Newsflash! – Saturday’s election result is out! – Another victory for neo-liberalism!


Whichever parties form the government on Saturday it will be a victory for neoliberalism – the failed zombie policy given another dose of life support – this time most likely from Labour and the Greens.

Despite its failure in every aspect of New Zealand life it stumbles on for two reasons.

Firstly because it is supported by the rich and powerful – the people our main political parties need to fund their election campaigns and secondly because the progressive left have failed to provide an inspiring, credible alternative for the big majority of New Zealanders who have suffered as victims of failed economic policies.

The first reason is clear enough to see. The wealthiest 150 New Zealanders – most of whom declare incomes of less than $70,000 so don’t pay the top income tax rate – have been increasing their wealth exponentially for decades now, even during the ravages of Covid 19. This is the way the system is supposed to work: no matter what happens in ordinary peoples’ lives the rich must get richer – and they are loving it.

Our main political parties are a shadow of what they were 40 years ago. They are shell organisations which rely almost totally on big corporate donations to run their election campaigns. Most of the super-rich don’t care whether we elect a Labour-led or a National-led government because the economic policies of each are barely distinguishable. Neither of them is a threat to the rich getting even more obscenely rich.

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Even the existential threat of climate change does not worry the rich. Capitalism will solve the problem for them by simply revaluing land and resources and there will be rich pickings. The struggles of the rest of humanity to survive in a desperately ravaged planet are of no concern to the rich. Put another way – unless we dismantle the rule of the rich and take control of their unearned wealth the campaign to stop climate change and the destruction of our environment will fail.

The second reason is closer to home and deserves a dispassionate examination. There have been several notable attempts to build a progressive alternative to neo-liberal capitalism – the Alliance and MANA Movement have been the most prominent – but they failed.

With hindsight I think neither of these movements were bold enough or ambitious enough. It’s important for any movement to start from where people are at rather than where we think they should be or where we’d like them to be. However, I think both movements underestimated the desire for real change and were seen as tinkering at the edges of Labour/National policies. The policy differences were not significant enough to demand the attention of the majority of New Zealanders.

They weren’t inspiring or uplifting.

Today the situation out there in the real world is increasingly desperate and requires a bold, dramatic and uncompromising drive for change. Anything less will not deserve to be respected.

There is work to do.


  1. You are absolutely right, John. The reason it will be (already is) a victory for neoliberlaism is that all major parties and most minor parties are neoliberal in their outlook. And the general populace has been well trained by the corporate media and by the intellectually-and-morally-bankrupt bureaucracy that runs NZ to believe in absolute nonsense.

    Jacinda did her final pre-election performance on Breakfast this morning, lying to the masses with a smile, reassuring them that everything was (is) on track and that the small steps made this far were just a start on the path to transformation to ‘zero carbon’ and other unachievable goals.

    Judith did the usual personal responsibility spiel -totally ignoring the fact that everything, from the financial system and interest rates to the laws of the land are arbitrary and rigged to suit particular agendas, most of which are not in the best interests of the general populace, and most definitely not in the best interests of the poor.

    But it all goes way beyond neoliberalism, John. The crux of our predicament can be found in:

    1. The unsustainable financial system, based on creation of money out if thin air and the charging of interest on that money. The gigantic Ponzi scheme gets bigger by the day, and gets more unsustainable.

    2. The false notion of progress. There is no progress, only change. And all the change on this planet since humans developed advanced technology has been very bad for the chemical balance of the environment and very bad for ecological balance. The development of machines capable of rapidly converting the stored energy in fossil fuels into heat and motion signed the death warrant for the planet because once humans had machines to do the hard graft, instead of taking it easy they went into overdrive in their conversion of natural, self-sustaining systems into unnatural systems dependent on perpetual injection of fossil fuel energy. Not only that, but they went into hyper population overshoot -from the [arguably] sustainable 1 billion to the totally unsustainable 7+ billion. And still rising, for the moment, but not for much longer.

