A PIG HEADED REFUSAL TO LOOK FACTS IN THE FACE

Labour and its supporters fail to acknowledge that a slavish commitment to the neoliberal orthodoxy has led to its election downfall - again.

I WAS AMAZED TO hear the CTU's Helen  Kelly argue on TV3's The Nation that Labour lost the election because  it failed to communicate its message and policies to the electorate.

I think  exactly the obvious is true. I think the electorate had a pretty good idea of what Labour was about and didn't much like it. So they did not vote for Labour or did not vote at all. Labour are not so much regarded as a political friend and ally  but as another occupying power in Parliament.

Kelly  though seems blindingly oblivious to Labour's unpopularity. Perhaps she needs to get out more. While she has no problems with Labour continuing  to pursue the neoliberal orthodoxy its potential supporters certainly have. 

 But honesty seems  to be short supply in the Labour camp. It's supporters seem to have adopted General Melchett's dictum that 'when all else fails, a pig headed stubborn refusal to look facts
in the face, will see us through.'

 If Labour's supporters were being honest then they would front up and admit Labour has no new ideas. Instead we get the kind of ducking and diving that has been on display from commentator Chris Trotter over the past few days.

Having enthusiastically endorsed David Cunliffe as Labour's future his new excuse to explain Labour's defeat is that Cunliffe went to asleep over the first few months of his leadership. That's a nicely convenient explanation because that means Trotter does not have to  take any responsibility for his own part in Labour's downfall. But, to be fair to Chris, he's not the only one who has fled from the scene of the wreckage, claiming they had nothing to do with it.

While Trotter might argue that Cunliffe sat on his hands for the best part of a year, the fact is that Labour failed to  do anything about reinventing itself after its defeat in 2010. While I was arguing that Labour was a political dead zone, Chris Trotter was quoting Jim Anderton  at me  about building  "your footpaths where the people walk.” The obvious difficulty for Trotter though is that Labour  did not build its footpaths where the people walk.

But Trotter seems to be having another go at it. He quoted Anderton again in a recent post. This time though he seems to want to build his footpath directly to the house of Labour MP Stuart Nash. He's the MP who said last week that Labour lost the election because it was too left wing.

We need to remind ourselves that  it was Labour began the process of overturning the gains of the social democratic era in favour of business interests. It has been committed to the neoliberal orthodoxy ever since.

Labour has no answers, certainly for ordinary people who now have three more years of John Key, Paula Bennett and company to look forward to. But, unlike comfortably well off political commentators and trade union leaders, ordinary people are not insulated  from the impact of neoliberal economic polices.

That Labour does not have any answers for us is a disgusting display of the irrelevance of not only Labour but of the parliamentary system itself.

The present pathetic  squabble over who should lead Labour is  simply an indication of what lies ahead for Labour politics over the next three years. Once again it highlights  the need for an independent alternative to Labour,  one that is committed to  the interests and concerns of ordinary people, one that does not promote and defend market values and one that does not make deals with political forces unfriendly to the interests of ordinary people.

DON'T VOTE, WON'T VOTE

The Did Not Vote Party attracted nearly a million non votes this year. It was another highly successful non election campaign.

NEARLY A MILLION PEOPLE did not bother to vote this year. There was hope in some quarters that the improved number of people voting in advance of polling day would prove to be the  precursor of a strong turnout on election day. This was not  the case.

The cold hard  fact is that year's result  ranks as the third-worst turnout in the last 100 years, with the number of non-voters almost tallying to the number of votes that went to National. The Did Not Vote Party could well have formed a minority government.

Clearly the CTU's 'Get Out and Vote' campaign had a near zero impact, although that's not what the CTU said three days  before the election.

CTU vice President Richard Wagstaff  said that ' tens of thousands of workers from all around New Zealand have embraced the Get Out and Vote campaign.' The problem was that the CTU was preaching to the already converted. Telling  people who have every intention to vote that they should get out and vote is hardly a triumph.

Just like last time people are speculating as to why may people went missing in action on election day. And the same old explanations have been offered, including  that perennial  favourite, ' voter apathy'. It certainly is  a strange  phenomenon this apathy. At election time apathy suddenly engulfs  the nation, with people drowning helplessly in a stew of  sloth  and  gripped by a mystifying inability to get out of bed.

