Protesting a little bit too much

datePosted on 10:31, October 23rd, 2009 by Lew

21clarkyoungnats_smallDPF published two posts yesterday about prominent lefties comparing righties to fascists: Minto comparing Bush to Hitler and Amin, and Carter comparing Key to Mussolini. I agree with him that both comparisons are entirely unjustified, and do a great disservice to political discourse in this country.

But without taking away from that, let’s not forget that David, his commentariat, his blogging cohort and indeed some of his ideological allies have spent most of the past decade making political hay by comparing Helen Clark to various dictators. David was central to the Free Speech Coalition whose billboards protesting the Electoral Finance Act evoked Mao Zedong and Frank Bainimarama; he wrote a weekly column entitled ‘Dispatch from Helengrad’, perpetuating the Clark=Stalin syllogism; his blog permits and tacitly endorses the almost daily comparison of left-wing political figures to tyrants; his closest blogging acquaintance Cameron Slater has constructed his political profile almost entirely of such cloth. The National and ACT parties themselves have a very large portfolio of such comparisons — from the Young Nats publishing the famous image above, to Heather Roy talking about the Clark government’s ‘feminazi’ welfare agenda to Bill English’s frequent comparisons of the Clark government to the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe, both in the House and in the media. And how could I forget John Banks — former National party cabinet minister and now Citizens & Ratepayers Mayor of Auckland — whose public comparisons of Clark to Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot and references to her as the ‘Chairman of the Central Committee’ among others only ceased when he decided to run for Mayor and they were no longer politically tenable. To say nothing of the foaming of various branches of the libertarian and objectivist movements, who are admittedly further from National than Labour are, but nevertheless have been occasional allies of convenience. Although typically less egregious than Carter’s and Minto’s comparisons, these are all the same in principle. The difference is one of magnitude, not of type. And the very worst examples of the type are exclusively from the right.

I should imagine that many of those who engaged in these sorts of attacks on Clark and her government but who are wide-eyed with mock outrage now that the shoe is on the other foot believe (to themselves if not in public) that the former comparisons were rooted in reality, while these latter are not and so are not justified. This demonstrates a phenomenal absence of political or historical perspective: Clark, like Bush, was removed peacefully from office by the ordinary process of democratic action, and the comparison of their programmes with those of the named dictators simply does not bear comparison, and it is disrespectful to history to draw it. David is right to point out that Labour are wrong for stooping to the level of National and ACT and their less-savoury constituents, but that does not erase the initial wrongness which spawned it, and in which he played a role.

L

[Edited to add Banksie and the libertarians to the list of offenders, and add the image at top.]

30 Responses to “Protesting a little bit too much”

  1. Robert Winter on October 23rd, 2009 at 10:46

    I think that the ‘tags’ list says a great deal, and has to be one of the most eclectic I’ve seen for some time. As far as Mr Farrar – Matthew 7:5.

  2. Lew on October 23rd, 2009 at 11:09

    Heh, yes. I have a policy of adding anyone I name in a post to the tags, so that they can google themselves and easily find out what’s being said about them, and so that others can easily see what else I’ve said about people )historical or otherwise).

    L

  3. gingercrush on October 23rd, 2009 at 11:41

    Of course they’re protesting too much. When the other site does something its always too much. Whether that is a political scandal, personal attack or merely a policy change. The partisans from the other side will go all in blazing. It may well be hypocritical, but hypocrisy always occurs in politics.

    I see another side to things as well. The blogging left have over this year (may well be other years but I’ve only been going to political blogs for a year) have a holier-than-thou attitude where they sincerely believe they don’t engage in the types of personal attacks the right do. Indeed, one often sees references to posts the right have made blasting that blogger or bloggers that participate in such behaviour. Often times its true that the right too frequently displays homophobia, mysoginistic behaviour and other behaviour etc. But when the left also displays certain behaviour similar to that. They the left bloggers can no longer be holier-than-thou. Essentially that is what Chris Carter has done. But what makes his situation worse is that he is a MP not a blogger.

  4. Lew on October 23rd, 2009 at 11:53

    GC, yes, this is just the natural progress of politics in 2009 Nyu Zillun, as is my response.

