Today’s awful politicians

Posted: July 31, 2015 by daphna in Creepy stuff, Distractions, Political & economic power, United States - politics
Tags: , , , ,

by Redliners

“Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”

Abraham Lincoln, First Annual Message, December 3 1861

They don’t make US presidents like that anymore. These days the Republicans have such whacko candidates – Sarah Palin destroyed any chance John McCain had of winning the presidency; Dubya was a dumb-ass (although he had a smarter team around him) and Trump is a lunatic. Luckily for the US ruling class they have two parties, so they have people like Obama and Hillary Clinton to do their dirty work when the Republicans present lunatics. But it’s a bit odd that the US is still on top when other capitalist ruling classes have much more able bourgeois politicians to run the show.

Colin's not afraid to get dirty

Colin’s not afraid to get dirty

Meanwhile, in New Zealand we have our share of oddballs. With Colin Craig of the Christian conservative right-wing suing New Zealand’s most offensive rightwing blogger Cameron Slater the circus show will be on the road very soon.

And for an extra serving of cringe just read this from Hone Harawira:

OPEN LETTER TO BARACK OBAMA, 
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
, 30 July 2015

Hey hey, mah bruddah!!

Heard you were able to get back to your dad’s turangawaewae last week. Mean … hope you had a good catch up with the whanau.

I also hear you’re getting ready to endorse the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), and I’m asking that you hold off, for now anyway.

You might not know who I am and that’s OK because I’m not that important in the scheme of things, but my people are. We’re Maori, the indigenous people of a little country down here in the South Pacific called Aotearoa – you probably know it as New Zealand – and we want you to know that we don’t support the TPPA; in fact we hate the bloody thing.

You see back in 1840 we signed the Treaty of Waitangi with the British, which was supposed to protect our rights. It didn’t unfortunately, and now we’ve got less than 3 million of the original 66 million acres we once owned. We’ve been trying to win our Treaty rights back ever since and it hasn’t been easy. In fact, today our people suffer the same levels of deprivation in housing, justice, employment, education and health as Native Americans. Yeah bro’ … it’s that bad. There’s a long, long way to go before we get up to where we should be, and key to all of that is our Treaty, and our treaty rights.

We want to be able to look after our lands, our forests, our rivers and our seas just like the Treaty said we could, not just for Maori but for everyone in this country, and we’re really scared that the TPPA is going to make our fight an impossible one.

Maori aren’t even allowed to look at the TPPA before it gets signed off, and from what we hear it’ll compromise our sovereignty as Maori and as New Zealanders. We also hear that it will let foreign companies sue our government for protecting our rights (which admittedly they haven’t been that good at for the last 175 years!). And we hear that this TPPA will take priority over our Treaty, and that we will be denied the rights guaranteed to us by the Treaty and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. And that sucks!

We got our own problems down here brother, and they’re tough enough to deal with without having this dumped on our heads, but if we have to fight this TPPA thing we will, and we’ll fight it till we beat it.

So how about givin’ us a break? Scrap the TPPA and let’s start again. In fact, come on down to Aotearoa and lets go fishing, have a feed and a few beers, and between the two of us I betcha we can come up with something that works.

Anyway, gotta go – gotta pick up the mokos. Love to the whanau!

Laterz bro

Colin and Hone are both clowns, but one is at least able to self fund. Enough said.  

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Comments
  1. Thomas R says:

    Lmao redline coming across like humorless grumps today I see.

  2. Ok, help the humorless grumps out here.
    Is Barack Obama really a family friendly “bruddah” to invite over home for a feed and a few beers and a social fishing trip?
    Or is the trigger-happy leader of US imperialism an implacable enemy of anything decent in human progress and civilization?
    If Hone’s open letter is just a tedious joke, what do Mana really think about international trade and facing up to US aggression generally?

