“What really bothers me about much of the ‘new left'”

Rachel Stewart is, amongst other things, a columnist for NZ Herald. I don’t think there is any question that she is fairly left leaning in her political views and preferences. She tweeted yesterday:

Trotter has been prominent in his promotion of free speech in relation to the Auckland Council exclusion of a couple of obscure but apparently controversial Canadians from speaking at a council owned venue.

He has added his support to the Free Speech Coalition that plans to file proceedings against the Auckland council today or tomorrow, after raising $50k in a public appeal last week.

This legal challenge has been strongly discredited by some because of the support of people like Don Brash.

The Trotter post that Stewart was referring to: Free Speech Denialism Is Fascism In Action

Whose Hand Is That? Fifty years ago, nine-out-of-ten people would have nominated the totalitarian regimes of the Soviet bloc or Third World dictatorships as the most likely suppressors of free speech Today, the likelihood is that a substantial minority – maybe even a majority – of the population would nominate the “politically correct” Left as the most direct threat to freedom of expression in the West. How did that happen?

IT HAS BEEN DISPIRITING, this past week, to learn how little people who consider themselves leftists know about fascism.

As the recent torrid exchanges between the defenders of free speech and the opponents of right-wing Canadians Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux have made clear, the word “fascist” now denotes little more than conservative views provocatively expressed.

So torrid did these exchanges become that, by the middle of the week, the opponents of Southern and Molyneux were reduced to making the extraordinary assertion that “there’s no such thing as free speech”.

For a free speech denialist to use the sacrifices made by the millions of men and women who fought and died for these goals, in order to justify and encourage the vitriolic verbal abuse of individuals who continue to stand for Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” is beyond despicable. It does, however, makes dispiritingly clear the sheer scale of the political ignorance and hatred against which all genuine defenders of human rights and freedoms continue to struggle.

Free speech denialism also confirms the observation that as the economic and social climate deteriorates, the normally linear configuration of the political spectrum becomes distorted. In effect, the spectrum curves around until the extremes of left and right are practically touching one another and the middle-ground is further away from them than ever. As the political static increases, the gap between left and right is closed by an arc of white-hot intensity. It is in the baleful brilliance this exchange that the events of the past week have been illuminated.

It has not been pretty.

Stewart followed up:

It’s a tactic, of course. Hate on the person, get others to do it too, and voila. Nothing that person ever says or does again is worth diddly squat. Effective too.

This is a very common tactic used online, on Twitter, Facebook and on some political forums and blogs. It is not confined to one political leaning.

Bullies love that shit, and it’s rampant on this platform. Tribalism will be the death of us. Think for yourselves.

And, of course, the more fractious and brutal to each other we become, the more the planet hurtles towards everything we don’t want. That suits the Trumps of the world so damn well, you have no idea.

I agree with Stewart.

The shit fighting, shaming, bullying and frequent attempts to shut people up is a detriment to political discussion and to making progress on important political and social issues.

The active shit fighters, be it from the radical left or radical right, are being counter productive.

It isn’t just the load mouthed bullies that are a problem. There is a lot of putting down and attempting to shut people up in doublespeak language.

Phil Goff claimed inclusiveness was important to him and his council – at the same time he tried to defend excluding some people from using council owned venues.

Another common tactic to try to discredit views is to say things like if you have not supported free speech in the past you have no right to speak on it now.

And also if you are not of a deprived underprivileged underpowered minority you should shut up and let them speak.

There has to be a way of giving more voice to some without arbitrarily taking voice off others.

It is in’t a simple issue. There are serious problems with bullying online, and those bullies and abusers are deliberately working against free speech and fair debate. This needs to be confronted.

But attempts to selectively shut people up, whether done nastily or couched in niceness, is a pox on out democratic discourse.

This is a real problem with the ‘new left’, but it isn’t only the new left that is shitting in their own nest.

Leave a comment


  1. David

     /  16th July 2018

    Unlike in the US the curtailment of free speech in NZ is shamefully being done by an old Mayor not an 18 year old snowflake who is doing a gender studies degree. Goff legislated in our parliament for goodness sake, enjoyed speaking under privilege the man is a disgrace.
    The irony that it was an Islamic group given their beliefs that persuaded him into this action is hilarious.

