Swamp Things: The political “centre” contains only what the Left and the Right put into it



YOU KNOW THE LEFT’s on a roll, when Labour’s number-cruncher, Rob Salmond, comes out “In Defence of the Centre”.  It’s all Jeremy Corbyn’s fault, of course. Even here, in the far antipodes, the excitement generated by his campaign for the leadership of the British Labour Party is palpable. It leaps out at us from the videos of packed halls and chanting crowds. And we know it’s real because, from his enemies, we get only scorn and hatred – and the unmistakeable stench of fear.

Along with all the same old arguments about elections being won in the centre. Which is, of course, true – but trivial. In a society where enthusiasms of any kind are regarded with deep suspicion, it is hardly surprising that people overwhelmingly characterise themselves as inhabitants of the centre ground – “Middle New Zealanders”.

That most self-identified “centrists” are no such thing never appears to bother the political scientists of this world. To the number-crunchers of electoral politics the only thing that matters is that there are a lot of them. So many, in fact, that it is more-or-less impossible to win elections without them. But let us be very clear about the priorities and preoccupations of this group. It is “centrist” only insofar as it occupies the swampland between the shores of rock-solid belief that loom to left and right.

Centrists’ “ideas” are a weird amalgam of television images, talkback arguments and newspaper headlines. Their morals are drawn from half-remembered parental reproofs; lines from songs, movies, TV dramas, novels and magazines – not forgetting pub-talk and the angry abuse of social media. Centrists communicate in the common parlance of popular culture: the inconsistent, self-contradictory and ever-changing patois of office, street, tavern and suburban lounge. Politically-speaking, the Centre is a rubbish skip: if there’s a message in there, then, for the most part, it’s a very confused one.

And if that sounds like the manifesto of your average political party, then you’re right on the money. The endless pursuit of the Centrist voter has reduced our politicians to the equivalent of those journalistic low-lifes who go scavenging through the garbage of the rich and famous. In much the same way, the carelessly discarded detritus of the men and women “in the middle” gets picked over by political rubbish men, cleaned up, and re-cycled into party policy.

The enormous appeal of men like Jeremy Corbyn is that their messages do not carry the oily patina of the centrist swamp. People respond to the message’s clarity, its simplicity, and the way each piece of its fits together to form a coherent picture of an alternative future. At first, not everybody sees the picture, but before too long word of its power and beauty spreads. There are images of it on television; arguments in its favour are heard on talkback; and it gets condensed into newspaper headlines. Parents recall catching a glimpse of the picture when they were young. There are songs about it – movies and TV dramas follow. It’s talked about in offices, streets, pubs and suburban lounges.

And the political rubbish men who go poking about in the skips of the Centre are suddenly confronted with evidence of some very different patterns of consumption. And the message it conveys is very clear.

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

The Centre has changed.


  1. The centre or the middle is a natural inclination of people.

    When you question people and ask them to place themselves on a scale, they generally put themselves in the middle.
    No matter what the question is; because they want to run with the herd, be part of the consensus.

    The key is change the mindset of people. Go left-left-left wing, so the centre-left positions become the “centre”.

    • The “Centre” is a necessary fiction.
      There are people attracted by Rightist ideas and people who are attracted by Leftist ideas. There are people who never think about those kind of things.
      Talk abot the centre is just another way of saying you have to persuade a body of people to accede to your position.
      Anyone who goes out to represent “The Centre” or to appeal to them is making a mistake, there is none. What is needed is to encourage people to move their opinions in the direction of yours. This means presenting an attractive persona and an inclusive philosophy on your side of politics.
      The past couple of decades has left many with the idea that life is all about getting more money and spending it on more stuff. And if that is true, you might as well support a party who have nailed their colours to that particular mast.
      As we all know, there is more to life than that, but don’t presume that your typical voter is aware of that. It is many years since that concept was front and centre.

  2. A very sagacious metaphor young Chris.

    So extrapolating from that, does it make Peter Dunne the swamp itself or the…

    Swamp Thing?

    Oddly enough although the National Party hold the firm rocky ground to the far right, they appear to be one of the most nebulous, vapid, insubstantial do nothingers (?) we’ve ever encountered.

    Methinks the right, far from being a rock (or a swamp, for that matter) is actually more like an ocean…

    Sink or swim!

  3. Heck, that is the most arrogant rubbish I’ve seen on these pages for a long time.

    Unless you have some kind of magic window into peoples minds, you don’t know what those in the centre think. But I’ll tell you a secret Chris: We in the centre think you’re a bit of a joke.

    I don’t know what you think qualifies you to be this superior being who knows more than the rest of us. I don’t know the details of your CV Chris but to me it looks like you’ve spent your life on the fringe, commenting on other peoples efforts, having never achieved anything yourself.

      • Firstly Frank you don’t know who I support.

        Secondly if I did vote for the National Party in the last election I would be part of the MAJORITY that did. That, Frank, is therefore the centre.

        • Judging by everything you’re written, Andrew, I’m calling you a National voter (Electorate Vote) and maybe ACT voter (Party Vote).

          By the way, mate, you keep repeating the mantra that the “majority voted for National”.

          That is incorrect. Let me disabuse you of that notion.

          In 2014, 47.04% votes went to National (a drop of 0.28% from 2011). So 52.96% voted against National. And last time I looked, 52.96% constitutes a majority against your 47.04%.