    • Thomas R says:

      I’d say it is a tedious joke. Like I don’t think it’s meant to be taken seriously at all. Whether or not it’s funny is another question altogether. I don’t know what Mana’s line is on that issue, or specific lines on any issues to be fair. Just reckon that Hone making an unfunny joke somehow meaning he should be held in more contempt than Colin Craig (as implied by the article) is a bit silly

  3. Peter says:

    Mana, sadly, are a wildly anti-intellectual movement. This isn’t to say there aren’t intelligent, thoughtful people involved, just that they have no developed a *system* of thought that is coherent and addresses some of the key issues with the current social model. Instead, policy is reactive and ad hoc – based around a general set of left-wing and (sometimes) radical values, but utopian and simplistic in terms of actual policy positions. This letter is just another example of this.

  4. Admin says:

    It’s also a sign of what happens when ‘race’ trumps class.

    However, I assumed Thomas was being ironic when he referred to “humourless grumps”.

    Phil

  5. The anti-TPPA leftists don’t really convince me. Their support of the anti-TPPA is premised on a popular front with liberals and NZ nationalists (CAFCA) in order to segue from that into a larger political entity of their own, or one which ex post facto can be labelled ‘progressive’. Built into this delusion is an idealisation of the elements of the protectionist Keynesian welfare state as some kind of defensive bulwark against the depredations of international capital, rather than an absolutely impossibility given the decline in the rate of profit and the current state of capital today as necessary and not alterable by the political will of social democrats nostalgic for 40-year old reformisms, which actually slowly broke and bribed off the working class and brought about the state we’re in.

    The idea, ever present among the cliffite-gramscite ‘counter-hegemonic’ movementist marxists, that it could ignite working class struggle as a side-effect, as some magical epiphenomena, replaces marxist principles with dubious movementist projections and is even more dubious if we consider the desperate history of the entire anti-globalisation movement.

    Let’s be very clear about Mana and its role because it is admittedly a very dangerous party on accounts of its absorption of admittedly opportunist working class radicals (or, in large part too, petty bourgeois university-educated future NGO professionals with a moral preference for ‘the underdog’ or similar weak tea bourgeois moralism) and the liquidation of the embryo of revolutionary politics in this absurd country. Three more points:

    (1) Mana’s politics are not even anti-capitalist. This is admitted by some of its so-called anti-capitalist supporters, right before they throw some ad hoc marxisant rationalisation in your face, whether that be a Trotskyist transitional programme or that be a Gramscite ‘counter-hegemonic’ war of positions, which will transubstantiate shit into gold and turn Mana into an anti-capitalist party ex post facto via some logic congealed out of abstractions and namechecking famous marxist thinkers.

    (2) Nor, surprisingly, are the politics of some of those who have joined up with them. Scan the core programme of “Fightback”, for example. http://fightback.org.nz/about/ Probably the most radical anti-capitalist point of Fightback’s core programme is the reduction of the working week. They might as well abandon programmatism altogether for the only principle that dictates their actual politics, mindless tailism and indigenist nationalism.

    (3) Mana et al.’s anti-TPPA politics seem to say, the commodity form doesn’t need to be abolished, we just need to ensure that capital doesn’t legally integrate across borders. Their political strategy is so far from an understanding of the ultimate marxist political goal, the abolition of the value-form, that it seems likely they may have taken Althusser’s misguided advice to the new left in the 70s to skip the first chapters of Capital.

    Lastly, the strategy of fighting the internationalism of capital with a new indigenist ‘nationalism’ (i.e. Mana) has about as much potential as an anti-imperialist strategy as the old Comintern/Lenin-Zinioviev-Stalin strategy of supporting, carte blanche, the ‘national liberation’ this or that bourgeoisie representing its nation, the height of whose strategy should be a picture of contemporary Vietnam. (cf. Macnair’s recent articles on the national question in the CPGB or Kliman for his criticism of the underconsumptionist basis of Monthly Review style natlib and by extension the soft trot cliffite clones of these politics i.e. SWP support for the muslim brotherhood recently.)

