2017 rewind: Unity: a poem inspired by Martyn Bradbury

I’m still proud of this one, even if it did ruffle some feathers among people who can’t read a disclaimer properly. Once again for the folks at the back: I didn’t write this. Martyn Bradbury wrote every word; I merely assembled them into a more pleasing form.

And then he wonders why no one talks to him at parties.

For context, because everything on the internet passes like tears in the rain: the 23-year-old woman Martyn took such offence at was Lara Wharepapa-Bridger, who was targeted by a lot of horrible abuse after calling out ~the Mad Butcher~ for obnoxious behaviour.

Originally published 30 January 2017

After a weekend of checking Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury’s latest diatribes – against women’s marches, Green Party voters, liberals, cyclists, the Labour Party, tourists, millennials, Nazi punchers, identity politics and Guy Williams – for personal attacks against myself or my union comrades, I decided this whimsical thought-experiment-slash-poem, assembled over an idle evening or two, deserved to see the light of day. It amused me to make it; I hope it amuses people who have been abused by New Zealand’s greatest leftwing blogger to read it.

Presented with no apologies; these were Martyn Bradbury’s own words, even if some of them have since been unceremoniously deleted.

“Unity”

or

“#ifthisishowthelefttreatallieshowwilltheytreatyou?”

having to put up with the puerile ravings of a hypocrite
is a tad tedious.

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Last night Giovanni Tiso and Russel Brown launched a twitter attack
a tsunami of abuse by the Emerald Stormtroopers and aesthetic left of Labour

If a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.
God these people are clowns.

The Left is its own worst enemy
the Left hates itself
the Left looks for traitors
the Left will simply bicker

It’s not the message of the Left
it’s the deeply flawed messengers the Left keep hiring
as self important as Giovanni Tiso
as alienating as the PSA Wellington comms team
mixed with the tediously smug insight of Simon Wilson

Maybe it’s living in Wellington,
undeservingly smug
absolutely positively passive aggressive.

maybe it’s living with a Green Party staff member,
those Green Party staffers who love to cyber bully
Hipsters with ambition and top knots
as sociable as a militant vegan in a battery cage chicken café

THIS IS SATIRE – NO NEED TO PROSECUTE – THIS IS SATIRE – NO NEED TO PROSECUTE

The EPMU doesn’t storm the barricades, they knock politely
so tinder dry that they make the PSA look like a clown college.
they wonder why the CTU can’t create more solidarity

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This is why you can’t trust Labour and the Greens
the total lack of political vision
too frightened to anger the PSA
the battle of the teeth
the naked ambition of Julie Anne Genter
a recipe for friction and disunity.

THIS IS SATIRE – NO NEED TO PROSECUTE – THIS IS SATIRE – NO NEED TO PROSECUTE

If only Kim had heeded my advice
personal ambition and ego politics always trump what’s best for NZ.

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Twitter can be rough
a boutique shop down a tiny alleyway
for Militant Free Bleeders and Beard Glitter aficionados
screams of ‘hate monger’ if someone gets the wrong pronoun
fucking worthless as a political measurement tool

outside the tiny little alienating echo chamber
the impenetrable little echo chamber
the Emerald Stormtroopers
are itching to start a schism of religious proportions.

just accept some people are simply mean
there’s a block button for a reason

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Russell Brown called The Spinoff the future of journalism
the supposed saviour of journalism
glitter bearded hipsters and middle class Blue Green wankers
new gatekeepers, policing language, identity and self interest for millennials
Their standard
about as high as your average beauty blog
Cash for copy
with all the charm of a modern day witch hunt
more like the youth wing of the Property Council than a social justice movement
like a little of Wellington in Auckland. Ugh.

And then there are the Millennials.
the first user pays generation
Me first cultural norms mixed with narcissistic social media
Without an idealogical compass
they are all going to the Greens

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a 23 year old crying on social media
some interchange she had with a rich white bloke
inside a snobbery winery
that’s front page fucking news?

I’m not allowed to have an opinion on the feels of a 23 year old woman
A 23 year old Millennial performing a classic over share moment
crying on social media

but if I was allowed an opinion

fake news at its most divisive
bullshit social media pile ons
liberals in social media bubbles
pointless alienating self-aggrandisement.
petty in comparison
alienating to everyone outside their echo chamber.
who actually cares beyond Twitter

one week of screaming racist
Longer than it took God to make the Universe folks.

a 23 year old woman who cried on social media
the feels of the preciously middle class
classic run-of-the-mill-middle-class-emotional-millenial-over-share

we gots us a girl in bubble wrap folks

Upset and tearful?
Over that?
Upset and tearful?
I’d imagine the children of Aleppo were upset and tearful.

let’s take her at her word
she was in fact upset and tearful

But again
I’m not allowed to have an opinion

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urban males
made to feel guilty for having a penis inside the Labour or the Greens.
this fragile ego
the perception that their privilege has been eroded
a frightened male sub culture that has to be gently coaxed
You can’t get shit done if you don’t have white males on board.

