Brogressives and fauxgressives

datePosted on 14:51, June 27th, 2009 by Lew

Chris Trotter doesn’t want to debate, which is good, because there’s really no point to it – his arguments and mine are at cross purposes because we differ on a key point: whether support for independent self-determination for power minorities is necessary to call oneself a ‘progressive’. Chris doesn’t think so. As far as he’s concerned, Māori self-determination is a nice idea, so long as it doesn’t try to take a different line to the honkey Marxist agenda which he misdefines as ‘progressivism’. If that were the case, then this “well-meaning but misguided political naïf” would need to turn in his cloth cap. But progressivism hasn’t ever just been about the white working classes dictating the political agenda to other power minorities; it’s never held that the needs of all power minorities be crushed by the worker solidarity agenda. That’s why my previous post was directed at the “Marxist left”, not at the progressive movement. I’m ok with not being part of that clique – comfortable, as Danyl Mclauchlan said, having no ideological flaws that a few decades digging canals in Fiordland wouldn’t set straight.

The progressive movement has been about power minorities supporting each others’ political agendas against those who would keep political power in the hands of patrician elites. Diversity is a political strategy. You should support peoples’ right to make their own political decisions, even if you disagree with those decisions, because if you don’t you could find support for the right to make your own political decisions to be somewhat lacking. So while Chris is playing the No True Scotsman game, I can play, too: if you don’t support the rights of indigenous people to determine their own political destiny, you’re not a progressive. More in the nature of a slogan: if you’re not a brogressive, you’re a fauxgressive.*

Until we can come to some sort of sense on this matter there’s no point in continuing the discussion. Chris, by his repeated denial and denigration of indigenous rights to political self-determination, criticising the independence of the Greens from Labour, and in denying that women ought to be free from sexual predation as of right, seems well on his way to becoming one of those conservative baby-boomers which are the subject of his latest column. For shame.

Edit: I withdraw and apologise for the redacted paragraph above, as a response to Chris’ justified complaints about my conduct here. This wasn’t up to the KP standard, and I’m sorry for that. I’ve replied to Chris in the comments of his thread on the hope of more meaningful engagement.


Meanwhile, Relic and Imperial Zeppelin have posted good responses to my last post on this matter, which are worth responding to and which I think neatly illustrate the problems I have with this sell-out / kupapa / brown tories / haters & wreckers line of argument.

Imperial Zeppelin, first:

Where do the Maori and Labour Parties come into the equation? Both these political entities may well claim to advocate on class and/or race issues, but do they?
[...]
It would appear reasonable to expand on Marty Mars’ statement and contend simply that race and class issues (along with all the others) will not be resolved as long as you leave the resolution to others; never mind others who are beholden to interests inimical to class, race, gender and environmental interests.

I both agree and disagree, but this gets to the nub of the matter: power minorities need to drive their own political agendas. My view is that while neither the Labour party nor the māori party perfectly represent their nominal constituencies, they are nevertheless best-placed to advocate for those constituencies. Nobody else can do it for them; the degree of their success or failure will or ought to be be reflected in their electoral support.

Relic:

how about a quote from V.I. Lenin to back up the bus a little-“politics are the concentrated expression of economics”

This is precisely what’s wrong with the Marxist approach. Going back to a higher authority than Lenin, I consider politics to be the ‘master science’ – the discipline which governs which other disciplines are considered worthwhile. Far from being just economics, it encompasses religion, morality, ethics, war, epistemology, identity, history, actual science and more to boot. Politics is how people organise themselves in society. There are many referents of political identity, and it is for each individual to choose their own primary identity. Marxists who say it’s only economics tend to be those who, ironically, care mostly about money and the power which it brings.

The Maori Party is led by the likes of Prof. Winiata and embodies the hierarchical inclinations of certain tribal elites.

And the Labour party doesn’t embody the hierarchical inclinations of academic and public servant elites? Let’s not pretend that any party in parliament is actually a workers’ party – in the democratic systems we have, credible political vehicles are by necessity elite-dominated. So all you’re saying is that you prefer elites of one flavour to those of another.

The capitalists via their primary parliamentary representatives National/ACT recognise the need to embrace the large and growing Maori economic sector, unlikely to be sold off overseas at this stage, and needing to be diverted from potential co-operative (socialistic) forms asap. Yes, there is the parliamentary numbers game but it is not the main prize as I see it. Getting Maori to embrace the colonisers kaupapa-private property relations, is.

This is a much better point, but (like other criticisms of the māori party, it rests on two false premises: first, that Māori don’t know what’s best for Māori; and second, that Labour are substantially better.

