Socialism and Populism: The Party is Just Beginning!


ZACH CASTLES is sitting, gutted, in a café overlooking the Thames. The former “National ministerial adviser”, no longer having any National ministers to advise, has clearly relocated himself to a more promising political marketplace. Even so, our brave young capitalist has taken the time to share his thoughts with The Spinoff. (Who else!) And, oh, comrades, what thoughts they are!

He begins by imploring National to defend capitalism from “the coalition of socialists and populists” who are attempting (apparently Jacinda hasn’t quite got the hang of this yet) to unleash class war across New Zealand’s green and pleasant land. Poor Zach, it’s the sheer ingratitude of the Left that upsets him the most. Don’t these ingrates realise that “nearly one billion people over the last 20 years [have] been lifted out of poverty because of it.”

Really, Zach? The dragooning of millions of subsistence farmers and their children into the factories, warehouses and shops of China, India and Brazil. The super-exploitation perpetrated by the burgeoning bourgeoisie of these countries. The impossible working conditions. The relentless speed-ups. The graft and corruption upon which so much of their “economic growth” depends. The unbelievable environmental despoliation left in its wake. This is what you call being “lifted out of poverty”? This is what you are asking National to defend?

It sure is. In fact, according to Zach: “the very ‘neoliberalism’ the incoming prime minister criticises, and yet refuses to define [Oh, for God’s sake, just look it up on Wikipedia, man!] has helped many Kiwis out of a life of welfare dependence and into the dignity of a job.”

- Sponsor Promotion -

Ah, but there’s a big difference, isn’t there, Zach, between the sort of job you’re heading for in London and the jobs which beneficiaries are forced to accept, or face being sanctioned into abject poverty. Pumping gas for the minimum wage. Or being paid $17.00 an hour to stand all day behind a till while your feet swell and your calves cramp-up. That’s not the sort of job you’re about to take up – is it Zach? And those are most certainly not the sort of wages you’re anticipating from whatever right-wing political party or think-tank you’re about to be snapped-up by. It just wouldn’t be dignified. Not for a man of your talents. Would it Zach?

But, then, Zach isn’t accustomed to thinking about such matters. If he was, then he simply couldn’t write a paragraph like this:

“The return of the left to government now means everything that makes New Zealand such a role model, at a time of supposed global despair, now hangs in the balance. We were meant to be the poster child for globalism, free trade and ambition; now we are being set up as the test flight for a return to the 1970s. A world Jacinda Ardern’s own voters have never actually known.”

“Never actually known”? Really, Zach? I’m well aware that most Kiwis over 55 voted for your lot, but most is not the same thing as all. (Just as receiving most of the votes cast is not the same as receiving a majority of the votes cast!) I was very much alive and kicking in the 1970s, and let me tell you, those were great years to be young.

There were jobs for everyone – at good, union-negotiated, wages. The state loaned young couples money, at 3 percent interest, to buy their own home. All mothers received a generous Family Benefit. Tertiary education was as close to free as makes no difference. Ah, Zach, the manifold evils of socialism and populism!

Zach claims the National Party subscribes to the ideas of Edmund Burke, but this attempt to drape the clothing of a respectable political philosophy over National’s naked worship of power, simply will not wash. Burke understood the critical importance of tradition, and the wisdom it was able to impart to generations raised in its embrace. But National has never been a respecter of tradition – at least not of the core New Zealand traditions of fairness and decency. Indeed, the party was founded with the express purpose of thwarting the organised political expression of fairness and decency.

Presumably, that is why Zach can hail the “radicalism” of Ruth Richardson; and why he speaks glowingly of his party’s role in “leading transformative social and economic change”. Transformative, eh? Well, yes, as someone who remembers a New Zealand in which everyone worked, was comfortably housed, and could look forward with confidence to their children living in a happier more prosperous world than the one in which they’d been raised, I’d have to say that “transformation” is exactly the right word. What I’m much less certain about, however, is whether Kiwis sleeping in cars, while their children go hungry, was the change most New Zealanders were looking for.

So, you go on looking out over the Thames, Zach. And, by all means, urge your National Party comrades to seize this wonderful opportunity to “make capitalism cool again”. Back here in God’s Own Country, though, I’ll go on looking at the clips of Prime Minister Ardern being welcomed back from Government House by thousands of delighted New Zealanders. I’ll listen again, as she promises to lead “a government of kindness”, and I’ll wish her – and the 72-year-old patriot who gave progressive New Zealand the votes it needed to govern – all the success that “socialism and populism” can bring.




