Why We (Don’t) Fight

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LIKE THE CELEBRATED DOG that didn’t bark, the New Zealand Left is proving itself a poor protector of the exploited. A housing crisis on the present scale, occurring fifty years ago, would have generated massive resistance. The trade unions would have been on their hind legs. The churches would have been on their hind legs. The students’ associations would have been on their hind legs. The Maori Council would have been on its hind legs. Consumer groups would have been on their hind legs. Hell – even the Labour Party would have been on its hind legs! Of those groups, only the mainstream churches (the Salvation Army in particular) continue to fight the good fight. What has happened to “progressive” New Zealand? Why don’t we fight?

The most obvious answer is that, fifty years ago, progressive New Zealand agreed about a great deal more than it does today. And what it disagreed about was not permitted to get in the way of putting wrongs to right. Liberal Christians were most unlikely to have much in common with the ideological precepts of the Moscow-aligned communists of the Socialist Unity Party, but that didn’t prevent them from fighting the good fight alongside them in the struggle against the Vietnam War, apartheid in South Africa, and atmospheric nuclear testing. With hindsight, it is easy to see that it was progressive New Zealand’s willingness to agree to disagree over issues peripheral to the specific issues in play that made the creation of mass protest movements possible.

What was it, then, that progressive New Zealand agreed about? In its essence, the moral consensus within which Liberal Christians and Moscow-aligned communists were able to make common cause found its most eloquent expression in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations’ General Assembly in December 1948. Though the nations of the Soviet bloc (along with Saudi Arabia and South Africa) abstained from voting to ratify the Declaration, they did not, significantly, vote against it. In the baleful afterglow of the terrible events of the Second World War, no country dared set its face against the principles of human equality and human rights for which so many millions had given their lives.

Seven years after the adoption of the Declaration, the Museum of Modern Art in New York organised a ground-breaking photographic exhibition, later turned into a book, entitled The Family of Man. This astounding collection of images, and the quotations accompanying them, made clear the fundamental kinship of all human-beings. In his prologue to the 1955 exhibition, the poet Carl Sandburg wrote:

To the question, “What will the story be of the Family of Man across the near or far future?” some would reply, “For the answers read if you can the strange and baffling eyes of youth.”

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

There is only one man in the world

and his name is All Men.

There is only one woman in the world

and her name is All Women.

There is only one child in the world

and the child’s name is All Children.

In the face of napalm-engulfed Vietnamese villages, the racist-inspired massacre at Sharpeville and the deadly radioactive fallout of atmospheric nuclear testing, these were the ideals which progressive New Zealanders did everything within their power to advance and defend.

By the early 1980s, however, the broad progressive unity of the immediate post-war period was dissolving rapidly. The principal solvent came in the form of the “new social movements” – most particularly the movements born out of the struggle for racial and sexual equality. If “mankind” was a single family of equals, then certain members of that family – most obviously, white, male, heterosexuals – were clearly more equal than others. Increasingly, human emancipation came to be seen as a zero-sum game. If oppressed identities (blacks, females, gays) were to win their rights, then those responsible for their oppression (whites, males, heterosexuals) were going to have to give up some of (most of?) their privileges.

Was it just one of those remarkable historical coincidences that “identity politics” and “neoliberalism” advanced together on the global political stage? It is certainly the case that the advance of one almost always hastened the advance of the other. The crushing of the post-war Keynesian economic order and the destruction of the institutional order it had spawned – most particularly the suppression of organised labour – cleared the field for the advance of identity politics. For the best part of four decades, identity politics has occupied the ideological space cleared by neoliberal capitalism’s undermining of the progressive “grand narrative” which inspired the Universal Declaration of Human Rights possible, and turned The Family of Maninto an international best-seller.

Never to be re-issued. At least, that’s how it appeared when neoliberal capitalism’s global system faltered and nearly fell in the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-09. The Occupy Wall Street protests, which the GFC spawned, soon morphed into the worldwide Occupy movement. By creating the revolutionary dichotomy of the “One Percent” versus the “Ninety-Nine Percent”, Occupy opened up the possibility of building an international mass movement for radical change.

As events unfolded, it soon became clear that what was possible, and what was actually unfolding on the ground, were at serious odds with one another. The fractious tribes of identity politics simply could not agree to disagree. In practice, their “big idea” – intersectionality – turned out to be one enormous intersection at which ideological traffic, arriving from every direction, snarled and snarled itself into gridlocked ineffectuality. Idealistic kids, inspired by the 1/99% meme, and eager to join the revolution, were confronted with a paralysing Discordia. Not only did it seem that they were being asked to give up their “privilege/s”, but also their sanity. They left the Occupy encampments as disgusted as they were disillusioned. The forces of neoliberal order swatting away what was left like so many buzzing flies.

