GUEST BLOG: Kate Davis – the sudden explosion of ‘left’ blogs

By   /   October 20, 2014  /   50 Comments

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Time to Teach or more people will suffer from P.A.I.D. Political And Intellectual Dysmorphia.

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Time to Teach or more people will suffer from P.A.I.D. Political And Intellectual Dysmorphia.

I was on the Twitter and a guy followed me so of course I did the polite thing and followed him back. He wrote a blog so again I did the polite thing and a took a look. I’m like that. I hope if I read people’s work and share it if I like it, the same will happen for me. The blog is called Slightly Left of Centre by Josh Forman and as I read I was getting very confused.

This blogger could also be a Nat Party speech writer. It appears to be where he gets his material.
His blogs promote; feeding the children (because even if it’s because mummy is gambling & daddy is drunk, it’s not their fault) but don’t increase welfare; and he thinks we need a teal coloured party because “you can’t be economically fiscal and hard Left” ; he advocates for longer prisoner sentences; he ….

This guy wasn’t left of anything. He thinks Labour lost because it went too far left, ( ? Raising minimum pay those crazy commie MoFos!) he slags The Standard and The Daily Blog and labels all who write for them as the Loony Left. So I tweeted him and said …


‘ You should change your blog to Slightly Right of Reagan’


he replied


‘ Why?’


I replied

 

‘because your blogs aren’t slightly left of centre’


and then he replied


‘do you reckon Reagan wanted a gay leader’
‘do you reckon Reagan wanted to brown up politics’


and that is when I realised …we need to be teaching civics or politics or whatever you want to call it in schools.

Last week one of Forman’s blogs was picked up by Slater, this week he has started advertising for donations and now I think it is pretty clear the guy is suffering from a pretty common condition called Political And Intellectual Dysmorphia or P.A.I.D. for short. Like people with body dysmorphia they look in the mirror and think they see something that isn’t actually there. In this case Foreman looks in the mirror and thinks he is seeing left wing bias but he has just got his left and right confused. Mirrors can do that to the un-educated. They view things the wrong way around.

As a person who is Left enough to want a universal benefit and values fraternity over paternalism, I find this whole situation troubling for two different reasons. The first one being that a couple of weeks ago I was making Labour Leader tweets. One was favourited and retweeted by Matthew Hooton. I immediately stopped tweeting and showered. I felt dirty and used. The thing is I recognised that my own (admittedly witty) words were being used to harm the left. I wasn’t being helpful and I wasn’t contributing positively. I was just giving the other side ammo. Collaborating with the far right is not building a bipartisan position, it is playing into a game where they manipulate the centre further away from anything that could be construed as Left wing. A timely lesson.

The second reason is a bit more complex. It is the reason that every election you hear people start to suggest that we need greater education around the political system, engagement, and political theory. The old cry of we need civics taught in school.

There seems to be a variety of problems. Of course lack of knowledge as to how they define left from right is just one. What does defines left from right. I once heard Sue Bradford describe it simply as ‘good versus evil’ though I tend to use ‘me versus we’ . Where is the centre and is the centre shifting further right as we speak. This shift that results in bloggers like Forman suggest that Labour moved too far left, when they suggest a wage in minimum pay, or Obama is a communist because he wants to sort out MediCare.

(Damn that just introduced a third point which I will note but not address; the Americanisation of our political system)

Of course as someone who is just finishing up a BA with a minor in Politics, there are already issues teaching Politics even at a university level. The two main theories discussed in World a Politics are Realism and Liberalism, we ran out of time for Marx and International Conflict is reduced to the study of war and Just War theory. No time for pacifism. We teach people about democracy by telling them to shut up, read the text book and reflect back what you have learnt in the form of two essays to show that you understand what has been taught. Can anyone define counterintuitive?

Leaving this issue unattended and making no effort is not going to address the issue. I don’t think leaving it to get better on its own is a viable option. At this point I would be a proponent for any civics education, starting at a primary school. I would advocate that speed is of the essence, while we still have strong teachers unions and before they are undermined by performance pay and charter schools. It’ s too late for Josh but there are other we can save.

If I had to put Forman in a box and label it working from his blog and his tweets I would label him right. Even though he wishes to ‘brown up politics’ ( good grief, I struggle to type it but it is a quote) & wants a gay leader he is confusing his social liberalism with what he actually is. A Liberal. He just forgot to capitalise.