    • I take your point about the hilarious irony here, but would suggest that those in Britain and Europe who are currently living under the Islamic yoke will find the irony less funny. Pray God that this country prevents the issue reaching the point of no longer being funny.

      It is worth parsing Goff’s infantile, parroted Lefty platitude carefully, as it essentially describes anything from a pub argument to a feisty debate in Parliament as “repugnant”. Really? No prizes for guessing where that sort of attitude will lead if it is not stamped on now. It is not the speech that I would stamp on though – he can say what he likes – it is the abuse of power that acompanies it.

      • Gezza

         /  16th July 2018

        Yesterday you said:
        I read the official letter sent to Lauren Southern banning her from entering Britain. It was, not to put too fine a point on it, almost illiterate. It was clearly written by someone with a very poor command of English, and in a style reminiscent of a thirteen-year-old on Facebook. As an official UK Government document it was, in my view, quite disgraceful.

        Is this the one you were referring to – or something else?

        • High Flying Duck

           /  16th July 2018

          Perhaps the fact the letter calls the material racist when no races are implied or mentioned in the material distributed?

          • Gezza

             /  16th July 2018

            It’s not a letter, it’s an official notice or notification.
            It reads like it is in a legally prescribed format required under legislation..
            There is nothing unusual about that: similar peremptory-looking notifications are equally prescribed under NZ legislation & unless done that way are challengeable.
            There is nothing wrong with the English & it is not, as Sailor claims:
            almost illiterate, clearly written by someone with a very poor command of English, and in a style reminiscent of a thirteen-year-old on Facebook.

            The material Southern distributed, as far as I know, was insulting to Allah, & it was a silly, theologically incorrect insult. I would have used a more scripturally-accurate one to better effect, & to make the same point with less likelihood of it being able to even be deemed hate speech.

            I think it very possible that Southern replied to a question, or said something that was, or could be interpreted as agreeing it was “hate speech” (to make the point that Muslims claim insults which are free speech are hate speech – which, in turn, justified the issue of the notice, citing that “admission”.

            I believe that the whole affair was a stunt, intended to appeal to & grow their low-IQ (& some high-IQ) alt right, far right, libertarian, conservative, & Christian support base, & a visa ban was probably just icing on the cake.

            I agree with the point she is making about Islam (& some other points she makes on anti-white racism, & anti-male sexism, for example). But these are aimed at much as making her famous, notoious & wealthy as anything else.

            I even agree with some of the points Molyneux makes – but he is far more sleazy, dishonest operator, basically working a dumber, more credulous audience more for ego, power & money than what he believes in. His schtick is still evolving, & it changes.

            If the dangers to Western civilisation & culture that large numbers of Muslims represent are to be confronted, the challenges to & accusations against it have to be kept real.

        • I believe it is, and I believe I may have been a bit harsh. But it is not what I would consider a proper formal refusal of entry to a country, particularly the second sentence. And the third, come to that.

          “involved in the distribution of racist material in Luton” — There is no statute referenced, no broken law quoted, no details of the material itemised, no evidence of anyone affected. This extraordinarily vague charge is quite meaningless.

          “by your own admission” — I always understood that you could not convict yourself in a civilised country, for which there are very good reasons, as evinced here.

          “I believe that your actions whilst in the United Kingdom present a threat to the fundamental interests of society and to the public policy of the United Kingdom” — How, exactly? Precisely which ‘fundamental interests of society’ are being threatened? And to which specific item of ‘public policy’ is the unknown letter writer referring? And who exactly is the writer, who “believes” all this? And why are Islamic Hate Preachers and terrorists, who clearly do “present a threat to the fundamental interests of society”, freely allowed in while this girl is thrown out?

          On re-reading it carefully, I take back my confession to being a bit harsh. I encountered many official letters during my years in England, and they were not written like this: they were invariably precise, detailed, even-handed and unequivocally factual. The only fact I can find in this letter is the date. I stand by my original observation; although I might consider upgrading the thirteen-year-old to 15/16 as the commas are in the right place.

