Is the political left dead?

Pablo at Kiwipolitico thinks the political left are dead, “no more than a bunch of bumbling fantasists who make Kyle Chapman look like a strategic genius”.

Judging from recent events, the New Zealand Left is spent as a political force.

Some Left media types jumped at the opportunity to work for Kim Dotcom?s Internet Party (which is clearly based on the Pirate Party model, originally from Sweden but now with an international dimension that is anything but working class based). Material and personal motivations rather than ideological affinity apparently pushed these people to violate rudimentary conflict of interest and ethical standards.

That is symptomatic of the fact that the political (as opposed to cultural) Left is well and truly dead in New Zealand. The association (supplication?) of these ?progressives? with a cowboy capitalist who has zero Marxist inclinations is a travesty if not treason to any working class cause. In one case the class betrayal had a specific dollar amount and a proposed political candidacy attached to it.

That some on the Left would countenance Dotcom as a tactical ally (in that his party is supposed to siphon young urban professional votes away from National) demonstrates how bereft of ideas, agenda and praxis they have become.?

The irony of the hard left working with a bitter enemy like Don Brash has been missed by most. Dotcom too is not from their side of the spectrum. Common hatred and petty revenge makes for strange bedfellows.

There is no viable Left in NZ politics. The Labour Party gave up any pretense of being grounded in socialist principles decades ago when it embraced market-driven economics, and the CTU-led union movement are the embodiment of Robert Michel?s notion of the ?iron law of oligarchy:? the purpose of the organization is to serve itself, and if that means playing the role of ?responsible? corporate toadies, then so be it. The one true Left union, UNITE, has some decent socialists in it and working class interests at heart, but it is also ?fronted by several unsavory characters with Trotskyite and Stalinist inclinations (among other unpleasant traits), so its appeal is limited.

The Greens have stripped out the Red in their watermelon ranks in order to become a Blue-Green alternative with a lunatic fringe that can work equally comfortably with the two big parties by ignoring that fringe. The Maori Party is basically single issue in that it only focuses on things it perceives to matter to Maori and was never progressive or working class oriented in any event. Winston First is a personality cult wrapped in nationalist populist rhetoric and Mana is a personality cult posing as an indigenous socialist movement. The Alliance is dead. Social Credit is no more.

What passes for an armed Left is no more than a bunch of bumbling fantasists who make Kyle Chapman look like a strategic genius.

You kind of have to agree with him there.

There are plenty of armchair leftists in academia and the commentariat (I shall include myself among them). Some of them are very good at offering trenchant critiques of the system as given, but they have no political consequence. Likewise for the scads of po-mo hipsters, dandies and PC twitterati who denounce oppression by clicking ?Like? on Facebook pages but who have no sense of what is involved in the commodity chain that brings them their mochachino low fat skim milk lattes. There are plenty of bullhorn activists, some of them righteous and others not so much, who like to burn flags and march about denouncing the global zionist-imperialist conspiracy. But they have zero political weight and are more a nuisance than a threat to the status quo.

Triple P – he’s talking about you and your echo-chamber.

The most earnest and legitimate political Leftists are rank and file union and interest group activists, but there energy and commitment is all too often stymied and diluted by leaders more interested in themselves and their positions than the ?cause.? Put differently, many of the Left political elite prefer to maintain their positions in the status quo rather than heed the demands of their grassroots to push for fundamental change.

The union are corrupted…with falling numbers, large cash reserves…why wouldn’t you if you are from the left…it happened in Australia. Don’t tell me Australian unions are more corrupt than Kiwi ones…we just haven’t picked that particular scab yet.

The chattering Left is as divided as the political Left, in part because they overlap: feminists accuse others Leftists of being patriarchical, GLBT activists accuse other Leftists of being heterosexist, Anarchists see other Leftists as sell-outs or authoritarians (and all of these complainants have a point). In general the Left argues more amongst itself than it does with the Right. Moreover, much political Left rhetoric is simply devoid of grounding in reality, be it from 9/11 conspiracy types to those who think that the Rothchild Trilateralists control everything.

More fundamentally, although many on the Left can offer informed and uninformed critiques of capitalism and the current status quo in NZ, none have been able to provide a coherent, much less publicly supported agenda for change. ?That is its fatal flaw: the political Left in NZ are seen more as naysayers and whingers than proactive and reasonable ?doers.?

This of course is Labour perception problem right now. Whingers, bludgers and moaners…all of them.

These are, of course, generalizations that are bound to twist the knickers of some of those just mentioned. I use them to make the point that the NZ political Left is increasingly the province of self-interested opportunists and vainglorious charlatans, some with sociopathic tendencies and others divorced from the practicalities involved in confronting a capitalist-dominated political system that has overwhelming popular support.

It would be useful then, for those of us who pontificate on such matters, to take stock of what it means to be a sincere ?and viable political Leftist in a country where the very mention of such a term elicits derision or disinterest on the part of the majority of those who should find socialism, or at least social democracy, to be the natural political choice.

For a start, it might be wise to put distance on the delusional sociopaths and self-interested opportunists and charlatans that give the political Left its bad name.

I think it might be too late for that.

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