  1. … ” I’ll listen again, as she promises to lead “a government of kindness”, and I’ll wish her – and the 72-year-old patriot who gave progressive New Zealand the votes it needed to govern – all the success that “socialism and populism” can bring” …

    – and the 72-year-old patriot who gave progressive New Zealand the votes it needed to govern – Hear , hear , Mr Trotter !!!


    As for this ‘Zach ‘ character ,… who is this individual ?,… this advocate of legalized treason called neo liberalism. This ‘ consultant ? ‘.

    Where does one start to tear down the spurious reasoning of neo liberal ideology?

    Here is a good place to start , – to save me spending all day railing against the colossal evil , treason and falsehoods of neo liberalism as opposed to social democracy with a Keynes based economic system such as we had pre 1984 , – from a man who was senior himself , considered rather a genteel intellectual , and who certainly did all the background research into the origins of neo liberalism and its pseudo fascist origins , – and its malignant effects on New Zealand specifically:

    New Right Fight – Who are the New Right?

    • Nice one there Wild Katipo,

      Well said good sentiments, that i agree with wholeheartedly.

      Chris we are estatic that this angel in our midst is placing the Kindness up there as the hallmark of how a government should be thinking and offering so we are at the beginning of a truly “brighter furture” tha the model we hated during the ppast nine years.

      Hooray for usand our government, we can now hold our head high and be again proud to be kiwis with high spirits.

      bless Jacinda and all who travel with her through our future path ahead.

      “Lets do this”

    • Better still, send Jeremy Corbyn a picture of Zach and Jeremy can tell him the actual truth of what real community is about. If that doesn’t work, back to your idea Bark.

  2. Great piece Mr Trotter.
    It’s fantastic to see some real social promise from the new government and yes real patriotism. The right might have to google that last term, many would be surprised it doesn’t involve supporting the all blacks.

  3. This guy sounds like Todd Barclay without the wit, intellectual capacity or razor-sharp political instincts.

  4. Zach Castles is welcomed to leave New Zealand. I’m sure there’s a free-market, neo-liberal, minimal-government “jurisdication” out there somewhere that would love to have him.

    Only thing, I hope for Mr Castle’s sake he doesn’t fall ill. Paying full costs of healthcare instead of our semi-socialised system (under-funded as it is) could severely impact on his bank-balance;

    Medical Bills Are the Biggest Cause of US Bankruptcies: Study

    Bankruptcies resulting from unpaid medical bills will affect nearly 2 million people this year—making health care the No. 1 cause of such filings, and outpacing bankruptcies due to credit-card bills or unpaid mortgages, according to new data. And even having health insurance doesn’t buffer consumers against financial hardship.

    The findings are from NerdWallet Health, a division of the price-comparison website. It analyzed data from the U.S. Census, Centers for Disease Control, the federal court system and the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that promotes access, quality and efficiency in the health-care system.

    “A lot of Americans are struggling with medical bills,” said NerdWallet Health Vice President Christina LaMontagne.

    NerdWallet estimates that households containing 1.7 million people will file for bankruptcy protection this year.


    Good luck in your neo-liberal nirvana, Mr Castles. And watch your health, eh?

  5. Well that’s one right wing nut job gone,with some luck a few more might follow the petulant jerk into exile.One can only hope.

  6. “… I’ll listen again, as she promises to lead “a government of kindness”, and I’ll wish her – and the 72-year-old patriot who gave progressive New Zealand the votes it needed to govern – all the success that “socialism and populism” can bring.”

    Wow! Moving and powerful words Chris, spoken from the heart, on behalf of many of us ordinary Kiwi folk.

    Good riddance to Zach Castles.

  7. I suspect Mr Castles might not find himself in a ministerial advisory role in London either. The tide has turned in NZ/UK and he and his conservative ilk are going to have to either revert to debates over who has the best social democratic policies or face eternity in the kind of lonely wilderness where David Seymour is currently camping – a political anachronism whose life support is soon to be switched off.

