WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE KIDDING MR TROTTER?



Columnist and Labour Party supporter Chris Trotter would like us to believe the fiction that the effects of the global capitalist crisis have hit everyone equally so why should any one sector of society have to carry the economic burden of this crisis? Like various mainstream politicians - including his new hero, Barack Obama - he's calling for national unity, for everyone to 'muck in' to fight the economic storm. Captain Chris Trotter - apparently New Zealand's answer to Captain Mainwaring of Dad's Army fame - wants us to fight the nasty economic recession together! Don't panic!

Trotter says that the expression of 'equality of sacrifice' 'has a proud and long pedigree'. Trotter accuses me ( apparently I'm wearing a cloth cap and hobnailed boots) of living in some quaint Dickensian world but, ironically, he's all too eager to reach back into the past for a wartime expression to hang his threadbare and dismal argument on.

'Equality of sacrifice'? I say - bugger that! I say the corporate fat cats should be made to pay for the economic mess they created. That seems reasonable to me - after all, I never heard the fat cats offering to sacrifice any of their profits when unemployment was at record levels. I never heard them offering to share the burden when the economy was being torn apart during the years of Rogernomics.

Chris Trotter is being ridiculous in a typical Labour Party way. I don't know what planet he is presently residing on, but the planet I'm on is dominated by a destructive and chaotic economic system: an economic system that weaves implacable and destructive conflict into its production and distribution of goods and services. It periodically erupts into conflicts and crises and that is happening right now.

Trotter's call for John Key, the former sharemarket wheeler and dealer, to share the pain around flies in the face of capitalist reality.

New Zealand workers, like workers around the world, are in the firing line. First, because companies will try to compensate for their financial losses by freezing wages and reducing working conditions.

Secondly they will also suffer the indirect effects of the financial crisis on the real economy, which will bring a string of bankruptcies and lay-offs. The destruction of jobs has already started.

As far as the capitalist class is concerned - the people who own the means of production, Chris - its ordinary workers who are going to - and are- paying the price of this crisis. This crisis has already ruined millions of households in the United States, Europe and elsewhere. Ten of thousands are workers are losing their jobs - over 35,000 Americans workers lost their jobs just last week.

Here in New Zealand, we are beginning to see the job losses - with the government already conceding that unemployment could rise by much as 70,000 this year. I think the government is being optimistic.

And Key has also strongly hinted at a wage freeze and possibly even wage cuts.

The socialist left knows which side of the barricades it is on - its the side that you won't find Chis Trotter and his fellow Labour Party apologists.


As well we may also see taxpayer money being used to bail out New Zealand companies - and John Key has already signalled this. This money will have to come from somewhere and I would suggest we could see cutbacks in welfare.

None of this sounds like the burden being shared equally to me. None of this sounds like the 'equality of sacrifice' that Trotetr is waffling on about.

A friend of mime lost his job this week as a result of the growing recession - he'll be signing on the dole in the next few days. Perhaps Chris could tell him how the burden is being shared before he heads down to Work and Income to sign up for the pitiful unemployment benefit. I'm sure he'll be encouraged.

Trotter though claims he's on the side of workers:

'Yes, I do support a rise in the minimum wage for low-paid workers. And yes, I do believe that families dependent on the domestic purposes benefit deserve a substantial lift in their weekly income. It might also be a good idea for the National-led Government to offer temporary tax relief to this country’s tens of thousands of small, family-owned and run businesses. It should also embark on a massive state house construction programme, and reverse its decision to halt the insulation of old/cold homes. I’m also in favour of a substantial increase in the top marginal tax rate for persons earning over $100,000.'

Trotter is simply calling for the economy to be pumped via benefit increases, subsidies and infrastructural spending - but this is just about saving capitalism from itself.

What does government intervention really mean when it is being practiced by a government on behalf of capitalist interests?

The state is being used for state capitalist purposes, in order to reorganize capital, even to curb some of its excesses. But its aim is to keep capitalism and its social relations going—relations in which labour is dominated and exploited for the profits of a few.

