Can Peters be Trotter’s Trotsky?

It has been entertaining watching activists on blogs and other social media trying to influence the outcome of the formation of a new government, from imploring parties to do what they want to subtle attempts at influence.

Chris Trotter has been in activist overdrive at hos Bowalley blog, and also at The Daily Blog and in weekly media columns.

Adults In The Room?

WHAT’S GOING ON, JACINDA? Why has the former Labour Finance Minister, Sir Michael Cullen, and Helen Clark’s former Press Secretary, Mike Munro, been invited on to your team of negotiators with NZ First? And, while we’re on the subject of Labour’s Rogernomics Generation, why was Annette King sent to ride shotgun alongside you for the duration of the election campaign?

These are important questions, because when Jacinda talked about ushering in “generational change”, most New Zealanders fondly assumed that she was committed to taking their country forward – not back.

The other assumption New Zealand made, as the baton of leadership passed from Andrew to Jacinda, was that she was completely up to the job of carrying it without assistance.

I think she’s up to doing it without Trotter’s assistance.

“Dear Winston” – An Open Letter To The Leader Of NZ First.

Changing the government will require a wise head and a great heart. You have until Thursday, Winston, to prove to New Zealand that you possess both.

The Hallelujah Song.

Winston needs to know that Labour’s reach continues to exceed its grasp: that its MPs strive for something beyond mere political power; that it is still a party of nation-builders.

He will be studying Jacinda Ardern especially closely. Does she fully appreciate the sheer weight of the hopes and dreams New Zealanders have heaped upon her? Is she ready, truly ready, to fulfil them? And, does she show even the slightest sign of knowing how? Is hers the principal voice among Labour’s team of negotiators? Or, does she constantly defer to her friend and ally, Grant Robertson? And does Grant, in turn, look to his mentor and patron, Sir Michael Cullen, for the right words at the right time? And has Sir Michael ever known how to sing the Hallelujah Song?

In the absence of the Left’s uplifted voices, Winston will take what he can get from the Right.

When he’s not in despair Trotter is often angling for his revolution.

Play It Again, Winston: An Article Written 12 Years Ago For “The Independent”.

Jesson took a kinder and more measured view of his subject:

“Perhaps the truth is that Peters is a sensationalist with an element of sincerity? Who knows? Probably not even Peters. It doesn’t matter anyway because Peters’ importance is his role not his motives. His role is indicated by the name he has chosen for his party: New Zealand First. And it is indicated by the things he campaigns about, because there is a consistent thread running through them. He is as fiercely opposed to foreign investment as he is to the government’s immigration policies. Peters is a rarity in New Zealand, he is a nationalist – probably our only serious nationalist politician since Norman Kirk, or perhaps even John A. Lee.”

It is significant, I think, that both of the politicians to whom Peters is compared by Jesson were from Labour.

At this point in its history, New Zealand stands in need just such a nationalist politician. Already, in the private seminars and political briefings paid for by the big corporations, there is talk about the changes our association with the burgeoning economies of Asia is bound to bring. Hints that our Enlightenment faith in individual liberty and the Rights of Man may have to be modified if we are not to antagonise our new “partners”.

Winston Churchill heard similar whispers in the early months of 1940 – and rejected them. Britain, he knew, was more than a collection of islands, it was a collection of ideas. Ideas too valuable to surrender for the paltry “rewards” of a dictated “peace”. Ideas worth fighting for.

It’s that same determination to stand and fight that lifts the movie Casablanca so far above the ordinary Hollywood fare. The unlooked for appearance of the idealistic Ilsa, draws forth a kindred response from the world-weary Rick. In the end we discover that the hero’s dead-pan, wise-cracking persona hides something altogether more admirable – more noble.

So play it Winston. Play it one more time.

You know what we want to hear.

You played it for Bolger, now play it for Clark.

If he could stand it, so can she.

Play it.

Play out the revolution for Chris. In his next post he actually headlines the ‘R’ word.

Talkin’ ‘Bout A Revolution – Or Not?

“THESE TALKS ARE ABOUT A CHANGE in the way this country is run. Both economically and socially.” That is how Winston Peters characterised the government formation negotiations currently drawing to a close in Wellington. But, what could his words possibly mean, in practical terms?

If seriously intentioned, Peters’ call for economic and social change would have to encompass the thorough-going “de-neoliberalisation” of New Zealand.

