“The future of the left is bright” and Ardern is the lighthouse

The world future for the left is bright, according to some hopefuls, and Jacinda Ardern is the Mother Theresa of progressive politics.

Ex-Labour general secretary Mike Smith has posted at The Standard – The future of the left

Australian Guardian columnist Van Badham writes “the future of the left is bright if it looks like Jacinda Ardern and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes.” She concludes “We can hope the influence of Jacinda Ardern and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes spread, or we can ensure that it does. The stakes for the marginalised remain life and death.” Very worth a read.

This optimism looks a tad premature.

The world influence of Ardern beyond a magazine celebrity level must be minimal at this stage, She has hardly had time to prove herself in New Zealand – and her Government has so far had very mixed short term results.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes hasn’t even been elected yet, she has only won a primary in a New York congressional district. Gizmodo: Democratic Candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Didn’t Even Have a Wikipedia Page on Monday:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old progressive activist, became the Democratic candidate for New York’s 14th congressional district after a primary election yesterday.

Ocasio-Cortez defeated 56-year-old Joseph Crowley, a man who served ten terms and was the chair of the House Democratic Caucus.

Why is Ocasio-Cortez’s victory a big deal for Democrats? She’s a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and a former organizer for Bernie Sanders. Crowley, the man she defeated, was being groomed to be the next Speaker of the House.

Bernie Sanders was seen as a great left wing hope in 2016 but he couldn’t even beat Hillary Clinton as the Democrat candidacy for president, and Clinton couldn’t even beat Donald Trump.

So what else did Van Badham say in her Guardian article? It was headlined Jacinda Ardern is the very hero the global left needs right now

As social media birth announcements go, Jacinda Ardern’s handheld Facebook Live of herself and her newborn Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford is charming.

New Zealand’s prime minister introduces her new baby with radiant sincerity.

Giving birth was a big event for Ardern and Clark Gayford, and Neve, but it was normal, it is something that happens to everyone. It was hardly heroic.

But as a political communication, the video is matchless. In an epoch overcast by growing shadows of reenergised rightwing authoritarianism, Ardern’s public hospital nativity offers a luminous symbolic affirmation of her leadership not just of New Zealand, but of the western electoral left.

Good grief. She is currently on maternity leave so is not even acting Prime Minister at the moment, let alone saviour of the world.

It’s not that long ago that Justin Trudeau was the darling of the world left. And Bernie Sanders. Some in the UK even thought that Jeremy Corbyn was the beginning of a great swing left.

The leader of the first Labour government in New Zealand for a decade shares the explicit left agenda for investment in health, education, climate action, public housing and social justice. Ardern’s pledge to build “a kind and equitable nation where children thrive, and success is measured not only by the nation’s GDP but by better lives lived by its people” is the ancient standard of our side.

Ardern does have some worth ambitions, but she is a long way from proving herself and her Government.

To understand why is to look beyond policy and into her representation of it. What distinguishes Ardern is her active embrace of what Walter Benjamin referred to as “the time of the now” and the diverse and complex identities of a community that no longer sees itself as by, for and of propertied, straight white men. Doing so shatters a traditionalism that imprisons the left even as much as it inspires today’s right.

Another variation on popular demonising, this time of  “straight white men”. Juts imagine how Ardern would be revered if she was not white and not straight. She gets away with not epitomising diversity by having empathy foe non-whites and non-straights, something no man has every been able to achieve and never can – unless he’s a progressive left wing hope of course.

If today’s left is going to stand a chance against an ascendant, muscular right, my hope is that she and other avowed socialists emerging within her electoral generation eschew the stale temptations of left melancholy for energising examples of a visionary left that looks as different to its past as a pregnant woman in a feathered cloak does to a room of suited men.

“Strong men” of the right are now lining up governments from Italy to Turkey to the United States. The times of the now are ones in which we can construct majorities of a diversity they cannot – and do not wish to – represent. We can hope the influence of Jacinda Ardern and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes spread, or we can ensure that it does. The stakes for the marginalised remain life and death.

Ardern may yet go on to do great things for New Zealand, but she first needs to settle into motherhood hoping her Ministers miraculously acquire cohesion and competence in her absence (they didn’t do very well on that while she was Prime Minister).