I don't want to engage in debate with Trotter's prejudices but he once again repeats the groundless assertion that I, and presumably all other socialists, are trapped in some Victorian world where the working class forever wears cloth caps and is forever one step from the poor house.

Trotter seems to think that because people drive around in SUVs and watch 'Coronation Street' on plasma TV's they are somehow 'less' working class - even though they are still, last time I looked, working for wages as clerical workers, retail workers. hospitality workers and so on. He seems to be fixated on lifestyle but then he's a regular guest on breakfast TV so that's understandable.

Of course, Chris Trotter is also the same Chris Trotter who some years ago dismissed Marxism as some kind of nineteenth century anachronism, irrelevant to the modern world - although that hasn't stopped him from regularly quoting Marxist thinkers.

It seems to me that the socialist left has to operate on two levels. First, a socialist left has to be rebuilt in this country and it must fight on every front in defence of working-class interests, whether it is against job losses, against foreclosures, or against cuts in health care and social services.

Second, the socialist left must be prepared to take part in any struggles to defend the interests of the working class, as well as creating a political and ideological alternative to the free market and its defenders, conservative or liberal. The left must use the present crisis to conduct an ideological offensive against capitalism and to argue for a socialist alternative.

Indeed, as Trotter says, the working class should be encouraged to become a leading actor in the unfolding economic drama - but only on its terms and defending its interests. The working class should not have a bar of these clarion calls for 'national unity' and 'national purpose'. I think this is called popular frontism. I'm surprised that Trotter, being a student of history, is not aware that popular fronts always end in disaster for the working class.

The socialist left knows which side of the barricades it is on - its the side that you won't find Chis Trotter and his fellow Labour Party apologists.

GAZA 2009: WE WILL NEVER FORGET



This is a video montage documenting Israel's genocidal military campaign in Gaza. Despite the killings and brutality the New Zealand government chose not to condemn Israel - and nor did the Labour Party.

To its credit,the Green Party publicly stated its opposition to Israel's massive assault on Gaza.

Outside Parliament, the Alliance strongly condemned the actions of the Israeli government.

Alliance spokeserson Mathew Stephen also criticised the National-led government for its 'moral bankruptcy' in failing to take a stand against Israel's brutal 'Operation Cast Lead'.

Said Stephen: “If our National Government had any moral credibility New Zealand would cut diplomatic ties with Israel like Venezuela and Bolivia have done. The New Zealand Government cut its ties with Israel when Mossad agents were caught with counterfeit kiwi passports, but it won’t when hundreds of women and children have been murdered.”

HI DE HI!


As New Zealand confronts a massive economic crisis and with Prime Minister John Key signalling attacks on the working and living conditions of ordinary New Zealanders, the time is ripe for a real economic alternative to be put forward - one that defends the interests of ordinary people and not the business class.

Although some of its apologists claim there is still hope for Labour, the sheer bankruptcy of the Labour Party has been underlined yet again - less than a month into 2009.

John Key's 'Jobs Summit', which will signal further attacks on working and living conditions of ordinary folk, should be attacked by a Labour leadership that claims traditional social democratic principles. Instead we've had the exact opposite from Phil Goff: he thinks the summit is a good idea and is just peeved he hasn't been invited.

Similarly Goff is in favour of Key's campaign to introduce what amounts to a wage freeze for New Zealand workers - despite steeply rising prices.

Of course none of this should come as any surprise since Goff, a politician hostile to the left, basically wants to try and win the 2011 election on the same platform of policies that led to Labour's defeat in 2008. Withering and dying, nothing has changed within Labour.

And the same can be said of the Labour intelligentsia, that loose collection of media pundits, bloggers and journalists, who have reacted to the defeat of their government by saying and doing....nothing.

This comfortable and middle class strata can be still be found in Camp Labour. No-one has packed up their ideological kitbags and headed off to the more invigorating pastures of socialist politics.

Chris Trotter has thought about it but, in the end, he just couldn't do it. His solution? He wants the socialist left to join him in Camp Labour. Hi de Hi! Is he having a laugh or what?

I saw Trotter sharing a laugh or two with National man Mathew Hooton on TV3's Sunrise the other morning. It revealed a lot about where Trotter is at these days - a bit of repartee and a few laughs on breakfast TV. Hi de Hi!