    3. The mind control systems developed and perfected by Bernays, based on the work of his uncle, Freud, and geared to controlling the thinking and behaviour of the masses. Rather than using the deep-seated fears and desires of humans to create a better society, the understanding of those fears and desires was used by corporations and governments to foster demand for products and services nobody actually needed at all, and which cause massive environmental destruction in their manufacture, use and disposal. Indeed, the disposal of the mountains of unnecessary stuff generated by they system is reaching the critical point, as decades-worth of garbage and its decomposition products accumulate everywhere -even in the bloodstreams of humans!

    None of that matters to technophiles and acolytes of the phony economic systems, who see our way forward as yet more of the same destruction and poisoning that got us to the point of being overwhelmed by current mountain of predicaments.

    Since the plan of all the major parties is to make everything that matters worse faster, that is exactly what we are going to get: everything that matters made worse.

    So, the election is really all about who can lie the most convincingly whilst ‘tossing children and babies into the furnace’, since it is the youngsters who ae going to suffer the most dire consequences of all this madness, foisted on us by money-lenders, corporations, opportunists and their bought-and-paid-for lackeys in Parliament.

    Whether Covid-19 is going to demolish the whole system over the coming months is yet to be seen. Even without Covid-19, the system was on its last legs as a consequence of its inherent flaws and contradictions, which have been repeatedly papered-over since the year 2000. But you won’t hear that from any politician or mainstream media source.

    Having said that, of course the papering over has been going on since long before the year 2000, and I recently discovered a website that attributes much of what we are now witnessing to events in 1971, when, amongst other things, Nixon ‘closed the gold window’.

    It was around that time the looters, polluters and exploiters decided to sabotage the ‘Limits to Growth’ narrative: look where it has got us -a fucked up economic system and a fucked-up planet.


  2. I ‘d just like to say thanks you to John and to you Afewknowthetruth along with so many of the regular bloggers and commentators on the Daily Blog. I voted as soon as early voting started. I naturally made a protest vote after initially considering Shane Jones in my electorate simply because the PGF has made such an enormous difference to Northland, for example roading projects which for safety’s sake should have happened 20 years ago. As usual you two have clarified the issues brilliantly and I m not as depressed by our situation in little ol’ NZ because others know what I know to be true and real. Going to a party with a live band tomorrow with people who long ago ceased to give a fuck.

    • Thank you Shona. It’s good to know our efforts are appreciated, even if we are vilified by the mainstream and a few BAU nutters who comment on TDB.

  3. I ‘d just like to say thanks you to John and to you Afewknowthetruth along with so many of the regular bloggers and commentators on the Daily Blog. I voted as soon as early voting started. I naturally made a protest vote after initially considering Shane Jones in my electorate simply because the PGF has made such an enormous difference to Northland, for example roading projects which for safety’s sake should have happened 20 years ago. As usual you two have clarified the issues brilliantly and I’ m not as depressed by our situation in little ol’ NZ because others know what I know to be true and real. Going to a party with a live band tomorrow with people who long ago ceased to give a fuck.

  4. Sometimes enemies have more in common than they might care to admit. Just as every economic crisis causes free-marketeers to double down on their prescription for society, similarly your answer seems to be ‘more of what we argued for last time’ – only more bold, more dramatic, more inspiring than before. Really? To paraphrase John Stuart Mill – beware the slumber of decided opinion.

  5. The refusal to levy a real CGT of say 80% and Grant Robertson’s assurance to Peter Williams Climate Change denier that even a weath tax will not be levied Greens be darned means Labour is all for continuance of the FIRE sector rentier parasitic society destroying affliction poor ole NZ is dying from. Actually already died from. Also the Privatisation rentier scandal plus letting Australian banks run our economy by digital money creation. The parasites are bloated on the carcass which still has yet more blood and vitality to give up! Labour has always sabotaged the alternative left’s policies as they did with the Alliance.

    • Labour is wary of scaring the horses.
      Some how we have to educate the ignorant and those with short term greed disease, before what is needed to help put a future for Kiwis on the possibility list.
      Unless a party in power just acts without fore warning like jonkey did in selling off half of our publicly owed energy sector plainly against the will of nearly 70% of Kiwis who cast their position in the referendum.