          • Gezza

             /  16th July 2018

            It’s not a letter, Sailor. It’s an official notice in a legally prescribed format.
            It says all it needs to and no more.

            • Gezza

               /  16th July 2018

              And I’ll add the following observations:

              We don’t know anybody else’s version of what took place when this was served.
              We don’t know what discussions too place.
              We don’t what else she was shown or given that may have cited relevant legislation.
              We don’t know what is recorded in the Immigration officer’s record of events in their system

              We see & know only what Southern wants people to see & know. They do have an agenda, but I know a bit about how these things work from the inside.

            • It is very concise and precise and nothing in it can possibly be misunderstood. It is impersonal and has no emotive language or any indication as to the personal opinions of the writer.

              I’d say that it is an excellent example of how to write such a document.

          • Gezza

             /  16th July 2018

            Just looking again at that notice and the statement she admitted to handing out “racist” material, sailor, all they have to have is her recorded saying something like: “Well if according to you that’s racist, then I’m guilty. but I am saying it’s not …”

            • Gezza

               /  16th July 2018

              OR – if they show her a clause in a relevant act that describes “racist” that this material might come under, and she agrees it matches that – even if she disagrees it is racist – there is their “admission”.

              We can’t see the whole document either, and there may be more on the back.

              Fact is, it’s legal, and done and dusted – unless she appeals to any prescribed authority or a Court. If she did want to re-enter the UK or possibly any EU country now, she should’ve done a wee bit of research of relevant legislation first and been a little more clever how she went about it.

  2. Missy

     /  16th July 2018

    Maajid Nawaz talks about this a lot on his radio show. He refers to them as the Alt Right and Control Left, and has a saying Alt Right Ctrl Left Delete, meaning we need to triumph over both groups.

    This is him talking about the new ‘control’ left. It’s about 4 mins long, but worth a listen, it is from Dec 2016.

    • Trevors_Elbow

       /  16th July 2018

      the follow on Youtube clip of Khan talking to Peterson is pretty damn good as well. Thanks for posting Missy

  3. Corky

     /  16th July 2018

    ”Bullies love that shit, and it’s rampant on this platform. Tribalism will be the death of us. Think for yourselves.”

    There’s nothing wrong with tribalism. It’s can be a defacto family for people who need to be lead. Who are naive or not great thinkers.

    The trick is ( or should be) to belong to a political tribe but always be prepared to call them out for misdemeanors or straying from what should be philosophical underpinnings for said tribe.

    Matthew Hooton and Chris Trotter are examples of shamans dishing out unpalatable medicine to their respective tribes.

    • Gezza

       /  16th July 2018

      I like that. It helps that I’m not tribal: I’m issues-based. Because political tribes have be ome so adept at saying anything, just fishing for votes & then one never knows whether they will actually operate in either power or Opposition in a way that is completely consistent with what their principles used to be. Well said.

  4. Gezza

     /  16th July 2018

    here’s the c that dropped out of ‘because’

  5. sorethumb

     /  16th July 2018

    Tribal Yearnings
    The enemies of the open society today Roger Sandall

    In the account presented in The Open Society Sparta was seen as a proto-totalitarian state in antiquity. But perhaps the most succinct statement of Popper’s argument appears on his opening page where the unending historic conflict between ‘tribalism’ and ‘civilization’ is set forth. His book, he wrote,

    sketches some of the difficulties faced by our civilization—a civilization which might be perhaps described as aiming at humaneness and reasonableness, at equality and freedom; a civilization which is still in its infancy, as it were, and which continues to grow in spite of the fact that it has been so often betrayed by so many of the intellectual leaders of mankind.

    It attempts to show that this civilization has not yet fully recovered from the shock of its birth—the transition from the tribal or ‘closed society’, with its submission to magical forces, to the ‘open society’ which sets free the critical powers of man.

    It attempts to show that the shock of this transition is one of the factors that have made possible the rise of those reactionary movements which have tried, and still try, to overthrow civilization and to return to tribalism. And it suggests that what we call nowadays totalitarianism belongs to a tradition which is just as old or just as young as our civilization itself.


    Popper opposed biculturalism.

  1. “What really bothers me about much of the ‘new left’” — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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