And what of his fellow Labour apologists? I've scanned various pro-Labour blogs for criticism of the Goff-King leadership, for any indication of soul-searching, for any admission that, hey, we were wrong about Labour after all.

Zilch.

Martyn Bradbury on the Tumeke blog!, for example, has simply trained his sights on the National Government - forgetting that old saying - 'people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones'. He can't credibly complain about National's neo-liberal economic policies when he supported the neo-liberal economic policies of the Clark Government.

Similarly the condescending and smug Russell Brown has got nothing to say about his beloved Labour Party ether. In fact he's been recently getting all worked up about Bill Ralston attacking the 'Violence is Not Ok' campaign - in which Brown appears. Reading Brown's blog I'm left with the strong impression that Russell Brown is mostly interested in Russell Brown. Russell Brown is an endless source of fascination for Russell Brown.

While Brown fiddles, economic conditions worsen by the day.

The complacency of both the Labour Party and their groupies will be severely tested in the coming months.

The economic crisis and the anti-worker measures implemented by the Key government will starkly lay bare what is at stake for the New Zealand working class.

Labour and its supporters will be asked again - whose side are you on?

NO ANSWERS FROM NORMAN


Although the late Rod Donald began the process, it has been co-leader Russel Norman who has been largely responsible for transforming the Green Party into just another pro-market parliamentary party, albeit with a mild green hue.

He has been aided and abetted by his fellow co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons and the other parliamentary MP's, including former 'lefties' Keith Locke and Sue Bradford.

Norman today gave his annual 'State of the Planet' address and he used the occasion to talk about the global capitalist meltdown. It was full of the empty puffery that has come to characterise Norman.

The optimistic and/or naive among us might of thought that the capitalist crisis might of shaken Norman's belief in the 'power of the market' (his words) but, I'm sorry to say, it hasn't. He's still flogging the dead horse that is the 'free market'.

Rather than offering an economic alternative to the market policies that have ended in global disaster, little Russel's advice is for the government to be 'environmentally friendly' in it policies to deal with the fallout from the capitalist meltdown.

Unable to admit that neo-liberalism is well and truly stuffed, Norman's 'big ideas' include urging the government to only buy fuelefficient cars for its fleet and that 'we' should aim to cut oil consumption by one quarter in the next decade. This is an 'idea' that Norman has picked up from Barack Obama.

The Green Party could have adopted a consistent anti-market viewpoint and embraced the eco-socialist movement, but instead they decided to embrace market environmentalism.

Norman's plaintive cry for the National-led government to adopt 'environmentally-friendly' policies completly ignores the fact that the market is inherently environmentally unfriendly. It is the nature of capitalism to exploit and destroy the enviroment in the pursuit of profit.

For Norman to suggest otherwise throws him into the same 'free market' camp as Rodney Hide or Bill English.

JOHN KEY: BAILING OUT THE CORPORATE SECTOR IS 'AN OPTION'

Just a month or so before the 'How Can We Save NZ Capitalism' conference - euphemistically called a 'Jobs Summit' (see previous post) - Prime Minister John Key has come out and said that the government was prepared to bailout any 'strategically important company'.

Key said yesterday: “if we got into a situation where a New Zealand corporate couldn't raise money in its own name, couldn’t seek the level of funding that was required from the banks, and we deemed it in the best interests of the country for the government to step in and provide those funds on a temporary basis. It’s always an option that the Crown could bail out or lend to the corporate sector.'

And what exactly is a 'strategically important company'? Probably because he's making this up as he goes along, Key declined to answer this question. He did say it would apply to a 'limited' number of companies but this could mean just about anything.

And what level of funding would the government be offering? And what does 'temporary loan' mean exactly? And where's the money coming from?

So, as is happening elsewhere, it looks like ordinary New Zealanders are going to see money diverted to help out wealthy business interests - the same wealthy business interests that have constantly attacked any form of state intervention in the 'free market'.

Yes, its welfare for the wealthy.

