems to have little to do with it. There is a massive theft of middle class wealth and the entrenching of working class poverty occurring right now. Public health is the excuse for this, while social legislation is the distraction. I call this a global coup by elites.

greywarbler said...

Len Richards has ideas not just based on what someone else says. But of course where two or three are gathered together there must be some sort of communication. Silently communicating through feeling God's spirit personally doesn't get society far. That doesn't seem the answer to wisdom resulting in wise decisions of a practical and moral type.

I've just come across Johnny Harris' verve and opinions, and he says that as a devout Mormon he followed their ritual of not believing what you are told but praying to God for elucidation and direction. He has stepped away from the Mormon Church after thinking and feeling about its ways. I haven't finished watching the video yet. Listening and reading and thinking about what people are cogitating about needs time and mind allotted to it.

This from Len Richards - ...a new form of society based on those values of solidarity, community and creative personhood that you have identified above. Understanding the machine is the first step in successfully unleashing our rage against it. I think the first part is a good basis for our new approach. Going into rage doesn't work though, because understanding would show us our human propensities that have built or maintained what we are angry about. Regarding it as a failed human venture, we should set about doing things differently after we have identified the faulty thinking and path that has led us so far from what we need.

We compartmentaiise our thinking, our brains are apparently developed to do this with different parts handling different levels and types of thinking. We could start off personal or joint thinking sessions with agreement on the outcome we want, and making an agreement to assess the matter in each of the thinking processes and to submit to a time limit to enable all to speak, so we get a proper overview of our needs which would be summarised probably on paper (so tactile and uncompromising) and circulated immediately. Also I feel that later consideration and notes about those thoughts should lead to at least a conference call or video conference to share the deeper concerns or foreseen future problems. Which would be recorded and lead to another meeting for finality and decision, preferably face-to-face.

I am concerned at the machine-like, inhuman way that things are being considered now by some, and from others the emotional rage and victimhood dominating communicatiions. Both result in a less than optimum decision which doesn't produce the good outcomes that most of us want. It is time to stop stumbling towards the rainbow's pot of gold, science tells us I think, that the bow is a momentary happening, like joy and happiness, and other poaitive feelings and approaches are needed for the rest of the day's outcomes to be satisfactory. To do this we must benefit from the knowledge of how our minds work and always look at the larger picture and perhaps work to a grid of expectations so that we are sure we cover everything from all points of view, with an ideal quorum number and a mix of tendencies of thought, both humanistic and functional, and perhaps the query 'Is this going to have a good, sensible moral outcome'? That presents the direct responsibility to the participants.


Tom Hunter said...

Funny but I just the following up on DPF's latest rant about Trump. It's a quote from an essay published ten years ago, America's ruling class.

It starts with a quick review of the crap pulled during the GFC:
As over-leveraged investment houses began to fail in September 2008, the leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties, of major corporations, and opinion leaders stretching from the National Review magazine (and the Wall Street Journal) on the right to the Nation magazine on the left, agreed that spending some $700 billion to buy the investors’ “toxic assets” was the only alternative to the U.S. economy’s “systemic collapse.” In this, President George W. Bush and his would-be Republican successor John McCain agreed with the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama. Many, if not most, people around them also agreed upon the eventual commitment of some 10 trillion nonexistent dollars in ways unprecedented in America. They explained neither the difference between the assets’ nominal and real values, nor precisely why letting the market find the latter would collapse America.

The public objected immediately, by margins of three or four to one. When this majority discovered that virtually no one in a position of power in either party or with a national voice would take their objections seriously, that decisions about their money were being made in bipartisan backroom deals with interested parties, and that the laws on these matters were being voted by people who had not read them, the term “political class” came into use.

Then, after those in power changed their plans from buying toxic assets to buying up equity in banks and major industries but refused to explain why, when they reasserted their right to decide ad hoc on these and so many other matters, supposing them to be beyond the general public’s understanding, the American people started referring to those in and around government as the “ruling class.

