Bryce Edwards and Chris Trotter: Ignoring the elephant in the room.
The Commentariat continue to peddle the fiction that we live in a representative democracy. Why won't any of them admit that we don't?

THERE WAS THE USUAL array of opinion from the Commentariat on the Labour Party conference. Depending on you were reading or listening to, it was either a success, a failure, or even a mixed bag.

So Bryce Edwards, writing in the NZ Herald, concluded that the conference had been a success, demonstrating 'a strong degree of unity, progress, and positivity.' He could of equally been describing a Tupperware party. It all sounds rather David Brentish.

A fellow member of the Commentariat, Chris Trotter, had an entirely different view. What Edwards saw as 'unity' and 'positivity', Trotter interpreted as the homogenisation of political thought within the Labour Party. Continuing to lament Labour's decline as a social democratic party but unable to move on from the wreckage, he wrote:

'The idea that politics might be a struggle between rulers and ruled; bosses and workers; rich and poor: well, that’s just so twentieth century! A modern – nay, a post-modern – political party is there to recruit and indoctrinate the personnel necessary to ensure an 'orderly circulation of elites.... A progressive party without factional rivalries, personality feuds, or party activists hankering to challenge the Parliamentary wing has lost every defining characteristic of a living left-wing movement.'

But, despite all the huffin' and puffin', the endless opinion pieces and the interminable panel discussions, the elephant in the room that is conveniently ignored is that the political process is broken and has been for years. When we are need of a new game in town, the Commentariat are intent on playing the old and discredited one.

Abby Martin: The mainstream media 'curates our reality'.
The incontrovertible fact that all the parliamentary parties subscribe to the same neoliberal ideology is constantly ignored in endless discussions about which parliamentary representative of the political establishment have got their noses out in front in the great electoral horse race. In 2020 it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that Edwards and Trotter could be sitting in the same television studio discussing the merits of the various parliamentary parties. As if it matters. As if we've living in a real democracy. As if we've got a real choice.

You kind of hope against hope that someone, one day, will leap off the couch and declare, like Howard Beale in Network (1976), that they are mad as hell and they aren't going to take it anymore. But, of course, they won't. They'd much prefer to talk about the latest opinion poll results despite the fact that the some 750,000 people who no longer vote couldn't care less about opinion polls. They have given up on our 'representative democracy' because they have worked out that the game is rigged. But that's not a view you will hear expressed by the Commentariat. It sets narrow perimeters about what is or isn't permissible and declaring that our democracy is a fraud will get you banned from Club Commentariat, permanently. To be a member of the Commentariat you must play by the rules and not bite the hand that feeds you.

A few months ago independent journalist Abby Martin suggested that the American mainstream media does little more than 'curate our reality'. I think its a view that applies equally well to New Zealand's mainstream media.

Although it is always facing difficulties, at least the United States has a vibrant alternative media scene that provides the narratives that the mainstream media won't. That's largely absent in New Zealand. You know you are in trouble when a website like The Daily Blog, which describes itself as an progressive alternative to the mainstream media, is already  calling for the re-election of Labour in 2020 simply because it isn't National.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated.