Communist In All But Name! Is Jacinda About to Oversee the Second Peaceful Transition to Kiwi Socialism?

By   /   November 23, 2017  /   56 Comments

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For my money, that’s the most heart-warming endorsement of our new Labour Prime Minister that I have read to date. If Jacinda, with just two words, can shake the very foundations of Wall Street, then it’s possible that a “return to the bad old days of the 70s” may turn out to be something more than this old socialist’s pipe dream.

TO HEAR FORBES MAGAZINE TELL IT, socialism was achieved in New Zealand during 1960s and 70s, without bloodshed. In an opinion piece published by Forbes on Monday (20/11/17) former Lehman Brother’s staffer, Jared Dillian, put it like this:

“Not long ago, [New Zealand] was one of the most unfree economies that was not actually Communist in name. Most industry was nationalized, from telecommunications and transportation, to banks and hotels.”

This description is intended to – and probably will – shock the One Percenters who subscribe to Forbes. I, however, would happily wear Mr Dillian’s description of pre-1984 New Zealand as a badge of honour.

Most right-wingers insist that socialism can only be imposed on a country by force. They point to Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, Castro’s Cuba and, more recently, to Chavez’s and Maduro’s Venezuela, as proof that the slightest deviation from the shining path of Neoliberalism can only end in tears – and firing-squads. And yet, according to Dillian, New Zealand cracked it! Accomplishing its transition from Capitalism to Socialism through free and fair elections, and without the need for a single gulag, or a single shot being fired.

Naturally, Dillian does his best to paint for his readers the most lurid picture possible of life under New Zealand’s democratic-socialist regime. One can only imagine his millionaire readers shuddering with fear upon learning that:

“There were strict capital controls and prohibitions on owning foreign assets. And of course, punitively high tax rates, inflation, and extraordinary levels of government debt.”

Now high inflation and crippling government debt were all-too-common afflictions during the 1970s, and by no means confined to “unfree economies” like New Zealand. The oil shocks of 1973 and 1979 had destabilised the “free” and “unfree” economies of the world with admirable even-handedness.

Not that Neoliberal boosters, like Mr Dillian, will ever admit that these sudden and dramatic increases in the price of industrial capitalism’s most indispensable commodity offer a far better explanation for the demise of post-war prosperity than the Right’s “usual suspects” – meddling politicians, self-serving bureaucrats and out-of-control trade unionists.

Like all good fairy stories, however, Mr Dillian’s has a happy ending:

“The 1980s saw an enormous rollback in the size and scope of government, and the beginning of a supply-side revolution. Of course, economic liberalization was happening around the world at that time, but it was most dramatic in tiny New Zealand.”

On that Mr Dillian and I find ourselves in agreement!

A few sentences back, I made reference to Mr Dillian’s happy ending: in that regard, it seems, I was a little premature. For all its bluster and bullshit, Neoliberalism turns out to be a remarkably fragile ideology. So much so, that the election of Jacinda Ardern – the Kiwi politician who dared describe Capitalism as “a blatant failure” – was enough to give Mr Dillian (and no doubt a good many of his readers) the heebee-jeebees:

“It seems likely that New Zealand will experience a recession during Ardern’s term. Nobody is predicting a return to the bad old days of the 70s, but New Zealand will probably lose its status as one of the most open, free economies in the world. It takes decades to weaken an economy, just like it takes decades to strengthen it. But investors will probably want to avoid New Zealand for the time being.”

For my money, that’s the most heart-warming endorsement of our new Labour Prime Minister that I have read to date. If Jacinda, with just two words, can shake the very foundations of Wall Street, then it’s possible that a “return to the bad old days of the 70s” may turn out to be something more than this old socialist’s pipe dream.

According to Mr Dillian, we Kiwis have pulled off a peaceful transition to something approaching “Communism” (although we didn’t call it that!) once before. If he’s right about that, then who’s to say that he isn’t also right about our new Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, being just the person to do it again!

 

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56 Comments

  1. Stephen Howard says:

    Chris, I would like to see the old “oil shock” claims go. The real problem was increasing US budget and balance of payment deficit to pay for crazy Asian wars leading to the dumping of the gold standard unilaterally by the US. I don’t think the gold standard was a great thing but it was the removal of the gold standard and the deficits that lead to both the inflation and the motivation for OPEC to raise oil prices

  2. Afewknowthetruth says:

    Yes, Chris.