 

Kate Davis is completing her B.A English & politics. Previously she has worked for the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective & currently volunteers as an advocate for Auckland Action Against Poverty.

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50 Comments

  1. Mike says:

    Or maybe it is you who has a distorted viewpoint of what is left and right.

    There are many on the right who think John Key is too far left. The Nats under Key are quite obviously not as far right as previous Nat governments, just still too right for your own personal liking.

    What is left or right is subjective. People’s tendencies tend to fit a bell curve just like everything else in life. The most common being the magical “centre”. This is why parties like ACT or Mana get 1-2% of the vote while parties like Nat/Lab get 25-50%.

    • Kate Davis says:

      Mike that is a perfectly valid argument…but…actually the ideologies that have come to define the left from the right are not that subjective as they have been constantly defined and refined by a long tradition of political theorists.

      • trendy lefty says:

        It really isn’t a valid argument. Many many distributions of characteristics do not conform to the so-called “normal distribution” or “bell-shaped curve” – New Zealand’s educational success results, for example. That’s why there are a number of different types of distribution curves, but unfortunately people like you take the simplistic path, pretending glibly that “everything” is normally distributed.

        Ideas about left and right aren’t really that blurry either. Right views tend to support the idea that people who are lawfully able to sequester large quantities of the nation’s wealth, usually due to their ownership of capital, (and increasingly, financial rather than productive capital),regardless of their role in actually producing it, should be enabled and encouraged to do so. Left views tend to support the more equitable distribution of the wealth across all the people who produce it, rather than it mainly accruing to the owners of capital. I suppose there might be “a centre”, but really, today’s centre is just yesterday’s right.

        Jussayin’.

        • Kate Davis says:

          The part of the argument I was attributing validity was the fact that he, Mike, perceives I may have a distorted veiw of Left & Right. I would be lying if I said no one had ever implied I might be slightly parochial.
          Or maybe I was just being polite?

        • Sarah says:

          Actually we know people’s voting patterns tend to fit closely with the norms in the places that they live. Those who interact more with their neighbours are more likely to hold the common view so the notion of a bell curve may not be too far off. Of course, that’s assuming you look at the political spectrum in terms of left and right which is something I would have expected even a first year political science student to have graduated beyond. Socially liberal and economically liberal views are quite different.
          We’ve also seen some pretty major shifts in terms of the role we expect the government to play over time (100 years ago there was no welfare net) and the implications of neoliberal policies are still being understood. What is ‘left’ and ‘right’ in the NZ context is – for the average public – shaped by the movements of our political parties. This guy probably is left of centre in that respect.
          I really disliked reading this piece as I found the personal attack and public release of private communications all a little tacky. I really don’t care how much of a dick someone makes of themselves, dedicating a blog to attacking a lay member of the public just makes the author look bad.

          • Kate Davis says:

            The information is all public. Twitter is public and Josh’s blog is public. By blogging on a public sphere you are opening your work to criticism, and I have critiqued his politics, but not him as a person. I have used his blog to highlight a larger issue. The issue is around education.

            I have not resorted to name calling 🙂 This blog is also in response to Josh working with Whale Oil. Sorry, who were you calling tacky?

    • In Vino says:

      “What is left or right is subjective.” Sorry, disagree totally. This has been the New Right’s argument for a long time now (“Left and Right are no longer meaningful”) and your statement makes me suspect you have not read a lot of history.

      For me, Left means basically Socialist – the idea that society’s wealth should be shared in a reasonably egalitarian way, so that extra work and talent are rewarded, but the poorest are still supported with a living wage and educational opportunity.

      Right means basically backing the old capitalist free enterprise system that enables the rich to exploit workers, to promise the chance of success to many, but effectively drive down the wages of workers and create a pool of unemployed poor who are then blamed for their failure to exploit the ‘fair opportunity’ system that the rich have created and are determined to perpetuate. Fear of unemployment makes workers accept poorer wages = bigger profits for the rich. Hence demonization of unions.

      Nothing ‘subjective about it.

