Friends In High Places: Will Jacinda Be Swept Into Power By Another “Revolution From Above”?

By   /   August 7, 2017  /   17 Comments

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New Zealand capitalism is in urgent need of a reboot. The agricultural sector is offering nothing more imaginative than more (and more!) of the same: more cows, more milk powder, more massive irrigation schemes, more befouled waterways. The road transport industry is swallowing a disproportionately large amount of New Zealand’s limited investment capital. Our civil service is not only displaying alarming levels of inefficiency but also outright corruption.

IN 1984 the smartest and most ideologically driven members of the New Zealand ruling class were willing Labour to win. In the upper echelons of the Treasury and the Reserve Bank that preference was already being translated into action. Likewise in the news media, where New Zealand’s leading journalists were already in open and eloquent revolt against “Muldoonism”. In Labour itself, nearly all of the party’s most effective politicians had been similarly converted to the “free market” ideology. Like all the other players, however, they knew that before the new free market era could be ushered-in, Muldoon’s old order had to be brought down.

Thirty-three years on, are we witnessing the stirrings of a similar top-down revolution? Is there an equivalent determination among a frustrated fraction of the ruling class to do something about the present National Government’s all-too-obvious inadequacies?

New Zealand capitalism is in urgent need of a reboot. The agricultural sector is offering nothing more imaginative than more (and more!) of the same: more cows, more milk powder, more massive irrigation schemes, more befouled waterways. The road transport industry is swallowing a disproportionately large amount of New Zealand’s limited investment capital. Our civil service is not only displaying alarming levels of inefficiency but also outright corruption. The health and education sectors have been deliberately run down to the point where they are now holding back the entire economy.

The question is: has the level of dissatisfaction with the current National government’s performance reached the critical mass attained by the enemies of Muldoonism in 1984? Is there rebellion in the ranks of the Reserve Bank and Treasury? Are the leading newspapers full of ideologically-driven critiques of the incumbents’ economic and social policies? Is there a crucial bloc of Labour MPs just aching for the chance to put these new ideas into practice?

Certainly, there has been a great deal of “policy work” undertaken by the Labour caucus over the past nine years. What’s lacking, however, is any sense that the leading lights of Labour’s 2017 caucus are as confident as their 1984 predecessors that their policies will be implemented without resistance from the Powers-That-Be. Roger Douglas, Richard Prebble and Michael Bassett knew that Treasury would do everything within its power to facilitate Labour’s blitzkrieg of “reform”. There is simply no sense that Grant Robertson, Phil Twyford or David Parker expect their programme to be received with equal enthusiasm by today’s bureaucrats and businessmen.

In summary, the current balance of political and ideological forces is very different from that which prevailed in 1984. Thirty-three years ago, the great neoliberal wave was still gathering momentum. Its inherent contradictions and manifold inequities were not yet apparent to its ideological cheerleaders in the bureaucracy, the business community, the news media and, of course, the NZ Labour Party. Even thirty-three years later, with the inadequacies of neoliberalism laid bare by the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, there is no broadly accepted alternative to our entrenched free-market system.

Jacinda Ardern cannot, therefore, rely upon the overt and covert assistance of a strategically located ruling-class faction convinced that they have seen the future – and that it works. If she is to be swept into power on a mighty wave of change, its energy will not be drawn from those who scheme and plot upon the heights, but from the anger of those no longer willing to suffer silently in free-market capitalism’s abysmal depths.

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17 Comments

  1. Geoff Lye says:

    Jacinda Ardern cannot, therefore, rely upon the overt and covert assistance of a strategically located ruling-class faction convinced that they have seen the future – and that it works. If she is to be swept into power on a mighty wave of change, its energy will not be drawn from those who scheme and plot upon the heights, but from the anger of those no longer willing to suffer silently in free-market capitalism’s abysmal depths.

    I sure love the above paragraph the ruling class are not going to like this wave tha’ts coming one little bit.

  2. CLEANGREEN says:

    “The road transport industry is swallowing a disproportionately large amount of New Zealand’s limited investment capital”

    100% Chris.

    Shit that is the best sentence I have seen from you for ages Chris absolutely superb.

    The road industry is run by bankers, oil and truck builders industries all in a tight global market as a group of self interested investment services.

    Known as the heavily invested three that engineer business interests of the “oil -seven sisters” the conglomerate of the oil energy transport industry. They all ‘compliment’ each other so they are very powerful lobbyists globally now.

    Seven large, vertically integrated oil companies dominated the world oil industry from the 1920s to the 1970s. With annual sales in the billions of dollars, the so-called “seven sisters” have consistently ranked among the largest industrial companies in the world. The five American international major oil companies were Standard Oil Company (New Jersey), which became Exxon in 1972; Socony-Vacuum Oil Company, which became Socony Mobil in 1955 and Mobil in 1966; Standard Oil Company of California, later Chevron; the Texas Company, which became Texaco in 1959; and Gulf Oil Company. Chevron bought Gulf in 1984, and in 1998 Exxon and Mobil merged to form Exxon-Mobil.

