Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Advocating democratic socialism as the alternative to neoliberalism.
 For the past three decades we've been told there is no alternative to neoliberalism.

IT WAS VLADIMIR LENIN who once wrote of politics that 'There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen'. In New Zealand we have been living through more than three decades where very little has happened and the prospect of weeks where decades happen appears to be still a remote possibility.

Despite the change of governments, neoliberalism continues not only to prevail it has continued to tighten its grip. Since 1984 when David Lange and the Fourth Labour Government were elected to office and invited neoliberalism to make itself at home, we are still no closer to giving it the boot. Some thought we were closer to neoliberalism being shown the door when Jacinda Ardern started talking about 'the failure of capitalism' and the need for 'transformation'. But that proved to be the misplaced hopes of liberals who studiously ignored that Ardern had already been, for a nearly a decade, a routinely centrist politician.

While Labour Party - and Green Party - supporters might scoff at the late Margaret Thatcher's contention that 'there is no alternative' to neoliberal capitalism, they seem blithely unaware that they themselves support a Labour-led Government pursuing the kind of neoliberal-driven policies that Margaret Thatcher would no doubt approve of. It apparently makes a difference though when those policies are packaged differently and presented by a political leader applauded by the international corporate media.

When the consequences of these polices, like growing inequality, poverty and increasing environmental damage are brought to the attention of Labour and Green supporters, they invariably turn away or flatly deny that there is a crisis. The very same people who loudly protested about the growing economic distress under the National Government of John Key have gone quiet now that a Labour-led government has been installed in office. They are kind of people who block you on Twitter when you call them out for their obvious hypocrisy. Theirs is the politics of electoralism, not of change.

Other Labour Party - and Green Party - supporters will justify their support for the Government on the grounds that its brand of neoliberalism is somehow preferable to National's brand. I don't think that struggling welfare beneficiaries who have been denied an increase in the core benefits will be thinking abut how much better their lives are under Jacinda Arden's government.

Jeremy Corbyn : Leading a genuinely left wing Labour Party.
So we will, in a few months, enter another election year where nothing much will happen again. 

Neoliberalism has hollowed out our representative democracy to the point that exactly zero opposition can be heard to neoliberalism in Parliament. We are living in a zombie democracy. It looks like a democracy, sounds a little like a democracy and even adheres to some democratic conventions but in reality, it is merely a facsimile of the real thing.

In November 2020 you will be invited to vote for the next manager of the neoliberal economy.

At least in Britain they can point to the determinedly left wing Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn as a reason for hope. In the United States the resurgence of socialist politics has propelled people like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez into Congress. We can't point to anything remotely similar here.

A few days ago I was watching Green co-leader Marama Davidson in action in Parliament. Described as 'a radical' by Spin Off, Davidson lobbed a series of patsy questions to Housing Minister Phil Twyford, designed to do nothing more than allow Twyford to talk up his government's dreadful market-driven housing policies.

Yes, we're living in a zombie democracy. The alternative is a grassroots democracy that rejects the neoliberal consensus.  Then we might just see 'weeks where decades happen'. 


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