GUEST BLOG: Paul – Labour – an identity crisis.


Naomi Klein’s seminal book the Shock Doctrine looks at the history of neo-liberalism and the methods by which it was implemented, first in South America, then the western democracies.

The U.S.A and the U.K. both saw the crazed ideas of Ayn Rand forced on them by the extreme right wing parties of Thatcher and Reagan. Bitter battles were fought in the 1980s as these policies were forced on the working people of these two countries.

It’s a pity a chapter about New Zealand did not feature in the book. For Aotearoa’s introduction to neo-liberalism came after a coup within the Labour Party, which saw the party of the working classes being hijacked by an inner cabal ; they were devoted to economic liberalism and proceeded to inflict all the zombie economic policies prescribed by Hayek and Friedman. These included such hammer blows to New Zealand’s working class as privatization, union bashing, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade deals and cuts in government spending, which cumulatively eroded away all the hard won rights gained since the start of the 20th century.

New Zealand’s adoption of neo-liberalism was unique, as they were implemented by a party founded on socialist principles.

TDB Recommends

And as it did this, Labour gave up fighting the key battle over the economy in the 1980s, ceding control to unregulated capitalism, which has since ripped the heart out of this country. Instead it directed its energies to ‘identity’ issues. Right from the start, this has been a distraction. New Zealand felt so proud of Lange’s anti-nuclear stance – so proud they forgot this was the same government that sold New Zealand’s assets for a song, creating our own oligarchs, to match the Russian variety.

Flash forward 33 years and Labour remains plagued by its dance with the devil of neo-liberalism.

It has never truly apologised to New Zealand workers for the actions of the 4th Labour government and its capture by the liberal class is intact to this day.

The events of last week when the unity of the party was sacrificed for another issue of identity politics will only create more disengaged voters, who see a party that has lost its sight of the main prize.

The urban liberals who prioritise identity politics above seizing control of the economy for workers and citizens are the Labour supporters who don’t get hurt when National wins an election.

They don’t struggle to pay their rent.

They don’t struggle to buy their children food for lunch.

They don’t struggle.

If Labour want to win the election and change the lives of all New Zealander’s for the better, it must do one thing. It must offer a genuine alternative to neo-liberalism.


Paul is a Political Blogger with a focus on the neo-liberal economy, climate change and the western media’s slavish support of the US neo-con narrative. He was banned from The Standard for 3 years for suggesting the Left, Liberals and Progressives should work together to change the National Government. 


  1. Labour needs to get rid of its Neoliberal past. Needs to embrace socialist principles again.


    How does that happen without sacrificing principles of equality and fighting against bigotry?

    • The liberalisation of society – women’s movement, LGBT and indigenous rights , etc – has run independent of neoliberalism and – infact – neoliberalism runs counter to equality (as many academic works have proven, like the Spirit Level). This is why the Democratic Party failed so badly – it’s not acceptable to vote in a woman if she is a woman who doesn’t stand for all women (particularly for the younger generation).

    • There is absolutely no conflict. In fact returning to a managed economy as we were before the neoliberal revolution is essential to implementing principles of equality and fighting against bigotry rather than just talking about it
      D J S

      • Given that then, why are people calling for Labour members to accept someone seen as promoting and entrenching rape culture, to promote racist and xenophobic immigration policies, and to be happy that a cop who wants to arm the police is now a candidate?

        • Wholesale immigration is not one of the things that is in the interests of the population already living here. It might be nice for the people who want to come , but it is at a cost to those already here overall.
          D J S

        • >> why are people calling for Labour members to accept someone seen as promoting and entrenching rape culture <> to promote racist and xenophobic immigration policies <> to be happy that a cop who wants to arm the police is now a candidate? <<

          Because this candidate has a very good chance of beating that neo-liberal klingon Peter Dunne, helping the opposition defeat the NatACTS. O'Conner seems to have modified his views on drug legalization, and it may be that other aspects of his politics have changed too. Even if he still thinks the cops should be armed, he's been made a candidate in a strategic electorate, not party leader, or policy dictator.

          I'm really not sure what those publicly knocking Labour for doing what's strategically necessary to defeat National hope to achieve. Would you rather be governed by the ACT tail that wags the National dog, or by a coalition of parties who will each need to compromise, and involve the public in the debate when they disagree? Coming the election, these are the options.