      For your information, the terms ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ come from the shambolic French Parliaments that followed the French Revolution. The radical egalitarians/anarchists grouped on the left side of their house. while on the right side were the more moderate, who, while not backing the aristocracy nor the monarchy, backed the retention of some of the structural aspects of pre-revolutionary society.

      It is not subjective. You should have some idea of what you believe, and whether you are Left or Right. If you don’t, start reading some history.

      • Kate Davis says:

        In Vino, I concur. It isn’t subjective. It’s well defined theory. Hence the blog. I would love to hear other people’s views on teaching civics?

      • wild katipo says:

        And the ‘modern’ equivalent tool that is used to define ‘Right’ these days is neo liberalism.

        Everything about this disgusting economic theory enables the ‘old capitalist’ way of running a country with its lords and ladies and its despicable exploitative mentality of using fellow human beings as means to an end for accruing wealth and power over others.

        ( Theres a good Irish drinking song that sums up my feelings of people who think like that…the first few lines are :

        ‘Bugger off, you bastards bugger off !!
        ‘Like a herd of bloody swine who refuse to leave the trough,
        Bugger off , you bastards bugger off!!” )

        And the Social Democratic economic model we most view these days as being ‘socialist’ is Keynesian…aka John Maynard Keynes.

        I amazes me that in speaking in terms of either ‘Left ‘ or ‘Right’….people always seem to leave these crucial definitive terms out – the very nature and end product of both these economic systems determine the type of policies and the social emphasis ( or lack of ….) of those policies of the governments we have….

        One is more group /socially orientated – the other serves the individual- or rather- more succinctly- the already wealthy and disadvantages the poor.

        I will give an example of how it is erronous to assume there is a definitive description when speaking of either Right or Left without economic theory…..under current neo liberal theory…Rob Muldoon would be considered more left than Labour is now and more closer to the Greens and Internet Mana……

        THAT is how far to the Right we have travelled as a country….WHY ?….BECAUSE OF THE ECONOMIC MODEL WE HAVE ADOPTED.

        And until that model is refuted (neo liberlaism ) – not only will the Left have a constant battle defining itself…..we will also continue to have the social and economic malaise that has beset this country for over 34 years.

        Sue Bradford was right ….it is an issue between good versus evil.

        • Kate Davis says:

          Wild Katipo. Bravo.

        • Nick says:

          I always laugh when Keynes is equated with socialism. The man gamed stock markets etc far better than Shonkey çould. He also saved capitalism from itself. Why would a socialist save capitalism?

    • Suzyiam says:

      John Key is no more ‘left’ than I am a man. He ‘acts’ left on occasion when in the public spotlight merely to capture the confidence of some. It is a very old trick used by historical & current world leaders. However, despite the front, the policy & action is firmly on the right.

      Nats are only as far left as they need to be to ‘fool’ the stupid into believing they are taking care of their concerns.

      When it comes to distorted viewpoints, don’t forget yours is blatantly obvious too.

    • trendy lefty says:

      Actually, many many distributions of characteristics do not conform to the so-called “normal distribution” or “bell-shaped curve” – New Zealand’s educational success results, for example. That’s why there are a number of different types of distribution curves, but unfortunately people like you take the simplistic path or pretending “everything” is normally distributed.

      Ideas about left and right aren’t really that blurry either. Right views tend to support the idea that people who are lawfully able to sequester large quantities of the nation’s wealth, usually due to their ownership of capital, (and increasingly, financial rather than productive capital),regardless of their role in actually producing it, should be enabled and encouraged to do so. Left views tend to support the more equitable distribution of the wealth across all the people who produce it, rather than it mainly accruing to the owners of capital. I suppose there might be “a centre”, but really, today’s centre is really yesterday’s right.

      Jussayin’.

  2. Save NZ says:

    Totally agree. It is a hard one because Labour and the Greens in my view have made mistakes and are blaming or seemingly to be blaming other left wing people for their defeat. But to point it out and say what was wrong with their policies also gets picked up as being negative against the left. All I can say is that the left wing parties need to unite and forget their differences – form a strategy or code of conduct together. In particular they need to form a strategy against corruption, taking down Judith Collins and her cronies would be the first step in an alliance to rid NZ of corruption and show NZ they are useful and actually doing something. In addition they need to have counter messaging for MSM.