Meanwhile ordinary New Zealanders - struggling to make ends meet already - can look forward to increasing unemployment and attacks on their working and living conditions as the economic crisis really takes hold.

SAVING PRIVATE ENTERPRISE


The response of the National-led Government to the global capitalist meltdown is to talk about it!

'The Jobs Summit', supported by the business class and the tame trade union hierarchy, might be promoted as minimising job losses but its really all about bailing out New Zealand capitalism.

It's appropiate that Mark Weldon, head of the Stock Exchange, was chosen to head the summit scheduled for February 27. Weldon, another free market acolyte, thinks - despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary - that the 'free market' is fundamentally sound.

Weldon's incisive analysis of the capitalist meltdown is that it all just the fault of a few 'bad apples'. That he has watched the entire New Zealand finance sector collapse, with many of his fellow free market 'gurus' caught ripping off their clients, appears to be of no real concern to him - he's still telling us that the 'free market' works!

Similarly one of his mates, Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief Pete Townsend, doesn't deny there's a problem but thinks 'we' (by 'we' he means workers) just have to work 'a bit harder' to get through it. 'A bit harder', Pete? And what would that actually involve? The repeal of certain industrial legislation, for example? No doubt this is the kind of message he'll be delivering at the 'summit'.

And this morning on TV1's Breakfast, the chief executive of Business NZ was 'waffling' on about 'job flexibility'. This is code for such nasty things as reduced working hours and further job casualisation - but Phil O'Reilly made it sound like he's just trying to help workers out. A decent interviewer would have challenged O'Reilly but unfortunately he was being interviewed by free market cheerleader Paul Henry - the Barbara Cartland of New Zealand journalism.

Despite the fact that global capitalism is collapsing and neo-liberalism should be tossed into the trash can of history again, the people attending this 'jobs summit' are still on the road to nowhere. They insist that the 'free market' does work -it's just having a few minor hiccups!

However these free market acolytes, the very same people who regularly bash the welfare state, will be asking for help - just to get them through the 'rough patch' you understand. For over twenty years these people have constantly derided 'state intervention' but apparently its just peachy when they are going to be the beneficiaries.

Of course, it won't be couched like that. No, it will be described as 'the government and business working together for all New Zealanders - but it will mean taxpayer money going to business via 'subsidies', ''incentives', 'tax packages' and the like.

It's corporate welfare in other words, but don't expect the mainstream media to criticise this odious brand of welfarism - that kind of vehement criticism is reserved for solo mothers and the 'lazy unemployed'.

But, wait, there's more! We can also expect direct attacks on the living standards of working people. Phil O'Reilly has already called for 'job flexibility' but there will also be calls for other anti-worker measures like 'wage restraint' - and watch the tame trade union hierarchy fall into line like they always do.

That none of the parliamentary parties will be providing any real economic alternatives to what will be on offer at the 'Jobs Summit' just highlights, once again, the political bankruptcy of the parliamentary parties that pretend to represent us.

Labour's response, for example, is merely to complain that it wasn't invited! Leader Phil Goff's response is not surprising but its still pathetic.

Jobs Summit? Yeah, right...

ISRAELI ATROCITIES IN GAZA



WARNING: This unedited video footage is not for the fainthearted.

MORE HENDERSON MESS


It's been clear for some time that Dave Henderson's business 'empire' was built on sand - namely a lot of money from obliging finance companies like Hanover Finance. When global capitalism went into meltdown 'Hendo' suddenly found that his lines of credit had vanished and the finance companies - collapsing all over the place - wanted their money back.

Trouble is, Hendo didn't have it. It had gone - sunk into projects like his ludicrous Queenstown village project.

Henderson builds things with other people's money but can't get them to work - and they collapse leaving a whole lot of people out of pocket.

Another one of Hendo's companies, Elgin Investments, was placed in receivership in December last year.

The company owns the Sydenham Central Mall - a mall that has been another dismal Henderson flop. Large areas of the cavernous mall remain untenanted and there is rarely more than a handful of people in there - and most of them are using it as convenient shortcut to the carpark.

Hanover Finance lent this project approximately $6 million.