  8. I wonder, did Zack have an abusive parent, or was he raised with a silver spoon? Whatever, he does not sound like your normal kid, just and entitled little self-serving prick, all out for baubles and status.

    Good riddance he is gone, let others follow him, those that think like him, just damned well bugger off and do not come back.

  9. “There were jobs for everyone – at good, union-negotiated, wages. The state loaned young couples money, at 3 percent interest,,,etc etc:

    Yes. NZ was rich as part of the British empire. NZ was part of the imperialist bloc, sent troops on behalf of imperialism to try and smash the independence aspirations of other people such as the Vietnamese. You describe how NZ became rich in a recent article:

    “The United Kingdom constituted an insatiable market for ….. all the butter, cheese, lamb and wool New Zealand could send it. It was an arrangement which very quickly transformed New Zealand into one of the wealthiest nations on earth.”

    ‘Keynesian’ economics or whatever in itself does not make a country wealthy (refer the incoherent rantings of WK). What makes a country prosperous, where the rubber really hits the road, is how much shit it can produce to sell to others. That means you have to open up markets and trade. No way out of it. Countries that don’t produce stuff and sell to others are poor countries.

    As you have said Chris, the only way for NZ to restore to its former prosperity is to turn to China. In your own words:

    “It is now China which offers New Zealand an insatiable market for its agricultural products. Indeed, so constant is the demand for our exports that the same level of state-sponsored economic and social uplift that characterised New Zealand in the 1950s and 60s has, once again, become a possibility. But only under Chinese hegemony.”

    • Have we not already done as you suggest?
      Or am I mistaken that the purpose of a FTA with China was to allow imperialism with an inscrutable face to take complete control of our economy?
      The facts of burgeoning world population and the scramble by China and TNC’s from all corners of the globe to secure & control the vital commodities of the 21st century , water & protein are a clear indication that as a nation “how much shit it can produce to sell to others”is limited only by the need to sustainably do so.

    • … ” (refer the incoherent rantings of WK) ” …

      You really are , a tool and plant for the neo liberals , aren’t you ,… and I recall I outed you time and again for you maniacal inverted and non – veiled racist attitudes towards Caucasians.

      But you never learn. You should be embarrassed to appear on this blog but for just one easily recognized reason : Your a closet ACT / Nat supporter with vested interests in ( Particularly Chinese , it appears ) foreign investment.

      Well guess what old boy , your govt just got voted out.

      Its over .

      And so are the cushy deals.

      And so is the easy bucks in taking advantage of New Zealanders.

      Cry me a river , son.

      • “Cry me a river , son.”

        I’ll pop back over in half a year or so and see if there have been any substantive changes relating to free trade and foreign investment. Odds are there won’t be under this government – Winston is pretty sensible when it comes to the economy and trade.

        To screw up our trading relations will be economic suicide – and even someone as dumb as Ardern knows it.

        Not much point in renegotiating say the South Korea trade deal worth 9 billion a year and thousands of jobs, for a hypothetical and unproven benefit of reduced house prices. There is a thing called cost benefit. House prices are already flat lining so any ban will likely have miniscule effect. The Asians value face, and they aren’t going to let some upstart white woman re-negotiate a signed deal without concessions elsewhere. Especially given a long sordid history of whites ripping off Asians at the point of a gun.

        Sorry, the boot is on the foot of non-white people now – the days of the big bwana white man are over.

        The economic power is shifting from West to East and that is a good thing. The day of the black, the brown, and the yellow is slowly dawning.

        I’ll say it again —as Chris Trotter admits, the only way to be prosperous is to sell things to other people, and those people nowadays with the cash and the population are the Chinese. Some white people hate that, but I bet they will hate poverty even more.

  10. “The dragooning of millions of subsistence farmers and their children into the factories, warehouses and shops of China, India and Brazil. The super-exploitation perpetrated by the burgeoning bourgeoisie of these countries…….”

    Pretty much like how the West became rich…but without the invading of other countries.

    Many of those millions of subsistence farmers have themselves become part of the ‘burgeoning’ bourgeoisie – how on earth else could it be ‘burgeoning’…in fact 56% of China’s population now live in urban areas, compared to 26% a quarter century ago

    Poverty reduction in China and India is pretty much recognized and acknowledged by anyone who has ever lived in those places and by pretty much all the experts. In China itself 800 million people have been lifted out of poverty since 1978, and there are ambitious but achievable targets to pretty much wipe it out altogether.

