Left in tatters.

datePosted on 12:14, September 21st, 2014 by Pablo

A while back I wrote a post arguing that the NZ Left was in serious disarray. Various Left pontificators fulminated from the depths of their revolutionary armchairs against my views, denouncing me for being defeatist. I responded as politely as I could.

Last night conservative, ring wing parties won nearly 64 percent of the popular vote. Left wing parties–such as they are given Labour’s pro-capitalist bent, the Green’s turn to the middle and Internet/Mana’s schizophrenic leanings–mustered 36 percent of the vote. The message is clear: New Zealand is a right-leaning country. Nearly 30 years of pro-market policy (an entire generation’s worth) has resulted in a country that no longer considers egalitarian and redistributive principles as hallmarks of the national identity. Instead, the turn to self-interest has seeped deeply into the social fabric.

That is the context in which the NZ Left must operate. That is the context that I was writing about in my earlier postings. And that is the context that we will have for the foreseeable future unless the Left learns to shift the terms of the political debate off of tax cuts, deficits, public spending, workforce flexibility and other pro-market arguments. So far it has not done so and in fact has often tried to operate within the context and political debate as given. Perhaps last night’s drubbing will make the Left realise that this is a mistake.

After all, those who define the terms of the debate are those who win.

In order for the Left to re-define the terms of political debate in NZ there has to be a plausible counter-argument that can compete with the language of austerity, limited government, non-interference and self-interested maximising of opportunities. This election campaign demonstrated that concerns about civil liberties, privacy, child poverty, environmental degradation, corporate welfare, predatory trade and other progressive cornerstones took a back seat to economic stability as defined by market ideologues.

Given that fact, the process of re-definition has to start there: basic definition of economic stability. One way to do so if to move off of the usual market analytics favoured by bankers and corporates and onto the social costs of an increasingly unequal division of labour. Because the price for market stability is seen in a host of variables that are not amenable to standard market analysis, yet which are as real as the glue sniffing starved kid living rough and begging for change on the increasingly mean streets of Godzone.

9 Responses to “Left in tatters.”

  1. Tiger Mountain on September 21st, 2014 at 13:07

    Good piece. This was a fork in the road election, there are now officially two New Zealands. Mana Movement’s ‘feed the kids’ used to be bread and butter for Labour but now makes the managerialists uncomfortable.

    Mana is an attempt to circuit break the left impasse with Māori nationalists, socialists and alienated young working together. Some Marxist sects (step forward Redline) do not consider such work useful to their revolutionary plans! The recent Internet Mana was effectively scuttled for various reasons too. So their are still left and right opportunism and deviations abounding.

    So long as National crib Labour policy such as the middle class welfare of WFF in work tax credit, paid parental leave and bennie bash they will remain the me generations choice. They safely cherry pick ACT policy too.

    Some union members had to be among those that party voted National. Apart from Unite and FIRST most unions are seen as insurance services for members not an organising centre. The teachers have staged some great pushback though.

    So the mild medium and hard left have to learn to work together or else. Labour’s spiteful joining in the attack on Hone Harawira has not gone down well with a number of us including those that are usually supportive of broad left unity. It will take some months of chewing through this but if history is any guide left unity around a non market framed future will remain the most elusive of goals.

    The thread linking John ‘XKeyScore’ with Dirty Politics, the NSA and the 2014 election has to be the TPPA and behind the scenes action.

  2. paul scott on September 21st, 2014 at 19:53

    How the centre left will lose convincingly in 2017, in my opinion
    Fundamentally the left are unchanging and determined that their way is the only way . That is not about to change. The left is resistant to change, it still believes in socialism and inequitable redistribution of income and assets.This is not just New Zealand, it is our commonwealth cousins as well.

    Pablo says
    Quote “The message is clear: New Zealand is a right-leaning country. Nearly 30 years of pro-market policy (an entire generation’s worth) has resulted in a country that no longer considers egalitarian and redistributive principles as hallmarks of the national identity. Instead, the turn to self-interest has seeped deeply into the social fabric. “ unquote

    You Socialist people are a monument to inability to change, to belief that even though 20% pay 80% it is still not enough. A family man should let his children have little , so that he can serve your insatiable redistribution schemes and take on the burden of your communist manifesto . It won’t happen. Times have changed irrevocably but you remain in the Marxist dream. Don’t feel bad Pablo, Trotter is worse, he says the left have to think, he can’t think at all, just the rhetoric .