Remember we're talking about the guy who both Mayor Sideshow Bob and Canterbury Chamber of Commerce chief Peter Townsend have described as a 'urban visionary.'

Interestingly, Hendo got paid some $113,000 in 'director's renumeration.' Hendo provided ' personal guarantees of company borrowings". Would you accept a 'personal guarantee' from Hendo? It's staggering that he continues to get away with stuff like this. While everyone gets stung by Hendo, he's pocketing not inconsiderable director's fees.

Hnenderson is the director of over ninety-five companies.

SIDESHOW BOB HAS A MEMORY LAPSE


It's another year of Mayor Sideshow Bob for the good people of Christchurch. It's not something that most of us are looking forward to but we take solace in the fact thatthe passing of each day draws us closer to that great day when we can boot Bob and his right wing 'independent' cronies off the Christchurch City Council.

Sideshow writes - or more specifically his press officer Diane Keenan ghosts it for him - a weekly column in the Christchurch Star.

Just last week Bob told us he was looking forward to 'another successful year ahead'.

Another successful year?

In 2008 he got rapped over the knuckles for trying to put council rents up by a massive twenty-percent. He also angered most of Christchurch when he gave his mate Dave Henderson $18 milion for five over-priced buildings. And Bob is also not trying to talk about budget blowouts for the new council mega-offices.

And, of course, Sideshow - despite saying he wasn't going to take sides - came out in support of the murderous Chinese regime and its crushing of the Tibetan rebellion. Sidehow Bob (and the odious councillor Barry Corbett) were in China on a nice little ratepayer-funded jaunt at the time. Sideshow Bob - from Beijing - blamed the 'western media' for not telling the full story about what was happening in Tibet.

It hardly seems like a ripsnorting 'successful year' to me but - surprise - none of the above are mentioned in Sidehow Bob's self congratulatory column. It's as if none of the above ever happened! Bob seems to be residing in some weird world where all his disasters and blunders are coveniently airbrushed out.

VENEZUELA EXPELS ISRAELI AMBASSADOR - NEW ZEALAND DOES NOTHING


CARACAS, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Venezuela expelled the ambassador to Israel on Tuesday in protest over the offensive in Gaza only hours after leftist President Hugo Chavez called the attacks a Palestinian "holocaust."

The socialist Chavez, a harsh critic of Israel and the United States, in recent years has frequently withdrawn Venezuela's diplomatic envoys amid bilateral disputes and last year kicked out the U.S. ambassador over a conflict involving allied Bolivia.

The OPEC nation's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Israel's campaign constituted "flagrant violations of International Law" and the use of "state terrorism."

"For the reasons mentioned above, the government of Venezuela has decided to expel the Ambassador of Israel and part of the personnel of the Embassy of Israel," the statement said.

The Israeli embassy did not respond to phone calls requesting comment.

Chavez in 2006 threatened to break ties with Israel over its military campaign in Lebanon in a war of words that led both nations to withdraw their envoys.

On Monday he accused Washington of poisoning the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to destabilize the Middle East and justify U.S.-backed Israeli incursions into Arab countries.

Israel is under international pressure to reach a ceasefire with Hamas militants and halt an offensive that has killed nearly 600 Palestinians, including more than 40 in a U.N. school sheltering civilians.

"The Holocaust, that is what is happening right now in Gaza," Chavez said in televised comments earlier on Tuesday.

"The president of Israel at this moment should be taken to the International Criminal Court together with the President of the United States."

The United States, which Chavez describes as a decadent empire, firmly backs Israel -- its principal ally in the region.


Well, the Venezuelan government have taken a stand against Israel's barbaric savagery in Gaza. Meanwhile, here in New Zealand, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and a 'friend' of Israel offers nothing but more platitudes - that's if Murray McCully can be pinned down to saying anything at all.

Meanwhile we still await a response from the Maori Party - which is also showing a marked reluctance to condemn Israel. So much for the Maori Party supporting 'indigenous struggles' all around the world..

McCULLY CUDDLES UP TO THE US AND ISRAEL


Today we learn that the Israeli military have bombed a United Nations-run school in Gaza, killing at least 30 men, women and children. Dozens more have been injured.

