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Lefter 56 ~ The New World, or the New World Order

July 12, 2012 by emweb

The Right is dead, the Left is dead. Well, not exactly, they’re just boring to the people who want a new political landscape, and this group is expanding. Definitely, Nazism gave the Right about as bad a name as you could get, and Stalin and Mao worked hard to foist a very similar repute upon the left. Certainly, doctrinaire positions from the Old Left and the Old Right look increasingly redundant, and even many with some doctrinaire beliefs nowadays shy away from being tarred with those old Left/Right brushes.

I’ve never been a doctrinaire lefty myself – even when I was a teenager it was pretty clear to me Communism was far from a good system, as reliant was it was on controlling every body and every thing, and as subject to the same kind of right-wing opportunistic narcissism as any other system that became  thoroughly imposed over a population.

Systems resembling Socialism are more what I’ve ended up voting for over the years, but even there I find the positions of moribund unions within their structures annoying, along with the insistence of following party lines. So I’ve not joined these parties. Unions have been sadly crippled in New Zealand, yes – so why do they still have so much power in Labour? It’s redundant. And generally, I’ve always maintained that I have enough thought process to choose my own pathways, thank you very much, and I insist on my freedom to do so.

So where to from here? It’s not difficult, actually. You can distill what’s good about the left fairly easy, just as you can distill what’s still attractive (albeit not to me) about the right. The new poles are:

Humanitarianism verses Authoritarianism.

Humanitarianism takes the place of the left and keeps all that’s good about it, and authoritarianism is essentially what any Tory regime you can think of boils down to. And as alien as it seems to me, some people actually hanker for a society that controls them and tells them what to do – it makes them feel ‘safe’, even though it’s at the expense of any claims to actual human intelligence. Right thinking invariably embraces punishment over rehabilitation, promotes more and more rules and laws and even proposes strictures on how people should look (banning the burkha springs to mind) and act (learn our language if you want to live here, buddy).

Left wing social agendas promote difference, acceptance, education, cultural awareness and rehabilitation.

The actual shade of each position … well, that’s up to the parties and cultures. But it does give us easy platforms to develop.


  1. Mark H says:

    Hello Lefter,

    Thank you for your insightful writing.

    What do you reckon about this then… it’s the Green Party charter and it locates amongst other things ‘social responsibility’ (as a form of socialism) with ‘ecological wisdom’ (environmental sustainability)… (ok I am biased towards this, you know that…)

    Plus, here’s an example of a number of cases where Labour turns to right-wing policies in relation to the environment, on Phil Twyford …
    (I’m quite disapointed in him now, I thought he had more brains than to basically priviledge developers through RMA reform, just like National does. Another example is their approach to oil drilling and mining, see Shane Jones promoting mining in Northland on this).

    My point is in all of this is that I think it’s time socialism was considered in relation to environmental sustainability, and where parties like Labour place the environment second behind big business interests they shut out their socialist labels and tendencies.

    – Mark

  2. emweb says:

    That was pretty much my point: formerly left-wing voters want a humanist party to vote for, not one tarred with the redundant old brush of unionist-socialism.
    Not that there’s anything wrong with either of those things per se, but labour seriously messed up with the Seabed and Foreshore and also let the moratorium on GE lapse, which was really stupid, it it and still looks like the unions are pulling their strings, along with old-school socialists. The Greens can take this territory fairly easily if they want to – it’s ripe (ha ha) for the plucking.

  3. hayespond says:

    I think your discussion contains a few important points which could be teased out further. Firstly, your use of the authoritarian-humanitarian polarity applies, on the face of it, to social rather than economic politics. I’m not sure if the term ‘authoritarian’ applies to the economic position of many parties/countries/bodies at the moment. Authoritarian economics suggests a state-controlled economy withheavy protectionism policies and a high degree of regulation. We have more of a neoliberal approach to politics – opening markets and stripping back sovereign rights to interfere.

    Humanitarian economics, on the other hand, sounds quite appealing. I’m assuming this system would privilege the use of resources to ensure either some sort of basic standard of living (sufficientarianism) for all. At the base, humanitarianism is about valuing human life. It doesn’t, alone, tell us much about distribution or what is important.

    I think a dichotomy will never really satisfy the full range of values and agendas involved in how people think about society.

    I also don’t know what “environmental socialism” would be – as alluded to in a prior comment. Socialism, traditionally, is about production and humans as equal units in this production (rather than limiting ownership of production to the wealthy). Is environmental socialism seeing each person as having an equal stake in the environment? This would be better terms environmental egalitarianism. This also still says nothing about whether the environment has intrinsic or instrumental.

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