          Even in 2011, National received only 47.31% of the vote – with 52.69% voting against. Still a majority opposed to the Nats.

          Before you rabbit on about “the centre”, I suggest you have a good re-read (did you read it in the first place?!) of Chris’ article about what constitutes “the centre”. Because neither you nor any other person can tell me that “the centre” constitutes people who all think the same way you do. You are dreaming if you do.

          • The goal in politics should be to persuade people to your point of view. Venal politicians such as Winston Peters prey on the worst instincts of people to gain the baubles of office.

            I think it’s best not to get into an Us-and-them mentality. It saddens me when you get some people see those on the other side of politics having moral defects instead of listening to their views.

              • Lost causes maybe but i would be wary of offending your potential voters.
                I think most people want a virtuous society but they differ on how to get there.
                When you make politics too tribal you tend to alienate people .
                Many commentators here, i can imagine to be zealots. They won’t ever change the topic of the conversation. Instead of being negative all the time, point to examples overseas where the models you espouse work.

                Then campaign on it, repeat …..effect change.

                Banging on about neoliberal this and that will lose people. Give concrete examples of successful policies. If the nats then adopt it, treat it as success. Your worldview is becoming the “centre”
                Positivity beats negativity.

              • For lost causes, it’s fair game for either side as there is little loss. You have to go where the votes are, it’s counterproductive to go after the supporters that you want to turn.

                The term neoliberal is becoming as useful as bourgeoisie and proletariart; term for the converted but a turnoff for the majority. It’s becoming a marker of the politically disaffected.
                I would like to see concrete examples of positive thing we would want to achieve and that would be the message.
                Like how North Korea managed a 99% election turnout, no missing millions there. Abolished poverty; they pretty much all have the median income level. They are against free trade. They also have an independent foreign policy thumbing their noses at the American hegemony.
                How about Cuba, they nationalised everything and they very good at conservation, those 1950’s cars are amazing. Consumerism is overrated. Need to go back to simpler times.
                Maybe France and their long annual leaves and how it makes people happier and reduces unemployment.
                Greece and early retirement, reduces unemployment.
                Can’t use Scandinavia, they gone neoliberal too, shame.
                You can always demonise the other side once you are voted into power and control the guns, viva Hugo Chavez.

                • Idiot – try NZ before your ‘neo liberalism ‘ came to town. We were the second wealthiest nation on earth per capita during the 1960’s .

                  And one other thing….I’ve noticed a trend happening with you trolls…taking a different tack now….constantly stating or implying the Left is negative and banging on about neo liberal this or that…

                  This is a new little tactic , now isn’t it…problem is its a false assumption.

                  The reason why it appears negative is because it attacks your dear little neo liberal leader- and his anti democratic , anti sovereign little games.

                  Sorry bud- the narrative wont wash around here.

                  • Nice sentiments but bad campaign slogans they make.
                    Bill Clinton had a field day with Bob Dole waxing lyrically about the halcyon days of the 50’s.

                    “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow……” love Clinton’s campaign song.

                    That man, can campaign. Wow.

                    Positive not negative

                    • And you fall into the trap of jargonese yourself…Methinks the truth hits home every time the neo liberal agenda is decried – and you dont like it.

                      Its as simple as that so stop trying to dress it up as anything else, please.

                    • Touche,Wild Kapito. I’m caught out.
                      So easy to go on a downhill spiral. I must resist…

                      Right-wingers would love the talk about neoliberals. It nicely compartmentalise those who use it.

                      Imagine the right-wingers talking about socialism, gold-standard, Austrian economics and the road-to-serfdom ad nauseum. People would dismiss ’em as crackpots.

                      Mirror image?

                  • [LionKing: you have not complied with my earlier emailed request. Your posting privileges are rescinded and I will be emailing you shortly. – ScarletMod]

            • @ David . Dear, dear David . I love you too. I love @ Andrew and I love you. Isn’t life more pleasant with plentiful love for all.
              Can I ask you this ? Just who’s arse do you have your head up? Your own, or someone else’s? I ask you this because I have your interests at heart. Since you’ve had your head up various arses for such a long time as to not have noticed the lies, deceits, swindling’s, deviant shenanigans and the bold awfulness of those most hateful scum ( No disrespect to actual scum. ) I.E. The Attack of The Jonky Clones that you must withdraw your head and take a breath and let the oxygenated blood flush out the excrement that’s stuck in there. I’m just thinking about the men I love . No disrespect. After all , I love you xxxx Cuddle ? Yes ? No ?

        • ‘secondly if I did vote for the National Party in the last election I would be part of the MAJORITY that did. That, Frank, is therefore the centre’…ahh, NO! That is the fascist right, mein troll, and you support right wing social engineering. That’s the thing about right wing fascists, they think they are moderate and centrist- their superiority complex distorts their perception.

        • The MAJORITY voting for the Natz is an ongoing mistake and very misleading. They got a slim majority of the ” registered voters” but many did not vote so to continue the lie that they got the majority support is just wrong. The MAJORITY of the NZ citizens did not vote them back in – far from it.

          I bet now that many wished they had never voted in such an out of touch and elitist and power hungry corporate lacky bunch of idiots that are now at the helm.

          I grow weary of your labels Chris. Seems you support confusion and division more than make sense of the political reality.