The  most popular 'solution'  to the problem seems  to be to force people into voting by making it compulsory. Presumably if you still don't vote you will be sent  to a 'Civic Education' internment camp will you be taught the error of you're lazy ways and  forcibly reminded  as to why we live 'in one of the best little democracies in the world'.

What is interesting  is that Statistics NZ surveyed why people did not vote in 2008 and 2011. This revealed that 40 percent of  people did not vote because they were 'disengaged  from the democratic process'.    They did not vote because  they did not think it would  make any difference.

And they are dead right.

It does not matter who you vote for you because you will  still end up with a government pursuing the neoliberal orthodoxy that has strangled this country for three long decades.

Despite Labour wanting  people to 'vote positive' it is not a positive message to tell 'disengaged voters' that you remain committed  to the neoliberal orthodoxy. Which is what Labour did all the time. 

Similarly  the endorsement of the neoliberal orthodoxy by  Green co-leader Russel Norman would have hardly inspired the disengaged voter to rush out and vote for the Green Party. And they didn't

The fact is that we no longer have a proper functioning  democratic system, merely the facade of one. It is fiction to talk of the 'democratic process'  if our only contribution is to vote every three years for parliamentary parties that will just continue to enforce the neoliberal orthodoxy.

But rather than declare  the emperor has no clothes, the liberal chattering class that writes for blogs like The Daily Blog and The Standard  would rather moan  abut voter apathy and demand compulsory voting for us all.

That means that they can continue  to posture about how  awful John Key and the National Party are without making  any commitment to real change.  My fear is that we're going to have to put up with this nonsense for the next three years as well.


A WORLD TO WIN, A PLANET TO SAVE

"the denigration of collective action and veneration of the profit motive..has infiltrated virtually every government on the planet, every media organisation, every university, our very souls."




 THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING: CAPITALISM VS THE CLIMATE
Naomi Klein (Simon &Schuster)
 SINCE THE publication  of No Logo in 2000 Naomi Klein has commanded a global audience that few of her  contemporary left wing writers and  activists can command. Her books invariably  top bestseller lists around the world, she speaks to packed meetings everywhere and  she is in demand for interviews from a mainstream media generally unsympathetic to people who hold similar views to that of Klein.

All of this highlights why she has become a poster girl for the left,  a description that Klein herself would not be comfortable with. But there she is  - in an interview  in the  August  issue of Vogue magazine no less.

But her embrace by the mainstream media has not  been a result of Klein watering down her politics to be more 'palatable'. She has never  tried to second guess what the media or public wants. Indeed, her new book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate sees Klein move to a more consistent critical position on capitalism. While some 'left wing' writers are keen to keep capitalism off the agenda of discussion  - 'move on, nothing to see here' -  Klein places it at the heart of her book. There is no compromise.

Klein signalled her intentions for  her new  book  in several articles and interviews  preceding its publication. She says that we must move  on from endless ideological debates. Klein's view is straightforward: the life support systems of the planet are being destabilised and dismantled  by capitalism and we must act now.

This is a view that won't sit well with that section of the environmental movement that still thinks a environmentally friendly capitalism is possible, a view held by the New Zealand Green Party. One of its co-leaders. Russel Norman,  recently declared he was 'more pro market' than the National Party. He'd have little to talk about with Klein.

In her book she devotes a chapter to false solutions to the ecological crisis proposed by people like Norman  including carbon trading, geo engineering and alliances between the environmental movement and big business.  Her views on why 'green billionaires' like Bill Gates won't save us are  thoroughly researched, inexorably logical and demolish the myths  of a 'green capitalism'.

Writes Klein:  "In virtually every country,the political class accepts the premise that it is not the place of government to tell large corporations what they can and cannot do, even when public health and welfare — indeed the habitability of our shared home — are clearly at stake. The guiding ethos of light-touch regulation, and more often active deregulation, has taken an enormous toll in every sector.... It has also blocked commonsense responses to the climate crisis at every turn."