In the aftermath of the Occupy debacle, many have been moved to pose one of those diabolical questions that we should probably never ask – let alone answer: “If the powers-that-be had set out to create an ideological system designed to render the progressive mass movements of the past utterly unrepeatable; while ensuring that any attempt to confront neoliberal capitalism with a Corbynesque “For the Many, Not the Few” electoral agenda, is instantly paralysed by bitter and protracted factional strife; could they ever have come up with a political poison as effective as identity politics?”

If the progressive dog refuses any longer to bark – even at a moral crisis as profound as the housing poverty which is tearing the New Zealand working-class apart – it is only because so many identities have been telling him for so long to keep his privileged mouth shut.

 

51 COMMENTS

  1. You have the ball, so now run with it. This is your government, not mine. It has no excuses in the form of the Greens or Winston Peters, so what’s holding you back?

    The answer for some of us is quite clear: The left is indeed excellent at “getting on its hind legs” in protest, but performs abysmally when in charge. Your theories don’t work in practice and we have a 100 year history of failures to prove it.

    • One hundred years of failure, Andrew?

      What would those failures be, I wonder?

      Public health and education? Social Security? State assistance for literature and the arts? Public broadcasting? Massive state investment in, and construction of, NZ’s local and national infrastructure? The emancipation of women and the LGBTQI community? The ongoing settlement of Treaty of Waitangi Claims? Legislation protecting NZ’s natural environment?

      If all this is evidence of a century of failure, Andrew, then I say “Give us another such century!”

      • Well, Labour is the party which you supported into government Chris.
        Its historical legacy may not be as bad as Andrew suggests (without benefit of specifics) but it is the party which brought the Realm of New Zealand into the neo-liberal fold.
        The latest measures announced may help shift the balance from capitalist speculation to aspiring home owners. Let’s wait and see. I won’t say Labour can do no good, but neither would I suggest that we should put full confidence in Labour to govern in the interests of the people.
        In the end, the people of Aotearoa will have to provide for their own security and well-being. They cannot safely rely upon a colonialist government. So no need for hand wringing over the unwillingness or inability of Labour to address the excesses and abuses of colonial capitalism.
        The solution is in our own hands.

        • Yes, a regulated Keynesian style of capitalism that had at its core redistribution , – not blatant straight out piracy and theft of the public utility’s to be sold on to overseas mates at fire sale prices, – only to have those commodity’s ratcheted up in price- the very opposite thing Shipley, Douglas and Richardson said because in their view- ”there would be more competition”.

          Bullshit. We are a small country and they knew damn well that was a con right from the start and rammed it through despite massive ( not tens of thousands , but HUNDREDS of thousands ) nation wide demonstrations in both the selling off of those assets but also things like the Employment Contracts Bill 1991.

          Which goes to show those bastards had nothing but contempt for the voter base of NZ and were more than happy to take a shat all over our democracy,- and along with pleasing their London based shitty Mont Pelerin society ‘Lords’,…makes any serious thinker wonder just how many shares were bought up by the same when their mates bought those assets, in other words, ‘insider trading’ Kinda illegal eh, – even if its hidden behind trusts and subsidiary’s and the like…

          So that makes them not only thieves but guilty of treasonous activity.

        • Andrew the money capitalist accumulate comes from the vast infrastructure of workers and consumers.
          Wealth is created by labour.
          A small group skim off the wealth and amass it using fiscal institutions, not their labour

  2. Fighting is coming, Chris.

    The fighting will be over a crust of bread, a bottle of drinkable water, a potato, a bicycle, as the neoliberal experiment comes to its natural conclusion of utter catastrophe for the vast majority of people, and the abject failure of a succession of governments to plan for the REAL future manifests in economic, environmental and social meltdown.

    Judging by the dismal (and rapidly worsening) state of the world and the counterproductive strategies implemented by governments everywhere, it could be just a matter of months before the ‘eruptions’ commence.

    https://ourfiniteworld.com/2021/03/20/headed-for-a-collapsing-debt-bubble/

    The government are pretending they have everything under control. And the media are doing as required: keeping silent on everything that is fundamental to the system and to life, and providing the masses with plenty of pabulum and distraction.

    • The Left have been the “establishment” or “the system” for decades now, although the institutional reach of the liberal orthodoxy has ramped up even in the last 5 years. If you are a Leftist: you are there, mate! You’ve got the stage, champ! The Left are are IT, so they need to stop looking elsewhere for others to blame for the manifest consequences of their ideology. Thus, if there is anything still “wrong” with the system, it’s time the Left looked into the mirror to identify exactly what the problems are and who has caused them.