          • Nay….merely a succinct commentary on the lack of voter participation and a critique of those who erroneously consider themselves ‘ centrist ‘ without actually having analysed just what being centrist actually is :

            Which is as Chris says…a conglomerate and hodgepodge more often than not of a collection of inherited ideas and biases …

            And only can call themselves ‘centrist ‘ because they have not stopped to consider that being in the ‘center’ is a collection of ideas and attitudes that emanate from both the left and the right.

            Whereby the truth for most New Zealanders is actually they favour the ideas of the original social democracy we once had…it is here that the Jekyll and Hyde personality undergoes stress…

            They fail to understand that many of the egalitarian principles they inherently feel were from a previous era…and being loathe to fully embrace the excesses of neo liberalism…yet wanting to be part of it at the same time…creates in them a mercurial and whimsical nature….hence the swinging voter…

            Who is also susceptible to the siren song of the subversive neo liberal.

            Who is it that said once ‘ The life not analysed is a life not worth living ‘ has some relevance here.

            Though it may be a bit extreme to claim that…being uncommitted has its consequences…

          • Ahhh….it was Socrates who said …”the unexamined life is not worth living”…

            my humble apologies …and as I cannot see what I typed I cannot tell if I misquoted that .

            I really am becoming a fan of Socrates these days though I must admit.

      • L00L ! ….The delusions and desperate efforts of the far right to spin their way out a tight corner can be hilarious.

        You can tell he/she is starting to get angsty simply by the resorting to arguments that have no substance and only put downs.

        Its called ‘exposing oneself’….or ….the ‘ Emperor has no clothes ‘.

      • I cant prove whether Andrew is National or not, but he is definitely a climate change denier (check Latifa Daud’s blog) and in my experience right wing voters are Climate Change deniers, which in itself is strange because Climate Change should be non-political, shouldn’t it?

        • No @DD it’s very political. Global warming invalidates the right-wing political philosophy as GW shows it to be clearly an unsustainable philosophy. That’s why they deny like hell: they can’t stand that physical reality invalidates their philosophy.

    • @ Andrew. Dear, dear Andrew. Before I begin, just let me say that I love you. When a man ( ? ) starts an ignorant diatribe against a superior mind, which reminds us all that jealousy is an ugly thing, with ‘ Heck’ , I just know what kind of flawless and unsullied mind you have. You’re mind is surely a low milage Skoda of a thing just waiting to break down somewhere remote with a boot load of pointless opinions but no spare parts worth much at all. The only thing you bring to the table is a reason to stand up and walk away from it.
      And I notice that Chris Trotter has achieved one important thing here. He’s flushed you out of your yourself and allowed you to prove to us all that you are a beautiful idiot. Again . I love you xxxx

    • “Unless you have some kind of magic window into peoples minds, you don’t know what those in the centre think. But I’ll tell you a secret Chris: We in the centre think you’re a bit of a joke.

      I don’t know what you think qualifies you to be this superior being who knows more than the rest of us.”

      what qualifies YOU andrew?

  4. Jeremy Corbyn : ‘ End Austerity Now ‘ June 20th 2015 .

    You Tube.


    Jeremy Corbyn : Labour Leadership Interview . NewsNight .

    You Tube.


  5. Centrists’ “ideas” are a weird amalgam of television images, talkback arguments and newspaper headlines. Their morals are drawn from half-remembered parental reproofs; lines from songs, movies, TV dramas, novels and magazines – not forgetting pub-talk and the angry abuse of social media. Centrists communicate in the common parlance of popular culture: the inconsistent, self-contradictory and ever-changing patois of office, street, tavern and suburban lounge. Politically-speaking, the Centre is a rubbish skip: if there’s a message in there, then, for the most part, it’s a very confused one.

    Evidenced by those individuals who demand free healthcare on the one hand – but think it’s ok for our kids to pay for their university education (which their parents got free) and be lumbered with $14 billion worth of debt. Or those who expect welfare to be there when they need it, or for superannuation – but bay at the moon at those who actually do take it up.

    And more generally, those who want state-provided social services – but don’t want to pay for it. (Hence seven tax cuts since 1986.)

    When political parties pander to our basest of instincts and validate anti-social beliefs, then the outcome is predictable.

    The picture of our Dear Leader, raised in a State House, and whose mother was supported by Welfare – and then proceeds to dismantle that same system – is an irony lost on most New Zealanders, who seem more preoccupied with the latest Reality TV show than where their own country is heading.

    Or former-welfare minister, Paula Bennett who used the Training Incentive Allowance (TIA) to better herself when she was on welfare as a solo-mum – and then scrapped it in 2009, when she became Minister.

    New Zealanders seem uncomfortable with the naked market-barbarism of ACT (hence their apallingly low turn out at the last elections – 0.69%) – but feel more comfortable with National, which is heading in the same direction, but at a snail’s pace.

    The difference is that National is using the frog-in-a-gradually-boiling-pot-of-water technique to instill more market-driven ideals in our culture. ACT prefers the more immediate searing-blast-of-a-flamethrower to do the same job.

    Any potential leader on the Left who dares challenge this paradigm will have the full force of the Establishment (business community voices; NZ Herald over-hyped/distorted stories; dirty tricks/smears from certain right-wing bloggers; talkback radio; etc) to contend with.

    Meanwhile, the voices challenging the Establishment (Campbell, Forbes, De Boni, et al) are slowly, quietly, methodically, removed.