      A big one will be to set up a NZ govt manager of Kiwisaver funds so Kiwis can opt for Govt protection of their contributions, Presently there is no protection of the Kiwisaver contribution, either compulsory or voluntarily contributed. Clark and Cullen concession to private banks who would have blocked any move by govt to carry the scheme.
      Kirk’s version got the CIA involved in supporting Muldoon’s election with a condition of scrapping Kirk’s excellent scheme. Dancing Cossacks from a US CIA affiliated company.

  6. As you might imagine, John, I disagree with you about both the Alliance and Mana. Both parties offered a clear path away from Neoliberalism but, sadly, the voters declined to support them in anything like sufficient numbers.

    Why? because they didn’t yet believe they needed them.

    Here’s a story, told to me by the late Dean Parker, who had it from a veteran London socialist, who’d heard it from a couple of old Bolsheviks. According to Dean, these old Bolsheviks were wont to regale their British comrades with stories about the crazy growth of the Petrograd organisation of the Bolshevik Party in 1917. At the beginning of the year the party membership numbered a few hundred. By the middle of the year, however, it had risen to many thousands. Who were these people? Where had they come from? The older members were just a little put out. No one paid them any mind, and, by the end of the year, the Bolsheviks were in power.

    The moral of the story? When the people feel the need for a revolutionary party, they will find one.

    • Yes, Chris.

      I remember Carolyn Baker saying [at the time when the peak oil movement and the climate movement and the ecological movement still had hopes of waking up the masses to reality] “They’re not suffering enough yet.”

      And that is still true. People in NZ are not suffering enough yet. There is still plenty of food in the supermarkets, the taps still deliver water, electricity is available on demand, people still have disposable income to go on holiday -some travelling considerable distances by road transport or by air for breaks. I met one at bridge on Thursday; will vote National; always has; no idea whatsoever about any of the issues of the times we live in.

      The consensus bubble of ignorance, complacency and denial remains intact for the moment. (It was 15 years ago I wrote a published article with that title: Ignorance, complacency and denial.)

      Charles Hugh Smith obviously has a lot more spare time than I do. Probably has a lot more money too, not that I hold that against him because his analysis is superb and frequent, and not hidden behind a pay wall.

      In his latest offering he details how systems fail because everyone in power thinks in terms of incremental change when radical change is required, and those with snouts in the trough will do whatever they can to keep the trough full and keep their snouts in it -which is exactly what we are witnessing.

      Why We’re Doomed: Our Delusional Faith in Incremental Change
      October 14, 2020

      Better not to risk any radical evolution that might fail, and so failure is thus assured.

      When times are good, modest reforms are all that’s needed to maintain the ship’s course. By “good times,” I mean eras of rising prosperity which generate bigger budgets, profits, tax revenues, paychecks, etc., eras characterized by high levels of stability and predictability.

      Since stability has been the norm for 75 years, institutions and conventional thinking have both been optimized for incremental change. This is an analog of natural selection in Nature: when the organism’s environment is stable, there’s little pressure to favor random mutations, as these can be risky.

      Why risk big changes when everything’s working fine as is?

      Absent any big changes in their environment, organisms’ genetic programming remains stable. Unlike natural selection’s process of generating random mutations and testing their efficacy and advantages over the existing programming, human organizations quickly habituate to stable eras by institutionalizing incremental changes as the only available process for reform / change.

      Radical reforms are not just frowned on as 1) unneccesary and 2) needlessly risky, there is no institutionalized process to propose, test and adopt radical changes because there is no need for such a process.

      Nature has such a process: punctuated equilibirium. When faced with a rapidly changing environment, organisms face intense evolutionary pressure to adapt or die. Mutations which confer a significant advantage in the new environment become part of the species’ genetic programming as those with the adaptation bear offspring who carry the advantageous adaptation. Those without the advantageous adaptation die and those with the adaptation thrive and multiply.