A well-organised campaign to root out neoliberalism from all of our economic and social institutions would signal that Peters was serious about changing the way this country is run. And for all those who pretend not to know what the term neoliberalism means, let me spell it out. I am talking about the deliberate intrusion and entrenchment of the logic and values of the marketplace into every aspect of human existence.

Replacing it with the deliberate intrusion and entrenchment of the ‘logic and values’ of the government into every aspect of human existence.

Governments often seem to lack logic, and struggle to appreciate that singular values cannot be applied evenly and fairly onto millions of people.

Neoliberals have been hard at work in New Zealand society since 1984 and the damage they have inflicted upon practically all of its institutions is enormous.

There have been large scale changes for sure – but they have been a mix of success and failure, improvement and deterioration.

New Zealand has significant social challenges for sure, but going back to a type Muldoonism, that Peters seems to hanker, would be as misguided as it is impossible.

I somehow doubt that trotter was a fan of the pre-1984 government. He hankers for winding the calendar back further, to 1972 and to 1938. The world has changed a wee bit since then.

It is possible, of course, that Peters is talking-up his disdain for the Greens in order to avoid spooking his core supporters in the countryside; and that, privately, he is right behind the eco-socialists’ radical policy agenda. Except, if that is the case, then he must surely be bitterly disappointed by Labour’s extreme policy timidity.

In other words, non-revolutionary.

Is the sort of party that invites Sir Michael Cullen and Annette King to join its young leader at the negotiating table, really the sort of party that is getting ready to throw its weight wholeheartedly behind “a change in the way this country is run. Economically and socially”?

Labour and National got by far the biggest share of the vote (over 80%). NZ First got 7.2% – even if Trotter can convince Peters to lead his revolution it would be with small minority support.

Trotter is an opportunist, imploring what he thinks is the most likely way to swing his revolution. Winston Peters is a very unlikely Che, but it seems to be Trotters’s best and possible only chance right now.

An Expression Of Democratic Interest.

REGARDLESS of NZ First’s ultimate decision, Writ Day, 12 October 2017, was a day for celebration. The 2017 General Election, now completed, will, eventually, deliver a government which has been shaped by the will of the New Zealand people – in full accordance with democratic principle.

The tragedies and injustices that impelled the electorate’s judgement will carve-out for themselves a substantial and urgent claim upon the new ministry’s programme.

How many votes were compelled by “tragedies and injustices”? No evidence, Trotter is speaking for himself only.

The priorities of government will change, for the very simple reason that we, the people, have changed them. Any politician who believes it possible to simply pick up where he or she left off before the voting started, is in for a rude awakening.

Not that our elected representatives need to be told this. Those who live and die by the democratic sword require no lessons in the keenness of its blade. Of much more concern to us should be the people in our community who wield delegated authority. Those employees of central and local government whose daily decisions influence people’s lives so dramatically. The class of persons who used to be called “public servants”, but who are, increasingly, taking on the appearance of our masters.

It’s a process which has been underway for the best part of thirty years; set in motion, as you would expect, by the radical “reforms” of the Rogernomics era.

Back to this again.

That these free-marketeers seized upon the “public choice” theories of the American economist, James Buchanan, is unsurprising.

It was only after Buchanan’s death that researchers uncovered his life-long links to the most extreme anti-democratic elements of the American Right. Buchanan’s concern, like that of his wealthy backers, was that the stark contrast between private selfishness and public altruism would, in the long term, prove politically unsustainable. Only by forcing the public sector to become as vicious and unaccountable as the private sector could the dangerous example of collective caring be negated.

Labelling the private and public sectors as vicious could itself be seen as vicious.

If our new government is serious about wanting to bring public spending under control, it could do a lot worse than to start by reversing the perverse reforms of Buchanan’s “public choice” disciples. After all, if there is one group these free-market theorists hate more than responsible and caring public servants, it is responsive and caring politicians.

Who are “these free-market theorists” in New Zealand? Straw men and women?

It is a measure of the free-marketeers’ success in undermining the credibility of anyone claiming to serve the public good, that merely suggesting a politician might be responsive and caring is enough to invite instant incredulity and derision.

That’s extreme ideological nonsense – one could say inviting incredulity and derision.