Then she has to prove herself in a small country at the bottom edge of the world before she becomes the Queen of the World.

Being anointed as the Progressive miracle unfolding is as premature as awarding Donald Trump a Nobel peace prize before meeting Kim Yong Un – or as premature as awarding same prize to Barack Obama, who was probably seen as a great new hope for the left/progressives around the world, until he proved to be a mediocre president at best.

Van Badham seems to be a progressive opportunist.

In 2016: Time to hail Hillary Clinton – and face down the testosterone left

Supposedly progressive men denounce Clinton with foolish and vicious regularity. But a victory for her next week would really be worth celebrating.

People are surprised when I express support for Hillary Clinton. My economic politics are hard to the left and, unlike hers, explicitly socialist. But it’s entirely because my analysis of inequality is economic that I endorse Clinton – not as a least-worst option, not even due to the nature of her opponent, but on her own terms as a leader pledged to the material improvement of women’s economic and social reality.

That was someone misguided in several ways.

Van Badham on Julia Gillard ousted: Achievement does not equal respect if you’re a woman

Julia Gillard navigated through the financial crisis, presided over a 14 per cent growth in the economy and pushed through several impressive policy reforms. The problem for the Australian PM was not her performance. It was that, from to beginning to end, she remained female.

Based on this, if Ardern revolutionises New Zealand and leads the world into a wonderful progressive utopia it will be on her merits and her femininity.

And one could guess that if she fizzles or fails it will be the fault of men.

Leave a comment

73 Comments

  1. Grimm

     /  July 2, 2018

    I could never understand why the left deified two rich, straight, old white men in Corbyn and Sanders. Both of whom have got wealthy by exploiting the “grievances” of their followers. It seems they will hang their hat on anyone that talks the nonsensical language of socialism loudly enough.

    Ardern is just another example of this puffery and hope. Six weeks before the last election, Labour were headed towards 20ish percent, their underlying market value. The rest is just investing in tulips. On top of that, she wasn’t elected, more selected, by NZ’s most suspect politician, short of Taito Philip Field.

    Reply
    • Traveller

       /  July 2, 2018

      The left may well have found the Eva Peron silver bullet. They’ll need to be careful though.

      One only needs to read woman’s magazines and watch reality TV to see what millions of people with a vote watch and read. I saw that Ocasio-Cortez answering a fan on twitter with her lipstick shade. It sold out in minutes. People like Sanders, English, Bridges talk about boring stuff like accountability and balancing the books. These people would rather talk about fashion, social media and perhaps the environment. To them the act of virtue signalling has far more value than a balance sheet in the black.

      Ardern has been in at least two magazines a month for over a year…long before the election she was actively engaged. I’m wondering whether Ardern’s oversharing may be her downfall. Watching her do her hospital naming and introduction to the nation of Neve actually shocked me. She acted like a star or royalty, yet as someone pointed out even Prince William and Kate don’t hold a press conference following their children’s births. They stand quietly and unengaged with press for a minute or two for photos. To subsequently use Neve as a prop when she did her sofa announcement yesterday was just plain wrong. That sort of move looks deeply cynical and politically opportunistic.

      Mind you, I could have this wrong. Maybe people want an oversharing leader in this day of Trump, Kardashians, Instagram, Facebook and Social Media. Maybe politicians will all start using their kids as political tools/props and even though Trump doesn’t share young Barron with us, were certainly deluged by his older kids.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  July 2, 2018

        this made me chuckle…’People like Sanders, English, Bridges talk about boring stuff like accountability and balancing the books.’

        by that measure National did a piss poor job.
        As for accountability…Barclay…won’t talk to Police,English 450 texts,no comment,’who would have thought it was criminal’.
        Sabin…bury the story…Key ..’I will resign if…’yeah right.
        Could be here …all day.

        Reply
      • Grimm

         /  July 2, 2018

        Yes, Eva was an unelected hero as well.

        I expect Ardern has already spoken to Lloyd Webber.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  July 2, 2018

          Don’t cry for me. Aotearoa….

          Reply
          • PartisanZ

             /  July 2, 2018

            The truth is … I never Left’ you …

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 2, 2018

              All through my wild days/My mad existence/ I broke my promises….just keep your distance !

