The Final Fifth: The Last Great Task for Progressive New Zealand.

By   /   November 1, 2014  /   24 Comments

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In 1932 rioting broke out in all of New Zealand’s major cities. In Dunedin a hungry crowd ransacked Wardell’s – a high-end food emporium. In Auckland Special Constables were sworn in to maintain order after thousands of enraged unemployed workers smashed the plate-glass shop fronts of Queen Street and looted all they could carry away.

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MOST OF NEW ZEALAND’S social problems are concentrated among those living at the margins of what is otherwise a relatively wealthy society. Recently released international data on child poverty has exposed an acutely stressed social strata encompassing roughly 20 percent of the nation’s population. Most of these New Zealanders are young, brown, indifferently educated and lacking in readily marketable skills. A significant number are supported by the State, but many others support themselves through part-time jobs paying at or below the minimum-wage. Some will supplement their meagre “official” income through various kinds of socially stigmatised and/or criminal activity such as prostitution and drug-dealing. Maintaining traditional family structures under such stress is further hampered by a critical shortage of affordable housing, inadequate public transportation and declining levels of unskilled and semi-skilled employment. The heaviest burden falls upon single mothers. It is estimated that approximately 180,000 children are being raised in circumstances of serious material, emotional and cultural deprivation.

Eighty-three years ago an even larger percentage of the New Zealand population lived in poverty. In 1931 the Great Depression had cast tens-of-thousands of families into circumstances of acute hardship. Nearly a quarter of the workforce was unemployed. Everywhere small businesses were failing. The banks and mortgage companies were throwing farmers off their land. Even those lucky enough to have a job were subject to frequent and arbitrary wage reductions. The trade unions were powerless to help. One third of the country was desperate. One third was under stress. And the remaining third lived in fear of the rest.

In 1932 rioting broke out in all of New Zealand’s major cities. In Dunedin a hungry crowd ransacked Wardell’s – a high-end food emporium. In Auckland Special Constables were sworn in to maintain order after thousands of enraged unemployed workers smashed the plate-glass shop fronts of Queen Street and looted all they could carry away. At the Devonport naval base, ratings armed with 303 rifles and machine-guns waited for the order to suppress the rioting by deadly force.

The government of the day – a coalition of rural conservatives and urban liberals – reacted to this unprecedented expression of social despair by passing the Public Safety Conservation Act (which allowed for the indefinite suppression of democratic norms) and by deporting as many able-bodied unemployed male workers as possible to work-for-the-dole labour camps in the countryside. By 1933, a terrible, sullen, silence had descended upon New Zealand. But, underneath that silence, there was a grim determination – extending across all social classes – to bring these hateful conditions to an end.

These are just some of the vivid tales contributing to the Great New Zealand Myth. That enduring narrative concerning the collective struggle for social justice and social progress which culminated in the election and re-election of the First Labour Government. Like all great myths it is characterised by expiation, catharsis and the eventual emergence of a new consensus about what and who we are. A happy ending – of sorts.

Fast-forward 83 years and what has become of the Great New Zealand Myth? There is much about it that remains unchanged. As a nation we are still susceptible to appeals for social justice, still ready to make social progress. But there are differences also. The very success of the Welfare State that Labour brought into being has given rise to some very different expectations.

Poverty carries no stigma when everybody is poor. Quite the reverse. Deprivation visited upon a community through no fault of its own tends to develop tremendously strong bonds of solidarity and the willingness of share and co-operate. Indeed, it was, precisely, these virtues of solidarity and co-operation that made the changes of the First Labour Government possible and which allowed them to endure.

But a welfare state – especially one underpinned by a bi-partisan commitment to full employment – slowly but inexorably changes people’s perception of poverty. When the state has given everyone access to health care, affordable housing, and an education to the fullest extent of their powers, then poverty ceases to be regarded as a collective curse and becomes, instead, evidence of individual failure.

