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Sunday, 30 December 2018

Politics 2019: The year of FukYoo in NZ

Something happened in 2018 to NZ politics and I think it has everything to do with Jacinda Ardern.

You see after a near decade of National Party rule for better or worse (mostly worse for the majority and definitely better for the well off) the scales tilted just enough (when the thumb of Winston Peters was added) to tip things in favor of regime change and before you could say "Chinese spies in the Beehive, Thompson and Clarke and Bill English for leader, why God why?" National were out and we had a new (well sorta new) government with political darling Jacinda Ardern and political opportunist Winston Peters running things.

It was for many, who had longed and hoped for an end to the Neo-Liberal revolution that Labour had started in 1984, supposed to be a fresh start, a new page if you will in the book of NZ, with our two heroic leaders (because we are not counting James "I wanna be conservative" Shaw as a leader in this scenario) tearing down the old structures and rebuilding the new.

And then nothing happened.

Oh to be sure we had a dynamic 90 days of fun and excitement over the summer of 2016 with what at the time looked like an auspicious start but by mid winter 2018 the "revolution"* was well and truly over and by start of summer 2018 it was clear that the leitmotif of the government was something along the lines of "Opps, oh dear, but hey at least we tried".

I have detailed it here on this blog and so have others on other blogs but what is clear as I sit in the shade, sipping an ice cold beer, on what is otherwise a scorching hot summers day is that the revolution was not televised because it never occurred.

We could go into detail and look at how things like Kiwibuild, the watered down labor reforms, Winston's slush fund and parasitic nods to horse racing, as well as Jacinda Ardern, showing no political nonce or skill, has become little more than a hollowed out talisman like figurehead for a highly cathartic but ultimately futile feel good orgy of political spin and retroactive finger pointing at National for why the country continues along this doomed course to neo-feudal slave state.

But it was not all doom and gloom in 2018 as things like MeeToo in NZ, the teachers strikes and issues like water, immigration and tourism have slowly continued to bubble away while the willingness of whistle-blowers and leakers, in and outside government, show that FukYoo Politix is alive and well and lurking just below the surface of NZ.

Oh yes ladies and gentlemen, its not the political classes (and the now mostly parasitic media) which have dominated the discussion but ordinary kiwis with their voices and their issues and this is why the Labour/NZ First coalition has found that the agenda slipped away from them before even six months were up and that celebratory mood of late 2017 had shifted to increasingly organized dissent.

This is also why National can not get itself out of the political doldrums that they now listlessly drift in as leader or no the party is only marginally representative of the political landscape in NZ (and only the most idiotic believe that a new leader will change that around).

And thus we arrive at the year 2019, the year of FukYoo Politix in NZ, the year that Jacinda, Winston and Labour start to look just as bad as Simon Bridges and National and we start to see more and more Kiwis saying (usually in large groups with banners and placards) that they have had enough, that they want real change for the better, not just some feel good platitudes from the faux liberals in government.

2019 is the year that issues like water quality are going to come to a boil (pun intended) and the fact that Aotearoa has become little more than an over priced tourist resort in the South Pacific will find common parlance.

2019 is also the year that decrepit organisations like political parties, the Treasury and the NZDF are going to come under more and more examination and scrutiny as social media and digital tech continue to act as independent drivers of change because if Jamie-Lee Ross can tape his conversations with Simon Bridges so can anyone.

2019 is also the year this blog gets its mojo back as we will be going over from a "wait and see" attitude to our new government to full blown critique and mockery of the scum-baggy doings of this current government because its become evidently clear that Jacinda has her comfortable salary and those nice perks but Labour is essentially out of ideas and now more than happy to sit back and get by on nostalgic reminiscences and saying things like "but it was worse under National" rather than do anything concrete.

In short the FukYoo revolution that was brewing under National and John Key but which was temporarily nipped in the bud by a change of government is now back on track and looking for a few new scalps. And this blog officially endorses that.

Democracy is at its strongest when people participate and when participation is more than voting once every three years and in the last 12 months I have seen more and more people get upset about things, talk about things and talk about doing something about those things rather than just sit by and do nothing.

Other blogs may make "predictions" but thats just playing the odds of generic but expected random events happening, this blog will be doing its best to exhort the revolution and lead the charge by taking a critical and opposing stance to those who are enemies to a better New Zealand.

And its not just NZ but across the world the mood has continued to get closer and closer to a flipping of the zeitgeist, some places are closer than others but if you cant read a a blog , watch the news or listen to a pod-cast and get the impression that the world is going through change then you need to get out more.

2019 is the year the Coalition Government in NZ gets put on notice and have that notice enforced if they cant do whats needed to be done and 2019 is also the year that we start to look critically at politics in NZ in general as its become pervasively clear that political parties are more the problem than the solution, that undue influence of foreign and business interests are really what politicians and senior civil servants are listening to rather than Kiwis.

At this point this is only a thumb nail sketch of my ideas for blogging in 2019 but I must say its an exciting thought to be out of the stink mist that was 2018 and heading towards a dynamic and trans-formative next 12 months.

Happy new years and now back to that cold beer.