Second issue first. With the Foreshore and Seabed Act, Labour did more damage to Māori access to resources, mana whenua status, equality before the law and collective resource control than any government of any colour had done for the better part of a century. The passage of that act was the most recent shot fired in the war of colonialism, which told Māori that they were not entitled to due process and redress in law, as other citizens were; that they had no right to even try to assert mana whenua rights to historic resources no matter how strong their claim; and that hapū-level ownership was not an option. And all this from their historic allies, whom Māori had supported without fail for generations.

It’s not that Labour had no choice, as they and their apologists claim – they had the choice of losing and retaining their principles and the loyalty of Māori, or winning without either. They chose the former, before the gauntlet was properly thrown down at Orewa, and subjugated tino rangatiratanga to political expedience, forcing Māori to once again lie back and think of Ingarangi in service of the ‘greater good’ which served the Pākehā majority. That was Labour’s decision to make, but the expectation that there would be no consequences was simply absurd, and speaks to the level of entitlement Labour felt it had to Māori loyalty. The māori party, more than anything else, was founded to demonstrate that government needs to earn the support of Māori, rather than enjoy it as of right, use it, and abuse it as convenience dicatates. So far it is doing that, though whether it will do so in the long term remains to be seen.

Many objections to the māori party decision to side with National focus solely on the losses, ignoring the possibility of gains or arguing that National have no intention of fulfilling any of their undertakings. It is true that National’s policies will probably inflict more acute economic harm on Māori in the short term, but there’s more to intergenerational indigenous politics than small-scale tactical gains and losses in economics, and the calculus is that short-term losses may be worth it for long-term gains.

The integrity of the tino rangatiratanga movement is just such a strategic gain. The first big test of the māori party’s strategy comes this Tuesday, when the Foreshore and Seabed Act review panel reports its recommendations to Chris Finlayson. Further tests will come in the next year as National and Labour begin to bid in earnest for the brown vote, supposing Labour begins to campaign at all. Even if the māori party is turfed out off parliament in 2011, if they have raised the importance and profile of kaupapa Māori politics such that no party in the future believes they can act as Labour did in 2004, they will have succeeded.

As for the argument that Labour policies help Māori because most Māori are working class and Labour policies help working class people, therefore all Māori should. This is simply a reverse ‘rising tide lifts all boats’ argument. The point is that Māori have different needs and, under the Treaty framework, different entitlements to the rest of the working class. A political movement which treats Māori simply as brown proles ignores this historical reality, and is an insult to all those who have fought for recognition and redress.

On to the first issue. After generations of relying on Pākehā elites to redress the abuses of the land wars and following, a group of Māori leaders have taken it upon themselves to develop a principled strategy to find redress by their own means. Some Māori have supported them, and if they fail to make progress toward that redress, or do so by sacrificing other, more important things (such as the kaupapa of collective ownership) then the party will (or should) lose that support. This is fundamentally the point: the decision as to whether the calculus described above is worthwhile for Māori is for Māori to make, not for “well-meaning but misguided” honkeys who want to co-opt the politics of tino rangatiratanga as part of their worker solidarity movement.

Self-determination is a fundamental component of liberty. If you approve of political self-determination only for those movements which serve your own political ends, you’re little better than the Iranian clerics, for whom any political candidate is acceptable, as long as they’re a Shi’a fundamentalist. Let a thousand political agendas bloom; that is the liberal way.

L

* With thanks to Melissa McEwan, whose blog is well and truly open for business again.

30 Responses to “Brogressives and fauxgressives”

  1. ak on June 28th, 2009 at 02:25

    Aaaah Jeez, here’s no MARXIST LEFT, Lew; don’t give succour to scum by attacking your brother.

    Wee anecdote for ya: on this very last sunny Wednesday morning here in quintessential Godzone I gave Christine a ride home to her ultra-tidy flat (actually not far from where your dad might have stayed many moons ago Lew) – her bulging bags from our foodbank too heavy to lug for such a dissipated soul, thought I – and as we travelled I endeavoured to undo the damage wrought by my erstwhile and apparently purely-motivated fellow co-ordinator (and CHRISTIAN beyond reproof – his dedication proven by selfless deeds over many years, yet still, tragically, wantonly and excessively enamoured of the MAAAAAARI adjective and far too accepting of the occasional use of even – yes I kid you not Lew – the “N” word from his peers), and invited her to the Kaumatua Te Reo classes held every wed not 50m from her home; knowing full well she’d never attend, as her close relly had two years earlier fallen out with the long-gone previous committee for the venue.