    That leaves the likes of Gower, Hosking, Henry, et al) to spin for the government and undermine any other alternative.

    It’s more insidious than anything George Orwell could have dreamed of, or the former-USSR could have achieved.

    Because it’s all done gradually. No more shock-tactics of the Douglas-Lange era. Give the peasants their crap TV; fill the shops with crap goods; and instill crap attitudes that anyone who is left behind has made poverty a “life-style decision”.

    Only when one has lived through the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and actually taken note of things happening, does one recognise a pattern emerging. (So many young journos have no such memory, and no in depth knowledge or understanding of our recent history.)

    Perhaps the best way I can illustrate it is through this TV advertisement;


    When you look at the subtext of that advert, it becomes more ghastly as you watch it. The message is crystal clear which I’ll spell out for those lesser-observant right-wingers who frequent this blog: conform. Consume; conform.

    Right-wingers complain bitterly at what they perceive as “social engineering” whenever the Left want to implement progressive polices (women voting, homosexual law reform, marriage equality, etc)… yet the most effective social engineering seen in our lifetime has been the slow transformation of New Zealand’s egalitarian society, into one of rampant, naked consumerism; individualism; conservative judgementalism which condemns those left behind; and disengaging the poor from the political system.

    Conform. Consume. Condemn.

    All achieved since 1984.

    The good news?

    Social engineering works both ways.

    • erudite reply Frank, todays shallow consumerists that would rather attend a 100 boxing day sales than one TPPA Walk Away march have had a long gestation, the tendency to feel ‘prisoners of out times’ is easily overcome though by zooming out and taking in the sweep of history

      stand up! fightback!

      • Thanks, Tiger.

        As someone who remembers the theme music to “Z Cars”; Ena Sharples on “Coro St”; and the very first creepy appearance of the Daleks on NZBC – I’ve seen governments come and go, and what they have wrought…

        • Tell you what , Frank …if we had an Ena Sharples on the Left we wouldn’t even have a jOHN kEY as a PM.

          And yes….your above post was succinct. But a time is coming when this neo liberal hegemony at current times will be displaced.

          And it will create rucktions when it arrives …already there are the early signs there’s not that far to go….the people are actually becoming aware…despite any immediate polls, opinions or spin to the contrary.

        • I also lived through the 1970s, etc, and the 1950s, and have seen the unfolding of it all, the “slowing boiling frog” of creeping neoliberalism, after the initial shock tactics of Douglas, Prebble and Richardson.

          If this continues, it will not be long before there is literally NOTHING left to flog off or contract out, and the sacred neoliberalist cow will itself die a slow agonising death, along with our country, while all those muppetts in “the centre” continue on blindly believing in the fantasy world of Planet Key.

          It has now gone past the point of no return. Nothing can now save us, and within a few years the whole rotten mess will implode. God knows what will happen after that, but it will not be pretty.

          • Then I suggest we look at the causative factors of the 1930’s and take a leaf from the era of Michael Joseph Savage – and just why social democracy rescued us out of that mess created by the free market of the 1920’s….

            It was not that long ago that the destructive effects of Lassiez Faire (which is a variant of neo liberalism ) of the 1920’s created exactly the same sort of economic and social problems we see today.

            Social democracy from that era on to 1984 practiced Keynesian economics – an entirely different beast from neo liberalism.

            It would however take a strong govt – and unfortunately mass discontentment of large sectors of the population – to back them in overturning the destructiveness of the neo liberal machine.

            What you are expressing is the realization of the sheer magnitude that we were wrong all that time … that for 35 years we conducted one of the greatest and most foolish of all experiments in allowing neo liberalism to gain such a grip on our country…

            So much so that it seems incomprehensible that there could ever be a way back or out…

            But the reality is this : we need only to turn to our history books to see that yes, ….there is indeed a way out….and that previous generations who suffered more than us found it.

            And it is those that we need to revise and learn from.

    • I think we’re a similar age Frank. When you’ve ‘lived history’ like we have you aren’t so taken in with the current dogma. I’m the sort of bloody minded person who would deliberately pay in cash. Hand over me milk stout chuck.

    • Because it’s all done gradually. No more shock-tactics of the Douglas-Lange era. Give the peasants their crap TV; fill the shops with crap goods; and instill crap attitudes that anyone who is left behind has made poverty a “life-style decision”.

      I think this is looking at it the wrong way. This is actually how people think, or, more accurately, it is how they respond to focus group questions and pollsters.

      You might have noticed the peculiar fact that our society seems stuck in a cycle of endlessly trying to sell us minor variations on the things we’ve bought before. This isn’t an accident – it is the malign effect of market research on our lives. It should be absolutely no surprise that politics is stuck in the same stifling rut.

      Rob Salmond’s problem is that his livelihood depends on just this approach to politics. I guess it works if all you want to do is slight variations on what went before, but it’s pretty useless for anyone who wants anything decent out of politics. The fact is that you cannot focus group real political change because individuals’ cues on what is politically acceptable come from wider society, and when they do change enough to effect political change, it’s usually because society hits a tipping point (think how quickly the US tipped on Civil Rights, or how quickly gay marriage has become acceptable).

      There’s really two types of politics: the poll-driven bullshit kind that never really changes anything, and the long term ideological struggle, which effects radical change, but is really hard to pull off. Anyone who is a real lefty should only care about the latter. So what if Corbyn looks a bit odd to the UK public. Thatcher used to look even more of a nutter once.