    The other two international majors were Anglo-Persian Oil Company, which changed its name to Anglo-Iranian in 1935 and to British Petroleum in 1954, and the Royal Dutch/Shell group. The British government held a majority share in British Petroleum from 1914 to the 1980s, when Margaret Thatcher’s government sold its shares to private investors. Although ownership was divided between Dutch (60 percent) and British (40 percent) interests, Shell had its operating and commercial headquarters in London and was regarded as a British company.

    Read more: http://www.americanforeignrelations.com/O-W/Oil-The-seven-sisters.html#ixzz4p3720ySD

  3. Sam Sam says:

    Reserve bank inflation data due out next week. Naturally they’ll be calling for the kiwi dollar to fall for export reasons.

    Me: Laughing

    Our dollar is paired with the U.S and there is a loony in charge over there. So U.S investors will flea looking for a democracy that is less loony. Pushing our dollar up. Reserve Bank wonks would know more than I about how they feel about current economic climates interrupting there careful, well rounded calculations.

    Me: still laughing.

    • darth smith says:

      SAM do you see interest rate rises ?? in the near future or will the current financial oppression continue???

    • Andrea says:

      I thought the loony was in charge of the Bank of England…isn’t Mark Carney Canadian?

      Perhaps they’ll head to the market that is more ‘loony’ – just north of the border where Americans often flee in troubled times.

      (‘loony’ – Canadian term for their dollar.)

      PS – when our dollar does fall DO we see any material benefits? How many months later?

      • Sam Sam says:

        *The* Loony (Trump) is the leader of the Loony American middle class lottery mentality that choose targets of oppertunity with all the enterprise of a lobotomy.

        *Junior* is the son of former Canadian Prime Minister and all around nice guy Pierre Trudeau. His son Justin Trudeau and current Canadian PM continues his fathers soft touch for the countries original inhabitants particularly the appalling muder rate amongst woman. While loony has been used by enterprising Americans to strong arm Canada. American dominance is not what it use to be.

        In the past 20 years America has tripled its debt. Gotten into wars in Afgahnistan, Iraq, humanitarian and disaster relief in Lybia destroying that country, funded and materially supported extremist groups friendly to the U.S. How long friendly relations last for depends on how much debt The State department and Congress can sneak past. Surely, The loony is the leader of the loony U.S middle class.

        Closer to home in New Zealand private sector borrowing flattened for about the last 6 months ranging around 180% debt to GDP signalling weakening demand for asset prices particularly in property, and that is deflationary not inflationary.

        How much deflationary pressure from weak borrowing weighed against the loony pushing the kiwi dollar up we will find out next week when the Reserve bank releases its inflation data to give investor a direction.

        Side note. Central banks across the would have been pumping 200 billion a month into the Global economy and the top 4 economise, America, China, Japan, Germany continue decline. China on the other hand continue to claim territory unjustly, making incursions into ASEAN nations only to get pushed back by coastguards (maybe a conversion of the RNZN is possible a la the Greens Defence policy if China economic performance declines as U.S demand for Chinese made goods decline. Not a bet I would make, RNZN ocean tasking is a ligit requirement in all strategic settings)

        Mark Carney and The Bank Of England to there credit admitted they got it wrong during the 08 American Crises. Apart of that admission was to say the Banks also create money sending mainstream economics into wtf mode.

        Over at the Stanadrad I said once there will be a boom in the U.S and China and a bust every where else as a result of central banks (Apart from the BOE, turkey and other third world central banks) refusing to include private sector borrowing in there models particularly Wheeler over at the NZ Res Bank. And we are seeing a decline in NZ manufacturing and a boost in bank profit sucking the life out of the economy and people.

        Work is ongoing. It never stops. If we want higher wages to reverse all these shitty trends then the Government has to take seriously Health, education along with R&D because quite simply New Zealand dosnt have the technology to over come the challenges that are confronting New Zeland like earth quake recovery and coastal erosion and to deal with these brief disasters Kiwi’s got sent to the wall in rushed deals that amounts to increased debt loading further fuelling the big 4 bank profits.

        Aucklanders on the other hand seem to think everything is awesome because huge numbers of immigrants looking for a less aurthoritarian democracy than the ones they are fleeing from don’t relies New Zealand is doing its best to be like America.

  4. Siobhan says:

    With the exception of a few grumpy old men, The mainstream media, The Herald and the board room seem to really like Jacinda.
    She may well be swept into power thanks to the ‘overt and covert assistance of a strategically located ruling-class faction’.
    Certainly those groups wouldn’t be giving her any sort of honey moon if she was seen as a threat to the status quo.
    Like Obama, Trudeau and even (maybe) Macron shes the perfect ‘pragmatic idealist’ for the future of packaging of capitalism and neo liberalism.
    The danger is, like America, if the people end up disappointed…BEWARE what comes next…

    • Marc says:

      Monsieur Macron is getting a taste of power and privilege, his better half twice his age also:
      https://www.odt.co.nz/news/world/petition-builds-against-macrons-first-lady-plans

      “More than 220,000 people have signed a petition against French President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to create a formal First Lady role for his wife Brigitte.