    For people like Jared Dillian, a free economy is one in which corporations are free to loot and pollute and unduly influence politicians to do their bidding, while opportunists are permitted (encouraged) to make speculative gains at the expense of the common good.

    Of course, there can be no return to the economic and social arrangements of the early 1970s because the oil supply that powers to entire global system is in terminal decline, with the system now propped up by the use if hard-to-extract oil, such as that acquired by drilling thousands of metres into rock strata under thousands of metres of water, or dragging the last remnants of oil and gas out of small deposits by destroying the very fabric of the rocks via fracking.

    Fortunately, the days of ‘you get bombed if you disagree’ are coming to an end, as the American empire that has been driving so much of the madness we have witnessed over recent decades comes to an ignominious end.

    That said, we are all ‘fucked’ (well our children are) because the important issues -which were clearly identified in the 1960s- have not only not been dealt with; indeed, they have been made an awful lot worse by the insane economic system imposed on us.

    For example:

    Daily CO2
    November 21, 2017:  405.88 ppm
    November 21, 2016:  403.54 ppm

    The normal atmospheric CO2 level that provides a stable climate system is around 280 ppm.

    Expect 412 ppm to 415 ppm next May, when the seasonal peak occurs. And expect every year to be higher, because those who operate the system have no intention of doing anything about any of it -other than having annual talkfests.

    Just how serious the record-low and declining rapidly Antarctic ice cover is -a direct result of the idiotic system being largely controlled by corporation- will undoubtedly be revealed over the coming years.

    https://ads.nipr.ac.jp/vishop/#/extent

    All the evidence indicates that corporations will eventually render this once-beautiful planet a barren rock in the pursuit of short-term profits because the geochemistry of the Earth has been so destabilized. And, on a shorter time frame, corporations and opportunists will continue to lie all the way to the economic collapse that is clearly on the horizon.

    • Marc says:

      Business bosses have instructed their staff to put ‘clean green’ stickers on every packaging of goods and services, do not worry, we will be saved, green wash is working full steam. Government acts accordingly, all is well, we are safe and can carry on as usual.

    • Nitrium Nitrium says:

      “The normal atmospheric CO2 level that provides a stable climate system is around 280 ppm.”

      You’ll have to explain skeptics like myself then how the world not only survived but thrived with CO2 levels orders of magnitude higher than they are now:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_in_Earth%27s_atmosphere#/media/File:Phanerozoic_Carbon_Dioxide.png
      The notion that this time it’s different “because the CO2 levels are spiking rapidly” doesn’t explain why the temperatures didn’t catastrophically rise in the past. Either CO2 causes temperatures to rise, or it doesn’t – the time frame of said change is irrelevant (unless you can provide some sort of scientific reason why that wouldn’t be the case of course, but I have yet to see it). Indeed, if there is a reason why 4000+ ppm levels of CO2 concentrations didn’t cause runaway warming previously, then maybe we should look into whatever secondary conditions made that possible as a solution to our current problem???

      • You’ll have to explain skeptics like myself then how the world not only survived but thrived with CO2 levels orders of magnitude higher than they are now:

        Yes, you’re probably right, Nitrium. The world probably “not only survived but thrived with CO2 levels orders of magnitude higher than they are now”.

        But you’ll find that world was completely alien to the one we currently inhabit. Just one example is sea levels much higher than current day. Probably every major coastal city on EWarth would be inundated if we had similar sea levels flooding low-lying areas. That would result in millions – hundreds of millions of refugees. Which would destabilise entire nations; lead to fall of governments; collapse of economies; and knowing the human capacity for stupidity – all out war to seize whatever resources remained.

        That’s just the geophysical aspects impacting on our civilisation.

        Add to that mass extinction; increased acidification of the seas; more powerful weather events… and you start to see a picture o a world that will not be kind to us and our descendents.

        Re your comment;

        The notion that this time it’s different “because the CO2 levels are spiking rapidly” doesn’t explain why the temperatures didn’t catastrophically rise in the past.

        It has, according to scientific research;

        After this deep freeze, there were several “hothouse earth” periods when the temperature exceeded those we experience today. The warmest was probably the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), which peaked about 55 million years ago. Global temperatures during this event may have warmed by 5°C to 8°C within a few thousand years, with the Arctic Ocean reaching a subtropical 23°C. Mass extinctions resulted.