Israel is conducting a savage military campaign in a densely-populated region: it is nothing more than calculated brutality.

Despite this brutality there still is no condemnation from the National-led government and, in particular, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully.

This is political and moral cowardice on a grand scale.

The Bush administration has given its unconditional support to the Israeli assault and McCully and his government are toeing the Bush line.

McCully's claim that he is not going to take sides on the issue is mere sophistry - by refusing to condemn Israel's brutality he has taken sides.

Israeli interests in New Zealand regard McCuLly as being 'friendly' toward Israel.

NZ-Israel Trade Association Chief Executive Officer Mike Nathan recently said that he expected the National-led government to be 'less interested in the deploring of Israeli acts of self-defence.'

He also went on to say that he thought it 'less likely to see National snuggle up to non-aligned countries, as Clark’s government did, and I think a National government will not necessarily follow the pattern of voting against Israel on United Nations resolutions'

If McCully wasn't so intent on playing footsy with the Bush administration and cuddling up to Israel, he might of given the issue some more thought.

A more enlightened and perceptive Minister of Foreign Affairs would of pointed out by now that waging a war in a territory with a long history of resistance to outsiders is unlikely to lead to greater moderation from those afflicted.

A more enlightened and perceptive Minister of Foreign Affairs would have said by now that Israel's assault is unlikely to lead a more compromising position from Hamas - in fact it more likely to simply stiffen Palestinian resistance.

A more enlightened and perceptive Minister of Foreign affairs would have backed by now Amnesty International's condemnation of Israel's brutal military campaign as a 'reckless disregard for civilian life'.

A more enlightened and perceptive Minister of Foreign Affairs may have also quoted the Amnesty International Report, which notes how the attacks by Palestinians against civilian-populated areas in Israel, (which the report also condemns), "does not make it legitimate for the Israeli authorities to launch reckless air and artillery strikes which wreak such death and destruction among Palestinian civilians."

But we don't have a enlightened and perceptive Minister of Foreign Affairs - we've got Murray McCully.


Note: Why hasn't the Maori Party condemned Israel? Are the rights of the Palestinian people of no concern to it or is it being selective about what 'indigenous struggles' it will support?

THE LIES OF BRUCE RUSSELL


It's a brand new year but the media clowns don't change - they're just as gung ho reactionary and as stupid as ever.

First up this year its that perennial reactionary clown, tailback host Bruce Russell - the man with the intelligience of a dishcloth.

During the holiday period Russell is trumpeting his acute and well-researched political opinions on Newstalk ZB's afternoon show - normally he's buried away on the graveyard shift.

Today he was in fine form, having a go at an MP he dislikes intensely - Green MP Keith Locke.

According to Russell, Locke would like to have all the Guantanamo prisoners living in 'our neighbourhoods'.

'He wants to bring people into this country who want to blow us up,' declared Russell. 'These are very bad people.'

Fantastic stuff.

As usual Russell failed to tell us how he knew all this - where was his evidence that 'these people' wanted to blow us up? Or was he just making it all up again? Had he forgotten to take his tablets?

Russell, guns blazing, then described Locke as an 'apologist for terrorism'. A totally outrageous claim but one that his redneck audience clearly lapped up.

'Locke should be sent to Afghanistan or Iraq' said one email, which Russell took great delight in reading out.

What was Bozo Russell so irritated about?

Well, Locke has spoken out against the Israeli invasion of Gaza - and Russell is a consistent apologist for the Israeli government.

According to Russell, its not terrorism when the Israeli military kill innocent men, women and children - but it is when Hamas fire rockets into Israel.

What a clown.

CHRIS TROTTER: BACK TO THE FUTURE WITH LABOUR!


When Stalinism collapsed the right wing were quick to announce the death of socialism.

This was silly politically-driven nonsense but the socialist left was left guilty by association; Stalinism had stained the socialist project.

In New Zealand much of the left had identified with some variant of Stalinism whether it be, for example, the Soviet variety, in the case of the Socialist Unity Party, or the Albanian variety, in the case of the Communist Party. And then there was the Workers' Communist League which aligned itself with Maoism for a while.

