. . . and remain passive, wrapped up in our ‘difference’, while our existence continues to be stunted by the limits of capitalism
This post first appeared on the blog on October 31, but has been added to since.
by Philip Ferguson
On Tuesday, November 17 an interesting gathering of business leaders took place. Over 30 key business figures and finance minister and deputy prime minister Bill English launched the ‘Champions for Change’ initiative. The initiative, which takes its name from campaigns for healthy eating in the United States, is about encouraging ethnic and gender ‘diversity’ in business leadership in New Zealand; such ‘diversity’ is seen as crucial to fast-tracking the success of NZ capital today.
The co-chairs of the drive for diversity are Dame Jenny Shipley, NZ’s first female prime minister, and Anthony Healy, the chief executive of the Bank of New Zealand.
Bill English told the gathering that past attempts to improve diversity hadn’t managed to get business leaders to make the kind of changes that are now needed. Tao Lin reported on Stuff, “English said diverse boards and management teams encourage productive, innovative and forward-thinking organisations, which was crucial to New Zealand’s future success” (see here). Shipley told the gathering that business leaders who didn’t get with the diversity game would be left behind.
Such support for diversity is, as we will examine below, mainstream bourgeois thinking these days – and has been for quite some time.
This is why, for the best part of twenty years now the demand of the liberal-left (or left-liberals) for ‘respect for diversity’ has part amused me and part indicated to me how most of the left in this country is simply the left of bourgeois society rather than an anti-capitalist left. Just as chunks of the left still bang on as if neo-liberalism was running rampant here, when it hasn’t been the dominant economic ideology of the ruling class for about two decades, so the liberal-left – parts of which mistakenly think they are more than liberal – bangs on about discrimination and prejudice as if nothing much has changed since the even earlier era of Muldoon (National) and Kirk (Labour), both of whom were intensely socially reactionary.
Yet the ruling class, certainly its main elements, have long since abandoned the kind of social views that were dominant a generation and more ago. The ruling class oversees a now entrenched system of political correctness in practically every significant institution of modern New Zealand society, from schools to universities to the military to the public sector to the private sector. ‘Respect for diversity’ is, indeed, crucial to 21st century NZ capitalist society. Several factors have brought this situation about.
One is battles waged by trade unionists, the old left (or sections of it) and the new social movements for an expansion of the rights of women, Maori, homosexuals and others who were intensely discriminated against in the past. The old barriers to Read the rest of this entry »