Klein's alternative  is  for a systematic and radical break  with free-market orthodoxy. This would include large scale investment in the public sector in such areas as transport, housing, infrastructure and services.  But it would be a mistake to assume that Klein is simply calling for mild Keynesian-inspired reforms, a more 'regulated' capitalism. A simple 'tweaking' of the system won't do. She says that "dealing with the climate crisis will require a completely different economic system'

Klein quotes climate expert Kevin Anderson that we might have been able to avert catastrophe  using “significant evolutionary” strategies if we had acted at the time of the 1992 Earth Summit or as late as the year 2000, but now only “revolutionary” strategies will work.

If people are unclear clear as to who  the planet's real  enemies are, Klein makes it abundantly  clear:  'an elite minority that has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process and most of our major media outlets'. She goes on to say that the ''denigration of collective action and veneration of the profit motive..has infiltrated virtually every government on the planet, every media organisation, every university, our very souls'.

The politicians have failed the planet and the solutions must come from...us. She writes: “It is slowly dawning on a great many of us that no one is going to step in and fix this crisis, that if change is to take place it will only be because leadership bubbled up from below.” The emancipation of the planet must be achieved by the people of the planet.

She writes vividly of grassroots resistance around the world from the fight  of the Northern Cheyenne to prevent coal mining on their Montana reservation,  to the villagers in Greece's Skouries forest to oppose open cast mineral mining.

On a recent The Colbert Report, Klein told host Stephen Colbert: “Capitalism is a machine based on short-term profit and growth and the climate needs us to contract.So you have this tension between a system that needs to grow, grow, grow indiscriminately, and a planet going, ‘Guys, I have had it.’”

This Changes Everything is not only a book that demands to be read but one that demands to be acted on.

A CLAYTON'S LABOUR CAMPAIGN

Can you spot what's wrong with this newspaper advertisement?

JAMES DANN, who was Labour's Ilam candidate, has tweeted this interesting newspaper advertisement from Labour list MP Clayton Cosgrove.

While the advertisement looks vaguely 'Labourish'  that's where the similarities end.

There might be a big tick for Clayton, but conspicuously missing is a big tick for Labour. Also missing is the Labour Party logo.

And just to stress a little bit more that Clayton has nothing to do with Labour, one of his supporters declares:

'I'm not party political, I just want  to see Clayton Cosgrove elected as the MP for Waimakariri...'

Last week Cosgrove  defended his 'personalised  campaign'  arguing  that  he was 'chasing  the party vote as well as an electorate win.'

But this newspaper advertisement suggests that campaigning  for the party vote was very much a low priority for Cosgrove.

James Dann has tweeted: 'When someone gets in on the party list, twice, whilst not campaigning for the party, someone needs to say something.'

ANOTHER FINE MESS THE LEFT HAS GOT ITSELF INTO

In the aftermath of the Labour Party's crushing election defeat and the demise of Internet Mana, is there any hope for the left?

IT WAS NOT so long ago that Sue Bradford walked away from the Mana Party. The catalyst for her  resignation was, of course, the alliance of convenience that Hone Hawarira  and his supporters  had cobbled together  with Kim Dotcom and his newly formed Internet Party.

She warned that it was huge mistake for the Mana Party to hitch  its political fortunes to that of the German multi-millionaire.

Although it would be  fair to say I've had some political differences with Sue (mostly during her time in the Green Party) I've always respected  her integrity and determination. I knew that her decision to pull the plug on her involvement with the Mana Party would not have been taken lightly.

Her decision though provoked the ire of others.

Chris Trotter, in a particularly unpleasant column,  lectured that she should of have abided  by  'Mana's democratic decision-making process' and stayed with the party.

He pompously went on to say: ''an unkind commentator might draw his readers’ attention to the extraordinary condescension involved in a middle-aged Pakeha and former Green MP setting forth the correct moral path for a party dominated overwhelmingly by young, marginalised Maori.'

Trotter, who has castigated me regularly over the years  for my 'unrealistic' and 'far left' politics, rushed to embrace Internet Mana - at one stage even describing it as 'revolutionary'.

His old mate Martyn Bradbury of The Daily Blog wrote:

A Labour-Green-Internet MANA majority is a genuinely exciting prospect, and one that progressives would be foolish to ignore if they really want to see the back of John Key.

Other individuals and groups on the left   also rushed to the side of Internet Mana. This included  Socialist Aotearoa,  the International Socialist Organisation (ISO), Fightback! (Workers Party) and the Unite Union.