    • Yep. The “Ever Given” blocking the Suez demonstrates how tenuous is the current global system. We are just a few more fuckups away from a catastrophe

  3. FFS – another article overstating the impact of identity politics. Union membership and church attendance are at almost zero and working class solidarity has been in respite care for decades. Get out and talk to your average working class individual and find out how little they give a fuck about their peers or those below them on the socio economic ladder. This has almost nothing to do with weak and pathetic impact of progressive voices and a lot more to do with self interest and resentment. Try and advocate for better housing for the poor and struggling and the working class will howl with rage – “why should they get something that I don’t”. Listen to NZ talk radio or take a look at global politics to see this played out – Trump, Brexit, Brazil, India – where working class voters jump at the chance to stick it to someone else in the belief that patriotic fervor and slavish adherence to someone they deem better then them will bring it’s own reward. You completely misunderstand the modern working class and repeatedly produce articles bloated with exaggeration on the impact of identarian progressives – get real. Labour’s latest housing policy is the direct proof of that.

    • There is a great deal in what you say, Peter.

      I guess the only point I was hoping to make in the post was that it was not always so.

      Might I also, respectfully, suggest that your own views on the working-class – and the Woke – may be coloured by your own experience.

      In my experience, it is always a mistake to extrapolate too freely from the personal to the political – let alone the ideological.

    • I wouldn’t be as polite as Chris, I’d say that much of what you mention is the DIRECT RESULT of 36 years of pernicious neo liberalism. Not the other way round.

    • Peter while your personal observation may be echoed to some extent by others, you have like many of us have been brought up in a period following one where NZ workers had joined together with an understanding passed to them, of power with united numbers.

      Hence the first Labour govt led by a very vocal few with strong sentiments towards collective action for the uplifting of the bulk of workers and small business. Times were tough and people were ready to listen for answers.

      The powerful raft of legislation enacted ( although not to its potential completion) formed a very strong and resilient framework for families and businesses.

      But as time passed that has been broken down, privatised, given away and stripped of its framework down to a shadow of what it was. That seems to be a pattern observed elsewhere.

      International forces should not be ruled out and horizons widened beyond local discussion. Without that wider picture being carefully considered, it may be conclusions are premature.

      Consider the time immediately after the depression hit and the first Labour Govt was formed., The Western world were inundated with local problems and hardships while the financial elite were busy involved with scooping up assets amid the fire sale opportunities.

      But apart from the Bankers in London being alarmed at what was happening in NZ, little else immediately happened to stem Labours rectification of the imbalances of wealth in NZ.

      The Banks in London put significant pressure on our Minister of Finance to stem the moves to NZ developing its own state bank as demonstrated by Nash’s change of position after going to London to refinance a loan. From that point on Nash obstructed the moved towards greater sovereignty.

      People are vulnerable and most politicians will have a file on their past history and vulnerabilities held by potentially controlling agencies. Key people are identified.

      The divisions between us has been carefully and willfully enacted putting people against each other and group against group till today the picture of united action and support is all but lost.
      Unions were often an expression of workers collective interests but these have been almost eradicated by manipulation of workers beliefs and deliberate structural changes to industrial law and processes.

      The group that has gained unity and strength is the top echelon of capitalist who will make sure we never again unite or understand that power of unity.

      When I hear the carefully crafted news we are fed almost 24/7 and the lies that are promulgated it is obvious who is in charge. The situation is much wider than NZ.

      Last election Labour had a big swing towards its party but just watch how that is insidiously whittled away.

      Labour realises what they are up against and even sees its “loyal” followers attack it when moves are made to be effective as they may dare to, in spreading living condition a little more fairly.

      That shift happens amid the daily break down of hope towards improving the situation nationally.

      The judith Collins of this world just will keep on helping to break down hope that should be a binding force for much of NZ. MSM makes sure of that. Even RNZ plays a part with its hopelessly out of balance presentation of news. Complaints to RNZ do nothing to change that but look who is on the RNZ board and where the CEO and chair come from. Its a stacked hand with no working class representation.

      The division within public understanding and dog eats dog attitude is manufactured skillfully.

      john key wanted to sell off the previously corporatised state owned energy so a citizen’s referendum was called giving 67% against such sales and 32% for sales.

      john key our prime minister laughed and ignored the people knowing they were well under control and would do nothing. Of course he was correct, nothing happened and now,most they don’t even remember a referendum.

      The PR machine advising john key was right in assessing the situation after months of propaganda about how beneficial the sales would be for consumers and Kiwi Mum and Dad investors, which have shown to be a pack of lies on all counts.

      Nowhere in the information fed to the public was a persistent and strong persuasive case presented outlining what the ownership would end up being, nor the escalation of energy prices since which was so predictable.

      Billions have been stripped from the public purse and ongoing “private taxation” from the new owners of a coporatised public asset.

      The next step is to have the energy companies run into debt by paying unhealthy dividends then plead TINA to floating more of the govt held shares.
      Then the landslide takes place as it did with the Wellington Municipal Electricity Dept.
      Sold for $200m and resold on for over a billion and climbing with privately held ( now) water rights. No capital gains taxes apply. A very profitable publicly owned Wellington asset, deliberately miss managed into debt then floated as a company and the rest is history.