But as the Stalinist bureaucracies collapsed, so did the Stalinist parties around the world. In New Zealand they have nearly all disappeared into the trash can of history.

But socialist project itself did not - it is the 'spectre' that continues to haunt capitalism.

And, with the meltdown of global capitalism, the battle begins anew - with the socialist cause no longer smeared by the historical perversion that was Stalinism.

It's a new day for the socialist left.

Some people though are still living in the past and political commentator Chris Trotter, I'm afraid, is one of them.

Although - like Stalinism - social democracy has collapsed, Chris Trotter is still messing about in the rubble - desperately trying to rebuild the party that he consistently defended during the Helen Clark years.

Chris wants the socialist left to join him in the rubble. You don't pass 'Go' and collect $200 - but you do get to work with those well known 'socialists' Phil Twyford and Clare Curran.

Trotter is a little like a dodgy second hand car salesman trying to sell us a clapped out Toyota Corolla that should have been sent to the wrecker's yard some years ago. The engine is stuffed, the upholstery is torn and the wheels are bald but, says salesman Trotter, all it needs is a new lick of paint and it'll be as good as new!

Once again Trotter calls on the New Zealand left to stop 'wasting' its energies and talents 'on left-wing political projects that will, in the end, be extremely lucky to leave the slightest mark upon New Zealand history'.

Rather this energy, he says, should be expended towards 'achievable ends' within the Labour Party - like formulating a public broadcasting policy. Inspired? No, I didn't think so - but these are the kind of reforms that right wing social democrats are comfortable with because they don't impinge on the established political and economic order.

Notice too that Trotter is calling for the socialist left to embrace Labour in some farcical 'renewal' project - Labour itself has so few activists and even fewer that have any notion of socialist politics. Chris, a good Labour man, has no-one to debate with within his own party and continues to reach out to the socialist left for some kind of political and intellectual engagement. Clearly Clayton Cosgrove isn't up with his Marx or Luxemburg. Perhaps Chris could have a debate with Clare Curran on whether there really is any difference between a left wing and right wing social democrat. Perhaps Phil Twyford could explain the 'Third Way' without sounding as if he swallowed a dictionary.

Trotter's argument simply disregards the collapse of social democracy both here and around the world. It simply disregards the capitulation of social democracy to the demands of capital to restore its rate of profit.

Trotter's talk about working within Labour in order to articulate the concerns of ordinary people (which he calls 'emotional congruence') is fanciful at best and deluded at worst.


It implies, yet again, that there is some tangible difference between Labour and National.

One of the disappointing aspects to Trotter's argument that it also completely disregards the amount of research that has gone into tracing the demise of Labour as a traditional social democratic party. I presume Chris knows it - he just won't accept it.

The overwhelming evidence is that the Labour Party is dead as a progressive force, that it is no longer a transmission belt for 'new ideas', that is has nothing to offer progressive political forces within this country.

Trotter's talk about working within Labour in order to articulate the concerns of ordinary people (which he calls 'emotional congruence') is fanciful at best and deluded at worst.

This just doesn't stack up when we consider that many people no longer identify with Labour. This is something Bryce Edwards pointed out last year:

In the 1990s and into the new century, it seems that while many workers may still vote Labour, the difference in worker support for the party is not all that much bigger than for the more honest and open parties of capital. More often than not working class support for the Labour Party is not deeply felt, nor necessarily any indication of any real ‘political support’, but occurs simply due to their reluctance to vote for the other avowedly right-wing parties. This lack of enthusiasm is apparent in the fact that today, very few workers bother to become members of the Labour Party - let alone activists for the party.

Trotter wants the socialist left to lend Labour its support and thus help Labour maintain the fantasy that it is still a party for working people.

That doesn't sound much of a deal to me. Trotter's project is 'a project as bereft of sense as it is lacking in even the remotest possibility of success.'

There has been a fundamental shift in working class politics and the old organisations are well past their use by date.

The way forward is to begin the task of building new working class organisations that can articulate the new working class politics. It is, undeniably, a difficult task but not, as Chris Trotter would like us to believe, an impossible one.

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