  2. Gezza

     /  July 2, 2018

    What distinguishes Ardern is her active embrace of what Walter Benjamin referred to as “the time of the now” and the diverse and complex identities of a community that no longer sees itself as by, for and of propertied, straight white men.

    I suppose she’s progressive. She’s a well-off, propertied, straight white woman. Isn’t she? 😳

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  July 2, 2018

      politics is a popularity contest and Ardern has the attributes to…succeed.
      Right wing politicians are just mouthpieces for the wealthy corporations,and have been for some time.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  July 2, 2018

        Pretty novel in many ways too. I suppose there haven’t been that many extensive social policies that started of being designed many years ago on some friend’s lounge room floor.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  July 2, 2018

          just about all meaningful,life changing initiatives are brought about by the left.
          The right maintain the status quo.
          The National Party of NZ’s main agenda appears to be sell,sell NZ to wealthy foreigners and clip the ticket in the…now.

          Reply
          • PDB

             /  July 2, 2018

            What about this govt? Today: https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/105152372/big-cheeses-from-uk-and-us-cleared-to-buy-farms-in-nz

            “American millionaires Margaret and Gary Hirshberg, who are from New Hampshire and in their early 60s, have been cleared to buy 69ha in Ngatimoti, near Motueka, to set up an organic sheep farm and an organic market garden.”

            “A British couple, Angus and Kathleen Wielkopolski from Yorkshire, have been granted consent to buy a 104ha dairy goat farm near Te Aroha from Corganix Ltd, owned by Jaime and Janet Cornelissen. The price remains secret.”

            Aren’t Chinese or have Chinese sounding names so all good to go!

            Reply
            • Patzcuaro

               /  July 2, 2018

              More “whataboutism” it must be contagious, however it seems to be more of an affliction of the right.

            • PDB

               /  July 2, 2018

              Considering Blazer is the king of ‘whataboutism’ that is unlikely.

              Your ‘squirrel’ (very common on here by the left) of ‘whataboutism’ doesn’t hide the fact that Blazer above criticises the National govt of ‘sell,sell NZ to wealthy foreigners’ on the very same day it is reported this current govt is doing a ‘sell,sell NZ to wealthy foreigners’. The fact he hasn’t bothered trying to answer my question relating to this tells you all you need to know.

      • Corky

         /  July 2, 2018

        ”Politics is a popularity contest and Ardern has the attributes to…succeed.”

        That’s true. But it’s also about putting money in peoples back pocket and lessening the number of times their wallets need to open. That’s a balancing act and voters generally are good at doing the maths. Unfortunately for Jacinda she hasn’t balanced that equation.

        Gezzas is upset because he gets no largesse . Ditto me. When the beneficiaries of these latest government bribes- I mean handouts- realise they have to open their wallets for price and service increases, Labour will be history. Socialism is a fairytale that always ends with some monster eating the fairy princess.

        Reply
        • PDB

           /  July 2, 2018

          Don’t worry Corky, the govt has not forgotten those that they currently don’t assist – tax increases are on their way.

          Reply
          • Corky

             /  July 2, 2018

            Gee, thanks, PDB. You have added cheer to my Monday morning blues.

            Reply
            • PDB

               /  July 2, 2018

              Rates up, tax up, fuel tax in place, goods and services costs up, Winston wants your house value to drop to around $200,000, roads that are too useful sabotaged, more money required to prop up public transport, strikes everywhere, goods bought online taxed, more dangerous prisoners out on bail, plastic piling up, health measurements thrown out, education measurements thrown out, no obligation welfare.

              Have a nice day 🙂

            • PartisanZ

               /  July 2, 2018

              PDB … You forgot the four horsemen of the apocalypse …

            • Corky

               /  July 2, 2018

              The four horsemen are on strike demanding better working conditions and pay equity with God.

            • PartisanZ

               /  July 2, 2018

              They’ll never get near it! God’s a Trustee … Chairman of the Board … and ultimately the only Shareholder …

              Lucifer has got the CEO position and he don’t give pay rises …

              The Four Horsemen’s problem is they’re not satisfied with just having the power to bring about the End of Days …

            • PDB

               /  July 2, 2018

              I actually forgot the likely rise in interest rates and inflation, not to mention with all the govt dodgy dealings going on a drop for NZ in the International corruption index. Let’s do this!

      • Grimm

         /  July 2, 2018

        That’s one way to rationalise voting for the airhead.

        Reply
  3. Strong For Life

     /  July 2, 2018

    Look out… first Mrs Genter now Van Badham abusing old white men. The ills of the world seem to be all our fault. I’ll have to keep my head down.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  July 2, 2018

      Probably best. It sounds like a gender reassignment isn’t an easily-affordable option yet. 😟

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  July 2, 2018

        The Greens will be offering them free at taxpayers’ expense any day now.

        Reply
        • Traveller

           /  July 4, 2018

          Don’t laugh at Kitty. Very blooming likely. Anything goes

          Reply
  4. PDB

     /  July 2, 2018

    “The future of the left is bright” and Ardern is the lighthouse.

    The light is so dim from the lighthouse & the old wily skipper at the helm so drunk that this economy is starting to run into dangerous waters and are likely to hit the rocks anytime soon.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  July 2, 2018

      at least National delivered on their…’blighted future’.

      Reply
    • Patzcuaro

       /  July 2, 2018

      Simon Bridges is keeping his light well conceal.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  July 2, 2018

        He’s not a great prospect for 2020. Barks at every passing car. Even their own policies when Labour implements them.

        Reply
      • PDB

         /  July 2, 2018

        Bridges doesn’t seem leadership material but what he does have around him are competent people with ministerial experience, unlike the current mob.

        Reply
        • Corky

           /  July 2, 2018

          Fair point

          Reply
        • Blazer

           /  July 2, 2018

          ‘ competent people with ministerial experience’….and their achievements????

          Reply
          • Corky

             /  July 2, 2018

            In government for three terms. After 2020, in government for six terms.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  July 2, 2018

              name the competent ministers and what they did,

  5. PDB

     /  July 2, 2018

    Reply
  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  July 2, 2018

    Mike Smith is the racist twit who vandalised One Tree Hill. Expect nothing sensible from him.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  July 2, 2018

      life must be tough for you Al….twits,loonies,idiots,stupid people inflicting themselves on you…you being such a positive ,optimistic personality ,full of empathy for your fellow man and that special ‘joie de vivre’.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  July 2, 2018

        Plenty for my fellow men and women but none for destructive racist twits with chips on their shoulders.

        Reply
    • PartisanZ

       /  July 2, 2018

      The name of the place is Maungakiekie Alan. Mountain of the native kei kei vine that lives in heavily forested locations.

      Maungakiekie is also the name of the Electorate which surrounds it. I guess without a tree it was kinda hard to go on calling it One Tree Hill … Get with the program man …

      “In 1994, Māori activist Mike Smith attacked the Monterey Pine on the top of Maungakiekie with a chainsaw. Some Māori felt that a pine tree, as a non-native plant, was inappropriate for a place of such importance to Māori. There was another chainsaw attack in 1999 and two years later the tree was removed as it had become unsafe as a result of the attacks. No tree has been planted to replace it.”

      https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/video/maungakiekie-one-tree-hill-roadside-stories

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  July 2, 2018

        As I said – a racist twit, destructive with it.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  July 2, 2018

          He may have felt that he had to prove himself to be a real Maori.

          My brother’s great friend is a Maori whose surname is Smith, but he doesn’t feel the need to prove himself all the time.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  July 2, 2018

            Hopefully he doesn’t feel the need to chop other people’s iconic trees down either, so is not a dick head.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  July 2, 2018

              I thought he used a chainsaw? o_O

            • Corky

               /  July 2, 2018

              The dude couldn’t even use a chainsaw properly. He made no initial wedge cut and the saw became stuck.

              ”Some Māori felt that a pine tree, as a non-native plant, was inappropriate for a place of such importance to Māori.”

              If these fuckwits put as much time into Maori kids welfare as they do into spirituality, the country would be better for it..

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  July 2, 2018

              Think he had a couple of goes at it. As lousy a woodsman as he is a politician.

            • PartisanZ

               /  July 2, 2018

              For a committed Maori activist though, what better protest than in a single stroke (had it initially worked) to remove the very reason for the hill’s Pakeha name? It’s brilliant …

              … Not only that, it has worked!