    I think there is a greater deal of self-delusion on the left than on the right, and that’s a damned shame, because a political movement which claims among its bedrock values valuing cultural and ethnic diversity, tolerance of homosexuality, acceptance of feminism, and sober reflection on the evils of the past as a means of informing the future has really lost its way when it begins to adopt antithetical tactics. While they may be beneficial in the short term, they ultimately undermine the very foundations of the movement, and that’s a false economy. Ejecting John Key from government would be no great victory if it endorsed and normalised the sort of propaganda we’ve seen here.

    And as for Carter being an MP, not a blogger — this is nothing new, either. It’s only new for Labour.

    L

  5. Pascal's bookie on October 23rd, 2009 at 12:15

    Anyone seen any defence of Carter’s post from the left?

  6. Lew on October 23rd, 2009 at 12:19

    Bookie, other than Graeme Edgeler’s ‘WTF, it was a joke, jeeze’ which I don’t think counts as either a defence or from the left, nope.

    L

  7. Pascal's bookie on October 23rd, 2009 at 12:28

    Moral high ground then !!

    ;)

  8. Pascal's bookie on October 23rd, 2009 at 12:42

    doh! Found one.

    ‘ratbiter’ on the Standard thread.

  9. [...] of Caliban seeing his own face in the glass Filed under: blogging — danylmc @ 12:58 pm Lew at Kiwipolitico points out the rich irony of DPF and the rest of the right-wing bloggers taking offense at Chris [...]

  10. Eddie Clark on October 23rd, 2009 at 13:50

    Carter’s joke was dumb at the very best, and Minto is generally crazy.

    As you say, Lew, this may simply be a change due to the right being in power rather than the left for the first time in the viable lifetime of the blogosphere, but I genuinely think there ARE fewer examples of people in the mainstream left being offensive in this way.

    Stephen Franks did dog-whistle (heh) comparisons between same-sex marriages and marrying dogs during his campaign in Wellington central. Farrar, as representative of mainstream, respectable right as it is possible to be, indulged in the behaviour you outline above while also fostering the most vile bigotted comments section you could hope to find.

    You may be right, and part of New Zild 09 could be a shift in the axis. If so, it’d be sad. But right now, to use the blogosphere as an example, I can’t think of a largish right blog which has the same sort of relatively calm discussion and disagreement you see here and at PA.

  11. Tim on October 23rd, 2009 at 15:54

    Yep, it’s a case of apparent leftists/liberals lowering themselves to the black & white world of the right-wing blogosphere/commenters.

    This is a sadly common thing; the left insulting the right by ‘lowering’ themselves to their level. I’m usually adverse to the leftist elitest thing but here I think it’s very true. There’s so few rational right-wing conservatives round these days that I can afford to make a sweeping statement that the right uses such hollow/immature tactics.
    ourselves at least) that the left sees the world as more holistic and less black and white are as such more rational and less prone to revert to the offenses and tactics we’re talking about.

    Anyway the real reason for this comment is to digress on Eddie’s note and thank this site’s posters for their high quality discussion. I know of no other NZ site that really has this (although I’ve never really delved into PA). So thanks!

  12. Scott Yorke on October 23rd, 2009 at 16:28

    Carter was an idiot for posting what he did, and Minto very rarely says anything sensible.

    I voted for Carter as my electorate MP last year, and I’m starting to have buyer’s remorse. Though to be fair, it was him or Trev’s mate Tau Henare.

    Some of the comments to DPF’s posts (I know, what did I expect? But I just had to look…) are much viler than anything Carter and Minto have ever said.

    And homophobia and racism are rampant on the site. I’ve heard before that we shouldn’t judge DPF by the quality and comments of his “guests”. And yet he continues to enable this awful behaviour while openly attacking others who say inappropriate things.

    I don’t know if people on the left are more polite. All I know is most of the major right-leaning blogs in this country are open sewers.

    Kiwiblog may be one of the only major blogsites in NZ where dad4justice and Redbaiter are still allowed to post. Says it all, methinks.

    I endorse what Eddie said about this site and also PA.

  13. Graeme Edgeler on October 23rd, 2009 at 16:45

    Stephen Franks did dog-whistle (heh) comparisons between same-sex marriages and marrying dogs during his campaign in Wellington central. …

    Not really. The statement was made in a select committee while he was an ACT MP. He was then asked about it on the campaign trail by a lefty, in front of a group of lefties, and didn’t resile from it. One of the lefties uploaded it to YouTube.

    Carter was an idiot for posting what he did, and Minto very rarely says anything sensible.

