Epitomising sanctimonious bourgeois respectability

by Phil Duncan

Labour is, politically, a respectable bourgeois party.

Sociologically, it is peopled largely by respectable liberal middle class people.  Just take a look at the backgrounds of Labour MPs, the party’s top managers and new folks on the Labour party list for September.

They are overwhelmingly people who are thoroughly removed from the reality of poverty and people struggling to make ends meet.

They want all the poor people – people struggling to survive on the smell of an oily rag – to be respectably bourgeois like themselves. Such well-behaved poor people can then be grateful supplicants, looked after by the patronising Labour do-gooders.

And poor people who help themselves – like to a few extra bucks to feed their kids, as Metiria Turei did – are to be roundly condemned by respectable bourgeois like Jacinda Ardern and her idiot fan club.

Reminds me of the Catholic Church in Ireland at the time of the Great Famine in the late 1840s.

At the time of the Famine, there was no shortage at all of food in Ireland, both animal and vegetable.  There was, indeed, plenty of food, much of it being exported by the big Anglo-Irish landowners to profitable markets in Britain.

So a few militant Irish republicans, like Fintan Lalor, suggested the starving poor of urban and rural Ireland should take possession of this food; the Church told them not to, it being better to die (and let their children die) horribly of starvation than break the law.

It’s no surprise that Jacinda is a big admirer of Helen Clark. People who really want to change the world admire people like Che Guevara. But no, that’s not for Princess Jacinda. Her desire to get into government to manage capitalism shows in her choice of whom she looks up to.

This brings to mind how the NZ politician John Key most admired was Keith Holyoake, a pragmatic dimwit who succeeded in managing NZ capitalism because when he was prime minister NZ was enjoying the height of the postwar Long Boom. You didn’t really need to do much because it was one of those increasingly rare periods of capitalism when the system, at least in the First World, was doing quite well, albeit in the context of a mixed economy and a large state sector.

Today, capitalist politicians don’t – and can’t – do much because we now have a whole era of rickety capitalism in which not much is on offer. So all those who accept the limits of capitalism as being some kind of ‘natural economic limits’ mainly engage in keeping expectations low.

Low expectations on the part of the masses in this country are vitally important – they keep a system that doesn’t deliver much these days very secure.

And keeping expectations low is one of the key services the Labour Party performs for the NZ ruling class.


  1. Susanne K says:

    If anything, this little princess seems to have even less empathy with the poorest people in the working class than Andrew Little did.

    • Daphna says:

      It’s funny how the media praised Ardern for being ‘firm and decisive’. She could have been firm and decisive and refused to bow to the lynch mob. Instead she put the boot in, and felt “terribly sad” about it. She clearly has no real interest in the poor, which explains too how she has been in parliament for 9 years and not created a ripple on anything to do with poverty.
      There are quite a lot of people who now see through her and are saying they won’t vote Labour.

  2. Susanne K says:

    I see now how she’s trying to present a new tax levy, which will involve workers paying proportionately more than the wealthy, as some kind of “crowd-funding”.

  3. Alan Scott says:

    And the lackey news media are building Labour back up as a credible opposition. The ruling elite love Labour – it makes the poor naive voters think there actually is an alternative.

  4. Daphna says:

    One of the really positive things coming out of this is the exposure of Labour as a respectable party of capitalism, not a workers’ party. The Metiria case is also finally bringing to the fore class issues.

    There’s an article today by Claire Timperley a Lecturer in Political Science at Victoria University about the lack of working class representation in parliament. She points out “Beneficiary fraud is a uniquely class-based problem. The only people who are in the position of having to make difficult choices about whether to ‘play by the rules’ and by doing so risk not having the means to support their family are those who are in the poorest group of New Zealanders.” https://www.newsroom.co.nz/@future-learning/2017/08/08/41668/the-metiria-debate-its-all-about-class

    While Patrick Gower type hacks dominate in the mainstream media there are a number of voices that are dissenting.

  5. […] Labour and the politics of bourgeois respectability & low horizons August 6, 2017 […]