Werewolf on leftwing misogyny

Two stonkingly good posts over at Werewolf this week – both superficially about the ongoing tantrums of Martyn Bradbury, but more fundamentally about the direction for the left and the role of women within a leftwing movement.

Anne Russell writes on the misogyny at The Daily Blog:

Meanwhile, we need a Left to take care of the sick and wounded; women, people of colour, disabled people, sex workers, the queer and trans community, all those who know that their battles are at the centre of the fight rather than a distraction on the margins. A brilliant article on weareplanc.org about the emotional conditions of capitalism argued that contemporary leftist resistance needs to correspond to capitalism’s current emotional stage: that of making everyone very anxious and overwhelmed. The article argues that the Left, at least internally, has to be kind to its members, offering a haven from the angry and overstimulating world of neo-liberalism-cum-fascism. As I wrote last year, this approach is not incompatible with outward anger against the state, cops, the prison system, corporations or any other oppressive institutions and forces. Rather, it will help replenish our energy to do that work.

And Gordon Campbell the day before said on Labour’s candidacy troubles:

Bomber’s message is the one that women on the left have been hearing since time eternal ie, that they should keep quiet, remain patient until victory is assured, and – in the meantime – make sure their concerns and modes of expression don’t antagonise the heroes of the proletariat. Besides everything else, this looks like a failure of imagination. Is the Winston Wing of Labour’s support base – those heroic, hand-calloused members of the white working class that Bomber Bradbury and Chris Trotter always bang on about – really so immune to policy arguments pitched any higher than Greg O’Connor’s face on a campaign billboard, or Willie Jackson on the mike?

Martyn, who among his many well-nourished enmities has a strange grudge against Werewolf’s antecedent Scoop, will see these two posts (and this one) as proof of some grand conspiracy against him by the BlueGreenSocialMediaMillennialHipsterIdentityPolitics Stormtroopers. Doesn’t stop them being bang on the money, and doesn’t mean the broader problems they describe aren’t very real obstacles to real progressive change in New Zealand.

[edit: called it. It’s apt that Martyn describes Gordon Campbell as a “purveyor of violent sexual abuse revenge fantasies” even though it was Anne Russell who mentioned the case of Mervyn Thompson. Obviously women can’t have their own opinions in the absence of a man.]

Recommended reading on the Panama Papers

I’ll admit, the Panama Papers issue is a teensy bit over my head. Fortunately the internet is full of smart intelligent people, and we’ve all got our own areas of expertise – so I humbly direct you to two excellent pieces of writing on the matter.

At Corner Politics: A note on the Panama Papers

Effectively most of the world is in slavery – forced to work for low wages, no benefits, no holidays, no education because apparently companies cannot afford to pay them.

Don’t forget that by spending up to 90% of our income on goods and services, we are enabling these people to horde incredible amounts of wealth. Those born into this wealth will never have to work as hard as we do and we will forever be chastised for not working hard enough and for being jealous and envious.

And at Scoop, Gordon Campbell writes on the political tokenism of the government’s response to the Panama Papers

Let me make a wild guess. When he reports back on June 30, we can be pretty sure that Shewan will find that there is much to admire and few causes for concern in the New Zealand rules to do with foreign trusts. Let me also bet that Shewan’s analysis will limit itself entirely to the formal framework – it will be an “on paper” evaluation – and will not examine how the system works in practice. How the system actually works is the sort of thing that can emerge only if and when a public inquiry was held, and people were invited to come out of the woodwork.

Click on through and read both posts in full.

Canada and the left

Like I said last time I blogged about the Canadian election, I’m no expert on Canadian politics. But I was a little leery of the perfect, “centrism works, see” scenario presented by Rob Salmond on Public Address. And yesterday’s column by Gordon Campbell (who I assume is far more qualified than me to comment!) seems to confirm my gut instinct.

Trudeau’s victory showed that by rejecting the cost cutting, budget-balancing mania, you can still win elections. One of the decisive moments of the campaign came when Trudeau said that, if elected, he would be willing to embrace modest budget deficits for the next four years and would use that leeway to build infrastructure, create jobs, and stimulate the economy. The sky did not fall in. …

Fatally, Mulcair chose instead to play the ‘ responsible’ card and committed the NDP to budget surpluses (for the foreseeable) as part of the NDP’s attempt to woo support from the political centre. This strategy only succeeded in painting the NDP into a corner right alongside the Conservatives. Suddenly the Liberals looked like the genuine party of change, and the only alternative to a stifling status quo. Mulcair’s Big Mistake – driven by the fear of looking like a loony lefty out of step with the neo-liberal orthodoxy – was the kind of ‘play it safe’ centrist politics that we’ve come to associate with the likes of Andrew Little and Grant Robertson –and increasingly, with the Greens. In reality, there’s not much future in a convergence on the centre that’s driven by fear of your own shadow.