    The thing is – and a lot of people were saying it on Kiwiblog – that piece of Minto’s was sensible. The reaction to the Auckland students’ stunt was out of all proportion.

  14. Scott Yorke on October 23rd, 2009 at 19:52

    The thing is – and a lot of people were saying it on Kiwiblog – that piece of Minto’s was sensible. The reaction to the Auckland students’ stunt was out of all proportion.

    Yes, but then he ruined an otherwise sensible comment by comparing Bush to Hitler.

  15. Ag on October 24th, 2009 at 06:56

    Yes, but then he ruined an otherwise sensible comment by comparing Bush to Hitler.

    I’m going to defend this in a limited fashion. While I don’t think comparing Bush to historical authoritarian leaders is politically smart, it isn’t completely ridiculous either (although, as ever, Hitler complicates things). It shouldn’t prevent us from publicly acknowledging the radically authoritarian nature of a lot of current right wing politics.

    Some posters up above have mentioned that the left blogs rarely descend to the sheer level of nastiness, irrationality and vitriol that occurs on Kiwiblog, for example.

    Then we’re told that it’s wrong to accuse such people of being fascists. But what if they are? Under what conditions would it be acceptable to say, as I believe, that many contributors to Kiwiblog are more or less fascist personalities (go read a thread there, and tell me they aren’t). It might be politically inconvenient to say, but it’s true nevertheless. It’s nutty to call John Key an authoritarian, but many of his most strident supporters (and many of his critics from the far right) are (FTR I don’t think Farrar is).

    People on the left and moderates tend to try to uphold the Enlightenment belief that all human beings are rational, and that free and open debate will eventually win the day for the side with the best arguments and evidence. But we all know that this isn’t really true. The last three decades have seen a resurgence of a radical authoritarian right that simply isn’t interested in arguments, but in pushing through its agenda by force of will. New Zealand has fortunately escaped this (except in the blogosphere), but it has poisoned US politics, where the right is now openly crazy (you really have to see this up close to realize how nutty it is) and European politics with the increasing profile of right wing authoritarian policies (Britain is not immune, as the BNP have demonstrated). US domestic politics currently resembles the New Zealand blogosphere, except that it is probably worse.

    Now we’ve all heard the excuse that both sides have their extremists, but the science doesn’t bear it out (and if we were honest, neither does everyday experience). Research on authoritarianism demonstrates that in western countries it is almost wholly a right wing phenomenon and that it is increasing. Of course the right wing response to this is to say that it’s all a liberal conspiracy, but it should be noted that the paranoid style is a feature of authoritarian politics (although it is by no means exclusive to them).

    As the lead researcher in the field says, “We ignore this at our peril”. For example, advocation of violence against Obama has moved from the dark corners of the internet and is now regularly being dog whistled by mainstream media outlets with a right wing bent.

    Of course there were some in the left blogosphere who did the same for Bush, but it’s important to note when they did it. Such sentiments were virtually non-existent up until 9/11, and quite rare until he started invading countries on false pretences (not to mention the torture, the undermining of democratic practices, invasions of privacy, and so on). Even then none of the mainstream media outlets ever came close to advocating violence against Bush.

    Obama hasn’t done anything other than inherit a bailout and propose a very very weak health care reform bill, and there have been a constant stream of threats and talk of armed revolt and corresponding dog whistles on Fox and in the right wing media, not to mention actual incidents of violence by right wing extremists (the “fanatic” Cindy Sheehan never did anything like that).

    Now it’s nowhere near as bad as this in New Zealand, but our local nuts do seem to have taken heart from the success of their diabolical brethren.

    No matter how many times people try to push an equivalence, it just doesn’t hold water. There is a dangerous irrational and authoritarian streak in contemporary politics, and it happens to be on the right. Ignoring it isn’t necessarily going to make it go away, and neither are accepted forms of politicking. My guess is that the left simply doesn’t know how to deal with it, and so they are trying to pretend that the old ways of democratic politics will work. I have some sympathy, because I have don’t have much of an idea either. What I do think is that business as usual is unacceptable.

    I’m not being absolutely partisan here, because this has actually happened on the left in the past. If blogging had been available in the 1960s, you would have seen left wing bloggers espousing extreme Maoist or Guevarist denunciations of conservatives and advocating open violence against them. That was, after all, the decade that produced the RAF and the Weather Underground. But those people are almost all gone. There is no radical authoritarian left in western countries any more, and there has not been for a very long time.

