The Daily Blog Open Mic Tuesday 2nd June 2015




Announce protest actions, general chit chat or give your opinion on issues we haven’t covered for the day.

Moderation rules are more lenient for this section, but try and play nicely.



  1. It’s a not only but also situation

    Surely I can’t be alone in being disgusted about the Northland school that has been allowed to run down so badly that pupils are expected to sit in building that are as mouldy as state houses.

    But also that the polices and the media are not picking up on what the police’s desire to hold exercises there because “it’s gritty and resembles a ghetto” says about police attitude to the poor. Not only the poor kids at the school but the poor in general are obviously not seen as being ordinary Kiwis but as criminals. After the Urewera raids one would hope that the police would understand that demonising sectors of the population as criminal is not acceptable.

    And not only that but the media haven’t pick up on this. Do the media also see the poor as being criminal too?

  2. Well spotted Stephen. I see this as an example of the move away from Westminster-style politics, and towards US-style politics in our country’s political framing. Specifically, what was traditionally understood as “the working class” – for example blue collar factory workers, tradespeople, service workers – has been rebranded as the Kath and Kim vision of “the middle class”: if you have a fulltime job, a house, a car, and a mobile phone, you’re “middle class”. Anyone who doesn’t fit into this vision – the unemployed and underemployed, tenants, people who move about by walking, cycling or public transport – has been rebranded as “the underclass”. We saw that with Key grooming that little girl right at the start of his government.

    The propaganda effect of banishing the phrase “the working class” from news media discourse, and dividing its members between “the middle class” and “the underclass”, is incredibly damaging. Firstly, it divides the working class against itself. Working class people who are doing more than merely survive under neo-liberalism are told that their enemy is not the 1% who benefit from the lion’s share of tax cuts, but taxes themselves and the “bludgers” on benefits who live off them. While working class people who are struggling are told that their enemy is not the 1%, but “the middle class” who are still living “first world” lives while they suffer.

    Secondly, once the memes of some workers being “the middle class” and some being “the underclass” becomes entrenched, anyone who uses the phrase “the working class” can be written off as old-fashioned, or worse, smeared as an advocate of Soviet-style-socialism.

    These rhetorical attacks are often made by small business owning “libertarians”, workers who have internalized the myth that they are part of “the middle class”. They also believe another myth, that because they are self-employed or small employers themselves, their political interests must be aligned with “right-wing”, “pro-business” parties like National and ACT (or perhaps if they are more socially conservative, NZ First or the Conservatives). Sadly a lot of left activists act as useful idiots in propagating these myths, with the result that we miss opportunities to build a left-libertarian movement, allied with other workers movements, and thus bleed off some of the support base from Libertarianz and ACT.

    All of this makes it very difficult to rally working class solidarity in opposition to the current NatAct regime. It also means there’s a high risk of another Blairite “Labour-led” regime to follow, just as Clark and Cullen followed Bolger and Richardson. Effective public opposition to both the “bad cop” and “good cop” forms of neo-liberalism require, amongst other things, that we challenge and expose the misleading framing behind the concept of comfortable workers as “the middle class”, and struggling ones as “the underclass”.

    • What an interesting take on the semantics of dividing and conquering. There must be an algorithm especially designed for the task on the Crosby Textor mainframe: ongoing meme creation to splinter and disintegrate core groupings of humans in order to destabilise their sense of identity, dissolve solidarity and turn them against each other like starving rats in a cage.
      There’s also a new class in today’s system: the homeless. The working class I tend to think of as those on zero hours contracts and the middle class people with jobs etc. The class system’s rubbish, imported from mother England to delude people into self aggrandisement. It’s all corporations versus humans as far as I can see these days.

      • We mostly seem to agree here. A couple of points in reply then.

        I wonder if you may have confused “the class system” as social snobbery – “The class system’s rubbish, imported from mother England” – with class as a way of mapping the economic power differences between different subgroups within a society.

        The homeless, like the unemployed, are part of the working class. Refugees and most immigrants are too. Anyone who can’t live a comfortable life without selling their labour is working class.

        The real “middle class” are people like social workers, lawyers, cops and politicians, they’re not the 1% (most of them), but they do have three things working class people don’t have. One, some real institutional power and privileged social status (cultural anthropologists call it “habitus”). Social networks wealthy enough to help them stay in a salaried role of some kind. Also, high enough salaries to save, and support their families without earning or going on a benefit if they needed to, for quite a while, by sacrificing only their holidays in Disneyland or Hawaii, or selling a spare, boat, car, or house.

        I’ve been technically homeless for most of the last year, and I’ve know a lot of other people over the years who’ve lived out of vehicles, or couchsurfed, sometimes while doing paid work. At times I’ve lived outside and worked for food, WWOOFing and crewing festivals. Next time you see a homeless person begging, instead of deciding whether or not to give them money, I suggest sitting down with them for a chat. You might be surprised by how much you have in common.

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