He then points out that the old ruling classes in America did not actually have a lot in common beyond money:
America’s upper crust was a mixture of people who had gained prominence in a variety of ways, who drew their money and status from different sources and were not predictably of one mind on any given matter. The Boston Brahmins, the New York financiers, the land barons of California, Texas, and Florida, the industrialists of Pittsburgh, the Southern aristocracy, and the hardscrabble politicians who made it big in Chicago or Memphis had little contact with one another. Few had much contact with government, and “bureaucrat” was a dirty word for all.

The contrasts that with today:
Today’s ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints. Using the right words and avoiding the wrong ones when referring to such matters — speaking the “in” language — serves as a badge of identity.

And finishes by pointing out that the gap between this ruling class and the rest of America is greater than that which existed between Northerners and Southerners in the their Civil War.

The real question is how similar is our situation here in NZ. "Swordfish's comment - from a left-wing perspective it seems, suggests that we're very similar.

Jens Meder said...

Well, what then is the progressive way for our mixed (govt. and individual) capitalist Social Democracy ?

If it is widening prosperity in an honest, creative and egalitarian way, then is it not 100% (instead of the current barely 50% ?) of direct citizen participation in achieving at least a potential home ownership level of wealth ownership say, by the age of 60 by a larger proportion of citizens than under the status quo?

The increased economic security and productivity resulting from this more wealth creative increased savings and profitable investment rate will also enable better emergency welfare for the unfortunate few who for whatever reason are unable to reach the recommended level of wealth ownership - in a better sustainable way the more wealth reserves there are.

Or what other way of progress can there be ?

And yes, I think only blind and ignorant fanatics can think in favor of violent, destructive revolution.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Guerilla Surgeon.

Antiquated though Blogger's comments function may be, GS, it has the enormous advantage of being free-of-charge.

John Hurley said...

My kitten wrote that Chris.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"I expressed my concerns about the recent moves to remove direct democratic oversight in our health a water service providers. "
What democratic oversight? The ability to vote counsellors out? Like that's ever worked. Funnily enough, when it comes to water I put efficiency, and more importantly public health over a democratic oversight which never actually worked. Some city councils – not all – have made it pig's ear out of water, and I'd rather that didn't happen. I don't know if you've ever had Giardia, but it ain't much fun.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Free is good Chris. But at least I can post links. :) Merry Christmas.

John Hurley said...

"Its purpose is straightforward: to forestall the political mobilisation of neoliberal capitalism’s economic casualties by aggravating the racial, sexual, and gender issues dividing them."
Paul Spoonley
The thing which really annoys me at the moment is the way immigration is framed as a problem.It goes to Alis point [the arguments against immigration are unsustainable] It's a very simple and inaccurate response to what's happening in the world. We are globalising; we are part of a new era of globalisation and this country is actually transitioned into that, particularly with it's connections to the Pacific and Asia in a way that is quite impressive in many, many ways but at the same time we really need to reframe what is happening or provide an understanding and that's what frustrates me at the moment.

Our story of bus drivers reveals the existence of the proverbial elephant in the room. It shows that the living standards of the huge majority of people in rich countries critically depend on the existence of the most draconian control over their labour markets – immigration control. Despite this, immigration control is invisible to many and deliberately ignored by others, when they talk about the virtues of the free market. I have already argued (see Thing 1) that there really is no such thing as a free market, but the example of immigration control reveals the sheer extent of market regulation that we have in supposedly free-market economies but fail to see.
23 Things They Don’t Tell  You about Capitalism 

It is now market lead despite Michael Woodhouse saying "you have to remember that everyone coming here has been approved by the NZ Government (implying it is good for the country when the benefits are concentrated and the costs dispersed).