      I mention that because the investors internationale don’t play around, they have money and can largely control politics. No one is un-corruptible and if a perceived block to their agenda arises, they have time and resources to circumvent it.

      Normal Kirk was a concern to them hence the rampant criticisms of his various strong moves to claim back stronger sovereignty of NZ. He annoyed them but they prevailed in the end undoing much of his policy gains for NZ.

      Helen Clark worked in with them and so got a few things through for Kiwis but put the workers Kiwisaver contributions into private hands.
      This has never been changed and Labour should start there making Kiwibank a state bank.
      Just remember john key threatened to sell off Kiwibank.

      Hope is so important and when things seem hopeless or scarey. people tend try and look after themselves and community adhesion is lost.
      There is enough for everyone but if just a few own or control the majority of wealth then the tail end is desperate poverty.

      Who owns NZ. Not Kiwis.

  4. New apartments are not subject to the bright line test of 10 years and also are not subject to the overseas investment rules. So billions of tax dollars are going into subsiding developers for new builds that are still allowed to be sold to overseas buyers and no bright line test applies for capital gain tax on sale.

    Does that sound like solving the housing crisis or does it sound like helping the 1% and neoliberals make more money while the lefties are too stupid/distracted to notice?

    I have yet to see any commitment from lefties to prioritise housing to those who are already in NZ who are facing hardship to be helped into housing first, while not allowing more users of NZ housing to come to NZ and cherrypick the offerings.

  5. Maybe it is true that the Revolution devours its children

    As the French also said “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”

  6. That was an excellent read Mr Trotter. Like yourself and many others on TDB I witnessed first hand the change of NZ into a neo-lib country and all the shit that’s gone with it. I will never forget when the Unions were castrated by our politicians doing a huge con job on the public. Workers rights (human rights) were difficult enough to maintain with strong Unions, let alone without them. It was obvious to me that we as a country had voted to castrate ourselves. And so it proved. I am convinced that building the Unions back to strength is the means to fighting the neo-lib masters with organisations that could be well organised and powerful once again. It really needs to happen.

    • … ”I am convinced that building the Unions back to strength is the means to fighting the neo-lib masters with organisations that could be well organised and powerful once again. It really needs to happen”…

      —————

      Hear hear !

      • W K . I think that unions can’t do it anymore. The neoliberal globalism that exports the jobs of problematic industries to countries like China or Bangladesh that have populations so poor and working conditions so poor that in conjunction with distorted (speculated ) exchange rates have been effective at emasculating unionist leverage. If things are to change it will have to be done at national government level. Either by getting involved in labour party politics in numbers sufficient to control it’s policies or starting a new party to contest elections on a platform of fundamental structural change. Back to the Keynesian orthodoxy you mention earlier would be reasonable.
        D J S

        • Most Unions are very weak now and would appear to be near extinction. But nobody can stop new members from joining up and building mass to the point of having some real power. This is one of the things we can do (workers) and it can’t be stopped if it was to happen. But much work needs to be put in before this is ever going to happen. Change Politicians away from Neo Liberalism? Only by force IMO. Bottom up, will be the only way.

  7. My take is that there is a feedback loop between Neo liberal hegemony–which encourages individualism over collectivism, Post Modernist philosophy–where anything can mean anything, and Identity Politics the unholy union of “me-me-me” and “reality is what I say it is”.

    Is it totally necessary to determine causality and possible links between Identity politics and neo liberalism?
    It is certainly necessary to come up with some ideas for community organisation and action in favour of the working class such as bloody housing us and our families.

    As Peter Bradley alludes to above, there is substantial “last place aversion” among the working class. Academics have studied this phenomenon for years, and it can present as workers opposing increases to the minimum wage, or broadening uptake of Living Wage.

    Politicised Lesbian women have been some of the staunchest political allies I have encountered over the years, but now they are under attack from Trans people. Unions have low density, and in general class collaborationist leaders, and certainly not a fighting class left central organisation in the NZCTU (dissolving the FOL into the tame CTU looks ever more of a blunder as the years pass, or did KG Douglas intend that result…).

    Leaderships will arise as they did a Ihumātao, but all the disparate struggles need “uniting all who can be united” and some combined tactics. The 70 NGOs letter to Jacinda on benefit increases before Xmas was a good attempt, but it needed direct action to succeed–blockading MSD offices etc. Urgent, well run, occupations of appropriate empty property–business and residential are needed to fully get the attention of the Labour Caucus on housing. No Labour Minister should be able to go anywhere without signage and loud hailers letting them know what is required. The CTU needs restoring to a fighting outfit dedicated to all workers. Jim Knox of the old FOL got standing ovations when he entered workplaces–many union members even, would not know Richard Wagstaff if they tripped over him on the Kapiti Coast.