There was never  any  political consistency or coherency to this support. Socialist Aotearoa, for example, had formerly claimed that Mana was a 'anti-capitalist party' and that it was a hub around which a working class movement would grow.  It quickly ditched this view for the resources that Kim Dotcom was offering. Class collaboration became the only game in town.

This has proved to be a huge strategic error.

It would be nice to think that groups like Socialist Aotearoa and the Unite Union will learn from this experience. But this is by no means certain.

Chris Trotter has blogged  that 'the left' has some hard thinking to do. Personally I think Chris Trotter has a helluva  lot of hard thinking to do about his own politics. This though may result in him moving further rightwards because I just can't see moving to the left.

Meanwhile Martyn Bradbury says he's taking some time off to reflect on the electoral disaster. He has  written:

There need to be voices from the left who can redefine what progressives need to do to end this terrible, terrible Government, but today I don’t think I’m one of those voices.

I think he shows some honesty here. At this early stage anyway.

The maddening and frustrating thing is that all of this mess was avoidable.

While I don't pretend to have any special political insight I like to think that I  - and a few others -have again been  vindicated in our  long held view that if the left is  to make any progress at all there has to be complete honesty about the Labour Party and what it represents. There also has to be an honesty about the continued enthusiasm of certain  parts of the left to make deals with political forces that are no friends of working people.

Speaking from a  purely personal standpoint I have my doubts that much of the left is capable of the sort of honesty that is required. The hard questions are just as likely never to be asked, never mind answered.

Despite three consecutive election defeats for Labour, the left is well capable of repeating the same old mistakes in 2017. I hope I'm proved wrong.

HOME IS A CARDBOARD BOX

Christchurch Central MP Nicky Wagner claims there are only thirty homeless people in Christchurch. But does she know  all their names?

IT HAS BEEN estimated that there may be as many  as 7000 homeless people in Christchurch.  Such is the  severity  of  the housing crisis in the city that some overseas workers  -attracted to Christchurrch  by the promise of work in the building industry - are now having to stay at the Methodist Mission. It can't even cope with the growing  number of local people who are desperate for somewhere to stay.

Central Christchurch MP Nicky Wagner is entirely unconcerned though. The Associate Earthquake Recovery Minister  has told the  NZ Herald that there are only thirty genuinely homeless people in Christchurch

How has  she arrived at this figure?

According to Wagner you are not homeless if you happen to have somewhere to sleep. If you are  sleeping in a garage, in overcrowded conditions or perhaps even in a cardboard box, Nicky Wagner thinks you  have never had it so good.

Wagner's view on what constitutes a 'home' is in direct  conflict with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states:

"Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services...'

Merely having somewhere to sleep does not constitute adequate housing.

Wagner is one of the country's wealthiest  property-owning politicians. She owns directly or is linked to companies which own $25.3 million worth of property.

Wagner's property wealth comes from eight commercial buildings in Christchurch that are owned by David Wagner Holdings Ltd - a company in which she is a joint shareholder and her husband David is director.

She owns a  family home in Christchurch and an apartment in Wellington. She has a 'holiday home' in Picton which is owned by a trust.

Wagner won't be living in a garage anytime soon.

THE INSULTING BEHAVIOUR OF MIKE HOSKING

 Mike Hosking and Seven Sharp do a hatchet job on the 'Moment of Truth'.

I WAS SURPRISED that Seven Sharp chose to cover  the 'Moment of Truth' event. I assumed that, true to form, it would have far more important issues to cover  - like hair products or grapefruits, for instance

That said you wondered why Seven Sharp  even bothered  to cover the meeting because it clearly wasn't interested.

Right from the off,  Mike Hosking announced that Seven Sharp was 'reluctantly'  covering the 'Moment Of Truth' -  even the simpering co host Toni Street visibly squirmed at this point.

Hosking then suggested  that the whole issue was not one of  mass surveillance  but one of 'mass manipulation'.

That's right. If you were one of the fifteen hundred or so people  who packed the Auckland Town Hall or one of the many  hundreds who could not get in, or one of the thousands who watched it on the Internet,  Mike Hosking says you were all 'manipulated', presumably by the dastardly Kim Dotcom.

