Chris Trotter is returning to form. After the death of his strangely beloved ‘social democratic’ Labour Government, he’s been in a much more reflective and insightful mood (rather than his previous phase of agit-prop defence of ‘lesser evilism’). In this week’s Independent Financial Review column he reflects on the political degeneration of what currently passes for social democracy. He shows how the Labour Party – and the much of the wider left in NZ politics – has a deeply problematic relationship with the New Zealand working class. Essentially Labour now sees workers as victims to manage rather than as a positive political force with the tremendous potential to change society. [Read more below]
Chris Trotter's view of the modern Labour Party (and left) as unfortunate surrogate parents who treat the working class as having pathologies which must be treated isn’t a new line for Trotter. Thirteen years ago he wrote a brilliant analysis of the new elite composition of the Labour Party. He said that it is particularly noticeable among Labour MPs today an increasing dominance of those from a background in community or social work. This new type of Labour Party MP is interested in managing rather than representing the working class. He argued that such MPs see working people as dangerous, weak, and unimportant, rather than a social force that can change society:
The trend detected by Trotter in the mid-1990s has only grown, especially with Labour’s increasing top-down and sometimes-authoritarian social engineering of recent years. But Trotter’s latest analysis was sparked when the new Minister of Social Development, Paula Bennett told John Campbell that as a solo mother she rejected getting politically involved in the Labour Party because she didn’t want to be a victim. Trotter is worth quoting at length on this:
Trotter’s column is also insightful when he explains that in our modern atomized society that has no genuine leftwing pro-workers party, the more radical or exceptional working class members actually become aligned to forces like John Key and those that promise economic advancement:
Trotter says that its in this context that ‘in which the revolutionary political slogan: "Yes, we can", can be quietly retired in favour of the transformative personal slogan: "Yes, I can".’
Trotter also analyses the original Solidarity Forever trade union anthem penned in 1915. He correctly suggests that this song is an ‘undisguised celebration of the raw power of working-class collectivism’ and thus ‘there isn't even a whiff of powerlessness, not a trace of victimhood’, and therefore ‘the modern social-democrat would, quite frankly, run a mile’ from it.
Hopefully this all suggests that Chris Trotter is now doing the opposite: running a mile from the degenerate Labour Party.