Chris Trotter's politics have reached a new low. He's now David Cunliffe's chief cheerleader.
Having both embraced and then rejected former Labour leader David Shearer in the space of a few short months, Chris Trotter has packed his bags and moved into David Cunliffe's $2 million Herne Bay home.
Trotter, as he did during the Helen Clark years, has set himself up as a propagandist for David Cunliffe and Labour. What Mathew Hooton and David Farrar do for National, Chris Trotter is now doing for Labour.
In his bid to portray market politician Cunliffe as something that he clearly isn't, Trotter gets all folksy. Come on boys and girls, gather around the fireside everyone and listen to one of Uncle Chris's heartwarming Labour tales...
Two years ago, listening to David Cunliffe speak to a Labour Party gathering in Blockhouse Bay, I realised that the Labour caucus possessed at least one member who grasped the possibilities for advancing social-democracy in a world ruled by neoliberal zombies who had yet to come to terms with the fact that their god had failed.
That's right. The name is Cunliffe. David Cunliffe. You might remember him from his recent startling comment about socialism not being a word he uses. He's also the same guy who appointed market technocrat David Parker as his finance spokesperson. And he's the same guy who said that he accepts the need for austerity cuts.
Indeed, people of a more critical bent than Chris Trotter might be thinking that Cunliffe isn't likely to kill many, if any, neoliberal zombies. He's more likely to have them around for tea and, along with the CTU's Helen Kelly, they'll come to an amicable arrangement about how they can all just get along.
Cunliffe doesn't plan any fundamental changes, rather he'll tweak the neoliberal settings a bit. From the point of view of representing the working class and promoting progressive advance, Labour is a political corpse.
For Trotter to say that Cunliffe grasps 'the possibilities for advancing social democracy' is wishful thinking. The same kind of wishful thinking that caused Trotter to pledge his allegiance to David Shearer. The same kind of muddled thinking that insists that social democracy is now merely the conduct of the market.
John Moore, who has written much about the Labour Party, recently wrote a thoughtful article that provoked Trotter to respond.
In 'The Left's New Love for Labour' Moore writes:
The left's new love for Labour betrays their impressionistic politics; a politics lacking in a thorough understanding of the nature of social democratic-type parties under capitalism. That is, leftish commentators and activists including Chris Trotter and Martyn Bradbury have all of a sudden declared Labour worthy of almost uncritical support because the party has merely elected a left-sounding leader. This is despite the party's ongoing history of betrayal and of quickly ditching more controversial leftwing policies once in power.
Yet, Cunliffe has actually failed to challenge any of the fundamentals of the neoliberal framework that has been in place for several decades now. And he certainly hasn't called for the kind of militant union-led resistance that would be needed to back a future left-reforming government against inevitable business-led economic sabotage. So, once the left are betrayed yet again by a future Labour-centre government, will the best of this left finally break with Labour and transcend the politics of low horizons?
These are unpalatable conclusions for Trotter to consider so he doesn't. Instead he largely sidesteps them with this sort of mendacious rhetoric:
If I seem “almost uncritical” in my support for the Cunliffe-led Labour Party it is not because I have succumbed, as John charges, to “the politics of low horizons”, but because I still understand what I have always understood: that “politics” – full-stop – is all we have.
I've had this argument thrown at me too. Chris thinks he isn't actually mistaken about the nature of the Labour Party - he is just bravely reacting to politics as he finds it.He opens the door to his house and, like the weather, there it is. Politics.
Trotter's ahistoricity is obvious. It is as if the last thirty years never happened. We've had over thirty years of the Labour Party championing neoliberalism, including attacking the welfare state, but all of this of no consequence to Chris Trotter. The chances of reviving Labour as even a mild social democratic party and defender of welfare state are hovering around zero - that is 'politics' as we really find it, opposed to the political fantasy that Trotter has concocted for himself.
Again, as John Moore has charged: ' The left's new love for Labour betrays their impressionistic politics; a politics lacking in a thorough understanding of the nature of social democratic-type parties under capitalism.'
Trotters's futile strategy - and of his 'fellow travellers' like Martyn Bradbury and the union top brass for instance, is that the only the only way of defending the working class and what remains of the welfare state is to vote for a Labour government which will supposedly be forced to the left.
But once David Cunliffe does what we all know he will do - continue with the neoliberal consensus - this strategy just falls apart. Chris Trotter, Martyn Bradbury, Helen Kelly and co will all come up empty handed. But embraced within the comforting bosom of the Labour Party, they will do nothing. Just as they did under Helen Clark. And Phil Goff.
Ordinary people will end up having to sing for their supper again and perhaps we can begin the conversation to build a new left party based on modern socialism and the aspirations of ordinary folk.
Of course Trotter won't accept any of this because he has nowhere left to turn. Increasingly hostile to socialist politics he is stuck trying to futilely revive the corpse of the Labour Party.
But what can we really expect from someone who thinks ' “revolution” is the accumulation of the progressive choices that left-wing people of goodwill make every minute of every day.'
This statement is so breathtakingly nonsensical it really should be dressed up in a clown suit. But it is an indication of just sadly opportunist Trotter's politics have become. He empties the term 'revolution' of any meaning whatsoever. It means anything you want it to be. How convenient for someone like the anti-socialist Trotter.
Over a century ago Rosa Luxemburg ripped apart this sort of nonsense being promoted by the founder of the failed social democratic project, Eduard Bernstein. She wrote:
'...legal reform and revolution are not different methods of historical progress that can be picked out at pleasure from the counter of history, just as one chooses hot or cold sausages... He who pronounces himself in favour of the method of legal reforms in place of and opposed to the conquest of political power and social revolution does not really choose a more tranquil, surer and lower road to he same goal. He chooses a different goal. Instead of taking a stand for the establishment of a new social order, he takes a stand for surface modifications of the old order.'
Trotter also likes to quote Eduard Bernstein's 'dictum' that “The movement is everything, the final goal is nothing.”
Once again Rosa Luxemburg had a withering reponse for this idiocy:
'Bernstein thus travels in a logical sequence from A to Z. He began by abandoning the final aim in favour of the movement. But as there can be no socialist movement without the socialist aim, he necessarily ends up by renouncing the movement itself.'