  16. Lew on October 24th, 2009 at 09:16

    Ag, a characteristically excellent comment. I don’t have time for a full response (logistics around taking not-yet-one-year-old camping) but I do have a few bullet points:

    * To a very large extent ‘fascist’, ‘communist’, etc. have become propaganda terms shorn of any objective or useful discursive meaning. Whenever you use them, you become vulnerable to hyperbolic critique, even if, in strict terms, your usage is historically justified against an original meaning. Their only modern use is as propaganda terms — or at least, people tend to read propaganda affect into them, and they poison the discourse as a consequence of that. The words just don’t mean what they once did. We need new words.

    * There’s an important difference between drawing a parallel between political movements and political figures; the figures are at the core of the propaganda use of these terms, so it’s nearly never useful. In addition, where it’s polemically useful to make a comparison, it’s almost always due to extreme hyperbole.

    More when I return.

    L

  17. Ag on October 24th, 2009 at 17:07

    * To a very large extent ‘fascist’, ‘communist’, etc. have become propaganda terms shorn of any objective or useful discursive meaning. Whenever you use them, you become vulnerable to hyperbolic critique, even if, in strict terms, your usage is historically justified against an original meaning. Their only modern use is as propaganda terms — or at least, people tend to read propaganda affect into them, and they poison the discourse as a consequence of that. The words just don’t mean what they once did. We need new words.

    Oh I agree completely. I prefer to use “authoritarian”, as it has some scientific backing.

  18. Ruth on October 24th, 2009 at 17:51

    Re the libertarian and objectivist movements – I have strongly opposed their verbal inflation for many years now.

    Unfortunately the libertarian movement has in the past (and I hope it is in the past) taken an opportunist position to stir up all kinds of intra class and political hatred.

    Folk who continue to do this, like Lindsay Perigo, the Crusader Rabbit fellow KG, and others who worship the likes of Glenn Beck, have long since forfeited any claims to legitimate and well thought out opinion.

    The only thing they are doing is showing the world how uncivilized and ignorant they are.

    I very much hope that Peter Cresswell will speak out against such people in the future.

  19. Bruce Hamilton on October 24th, 2009 at 20:48

    The blogosphere exists to pander to the deluded and demented with agendas. It’s just the new Usenet, with the same whines, eg Godwin’s Law still applies.

    The posters at Kiwiblog are not people who would have used a soapbox to capture and influence a crowd in the pre-Internet days, but those disaffected souls who would have only muttered darkly into their beers surrounded by like-minded mates.

    It’s no surprise that “political” and “news comment” blogs feature strongly in Tumeke’s top 20 sites, because casual reader/participants are morbidly curious about “the other side”, thus provoking either kneejerk ( eg Kiwiblog ) or considered ( eg KP ) discussions.

    Some commentators on popular blogs are effectively schoolchildren throwing sticks and stones, with some curious bystanders offering support. The performances partly contribute towards the blogs’ popularity.

    Aside from the instances when MSM picks up an item, the vast majority of the public aren’t aware of, or care about, this boorish corner of the Internet.

    The blogosphere is unlikely to affect the public’s perceptions anything like as much as the MSM, especially radio ( eg ZB as the local Fox equivalent ), and the print media ( eg columnists ).

    We shouldn’t overestimate the significance of the blogosphere, it’s entertainment that at best can be informative. Whether uncontrolled media ( blogs, facebook, twitter ) will completely replace MSM is still debatable, because some users may want accuracy.

    The fact that Kiwiblog provides a defined haven for such boorish people should be applauded, as it’s easy to avoid.

  20. Ag on October 25th, 2009 at 06:44

    The blogosphere is unlikely to affect the public’s perceptions anything like as much as the MSM, especially radio ( eg ZB as the local Fox equivalent ), and the print media ( eg columnists ).

    Have you looked at the Herald’s “Your views” lately or listened to talkback? The far right loons are by no means unrepresentative of New Zealand.

    I very much hope that Peter Cresswell will speak out against such people in the future.

    Given that he’s a Randian, that would be unlikely. If you fall for that, you’ll fall for anything. Ayn Rand is like philosophy for three year olds.

  21. Bruce Hamilton on October 25th, 2009 at 08:23

    Have you looked at the Herald’s “Your views” lately or listened to talkback? The far right loons are by no means unrepresentative of New Zealand.

