Fear and loathing

Against the Current blog has been providing analysis of the anti-mandate occupation in Wellington. This latest piece looks at how the occupation is both feared and loathed by those who claim ‘progressive’ and ‘left wing’ credentials.

WHILE THE OCCUPATION OF Parliament grounds and the protests that have emerged in other parts of the country are driven by opposition to vaccination mandates they have also been the catalyst for wider community opposition to the political and economic status quo. The fact that a new poll has revealed that, already, a third of the country supports the Wellington occupation suggests that, despite what the Government claims, this protest is not the work of a ‘fringe minority’.

Widespread and significant change is often sparked by opposition to a more limited and localised issue. So the nationwide opposition that emerged in Chile to the neoliberal status quo was sparked by opposition to the rise in bus fares in the capital Santiago in 2019. 

Those protests ultimately led to the election of a left wing president in 2021 with a mandate to topple the political and economic neoliberal order. This came nearly fifty years after Salvador Allende, the world’s first democratically elected socialist president, was overthrown in a military coup backed by the CIA in 1973. Allende’s successor, General Augusto Pinochet, embraced neoliberal policies and allowed Chile to become a laboratory for neoliberalism.

In New Zealand the imposition of neoliberalism was achieved rather more peaceably through the election of the fourth Labour Government in 1984. The fact that it was a Labour Government that ruthlessly pursued policies such as the stripping back of the welfare state and the privatisation of major state assets completely disarmed the left which never quite managed to draw a line in the sand and defend the gains of post-war social democracy. In the end, it had nothing left to defend and it has largely become a defender of the neoliberal status quo. 

Despite the fact that poverty and inequality have remained blights on New Zealand society for the past three decades, ordinary New Zealanders have effectively been left without a voice. It is little wonder some 700,000 New Zealanders no longer vote when the ‘choice’ they are presented with is more of the same.

Its not a coincidence that the most vociferous – and hysterical – critics of the Wellington occupation are largely the same people who vociferously defend this Labour Government in ‘calmer times’. There has been a complete refusal to acknowledge that protesters have genuine grievances and instead its establishment opponents have embarked on what is becoming an increasingly desperate attempt to discredit the protest as the work of ‘extremists’ and ‘neo-nazis’. 

Or, in the absurd argument being promoted by Chris Trotter and no-one else, it’s all the work of ‘lumpenproletarians’. Trotter wants to appear as if he’s being ‘progressive’ when he’s actually an outright reactionary in the service of his beloved leader Jacinda Ardern. He is one of these types who thinks working people can’t operate without approved politicians and trade union officials and…people like him. In the view of Chris Trotter the working class is little better, to paraphrase Rosa Luxemburg, than a ‘sack of potatoes’. Read the rest of the article here.

One comment

  1. A good article in as much as it attacks those liberals who support the centrist Labour govt.

    Neo-liberalism has certainly hurt societies across the world. The answer however is not with the Rightist populists of various stripes whose views seem to dominate the current protest. It is with a Left grounded in a materialist regard for rationality, respect for science and hostility to both the Right and the current government.

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