Buchanan and his ilk’s hostility to democracy arises precisely out of its ability to create public institutions capable of responding positively to the expressed interests of ordinary citizens. Democracy also makes it possible for ordinary citizens to redirect economic effort away from purely private purposes and towards more publicly beneficial endeavors. In other words, the expressed will of the people is able to override the “logic” of the market.

“Politics without romance” was how Buchanan described the substitution of market forces for Democracy’s “expressive interests”. If the 2017 election was about anything, it was about turning that around.

Trotter seems to be trying his hardest to turn one claimed extreme (grossly exaggerated) into his own preferred extreme.

I doubt that Peters is the one who will deliver it for him. If Winston starts a Trotterite revolution (very unlikely) there is likely to be a very unhappy electorate. That’s not what most of us voted for.

Trotter should try to get himself appointed to the NZ First board. Too late this time round but he might then be in a position to choose the government in 2020.

But Trotter joining NZ First is about as likely as Peters taking his pleas for revolution seriously.

For a mass, revolutionary workers party

Dave Brown has a Red rave, at the end of which he says:

Make the bosses pay! Smash austerity! The CGT is a Speculator Tax! Dump GST! A Living wage! Jobs for All! Free education (like Germany)! Free Health! Massive state rental build! A living Universal Basic Income or Social Wage (UBI) to end precarite and reward unpaid labour! Stop benefit bashing! Dump Parker’s Pension Plan! Retirement age at 60! Abolish the GCSB and the SIS! NZ out of ANZAC, ANZUS, TPPA, NSA and the UN!

Such immediate economic and democratic demands fought for by workers will be met with outright hostility by the ruling class. This would force workers to engage in strike action and occupations, and to form workers councils and self-defence militias.

When the imperialist monopolies send in the US Marines to enforce the TPPA and stop workers taking power we will need an organised peoples’ army to send them packing and elect a Workers Government to socialise the land, banks and corporations, and implement a plan for a socialist economy.

For a mass, revolutionary workers party and program!
For a Socialist Aotearoa in a Socialist Federation of the Pacific!

Their numbers are so low they aren’t a democratic threat (although they did try to use Mana and Dotcom to get the balance of power) but it’s interesting to see that there are a few “revolutionaries” raving around the fringes.

Of days long past

Dave Brown again at The Standard:

The rightwing media won’t shut up until we shut them up.

In the lead up to the Russian revolution workers occupied the printing works of the ruling newspapers and put out their own papers until cleared out by cops.

The workers then moved on to the next printshop. The revolution happened.

The internet is the equivalent of the printing press today.

Class war becomes cyberwar.

The spies and cops are everywhere, but they need the social media to make money off us so we just move from one print shop to the next.

A bit like the Bolsheviks who were penetrated by the Tsars spies, but overcame the problem by putting them to work under close supervision.

Even with total censorship like in the 1951 lockout, workers are much more ingenious than the censors in finding ways of communicating.

We should make the best of the time available to us before we face an internet blackout to build a left media firmly rooted in working class culture.

What is that? you ask.

Quite. After all, what is the working class?

The main task of the left media is to ‘rediscover’ the working class under its noses, unite its various factions and help organise it collectively to fight for its class interests.

He seems too left for them even there.

His ID links to this Red Rave: with the latest post:

The rise of BRICS is regarded by many on the left today as a dynamic ‘anti-imperialist’ bloc challenging US imperialist hegemony. We challenge this view and show that BRICS may be a rival bloc but is neither ‘progressive’ nor ‘anti-imperialist’, because it is led by the emerging imperialist powers, Russia and China. We argue that the mounting inter-imperialist rivalry between the two blocs means we can only advance the world revolution by opposing and defeating both blocs.

So the revolution needs to defeat the US, China and Russia.

In a post Aotearoa: Mana and Labour he said that even Mana is bourgeois-workers party:

Both Mana and the Labour party are bourgeois-workers parties; that is they look like parties for the working class, they have policy that looks like it could be helpful to the working class, they have workers joining them – and in Labour’s case unions affiliated, but we believe that when we put them to the test of being in government, they will just carry on the running of bourgeois society (capitalism).

Not much in New Zealand politics for him then.

I wonder if he’s aware that 1940 was 74 years ago. The world has revolved a quite a few times since then, and the comrades have dwindled to a few Dave Browns fulminating forlornly on the fringes.