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.
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.