    Infighting, Lew, who needs it – if you genuinely want to help those at the bottom, remember that Chris is the very last portal of progressive thought in the MSM – and the MSM is the sole informant to the crucial 10% who determine our governance. Kneecap Chris and you abet a regime of depressing regression: wouldn’t you rather a promising Dawn? ;)

  2. Ag on June 28th, 2009 at 14:07

    This is precisely what’s wrong with the Marxist approach. Going back to a higher authority than Lenin, I consider politics to be the ‘master science’ – the discipline which governs which other disciplines are considered worthwhile.

    If you are referring to Aristotle, he doesn’t really believe that. Bloody useless political scientists always say this, but forget to read Chapter X.

  3. Luddite Journo on June 28th, 2009 at 15:06

    Hey Ak,
    I’d have to ask if Chris Trotter can remain a portal of progressive thought when he continues to attack Maori who want to organise first and foremost as Maori and women who continue to seek to define and combat our own experiences of oppression, even when that means challenging men who we share many other political beliefs with.
    Because, let’s face it, criticising Maori sovereignty and feminism remain staples of the portals of less-than-progressive thought.
    I admire Chris Trotter’s brain. I don’t admire his blindspots around race and gender.
    Thanks Lew for this, you’ve crystallised many issues for me which have been swirling around for quite some time.

  4. SeaJay on June 28th, 2009 at 17:39

    Its the rationalism luddy j
    Murray the Party and the ParkHeres – concepts and bodies as such – are both anathema to the brotherhood of man/women/mixed.
    Anybody?

  5. Lew on June 28th, 2009 at 18:36

    ak,

    To put a finer point on what LJ says, if Chris Trotter is the last bastion of progressivism, then progressivism has failed. Of course, he isn’t, and it hasn’t.

    The line of argument I make comes at least in part from my family’s history, as you know. Think of your part in that broad history and reflect on whether tangata whenua being shut out in the cold, again, by their historic allies, supposedly in the name of progressive solidarity is not an oxymoron.

    Lest this be taken as blank anti-Labour sentiment, or as tacit support for National: it isn’t. I voted for Labour in 2008, and I dearly hoped for a win. In other words, I hoped Clark and Cullen and Horomia had gotten it right, and that they could continue to rely on Māori despite treating them as cannon fodder in a cynical competition to see which side could be the most egregious neo-colonialists. They misjudged, but I sheet no blame home to the māori party for this misjudgement.

    Power in democracy is a means to an end; it is not an end in and of itself, and a victory which requires a progressive movement to sacrifice its principles, betray its allies and pander to the most regressive elements of NZ society is hollow. Labour made their choices and took their chances; the short-term euphoria of the 2005 election victory will now be offset by a long and costly process of reinvention, as Labour re-establishes the dominance of its loyalty to principle over its need for power. This is as it should be.

    Ag,

    Aristotle might not believe it (arguable; the end of the Ethics always seemed to describe a feedback loop more than an outright rejection of the ‘master science’ principle) but I do believe it, and nevertheless it makes a handy appeal to authority in counter to those who quote Lenin’s pronouncements about political economy with a straight face.

    LJ,

    Thanks. It frustrates me to have to make the arguments again and again, but there it is.

    L

  6. ak on June 28th, 2009 at 22:36

    Fair enough Lew – the old “principle vs pragmatism” bone will be around forever I reckon. And very healthy it is too. Yes, Trotts is provocative, but there’s no need to bite quite so hard (and you and LJ both missed my crucial qualifier, viz “…in the MSM”)
    The Alliance hari-kari put me firmly in Chris’s camp, but last year proved that erring on the side of realpolitik is no sure bet either. Just a crying shame that MP didn’t hold the balance of power – like you I hope they now embark with gusto to foment a bidding war (but dread the very real possibility that NACT will reach for Orewa One again whenever it suits).

    You both always make excellent points with great eloquence: keep it up, but do try and stick to the points – as opposed to pointing the stick, if you know what I mean. Nothing sadder or more destructive than infighting (and yes, I agree he started it – no excuse!)

  7. More in Sorrow than in Anger: To Lew at Kiwipolitico…

    Lew at Kiwipolitico disagrees with my stance on the Maori Party – fair enough. One of the truly great aspects of the Internet is that through websites and blogs such as these it really is possible to let a “thousand schools of thought contend”. And i…

  8. Chris Trotter Versus Lew | BK Drinkwater on June 29th, 2009 at 09:10

    Chris Trotter Versus Lew…

    What did KiwiPolitico’s Lew do to Chris Trotter in a past life?…

  9. Paul Williams on June 29th, 2009 at 11:03

    Although this discussions gotten a little too hot, it’s still meaningful and, once tempers cool, perhaps it’ll continue?