I also quite like how Craig boiled it down:

(See, I do sometimes like what men say!)

The problem NZ Labour’s had with its centrist approach for the last few leaderships hasn’t really been about the position of their policy – however much I disagree with it. It’s been the uncertainty. The constant refrain of “well, we’d have to review that once we’re in government” or “let’s refer that to a Law Commission review” doesn’t give voters certainty.

I’ve said before:

A party cannot look competent when it’s unpredictable. And a party looks unpredictable when, instead of having well-advertised principles guiding its actions, it’s jumping all over the place trying to please everyone except its own supporters.

As with everything in New Zealand politics, there’s a John Key counterfactual: no one denies he’s extremely influenced by what polls well. You could argue he also jumps all over the place trying to please everyone. But he comes from a position of assumed credibility: he’s from the right, he’s a millionaire, he has great preferred-PM numbers. His shifting back and forth will always get portrayed as “responsive, reasonable government” in a way it simply will not when it’s coming from a leftwing opposition party in the low-30 polling doldrums.

I’m realistic. I know that I’m on the left, and extremely feminist, ends of the NZ Labour spectrum (spectra?). My party’s never going to have 100% policy I’m in love with. But it does need a strategy, to get a clear, undisputed message out to Kiwi voters: love us or hate us, you’re not going to feel “meh” about us.

And here’s your topical earworm for the day (language NSFW):

QOTD: The real theme of the Budget

Wonderfully summed up by my comrade mickysavage over at The Standard:

As the dust settles a few themes are appearing.

National agrees that child poverty is an urgent issue but it has delayed implementation of measures until April next year.

National hates doing anything that lets us provide for our future.

National lied about “no new taxes”.

National is underfunding health and education.

National is doing nothing about our future and has a series of band aids being applied to urgent political issues.

This is the thing about Budgets. They’re basically a gigantic series of press releases (almost literally a gigantic series of press releases as anyone who was subscribed to the Scoop politics RSS feed last week could tell you). The government will always get the first turn at framing what their Budget contains, and even the best-resourced Opposition or press gallery in the world aren’t going to be able to tell you, on Budget Day, which bits are accurate and which bits are flagrant spin.

Like that much-vaunted $25 per week for beneficiary families, as outlined by Gordon Campbell:

That headline figure for the increase in benefits was misleading. No-one will get an extra $25. The real figure is a maximum of $23 in the hand when the simultaneous (and miserly) deductions in income-related rents and other forms of assistance is factored in. By late last night, Work and Income were clarifying that these abatement rules meant that many beneficiary families would receive an increase more in the nature of $18, and some families would receive nothing extra at all. Moreover, the figures seemed plucked out of the air, rather than based on any research into existing levels of need. Plus, the relief is deemed to be so urgently needed it won’t actually arrive for another eleven months.

That being said, this isn’t an extreme rightwing Budget. And that tells us a lot about the National Party’s state of mind. At least on paper, in their own framing, they’ve had to backflip on core National Party ideas like “crushing every last ounce of dignity out of beneficiaries” and the days of trying to paint KiwiSaver as “communism by stealth” are long gone (they’re just going to pretend not to be chipping away at it).

This isn’t what a third-term government’s budget is supposed to look like, and statements like this abhorrent one from Nick Smith show very clearly that National hasn’t suddenly had a massive change of heart. This is a government which can see things just aren’t going to get better for it as their third term grinds on. The daydreams of being the first party in an MMP environment to have an absolute majority (without needing to prop up sockpuppets in key seats) are over.

The challenge for the Opposition is to point out the reality – the superficial nature of National’s promises and the little tells like delaying changes to benefits while rushing through more cuts to KiwiSaver – and present an alternative. A government which actually cares about everyone and wants to use power to make a real difference in people’s lives.

QOTD: Gordon Campbell on the Hobbit Law

The Green Party has unhelpfully pointed out that National’s dirty deal with Warner Bros to strip Kiwi film workers of their rights as employees didn’t deliver all those jobs we were promised.

As Gordon Campbell puts it:

If ‘Save the jobs!” was the catchcry in 2010 then the government’s moves have failed. Jobs in the film industry have since declined, not increased – and that’s the case even though we have thrown money at the Hollywood studios, increased the boodle available to them under the Large Budget Screen Production Fund and handed them the effectively de-unionised 19th century working conditions they demanded, for their allegedly 21st century industry. Away in their Dark Tower, the Warners chieftains must still be laughing about their raid on Hobbiton.

We got played, as a country, so men like Peter Jackson and James Cameron with net worths of hundreds of millions of dollars could avoid giving their workers sick leave or letting them bargain collectively.

And just to rub salt in the wound, the Hobbit movies are bloody terrible anyway.