As well as being grossly insulting,  Hosking's hypocrisy  reached new heights. This is a man who works  for a radio station, Newstalk ZB, which has promoted and defended the Key government for the past six  years. This is a man who works for a station that railed against the 'nanny state'  of the Helen Clark government but now is  apparently entirely relaxed about the state intruding into the private lives of all of us, via the methods that Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden have outlined.

And, of course, this is the  man who has consistently backed Cameron Slater who has sought to manipulate the New Zealand political process in the notorious ways that Nicky Hager has outlined in Dirty Politics.

If Mike  Hosking wasn't bad enough, Seven Sharp  sent Heather du Plessis-Allan to  provide live coverage of the event. This is the woman who did the now infamous PR puff piece on Cameron Slater.

Echoing the Prime  Minister, she described  the timing of  the 'Moment of Truth'  as 'cynical' . Apparently having a political  meeting during an election campaign is to be frowned upon.  Especially if it might cause difficulties for the Prime Minister.

She could of said, that in an age when politicians avoid the scrutiny of public meetings like the plague, this was a return to better days. She could of mentioned that this was, by far, the  biggest political meeting of the election . But she chose to say that the timing of  the meeting was 'cynical'. She has clearly been taking lessons from her partner Barry Soper - who works for Newstalk ZB.

Her astounding powers of  political analysis led her to conclude that the vociferous clapping and cheering indicated that it was a 'left' crowd. An alternative interpretation is that it was the reaction of a large  crowd of  New Zealanders who are concerned about what is happening  to their country and are  glad that they have people  like Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden fighting  their corner.  They certainly can't expect New Zealand's media cabal to do that.

But  the agenda of Heather du Plessis-Allan was clear. She wanted to pigeonhole  this as a meeting of a bunch of lefties, somehow removed the concerns of everyone else. At this  point I heard the voice of another National Party Prime Minister, Rob Muldoon, shouting at a heckler, 'You're not a proper New Zealander!'

Meanwhile Hosking claimed he had read Edward Snowden's article and basically said there was nothing in it. This is also what he said about Dirty Politics.  Hosking is now so ideologically blinkered and so determined  to defend the Key government at all cost that he is no longer a member of  the fourth estate but a de facto member of the Prime Minister's office.





WHY CAN'T GLENN GREENWALD JUST BE LIKE MIKE HOSKING?

Pulitzer-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald is attacked by the Prime Minister.

JUST A cursory review of Glenn Greenwald's track record will reveal that the Pulitzer-winning journalist is in no one's pocket. But that was what  the Prime Minister snidely accused him of yesterday. He described him as being in 'Dotcom's pocket'.

Greenwald, who is presently in New Zealand, has been the target of criticism not only from the political establishment  but from fellow journalists. He  has described American journalism as 'neutered and impotent and obsolete.'

Greenwald outlined to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! the response of the American  corporate media to his reporting on Edward Snowden’s leaked National Security Agency documents:

“We knew that once we started publishing not one or two stories, but dozens of stories … that not just the government, but even fellow journalists were going to start to look at what we were doing with increasing levels of hostility and to start to say, ‘This doesn’t actually seem like journalism anymore,’ because it’s not the kind of journalism that they do. It doesn’t abide by these unspoken rules that are designed to protect the government.”

He could well have been talking about the New Zealand media. John Key and National Party have enjoyed a benevolent relationship with the mainstream media, a relationship that Nicky Hager exposed in Dirty Politics.

It is illuminating to compare Key's hostility toward Glenn Greenwald with the affectionate relationship he has with certain mainstream journalists and, of course, with the continued loyalty  he demonstrates for sleaze merchant Cameron Slater.

EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS

 

Newstalk ZB's Chris Lynch gets all worked up...

CHRIS LYNCH hosts  the 8.30am - midday weekday show on talkback station Newstalk ZB in Christchurch. He is the only local host on a station that is mostly networked out of Auckland.  He also fronts a show on local  television station CTV called Lynched which I criticised some months ago.

I think this was the first time I was critical of something Lynch was involved in. I have let other things  slide by  like  the time when he  thought it was appropriate to say 'good riddance' when a local homeless man died when the house he was squatting in went up in flames.  I'm also not keen about his habit of putting on a camp voice when he's conveying views he doesn't agree with.  I thought we'd long since past the days when talking like Mr Humphreys out of Are You Being Served? was considered clever and funny.