          • – Money is a tactical objective which is one part of a far greater and uglier tyranny. We live in a system that is driving people up the wall and any enlightened figure like Sue Bradford understands how enormous the monster is. Debt collecting is a tyrannical system in which power is going more and more into unaccountable totalitarian structures which are unaccountable to any one involved in monitoring and investigating welfare for the poorer which is different from welfare for the richer because we call those subsiding private corporations.

            Identification crack downs of beneficiaries is created to distort payment infrastructure but targeting people is an odd place to start. My impression of this tactical objective is to free beneficiaries from the routines of MSD discipline –

            To target infrastructure instead of people and emerging market leaders like Kim Dotcom we must look to the minders of the financial system because they have millions of other ways to undermine people and that is most reflected by the media. Its not just media its the entertainment industry and advertising ect is all a network of private tyrannies and has a huge problem with government because they don’t like government for the people – – Although Im calling Garner one part of the monster that the people has a hold on he still has il/legitimate influence over life to hate politics so we must get him to hate the government equally no matter what sectors of society it emerges from.

            While TVNZ is controlled at the state level you are guaranteeing that poorer people will not be represented because at the state level even middle sized business can decide on fiscal differences through advertising and shifting tax code and the monster continues its destruction which means the money goes to the rich –

            The idea is to reduce crown influence on tyrannical monsters such as Garner and TVNZ and grow the things that work for us like John Campbell and RNZ and separate them from crown influence so that those most effected by the monster has effluence over and go further and dismantle crown influence over PR merchants and anything else that doesn’t work for us and thats what has to be dismantled because it has no legitimacy and has the same intellectual roots as Fascists and should be dismantled by Gareth Morgan – – this isn’t where the the conversations over the democracy reset ends, this is where it starts because there are millions of ways democracy works well in New Zealand that needs to be aired and viewed and must be discussed.

            The existence of money is a side issue that facilitates the flow of resources in technical ways and can be exchanged by other means of trade but is a side issue to the question of Tyrannical

    • It’s the contrast between a rich female businesswoman complaining about not being on enough boards, and a female manual worker struggling hand to mouth to keep herself and family fed.

      Even women acknowledge that the “gender wars” narrative is BS when it’s being used to splinter any real reform of the economy. That’s why Trump still managed to get 42% of the female vote despite his (to be charitable) “primitive” conduct towards women being so dominant in the public conversation.

  2. Is Labour offering a genuine alternative to neo liberalism?
    If so most people haven’t noticed.
    The Greens and Mana are way further down that path than Labour is ever likely to be.

  3. Thanks Paul, this is a great New Zealand sum-up. The Labour Party is a dying beast until it understands that people have woken up and the party needs to be what they were before 1984, a party for the people. We really need a Burnie Sanders (could someone get Jim Anderson out of retirement, maybe?) but I think we’ll probably just get Winston next year.

  4. Lol. Nicely played Paul. Bond prices are in a down ward spiral so neoliberalism will be muted. Obviously trump triggered fundamentals guys into stocks. There are a huge amount of rushed deals being negotiated so naturally most of them will fail to meet design specs, miss maintenance costs and evaporate wealth just as fast as it appears.

  5. I am presently listening to Mark Blyth, an economist who explains some of the ideas I present above fluently and in detail.

    I would recommend people take the time to listen him.
    Here is one discussion.
    “Liberalisms’ great trick has been to naturalize very difficult political contests.”

    There are other talks online which are also fascinating.

  6. Labour needs to die, it’s that simple. One of the chief Labour Party neo-liberals is not the mayor of Auckland. Far Goff. Far Goff and die.

  7. Well said Paul. Until this nettle, along with its real-world consequences is grasped, the tensions on the left will remain, and will continue to increase in tandem with the growth of inequality. Not because “uneducated” people want to be racist, sexist, etc., but because they want real jobs and secure housing, and the assurance that the party that asks for their votes genuinely has their backs.

  8. John Ralston Saul has a chapter on New Zealand in his book The End of Globalism. It details the neoliberal experiment of Rogernomics and places it in the global context as a trial run, much like how Klein describes Chile after the coup to overthrow Allende.

      • You could also check out ‘The New Zealand Experiment’ by Jane Kelsey, or Alistair Barry’s excellent documentaries ‘Someone Else
        s Country’ and ‘In a Land of Plenty’ which tell the story of the neo-liberal coup of the 80s and 90s.

Comments are closed.