  8. Its time to disown any landlord friends you have. They need to realize what they are, absolute scum of the earth.

  9. Neo liberalism did work and continues to work by glorifying individual greed and the scramble for the settler kiwi dream of a private plot to escape the working class.

    But dig deeper. Go back to the early land claims in the North before and after 1840 and you can see that NZ’s development has been deformed by privatising and speculating in land from the start.

    The Treaty was a fraud, Maaori land was stolen against the articles of the Treaty, and the economy ever since has been based on the monopoly rent extracted by an expanding gentry on the backs of the peasants and workers.

    The role of the state was, and is, as agent of capital. When the primary exporting economy faltered it has always subsidised the producers. As Marx told us and Fairburn phrased it in Dominion the national debt became the albatross around the neck of the working class.

    When depression hit one after another from the 1840s right up to the current terminal crisis, the state stepped in to bail out capital.

    Willis Airey nearly a century ago characterised NZ as a corporative proto-fascist state. That is a fascist state in waiting.

    The Welfare state from the Fabians to the Blairites was no more than a mask to hide the fact that labourite ‘progressive’ policies were always subject to ensuring the reproduction of the colonial economy as the expense of workers and peasants.

    Today this system is unchanged but racing towards its end game as it takes the ‘metabolic’ rift with the soil, that began when the Missionaries introduced ‘scientific farming’ to replace Maaori rotational cropping, to the destruction of most life on the planet.

    So the developmental curve of NZ under settler colonialism has been a long decline punctuated by several crises that were resolved by short recoveries only by the destruction of wealth and lives in imperialist wars.

    What we face today is the accumulation of all that old shit in one chain of shocks and aftershocks that merge into the meltdown of the planet. There can be no recovery for capital or humanity.

    We need more than the panicked social democracy scrapping the bottom of its barrel of trinkets to keep alive the dream of equality.

    Face the reality. That dream was always a nightmare for those who lost their land and the lives to keep the colonial ruling class and its imperialist masters in control of the destruction of nature.

    The frenetic infighting among workers over their share of this side-how in NZ is pitiful yes, but it is a small Eurocentric part of the problem. We are now the vast majority globally, and the international working class is standing up as are the peasants against the prospect of destruction and extinction.

    The ruling class now has no option but fascism.

    Time to wake up.

    Time to join the fight.

    • Indeed so, Dave. But the colonial narrative was just an extension of the loot-and-pollute-the-commons narrative that commenced in the mid-1700s in England, along with the exploit-and-control-the-masses narrative that the Normans introduced to England in the late eleventh century. Colonialism just meant the exploitation and despoilation of large swathes of territory remote from the heart of the empire.

      ‘What we face today is the accumulation of all that old shit in one chain of shocks and aftershocks that merge into the meltdown of the planet. There can be no recovery for capital or humanity.’

      I’m pleased you see it the same way I do

      Our ‘mission’ is to minimise the amount of suffering in the present and in the future, whereas the neoliberal ‘mission’ is to maximise extraction rates, and thereby maximise the suffering in the present and in the future.

      That said, since we are dealing with power-crazed maniacs who won’t listen and a dumbed-down populace that is clueless, it is difficult to see how we can accomplish our ‘mission’.

      • AFKT our mission is to understand that capital’s terminal crisis can be solved only by attacking workers and poor farmers jobs and living standards.

        Objectively such attacks spark inevitable resistance and fightback.

        The farmers uprising in India is one example, following many others in the 21st century. We have just passed the 10 year anniversary of the Syrian uprising arising out of the Arab Spring. Yet after 10 years of fascist tyranny the workers came out on the streets of Syria in recent days.

        At the same time the masses in Myanmar have fought for more than a month on the streets against the military coup.

        In Europe and the US many worker’s and self-employed movements such as the Yellow Vests have also emerged in opposition to higher taxes and worsening conditions. BLM and antifa have taken to the streets in the US against police killings and fascist gangs.

        It is no accident that the attacks from above have a strong element of global warming limiting profits and demanding stronger attacks on the masses because the destruction of nature includes those who work to produce as part of nature.

        In Aoteroa/NZ there is a tendency to write off such a movement because too many workers have bought into the property ladder. But we have see the rising anger that has forced the LibLab Govt to attempt some token reforms.

        So we can see what is driving this growing international level of anti-system sentiment and action against what is system collapse.

        Second, as these resistance movements spring up, they will inevitably be met by fascist repression. Recent history proves it. Far from middle class identity politics being to blame, these are the spontaneous reactions to deliberate attempts to use nationalism, racism and sexism to divide and rule workers.

        So what is needed is understanding and organisation that steers these mobilisations together into a force capable of taking power. In the process of the struggle we will learn what is necessary to advance the struggle.