      Unlike the US First Lady, the wife of the French president does not have a formal role, although they are often informal champions for charitable causes. Past presidential wives have had small teams working for them at the Elysee presidential palace.

      During his election campaign, Macron said he wanted to create a formal role for the French First Lady, with her own office and staff.

      He has made clear the First Lady should not receive a public salary, but many French people say they see his plan as an “Americanisation” of their politics. ”

      I am sure they will find a way to accommodate her desires, and his desires, along the way somehow.

  5. Grant says:

    Douglas and Prebble were ‘plants’ … cuckoos in the nest….
    And what a mess the nest has become….the maniacal free market zealots are down a dead end street with a cliff at the end and nowhere to turn….
    Their mess is as big as Muldoon’s mess, but for very different reasons.
    There is plenty of anger and dissatisfaction out there now from everyday Kiwis , but National , due to it being taken over by 4 Chinese billionaires, have a whole new large voter base to tap into…. Fortunately it won’t be large enough to win this time….
    Jacinda and Labour with support Parties will take the win just in the nick of time…. The young , parts of the missing million and more woman are going to vote this time and it ain’t going to be for National
    There is no stopping this roll , even with The Greens committing Hari Kari once a week …
    My polling is already showing a dramatic increase in the Labour vote and National slumping to 41.5 %…the mood is definitely for change…

  6. David Stone says:

    Don’t we have to wait and see if she plans to change anything at all before sweeping her to power?
    D J S

  7. frank says:

    a quick look at the Herald (or virtually any MSM) will confirm that the powers that be are not yet ready to ditch National

  8. HC says:

    Monsieur Trotter, peut etre une autre cause?

    Has anybody considered that Jacinda may simply be set up to fail, either right before election day, or if Labour wins enough votes and forms a government, soon afterwards, when leading a very fragile government?

    The Nats and the powers that be may well know what is at stake for them. They may realise, there is a strong mood for change.

    Rather than fight it head on, and risk a bloodied defeat, they have perhaps decided to let things run its course, and then have Jacinda Ardern exposed as a failure, more huff and puff than substance.

    By the way, this would not be the first time a Labour leader has been set up to fail. This time it may need more cunning work though. Remember: “Show me the money?”

    Hence some in the media now boost her confidence and let the fever catch on, but come the debates, come the final days before the vote, they may change, reveal some incompetence, figures that won’t stand up to a test, and pull the rug from under her feet, and the election will go to National again.

    Or if Labour can strike a deal with Winston and perhaps Greens, the same will reveal the cracks in the porcelain, so to say. And bang, the Jacinda effect is gone, like steam from a kettle where the lid dropped off.

    Never trust this infatuation with Jacinda, until election day has passed, and the baby is safe in the cot.

  9. Afewknowthetruth says:

    The idiotic GDP system that is blindly followed in western nations by uninformed ‘proles’ and promoted by treasonous and treacherous governments rewards and waste and inefficiency.

    The more that vehicles stop and start in traffic jams, the more fuel they use and the more the mechanical part wear out. However, using more fuel and wearing out things is ‘good for the economy’. The more perfectly adequate house that are demolished to make way for apartment blocks, the better the GDP. The more marriage break-up and accident there are, the better the GDP. Of course there is nothing like a major natural disaster (such as an earthquake that demolishes thousands of buildings) to boost the economy. By the idiotic GDP system that rewards dysfunction, the more cars that are imported and the more fuel that is imported (both severe drains of the balance of payments), the stronger the economy

    On the other hand, sensible activities -such as growing one’s own food or cycling- are assiduously discouraged: no profit for corporation when people do that. Nor taxes for the government to squander on yet more inappropriate infrastructure.

    In other words, the whole system is fucked from the outset, and by its very nature must generate severely negative outcomes. But ‘no one’ wants to deal with anything that matters, and so the inexorable march towards destitution via self-destruction will continue, whoever becomes the next prime minister.

    That which is unsustainable cannot be sustained in the long term (though it can be propped up in the short term via massive inputs of energy).

    • Sam Sam says:

      As the thought of GDP forces people’s eyes to roll back, its only how big it is, not what condition its in.

      For instance, UK’s economy is in a worse condition than Geramny’s at present. The USA’s has been bobbing along quite poorly too.
      Yet the GDP will look pretty much the same with trillions of $.

      Look at Italy with a GDP of appx 1 trillion then look at Singapore with a GDP of appx 100 billion.

      The per capita is a lot higher in Singapore than Italy, giving Singapore a much better standard of living 🙂

  10. Andrea says:

    ” cannot, therefore, rely upon the overt and covert assistance of a strategically located ruling-class faction ”

    Nor can she rely on any strategically placed working class factions because Labour has been chasing the mythic Middle for decades and ignoring the changing world of work.

    Apple pies raining from the sky – and not a unifying mission or vision to be seen anywhere.

    Jog on, kitties…