Chris Trotter is angry. He’s mad as hell and he is blogging about it.
LISTENING to Radio New Zealand-National’s “Focus on Politics” yesterday evening, I was incensed and depressed, but I can’t honestly say surprised, to hear Phil Goff dismiss Labour’s founding objective – “the socialisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange” as “nineteenth century history.”
It got worse, with Phil adding ideological insult to historical injury by declaring that the modern Labour Party believed “a well-functioning market system is the most effective and efficient way of organising an economy”. Yes, he was willing to “recognise market failure”, but only to the extent of ensuring “an adequate level of regulation”.
As the indignant hum of Mickey Savage spinning in his grave grew louder, Phil then proceeded to define Labour’s twenty-first century mission as being all about “how you make a modern capitalist system work more effectively, and work in favour of all of the citizens of a country – and not just the chosen few, the elite at the top.”
Phil Goff had better watch out. The left is mobilising. It is mobilising to get Goff and this blog post is the signal that all is not well within Labour’s ranks.
Phil Goff, will be carryng on with a Alfred E. Neuman-esqe demeanour showing he cares not a jot for un-reconstitued pinkos like trotter calling for his head.
Even today, the Party’s constitution declares, as one of its foundation principles: “Co-operation, rather than competition, should be the main governing factor in economic relations, in order that a just distribution of wealth can be ensured.” And among its objectives one can still read of Labour’s determination: “To ensure the just distribution of the production and services of the nation for the benefit of all the people.”, and “To educate the public in the principles and objectives of democratic socialism and economic and social co-operation.”
While these principles and objectives remain firmly enshrined in the Labour Party Constitution, it ill-behoves its leader to tell Radio New Zealand-National’s political editor, Brent Edwards, that they amount to nothing more than “nineteenth century history”.
And his attack doesn’t end there;
I would also take issue with Phil’s description of contemporary capitalism as “the most effective and efficient way of organising an economy”. Leaving aside the recent massive failures of capitalist institutions across the globe, it is extremely difficult to see anything remotely “effective” or “efficient” about an economic system which constantly drives millions of human-beings into both relative and absolute poverty; contributes massively to social and racial polarisation across the globe; trashes the planet’s fragile ecology, and brings closer with every passing day the prospect of catastrophic climate change.
That Phil apparently believes it is possible to make such a system “work more effectively [for] all the citizens of a country and not just the chosen few – the elites at the top” tells me that he fundamentally misunderstands the market system he claims to support.
Wow, he basically just called Phil Goff a moron.
One thing about Chris Trotter, he wears his socialism proudly upon his sleeve, and doesn’t hide it all.
A capitalist economy, unmodified by the ameliorating reforms of a politically organised working class, will always fail to deliver for the overwhelming majority of the population. That’s because capitalism is intended to advantage the few at the expense of the many, and can only lead to the political domination of society by “elites at the top”.
To guarantee that the economy works more effectively for the majority, it is necessary to challenge the idea that private ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange leads to a fair and equitable society. It has been Labour’s historical mission to lead that challenge, and to play a decisive role in the struggle against capitalist ideology.
The history of the past century has made me extremely wary of mounting that challenge primarily by the application of political violence and repression. My preference is for the principled and peaceful promotion of social-democratic ideas throughout the population – for making socialists of conviction rather than socialists by compulsion. Certainly, that means that the journey will be slow, and that there will be occasional reverses, but it most emphatically does not mean that we can ever afford to give up the challenge; put an end to the journey.
And that is where Phil Goff is in deep, deep trouble from within the ranks of Labour. He actually doesn’t believe in all that and the people Helen Clark recruited, molded and nutured in politics all do. Chris Trotter is simply voicing their frustrations and if Trotter is saying this out loud then as they say there is “trouble at mill”.
If it is your view, Phil, that the quest for democratic socialism may be dismissed as something belonging to “nineteenth century history” then I say “The hell with you!”
And, to the members of the NZ Labour Party I say: “Find yourselves a new leader.”
There it is, a call for the tumbrils, and for Phil Goff to be riding them to the scaffold.