And if, to this general impatience with “welfare dependency” one adds the prejudices of a comfortable Pakeha majority all-too-easily provoked by people of different colours and cultures, then that marginalised 20 percent of New Zealanders still in the grip of poverty ends up being despised as useless mouths: parasites as underserving of decent citizens’ pity as they are of the State’s succour and support. It’s why progressives no longer talk about poverty per se. “Child poverty” is what you’re forced to talk about when general compassion for the condition of those children’s parents is all tapped out.

Buried deep in the former white working-class’s antipathy to “bludgers” and “welfare cheats” is an unspoken but politically crucial question: ‘Why don’t you people do something about your situation?’ Their class memory informs them that there was a time when their parents and grandparents faced exactly the same problems as today’s poor. The big difference, they tell themselves, is that their forebears did something about it. They joined unions. The went on strike. They rioted in the streets. They formed their own political party. They won state power. They changed the rules. They got out. ‘So, what’s stopping these buggers?’

Nothing. And that’s the point. The First Labour Government created a society in which anyone in possession of a good enough brain, a strong enough will and a big enough dream is free to escape from their family’s cash-strapped condition. In the 1930s, the powers-that-be had built a brick ceiling over the working-class. Those who were smart and ambitious had to be smart and ambitious not just for themselves but also for their class. Eventually, these working-class leaders assembled the necessary tools and muscle to smash through the bosses’ brick ceiling and erect the ladders up which their “aspirational” offspring could climb into a new and very different world.

To a considerable extent it is this that explains the bottom 20 percent’s political inertness. In a proportional electoral system there is little doubt that a roused “underclass” would very quickly force the rest of society to address its problems. So, where are the Harry Hollands, the Mickey Savages, the Peter Fraser’s of today? Where is the Maori, the Pacifica, John A Lee speaking for todays “Children of the Poor”? Well, most of them, being free and clear of their origins, don’t need to. They did not have to make a revolution to get their children up and out. That’s why they’re lawyers and doctors and business-people. The underclass is in their past, it’s not their future.

The stubborn fifth of social dysfunction at the base of New Zealand society thus imposes a huge responsibility on the lucky four-fifths of those New Zealanders smart and skilled and lucky enough to be at least a few pay-checks away from the lethargy and despair which so quickly disempowers the victims of poverty.  So, if there is one last, important political mission for progressive New Zealanders, then it is surely this: to fulfil the role once played by the best and the brightest of a working-class offered no means of escape. To read Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals; to assemble a veritable army of “community workers”; to preach the gospel of getting up-and-in to all those who are presently down-and-out. To stay among the poor and marginalised for as long as it takes. Until the wonderful day dawns when the people they have come to break out of poverty’s prison tell them to: “Fuck off! We can do this ourselves.”

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24 Comments

  1. peter aka sleepy hobbit says:

    Too many young kids are not “indifferently educated” but are indifferent to education. The Welfare state has been too successful and offers a career path to young girls through motherhood and to young guys by hooking up with those on the DPB. Okay so far I’m just attacking the victims but this group does exist.
    What has been the State’s role in creating this poverty? Beginning with Rogernomics the State has systematically sold the assets of the working class (so called State assets) Assets built by generations of working class New Zealanders and used to provide employment for working class kiwis. The State has unilaterally ripped away trade protection opened our markets to the (Asian) world and stripped the working class of a huge mass of employment especially in the manufacturing industries replacing the dignity of labour with the indignity of welfare. The State has attacked and diminished the role of trade unions an attack that continues this very day. And finally the State has put a lot of resource into ‘helping’ long term unemployed return to the work force. Why? They want the under class to be a constant but changing group to stifle the development of a class consciousness that might lead to the sorts of action in the past that Chris has often reminded us of.

    • Richard Christie says:

      All very good comment except for

      And finally the State has put a lot of resource into ‘helping’ long term unemployed return to the work force

      The State has embrassed the economic tool of an entrenched and systemic pool of unemployed and underemployed.