*-Because who does not remember both Winston and Jacinda flouncing around on the Beehive stage saying they needed to contain the destructive forces of capitalism


  1. I never understood the idea that Jacinda would overturn neoliberalism. Sure, she was a female Labour leader with a long progressive track record prior to becoming PM. But we had that for nine years starting in 1999. If neoliberalism could survive Clark, what made us think it wouldn't survive Jacinda? The only cogent difference between them as people is that Jacinda's younger, but if anything, that makes her less likely to challenge neoliberalism; Jacinda came of political age during an era when neoliberalism was a consensus. Which doesn't make her personally convinced of neoliberalism, of course, but it's not exactly an argument in favour of her overturning it.

    Generally the promise of Labour since Mike Moore was biffed as leader has been to attempt to soften the impact of neoliberalism, while leaving its core intact. In a way they're the mirror image of National in the pre-Muldoon era, when their mission was not to overturn the welfare state, but to try to make it slightly more market-oriented.

  2. I suppose I was fooled by all that talk in the early days of this government of giving capitalism a friendly face etc etc because in the run up to the election Labour had not given any real indication that they would be over turning all the work National had been doing in the last nine years either but I drank the cool-aid and believed that when they (Jacinda and Winston) were up there saying those things, they were genuine.

    So yes Anon you are right and I got fooled, along with a lot of other people, but thats why 2019 will be a very different year from 2018, where peeps were happy to give Labour and Winston time and rope to see what they would do and tolerate any mistakes they made, they wont be so accommodating now.

    #wontgetfooledagin!, #probablywillgetfooledagain, #sigh...

  3. "I was fooled by all that talk in the early days of this government of giving capitalism a friendly face"

    Well I think this is very accurate. But that's the point. It's not getting rid of capitalism, it's not even changing capitalism, it's just making capitalism more palatable. I mean if we're going to have capitalism it might as well be as palatable as possible, and for some people the difference between palatable and un-palatable capitalism is the difference between healthcare and no healthcare, education and no education, a job or no job. So I'm not even criticising people for prefering Jacinda's version of capitalism to John and Bill's. So if you believed this government would put a "friendly face" on capitalism, you were right. But that's a fairly limited project.

    "I drank the cool-aid and believed"

    How come?

    To ask more specifically, Jacinda (let alone Winston) never said they would end neoliberalism, let alone end capitalism. They, at worst, allowed others to say it and didn't contradict them.

    I think there's a lot going on here but I think part of it is the strength of the neoliberal consensus, that the range of possible policy options has shrunk to the point that, when many people imagine "ending neoliberalism" or "ending capitalism" what they are actually picturing is "neoliberalism with more hospitals/better schools/more generous welfare/more Maori language/more women and minorities in charge". So, despite their use of Marxist or Keynesian language, they are really only having a debate about the precise settings of the proverbial dials in the market economy - the underlying existence and logic of a marketised economy is not questioned.

    But then, as you so often tell me, policy programs don't really matter that much, right? Perhaps that's the key to what I'm not understanding?

  4. I suppose I took it a bit more to the extent, which would not be too off I think given what they kept on saying at that time, that the excesses of the market in NZ needed to be pulled in.

    I had joked about those comments after that they were giving capitalisim a 'make over" but by then I was starting to sour to the whole thing.

    Bets way to explain is:

    a) I wanted to give a new government a chance and took their statements at face value
    b) I feel that NZ needs more than some dial turning to fix its problems

    So yes I, and possibly others, read more inot things than we should have (specially given how Labour was when it was Andrew Little) so lets chalk that one up to getting ones hopes up.

    However, Policy does matter but as you note not so much now when its nothing but tweaks to the system. What I am looking for is substantive policy shifts rather than cosmetic or operational changes.

    And to be clear I do think NZ should be questioning our current state (the market economy as you put it) and will do so more as such a structure fails to deliver because the neo-liberal state cannot provide beyond a certain point and we have reached that point.

    Winston and Jacinda knew what they were saying when they said what they said and yes it was somwhat ambiguos but given they were a new govt and making all the right statements to distance themselves from the previous government I was happy to think that there was some genuine intent in what they were saying.

    But, as you note, had I looked on the longer timeline there is little ot nothing in either of their political makeups that would set them to challenge the system but as i was willing to see if they were going to be true to their word I suspended my doubts.

    But if you reread my post election slump post you can see I was not fully seduced, just wary and also happy that it was not National.

    I think the key to this situation is that small or incremental change within the standard political system is no longer having results as the contradictions in that system become more and more exposed and so we get more and more disillusionment with politics in NZ and in other countries.

    Whether we like it or not or will or wont call it by its true name we are living in revolutionary times and actors which cant deal with that automatically become the status quo no matter how radical the stance.

    we sometimes forget just how recent democracy and freedom is in our world, given our history and that the structures we live in are not immutable and forever.

  5. I am very tempted to say "I told you so" or to dig up exactly what you said about how policy doesn't matter that much last year, but what would be the point?

  6. You can say you told me so (I will take that as its fair criticism) but also do read my posts about the three Ps of politics etc just so things are in perspective because its policy "doesn't matter" with caveats attached.

  7. I was being very specific in my recollection - I claimed that you said policy didn't matter that much, not that you said it didn't matter full stop.

    I still think this is a pretty fair summary of your view at the time.