        We have to hold strongly to our belief in the capacity of those who produce the wealth to act collectively in their defence; to their ability for collective action to be steered by cooperation based on democratic institutions.
        But these new institutions have to break from all those old institutions that serve capitalism and act to hold back the mass struggle for power.

        This includes parliament which is a talk shop for the bourgeoisie which diverts workers from the struggle. It includes the union bureaucracy that tails the Liberal labour parties. It certainly includes the media that is now openly aligning itself to defending dying capitalism because it is owned by those who fear any rise of a revolutionary left.

        IMO this is the debate we need to have.

        • ‘We have to hold strongly to our belief in the capacity of those who produce the wealth to act collectively in their defence’

          I’d like to remind you that it is the Earth (in combination with the Sun) that produces wealth. All humans do is take the wealth generated by the Earth and convert it into waste.

          Financial wealth is a complete fabrication amounting to electronic digits in computer systems, and prone to disappearing at a momnet’s notice.

          What the current industrial system is doing is raiding the last of the available resources to prop up living arrangements that have no future, and printing money at a record rate to prevent the Ponzi scheme from imploding…which it will do anyway because debts are implicit promises that are dependent on there being INCREASING amounts of resources and INCREASING amounts of energy in the future when in practice both are already in terminal decline.

          • AFKTT The Sun produces energy and the Earth is part of its solar system. Life on earth is part of a metabolism whereby energy is exchanged to maintain life. Part of that energy is converted by humans into food and shelter by expending labour energy.
            We can talk about necessary labour when our use of energy does not disturb that metabolism.
            Using excess energy through surplus labour expropriated by those who privately own energy sources (land, labour, raw materials) to accumulate wealth is waste.
            This is what Marx calls the metabolic rift, meaning capitalist society takes out more energy than it puts back in. This extraction of surplus energy has gone up exponentially over the last 200 years.
            So what are we going to do about it?
            No use continuing to rave about the cause and effects that will kill us once we grasp them.
            Time to do something about them.
            Replace capitalism’s production of waste and disruption of metabolic balance and restore that balance.
            First, expropriate the private owners of wealth/waste, by eliminating the capitalist class production of waste.
            Second, socialise the ownership of labour, land and raw materials to restore the harmony between social labour and the metabolism of nature on Earth
            We have 10 years to implement a solution before the feedback loops put us beyond the point of no return.
            We may be too late now, but we will never know unless we put that to the test.

  10. Can’t be helpful that every time the Left gets the chance to do something transformational well known commentators of the Left wring their hands and urge that we sit on the same out of realpolitik considerations.

    • The fear that a strong effort to reduce inequality would involve CGT and estate taxation and or falling properrty values impacting on the generation of the many votes …

  11. Suggesting the ‘powers-that-be’ created identity politics in order to hamstring Progressive movements is the equivalent of mediaeval peasants blaming witches and Satan for crop failures.

    It vastly over-states the foresight and powers of mysterious unknown entities.

    • And those you blame are then sacrificed for the sake of the group, as per AH blaming Jews for the WW1 defeat.

  12. Chris mentioned the “massacre at Sharpeville “,which occurred 61 years ago.
    After the first Great March of Return on 30 March 2018, Land Day 2018, when Gazan demonstrators were met with deadly fire from skilled IDF snipers, South Africa recalled its Ambassador to Israel.
    The Israeli regime has and continues to commit so many atrocities that its actions have become ‘normalised’. No one wants to know.
    I’ve been trying to expose the No Way to Treat a Child Campaign started by Defense of Children International Palestine and American Friends Service Committee. The campaign documents the ongoing abuse of Palestinian children, including detention, ‘administrative detention’ ie no charges..exposing them to Covid19 . Again, no one wants to know, it’s not politically safe. Mainstream media doesn’t want to know either.
    My wish is that the public would pressure our religious, media, academic , union and political elite, by paraphrasing Arundhati Roy’s heartfelt plea on behalf of Iraqi child war victims:

    Every Palestinian child is our child.

  13. “Was it just one of those remarkable historical coincidences that “identity politics” and “neoliberalism” advanced together on the global political stage? ”

    No, they are the 2 components of Globalism. I know a Uni professor way into Wokeism. Goes on endlessly about the evils of Neo Liberalism – mainly as a threat to his cushy Ivory Tower gig. He owns a lifestyle block, yacht and tacts on holiday extensions to his Uni/Tax Payer funded International Conferences where he delivers “research”on Woke BS. Anyone who dares question his Wokeism is his moral inferior.

    “They left the Occupy encampments as disgusted as they were disillusioned. ”

    Yep, white guys who went on to form the Dissident Right in the USA and voted Trump into the White House as a big Fuck You to Globalism/Washington Consensus/Hillary Clinton.

    • You know A uni professor way into Wokeism?