      The State doesn’t genuinely put resources into shifting long term unemployed into the permanent work force. At best, the coercive and often brutal tools used to move people of welfare dependence results in temporary removal from the unemployed ranks into insecure work, or worse directly to poverty. Temporary engagement in low value employment doesn’t magically imbue those in these situations with a feeling of being valued or of engagement in society.

      Systemic unemployment is a indispensable tool of neo-liberal dogma.

  2. crunchtime says:

    There is so much wrong with this article, I don’t know where to start.

    • Dennis Dorney says:

      @crunchtime, I’ll make a start for you. What is wrong is the assumption that the poor will always be with us and that all we can do is alleviate their misery somehow. Those more comfortably off then resent having to share what they regard as “theirs” to give to others who have supposedly not made a contribution.
      The problem then seems to be one of employment, not poverty, leading to the questions “Why is there too little employment and why are there more goods for retail sale than there is money to buy them?”, judging by the endless “For Sale” signs. That in turn raises the question of why is there never enough money in circulation to buy those goods and maintain employment.
      The clues are in Chris’s article. “Where are the Harry Hollands, the Mickey Savages, the Peter Fraser’s of today? Where is …. John A Lee speaking for todays “Children of the Poor”?
      Obviously Chris never read the book “Scrim and Lee”. John Lee was the man who got the Reserve Bank to lend the Labour Government money at 1% to fund the historic State Housing project. It built thousands of houses and, more importantly created full employment that generated taxes that made the rest of the Labour social agenda affordable.
      Because the Reserve Bank debt was easily affordable and was contained within the economy, the shortage of cash we have to day, so that we can repay overseas debt, was not an issue.
      We are back in the same situation now as we were in 35. Poverty and unenployment. So will Labour do what John Lee did? No, unbelievably it will fund its building program by overseas borrowing.
      Why not follow John Lee? Because he was a believer in Social Credit philosophy and therefore was suspect. He was never a minister and was eventually pushed out of the Labour Party. Read the book. His deification is a recent phenomenon.
      So Labour knows what to do but wont do it. Now, Crunchtime, thats what you really wanted to say wasn’t it.

  3. countryboy says:

    Ha . What a thing to wake up to . Brilliant work @ Chris Trotter .
    Why the hell are you not our prime minister ? Or Martyn Bradbury ? Or Jane Kelsey ? Or the many other erudite human beings found here ? Why not them ? How come we have a cruel , greedy little fool instead ? Worse still , he’s surrounded himself with equally greedy , vile , boring little people .
    Sometimes I feel as if I’m in a sketchy , gritty dream that I can’t wake up from . While it’s not a nightmare exactly , more an on-going film noir B&W British television series that I can’t remember the beginning of and by the looks there’s no end on sight .
    Where do these creeps come from ? They know drill . So why then deliberately perpetuate the brutal dysfunction of poverty and extreme discomfort ? People forced to live in cars , if they’re lucky , is a horror for every body . If I was a rich man-person I’d lose sleep about such things . I’m far from rich but at least I have a house and the idea of kids and parents being that poor is just awful . Unbearably awful in the extreme . And whats more depressing is that poverty in a land of plenty is creating terrible trauma and dysfunction . For generations to come .
    It’s my belief , based on my observations here , that the curative process is in here , in The Daily Blog . Most , if not all you guys are intelligent , good hearted and well educated and although I personally don’t agree with everything that’s written here , over-all , you’re all just fabulous .
    From a marketing perspective from what little I know about such things is that TDB is the first and it’s proving to be the best in class . A very powerful marketing position . Ask Sam Morgan of ‘ Trademe ‘ just how important that position is ?
    All you TDB’ers have to do is reach your target market . You must use the MSM to reach out and grab peoples attention . You must use the Force .
    The above Post should be on the front page of every news paper in Australasia up until Christmas . A season which drives home a sense of misery and failure for at least 20 % of our extended whanau . A busy season ahead for the Banks , credit card companies and debt collection agencies .