  3. ridsel says:

    I define left vs. right as “think they’re helping, but actually aren’t” and “are actually helping”. We’re in a post-ideology world where you’re judged on the results, not what how much you say you care. Economic growth does benefit the disadvantaged more than redistribution does.

    • TeWhareWhero says:

      What on earth do you mean we are in a ‘post ideology world’? Are you suggesting that those who run this world have no shared ideology? It’s certainly an advantage to them to make sure other people don’t.

      Economic growth can only benefit the disadvantaged if the benefits of production are redistributed – via such direct mechanisms as well paid, secure, safe jobs, and via investment of social capital in social infrastructure. Left to the market you get what we have seen since the 1980s – an unsustainable, dangerously unstable accumulation of extreme wealth controlled by a tiny elite and, a small buffer zone excepted, a growing impoverishment of the masses of people.

      You must also realise – that your relative affluence, your relative freedom from coercion and your relative freedom to decide what to do and be – rests on the denial of those freedoms to the majority of your fellow humans – throughout history and contemporaneously.

    • Kate Davis says:

      Oh yeah right! That trickle down theory is panning out marvellously.

      • FreeThinker says:

        Actually the trickle down theory has worked well in the developing world.

        http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21578665-nearly-1-billion-people-have-been-taken-out-extreme-poverty-20-years-world-should-aim

        In the developed world your argument has more substance with a substantial increase in inequality in the last 25 years.

        • Inequality in New Zealand has been stable for well over 25 years, both in income and wealth terms. http://offsettingbehaviour.blogspot.co.nz/2014/10/inequality-narrative-buster.html

          • Kate Davis says:

            I work with beneficiaries and I call bullshit.

            • That’s poverty you’re seeing, not inequality. If we want to reduce poverty (and we do, I hope we do – poverty is an affront to human dignity) it’s important to be clear about the concept and what the problem is. The inequality statistics are of excellent quality and do not support any claim of increased inequality in New Zealand.

              MSD did the work on this one:
              http://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/monitoring/household-incomes/index.html
              “Overall, there is no evidence of any sustained rise or fall in inequality in the last two decades. The level of household disposable income inequality in New Zealand is a little above the OECD median. The share of total income received by the top 1% of individuals is at the low end of the OECD rankings.”

              But there’s also this:
              “While there is no evidence of growing inequality in the population overall or between high income households and the rest in the last two decades or so, there is evidence here that there is a growing gap between the incomes of those heavily reliant on the safety net provided by main working-age benefits, and the rest.”

              And that’s why working with beneficiaries makes inequality look so disproportionately real. If the most vulnerable in society are getting left behind, we should be dealing with that urgently, not clouding the picture with claims that the wealthy are getting too far ahead (not true) or that the middle classes are in poverty (also not true) or any other incorrect statement about inequality in general.

              • Kate Davis says:

                I still call bollocks. Someone’s stats are wrong and I’m happy with Mac Rashbrookes analysis.

                If the amount of income we spend on rent or loan repayments has gone from a third to half, how can we still have the same disposable income? That doesn’t even add up.
                If you consider how much the minimum wage has increased in the last ten years, compared to the cost of living including rent, that would seem to be a fallacy, probably biased by huge increases at the top end?
                The poor aren’t just those on benefits. How do you explain the working poor?

                • Apologies for not getting back to this sooner.

                  I honestly don’t think you’re talking about inequality here. Inequality staying the same isn’t disposable income staying the same. It’s disposable income moving in similar ways across groups of society – rising or falling by about the same proportion for everyone. That’s what MSD say has happened in the past two decades.

                  The stability of the minimum wage doesn’t seem to have affected inequality much. That’s likely related to the factors detailed on page 12 of MSD’s Overview and Summary (the section where they explain how the lower four deciles had higher income growth than the upper five deciles in the past ten years, despite benefits not rising). The overall income movement in low deciles has been affected by a few other factors as well – NZ Super has gone up, there was a new tax credit for low-income workers, and apparently the minimum wage rose in real terms from 2004 to 2008 (no, I didn’t realise that either).

                  There’s just no evidence for disproportionate income rises at the top end of the distribution over any recent period. The evidence we have shows that inequality has not increased in this country. However, it does show that those on benefits are getting left behind the rest. That’s not caused by the rich getting richer.

                  Poverty is not caused by the rich getting richer, either. In both cases, blaming the wealthy is just another way of neglecting those we would seek to help.