  6. The underlying issue in this ‘I know what’s best for you all’ belief of Chris’s is that, given a position of power he would eventually seek to shove his beliefs down the throats of the rest of us with arbitrary laws once we didn’t comply with his ideal.

    This is the road to totalitarianism.

    For those interested in some serious reading on the subject, read Karl Popper’s ‘The Open Society and its Enemies’.

    • ‘I know what’s best for you all’ appears to be the guiding principle of this current government.

      Just watch out for those dangerous worm farms, Andrew. They’re life-threatening according to this government.

      Or if you’re a worker in the film industry – the government will change your working conditions and status within 48 hours; irrespective of what you’ve negotiated; and flick Warner Bros an extra subsidy.

      So… you were saying about ‘I know what’s best for you all’?

      (Unless you’re a Saudi businessman. In which case National will flick you a spare $11.5 million to see you right.)

      • Quite possibly, but then maybe I’m not a National Party supporter.

        But getting back on topic, the thing you all bang on about on this site is ‘Neo-Liberalism’, of which I am a definite fan.

        Us Liberals believe in well regulated free markets and the sanctity of individuals to do as they please, just as long as it doesn’t impinge on the rights of others.

        Whilst I drink very little beer, don’t attend rugby matches and have never watched an episode of Shortland Street, I would never be so arrogant as to look down on beer swilling rugby fans who watch Shortland Street. We live in a free country, it’s their money and it’s their choice. Maybe after a long day doing a REAL job, zoning out in front of the TV with a frosty is just the thing.

        • ” Us Liberals believe in well regulated free market ”……

          And you have just mentioned the very thing that has wrecked this country which was brought on by the neo liberals – the complete and utter absence of any regulatory practice in the ‘free market ‘.

          THIS is the ROOT CAUSE of the declining living standards in this country .

        • “Us Liberals believe in well regulated free markets and the sanctity of individuals to do as they please, just as long as it doesn’t impinge on the rights of others. ”

          Then, Andrew, you are clearly NOT a neo-liberal.

          Perhaps just another Labour right winger.

          God knows there are a lot of them…

          Which is prolly why Labour can’t get no satistraction.

        • George Soros, enigmatic financier, liberal philanthropist dies at XX
          (Reuters) – George Soros, who died XXX at age XXX, was a predatory and hugely successful financier and investor, who argued paradoxically for years against the same sort of free-wheeling capitalism that made him billions.
          He was known as “the man who broke the Bank of England” for selling short the British pound in 1992 and helping force the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, which devalued the pound and earned Soros more than $1 billion.
          And his Soros Fund Management was widely blamed for helping trigger the Asian financial crisis of 1997, by selling short the Thai baht and Malaysian ringgit.
          “Subsequently, Prime Minister Mahatir of Malaysia accused me of causing the crisis, a wholly unfounded accusation,” Soros wrote in The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Open Society Endangered,” in 1998.
          “We were not sellers of the currency during or several months before the crisis; on the contrary … we were purchasing ringgits to realize profits on our earlier speculation.”
          Still, economist Paul Krugman, was one of many observers who accused Soros of helping trigger the crisis.
          In 1999, Krugman wrote that “nobody who has read a business magazine in the last few years can be unaware that these days there really are investors who not only move money in anticipation of a currency crisis, but actually do their best to trigger that crisis for fund and profit.”
          Still, Soros has written extensively on the folly of what he has called free market “fundamentalism,” the belief of many conservative economists that markets will correct themselves with no need for government intervention.
          In Soros’ view, markets and investors are subject to “mood” swings, or a prevailing positive or negative bias which can be exploited by savvy investors but which inevitably lead to damaging market bubbles and boom/bust cycles.
          An enigma, wrapped in intellect, contradiction and money.
          A Jew born in Hungary as the Nazis were gaining power in Germany, Soros survived World War Two and then emigrated to Great Britain, where he earned a degree from the London School of Economics in 1952, and landed his first job in the financial industry largely through pure stubborn chutzpah.
          While at the London School, Soros studied under the economist and philosopher Karl Popper and a main vehicle for his philanthropy, the Open Society Institute, is named for Popper’s two-volume work, “The Open Society and Its Enemies.”
          In that work, Popper develops the philosophy of reflexivity, a theory first articulated by William Thomas in the 1920s that posits that individual biases enter into market transactions, coloring the perception of economic fundamentals. Soros has attributed his own financial success in part to his understanding of the reflexive effect.
          Key to understanding that effect is recognizing when markets are in a condition of near-equilibrium, or in disequil democratic values in the post-Soviet economies of Central and Eastern Europe, where he witnessed the rise of communism in Hungary after World War Two.
          “The bulk of his enormous winnings (as an investor and speculator) is now devoted to encouraging transitional and emerging nations to become ‘open societies,'” former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker wrote in the foreword to Soros’ “The Alchemy of Finance” (2003). entities he controls), he has argued nevertheless for strong central government regulation to correct for and counterbalance the excesses of greed, fear and the free market.
          Popper’s idea of fallibilism, which posits that anything one believes may in fact be wrong, is another key principle that has guided Soros in his career, and his philanthropy.
          Soros’ philanthropy since the 1970s, when he began funding the studies of black students at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, has been marked as much by his personal journey as by the needs of the communities he has set out to serve.
          His efforts through the Open Society Institute and the Soros Foundations have been skewed toward the effort to promote democratic values in the post-Soviet economies of Central and Eastern Europe, where he witnessed the rise of communism in Hungary after World War Two.
          “The bulk of his enormous winnings (as an investor and speculator) is now devoted to encouraging transitional and emerging nations to become ‘open societies,'” former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker wrote in the foreword to Soros’ “The Alchemy of Finance” (2003).
          “Open,” Volcker wrote, “not only in the sense of freedom of commerce but – more important – tolerant of new ideas and different modes of thinking and behavior.”
          Soros also pledged $50 million in 2006 to the Millennium Promise, led by economist Jeffrey Sachs, to provide educational, agricultural and medical aid to help poor villages in Africa. And the Open Society Institute has expanded its giving to more than 60 countries around the world, giving away roughly $600 million a year.
          Soros was an early supporter of the peaceful transformation of the Solidarity movement in Poland and Open Society Institute programs were considered by many Western observers to be a key factor in the success of the “Rose Revolution” in Georgia.
          While his philanthropy has earned him friends around the world, his political giving has earned him both friends and enemies. Former President George W. Bush, who Soros blamed for turning the United States into “the main obstacle to a stable and just world order,” was perhaps the bigg, it has not been without defeat. His investment in France’s Societe Generale following Jacques Chirac’s aggressive program of privatization led to charges of insider trading, which he disputed, and eventual conviction and the payment of a small penalty.
          And he was a minority partner in a group that failed to acquire the Washington Nationals Major League baseballion to more than 500 liberal and progressive groups during the 2003-2004 U.S. election cycle.
          Other causes that have attracted Soros’ generosity include drug policy reform. He donated $1.4 million to promote California’s Proposition 5 in 2008, a failed initiative that would have expanded drug rehabilitation programs as alternatives to prison for non-violent drug offenders, and $400,000 to the successful 2008 Massachusetts initiative to decriminalize possession of less than an ounce (28 grams) of marijuana.
          He has also been a vocal supporter of the right to die in dignity, revealing in 1994 that he had offered to help his own mother, a member of the Hemlock Society, commit suicide.
          While Soros’ life has been marked by remarkable success in his far-flung endeavors, it has not been without defeat. His investment in France’s Societe Generale following Jacques Chirac’s aggressive program of privatization led to charges of insider trading, which he disputed, and eventual conviction and the payment of a small penalty.
          And he was a minority partner in a group that failed to acquire the Washington Nationals Major League baseball team.
          But these failings stand out in the life of this remarkably successful Hungarian-American financier, philanthropist and thinker, in contrast to his stubborn refusal to fail in virtually every other venture.
          Article taken from:http://www.reuters.com/…/soros-george-b-aug-idUSL2N0CR1TF20… article has been 404’d