    The fact is no country ever became rich on the sort of labour conditions that New Zealand enjoyed in the 1970s – that was living off the fat of imperialism.

    • One of the arguments for (free) trade is its supposed to provide individual choice. It’s quiet the opposite. Markets radically restrict choice. So let’s be concrete. I’v got to go pick the kids up. The markets does offer me a choice between a Toyota and a Tesla. What the markets does not offer me is light rail. Light rail would be better for me and my kids and to save the environment and so on but that’s not the choice available in the markets. Markets sharply restrict choice to individual consumption that has many negative effects. For one thing it just means lots of choices just aren’t available. So it exaggerates the most negative aspects of human potential. It turns you into somebody who wants to maximise individual gain. Exactly the opposite of what Adam Smith and to a lesser extinct Keynes was trying to achieve.

      Apart from that comes the question of externalities and it is very apparent that externalities are species destroying. So Statoil will try to maximise profit independently of what happens to the fate of biodiversity. So Statoil announced once again that they are not going to pursue the marginal benefits of getting into sustainable energy. So they will dig up every last drop of oil New Zealand has. And try to extract all the black sands that they can, with new technology and all that. Of course the children and grandchildren may not have a world to live in. But that doesn’t mater. Apart of market economics is you don’t care about the failure of grandchildren. And that mentality is a huge cultural tradition with in New Zealand’s psyche. Just ask any kiwi and they’ll tell you beneficiaries are lazy. Never mind the government that made the system in the first place. These are all essential to the function of markets and one of the reasons why they are literally lethal.

      And it’s also just completely unsustainable. Take a look at Great Britain. They thought they where going to win as well against India. So they stopped India from developing with outside pressure. So it wasn’t free trade at all. And by the time Japan came on board before and after WW2 every one said close off Japan because we can’t compete. Now we are doing the same to China. So free trade is an elusion.

      So no economic national for us. But economic nationalism for corporates. Just take a look around Auckland CBD, you’ve got foreign banks and corporations all around. But why are they here. Because they are feeding off the hard work that is primarily state funded health care and prisons and the allocation of land.

      But what to do about all this. Well I’ll copy and past a reply I like to give:

      It was inevitable that the English language would become New Zealand’s working language. But we must not except a foreign language as New Zealand’s primary language. Because if we do that then there is nothing special about New Zealand. Then any one can show up and claim to be a resident with out consideration of the resources involved, the price distortions on students exiting the education system only to find a foreigner just happened to show up to work one day. And the policies around New Zealand’s open door economy.

      So if we except that the English Language is the working Language. And that Māori is the native tongue. And teach English in schools as the working language. And teach Te Reo as a special achievement. Those students will be better equipped to go out and learn other languages, and they can continue to learn other languages as a special achievement. So when they communicate with there friends over what’s going on in the Tele or talk to each other about a magazine in another language. They will know what we mean we we say to them in English. ‘Be kind to one and other, don’t get mad, try and understand them.’ Then we will be able to except the children of immigrants into culturally appropriate education. Then it wouldn’t matter who came through Auckland Airport.

      And as for trade. Well trade will have been enabled and maybe we just might cure the melting pot in one generation.

    • Glib and myopic.
      China had an explosion of expansion. They are now experiencing speed wobbles.

      Assessing wealth depends on certain value judgments. You take a pretty depressed and depressing view of how people might improve their lives.

      It’s true that wealth redistribution does not create wealth. But that is like saying healthcare does not educate anyone. Trivially true, but nevertheless the target of your scorn will make a worthwhile contribution to society.

  11. “The former National ministerial advisor”.
    I suppose that is another term for “failed Crosby Textor political manipulator”.

  12. I am still looking forward to the commencement of the treason trials.

    Okay, the treason trials won’t commence until AFTER the loot-pollute-and-exploit economy [that is capitalism] goes down the drain in a screaming heap as a consequence of all the looting, polluting and exploitation. And the monstrous wastage and misallocation of resources that the ‘neoliberalism’ form of capitalism represents, of course.

    While we wait for the collapse we must expect those who make their living out of looting, polluting and exploiting to continue to do so. And we must expect them to think of strategies to hold on to their ill-gotten gains. And for the lies they tell to get bigger and bigger.