  4. countryboy says:

    Ah … ?

    ” Mirrors can do that to the un-educated. They view things the wrong way around. ”

    That would depend on what one was being educated with surely ? And also , you can educate an idiot as much as you like but you just end up with an educated idiot . After all , they’re being sworn in to parliament as I write . Nothing . Nothing at all suggests that any National Party member , minister , or voter is even vaguely intelligent and many of them are very well educated . ( To prove my point . No intelligent politician treats the most vulnerable with such casual cruelty . Because sooner or later those vulnerable will become monsters and those monsters will begat more monsters and so on ad infinitum . Just like the noble flea * . And before you know it , you have a dangerous hoard of well cultivated monsters and a danger therefore , to the people who made ’em in the first place . Not that intelligent I’d a thought . )

    It’s been my experience with idiots and the terminally stupid , and that is to treat them kindly , pay them well and keep them safe and secure . They will flourish and they will love you for it . Sure , you can have them suffering and cringing in fear but that simply means that you are as stupid as they are . I hope you’re reading this paula bennett . If you are , then you’re also getting a lesson in stupidity versus intelligence . You can surely read . You got your education at the State’s expense . But can you understand what I’m saying ? I very much doubt that . So then , what is the value of my lesson to you ? I rest my case . Hahahah ~ !

    There’s no greater a dangerous person than a fool with a powerful , formal education .
    In my view anyway . I’m as educated as a bus ticket . One side only .

    *

    “The Siphonaptera” is a nursery rhyme, sometimes referred to as Fleas.

    Big fleas have little fleas,
    Upon their backs to bite ’em,
    And little fleas have lesser fleas,
    and so, ad infinitum.

    And the great fleas, themselves, in turn
    Have greater fleas to go on;
    While these again have greater still,
    And greater still, and so on.

    Oh , lastly . You ask @ Kate Davis .

    ” Can anyone define counterintuitive? ”

    The term ‘ Cognitive dissonance ‘ might help with that .

    And how about this one .
    The Right planting seeds of Left words into writings that help deliver the Right virus into it’s host by stealth ?

    Here’s a little charmer of a story for you .
    Is this the metaphor you’re looking for ?
    Mind-controlling parasites (and the parasites that infect them)
    http://boingboing.net/2014/10/17/mind-controlling-parasites-an.html

    • Kate Davis says:

      You are spectacular.

      • countryboy says:

        Am I ? How fantastic x .

        • In Vino says:

          Yeah, not bad, Country Boy.

          When I saw Kate’s question about counterintuitive, I thought of pointing out that NCEA does not include that term in its prescribed foreign language vocabulary lists, let alone in its achievement standard assessment documentation.

          But I think Kate was referring to tertiary education.

          Cognitive dissonance – an opiate for those who pretend
          justice when promoting the opposite.

  5. Ian says:

    In politics left and right can be used in a relative sense (e.g. Roger Douglas is to the right of John Key) or in an absolute sense (John Key is on the right). Some people are ambiguous when they use the words “left” and “right” as to whether they are using it in a relative or an absolute way and other people get confused when they read or hear someone else use the words. Some people (Americans?) use “left” and “right” in the moral axis of politics, rather than the economic axis. In the moral axis: “liberal” and “conservative” are better words.

    In the economic axis, ask this (or a similar) litmus test question: “is everyone entitled to have a job?” The yeses to the left and the noes to right.

  6. Ross Clark says:

    Read ‘Dirty Politics’ – it spells it out. The Corporate (tobacco and alcohol industries) fund the bloggers to support National, thus getting around the legal limit to Campaign Funding. They slip in the odd left wing comment so as to appear independent. The methods they use are vile – including ‘bounties’ for information, trolling for scandal but also abusing woman to obtain information. We all heard of Roast Busters – how many have heard of ‘Princess Parties’. I don’t believe National voters would be proud of how the bloggers influenced, not only the election, but their own candidate selections. Who would be proud if the All Blacks won by penalties due to an underhand referee. I think National voters would be appalled – if only they read the book. I understand why John Key has pushed the issue aside – it is impossible to rebut what is in the book. And it was mainstream National policy – copied from US politice – to have outsiders do the dirty work and thus maintain the ‘nice guy’ image of Mr Key.