    • The Other Mike says:

      Totally agree with your comments CB. The current morons in power have the whole poverty thing ass-backward (even while they now admit to “a few” poor people in NZ).

      From Key down the focus is on getting people “off benefits” – while ignoring the very thing that gets people off benefits – JOBS – and their creation.

      The term “off benefits” sounds better to the selfish bene bashing redneck base than “Creating Jobs” though – which they can’t, or won’t. No FDRs to be found in power here.

      BTW CB I see ANZ declared their biggest profit ever – $1.7bn. Not bad in a small country of 4.5 million. Right when they are trying to screw their workers! Nice timing. (I’m never going near them again.

  4. Dorothy Bulling says:

    This should be required reading for every citizen in this country. But when society kicks you in thr guts iften enough you can’t be blamed for giving up trying. Every person deserves a chance and not everyone who doesn’t make it, is in their situation because of their own perceived lack of action. Health problems, academic ability, and most importantly, employment policies which started with the Bolger govt have changed the job market for ever and we now have the second generation adversely affected by those policies, under the Employment Contracts Act.

  5. Annebee says:

    I think the time will come when people rise up again. The TPPA protests are gaining support so it will be interesting to see how many people actually march in protest on the 8th. I think it will be the beginning, I am a grandmother raising grandchildren and I never thought I`d be forced into poverty because I`ve always worked hard and never wasted money. All it takes is a loss, maybe loss of health, a loss of choice in the hours you can work, a loss of a partner or child, or not have insurance in a disaster because it`s too expensive. It can be one thing like a Tsunami that leaves lives never to be the same. I just hope people rise up so that JK can see we are people with dreams for our children and grandchildren, not just units to manage.

  6. Once was Tim says:

    @ Chris T. You’re obviously a big fan of history (as a discipline). It really befuddles me that the human condition appears utterly unable to learn from it. (This gubbamint in particular – and its various agencies of that ‘state apparatus’).
    It’s really quite sad. If the trend continues, there IS going to be a tipping point when the natives get restless (as you’ve pointed out on at least 2 occasions in NZ’s history).
    Personally, I really don’t want to be here when that happens and I’m working on that, and I’ll be getting out asap for a ‘so-called’ 3rd world destination where those quaint old ideas of a ‘society’; of a ‘community’ etc STILL exist; and where (despite so-called right wing politics) mean a trend towards an open democracy, accountabiliity for the fucker uppers, and generally a desire for a more peaceful and social agenda.
    Unfortunately, we have a gubbamint whose policies serve only to bring about the exact opposite.
    Please people – don’t moan like stuffed squealing pigs when the inevitable comes to pass. (I’ll be elsewhere looking on, feeling sorry obviously, but utterly unsurprised).

    I’m not sure this Key-led gubbamint realise JUST how close to the wind they’re sailing – but I am bloody sure our Proim Munsterial Oicon hez en eggszit stretgee. The good thing is that a good many of his fawning disciples will be left royally ripped-off. (Oh woe Oh Woe)

    • Annebee says:

      Where are you going Tim?
      Just so people who can`t leave can dream about what would be better.

    • ThinkAboutIt says:

      Sorry to be such a cynic but the cult of self aggrandisement is not a purely western phenomena as I fruitlessly keep pointing out to those who see all evil emanating from our societies the same persons and attitudes are universal to humanity.

  7. cleangreen says:

    This Government wants to make us dependant on their scraps they may hand out but seldom do.

    FJK has no ethics as he was a financial trader, and what a cutthroat game that is.

    We are just pawns in his game of monopoly he is playing as just a tool for his war against the last vestiges on Labour’s policies as he scraps every last remaining one before he clears this country of any social fabric on which to base a cohesive society.