      Just about every academic I know is into wokeism, and I’m talking about people who work in STEM, not just grievance studies. If you want to get ahead in 21st century academia, you’re obliged at least act like/sound like a progressive neoliberal, as our universities are now woke corporations. And as Pascal put it, “If you don’t act the way you think, pretty soon you will come to think the way you act”.

  14. Great stuff Chris, as crisp and clear as one could wish for. Still we are, as we have ever been, a nation of sheep, and given that we have been docked, dagged, drenched and shorn by the malignant processes you describe, without a “Shrek,” to stand out from the flock and really lead us, we’re “flocked,” and our next stop is the works! As invigorating as Chris’s words are, until outrage becomes action, such essays are as cocoa to an old man off to his bed. Until we have the courage of our convictions and we say; “not one step more!” nothing will change. As abhorrent as the example is, if, from within the Labour party, Douglas could do what he did, surely it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that someone from it could now, today, champion the obverse. Or are we destined to just sip our cocoa

    • Labour on the one hand was providing a nuclear free moment and bringing the Treaty into governance and on the other handing economic policy to neo-liberals in return. National kept the nuclear policy, began iwi settlements and doubled down on the neo-liberalism – cut the benefits while ending estate and gift taxation sold state houses to tenants and brought in market rents, the ECA and a low MW. In a sense the beginning of the neo-liberal consensus – where progressivity was for areas outside of a capitalist dominated economy.

      What has beeen the most constraining on any redress of this order was how much the small/constrained size of government has lead to loss of capability (and confidence) to successfully intervene in the economy. As Murray Horn boasted in his 1998 book – the objective was to establish a regime where future governments could not undo it.

  15. …” A housing crisis on the present scale, occurring fifty years ago, would have generated massive resistance”…

    —————-
    YES!, AND ;
    —————-

    …”What was it, then, that progressive New Zealand agreed about? In its essence, the moral consensus within which Liberal Christians and Moscow-aligned communists were able to make common cause found its most eloquent expression in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations’ General Assembly in December 1948”…

    ————–

    DID YOU KNOW, … that same Declaration of Human Rights, – declared that ALL human beings have the right to a warm , dry healthy home?

    That’s right. New Zealand are signatory’s to that document.

    So um , what’s going on Helen Clarke of the aforementioned U.N?, Brash, Key , English…? ROFL !!!,…Key, – the Panama papers guy and English the Double Dipper from Dipton. Who both tried to sell off what little state housing there was left to some private Aussie company. You couldn’t make this stuff up, man !

    Anything to curry favour with their rich prick mates and share in the proceeds, eh? Privatization and the free market is good, – for the ONE PERCENT. AND FUCK THE REST , eh?

    NO WONDER they don’t want to change things, eh? No wonder we’ve still got family’s sleeping in cars, eh? Motel anyone?… just remember you’ll spend the rest of your lives paying off the bill. But that’s OK , your only poor people anyway and you don’t count.

    There was a time in NZ when politicians were dealing with large numbers of returned servicemen and knew they ran the very large risk of not only widespread upheavals in the street,… but ominously,.. worse. Most people wanted to get on in life and forget that horrible war,.. so it behooved politicians to listen, and listen they did.

    ( This is the bit that all these parasitic free market neo liberals hate to hear,.. even though its the truth)

    What the likes of Savage did, was command the Reserve Bank to fund a massive nationwide housing build, – along with infrastructure such as dams, schools, hospitals, road, rail etc. They could do it because essentially the govt put itself in debt to itself.. which was the govt of the NZ people.

    And that was it in a nutshell.

    And unlike the neo liberals who hate the idea of a Reserve Bank being under control of govt because it curbs their avarice,…( and who thus changed things and created the Reserve Bank Act which made it easy for the neo liberals to get rich at others expense while the rest lived like rats on a treadmill ) , back then those sort of greedy pirates were put firmly in their place and the Reserve Bank WAS under direct control of the government. It certainly didn’t enjoy the leeway it has had over the last 3 decades under neo liberalism to enrich the few.

    Oh, no no no indeed…

    Ever wonder why the plaintiff and yet contrived cry of the neo liberal is always ” There’s no money to do all this stuff”… well, wonder no more. Its because they WANT it to stay this way. They get RICH on it being this way, the politicians stay in POWER in having it this way…

    Well I’m not the only one calling BULLSHIT !

    Its all been done before 60 odd years ago when NZ produced even less in overseas trade! It was done in an era when people came back from a massively destructive war, when there was a militarily trained populace, when a people came back from that war and expected much for the sacrifices they made in that war, and were damn well not going to settle for anything less. It was a time when people actually DID give a damn, they DID actually want to see better for their kids and their neighbors kids and their community’s kids,- and they sure as HELL wouldn’t accept the current neo liberal crop of liars, cheats and swindlers that we have , – there would have riots in the streets had the politicians of their era tried any of that on.