    Back earlier, it was about the strategy of the Maori Party entering into an arrangement with government. I’d always understood Chris’s criticism to be about the apparent irreconcilability of the agreement with various other indicators of Maori political expectations – current and historical. On this, I understand and somewhat agree. It has to be acceptable for non-Maori to be criticise and comment on Maori politics. I am interested and affected by what the Maori party does and may even share some of the same objectives. Therefore, I want to discuss whether they’re more or less well served by Turia et al. Doing so does not deny their right to independent political influence.

  10. if you’re progressive trotter – then ia am a parsnip…

    There is quite a battle on at the moment. In one corner is Chris Trotter and the latest here, in the other is Lew from Kiwipolitico. I think BK Drinkwater sums it up well on his blog where he says,…

  11. GC Martin on June 29th, 2009 at 13:26

    A little assist please..

    Blogger ‘Lew’ wrote:—

    The progressive movement has been about power minorities supporting eac(h) others’ political agendas against those who would keep political power in th(e) hands of patrician elites

    Is this a strictly kiwi thing..? If so, illustrate in political party terms..

    I’m interested because at several recent blogs here I have noticed an absence of MBO and how it – rather than strictly political methods – enables the so-called patrician elites.

  12. Lew on June 29th, 2009 at 13:32

    GC,

    Forgive me – what is MBO?

    L

  13. GC Martin on June 29th, 2009 at 14:02

    Management By Objectives..

    I see it here in local government’s policy line/s of rule by exception/s.

    It is, way back, corporate aimed (Randians etc), implemented and politically influencing.. political power gives access/control of lines to/from Treasury and thereby the primary objective for MBO’s alter ego ‘business as usual’..

    You’ll realise how exception/s enable least necessary to attain and sustain the gain(ing) of power. An implicit dynamic that replaces (certainly in corporate leadership terms) any large effort. And/or cost.

  14. Relic on June 29th, 2009 at 16:02

    Lew, you can argue a class analysis is not applicable to the MP if you like. However certain facts confront us: the majority of Maori in addition to their cultural status, and pakeha for that matter, along with more recent arrivals, are exploited workers, or small business operators (incl. trusts etc) in turn exploited by finance capital. So there is a commonality there. But I discern your view really is that if Maori choose to be capitalists then that is up to them and the rest of us should butt out.

    It is breathtaking to read you casually predict that in the short term Maori will likely be worse off under National/ACT/and yes, MP government but it will be “worth it”. This is more than polemics up here in Te Tai Tokerau with a near 50% maori population, finance companies such as failed Geneva caused havoc, marketing people into all sorts of debt. He Korowai Trust in Kaitaia is kept busy dealing with the fall out from mortgagee sales of people stuck with mortgages that Housing corp sold off in bulk under a previous (National) Govt. and the settler descendants are still largely in denial. So the leadership or otherwise provided by the MP is important. Credit here to H. Harawira who does a good job of politically organising people in the Far North who had previously been substantially ignored for years.

    However the Maori party is a contest of ideas as are other parliamentary parties. The Maori Party does not represent all Maori bar by implication and desire any more than the other parliamentary parties that claim to, represent all New Zealanders. The MP by virtue of its recent actions looks rather bourgeois influenced at this stage, albeit while supported by many very non bourgeois people.

    All oppressed groups have generally to make a key strategical decision-who is the main enemy?. Is it pakeha? the ‘Crown’?, men?, corporates?, the cops and security forces? the Labour party? Maori are surely not exempt from this decision given the initial expropriation of Maori land by the then British ruling class that has shaped the recent history of this country.

    Unite all who can be united around agreed goals is the position of the genuine marxist, this does not negate independent struggle or initiatives by any other group.

  15. Lew on June 30th, 2009 at 10:22

    Thank you for your interesting comments and reasoned tone, perhaps in spite of mine. Sorry this response has been a long time in coming :)

    Paul,

    Back earlier, it was about the strategy of the Maori Party entering into an arrangement with government. I’d always understood Chris’s criticism to be about the apparent irreconcilability of the agreement with various other indicators of Maori political expectations – current and historical.

    This critique is false if you accept – as I argue people should – that the people who should ultimately bear responsibility for determining the Māori political agenda are the Māori and nobody else. Those who support self-determination should allow Māori political leaders to represent their people, take their chances, make their mistakes and develop as other parties have done. Otherwise it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: Māori remain politically disengaged and incompetent because they’ve never had the opportunities to develop that competence and engagement. I’m just saying: they have a mandate from (some of) their people: let them exercise that mandate, and defend their right to exercise it.