      Once the environment stabilizes in “the new normal,” the evolutionary pressure lets up and the species returns to the stability of relatively few changes in its genetic programming.

      Organisms which have lost the ability to adapt to rapid change die off once they encounter instability. Species that constantly face instability and rapid change will selectively favor genetic traits which optimize rapid evolution.

      Nature tends to retain a basement closet full of fast-evolution tricks just in case the organism faces novel challenges.

      Alas, human organizations and conventional thinking have no such closet of fast-evolution tricks. Rather, human organizations and conventional thinking marshal formidable forces to suppress anything which threatens the status quo, because why risk upsetting the feeding trough unless it’s absolutely necessary?

      Therein lies the fatal problem: radical adaptation is never absolutely necessary in human organizations and conventional thinking until it’s too late–and even then, the leadership and conventional thinking will fatalistically accept oblivion rather than opt for a risky strategy of testing every mutation and fast-tracking whatever has promise, even though the odds of failure are high since 1) the challenge is novel and therefore unpredictable and 2) most mutations will fail to provide the radical advantages needed to meet the challenge.

      In other words, what’s absolutely necessary to human organizations and conventional thinking is the suppression of potentially dangerous novel ideas because the worst-case scenario is that the novel ideas upset the feeding trough all the insiders have come to depend on.

      Unfortunately for human organizations and conventional thinking, novel challenges demand precisely what they’re incapable of: risky rapid evolution. The risks will never seem worth it because some insiders might lose their spot at the feeding trough.

      Since this loss is viewed as catastrophic by those at risk, they will fight with everything they have to stymie any radical reforms. Ironically, their resistance to rapid evolution only guarantees the demise of the entire organization / status quo, including the spot at the trough they were so eager to defend at all costs.

      As the crisis deepens, the default setting in organizations and conventional thinking is that incremental changes and reforms will be enough, because they’ve been enough for four generations. I call this entirely natural default setting the delusional faith in incremental change because this faith isn’t guided by history or the logic of causality; it’s simply convenient and easy.

      Nobody gets fired or demoted for agreeing to do more of what’s failed spectacularly.

      I’ve prepared a chart of the delusional faith in incremental change showing how each new crisis is met by incremental institutionalized defaults that are completely inadequate to the novel challenges that have arisen. The blindness to the need for radical adaption has been institutionalized as well: this is what worked in the past, so it will work now. Why risk everything when we have procedures that have worked well?

      Each stage of the crisis draws whatever conventional response causes the least pain. First, the “rainy day fund” is drained to keep everyone at the feeding trough. Studies of options are funded, and so on.

      The recommendations are either too timid and clearly inadequate or they’re too bold and risky. So incremental policy and budget tweaks are adopted as acceptable institutional defaults.

      But rifts open in the leadership as the farsighted few demand rapid, radical adaptations and the conventional risk-averse crowd digs in their heels. The farsighted few are pushed out or quit / retire, eliminating the only people who had the ability and experience to actually pull off a radical change of course.

      A reshuffling of leadership evokes hope that the modest reforms will work magic. Alas, incremental tweaks only work in eras of stability. They fail miserably in unstable eras of rapidly-evolving challenges.

      As everything runs to failure, the only acceptable path is to do more of what’s failed spectacularly, a default to low-risk incrementalism that only accelerates the final inevitable collapse.

      The delusional faith in incremental change guarantees systemic failure. Better not to risk any radical evolution that might fail, and so failure is thus assured.’

      The other important aspect to consider is the fact that almost every revolution (other than those like the Industrial Revolution or the Tech Revolution, that suited the ‘elites’) has been ruthlessly crushed by extreme violence perpetrated on those at the bottom by those at the top, normally using armed police forces or the military. People are prepared to shoot and kill other people if they are paid to do so and/or, if they are brainwashed into believing the people they are killing are enemies of society.

      Right now the vast majority of people in NZ are totally ignorant of the issues we face -peak oil, abrupt climate change, collapse of biodiversity, Ponzi finance and self-defeating economics etc. – issues that will bring down the entire political-economic-social order in the near future, so they continue to vote (as required by the system) for whoever lies most convincingly, or for someone who is just as ignorant and deluded as they are but is able to project the image of knowing what they are doing.

