What's the connection between Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci and Labour MP Clare Curran?
We are now in the midst of the greatest capitalist meltdown since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
While the Great Depression was the catalyst for the rise of Nazism and the decline of what can loosely be defined as liberal capitalism, today the ideology of neoliberalism remains in the ascendancy. Despite its obvious failure there is largely an absence of a left alternative that can intervene significantly both on the local and international level. The exception is the significant developments in Latin American countries like Venezuela and Bolivia.
Here in New Zealand, despite the failure of neoliberalism, all of the major parliamentary remain committed to it. Any differences are one of emphasis but not of substance. Green co=leader Russel Norman, like John Key and Phil Goff, believes in the supremacy of 'the market'.
In Labour's case Phil Goff, an enthusiastic supporter of Rogernomics, is on record as saying that there is no alternative to the 'free market'.
Goff, of course, is simply reflecting the dominant thinking within the Labour Party. Time and time again it has demonstrated a distinct hostility to challenges to the neoliberal orthodoxy.
The result is a tired and flabby political party that offers no coherent political alternative to the National-led government. Tubthumping about taking the GST off fresh fruit and vegetables and introducing a capital gains tax is not a new vision of how society should be organised - they are merely policy differences . Goff and Labour are simply claiming that they can run the neoliberal economy better than National.
Labour's appalling poll results suggest that the electorate are not tempted by Goff's tepid offering.
Such is the lack of common sense within Labour circles it has completely failed to recognise that it cannot continue to live within a political and economic framework established by Roger Douglas and co (and subsequently maintained and protected by successive governments) - if it wants to survive as a credible political party.
This has been vividly highlighted in the last day or so by Labour MP Clare Curran. On Labour's Red Alert website she has bizarrely and arrogantly claimed that Labour somehow has the 'right' to support that has been carved off by the Green Party. Her comments betray a failure on her part to reflect on the obvious failures of the Labour Party. It's easier just to blame someone else for her party's demise.
These remarks may be a product of Clare Curran wondering if she'll still have her highly paid job after the election but I think they are also a product of a deeper malaise within Labour.
As John Moore notes: 'It is telling that Curran’s recent posts do not reference any policy or grand ideas that could actually act to alleviate the suffering of her constituents and Labour’s supposed base.'
The Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci wrote:
“The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear”.
I think Curran's comments are 'morbid symptoms' of an old order that is dying.
There is now a political vacuum for the 'new' to be born. Although I have yet to be convinced myself (especially since some of its supporters keep flirting with Labour) , the Mana Party may be the embryo of the new.