    It has to be acceptable for non-Maori to be criticise and comment on Maori politics. I am interested and affected by what the Maori party does and may even share some of the same objectives. Therefore, I want to discuss whether they’re more or less well served by Turia et al. Doing so does not deny their right to independent political influence.

    It does if you presuppose – as most of the economic left in NZ does – that their utility is the same as yours, and criticise them on the basis that their actions don’t serve those purposes. That is: your purposes.

    This is the crux of the problem: all the rhetorical critique around the māori party’s decision to ally with National is framed in “for their own good” terms, which is false on two levels: first, it’s the same paternalism which has failed Māori for seventeen centuries already; given that failure it is churlish to suggest that Māori should continue to rely on proxies to further their political agenda. Self-determination is just that; it might result in some wrong decisions, but at least they’re their wrong decisions.

    Second, it does nothing more than lay a patina of altruism over the usual sort of Pākehā working-class self-interest; the Labour party and its supporters are mostly angry at the māori party because they see then as traitors to the Labour tradition, and their cooperation with National makes it harder for Labour to regain power. Simply put: it’s more convenient for Labour if Māori remain their political clients, rather than agents in their own right. Likewise the Greens, who are similarly seen as traitors for daring to work with anyone other than Labour. This ‘traitor’ rhetoric isn’t just suggested or implied – it’s made explicit.

    GC,

    Management By Objectives..

    Thanks. I wondered if that was what you meant but wasn’t sure, because unless I’m misunderstanding, it’s irrelevant to the case in point. There is no centrally-organised ‘progressive’ movement which can define objectives and set roles, and little cooperation between parties at the strategic level, significantly due to mistrust and competition between parties.

    Relic,

    Lew, you can argue a class analysis is not applicable to the MP if you like.

    That’s not what I’m arguing at all.

    I’m arguing that Māori should be those choosing which analyses are relevant to their political agenda. Currently the only philosophically Māori political agenda is defined by the māori party – they are the only party with a political philosophy expressly rooted in kaupapa, and the only party whose stated principles (not their conduct, mind) haven’t been subjugated to another political-philosophic agenda. This is the reason for the small m – it’s māori meaning “normal” rather than meaning “the Māori people).

    You’re welcome to put a class analysis on it if you like – but realise that it might be as useful as a Christian analysis of Marxism – missing the point somewhat.

    It is breathtaking to read you casually predict that in the short term Maori will likely be worse off under National/ACT/and yes, MP government but it will be “worth it”.

    Again, you misunderstand. The point in principle is not that it will be worth it, it’s that the calculation of whether or not it will be is not my decision to make, nor is it yours. If it turns out the be a bad decision, then the māori party will need to answer their electorate. But it’s important to note that non-economic factors are relevant here; symbolic progress leads to material progress, and at least one big issue is due to report back to the minister today – the Foreshore and Seabed. Most of the Marxist left sees the Foreshore and Seabed as a dead letter because (they think) it doesn’t result in the means of production being returned to the people; but Māori generally do not, they see it as an issue of sovereignty, of recognition, and as a resource which they can turn to economic or cultural or whatever advantage they like, at hapū level. This is only one demonstration of why it’s impossible to equate the two agendas.

    All oppressed groups have generally to make a key strategical decision-who is the main enemy?. Is it pakeha? the ‘Crown’?, men?, corporates?, the cops and security forces? the Labour party? Maori are surely not exempt from this decision given the initial expropriation of Maori land by the then British ruling class that has shaped the recent history of this country.

    The ‘enemy’ is colonialism. This is largely represented by the Crown, but also by people who would strip Māori of their political agency in order to retain them as political clients.

    Māori are in a particular bind because they don’t have the choice of simply refusing to treat with the Crown, or opposing it by force – they have committed to working within the legitimate and established framework of Pākehā law and the political process, even though it is heavily biased against them, because they recognised long ago that blind opposition was not going to be productive. The māori party is largely carrying on that tradition, working with whomever is in power, because, ultimately, National and Labour both represent the Crown first, and the ideological left and right second. This wasn’t always seen as being so, but with Foreshore and Seabed Labour put and end to that.

    L

  16. GC Martin on June 30th, 2009 at 13:25

    well now, Lew, that was some assist.. I’m wondering how long it will take you to realise your more than “misunderstanding” position..

    You say: There is no centrally-organised ‘progressive’ movement which can define objectives and set roles, and little cooperation between parties at the strategic level, significantly due to mistrust and competition between parties.

    Well known, accepted and trade-off-able among interested others of whom you appear to have no interest whatsoever.

    But then I’m running the blindside of the political fractionation you espouse to try illuminate diversity’s dilemma.