        The warming, which lasted 200,000 years, was caused by the release of massive amounts of methane or CO2. It was thought to have come from the thawing of methane clathrates in deep ocean sediments, but the latest theory is that it was caused by a massive volcanic eruption that heated up coal deposits. In other words, the PETM is an example of catastrophic global warming triggered by the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

        ref: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11647-climate-myths-its-been-far-warmer-in-the-past-whats-the-big-deal/

        • Sam Sam says:

          Also planet earth is being bombarded with roughly the same amount of radiation that’s always hit it. How ever. With deforestation and a thicker atmosphere due to CO2, incompletely burnt hydrocarbons in the soil, and so on and so forth. Planet Earth retains a lot more of that radiated heat. Which in turn exchanges heat with the oceans pushing sardines further north and crabs further south.

          Things like whales and dolphins are ok at tracking them over distances but things like crustations that live off the churn won’t be able to travel to the new hot spots. So there will be winners and losers in any changing environment.

        • Sam Sam says:

          Forgot to add @nutrium

        • ropata says:

          Could be even worse than we imagined, if huge parts of Antarctica collapse into the sea
          https://grist.org/article/antarctica-doomsday-glaciers-could-flood-coastal-cities/

        • Nitrium Nitrium says:

          So why did these climate “scientists” have to DOCTOR their data to make their “models” fit:
          https://thsresearch.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/ef-gast-data-research-report-062717.pdf

          And frankly, isn’t overpopulation THE biggest issue facing climate change? Ok, so everybody reduces their carbon footprint by 50%, but that has no net value when the population of the planet doubles (and more) over the coming centuries (which it will). Why do I hear exactly NOTHING about population control (“sustainable population”, if you will) with regards to avoiding cataclysmic climate change from climate screamers such as yourself? Why are people who CHOOSE to have 3, 5, 10 kids not lambasted/pariahed by people such as yourself given how much environmental damage all those offspring will inevitably cause?

  3. Sam Sam says:

    Maybe Jared Dillian should find out what we actually mean by that instead of making his own assumptions about what we mean by that?

    Ok Truth: Forbes is not accountable to the public. They can do whatever they want so long as it’s in the interest of shareholders & 40% of $Forbes is owned by Amongst others, Bono. Go figure!

    $TWTR is one that is going to end in tears nasdaq.com/article/saudi-… Kingdom Holdings (Saudis) will soon have to liquidate+politicization+censorship of opinion & verification will cap impressions & ad revenues. Only thing keeping the site relevant is @realDonaldTrump Without him stock is sub $10.

    For 18 Months the Twitter ($TWTR) has propagandized NZ Media to attempt to create a perception that there is a massive cost to voting against National because they know if Jacinda is a success then free trade as we new it in the 80’s is over. NZ should walk away from negotiations and give the surviving CPTTP (ok I forgot the proper acronym, what ever) members an ultimatum. Trudeau = 100% right.

  4. David Stone says:

    Hope springs eternal.
    D J S

  5. esoteric pineapples says:

    Overseas investors aren’t going to be put off my a opinion piece like that. They see New Zealand as a stable democracy where their investments are likely to be safe.

  6. XRAY says:

    You know we are doing something right when Forbes is concerned!

    The billionaires (and their toadying multi-millionaire bover boys who do their bidding) who like to set the agenda for the rest of us schmucks to live by are nervous. And that they are feeding their pet Nats little stories like this to boost morale only reinforces it.

    But worried they are. Years of patience and control that rewarded their bank accounts are threatened. Examples of things like talkback stories of the entitlement to expect winners and losers on kids sports fields were genius. So much so that enough of the riff-raff transferred that thought pattern to embrace the otherwise untrustworthy sub-humans that are the few and the wealthy, like Key & Turnbill, and that has paid in $pade$! We can’t have any change to that prescription now, can we?

    Yet their cleverness has had the growing downside of hollowing out the economy of the greatest capitalist land on earth, the US. In the land of the free and the brave for example, for those who can’t afford the jacked up cartel medication prices capitalism has set for them and their sub-minimum wages, the streets have provided in synthetic opiates. And what a horror story that is proving to be.

    I fully expect the wealthy to feed the fires of discontent to undermine the likes of this government and any other upstarts who may try and mirror them. After all their vast fortunes risk being reduced to merely fabulous fortunes otherwise and that just won’t do!