    This has to be done as he prepares the ground for a defenceless public backlash for the next slash and burn project, TPPA and open market sale of all assets and land to any oversees buyers.

    There is word that a number of very rich foreigners are lining up NZ for sale right now.

    Our forefathers did not have this wholesale loss of their country as we are now witnessing, so Chris is a little out in his assumption that the circumstances are not as dire as the 1930’s.

    My father went scrub cutting during those years living in a tent I the bush for three moths at a time.

    Dad told me never to live outside your means and ability to pay it back.

    FJK is borrowing 300K a week still and now the crown debt has gone to 88 Billion or 80 billion more than when he took over, and how can we pay this back?

    He wants a low wage economy by forcing high unemployment above 5% always, as he knows low unemployment drives wages up.

    If I was young today I would see a bleak future in front of me.

    Egalitarianism must return as we cannot continue down this road of destruction.

  8. Wild Katipo says:

    Hmmmm…I reckon it takes a critical mass of fellow ‘sufferers’ …ie :popular opinion for it to come about.

    To do that…would take the middle class to be successively disenfranchised enough that there was a wake up call. Otherwise …the human trend will be to look after number one. We are as a species inclined to that behavior whereby until things get very grim….we take not much action.

    The human condition is to CONSERVE energy..not expend it needlessly , hence…until it severely impacts that particular group…which forms the political fulcrum , it will always seek to stay on the ‘safe’ position.

    Now….during the depression….unemployment /homelessness /desperation/hunger…was affecting not just the working class…but was /starting to eat into the middle strata of society.

    Currently…we have a situation whereby for small businesses , it is to their advantage to have a retarded wage rate, …therein lies the problem. And while this ‘middle ‘ group have surplus enough to invest, and capitalize in even more investments, …with wages low…it will be difficult to ‘wean’ them off such arrangements.

    Such is the tenacious nature of human beings. In the individual sense, neo liberal theory ‘works’ for them….at the moment.

    It comes to grief when there is a world event,…basically…a major economic crash…when people across all sectors are now suffering.

    THAT is when people are FORCED to look for alternative solutions…voila !…people rediscover a ‘social conscience’ once more.

    It was those conditions that set the environment during the Great Depression….incidentally…in fact, ..in other historic periods when widespread poverty finally became a burden not only on investment, but because of that…started to affect the banking sector, their interest they charge thusly their profits…

    And while Keynesianism was a very good model,..with long term positive effects for at least the western world… one cannot wonder if even that was a timely solution to realign world financial control for a designated time.

    Perhaps, …once it had fulfilled a certain role…. Mont Pelerin society free market neo liberalism was to replace it , loans were made to nations…but perhaps…there was a time of ‘recall’….hence what we see with the world bank and IMF. Whether it was to reestablish western world finance for a time…and indebt them also…is a study in itself…

    But in doing so,..creates the conditions that is the antithesis of what was intended….that is…a disenfranchisement of the middle classes…and a public desire once more for more equitable circumstances ..more economic participation from all sectors…

    If that is the case….we are fated forever to have this slow, revolving rise and fall of times of plenty , and times of poverty/ hardship.

  9. Mike in Auckland says:

    Chris has great historic knowledge and insight, and some of his posts make interesting reading.

    What he so often fails to realise is, the past times like the times he mentions above, they fall in an era where there was no mass reaching mainstream media, no internet, no social media and so forth.

    People in the 1930s were dealing with each other face to face, sweaty body to sweaty body, in social environments where you belonged to rich or poor families, where it mattered living in certain parts of towns, and where life was hands-on.

    Nowadays we have mass misinformation, mass brainwashing, mass consumerism, mass dumbing down, mass fads, mass excitement, and mass manipulation through powerful, commercially focused media networks, closely aligned with commercial advertising agencies, and they are all paid for by business interests.

