Jacobin, a leading voice of the American left, concludes that no matter who wins the New Zealand general election, the "post-eighties status quo is destined to stay untouched."

THANKS to the revival of the American left, Jacobin magazine has enjoyed something of a readership surge in recent times. Published out of New York, the quarterly magazine has been described as the "leading intellectual voice of the American left, the most vibrant and relevant socialist publication in a very long time."

Jacobin has published online an article on the New Zealand general election. 'New Zealand's Paper Left' offers a far more accurate assessment of Jacinda Ardern and the Labour Party than most of what has been provided by  the local 'progressive' media - much of it aligned to the Labour Party.

Written by Auckland-based Brendan Marcetic , the article suggests that little has changed under the leadership of Jacinda Ardern and certainly "nothing to justify the frenzied level of excitement Labour suddenly received."

Marcetic shares the view that although there might be a mood for change in New Zealand it hasn't been translated into the kind of resolutely left wing campaign we have seen from the likes of Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders. He is also scornful of local commentators who have compared Jacinda Ardern to Canada's Justin Trudeau:

"Too many commentators to count have compared Ardern to Canada’s Justin Trudeau, a comparison that’s meant to be flattering, but is a lot more ominous for anyone who’s paid attention to Canadian politics. Trudeau, after all, has mastered the art of papering over his betrayal of his own values through sheer force of charm, social media manipulation, and outspoken wokeness like few other politicians."

He comments that the media have spent little time scrutinising the two years Jacinda Ardern spent working for the government of Tony Blair. The media - and Ardern's mostly uncritical supporters- have been happy to accept her explanation that she felt uncomfortable working for Tony Blair  but that it was "work experience".

Marcetic points out that Ardern worked for a new government department established by the Blair government and which was devoted to slashing business regulations - "a mentality which most recently resulted in the Grenfell disaster."

The Better Regulation Executive (BRE), comments Marcetic, was an enthusiastic enforcer of Tony Blair's neoliberal agenda:

" Its first chief executive proudly told the Sunday Times that the BRE’s mission was “a radical and aggressive agenda for reducing the cost of doing business,” and he asked businesses themselves to send him suggestions for which regulations to cut. It was tasked with cutting inspections by a million per year, its staff members shadowed departments and suggested cuts, and it implemented the UK’s increasingly absurd one-in, one-out program on regulations, which soon turned into one-in, two-out, then one-in, three-out. "

The New York offices of Jacobin.
While Ardern's time with the BRE could possiby be chalked up to "youthful folly", she has not demonstrated that any government led by her would not be neoliberal in its outlook. Reluctant to even broach the subject of socialism, she told one journalist that she was opposed to neoliberalism but then couldn't name one neoliberal policy she would roll back.

In her final debate with Prime Minister Bill English, a loyal enforcer of neoliberalism, she described him as a good finance minister.  This was an astounding compliment since English, among other things, has oversaw the partial privatisation of  the state energy companies and the implementation of even more severe welfare cutbacks and sanctions.

Marcetic concludes that, whoever wins the general election, both the political establishment and neoliberalism will remain unchallenged:

"The ingredients for some kind of populist revolt all seemed there: a major centre-left party in the throes of decline; inequality and human suffering caused and exacerbated by decades of neoliberalism; and nine long years of such policies that have seen a further hollowing out of New Zealand’s much-vaunted living standard. Yet as Kiwis prepare to vote, no matter who wins, it looks increasingly like its post-eighties status quo is destined to stay untouched."


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