          Your conspiracy theories have been thoroughly discredited Andrew.

      • Just what I was thinking about the ‘I know whats best for you all ‘ arrogant dogma of the neo liberal.

        We’ve been hearing that rammed own our throats for the last 35 years – and most certainly have reached a stage where we have never reached before in fascist type govt methods – a new precedent set under this jOHN kEY.

          • Well, @ David. You make it very hard for a man to love you.
            The richness of the irony of your comment to Wild Katipo is enough to make jerry brownlee blanch at his ninth helping of the food of others.
            All you do is puff out shallow truisms and logical fallacies like you’re quoting from the Readers Digest. Shallow , hollow truisms with all the colour of fog. You would bore a bucket of sand. I tell you man. It’s hard to love a fellow who’s so shamelessly stupid, poor dear . Love you xxxxxx

            P.S. ” Have a frosty ” ? Where did you get that one from ? You must never use that term to discribe a cold beer ever again. Never. No, never . There’s something about clipped American cliches that just make me want to write the above. I loath ” Have a few bevvies” also Uugh !

            • I am not sure it’s me or Andrew you are getting angry about.
              But Andrew the reader’s digest quote I like is, “better to keep quiet and have people think you are an idiot; than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

              Countryboy you have removed all doubt, well done.

              • On the contrary…the simplistic and now indefensible stance of those apologists such as yourself for neo liberalism – YES, – NEO LIBERALISM – leads you on to more and more ludicrous justifications of your stance.

                This is what is happening to you right here on this blog and in a desperate attempt to deny that you resort to not – so – smart one liner put downs.

                Failing that – the job of you apologists is clearly becoming harder and harder as every deceit that Key makes becomes progressively more and more blatant.

                I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes for quids, mate.

              • Hey – and one other thing David – that quote didn’t come from the Readers Digest at all – it came from the Bible ….the book of Proverbs , I believe….

                Touch’e an’ all chap.

          • Ahhh…the condescending tones of the cornered.

            When running out of options …pull out the patronizing attitudes.

            Yes,…yes…very Jenny Shipley , Roger Douglas …very John Key of you…

            That a person my age who has lived through both the social democratic Keynesian economics era of the 1960’s and 1970’s – and has the years to see the difference between what this treasonous neo liberalism has produced in my country and the years before it …

            And you make a laughable statement like that.

            Sonny boy…..I’ve been both the EMPLOYED and the EMPLOYER.

            I’ve seen BOTH sides of the fence.