    • Jono says:

      You can feel the same push back when you make a pro union comment on stuff. You get told you are a drug addicted slacker when i am none of these things. The well to do have pushed there agenda so well now a land slide of people believe and get sucked in by them. These guys are not stupid they understand physchology and hiw to use it for their dark means.

  7. garibaldi says:

    Wishful thinking Chris. Ardern and Robinson are Neolibs, and are merely trying to give it a slightly kinder face.

    • Andrea says:

      And the Greens are mostly too young to know anything else.

      It’s a worry.

      Yet – wouldn’t it be great if we cracked it and offered hope to the vanishing American ‘middle class’ that what they dread most is really a practical way forward… Not to mention the near-extinct working class.

      To be there at midnight when the Forbes carriage turns back into a pumpkin and the emperors are rushing for fig leaves. (snigger)

  8. Pete says:

    Ironic that the fear of turning into a communist state saw the 1976 ridding of the superannuation scheme. The doomsayers had it being the death knell of the country yet sure as hell would have liked to have the benefits it would now have been providing had they not trembled quivered and panicked at the thought of reds under their beds.

    https://www.pressreader.com/new-zealand/weekend-herald/20171104/285671164762897

  9. cs says:

    Government debt is only “crippling” if it is in another currency.
    Government debt in NZ went up a lot with the neoliberalism of the 80s and 90s
    Just saying…
    https://tradingeconomics.com/new-zealand/government-debt-to-gdp

  10. cs says:

    Also Forbes magazine – the magazine that published a piece advocating price gouging for water being a good thing in Houston post hurricane – an efficient way to allocate resources. Who cares about the dehydration of the poor. ….

    http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-forbes-worstall-20170830-story.html

  11. Marc says:

    I drove over the Harbour Bridge in Auckland, this afternoon, I saw the red flags wave on the flag poles, we are there, are we not, Chris??

  12. cleangreen says:

    Yes and the tree monkey that is being shaken out of his tree is Steven fucking Joyce, as he is wildly ‘comandering’ all the Media as well as our public radio NZ to spit his venem to all of what Labour is falsly he believes is doing wrong already.

    That man is loopy.

    I guess he is shitting himself waiting for the 7th December for Winstons day of “discovery “in court to see who leaked his private information, and he is out for blood so I hope Winston graps Joye by the throat as he tries yet again to lie.

    Bennett, English, Tolley, and joyce have met their match alright.

    Go after them Winston.

    • cleangreen says:

      AFEWKNOWTHETRUTH;

      Yes the planet is in a stagebof “thermal runaway” now, and we are abut to be clobbered bybthe worst most violent weather extremes, as we go into free fall.

      This while bwe see the trucking industry who gobbles up 10 times just moving freight the same distance as rail would use.

      We are in “a ship of fools”

  13. Steve King says:

    Chris, I always enjoy your writing, even if I don’t always agree. But this is a bit of a wind-up, isn’t it? You’re just messin’ with our heads.

  14. Michal says:

    What a joke especially given they have just put Cullen in charge of the review of taxes. Get someone really truly independent.

  15. Marc says:

    I am not a communist as such but a determined socialist of sorts, so I still subscribe to this to a degree:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dr_g23qi9hg

  16. Jack says:

    We have to find our own way regarding socialism. A socialism of partnership. Not the hackneyed public private partnership of the nationals but something deeper in the nations psyche.

  17. Zack Brando says:

    Is that you there Jacinda? Free advice for you Jacinda, get your free advice. You can only have 2 bits because it’s late:

    1. Forget about the terms capitalism, socialism, communism, all the ‘isms’. Keep investing in social spending, but make your offerings fungible.
    Spelling it out: The NZ dollar is fungible, no $20 note is worth more that another. It doesn’t matter what its been used for in the past or what serial number it contains – it’s 20 dollars.

    You’ll get in trouble when your policies aren’t fungible. Let students pick which year they want free. Let parents choose when they take PPL. Weal-fair in NZ is very NON-fungible, fix it.

    2. Legalize cannabis. Don’t be coming into an election year promising a referendum just before or after aforementioned election – that’s a fools game.

    Full legalization with age restriction … local suppliers (major, major key there!!). Do it next year, any hard feeling from the constituency will have dissipated well before the election. It’s easy to get done in the current climate.

    If you don’t legalize it sooner rather than later you’re just pulling a Trojan House inside the cities gates and building a rod for your own back.