  17. Lew on June 30th, 2009 at 13:36

    GC,

    I often regret that I’m a fairly wordy and linguistically obtuse person, but I just can’t parse that comment.

    Are you arguing that the left (case in point) should collaborate? I agree! The problem is the extent to which it is possible and appropriate for people to stow their agendas in service of common goals, and indeed the extent to which goals are genuinely held in common.

    L

  18. GC Martin on June 30th, 2009 at 15:09

    Let’s say I’m arguing the parliament collaborate.. they do already.. to an extent or other… but as supposed reps of the people they could effect a whole lot more.. instead of bickering about (to the likes of me) bugger all!

    Getting power (btw I’m remain curious about your term “power minorities”) over several years through 2008 may have been a method: dispensable now however in light of enzed’s overall vulnerability.

    This is not to threadjack, you follow, merely to respond to points arising..

  19. Lew on June 30th, 2009 at 20:50

    GC,

    Let’s say I’m arguing the parliament collaborate..

    Let’s say you are. How? How to reconcile complex and often conflicting agendas between competing actors and the causes they represent? And then there’s the matter of those outside parliament…

    I don’t mean to be dismissive, but opaque management jargon only gets you so far.

    L

  20. Hugh on July 1st, 2009 at 00:05

    Lew

    If this is the case, why does the Maori party ask for and actively solicit pakeha votes? Why does it explicitly deny that it only wants support from Maori voters?

    What legitimate reasons does a pakeha voter have for not giving the Maori party his/her vote? Given that it’s not our position to judge whether or not they’re being effective?

  21. Lew on July 1st, 2009 at 08:18

    Hugh,

    If this is the case, why does the Maori party ask for and actively solicit pakeha votes?

    It doesn’t, really. It has only stood candidates in the Māori electorates, in which only Māori can vote, and the campaign for the party vote in 2008 was an afterthought which emerged after they decided they couldn’t trust the Greens on a tactical voting bargain; given the overhang, it was made pretty clear by the media that a party vote would be wasted, which is a strong explanation for the Māori electorates’ party votes going to Labour as the best of a bad bunch while the electorates mostly went to the māori party candidates. The party makes much of the fact that anyone can be a member or a supporter, but in fact only Māori have actually been able to vote for them and have their vote really count.

    What legitimate reasons does a pakeha voter have for not giving the Maori party his/her vote? Given that it’s not our position to judge whether or not they’re being effective?

    You’ve misunderstood. Judging effectiveness is one thing – arguing that they don’t have a mandate to represent their constituents’ wishes on the basis that you don’t think it was effective is another. The former is perfectly necessary; the latter is colonialism.

    I think there are Tau Iwi, or Māori not on the Māori roll who would vote for the Māori party if they were able to usefully do so – people who think the philosophical basis has something to offer; indigenists like me who want a less colonialist government; people who recognise that the low base of economic achievement and high levels of social dysfunction among Māori mean there is great potential for improvement; and so on. I’m not sure I would vote for the māori party, but I certainly know other non-Māori who would.

    L

  22. marty mars on July 1st, 2009 at 12:20

    I’m still not sure – if general voters gave their party vote for the maori party and they achieved an overhang would they they get more MP’s into Parliment?

    If yes – then the maori party have some good work to do to create the case where all voters can exercise their choice. If no, then the maori party have to consider adding maori party options to the general electorate.

  23. Lew on July 1st, 2009 at 12:49

    MM,

    I’m still not sure – if general voters gave their party vote for the maori party and they achieved an overhang would they they get more MP’s into Parliment?

    Yes, they could. Not an overhang; just a standard MMP list entitlement (whereas an overhang is what happened in 2008 when māori party voters gave their party vote to other parties). But that would be a big achievement and require a consistent and focused campaign, which they didn’t attempt to run until very late in 2008. It was also well-understood (much put-about by the Greens) that a party vote for the māori party was a waste. I think their best option would have been to stick with the vote-splitting agreement they made with the Greens, though I haven’t done the numbers on that, and it was a risky move which could have damaged the party’s perceived independence from existing ideological lobbies.

    I think they will quickly become dissatisfied with standing only in the māori electorates. The long-term (perhaps extreme-term) purpose of the māori party is to normalise kaupapa Māori politics sufficiently that it can stand alone, without need for those seats. That will require a shift in focus from the Māori electorates to the party vote, and probably campaigns in general seats as well. I think we will see them run a campaign of voter education about tactical voting, the threshold and the overhang in 2011.

    L

  24. GC Martin on July 1st, 2009 at 20:27

    Lew (or L, whichever),

    I don’t mean to be dismissive, but opaque management jargon only gets you so far.