  13. Interesting that Zach has gone to the UK – a country who’s political landscape has been completely transformed by the Jeremy Corbyn led Labour Party. I expect defenders of free-market capitalism will be in high demand over there as the UK left has managed to successfully expose the fallacy of neo-liberalism – not hard given the economic evidence – and turn this into a force for significant political and economic change.
    We could do well to look to organizations like Momentum to understand how to – not just mobilize voters – but also to ensure widespread ridicule of mainstream economic thinking. The above article is an excellent start.

  14. I think some letters now show National voters wanting the coalition to be a success, as some were reaching the understanding that change was

    We need to win people over to a kinder way, and now their overpaid propagandists are leaving, perhaps some will see the light and vote our way next time.

    I’m a cock-eyed optimist, but I clearly saw Jacinda as capable of getting the best from people inside and outside parliament.

    Winston always wanted what is best for NZ, and wanted to protect the vulnerable from the excesses of capitalism, (which he says “lost its friendly face”)

    What a team, ably backed by James who will look at statistics and tell us how truthful these are!! (Remembering how National fudged the crime stats.)

    So Thank you all those who voted for change.

    Thank you Jacinda Winston and James, and your teams.

    May they and the country have a climate of well-being kindness and help sustain our beautiful ecology.

  15. The state loaned young couples money, at 3 percent interest, to buy their own home.

    This bit I don’t agree with. We bought our Ellerslie house in 1978 for 28k. A 100sqm do upper on a quater acre. It was very hard to borrow money. We managed to borrow half with AMP at 11%. We had half. Most people used building societies and others got loans throught work like bank employees or PSA or universities.

    I think 11% was low as inflation was around 17%.

    • The couple of you was probably earning 50c beyond the cut-off point… It’s expensive to be at the bottom of the affluent group. 🙂

      I personally know people who bought using this advantage, though it was on the wane toward the end of the 1970s – as was the worth of the ‘family benefit.’ Capitalising that benefit to make a deposit was also popular – particularly with families with more than two kids. SLow breeders were out of luck.

  16. Well said Chris. These key messages appear to have been prepared well in advance, and handed out to all the defenders of the corporatist status quo. I heard of version of them in the appalling keynote address at a recent Otago Uni graduation. The irony of the recipient of an *honorary* doctorate complaining about a culture of handouts was not lost on me.

  17. Dear Chris: when next you write on the ‘near-free’ tertiary education of yore; please also mention the horrendous price of text books and lecturers who insisted on the current year’s edition because of minor changes in the previous edition to chapters they weren’t actually going to use.

    Those glorious days when it took weeks to save up for ‘expensive’ shoes costing more than forty dollars. Ahh. Wonderful days. Carless days. Wage freezes. The cost of a second mortgage over 22% and first ones at 12+%. Those rosy days when all we worried about was DDT and nuclear armageddon. (Oh, wait… did we ever leave that Then?)

    • The Wealthy are okay

      Zach Castles is a believer. He knows in his strange heart that money belongs to National and no one else.

      He is grieving. He is puzzled over how people have voted the wealthy out of the ball game. How could the God of money possibly give money to anyone other than a National person ?

      Billy English is grieving and sobbing with Zach. How could they take money of us? Money belongs to us! Not to any one else. Just to National.

      Zach and Billy have absolutely no idea of what a Democracy is. Low IQ. Tiny vision. laziness. Lies. In a word, useless.

    • Oh come on!!!
      Do you think text books are cheap today? Have you bought one recently? Of course today you’ll be paying 2 grand or so per subject as well.

      And no, Housing Corporation interest rates were not 12% in the 70s. And why would you have needed a second mortgage?

      Carless days were in force for a mere 12 months in 1979.

      You are spreading mis information.


      Chris is right, the 70s were a great time for New Zealanders.

      I know, I experienced it

    • Text books have always been expensive but in all the classes I took at uni they were never mandatory. And if they were needed they were in the library and some on 1 hour/2 hour loan.

      The lecturers also said it didn’t matter what version of the text book people bought (if people wanted to buy them).

      The new text book coming out each year was one of the reasons it was better to have lecture notes that were independent of text books. Otherwise it’s just utter tediousness to update your lecture notes to the newest textbook every year.

