Sometimes I get despondent with the left. It frustrates me that many on the ‘social justice activists’ side of the left have discarded with the tried and tested method of using facts in exchange for lazy stereotypes or sloppy ad hominems. This was highlighted again today through an ill thought out idea found on a Kiwi lefty website page. This ‘article’ for want of a better term was entitled “who is the white dude of the year“, underneath this headline was a selection of neoliberal politicians and media figures, who hadn’t exactly covered themselves in glory over the last year from a leftist perspective.
Highlighting these people who each have made some questionable decisions over 2017 is fine, but to criticise them based on the colour of their skin? Really? Is this because in SJW land white men are the last group who can be roundly criticised without any push back? In which case what separates us from the alt-right who target black and Muslim people, apart from our perceived moral superiority? There is no doubt many of the world’s richest people are white, older, males, but attacking a distinct demographic rather than the individual greed or economic system that supports them is self-defeating.
Primarily in my country of birth in the North of England the majority of the poor are white. I can guarantee you there are not too many people in the council estates of Manchester who feel particularly privileged right now. By supporting this sort of postmodern groupthink and entering into the oppression Olympics is alienating the very people that the left used to stand for. By rejecting the fight against class warfare and massive economic inequality, while adopting identity politics is precisely why the left has declined in numbers. Not only this, but the parties responsible for this exodus are still either, continuing down this political road or are squabbling within the party membership to gain an ideological control of the party.
Following a more in depth look at this article, it is clear that there is a distinct lack of text, no facts, just a gallery of offenders. So instead of embarking on the slippery slope of intersectionalism, what could we have said about these people in a more constructive manner? Take former Finance Minister Stephen Joyce for example, this was the man who claimed leading up to the NZ election that there was a fiscal gap of $11.7bn regarding Labour’s proposed alternative budget plan. The claim was indeed discovered to be a total lie which has now been confirmed by economic experts, despite Joyce doggedly sticking to his story.
To be fair to Mr Joyce he is impeccably qualified to be Finance Minister with a BSc in zoology after not making the cut for vet school. Following his triumphant graduation in zoology he embarked on and spectacularly failed the majority of his economics papers he took during the 80’s, scoring 3 passes out of 9. This of course makes him uniquely qualified to run as he did under National New Zealand’s finances or maybe not. Obviously in the eyes of the right he is a successful businessman and a millionaire following the sale of a radio station he jointly set-up, therefore, giving him all the legitimacy he needs.
In truth Joyce is no more than a career right wing ideologue who will create a story to fit his tired agenda of unrestrained capitalism which he indeed benefits from. Despite the fact he is woefully under qualified to comment on the likes of macroeconomics, his narcissism and bloody mindedness has steered him to some other interesting career highpoints. Most notably while defending the Transpacific Pacific Partnership Agreement (another corporate landgrab), he was physically assaulted resulting in the infamous ‘Dildogate’. Sit back and enjoy John Oliver as he takes you through this highpoint of New Zealand politics.
Next up is Don Brash, a man who was the Governor of the Reserve Bank from 1988 to 2002, this spanned the calamitous years of enforced neoliberalism by both Labour and National. He sits at the far end of his chosen doctrine, an ex-leader of the National Party and a member of the extreme neoliberal ACT Party. Don Brash has found it remarkably easy to seek out controversy over the years. This usually surfaces as thinly veiled racism or a harking back to better times that never were.
The Orewa Speech was presented on the 27th January 2004, as leader of the National Party this was the first incident to attract the public glare. The message focused on his perceived worry about separatism within NZ and his views that Māori somehow received an unfair advantage. This conclusion was reached despite the fact Māori did and still trail woefully in positive outcomes for health, education, income and mortality rates. This mentality was and is totally predictable as Brash is a fully paid member of the ‘dog eat dog’ society who disregard any sociological or environmental impact on the individual. He would rather believe that everything in life is a result of individual choices, therefore, justifying his relative success. Conveniently forgetting of course that he grew up in a comfortable environment, attending university at under and post graduate levels (without student fees), before going on to work for the World Bank in Washington all before the age of 26.
Mr Brash will never admit that this pathway for a multitude of reasons is just not available for many people. Nor does he subscribe to the notion that all of us need some help at different times of our lives in a variety of ways. On the contrary according to Don everything in life relates to personal responsibility, omitting the fact he had an excellent education, a stable environment and many influential mentors to help him through his own life. So, what was Don’s latest escapade, that elevated him on to this hit list? Well his most recent outburst centred around his frustration of having to listen to a few sentences of Te Reo (Māori) on Radio New Zealand. Oh the pain! I’m sure it must have been terrible for Don’s delicate ears.
Ironically, New Zealand’s two official languages are Te Reo and Sign, with English being a de facto language due to popularity of use. Ambiguously, Brash has long used the slogan “one people” and offers that we should be united by our Britishness, which incidentally entirely disregards Māori culture and any other culture that doesn’t see themselves as British. Brash’s many race related tantrums can be encapsulated in this statement while talking about a traditional Māori welcoming called a Powhiri, he stated; “I mean, I think there is a place for Maori culture but why is it that we always use a semi-naked male, sometimes quite pale-skinned Maori, leaping around in, you know, mock battle”? It is clear that Don Brash has no interest in the idea of “one people” at all, what he does want is for Māori to know there place in the pecking order. It is apparent that this type of attitude would be more at home in a ‘make New Zealand great again rally’, unfortunately he is not alone with his thoroughly outdated and ill thought-out views.
The point I’m trying to make is this, I could continue to critique this cast of characters in the original ‘left wing’ piece with little effort. All it takes is a modicum of laptop based research, enabling you to challenge them on a political, ideological, moral, historical and even a personal level without resorting to identity politics or privilege theory. Both of which are inherently anti-reason or truth and are designed to stifle debate rather than encourage it. These methods are purely used to silence dissenting views, alongside other tactics such as banning opposing speakers from universities.
What are we scared of? Are we so devoid of debating skills that we have an inability to critique what is being said and then counter these opposing views issue by issue? By resorting to disparaging remarks based on skin colour is no better than a juvenile insult in a schoolyard or the kind of bile that occurs within the Alt-Right. This does nothing to address the issues at hand, while discrediting our ability to embark on robust dialogue, thus reducing the left to the moral cellar. We will never win back the trust of the working class, while we alienate whole swathes of the population by using terms such as ‘white privilege’.
We need to revert back to judging what is actually being conveyed, not the group the sender belongs to. We have to discard postmodernist rubbish where the perception of the receiver no matter how ridiculous is considered more valid than the content from the sender. Until this happens, intersectionalism, postmodernism and other tools of the Alt-Left will continue to tear us apart, all the while neoliberalism will ceaselessly strive to decimate the planet.