    My point was that the blogosphere was not likely to affect the public’s perceptions, not that far right evangelists are hidden or locked away.

    I would suggest that Fox NZ radio ( ZB ) may be relying on the inertia of audiences of centralist presenters, as Radio Live seems to be capturing audience, and appears to be more political centralist. Maybe the public have got the right-leaning govt that they wanted last year, and now they don’t like what they see, pity there’s no rational alternative…

    As for any radio talkback representing typical NZers, not around me. The people I encounter daily are rational, polite, and don’t obviously froth at the mouth.

  22. Tom Semmens on October 25th, 2009 at 11:55

    Yep, it’s a case of apparent leftists/liberals lowering themselves to the black & white world of the right-wing blogosphere/commenters.

    Now, this touches on an important aspect of the left wing response to the right, because it is based on an assumption that the left wing is essentially composed of middle class, university educated people who are progressive in outlook and left wing in the abstract.

    It occurs to me the left in New Zealand is making the same mistake the left made in the US and Britain. The “left” is now essentially made up of middle class liberals, standard bearers of the existing social democratic orthodoxy. They assume the right is open to a rational discourse, that amongst them only a few incorrigables exist and the rest are open to compromise within the framework of existing socio-political structures.

    To my mind this is a fundamental mistake. The hard-right in New Zealand is a highly radicalised and ideologically violent group of revolutionaries who seek (ironically) to use Leninist ideas of the Vanguard Party to seize control of the state for their interest. they are heavily influenced by American hard-right ideology peddled through pay TV channels like Fox and U.S. hard right blog sites, and seek nothing less than a Palinesque rejection of truth.

    To me that the correct response to right wing political violence from the likes of the ACT party is for the left to confront them on the streets, in the blogsphere and in their hideouts – where are the angry anti-ACT deomstrations at their annual conference? How come John Whitehead can talk to cosy business breakfasts without someone throwing shoes at him? The left needs to become more militant, less respectful of state institutions and it’s law and more interested in forcing change than defending the status quo. It is not “lowering” yourself to engage with people using the same verbal weaponry.

    But I suspect that the comfortable Generation-Y on-line leftwingers of the People’s Republic of Grey Lynn don’t have the bottle to take on the hard right. The middle class always betrays the workers.

  23. Tom Semmens on October 25th, 2009 at 13:06

    My point was that the blogosphere was not likely to affect the public’s perceptions, not that far right evangelists are hidden or locked away.

    Except that the media is hollowed out now. Most journalists simply get their news from the court, the AP wire or interviewing their browser. Take today for example, when ZB is running it’s lead news story with a David Farrar beat-up about labour polling. The right has raised using extremists on the web to plant stories and run talking points that they can then launder into the mainstream debate to a sophisticated political tactic.

  24. Paul McBeth on October 25th, 2009 at 14:17

    Cwikey – doing me daily scan of the scene I came across DPF’s response to his hypocrisy… and shows why he’s still lord of the blogs in NZ.

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2009/10/the_mussolini_story.html

    Giving a nod his “humourous” lampoons of historical dictators’ hypothetical support for Miss Clark, the launch into what Carter should’ve done at the end of his post to leave a lasting impression (and provide an insight as to what the best method is to infer some kind link between various despots and today’s target) was absolute genius.

    It may be hard when you’re a supporter of the guvmint top show off your wares, but I’m glad to know we’ve a propagandist of DPF’s quality in God’s Own…..

    PB.

  25. andy on October 25th, 2009 at 14:48

    COLUMBUS, Ohio – People with relatively extreme opinions may be more willing to publicly share their views than those with more moderate views, according to a new study.

    The key is that the extremists have to believe that more people share their views than actually do, the research found.

    http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/majopinion.htm

  26. Tim on October 25th, 2009 at 17:50

    Now, this touches on an important aspect of the left wing response to the right, because it is based on an assumption that the left wing is essentially composed of middle class, university educated people who are progressive in outlook and left wing in the abstract.

    I never suggested this and certainly do not believe it. What you seem to be suggesting is that only the educated middle-class and above have the ability to be rational and think more holistically about the world (and thus naturally leading to leftist ideas). This is misguided and borderline elitist (educated people can have the worst politics in fact).

    Maybe I’m mistaken but you also seem to place the same value in immature dictator comparisons as you do in anti-ACT protests. The former is lowering yourself to the right’s level, anti-badpolicy initiatives are not.