    It would actually be far more progressive for NZ leftists to support a national parliamentary union with Australia to link up more effectively the two country’s lefts than continue down this ‘New Zealand’ or ‘Aotearoa’ flag waving road.

    • Thomas R says:

      Hi jordan

    • Ian Anderson says:

      I’ll take “programmaticism”, considering it’s a programme.

      But with that concession, and keeping in mind it’s words on paper that are hard to put into practice in the current period (and yes that we’ve aligned with forces that aren’t anti-capitalist, which we’d freely admit to), how is “constitutional transformation on the basis of… workers’ power” not anti-capitalist?

      • Yeah nobody doubts Fightback is willing to pay super obsequious lip service when it suits them to the idea of dicprole in some form. But I don’t buy it. It’s simply the elevation of a boilerplate activist style over political integrity. Not that much integrity, just the sort of basic socialist integrity that dreads to do anything but respect real worker’s political self-organisation, rather than bandwagon on an interclassist nationalist movement built out of the jaded activist careers of philistine left liberals, including a stellar line-up of former Green and Maori party MPs as *party leaders*. I mean, that’s obviously the ideal leadership of the class.

        The history of the organised worker’s movement since at least the German SPD (or further back to Lasalle), and closer to home, the NZ Labour party, has been one of people paying lip service to all kinds of socialist ideas when that is ‘opportune’. Redline contains a pretty long running chronicle of all Fightback’s opportunist sins, which is a constant source of internal butthurt and forced bemusement for Fightback’s inner caste layers.

        ~ “constitutional transformation on the basis of… workers’ power” ~

        It is, typically, unclear what is meant by that whole excerpt. Are you inviting me to believe that it is somehow a bowdlerised form of the marxist programme for the dictatorship of the proletariat. Given the socdem politics of fightback, are you fucking serious? Lol.

        Also.

        What does “constitutional transformation” mean in the context of a programme supportive of liberal tino rangatiratanga, reform of the constitution on the basis of the treaty and international law, if not simply a change in the composition of the ruling class and the constitution of the capitalist state in the direction of Keynesian/planiste/dirigiste style social democratic state captialism, and a degree of shared sovereignty to boot? Or some more radical tino, maybe something like “tino rangatiratanga in one country”?

        Now, I don’t think your politics are this shit in your head, but I think these are the type of liberal politics Fightback inadvertently, and uncritically, (or *counter-hegemonically*) lends support to, since they constitute the majority of the non-marxist progressive left. Maybe you can own up to that much, because to my knowledge Fightback has never publicly criticised them. If I recall, yeah on the other hand, Fightback is an organisation which has deliberately self-censored its own socialist principles while in Mana so as not to give off the appearance of being what was called at the time “Pakeha socialism” because, yeah, muh counter-hegemony, muh building alliances etc. etc.

      • Thomas R says:

        Hahahaha

  6. It’s interesting that Hone couches his position in terms of the treaty, a legal agreement in bourgeois international and common law. Law is perhaps the most immediate and efficacious social instrument for mediating capitalist social and property relations. The uncritical support for a legal document, the treaty of waitangi, seems to pass without much note or knowledge of the marxist (but not only among marxists) criticism of law and the call for its abolition (along with morality) in the Communist Manifesto of 1848, e.g. as Evgenii Pashukanis puts it in the General theory of law and marxism: “In bourgeois society, jurisprudence has always held a special privileged place. Not only is it first among the other social sciences, but it also leaves its mark on them. Not for nothing did Engels call the juridical way of looking at things the classical world view of the bourgeoisie a kind of ‘secularisation of the theological’, in which ‘human justice takes the place of dogma and divine right. and the state takes the place of the church.’

  7. I don’t really think in Mana ‘race’ trumps ‘class’, i.e. that it is waging a irredentist Rassenkampf against The White Man, on the model of the panthers.

    It’s more of a bourgeois political party/left wing of capital party where the people and the nation trumps everything, which is quite standard for most bourgeois parties. There is, however, a strongly essentialist racial inflection to their concept of people which has a different background to the other bourgeois parties.