In the last few days  I've been critical of Lynch both here and on Twitter. I criticised him for his unwarranted attack on Sue Bradford  and I criticised him on Twitter  for stating that he didn't think that increasing  the level of benefits would alleviate poverty.

Lynch seems to be a sensitive soul.

Local  Labour MP Ruth Dyson, who I don't know and have never met, retweeted one of my comments. This prompted Lynch  to demand of Dyson why she was engaging with 'nutcases' like me.

Ruth Dyson obviously didn't know what Lynch  was banging on about and replied: 'Who is Steven?'

Lynch, who appears to have a problem stringing together a coherent sentence, then tweeted to Ruth Dyson:

Your senior party official think hes s nutcase so why communite with nasty people'.

I have no idea who this 'senior party official' is.

Anyway, I leave the last word to @ShitAkhilSays  who had this to say about Chris Lynch on Twitter: 'He's mad because he's the only person in 2014 who's still trying to rock that Justin Bieber haircut'

MARKET POLITICS

John Key and David Cunliffe debate who will be a better manager of the free market economy. The loser is all of us.

WHILE I EXPECTED LITTLE  FROM EITHER John Key or David Cunliffe, watching the third 'Leaders Debate' was still dispiriting. It had me reaching for the remote on several occasions. I persevered only so I could write this.

This wasn't so much a contest of ideas, of ideologically defined visions of alternative New Zealand's, but rather a debate about management styles. You can either have John Key continuing  to run New Zealand Inc or you can give David Cunliffe a go. Either way we are still  wrapped  in the neoliberal straitjacket. When you so desperately want someone to go charging the citadels of capitalist power, we are instead expected to make do with fiscally responsible  David Parker and his marker pen and whiteboard, calculator at the ready. Big ideas have been reduced to technical arguments about tax.

Cunliffe tried to get passionate - and it looked scripted to me -  about  decreasing child  poverty but I couldn't even detect a  whiff of even the mildest  Keynesianism  in the policies he outlined. For business interests,  Cunliffe and the Labour Party will be a pleasure to work with - but it'll be thin gruel for most of us.

Labour supporters might wax lyrical abut an increase in the minimum wage but Labour also plans to raise the retirement age, has no intention of stopping deep sea exploration for oil and has been conspicuously silent about how it will improve the lot of welfare beneficiaries - other than vague calls abut creating more jobs.  For working people and the poor there are a lot of booby prizes in Labour's cupboard but, apparently, we're supposed  to just take our medicine in order to get rid of John Key.

It's a stark indication of the lack of choice in this election that Green co-leader Russel Norman is now talking of how the Green's could work with the National Party. Wow. That's fighting talk.

And in the entire debate there  was not one mention of perhaps the pressing issue of our time - climate change and the deepening ecological crisis.

Yet only yesterday it was  reported that a surge in atmospheric CO2 saw levels of greenhouse gases reach record levels in 2013.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin  has reported that  globally averaged amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 396 parts per million (ppm) in 2013, an increase of almost 3ppm over the previous year.

 Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the WMO. had this stark warning: "We must reverse this trend by cutting emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases across the board.We are running out of time."

As Naomi Klein writes in soon to be published book This Changes Everything,  the root of the planet's crisis  is a predatory economic system, driven by the motor of profit. While Naomi Klein and progressive political currents speak of transforming the economic order  David Cunliffe and John Key talk merely of pulling the levers on a machine that is already out of control and which threatens to take us all down with it.

THE REAL DIRTY POLITICS THAT NO ONE TALKS ABOUT

The real 'Dirty Politics' is a representative democracy that is neither representative or democratic.

THE ISSUES THAT DIRTY POLITICS has raised go much further than the machinations of Cameron Slater, Judith Collins, David Farrar and friends  whose activities Nicky  Hager's  bestselling book has so thoroughly exposed.

These issues are symptomatic of a far wider malaise that  none of the parliamentary parties can solve because they themselves  are part of that malaise; a representative democracy that is neither representative or democratic.

