As the frenemies posture, others hold out hope for at least a semblance of peace among the fractured left. The day after Andrew Little’s election, not even having held the role long enough to confer with his caucus and set policy directions, should-be allies jump on the neo-liberal rant train.
The centring of neo-liberalism in NZ political discourse is not achieving what it intended to. It hasn’t birthed a revolution, and it won’t as long as the same voices continue making the same noise and that noise is no longer provocative. If anything, it’s a cacophony of plagiarising wannabe Chomsky regurgitators. I love Chomsky, but I despair at people that use his anarchism to justify or at least bolster their State socialism bent. And no, it’s not a matter of just accepting the status quo – but rather steering discussions toward a more constructive terrain.
Keen readers of Chomsky will understand that his view of the State is only that it is preferable to what he calls ‘private corporate tyrannies.’ The State is not the end-game.
Thing is, neo-liberals and State socialists share some common ground: both think the State is an appropriate regulatory vehicle and both need the State to pursue their ideological goals. Neo-liberals need it to make laws that grant property titles in individuals and to enforce contracts as well as to offer some sort of military defence against threats to the security of their property. The other need the State to own the means of production in order to wed individuals to the State to maintain State power. And to provide military defence against aggressions and the individualism considered to breed corporate monopolies.
Neither values the right of peoples to self-determination and both think that identities are inconsequential to the greater good because both think their ideologies are the fairest and will single-handedly solve all crises.
Either way, the NZ political system is some way off from seeing any real change in outcomes – no matter who leads the government. And our micro- and minor- parties are hardly offering anything fresh because they are centring debates on bringing the system down, and then contradicting that discussion by choosing to ally with a party they don’t actually support, rather than concentrating on building a new system that renders the old one obsolete. What I heard over and over again during the election, was that people didn’t want to hear about what system we have and why it was so bad. Voters mostly know this even if they aren’t familiar with the academic nuances, because they know privilege and hierarchy when they see it and experience the effects of it.
People want hope. They want to be able to imagine the possibilities, not as some fictional utopia but for a path to be mapped out – even if it’s incomplete, because even that leaves room for participation and responsiveness.
I’m not convinced Andrew Little will be able to tame the Labour Party’s destructive side. However, he may (yet to be seen) be able to offer hope and if he can do that, then he may just lift the party out of its quandary. Only time will tell.