              There have been some exceptional acts of protest by Maori. The one that stands out for me is Te Whiti’s ploughmen, who simply ignored Pakeha boundaries, fences and roads to peacefully plough ‘their’ fields …

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 2, 2018

              No, T—— doesn’t feel the need to kill things to prove what a big man he is.

              I seem to remember that he didn’t cut it down, not because he didn’t want to. But the poor thing was mortally wounded and couldn’t be saved.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 2, 2018

              I don’t think that it’s the same Mike Smith.

  7. PartisanZ

     /  July 2, 2018

    The socio-economic-political pendulum is definitely swinging back towards the Centre from its relatively fairly extreme Right position … austere-social-welfare-neoliberalism … and will no doubt pick up a champion or two along the way …

    It always pays (excuse the pun) to remember who the New Right pendulum swing champion was … SIR Rogered Douglas …. A LEFTIE!!!!

    Even I hope the swing doesn’t go too far Left … leastwise not without the massive, monumental reforms required to make that possible … but settles on greater equality, social responsibility and the well-beings … What really ought to be called “Not Left, Not Right … What Works” …

    Reply
    • Grimm

       /  July 2, 2018

      “austere-social-welfare-neoliberalism”

      Total nonsense. Social welfare was unrecognizably austere in the decades before “neoliberalism” was a thing.

      Reply
      • PartisanZ

         /  July 2, 2018

        Yes … I know … AND … ???

        This must be why the New Right rebranded Social Security (we wouldn’t want that!) as The Social Welfare State (which we don’t want even more!!!) …

        Presumably you are wishing to confirm that neoliberalism CREATED the conditions and need for much of the ‘welfare’ we have nowadays …?

        Reply
        • Grimm

           /  July 2, 2018

          Politicians buying votes created the conditions.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  July 2, 2018

            Rogered Douglas is a very old, tired play on words by now. Yawn-making.

            Reply
            • Grimm

               /  July 2, 2018

              Most of PZs comments are impenetrable yawn makers.

        • PartisanZ

           /  July 2, 2018

          You must read them sometimes Grimm …

          On your watch maybe?

          Someone from the cabal always responds.

          Reply
  8. Zedd

     /  July 2, 2018

    “Lets do this !” 😀

    Reply
  9. “But as a political communication, the video is matchless. In an epoch overcast by growing shadows of reenergised rightwing authoritarianism, Ardern’s public hospital nativity offers a luminous symbolic affirmation of her leadership not just of New Zealand, but of the western electoral left.”

    Whatever that writer is smoking, I’m sure it can’t be legal. Someone needs to tell the Guardian that Walt Disney Studios is not a News Room.

    Reply
    • PartisanZ

       /  July 2, 2018

      Whatever the writer is smoking SHOULD be legal … !!!

      You’d easily accept equivalent Right-Wing propoganda … and since ‘opinion’ and propoganda is about all that makes up ‘News’ nowadays …. News Rooms are a kind of Walt Disney … Happiest Confirmation Bias of Them ALL …

      Reply
  10. FarmerPete

     /  July 2, 2018

    The problem for Julia Gillard is that her reputation had taken some serious dents over corruption allegations. It had little to do with her being a woman.

    Reply
  11. sorethumb

     /  July 2, 2018

    OK if can you suppress free expression and control the narrative.
    http://socialdemocracy21stcentury.blogspot.com/2016/09/robert-putnam-on-negative-effects-of.html?

    Reply
    • PartisanZ

       /  July 2, 2018

      That goes for either ‘pole’ of the capitalist political spectrum, surely?

      Reply
    • sorethumb

       /  July 2, 2018

      My friend and I both cheered Brexit and Trumps win. He doesn’t have an internet connection but watches TV. I can see how apart our attitudes are now. The sort of stuff I watch would be deemed “hate speech” yet i would defend it as a valid perspective. EG while the media fawn over migrants “Iconoclast” is mugged by them in Paris. One of their key moves is “are you racist?”

      Reply
  12. sorethumb

     /  July 2, 2018

    The stakes for the marginalised remain life and death.” Very worth a read.

    Reply
    • PartisanZ

       /  July 2, 2018

      Useful way of looking at things … Gumballs …

      What’s the relevance to this topic?

      Reply
  1. “The future of the left is bright” and Ardern is the lighthouse — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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