    Blogs may offer forums of debate for some that bother to follow certain interest topics, that follow political and other sensible debate, but it is only a small percentage of society that actually regularly follows and reads blogs, and again they use blogs they do anyway feel sympathetic with.

    Generally society is much more fractured, individualism rules, and with that forms of division and isolation. Marginalisation happens in most societies, and poverty in NZ is relative. It is the experience of poverty that matters, not the comparison of poverty here with that in the slums of Dhaka or Cairo.

    Media, education and training systems, the bulk of reasonably and well paid work and business are the domains of the better off, the middle and upper middle class, and they are largely white, Pakeha, also increasingly migrant East- and sometimes South-Asian, but others not belonging to those groups tend to belong to the bottom, the precariat and the despised “no-hopers”. Judgment is everywhere, especially on dumb down talk-back radio and even present in some “respectable” current affairs shows. It is often sublime and not immediately detected, but it is there.

    A WINZ shooter in Ashburton, others threatening WINZ staff are immediately labeled criminal and outcasts, and nobody asks questions about “why”, same as they do not about other offenders. Nobody asks anymore about the true reasons for poverty, of children and adults, but most have an “opinion”.

    These groups of marginalised are labeled, put into drawers, and even the mention of the word “beneficiary” instantly tells people, “bad”, “hopeless”, “bludger” and worse. That is the result of media and other manipulations, and sadly society has been so manipulated, people do not even question anything much anymore, they just react.

    Hence we have a more pronounced class system than we had for decades, and those that are part of the better off shun the outcasts, live in different areas, so when the poor “riff raff” even dare to visit Remuera on Halloween, to play trick and treat, they get abused for daring to disturb the “friendly neighbourhood”.

    Indeed, it is the mass manipulation that made this possible, and the fascists of old could not have done any better, had they the same means to manipulate. It is dangerous and it is time to attack the very enemy behind all this, politically that is, and instead of focusing on their members, unions should damned well realise, they need larger following and reach out to and win over the ones that are disowned. As we have it now, the workers are not united, they are divided and themselves part of the class system and divisons, and if they do not rethink and change, they will continue to dig their own political and social and also economical graves.

    • Richard Christie says:

      Blogs may offer forums of debate for some that bother to follow certain interest topics, that follow political and other sensible debate,

      I’ve often wondered if blogs and similar forums also act as a means of catharsis, where venting anger and spleen, allowing readers to have their say dissipates and excuses participants from organising and doing anything further. Perhaps actually counter-productive to getting off our arses and really doing something.

      • Mike in Auckland says:

        We know for a fact, that not only Farrar, and Whaleoil (Slater), but even former Key Office staffer Ede, used to regularly monitor the “leftist” blogs, they still do now. We know that some of their spin masters, and “commentators”, including Mr Hooton and so forth, do regularly “visit” us, and sometimes comment, but more so often simply read, analyse and pass on info and advice.

        This is the risk and price we on the left of centre do pay, for our openness, honesty and passion for discussion and debate, while our enemies are smart, cunning, manipulative and calculative, and use all info they get, to use and feed into their propaganda agendas and operations.

        We also fall down with our fairness, trying to be fair to all we may deal with, and wish well to be part of a progressive country, including differing thought and culture, but again, that is exploited, and used, in ways to fight and harm us.

        Few realise, that the political fight we have at our hands, is not very dissimilar from what the fascists and others fought in the height of fascism in Europe. It just looks a little more different, but it is of similar value and significance, and very serious a “war”, really.

        The biggest challenge and problem we have is, that the MSM, mainstream (commercial) media, has firmly signed up to serve the government, which in return serves the media’s interest.

        In reality, the “left” or “progressives” or “liberals”, whatever we may call ourselves, have been PURGED from the MSM, one by one, the more liberal, known tolerant, open, and progressive media persons that used to be working in many branches and companies of the MSM, they have gradually been “shifted out”, and been replaced by the more “serving” and “complying” media personnel, that suit the “dirty politics” agenda. It all happened under this government, and indeed, the alternative, critical views and comments have almost all but vanished, politics is not even covered anymore, if you listen to most radio and watch TV, and we get much distraction and manipulation, and NO real factual information. We are being brainwashed and selectively served and informed, on purpose, as business and Key and Nats are all ONE in the same scheme, really!