Over three decades of this  country being under the iron heel of neoliberalism has seen the further emergence of an ever more unresponsive  and essentially collusive political system where all the political parties are implicated in defending and upholding the neoliberal  model of economic organisation. To talk 'of 'left' , 'right' and 'centre' politics in this context is misleading to say the least  because there is  not one political party, without compromise, that  has set its face firmly against the economic orthodoxy. It is sadly indicative of the regressive  times we are living in  that a so called 'left wing commentator'  can describe a crowd chanting  'F**K YOU, John Key'  as 'revolutionary'. Or that Russel Norman and the Green Party are still described as 'left wing' by mainstream commentators despite the fact that Norman has stated that the Green's are 'more pro market than the National Party',

It is this insular and remote environment , where the political system has  become detached  from the public sphere, that people like Cameron Slater and Jason Ede have been able to operate in relative impunity -  exactly because there because there is no meaningful  public accountability.  We have seen the establishment of a political apparatchik that owes its allegiance to those who seek to dominate us. The 'great unwashed', like you and me, have been shut out.

Those of a more  liberal bent  might have fondly thought that the fourth estate would act as the democratic brake on the excesses of those in power. But the media  has  become so thoroughly embedded in the machine that while we might thoroughly despise Cameron Slater, only a  few  short steps behind him are other  equally determined defenders of the status quo like Mike Hosking, Sean Plunket and most of the NZ Herald's columnists.

Indeed Slater's bitter remark that some of the journalists going after him  now are exactly the same journalists who, in previous times, have been happy to use him as a source of news stories is undoubtedly true.

And journalists and commentators who like to think they are 'liberal' or 'left wing' are not blameless either. 

While they have thoroughly castigated Slater and his political allies their so-called  'solution' is that we again put a  faith in a  failed representative democracy and vote for a capitalist-friendly Labour-led government. Just like last time. And the time before that.

As comedian and activist Russell Brand said last year:

The only reason to vote is if the vote represents power or change. I don't think it does. I fervently believe that we deserve more from our democratic system than the few derisory tit-bits tossed from the carousel of the mighty...'

The only thing  that is certain that will come out of this election is that nothing much  will change. 'Vote positive!' is the call but the fact is that we are being offered as much choice as a Stalinist one party state. That is the real 'dirty politics'. The difference is that the political elite would rather not talk about this because, then, the game really might be up.

THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING

Naomi Klein's new book This Changes  Everything: Capitalism Vs the Climate is published  on September 18. Klein writes  that it is capitalism – not carbon – that is responsible for climate change and the ecological crisis. It is a book that won't be embraced by Russel Norman and his pro-market Green Party.

NAOMI KLEIN'S  new book is This Changes  Everything: Capitalism  Vs the Climate and it may be her most provocative book yet. The author of No Logo (2000) and The Shock Doctrine (2007) says the book has an 'unashamedly radical thesis at it heart':

'The really inconvenient truth is that it’s not about carbon—it’s about capitalism. The convenient truth is that we can seize this existential crisis to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better.'

Many mainstream environmental groups will be uncomfortable with this book because she bluntly criticises  them for having surrendered to the demands of capitalism.

She dismisses  pro-market solutions proposed by people like Russel Norman and the Green Party because '“dealing with the climate crisis will require a completely different economic system.'

She says that  so called alternatives  like technological innovations, cap and trade schemes and so-called  'clean energy', are, at best, 'band aid solutions'. She  says  they have also had a negative impact on the environment.

Klein says, for instance, that carbon trading programs simply allow manufacturers to produce more harmful greenhouse gases, just to be paid to reduce them. In the process, carbon trading schemes have helped corporations make billions—allowing them to directly profit off the degradation of the planet.  Carbon trading has become simply another profit-making  vehicle for market capitalism.

Naomi Klein's argues that we must break with market economics and move to an economy that is not based on fossil fuels, demands endless growth, and concentrates power in the hands of the 1 percent.

 In a speech she made last year, Klein said:

'...our current economic model is not only waging war on workers, on communities, on public services and social safety nets. It’s waging war on the life support systems of the planet itself. The conditions for life on earth.

Climate change. It’s not an “issue” for you to add to the list of things to worry about it. It is a civilizational wake up call. A powerful message – spoken in the language of fires, floods, storms and droughts — telling us that we need an entirely new economic model, one based on justice and sustainability.'








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