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oh come on Comrade
it’s the election year for Christ’s sake!
If we want progressive change
put aside the righteous anger
Rather than flinch and react angrily
understand where the anger is coming from
take less personal insult from righteous anger

you sanctimonious little arsehole.

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.]

Labour, identity, class and winning

Andrew Little’s speech to conference has had great feedback, topping off a pretty good weekend for the party. I was there when he delivered it, and the response in the hall was thunderous.

A few people who covered the conference have put their own framing onto it. Bryce Edwards declared “Andrew Little is killing Labour’s identity politics”. Martyn Bradbury pronounced “identity politics put on the naughty step for some time out”.

Perhaps we were at different conferences. Believe me, plenty of “identity politics” was discussed, openly, happily and constructively. The reason there’s no headlines about it is the people having those discussions did it away from the spotlight – for obvious reasons.

It’s the same old misunderstanding about identity politics and class politics: that identity isn’t a real thing, but class is an objective, clear determinant of someone’s place in society.

But it’s rubbish. One of the biggest challenges leftwing parties face these days is that pretty much everyone thinks they’re middle-class. People who are poor don’t want to be told they’re powerless victims, and people who are comparatively well-off just want to think of themselves as “ordinary people”.

To shamelessly steal an idea from Pablo Iglesias:

One can have the best analysis, understand the keys to political developments since the sixteenth century, know that historical materialism is the key to understanding social processes. And what are you going to do — scream that to people? “You are workers and you don’t even know it!”

Class can be a core part of who people are, or not important to their lives, just like any other facet of identity. More so, since the right have spent decades eroding class identities with their bootstraps analogies and framing – happily adopted by the left – of “middle” and “ordinary” New Zealanders.

We can’t reject a class analysis. We wouldn’t be the Labour Party without one. But in 2015 it isn’t the be-all and end-all of political thought.

I took two points from what Maryan Street said at conference. We can do more than one thing at a time, and:

Being a “both/and party” instead of an “either/or party” isn’t just about multitasking. It can mean recognising that our issues aren’t distinct.

I’ll go one step further. Not only are class, inequality, wealth and work un-distinct from gender, race, ability and all those pesky “identities” – they are the same thing.

How will Labour eradicate poverty in our country without addressing the fact that women are systemically paid less than men and are over-represented in many of the poorest paid industries? When women are still the primary caregivers of children, expected to put careers on hold for parenting?

How will Labour make sure Kiwis get the care they need when they need it and give our doctors and nurses and health workers the funding they need to do their jobs without looking at the infantilising red tape around abortion, or the utter lack of meaningful support for trans health care?

How do we modernise our education system so our kids are better prepared for jobs that haven’t even been invented yet without mentioning children with special needs or the entrenched disparities for Māori and Pasifika kids?

You won’t get very far changing the fundamental inequalities created by modern capitalism if you don’t understand that those inequalities, and the “identities” you want to kick out of the debate, are the same problem.

Why are women treated as a separate class? So we stay at home and have babies create new economic units, and if we wander accidentally into the workforce, we’re paid less to put downward pressure on all workers’ pay and conditions.

Why are gay or lesbian or trans or genderqueer people treated as separate classes and singled out for abuse? Because they mess up the whole heterosexual family structure which has babies creates new economic units.

Colonialism, and the impact it has on indigenous people of colour, is part and parcel of the capitalist need to constantly grow and consume land and resources.

I oversimplify greatly. But if you believe we can take serious action on poverty, on jobs, on the future of work, or on people’ aspirations for a better life without discussing “identity” politics, you don’t understand capitalism. And you certainly don’t get how to fight it.

Andrew said in his speech:

New Zealanders are sick and tired of a politics that’s defined by cynicism and devoid of ambition.

I’m sick and tired of the cynicism which says “women and minorities, go away, no one wants to hear you whining.” I’m sick and tired of the lack of ambition from so many leftwingers who say we can’t do more than one thing at a time, and we can’t care about anyone who isn’t like us.

Take what you like from Andrew’s speech. What I took from it is this.

The experiences I’ve had in my working life have taught me the type of leadership you need if you want to fight and win for progressive causes.

I learnt that it isn’t about making everyone happy or trying to avoid confrontation and disagreement.

Instead it’s about taking a stand because it’s the right thing to do.