  10. Jerko says:

    I also agree with all of the above. Explain this to me Chris T. One of my so called friends has lived almost all of the conditions described above. She trained in a caring profession while a single parent and lives resonably comfortably. She now votes for the current regime. Unable to see or have any compassion for those less fortunate. WTF. It’s like Paula Bennett, and Turiana. There is something about this system that hardens these individuals so they get out of their trap and say to hell with the rest of you. This is the scary part of it. The current regime is creating this mentality and its pervasive.

    • Jono says:

      I’ve had the same question to. What is the reason for the change of mindset of those in power? What psychology is going on here that is hardening attitudes love to know?

      • wild katipo says:

        FEAR.

        Sit around a smoko table long enough , listen to the competitive talk during work hours and who did what wrong,….a divided workforce.

        Listen to the radio long enough, and in social circles it becomes the standard expected opinion. No one wants to sever relationships …so they parrot each other.

        ENVY…

        ” Grrrrrr!!!…one day I wont be dirt poor…Ill get my own back at that snoot who judged me because of my op shop clothes while Im studying and bringing up my children”…

      • wild katipo says:

        Also…when you are in debt, and have outgoings that push you close to the wall day in and day out,…with kids to support, rent or mortgage to service….

        You cant afford to to ‘think’ about the ‘what ifs’….so for many its ‘put your head down and charge’ the problem – and damn the torpedoes.

        There are many other reasons……none of them good. For that individual. While living in the neo liberal paradise of NZ.

        Rats in a cage , Animal Farm at its finest.

        Thats why 600,000 Kiwis now live in Aussie. Cobber. There sick of the workplace mindgames and bullshit stress living here creates.

    • david says:

      I’m not sure that it’s a lack of compassion for the less fortunate, even though it manifests in that way. My theory is that it’s the result of seeing the fallout from catastrophic change and the hardships that arise from radical upheaval. People get to the stage where stability becomes more attractive than equality – perhaps it’s a type of fear. If you are in the final trimester of your life, losing the gains made over the previous 40 to 50 years, however modest they may be, is a worrying proposition. Of course, both controlling people with fear and inciting them with fear have long been effective political tools.

  11. david says:

    There’s a need to be forward-looking with analysing today’s inequalities and less dependent on historic examples of social problem-solving. While it may still hold an attraction for some, I really don’t see how rising up and taking it to the streets is an effective solution – it’s at best cathartic but productive change requires analytical depth and leadership.

    This is one of the major flaws in today’s government(s). We don’t have leaders, we have managers. Nobody is articulating an intelligent, morally driven philosophy for future government, equality and social justice.

    To make matters worse, we are being managed primarily from the perspective of historic, failed economics. We still endure the hopelessness that trickle-down economics foisted on us and the growing wealth gap it has delivered. It has been a failed system since it was inflicted by Thatcher and Reagan nearly four decades ago. It works on the scandalously stupid theory that most of the population depends on the crumbs that fall from the cakes of the rich, and the best way to improve the wealth of the poorest 80 percent is to make bigger cakes for the rich so more crumbs fall off. It didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now, so why are we still practising it?

    We have a value system that needs overhauling, but no leadership or inspiration to take us there. Beyond being a problem that affects both the left and right of the political divide, it’s a problem that derives from still seeing the political divide in those antiquated terms. There is not one inspirational political leader in this country – not one. How horrendously sad is that? (Rhetorical) We have an impotent combination of short-term managers and partisan agitators. For my money (of which there is very little), our hope lies in a very different type of bloodless, constructive revolution whose leader has, sadly, yet to appear on the horizon.