  27. Bruce Hamilton on October 25th, 2009 at 19:04

    … Take today for example, when ZB is running it’s lead news story with a David Farrar beat-up about labour polling.

    My understanding is that the Herald on Sunday first reported the Labour polling behaviour, and David Farrar picked it up and researched a little further.

    Given that David Farrar also has expertise in political polling, his comments could justifiably be sought by MSM at the same time they are asking Labour to explain.

    The problem is Labour’s alleged behaviour, as reported in the HoS, not the opinions of NZ’s resident cesspit stirrer being used by MSM. National should pay Labour for their well-timed and effective distractions.

  28. Quoth the Raven on October 25th, 2009 at 19:36

    Orwell’s words on fascism bear repeating:

    It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley’s broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else.

    Yet underneath all this mess there does lie a kind of buried meaning. To begin with, it is clear that there are very great differences, some of them easy to point out and not easy to explain away, between the régimes called Fascist and those called democratic. Secondly, if ‘Fascist’ means ‘in sympathy with Hitler’, some of the accusations I have listed above are obviously very much more justified than others. Thirdly, even the people who recklessly fling the word ‘Fascist’ in every direction attach at any rate an emotional significance to it. By ‘Fascism’ they mean, roughly speaking, something cruel, unscrupulous, arrogant, obscurantist, anti-liberal and anti-working-class. Except for the relatively small number of Fascist sympathizers, almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. That is about as near to a definition as this much-abused word has come.

    But Fascism is also a political and economic system. Why, then, cannot we have a clear and generally accepted definition of it? Alas! we shall not get one — not yet, anyway. To say why would take too long, but basically it is because it is impossible to define Fascism satisfactorily without making admissions which neither the Fascists themselves, nor the Conservatives, nor Socialists of any colour, are willing to make. All one can do for the moment is to use the word with a certain amount of circumspection and not, as is usually done, degrade it to the level of a swearword.

  29. Ag on October 25th, 2009 at 22:26

    Now, this touches on an important aspect of the left wing response to the right, because it is based on an assumption that the left wing is essentially composed of middle class, university educated people who are progressive in outlook and left wing in the abstract.

    I don’t think this is a good assumption at all. The people you speak of certainly honk the loudest, but the left is a big tent. You’ll find among working class people plenty of left wingers and moderates. What you’ll find less often is people who care about identity politics (and the people who care about that are the university educated middle classes).

    It occurs to me the left in New Zealand is making the same mistake the left made in the US and Britain. The “left” is now essentially made up of middle class liberals, standard bearers of the existing social democratic orthodoxy. They assume the right is open to a rational discourse, that amongst them only a few incorrigables exist and the rest are open to compromise within the framework of existing socio-political structures.

    This is true.

    To my mind this is a fundamental mistake. The hard-right in New Zealand is a highly radicalised and ideologically violent group of revolutionaries who seek (ironically) to use Leninist ideas of the Vanguard Party to seize control of the state for their interest. they are heavily influenced by American hard-right ideology peddled through pay TV channels like Fox and U.S. hard right blog sites, and seek nothing less than a Palinesque rejection of truth.

    This is also true.

    To me that the correct response to right wing political violence from the likes of the ACT party is for the left to confront them on the streets, in the blogsphere and in their hideouts – where are the angry anti-ACT deomstrations at their annual conference? How come John Whitehead can talk to cosy business breakfasts without someone throwing shoes at him? The left needs to become more militant, less respectful of state institutions and it’s law and more interested in forcing change than defending the status quo. It is not “lowering” yourself to engage with people using the same verbal weaponry.

    Unfortunately, some of this you just can’t do.

    I’d urge you to read some of the social psych stuff on right wing authoritarianism. Research shows that descent into physical confrontation and violence tends to make people lean further to the authoritarian side. It’s like throwing fuel on the fire. You can see this in the extreme response of authoritarians to police beatings of protesters.

    About the only thing I can think of is a “deep capture” of the political system by anti-authoritarians, whereupon the capturers spin a complicated web of laws, rights and regulations that make it very difficult for RWAs to intervene in the political system. Since RWAs think that is happening anyway, might as well make it true. Their one weakness is that they are generally more respectful of perceived bad laws than most of us, so changing the law and prosecutions for promulgating hate might well be the best option.

  30. StephenR on October 26th, 2009 at 09:57

    To me that the correct response to right wing political violence from the likes of the ACT party…

    What?!

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