    • Sam Sam says:

      I’ll add a third. Raise the smoking age to 21. Plenty of studies showing at least 11% of all 13 year olds smoke a cigarettes. And those that don’t pick up the habit by 21 never smoke. Raise smoking limit to limit to 21.

  18. Danyl Strype says:

    This key message from BigCorp and their PR lackeys is a classic black/white fallacy (also known as a ‘false dichotomy’). There is either state stalinism or corporate stalinism (or “neo-liberalism”), no other political-economic systems are possible. It’s manipulative, fear-mongering bollocks. Given two options, I take a third.

    All currently existing political-economic systems are mixed systems, containing different proportions of governments, markets, commons, and many other elements. The Scandanavian countries are “socialist” when compared to corporatized economies like the US, but “capitalist” when compared to China, which is “capitalist” compared to Cuba.

    “Do we want capitalism or communism/ socialism?”, is an obsolete, 19th century question. The question our generation and the upcoming generation must be asking is “what combination of political-economic elements will make up a system that successfully delivers the basics of life to everyone in our population, in a way that can be sustained for at least seven generations?”

  19. Sam Sam says:

    (Wrote this to something else and tweked it abit to fit in here but it may answer some questions)

    I think government doesn’t mean you can over come any crises. All it means is you have a system in place which under normal conditions can correct itself. But in critical times it may just tip over. So in a crises good governance doesn’t help.

    My advice is to catch every wind as it comes along, and New Zealand is a reflection of the forces in the world. And use all the forces that come our way to our advantage.

    Secondly entrepreneurship might not work in New Zealand because of the democracies structural rulz and conformity and are there fore non-entrepreneurial. Or it has damaged the entrepreneurial spirit with in New Zealand and indeed the rest of the world. Personally I’v been puzzled by this for some time – about the difference between New Zealand (Aotearoa) and the rest of the world. And I do think it is the absence of a comprehensive and caring governant that creates the need to be enterprising and innovative. The government does not look after every ones needs and there is disruption. And being an entrepreneur means taking a risk, and requires effort. So not many have taken the risks that require the effort. It will change in time.

    And we have lessons to learn from the first settler. They came from draconian circumstances. The entrepreneurs were running away from the landed gentry, the leaders of men. So New Zealand started off with a group of people who were naturally gun hoo. Who refused to find themselves trapped by imperialism. And started new businesses or carried on with there businesses under new conditions. So they had a group of people and latter on they created there culture which attracted more people into entrepreneurship.

    Now we do not have that natural group of people who are already entrepreneurs who came onboard because they were being chased out by imperialists and escaping the imperialists. Infact there is some love for imperialisms hand maiden amongst kiwis, Queen Elizabeth.

    We’re growing organically from a colonial outpost with an elite. And entrepreneurial elite. And we are still puzzled about what to do. Mainly because it will take a very very very long time to create entrepreneurship under present conditions. To be an entrepreneur you must have the qualities of an Elon Musk (founder of Pay Pal, Tesla, Spacex) or Satoshi Nakamora (Creator of Bitcoin) in other words high energy levels. Thinking outside of the box. And persistence again after trying again after every failure (not fucking resigning as PM because you got tired)

    I think if entrepreneurs can think of anything: please tell government. There will be many opportunities to do so. There a tax working group on, a child welfare group on. And more opportunities to inform the government in public submissions, select committees and so on.

    And I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask foreigners what they want to know. You should be asking the people because they are your responsibility. On a personal level I am not an expert in the Clinton News Network (CNN) so I am not qualified to give that advice. I’m an expert in play school. And I do know something about New Zealand and can have some confidence in making judgments about ourselves.

    Now. The important advice. If you do not have economic development then what possibility of democracy is there?

    Contintion over parliament is turning into parlour games. You must master your physical needs and finally fulfilment. And you must have at least 5 hierarchies.

    My view is if you can not fill physiological and shelter needs then you can’t reach democracy of fulfilment and self achievement.

    And now that the white working class in New Zealand have basically fulfilled there physiological and shelter needs, and then stepped up the hierarchy. And then stepped up again when they satisfied there consumer needs. How we handle this after conditions have changed with in the valleys, and they will continue to change after a period of quiet and confident growth. A generation that grows up in a period of affluence believe that they have arrived. As a former residence of Parnell Auckland I’v personally witnessed this dynamic play out. And as the saying goes, if you want democracy then you must have good opposition.

    So about all the disruptions. Whether that leads to democracy I’m not able to say. We must wait and see how constructive the opposition is.