    And also Pablo quote “Perhaps last night’s drubbing will make the Left realise that this is a mistake.” Unquote

    No chance Pablo. , if you go across to the foaming left at ‘the Standard’ the denial is in full force.
    All centre right comments banned of course. The first thing of the left is censorship and control
    was the corporate money that beat us, it was the bad weather, it was the people do not understand our policies, it was the greed and stu-pidity of middle New Zealand, the people are stupid rednecks, our man needs more time, they don’t like a parliament full of gays, they failed to understand are despicable and criminal hacks.
    All bullshit, ask middle New Zealand , even in Christchurch in the East where the pounding was insufferable , we still voted centre right.

    And quote Pablo “. This election campaign demonstrated that concerns about civil liberties, privacy, child poverty, environmental degradation, corporate welfare, predatory trade and other progressive cornerstones took a back seat to economic stability as defined by market ideologues.” end quote

    Strange how completely single minded the communists can be. The election was lost by Cunliffe, because
    :We don’t like him, he is a fake, his feet are planted firmly in the air, I mean the sand, it’s the shifting sand; CGT is a crock, just more tax ; we don’t see why we should pay people to have babies there are already 23 million in China, knock knock on the door Pablo, get ready for the 2017 thrashing.. we will sort out the corporate problems ourselves

  3. Pablo on September 21st, 2014 at 20:04

    Perhaps you are right Paul. It may take a generation for the NZ Left to find its footing and grow a spine again.

    But you should not get complacent. Besides the inopportune intrusions of events beyond National’s control (i.e., world history), your confidence is undermined by Mr. Key’s warnings against “arrogance.”

    What he really means by the word “arrogance” is “corruption,” and that rot has already set in.

  4. Carlos on September 22nd, 2014 at 08:28

    Pablo, we live in a wealthy society where the large majority of people are comfortable. To be able to govern them you have to provide stability as you rightly point out. Forget about theoretical re-defining arguments – just provide an alternative government that can provide prudent management. From there comes the ability to incrementally improve the lot of the 20% struggling in our land of plenty. Clark did it, it can be done again.
    Anything else (in normal times) will condemn the left to permanent impotent opposition

  5. Pablo on September 23rd, 2014 at 07:23

    Apparently someone by the name of Steven Cowan tried to post replies on this thread but they did not appear. He is now whining on Twitter that I did not allow his comment to appear, which is proof of my right-wing tendencies.

    If anyone knows this person, please inform him that it is likely his comments were sent to the spam filter and deleted by accident. That has happened before to others who have tried to comment and I have no say in the matter. He is welcome to re-send his comments, but really needs to check his preconceptions first.

  6. paul scott on September 23rd, 2014 at 19:08

    Thats right Pablo [Pablo on September 23rd, 2014 at 07:23 ] you are a right wing fascist in disguise we all know that, you are part of the massive conspiracy don’t worry Pablo I tell no one, no one.
    Maybe Steve should allow the centre right on his blog.
    Meanwhile over at Rhetoric Row, Chris Trotter thinks the Greens and NZF will take out the centre right, one more step into delusional obsolescence.

  7. paul scott on September 23rd, 2014 at 19:27

    Pablo, you love this joke. I write to Steve Cowan “Against the Current’ Christchurch Marxist, to tell him about you, I said intellectual, former academic, good place to find things out
    But he sends me to spam, like many Marxists columns do Thats the point. The Stranded and Daily Bog, and especially Steve Cowan censor vigorously, they are uninterested in discussion , they are beyond the pale, dead like poor old Trottersky, lecturing into the wind of a pompous rhetoric fart.
    They never get it Pablo. You can go across to Farrar, and he will print you. But banished are we at the sickling left, its the rigged election you see, it the media, its the bad winds, this is why we are going to win 2017. i have it all organised already

  8. The Ruminator :: Election 2014: Reckons Roundup on September 26th, 2014 at 10:47

    […] at Kiwipolitico wrote a short post right after the election: Left in tatters. He got right down to business, too: “Given that fact, the process of re-definition has to […]

  9. […] before and concluded after the 2014 election and can be found in chronological order here, here and here. There were plenty of people who disagreed with my take on things, with the most vocal detractor […]

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