  18. Just to throw a little balance into this discussion; it needs to be remembered that socialism has also failed the poor, the homeless and the disadvantaged in society. Big time. There is plenty of historical evidence that supports this position.

    The new orthodoxy rapidly growing around this new labour led government is to blame neo liberalism and capitalism for the above, and, well, for everything. But this is myopic and nothing more than propaganda and suggests the beginnings of unthinking cult like behaviour.

    It is convenient right now for the left to take this position, it probably feels good too, but really it is only sloganeering.

    • You condescending Simpleton

      OCON you have been thoroughly brainwashed by unbridled Capitalism.

      You have never thought even for a moment that Capitalism is designed for one purpose only. Namely, to channel vast sums of money to fewer and fewer wealthy persons.

      Your daddy or uncle might be able to draw your attention to this. You will find there is no balance at all between the very wealthy and other human beings.

      Please don’t insult us Ocon.

      • You are completely wrong Observer.

        I’d have greater respect for you if you addressed my argument in a rational and logical way; rather than by emotional Trump like outbursts.

        So the core of my argument is that socialism has also failed because it has not effectively addressed poverty. The new orthodoxy growing on the left in NZ is that capitalism is ‘bad’ for this reason; whereby by implication socialism is ‘good’.

        But look more closely and you will find that both isms are flawed in this regard.

    • For Pete’s sake Ocon you have a bloody cheek harping on about “propaganda” and “unthinking cult like behaviour” after the last 9 years of the Key/English Nat govt. You’re a hypocrite.

  19. “Back here in God’s Own Country, though, I’ll go on looking at the clips of Prime Minister Ardern being welcomed back from Government House by thousands of delighted New Zealanders. I’ll listen again, as she promises to lead “a government of kindness”, and I’ll wish her – and the 72-year-old patriot who gave progressive New Zealand the votes it needed to govern – all the success that “socialism and populism” can bring.”

    WOW, I am very impressed Chris, that was awesome to read.

    • By the way Louis the numbers greeting Jacinda at parliament the other day were in the hundreds, not thousands.

      This is a really good example of my earlier point – exaggerate, in this case, the numbers, to make the event seem much more impressive than it actually was (a good propaganda technique) and in doing so add to the mythology around the new ‘leader’ in a cult like fashion.

      Be careful of being too brainwashed by it all – but enjoy the moment.

      • Does it matter? the point bring there was a very large crowd waiting at parliament for PM Jacinda and the new government, never seen that before, have you?

  20. Being a fan of the “Return of the Jedi”, I am glad to see the “Return of the Trotter”.

    Honestly Chris, in reading and listening to your your opinions and musings prior to Winston confirming a Labour/NZ first and Greens government, I thought we had lost you for good to the capitalistic dark side.

    This is by far your best piece of commentary of late and I welcome you back.

  21. “Brothers and sisters, I’m here to tell you that I charge the White man. I charge the White man with being the greatest murderer on earth. I charge the White man with being the greatest kidnapper on earth. There is no place in this world that that man can go and say he created peace and harmony. Everywhere he’s gone he’s created havoc. Everywhere he’s gone he’s created destruction. So I charge him. I charge him with being the greatest kidnapper on this earth. I charge him with being the greatest murderer on this earth. I charge him with being the greatest robber and enslaver on this earth…….”

    Malcolm X

  22. Really, Zach? The dragooning of millions of subsistence farmers and their children into the factories, warehouses and shops of China, India and Brazil. The super-exploitation perpetrated by the burgeoning bourgeoisie of these countries. The impossible working conditions. The relentless speed-ups. The graft and corruption upon which so much of their “economic growth” depends. The unbelievable environmental despoliation left in its wake. This is what you call being “lifted out of poverty”?

    This al jazeera documentary provides an insight

    iphone manufacturing plant employees – 12 hour days, 7 days per week, one day off a month

    and their earnings accumulatively account for just 1% of the iphone price

    • Thanks, great comment!

      I saw that documentary on Al Jazeera recently, a revelation, a must watch for all those gadget loving people, especially those who line up outside shops when the new i-phone (or other one) is due to be released. Get out of the comfy zone and face up to what really goes on, thanks!

  23. WP will go down in New Zealand history as a Statesman. Zach , Richardson, Prebble R, et al, their ilk, will simply go down.

Comments are closed.