    Why should I believe the first part when the second part of your sentence makes it obvious you seek excuses not to answer my question…?

    must try harder, Lew…

  25. Lew on July 1st, 2009 at 20:58

    GC,

    Why should I believe the first part when the second part of your sentence makes it obvious you seek excuses not to answer my question…?

    Sorry, the question sort of got lost in my confusion about what the hell MBO had to do with the price of tea in China. I assume it’s this:

    Is this a strictly kiwi thing..? If so, illustrate in political party terms..

    No, it’s not. It’s a function of how so-called “progressive” and “democratic” and “liberal” movements (broadly speaking, they’re often used as synonyms, even if they don’t really mean the same thing) back general diversity, decentralisation and anti-authoritarian agendas in the service of wider liberal ideals. Promoting, as Popper suggested, a political environment in which liberal or progressive ideas and movements can flourish; or indeed, outside which they cannot easily flourish.

    L

  26. Idiot/savant on July 8th, 2009 at 12:22
  27. Hugh on July 8th, 2009 at 14:54

    You’ve misunderstood. Judging effectiveness is one thing – arguing that they don’t have a mandate to represent their constituents’ wishes on the basis that you don’t think it was effective is another. The former is perfectly necessary; the latter is colonialism.

    So have I missed something? Has Trotter (or anybody else for that matter) claimed that the Maori party MPs should all resign? Because that’s what it seems you’re talking about when you accuse people of saying the Maori party don’t have a mandate to represent their constituents.

    I suspect the real disparity here is between definitions of their constistuents. I expect that, for the purposes of this statement, you view the Maori Party’s constituents as being all Maori, not just the people who live in the electorates that have elected Maori MPs. Would that be correct?

    You’re saying that it’s legitimate to question whether or not the Maori Party’s being effective, but this seems to be a step back from your position in the post. You say, and I quote, that the idea that ‘that Māori don’t know what’s best for Māori’ is a ‘false premise’.

    Here’s where that takes us.

    I, a pakeha, say the Maori Party are not effective.

    We can presume Maori voters voted for a party they felt was effect; that was the Maori Party.

    I am telling Maori that they don’t know which parties are effective.

    I am telling Maori they don’t know what’s best for Maori.

    I should shut up.

    Also, I note on re-reading that you feel that Maori voters in electorate seats give their party votes to Labour, not out of any genuine affection, but out of cynical belief that Labour is the ‘least bad’ pakeha party. This is an interesting point, but I wonder why you feel that they wouldn’t instead give their votes to The Greens? The Greens generally have policies that are closer to The Maori Party’s on indigenous rights issues and have a greater proportion of Maori MPs than Labour do. Surely the Greens would be a far better candidate for ‘least bad’ than Labour?

  28. Lew on July 8th, 2009 at 21:12

    Hugh,

    So have I missed something?

    Apparently so, judging by the remainder of your comment. I’ve posted on this before and explained my position at length; it’s hardly ambiguous. Nevertheless, what follows is quite a fulsome reiteration.

    Has Trotter (or anybody else for that matter) claimed that the Maori party MPs should all resign? Because that’s what it seems you’re talking about when you accuse people of saying the Maori party don’t have a mandate to represent their constituents.

    He (and other white-man’s-burden-bearers) hasn’t called for them to resign in so many words, but terms like ‘brown Tories’ (I think ‘Hori Tories’ works better for propaganda purposes, but that’s by the by), ‘neo-tribal elites’ and most egregiously Trotter’s ‘kupapa’ get bandied about all too cheaply by people who claim to represent the downtrodden. The discourse of certain quarters of the Marxist left is often freighted with the inference that, by daring to ally with a party other than Labour, the mãori party are traitors to their people. It’s that sort of criticism I take issue with – not the sort which argues that the mãori party haven’t extracted sufficient concessions for their support. I tend to agree with much of these arguments, though I’m also more patient than most, and more trusting of the mãori party, and I have a different angle on what constitutes success for them (more on which shortly).

    I suspect the real disparity here is between definitions of their constistuents. I expect that, for the purposes of this statement, you view the Maori Party’s constituents as being all Maori, not just the people who live in the electorates that have elected Maori MPs. Would that be correct?

    This is a very good question, and to answer, there are several different (overlapping) types of representation in play here. The first is the strict form of democratic representation – an elected MP or their party represents those people who voted for them, or it. In this regard, the mãori party does only represent those who voted for it or one of its MPs, and Labour can rightly claim to represent a large number of Mãori on the grounds that it got most of the party vote in the Mãori seats and (more anecdotally) most of the Mãori party vote in the general seats.