    • Kate Davis says:

      I agree with all you say and that train of thought influenced how I interpreted Slaters actions when he adopted Josh. Best case scenario is that Josh is just a naive blogger-babe in the woods & Slater is exploiting this because, (not un-like my Tweets) the sentiment Josh is expressing suits the WO discourse.
      Worst case scenario is that Josh is knowingly complicit.

  7. Brian Smith says:

    What is left or right depends on how old you are and whether you have lived under a true social democratic government (think circa pre-1984 NZ). I can forgive the young, or relatively young, for having a confused/warped sense of what ‘left’ means, but those that are 50 plus ought to have a good idea what it means. The irony is that those over 50, who benefitted from the leftist socio-political environment, began to disown it once they had finished University/secondary school and started working. Their obligations to society ceased immediately and most of their offspring have been subjected to their views along with a diet of hollywood and MSM right-wing propaganda. When Muldoon was campaigning in 1984 and he was talking about the NZ Party supporters (the Bob Jones Party created to ensure a Labour win by taking votes away from Muldoon’s National party), he termed them ‘the greedy’s’- he hit the nail on the head!! The rest is history.

  8. Kate Kate says:

    I tell you what helps forget these right, left, right, dramas is listening to SHIHAD’s new album ‘FVEY’, WOW! I had it on this afternoon really loud then when i had finished working i listened to whole album again still really loud, ( actually i played the last song even louder) this time reading all the words. It is FANTASTIC! This album should be playing full blast all over the WORLD! SHIHAD should be winning ALL the industry awards (not lorde for god sakes). I am sick of being inflicted with crap fluff Americana music 24/7 when supermarket shopping or getting petrol or in a mall, it’s brainwashing music for zombies. And this isn’t fucken America last time i looked, can we ban dumb music from public places and get some identity back, and wake people up! Its a slow sick creep, like a sleazy man all over you this USA invasion. THANK YOU SHIHAD I LOVE YOU* and i am so proud you are N.Zers with a voice and something to say loud and clear, you give me HOPE.

  9. dave brown says:

    I agree with Kate
    Left an Right are well defined.
    Left wants social equality, end of poverty and a sustainable economy and nature.
    Right wants none of that because the market cannot survive without inequality, poverty, and an economy that destroys nature and society.
    The Right has to pretend that it can be Left otherwise the big majority who are Left would dispense with the Right.
    When the Left wakes up that will be the end of the Right.

  10. I’m not sure Left and Right are helpful terms any longer. The quite narrow question of how to redistribute income, how much and why, is essentially just choosing a point on a one-dimensional scale from individual responsibility to collective responsibility (for people’s wellbeing). As Josh alluded to, the world is now engaging with much richer problems – identity, inclusion, social justice and human rights of all kinds. The traditionally conservative Right no longer speaks for many liberals on these important issues, so it’s no wonder Josh is confused. We do need a blue-green party, and also a blue-purple party, a blue-pink party, and every other shade of blue. Social liberals are essentially without representation in our Parliament.

    • Kate Davis says:

      Where did Josh to allude to this range of issues including identity, social justice etc?

      His stance is the a Liberals political unicorn: ‘The level playing field’
      He states that Maori are over represented in stats, but also disagrees with any form of affirmative action, he wants longer incarceration and believes in depriving people of the right to participate. Throw in a little rhetoric about meritocracy and how we all have the same ability to succeed and you could wind him up and run him in Epsom.

    • Kate Davis says:

      The other thing Feminist Optimal is that Josh is claiming to be Left. Even you, in your defence of him, have coloured him blue 🙂

      • Fair enough – he is blue, just confused. Heaven forbid my attempt to clarify his position be construed as defense! Without solutions (no more welfare? No affirmative action? What’s the point even talking about it then?) he’s no use to anyone of any shade.

        But he’s obviously aware of the importance of identity, as evidenced in his tweets about a gay leader and “browning politics”. Hence his failure to identify with the traditional Right.

        • Kate Davis says:

          But that’s just liberal social values ( with a small l ) and good for him. So what. All that establishes is that he isn’t a good fit for the Conservative Party. Combined with his other positions he is still a Liberal ( note the capitalisation), not Left of anything.

