Capitalist parties behaving like capitalist parties is a mystery to some

by Daphna Whitmore

The Labour-Greens fiscal responsibility announcement delivered by two guys in grey suits is worthy of a great big yawn. That two capitalist parties have announced they’ll be implementing capitalist policies along similar lines to the current government is just not exciting to the average rational human.

Grey-suited capitalist politicians

Less fortunate are the people who believe that any moment now Labour Will Turn Left.

Suffers of LWTL syndrome have had a rough ride for decades. Imagine how it is for them, each time Labour announces a policy they go through shock and dismay all over again. This is tough because there is never any closure. The next announcement by Labour will be just as hurtful to the LWTL sufferer. In the more extreme cases they talk as if Labour will adopt socialist policies or may even become a socialist party. These people have to live with a constant sense of puzzlement. They wonder why, why, why?

Mike Treen expressed it well in an article on Daily Blog discussing the Labour-Green announcement. He thought it strange that Labour and the Greens were signing up to neo-liberal dogmas and wondered why they were doing that? Often LWTL folks do things they don’t want to do. Mike admits he didn’t “particularly want to advise people who want to make capitalism work how to do their job” and then went on to give some nice solid Keynesian advice on how to run capitalism in a nice Keynesian way.

It will be a busy year for LWTL sufferers as they prepare to spread the message “Change the government”. The message is suitably vacuous for the occasion, emphasising content-free change, and avoiding the obvious sameness of the capitalist parties. That no capitalist party has ever turned into a socialist party does not deter these faithful, unloved LWTL sufferers. Just as no amount of political abuse dished out by Labour can change their mindset.



  1. The only surprising element is the seeming idiocy of Labour Party strategists. I would have thought that anyone with half a brain could read a room and realise riding on the Bernie Sanders style coat-tails of trying to offer desperate people something ambitious, even if you never intend to do so – or even if capitalism makes such promises impossible – may at least have some populist traction. That’s what surprised me, not the policy itself but that the NZ Labour Party may be the most philistine and clueless one in history. Perhaps I should sell my soul to become one of their strategists or PR advisors – a trained gorilla would do a better job.

  2. Great little piece. I loved the LWTL syndrome thing. It really is a syndrome. probably worse, because syndromes generally are rationally explainable, but the LWTL syndrome is simply a mixture of determined to be stoopid and bonkers. Whatever happened to critical analysis?

    I’m surprised some of these folks are still alive. That they ever learned that if you keep putting your hand on the hot plate it will keep getting burned.

    They sure seem incapable of transferring that lesson to their experiences of Labour.

    The task is not to advise Labour – it’s to destroy this rotten capitalist party. That requires constantly exposing them and their record and not indulging the illusions and delusions that friends may have about them. And it means that when people like Matt McCarten go and sell out to Labour – and become enforces for racist shit like Labour’s anti-Chinese racism – those people be treated as having crossed a class line (which is exactly what they’ve done).

    At present I’m typing up a load of material the CPNZ produced in late 1987 on the Labour Relations Act, brought in that year by the fourth Labour government. It was probably the most vicious anti-union and anti-working class piece of legislation in NZ industrial history. And yet still there are people on the left who get excited at the prospect of a “Labour-led government” and pretend Labour is some kind of merely errant “workers party”.

    The Labourites launched an absolutely vicious attack on the working class and the loyalty of many trade unionists to Labour at the time meant they didn’t – and wouldn’t – act to defend the interests of workers and mobilise workers against the LRA.

    Apart from a few notable exceptions, the sad reality is that we don’t have an *anti-capitalist left* in this country. We have a merely anti-National Party left.


  3. It means that we will have to have another crash before these clowns do a rethink. Not surprising given the record of NZ Labor as the driving force for neoliberalism in 1984 with the execrable Roger Douglas leading the charge.

    The irony is that the fools in the Greens and the Labour Party are so right wing that they will not be able to save capitalism from the capitalists. To do that they would have to turn to Keynes, of course.

    I think the Keating nostalgia that grips the Labor Party still, is very much inclined to ignore the role of Keating and Douglas in bringing neoliberalism to Australian and NZ. At least there does not appear to be any nostalgia for Douglas.

    • Cheers, Gary. No not really any nostalgia for that prick in NZ. He thought his new party, Act, was going to be a major political force because he thought he was brilliant. But he was actually not very smart at all, and ACT has been a miserable failure. They’ve been down to one MP for quite a while now, kept on life-support by National who gift the ACT MP his electoral seat while taking the vast majority of party votes in that particular seat (Epsom), the richest electorate in the country I think. The Labourites continue to struggle. But, at present, it seems unlikely they’ll get back in this year – more likely they’ll have to wait until the current National-led government is totally exhausted and then have a shot in 2020. National has been to the left of Labour on several important issues in recent years -retirement age, welfare benefits, immigration – so it’s not as if the country is lurching to the right if/when National gets back in.

    • I think the NZ Labour Party is more removed from the working class than the British LP, and there is no real impetus for it to produce a leftist leader. While some of its members want it to move left the party is not really orientated to those members. Its focus is on gaining a centrist political position.

    • Agree with Daphna’s comments. Also, in Britain there is a very long tradition of a left in the LP. It’s always been a waste of time IMHO, because the British LP is a capitalist party. But there is that long tradition of genuine left socdem currents in the BLP and also, of course, loads of Trotskyist entryists (also wasting their time).

      Barrie, here is an article on Redline you may have missed that tries to address the subject of why no Corbyn in NZ:

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