    It was also because of the above factors and more that both Labour and National accepted the Keynesian consensus, and because of that, – that this country prospered so well. In 1969, we were 6th in the world ( just behind Denmark) for the most prosperous per head of capita in the world.

    You read that right.

    After Rogernomics and Ruthanasia, and into the Shipley years and beyond, – we were 32nd, – behind Mexico ! We have been compared as similar to Albania, and described as ‘ Mexicans with cell phones’. Thanks Warner Bro Inc. Thanks for your condescending attitudes and screw you too. And your mate Key.

    So the next time you hear these whiney sniveling little far right wing neo liberal politician grifters crying about ”there being no money”,…

    Think again.

    And as for all you housing speculators?

    FUCK YOU TOO.

    • The really clever part of the transfer-wealth-from-the poor-to-the-rich and loot-the-last-of-the-resources scheme implemented by the neoliberals was to announce it as TINA -There Is No Alternative, and to ram it down the throats of those who opposed it via a multitude of lies and rigged ‘hearings’.

      The truth is there were a plethora of alternatives, but not alternatives that facilitated the activities of get-rich-quick-at the-expense-of-others the way neoliberalism did. Many of the alternatives would have facilitated egalitarianism, and some would have provided reasonably sustainable living arrangements.

      As it is, we have got the worst of all worlds, one in which the gap between the top and the bottom has never been greater (well not for about a hundred years) and the gap is increasing; declining standard of living and a massively declining quality of life for the vast majority; and a fucked-up planet that is being hammered to death by corporations and money-lenders to keep their Ponzi schemes going just a little bit longer. Add to that lethal mix a government that STILL serves the short-term interests of corporations and money-lenders ahead of the interests of the people, and which lies about practically everything just to stay in power.

      Never forget that the entire economic edifice is held in place by completely dysfunctional systems, one of the worst being GDP -which measures destruction and inefficiency as positives! It’s all about CONSUMPTION, and those in power are desperate to keep consumption rates up, even if doing so brings forward the ‘death of the planet’.

      The only good news is, the system is reaching the ‘implosion’ point, as a consequence of all the failures, inconsistencies, corruption defective ‘analysis’ and lies.

      The bad news is, as the system continues to make everything that matters worse and starts to implode, the sociopaths that run the system will look for mechanisms to avoid blame for the mess they have created, and will look for opportunities to rort whatever resources are left for their own short-term benefit. Such is the nature of sociopaths.

      It will be when the masses have been reduced to extreme poverty the ‘elites’ will find that their gated communities, their alarm systems and their private security guards are no match for hundreds of thousands of desperate people with nothing left to lose and nothing to eat.

  16. To solve inequality governments need to enforce human rights in all countries and root out corruption (the profits of money is laundered through the west in many cases). Many countries around the world which are rich in food, minerals etc, are basket cases due to human rights abuses which the western world turn a blind eye too, while spending a fortune on increased security measures and social services to try to keep their country safer.

    DRC is rich with farmland, so why do 22 million people there face starvation?
    https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/feb/12/congo-famine-crisis-international-tribunal-drc-militias

    The right wingers and woke are lining their pocket with cheap labour on the back of lazy immigration – but it is doing the opposite, emptying countries full of violence and human rights abuses while doing nothing about it, while overloading the social services and resources of social democratic countries. Meanwhile one of the easiest ways to make money illegally, seem to be creating human trafficking rings around the world. In NZ our legal system and society are blasé about human trafficking, and it has become mainstream to go to local villages around the world and get money for recruitment of NZ visas. Furthermore it is not even considered much of a crime to provide fake jobs for cash to get residency while in NZ or pay below wages to get NZ residency, money launder or drug smuggling here.

    • It’s homeowners, not the woke in a tenancy, lining their pockets from a right wing corporate favoured immigration policy (benefitting from the supply shortage).

  17. Because the Left refuses to unite. We can’t fight when there’s not enough of us.

    I’m more of the Andrew Yang-esque variant of Left-Libertarians, but I agree on a lot of things that the Socialist Left has to say, such as the problem of Landlords.

    If the Left doesn’t unite, then the xenophobic right most certainly will. The xenophobic right almost never has a problem with infighting, they’ll even recruit socialists to their cause.

    They also parrot many of the same slogans as us.. they just have a tendency to blame the problems of Capitalism on immigrants, instead. (Which is why I didn’t vote for TOP in the last election, despite many of their policies being somewhat appealing to me.)

    This is what distinguishes the Left from the Right -> The Right blames immigration, the Left blames Capitalism. Neoliberalism blames the individual.

  18. We don’t fight, because the best weapon we now have is to stop doing anything.

    We stop consuming, we stop participating, we stop engaging.

    Capitalism has been laid bare, and quite frankly if your still consuming from it’s trough, your the problem.

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