    For example, there is the standard liberal preference for “the underdog” (“feed the kids”), but this is affected by their Maori nationalist/tino rangatiratanga take on the sovereignty question and their “radical” liberal adherence to the treaty ideology. Maoritanga and Maori spiritual values are also more prominent, which are useful in disguising or as dog-whistles for a lot of otherwise banal national chauvinism not too different from Labour or National or Greens, but for some postcolonial savants is more impervious to criticism due to the sacrosanct codes of biculturalism and the liberal ideology of neutral “respect for differences”.

  8. Admin says:

    Jordan, I don’t think ‘race trumps class’ means any such thing as an irredentist campaign against pakeha.

    Mana manages to be a ‘kiwi nationalist’ party and a party oriented to one ethnic group in particular. That tends to indicate the easy reconcilability of tino rangatiratanga politics with NZ nationalism. In fact a sector of TR folks argue that TR makes NZ nationalism more effective.

    What is missing on most of the left is *anti-capitalism* as the first principle.

  9. That’s right in that sense. Race/x will always trump class struggle in the sense that for Mana as an implicit progressive liberal project, any one-sided treatment of identity, or liberal hand-wringing about “poverty” without examining its causes, will be considered more politically expedient than endorsing what may sound like class warfare.

    Class struggle is clearly not considered an electable programme by the political elite of the parliamentary left in this country.

    They may be correct on that point as far as class consciousness among workers stands right now.

    My own point is that I think it is unfairly and uncritically assumed that Mana has good “race” politics, which I don’t think it does. I think it’s consideration of that point is very narrowly national, and hemmed in further by biculturalist exclusive concern for Pakeha and Maori.

  10. NZ has no left that can be relied upon to organise class politics at this point. What this entails is very different for groups like Fightback, Redline, and socialists independent of groups. But I can see the process in other people’s heads something like:

    (1) The truth about Mana is that it’s the only actually established, progressive organisation with some form of a social base and institutional structure.

    (2) The various marxisant confessional sects composed mostly of student & teacher strata (incl. drop outs)/declasse urban intelligenstia/white collar marginalia have no really existing social base or constituency.

    (3) Left unity between the sects would have no political consequence because taken together or apart they have no coherent programme (vide. Fightback) or the social constituency to base that upon, as the Bolsheviks did after 1905.

    But, crucially for me:

    (4) There’s no *counter-hegemonic* party line that their CC/whatever could deploy which could convert a confessional sect of declasse elements/pb student strata etc. into a party of the working class. The fact that the weight of Fightback/ISO/SA’s politics falls predominantly into cross-class frontism is explained by their failure to deliver a coherent socialist programme.

    Because of (1-4), it is inevitable that the sects tail the two ‘worker’ish parties, the establishment Labour Party or the Maori nationalism of the “Mana Movement”. The fact some people think they can ride themselves to hegemony in either of these parties through a predictable set of entryist or opportunist manoeuvres is a testament in part to their misunderstanding of the history of the Bolsheviks whom they idolise, who were not a small confessional or entryist sect but a party with a real social base among urban workers, and not a cross-class social base “borrowed” from another nationalist party they supported (Fightback’s delusion).

    The first task of Marxian socialists, if there are any left, in this country is regroupment on the basis of programmatic principle and democratic organisation, to put an end to current frontist and nationalist illusions. To build class movement in this country seriously would take decades. If that collective effort doesn’t eventuate and things take a unidirectionally bad turn, individuals can do whatever they please. But there are a few obvious options: (1) maintain whatever ineffectual ‘activity’ they currently have and wait, (2) if they are in a position to do so, make tactical peace with bourgeois society and maintain themselves in maximum comfort and luxury (they can also wait while doing this) or (3), if they cannot and they are willing, then adopt the violent and nihilist tactics of anarcho-primitivists against capital (if they survive, this can also be a form of waiting). One could probably maintain all three. I suspect the majority, who are not saints, will inevitably choose (2) after some brief acquaintance with the NZ left.