      Interestingly, in the little I have seen of Jacinda recently, I detect a lack of confidence not previously seen. No longer “Let’s do this” but “If the country doesn’t want me I’m happy to go.”

      That suggests she knows darned well the ship is sinking and she has no capacity to rectify anything.

      We can be certain that whoever leads NZ over the coming period of collapse, they will NOT PROMOTE the ONLY strategies capable of improving the health and welfare of the people and reducing the damage done to the environment (both locally and globally), but WILL PROMOTE strategies that make everything worse.

      • It’s time for the soapbox again. You think that’s unrealistic but Trump does it all the time.

        Climate change is everything, yet no party addresses it primarily (and with fury, re Greens). This covid is so small potatoes yet we don’t have the money now to do shit about real matters. The immediate issues democracy is good at disallow effectiveness with real challenges. Rome famously took 3 wars to defeat each of their major opponents. Comprehension, seriousness, the kill instinct. We don’t have the 118 years to deal with the Carthaginians of our moment.

  7. Ae John. Another 3 years of words that will get overused. Like ‘transformational!’ Something bla bla about ‘future generation!’ And how much of a ‘privilege’ it is to be your Prime Minister. FFS! Hedonism revisted!
    With a forecasted $221b of debt by 2022/23. What future has any generation got to look forward to?
    More vacuous words to feel all nice and warm in your tummy when your house is the underside of a bridge and chewing on a few winegums for dinner? Again, they turn up without a plan, just more of the same ole same ole bullshit.
    I dont think I can put up with another Mellinial public tantrum.

    Time for self isolation I recks.

    • The hidden messages deeply embedded by Hollywood and passed off as entertainment are insidious and crafted into a raft of memes and accepted scenarios we get used to and hardly notice.
      Once you accept the format with its deliberately “jumpy” switching and fast action suggestions, then you become a vessel that takes in the wider concepts often hidden but sometimes blatantly thrown at you.
      You may have noticed the slow change over the years to filming technique where most things are in short snaps. Describing the scenes shown for less than one tenth of a second becomes impossible meanwhile your mind has recorded more than what you can recall.
      They use this technique when training soldiers to become killers on command.
      Just the idea for example of people living in space is a widely accepted impossibility..
      Hollywood was used to turn the US population against native Americans and all the kids in the theatre would cheer when the got shot. Cunningly crafted for audiences to conform with those others in the captive audience.
      There usually is an enemy and a hero. Beware what you may be taking in.

      • Yes, John, you’re right with this… but on a more metaphorical level, anticipating the future of a neoliberal class society, the story shows some very real possibilities.

  8. Yes, John Minto, this is the crux of the situation:

    “… the progressive left have failed to provide an inspiring, credible alternative for the big majority of New Zealanders who have suffered as victims of failed economic policies.”

    This is especially relevant for ownership structure of housing and land which in large parts of the country resemble feudal systems and keep most of the ordinary Kiwis in a livelong mortgage bondage.

    By the way, a similar statement can be made on intensifying ecological destruction and loss of bio-diversity in the country, as well as overall climate change adaptation and disaster risk preparedness.

    … it is actually pretty astonishing what the Kiwis are able to extinguish on natural environment despite having one of the lowest human population densities in the world.

    Time is long overdue for a blocking and reversing growth models as presented through industrialization, consumerism, neo-liberalism, ergo Capitalism.

    … neither hearsay on what the Bolsheviks may have done, or not, nor the association to past Alliance and Mana efforts can wipe away the present (worldwide) push for a radical socio-ecological platforms left to the Labour Party / Green Party if those continue to rely on neo-liberal models of exploitation of human species and natural resources.

    … yes, the progressive left have failed so far to provide an inspiring, credible alternative for the big majority of New Zealanders who have suffered as victims of failed economic and environmental policies.

    System. Change. Now.
    Jason W. Moore: Political Ecology or World-Ecology?


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