  11. mikesh says:

    The left represent (or should represent) those who work for a living – not just employees, but also business proprietors and entrepreneurs. The natural “enemies” of the left are the rentiers – mainly moneylenders and landlords – whose charges contribute nothing to the productive process but represent an additional “tax” on effort.

    This is something that seems largely to have been lost sight of in today’s political discourse.

  12. Cagey says:

    What is needed more than a ‘civics in schools’ strategy is a critical thinking program in schools. With this in place our next generation will have the tools to dissect the dodgy argument – ‘the straw men’, the ad homimen’, ‘the post hoc’ the bandwagoning’, etc – and think clearly of the concequence of political and economic policy on them and society as a whole (which will have an effect on them also).

    Sector rights are not particularly aligned to Right or Left – they are aligned as Liberal or Concervative. So you can have a right-wing government bringing in a liberal law like homosexual marriage (remember “gay rainbow”?) but still be of the Right. Championing these causes does not automatically make one Left. A low wage earning, lesbian of Maori origins is needing help achieving equality – if the wage inequity is not your first call for action, you are probably more a rightwing liberal (note FIRST, not only before we get into that argument, lol).

    • Kate Davis says:

      Thank you Cagey. Critical thinking….you lovely, romantic fool! I wish! There’s no time for that and how the hell do you grade it?

      *sigh*

      • Cagey says:

        Nothing wrong with romance – lol!
        I did CT at University level via philosophy but noticed my son’s economic’s teacher had also exposed his 6th form class to some of these tools. Our papers were graded via an argument ‘tree’ or by how was this argument structured. BUT more to the point, without critical thinking skills, our children and future voters will be unable to use their new found civic enthusiam as they will be fogged by the tide of false argument pumped out by the MSM and others.
        Thanks also for the article – seems odd how many seem to think they are Left (egalitarianism) while esposing the Right (individualism).

        • Kate Davis says:

          One of the reasons I wrote this blog is that precise issue has been bugging me of late. It almost appeared this year that my fellow students in politics became less inspired and more despondent by the end of the year.
          Critical thinking was a token gesture …like gender.

  13. Kingi says:

    It’s really about the “Overton Window”; the idea that there exists in any political context a window of “acceptable” policies the may be considered for implementation. The window is perceived, by the general public, as centrist. What we are seeing in NZ today is that this window has moved to the right. So that in fact, hard-right policies are presented, and accepted, as centre-right, and anybody to the left just gets painted as increasingly extremist. I’m not sure how those on the left re-position the window, or how they can even take charge again of the narrative. Here’s a link to an older blog post, but its very relevant and quite informative.
    http://www.correntewire.com/overton_window_illustrated

  14. Andrea says:

    “we ran out of time for”

    Did you ask for a refund? Or extra time, no fee, to cover what was missed?

    Because – if universities are being run on ‘User Pays’ – then the supplier needs to supply what was promised and paid for.

    Except, of course, if this ‘excellence of the free market’ trope really belongs in Grim’s (sic) fairy tales?

    • Kate Davis says:

      Andrea, there is nothing less welcome in many politics lectures than the stereotypical mature student with an intrest in politics. Politics becomes parliament or state. Anything that isn’t mainstream is marginal.
      Actually I did have one lecturer who was spectacular but Plato to Marx only attracted a class of ten, and only four of us attended lectures.

  15. Lee says:

    I don’t Know Josh Forman personally, but by the description it could be said in his defence that politics (in a public conversation sense) often isn’t about the ideology and theory, but a reflection of the personality or culture of the individual. For example, I’ve read the Communist Manifesto, and that gives a simple and explicit definition of Left, and not, but every time I come across the theory of the Right I tend to roll my eyes and throw the book across the room.

    I
    Just
    Can’t
    do
    it.

    For very long.

    I find it to be too theoretical and not at all related to the world I see around me. Marx’s explanations by comparison seemed to based on something reasonably concrete, things that happen, patterns that can be observed. Josh Forman may suffer from the same problem, only in reverse.

    Not sure when or how people started thinking that things like feminism, green/eco-thought, giving minorities etc a break, and Human Rights were inherently Left. That “definition” in NZ seemed to be most prominent during the Clark years and probably her lack of concentrating on anything definitively Socialist, while gladly accepting the label of Left, confused a lot of youngsters.