    There’s another form of representation in play, and that’s representation of identity. This is much more problematic than the former kind, but nevertheless it does exist to some extent. The mãori party claims the right to represent all Mãori by privileging the matter of cultural identity over the matter of class identity (and, come to that, the matter of individual identity). It is the only party whose policies and actions are all (nominally; whether they are or not is a fair argument which is yet to be had) based in tikanga Mãori, and its MPs renew their mandate at both tactical and strategic levels frequently by recourse to traditional governance structures such as hui which are open to everyone on the Mãori roll, not just mãori party voters (a group which would be impossible to verify in any case). So inasmuch as there is a ‘Mãori’ political perspective, and inasmuch as that perspective matches the mãori party’s kaupapa, it can, I think with some legitimacy, claim to represent it. However the basis in tikanga is only part of the mãori party claim to be the genuine representatives of the Mãori political interest – the other is the party’s independence. Whatever else you might say, the mãori party by aligning with National has demonstrated that it is nobody’s political possession, something that no Mãori political grouping has previously managed to do. Therefore, a tikanga-based perspective is for the first time not generally subjugated to or reliant upon a larger political agenda – the class struggle, or the needs of capital, or the environmentalist movement, or whatever.

    The importance of this fact is yet to be felt; the bidding war hasn’t really begun yet. At present the party’s role and strategic purpose isn’t so much to advance policy as it is to normalise Mãori politics and advocate for Mãori-ness as ordinary or usual – in the original sense of the word ‘mãori’. The purpose isn’t to change the policy; it’s to change the policy framework. Once the framework is changed, tactical gains can come all the more easily. Whether you think it has much chance of success is another thing – but I believe it should be given every chance to do so, and that it is churlish and near-sighted of the left to oppose such an agenda out of spite and selfishness.

    This spite gives rise to a dispute as to which referent of identity should take precedence: Labour and its fellow-travellers want to minimise the Mãori referent in service of a wider working-class agenda; the mãori party want to emphasise Mãori-ness. My problem is with the so-called progressive or liberal movement presuming that they can dictate which referent of identity is appropriate; to see Mãori interests as purely economic and class-oriented is a position of abject ignorance as to what Mãori themselves claim they need, and have consistently claimed for centuries.

    The difference in perspective is also illustrated by their policy focus. Labour and its supporters see no value (for themselves) that wider agenda of normalising tikanga Mãori politics and so they criticise the mãori party for failing to extract tactical concessions which they would value, missing the whole point that Mãori needs can never be wholly met within a foreign paradigm. In my view, if members of that movement genuinely believe they share common interests with Mãori they should be embracing and employing the diversity which the mãori party brings, rather than trying to crush it under their workboots. Further: I believe if they fail or refuse to do so and continue to alienate their most loyal support base, the liberal or progressive movement in NZ will perish, or at least will spend a very long time in purgatory. Of course, success has a thousand fathers; if the mãori party proves useful the mainstream left will come to embrace it in time. I already see Labour partisans trying to take credit for the Foreshore and Seabed Act review panel’s excellent work.

    You say, and I quote, that the idea that ‘that Māori don’t know what’s best for Māori’ is a ‘false premise’.

    More specifically, it’s a moral hazard for Pãkehã, however well-intentioned, to be making decisions about what constitutes the Mãori interest. This isn’t to suggest that Mãori must make all their political decisions in a vacuum, but that the final decision ought to be left to them, rather than someone else with a different (often conflicting) agenda.

    Your logical progression fails on being too absolute. Critique and engagement isn’t binary, it’s complex; there are ways which aren’t colonising. It also gives the sense of being a bit huffy that your exalted wisdom isn’t needed, another common feature of patronising whitey-knows-best discourses which infantilise Mãori by assuming that without your guiding hand, the poor dears would be lost in the wilderness. At the risk of mixing metaphors: after more than 170 years, it’s time to take the training wheels off.

    Surely the Greens would be a far better candidate for ‘least bad’ than Labour?

    I would have thought so, too, and on this basis I think the mãori party ought to have persisted with their vote-splitting accord with Green. That electors didn’t vote with Green goes to show just how loyal Mãori are to Labour, in spite of the Foreshore and Seabed Act and its antecedents. A cynic would say it’s like Stockholm syndrome, or battered wife syndrome. Of course, the captor or husband in those analogies would say that it’s for their own good – which is precisely what they are saying.

    L

  29. [...] movements to the lunatic fringe. I have myself used a similar rhetorical device before, notably in critique of Chris Trotter’s class-and-only-class dogma. But I didn’t go so far as to insist that [...]

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