New Zealand needs an 'Arab Spring'.
I think I might have been guilty of concentrating on the devastating economic impact of neoliberalism on the New Zealand working class and New Zealand society generally.
I have had less to say on the damage that neoliberalism has done to the traditional democratic process in this country. Perhaps its because we are only few months from a general election that I am acutely aware that we are no longer living in a legitimate democracy. What we have is a system, like in the United States, where business interests always prevail and always win.
The fourth Labour Government set in motion a process that not only smashed the Keynesian-inspired 'Fortress New Zealand' but also led to a Parliament where all the parties adhere to the creed of neoliberalism. The notable exception is the Mana Party.
Once the Green Party would have been flying the flag for progressive interests but they have moved so far to the right they now openly talk about making deals with the National Party - and don't feel embarrassed about it. Russel Norman, a former socialist, believes in something called 'market environmentalism'. His views have been slammed in progressive environmental circles both here and overseas but our corporate media have chosen to conveniently ignore these criticisms.
In November we proles will be given a choice of neoliberal governments - one that is led by National or one that is led by Labour. This will be unpalatable to many of us. Some of us will vote for the Mana Party maybe and many of us won't vote at all. That folks, is Kiwi democracy in action in 2011. Its nothing more than a charade.
In the last few days I've read a few opinions bemoaning the parlous state of the Labour Party and that we're even in danger of becoming a one party state. I'm sorry, we're already there. We have seen the convergence of New Zealand parliamentary politics into two broadly identical factions. Any differences, as I've said before, are one of emphasis and not of substance.
But, of course, it suits the corporate media to peddle the fiction of the 'centre right' National Party versus a ''centre left' Labour Party. The inane babble about leadership challenges and parliamentary argy=bargy merely serves to conceal the reality that we are living in a fake democracy.
The corporate media does its bit to maintain this charade. Indeed when a party arrives that doesn't toe the neoliberal line it gets labelled 'communistic' - which is how TV1's Guyon Espiner described Mana about a week ago. Last time I looked I didn't see Mana advocating the socialisation of the means of production.
Espiner is such a corporate flunkey that he actually feels threatened by mild liberal left policies. But he's no worse than his colleague on TV3. Duncan Garner's antipathy for anything that isn't 'free market' is well known.
The corporate media wants us to believe that there are real differences between National and Labour based on political principles and traditions. But what we are seeing played out are the scuffles of grubby neoliberal politicians hoping to keep their bloated salaries for the next three years.
Over the coming months the same old 'expert commentators' will be in the media talking up the general election as if it mattered. They will be pontificating on opinion polls and appraising election candidates. But at the end of all the talk, the cosy jokes, the studio banter - absolutely nothing will have changed.
We have witnessed the beginnings of real democratic change in the Middle East and we have all welcomed the 'Arab Spring'.
We should draw inspiration from the 'Arab Spring' and demand real democratic change in this country as well. Let's bring an end to the politics of Tweedledee and Tweedledum.