Most of the New Zealand left has become much a part of the political establishment that it purports to criticise, with all roads, in the end, leading back to the Labour Party. It's failure to see  climate change as a political issue highlights this.

LAST YEAR the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued an exhaustive report, based on the consensus of the world's leading scientists, that starkly warned that any failure to act on climate change would threaten the very future of the planet.

"The risk of abrupt and irreversible change increases as the magnitude of the warming increases," said the report.

Naomi Klein, the author of the important work, This Changes Everything: Capitalism versus The Climate, puts it this way:

"It is a civilizational wake up call. A powerful message - spoken in the language of fires, floods, droughts, and extinctions - telling us that we need an entirely different economic model and a new way of sharing this planet."

But it is a wake up call that the Labour Party has not heard. A few days ago former finance spokesperson David Parker commented that the Labour Party's policy on fossil fuel extraction was basically the same as the National Party's.

Said Parker: "I don't think we are much different from National. They've continued on with the programme that we started in respect to oil and gas."

It is not news that Labour remains committed to an economic model that is incompatible with the needs of the planet. It is an economic model that puts private profit ahead of the common good.

But, as Naomi Klein states, we are now confronted with a stark choice: "we allow climate disruption to change everything about our world, or pretty much change everything about out economy to avoid that fate."

Yet, despite Labour's continued loyalty to neoliberalism, most of the New Zealand left still wants you to vote Labour in 2017.

This continued allegiance to Labour, this feeble deference to Labour, is partly the result of a misunderstanding of the mechanisms of power. The divide is not between Labour and National but between capitalism and the people.

It is also the result of an absolutely bankrupt strategy of a timid and ineffectual left that has become as much a part of the political establishment that it purports to criticise. It excuses itself on the basis that Labour remains the party that the working class identifies with even though all the voting figures demonstrate that ordinary people have largely abandoned Labour. Such is the alienation from the political system that nearly a million New Zealanders now no longer vote. The left continues to pursue its own failed strategy at the expense of the very people it claims to represent. Whose interests is it serving exactly?

The New Zealand left peddles the myth that Labour is somehow salvageable and that, anyway, it is still preferable to National. All we have to do, apparently, is make Labour see the error of its ways and convince it to adopt 'better polices''. It is the failed strategy of three decades of neoliberal rule.

Most of the New Zealand left prefers comfort to confrontation, 'consensus' to class struggle. Forget about the huffin' and puffin' coming from the likes of the Council of Trade Unions, the Unite Union, The Daily Blog and the Mana Party - they will all be calling for a vote for Labour in 2017, just like they did in 2014. There will be no real challenge to the neoliberal order, just as there has been no real challenge for over thirty years.

The left clings to the corpse of the Labour Party that should have been abandoned many years ago. And it is because of this political necrophilia that most of the left fails to understand that the ecological crisis is a political crisis.

The problem for much of the New Zealand left is that truly confronting the crisis means confronting the very political establishment of which it has become a part. Because it won't do this all we get is sterile moral posturing and empty rhetoric.

What we do need is an independent and uncompromising left wing alternative based on all the good things that the socialist tradition provides.

If people can be inspired by Syriza in Greece and by Podemos in Spain why would a similar kind of party not work here too? 


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