    • Thomas R says:

      Ah, this has preemptively answered a question I just posted. Nevermind then. Agree with plenty of it, wonder about this magical idea that a Correct Coherent Social Programme will suddenly create a party of the working class.. doesn’t feel sensible.

      • I don’t know whether you’re illiterate or incapable of exiting your mental bubble, but there’s no “suddenly” or “magical” in the above. Let me put the emphasis again on *decades*. A programme, esp. a minimum programme for political unity (not the sort that confuses itself with support for Mana or a $18 minimum wage), is a rallying point for organisation. I don’t know why you are unable to contemplate the word, “programme”, without equating it with the Bordigaist approach to it, which is what I infer from your emphasis on capital-c Correct. Nor, really, do I think you know shit about Bordiga or the Italian left. Programmatism is a part of orthodox marxism going back to at the latest the Erfurt programme.

        Of course your political programme has to be considered “correct”, “coherent” and so on. Anyone who says otherwise is dishonest and idiotic.

      • Thomas R says:

        Okay so this is literally the most extreme substitutionism I’ve ever seen advocated. Develop a programme totally abstracted from anything to do with politics as they stand right now? That’s what a minimum programme developed by these ‘marxian socialists’ would be. Where is the engagement with the working class *as it actually exists* in this proposal of yours?

  11. If the programme were conditionalised on orienting itself to bourgeois politics right now – which is what you apparently are hysterical about demanding (because?) if I can make sense of your second sentence – rather than the objective conditions necessary for the achievement of “worker’s power”/the dictatorship of the proletariat, it wouldn’t even be able to satisfy the definition of the *minimum* programme. This is also the most pointless political self-limitation I’ve ever encountered and one that the political class are constantly trying to reinforce against even the sort of populist outsiders with whom you naturally sympathise.

    Now if you’re not for revolutionary politics, then I understand your position. But last I heard you and your sect were.

    “Where is the engagement with the working class *as it actually exists* in this proposal of yours?”

    Not sure what this sentence even means.

    “Okay so this is literally the most extreme substitutionism I’ve ever seen advocated.”

    Anti-substitutionism is just an abstract critique of stalinism and trotskyism etc.

    If any party of the class organised programmatically is “substitutionist” or vanguardist, then sure, I am happy to be guilty of that. If that is not your point, you have to be much more clear.

    • Thomas R says:

      Your proposal is the regroupment of Marxian Socialists programmatically – the programme, so far as I can tell, is developed entirely in isolation from any existing class politics (even in the weak almost non-existent state they are now). It reads like a very good guide for how to write dogma. All strikes me as very faux-rigorous but actually entirely abstract and scattershot anyway so not sure there’s any benefit in continuing the conversation.

      • There are no organised proletarian class politics in this country. There are only your confessional sects and a Maori nationalist party you all tail alternately with the establishment Labour party.

        The abolition of the value-form requires certain material and political conditions to be met. This can be worked out in theory, as Marx worked out most of Das Kapital with research, book learning and sitting at a desk.

        It’s a symptom of Fightback’s third rate theory that it thinks it needs to develop theory in conversation with these reactionary and petty bourgeois elements of the left wing of capital. That is symptomatic of Fightback’s entirely psuedo-pragmatic obscurantist approach to programme and theory, which talks a great deal about “connecting with things as they are, as they exist”, “politics as they are”, only tautologically to self-justify its opportunist sins.

        The class exists in a state of hitoric decomposition, and your remedy for that is apparently more interclassist opportunism, and this is apprently “not-isolated”, “not dogmatic” and so on. Good luck.

    • Thomas R says:

      Also, furious ranting on someone else blog followed up by accusing other people of hysteria seems a bit hypocritical.

  12. Admin says:

    I’ve blocked the last half dozen abusive rants and put the participants on moderation as there is no point to the slanging match.
    Daphna

  13. Malcolm says:

    I dunno, I was quite enjoying it! What does ‘hitoric’ mean? So many big words – make head hurt!