            I’ve watched this country decline from the 1980’s onward’s because of the continued skulduggery of neo liberalism. I’ve seen the very results of all this guile , destruction and treason at work in my own country.

            And experienced the raw end of the stick because of it.

            But your diatribes are starting to bore me seriously.

            For all the long period of time you have been hanging around this site , …one would have thought you would have learnt something by now. Alas…you are unteachable…and are in fact nothing but a tool and apologist for those who you aspire to be just like one day.

            One day.

            Sad , sad little cretin you are.

        • You hang in there Mr Pungawerewere, you’re doing just fine.

          I’ve also lived long enough to have known a world without neo-liberalism and I certainly do not buy its fecal message.

          As for ramming our ideas down throats, it’s more like trying to pop a pimple or a sore tooth.

      • Frank, you can’t have it both ways.

        A couple of days ago some clown here was banging on about how the current government had diluted the latest safety regulation changes, putting us all at risk but now you’re saying it’s all Nanny State.

        Pick a tune and whistle it.

        • The difference between social democratic regulations is that it at least try’s to safeguard its society – the regulations and legislation of the neo liberal is always designed to safeguard the interests of the neo liberal only.

          Such as we all witnessed with the lack of union mines inspectors and the loss of 29 lives at Pike River.

          And Andrew?…you really want to know why jOHN kEY truly doesn’t want to enter that mine?….its called pathology reports.

          And if its found that those men survived the initial blast….Hoooooooooooo boy !!!!

          Bang goes the neo liberals cozy little collusion with big business – as you see , mutt , – carbon monoxide poisoning is only found in soft tissues…its harder to detect it in osteo type tissues….

          But if it does get detected that fine day when we have an honest PM….it will show clearly that some of those guys did in fact survive…yet were killed off by lack of safety standards – or any real way to survive….and as it stands…the culpability of big business is going to clearly to be blame…

          And that’s exactly and precisely what jOHN kEY doesn’t want to come out.

          Much like the same sort of shoddy crappy mortality statistics that goes on in many other industry…check out the mortality reports for yourself ….


          Nice one , eh dumbass.

        • Andrew.
          I suggest you sew up the hole in your neo- liberal pocket and get your hand off ‘it’.
          The term ‘free market ‘ is the biggest myth of all myths invented and used as a tool and excuse for greedy money manipulators. Money traders are one of the biggest beneficiaries.
          If the ‘free market’ was truly a free market, why after the Global Financial Crisis were the greedy banks with their greedy manipulative derivatives mechanism, which amongst other things was responsible for triggering the crash , bailed out ?
          The ‘free market’ should have seen them fail !

    • “Unless you have some kind of magic window into peoples minds, you don’t know what those in the centre think.”

      Likewise, unless you have some kind of magic window into Chris Trotter’s mind, you don’t know what he’s likely to do should he ever be in a position of power. It’s all speculation.

      Isn’t it exhausting, Andrew? Having to invent excuses for the draconian excesses of your masters? Constantly having to defend the indefensible? I admire your persistence, if nothing else.

  7. Centrists’ “ideas” are a weird amalgam of television images, talkback arguments and newspaper headlines. Their morals are drawn from half-remembered parental reproofs; lines from songs, movies, TV dramas, novels and magazines – not forgetting pub-talk and the angry abuse of social media. Centrists communicate in the common parlance of popular culture: the inconsistent, self-contradictory and ever-changing patois of office, street, tavern and suburban lounge. Politically-speaking, the Centre is a rubbish skip: if there’s a message in there, then, for the most part, it’s a very confused one.

    Way to go – denigrate the very people who you need to convince to think like you. Straight out of “How to win friends and influence people”. Not.

    • The center exists only because it IS IN THE CENTER of two different extremes of thought /ideology’s…therefore it dabbles in a little bit of both.

      Chris Trotter is dead right .

      And what really drives and scares the shit out of you right wing jOHN kEY supporters is the rise of the likes of Jeremy Corbyn in England – as you know full well what sort of impact this will have on your precious neo liberalism globally when it becomes progressively discredited.

      That scares the living shit out of you people.

  8. Sick of this Neo-Liberal BS it is purely a wealth transfer from the taxpayers to the 1% percenters who are creaming the rest of society.

    The problem is, with the 1% percenters controlling all the wealth the rest of us do not have disposable income to spend hence we are seeing the breakdown of society which also happened in the Victorian Era.

    Key and his cronies are basically re-inventing the wheel with the social engineering policies they have introduced.

    “Greed is Best” is a sick Tory Policy which will fail in the long run.

  9. ‘The Centre’ is to me a bit like the “median”, like in median income or whatever statistics. But while it does of course have a meaning in the form of a division line between two sets of data above and below, it can be rather misleading, and does not necessarily mean the average.

    So we can ask yourselves, what does the “centre” stand for, who is part of the “centre”, and where does it begin and end, e.g. when looking at persons’ living standards, incomes and so forth.

    As data can be skewed, a “median” house price may not be the average house price, and a “median” income may not really represent the average income of all persons in a society and country. So who can and does actually identify themselves with “the centre”?

    What we seem to be getting is a lot of misinformation, intended misinformation, yes blatant manipulation, when media and politicians talk about “the centre”. Most will think this represents the “middle class”, but then it can be a rather subjective decision, to judge, who belongs to the “middle class”.