Karl du Fresne calls the media a cabal. I watched John Campbell's latest on anger and anxiety. These TVNZ programs have a social purpose and JC comes across as Brian Tamaki with deep guttural rumblings.
The purpose (as always) is to show that NZ has no dominant ethnic group (or get used to that). I'm reminded of Eric Kaufmann's Anthony D Smith saying majority ethnic groups are the architecture on which modern states are founded. One question arises in the no dominant ethnic group situation is "who is boss?". If the public ran immigration policy it would be their privilege to choose who comes here; the whole purpose of Meng Foon's silly outfit is to suppress that process. I follow an Indian friend on Facebook - and I ask myself what future NZ does he want. I loved the low population Grimes (on Q&A) called it "boring" and "Japan has 120 million and they're doing all right". I asked a Japanese boy at my house what he would do if he was rich, he gestured "this" (house and garden) and a 2 year old child cried when the parents got back to their dingy apartment.
Campbell ambushes Groundswell organisers with a picture of stop shoving Maori down our throats. He suggests that is racist horse shit.
They agree (reputational damage?). Yet no one can tell you why it is racist.
I think it is because language signals ethnic boundaries and society is ethnic. I.e every society has markers that tell us we are in our home territory. Race isn't the issue race signals a cognitive dissonance which can be unlearned easily, but this is not what Mai Chen and Spoonley are about. Their goal is a state boundary full of various ethnic groupings on a host European society.
What I am suggesting is white supremacy. As was suggested at the terrorism hui whites are an ethnic group like any other.

John Hurley said...

Hon SCOTT SIMPSON (National—Coromandel): Thank you, Madam Speaker. In rising to support the third reading of the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Bill on behalf of the National Party

So this is a bill that's all about freeing up land markets. It's all about property rights, actually. It's all about the ability of a property owner to free up the capital that lies currently buried on their back lawn. And I heard one commentator say that the answer to much of what is our housing crisis literally lies in our backyards, and this is what this bill is about: it's a bill that enables property owners to add an extra dwelling, two, or three on to an existing property. And, for many property owners, that's something that has been impossible to achieve, because there has been so much red tape. There have been so many barriers. There have been so many hurdles for them to overcome. So this is a piece of legislation that changes the balance of influence and power, if you like, from those who plan, restrict, and constrain intensification in our major urban cities to one where the presumption now is to build and to allow homes to be built. And I for one, and we on this side of the House, think that that is a good thing.
and slavery was about property rights. This law change is a disaster. Parker is a real POS.
He claims (as they all do) it is about choice. Just look at infill housing. They aren't just increasing the housing supply they are allowing housing from hell. How low will they stoop. Everything David Seymour argues for they oppose.

We compete with a "tsunami of migrants" (Winston Peters - Lisa Owen "should we even be reporting him?").

Erica Stanford
In a global war on talent, we need to have affordable homes so that we can attract quality migrant workers to this country.

Except that talent isn't the issue it is opportunity in a distant resource based economy [Michael Reddell]. The problem isn't anything to do with the strength of argument. They can ignore any dangerous idea if it gets minimal coverage while they control the MSM.

sumsuch said...

I remember, despondently, in reflection, anti-Vietnam, anti-nuclear, feminism, anti-apartheid, which ... delivered us Roger Douglas. It was as much a social reaction to Muldoon as his economic failure. And we got Douglas.

My first boss put me right in 86, Muldoon was more of a socialist than the new Labour Govt. We all knew on whose side they were from early on. Wasn't Muldoon's 'I love you too, Mr Lange' after the latter had been bullshitting on with conciliation in a TV debate in the 84 campaign the perfect statement of Labour's inauthenticity.

May I lay some laurels down for that boss since I've learnt he died this year. Wally Hotton was the union secretary of the Whirinaki wood mill in Hawke's Bay. I met him as my boss at his garden centre in Napier. He educated and mentored me.

Dinna throw out the baby with the bathwater. Like we did in 84.Not me, Muldoon called an early election, though if he'd have held off til November I'd've committed my only ever vote for the rich.

sumsuch said...

I have problems with Martyn's 'woke' and your new minted 'social liberal'. As so these cultural 'warriors' are an equal danger as anti-democratic forces from the ruling quantity for the last 40 years.

But let me go back to 84. TV camera shot of Dave Lange alone in the chamber. And he couldn't help himself looking at the camera nervously. And it reminded me of Robert Redford in 'The Candidate' after he'd been thoroughly trained out of his natural instinct. Upon being elected he called his campaign manager into a private room and asked 'what do I do now?'. Lange was a cut out figure.