    There may be a large number of people falling below a “median” income but being more representative of the “average”, while we may get skewed statistics about “median” incomes in a supposedly growing economy, being a type of income only a relative few people may earn, because a minority may earn disproportionately well.

    The people are very subjective, and many that may belong to the lower middle class may rather feel at “home” in the “centre”, as they do not wish to be seen as “losers”. They may be the many Kiwi battlers, doing it tough, but trying all to keep up with the Joneses’. I think that is where most in New Zealand are, that still count themselves to “the centre” of society.

    As they dream of home ownership, a new car and better living standards they rather keep on struggling and pretend they are coping, and they will support a government and system that INCLUDES them, by saying they want to work for and look after “all New Zealanders” or rather more “the centre” or middle class.

    What can swiftly upset the perception of where the “centre” is, is an economic downturn, that will suddenly place many at financial and social risk, when they face job insecurity, loss of income and so forth. Then the perceived “centre” may suddenly shift down a bit, and that is what Labour and the opposition in general may need to get voted into government again.

    In my view this talk about “centre” and “middle ground” is largely very vague and ambiguous talk, it is abused by politicians, to present themselves as being inclusive and standing for most of the population. But there is a large section of the population that only opts to side with the better off, simply due to their hopes and desires they can also “make it” one day, and be better off. So they make compromises with the ruling elite, the upper middle class and the system maintained by the government in place.

    The ones missing out are always the poor, those not even really part of the lower end of the supposed “centre” or middle class, as nobody really wishes to be sitting or standing besides them.

    Thanks to the Joneses’ we have the never ending mis-identification of many with a mythical “centre”, that nobody really knows, where exactly it is.

  10. The Tories talk of being a centre-right Party, they are in fact a right wing party who require support from the centre, they tend to attract the people who see themselves as wealthy Tories in later life or who aspire to be wealthy Tories, and agree with the right wing greed and dog eat dog mentality.

    • I agree with you Jack – centre right parties appeal to people who “aspire to be wealthy”. That you see this as a criticism highlights the difference between the viewpoints of left and right. What desires do centre left parties appeal to? Social justice and egalitarianism probably. Hence the contradictory appearance of the middle – they want both, or a bit of each at least.

      Most people see no need to have a coherent, logical and consistent political philosophy, and realise that its just human nature to be contradictory. Centrist voters (ie the majority) tend to be repelled by ideologically pure candidates of whatever stripe, so I wouldn’t get too excited by Jeremy Corbyn just yet. Remember what happened to Michael Foot?

      • And what you fail to mention is that Michael Foot was in the era before Reagun and Thatcher – or at least a contemporary that had no immediate answer or prior knowledge of what neo liberalism was about.

        But now we have had 35 years of discredited neo liberalism and people can now see for themselves how destructive its been.

        People are now no longer taken in by it.

        This explains the popularity of Jeremy Corbyn and why yes – there will be a time – fast coming when those who seek to maintain that neo liberal stance will find themselves increasingly being marginalized .

        Why ?

        Ill put it in good Kiwi woolshed vernacular…

        People don’t like selfish bastards.

        • Don’t know how you can say that neo-liberalism has been discredited and people are no longer “taken in by it”, given that numerous governments practising it have been re-elected recently. There’s always been an enthusiastic constituency for Jeremy Corbin’s policies, but it is a long way from being a majority.

          I agree that people “don’t like selfish bastards” but there’s a reason that there hasn’t been a traditional socialist government for 35 years – people also dislike other things too, and the world back then was not as rosy as you seem to believe.

          Nevertheless, sooner or later the pendulum will swing back, if only because in human affairs things are never perfect, and the public mood will change and want to try something different. But it will be the centrists who will need to switch parties to achieve this, and insulting them doesn’t seem a viable route to success.

          • It is precisely the gap between rich and poor that neo liberalism produces that will swing the pendulum. But it is important to see also that neo liberal is far more than an ideology – it is as you know an economic system primarily.

            A social democracy has as its economic system Keynesian economic theory …and simply because of that means wealth is distributed far more evenly. To a point you are right , those people who swing in their vote only need their most base foundations to crumble – home economics. Then they will look to something different.

            And that is why its important they are aware of a another way. And for the majority of workers and salary earners social democracy was far more to their advantage. It also suited small businesses far more because they were protected against cheap foreign produce that competed against them.

            The only ones who would take a hit and scream bloody blue murder would be the importers , Super banks and super rich – those who already have more than enough. And they would then have to start paying their fair share of tax – another thing they abhor.

            Which is ridiculous because under social democracy even the rich are not impeded in creating wealth. As there were many , many wealthy people in social democratic New Zealand prior to neo liberalism.

            Therefore it shows the true motive – greed.

  11. Those who are die hard right or die hard left are not the centre as they do not determine the outcome of elections. It is the swinging voter, the person who votes either way who is the centrist. In order to get the swinging vote you need to occupy what is commonly recognised as the centre ground.

    • But you don’t do that by appearing as no different from the opposing group.

      To do that means to make the same mistake this Labour party and England’s Labour party made under Tony Blair.

      And this is precisely why Labour have been seen a as a poor cousin of the National party and continue to not be in govt.

      It is also precisley why people like Jeremy Corbyn are having such runaway success – because they STAND for something . And that’s drawing people from both the right and the left – what you would call ‘the swinging centrist voters’ .

      Because there’s no fundamental reason for voters to vote otherwise if there is no difference.




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