Is it the Mana or Marxist party?

May 17th, 2011 at 9:54 am by David Farrar

With John Hart, a committed Marxist, looming to be a candidate, and with all the policies focused on non-Maori issues such as promoting compulsory union membership, I wonder whether the party would be more accurately named the Marxist Party.

Once they register and publish a party list, it will be interesting to see what proportion of their top candidates are Marxists (or Maoists).

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149 Responses to “Is it the Mana or Marxist party?”

  1. s.russell (1,640 comments) says:

    Don’t be ridiculous. You can’t have Marxists and Maoists in the same party. They hate each other.

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  2. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Well what do you think?

    Pretty much a DUH right there with the schoolboy level socialist wet dream posing as policy.

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  3. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    If they’re not killing each other they’re not hating each other enough s.

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  4. adze (2,126 comments) says:

    Don’t you mean John Minto, former leader of HART?

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  5. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    John Minto the former useless prick hated by 99% of kiwis who should on no account be permitted to share his perverted world view any minor and whose only contribution to society was to lend his name to the poice batto? Yes that John Minto.

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  6. ephemera (556 comments) says:

    Chris Trotter is being proven correct:

    “No worries,” say the promoters of a New Left Party, “we’ll just game the MMP system by recruiting Hone Harawira. That way we can avoid the necessity of winning 5 per cent of the party vote. If it’s good enough for Rodney Hide in Epsom, it’s good enough for us.”

    Hmmmm? Not sure that’s the slogan you’re looking for, Comrades. Besides, if you really think an electorally poisonous bunch of eco-anarchists, Maori nationalists, unreconstructed 80s feminists and hard-core Marxist-Leninists are going to attract anything like ACT’s vote in 2008, then you’re away with the fairies.

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  7. 3-coil (1,219 comments) says:

    I knew John Hart was on the wrong track when he chucked in coaching the All Blacks and headed towards rugby league – but I never thought he would sink this low.

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  8. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Sad to see a man sink so low 3coil.

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  9. OTGO (548 comments) says:

    The further left the Mana Party drift with these candidate announcements the more you’ll hear JK calling Don Brash an extreme right wing politician. It adds the the perception of balance so that National are firmly positioned in the middle.

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  10. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Fuck John Key OTGO. Untill he starts to makes polcies for the people who DID vote for him rather than those that DIDN’T he can cram it.

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  11. Cunningham (844 comments) says:

    Who the hell is actually going to vote for these people? There is no way in they will achieve anything in parliament because no one will want to go near them. They are way to extreme for even the greens to associated with (and that is a big statement!).

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  12. Shazzadude (529 comments) says:

    “I knew John Hart was on the wrong track when he chucked in coaching the All Blacks and headed towards rugby league – but I never thought he would sink this low.”

    LOL.

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  13. Other_Andy (2,676 comments) says:

    OTGO (205) Says:
    “The further left the Mana Party drift with these candidate announcements the more you’ll hear JK calling Don Brash an extreme right wing politician.”
    With the Mana Party policies, even Labour looks like a right wing party.

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  14. OTGO (548 comments) says:

    If that’s true Other_Andy then we need a true right wing extremist party to be formed to add true balance.

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  15. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    We have that muppet white power loser from Christchurch for that OTGO, difference is he doesn’t get media support.

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  16. Bryce Edwards (248 comments) says:

    There is certainly something very interesting going on with the Mana Party’s political identity. Essentially it has a dual political ideological character at the moment: Maori nationalism and leftwing (or perhaps as DPF puts it, ‘Marxist’) ideology. And, I’m surprised at just how dominant the leftwing nature of the party has been so far. This is partly because of the involvement of a significant number of important leftwing activists such as Matt McCarten, John Minto, and Mike Treen. These staunch leftwingers have pushed Mana and Harawira to the left, and so far the party has been relatively light on Maori-focused or ethnic-focused policy. And on the contemporary NZ left there is always a tension about how much to buy into Maori nationalism and ethnic separatist ideology. There are many leftists that are very uncomfortable with Harawira’s Maori nationalism, but are sometimes willing to go along with some small elements of it for movement/party building reasons. One of the important questions, I think, is whether the current dominance of leftist ideology will continue in Harawira’s Mana Party. Perhaps it will – but I can also imagine that the Maori nationalism will re-assert itself at some stage, and the ‘Marxism’ will take a back seat. A similar situation can be seen in US primary elections in the Democratic and Republican parties: the candidates that are seeking the respective nominations shift to the more radical end of the US left and right spectrum, in order to win over party activists etc, but once they become the candidates they then shift back into the middle of the political spectrum. Similarly in NZ, the Mana Party and Harawira are strategically very leftwing, in an attempt to recruit leftwing activists and members (who currently don’t really have a genuine political home), but eventually Harawira and the party are likely to revert back to type. So to answer DPF’s question…. yes, there’s a strong ‘Marxist’ element to Mana, but the ‘Marxism’ is likely to give way to the Maori nationalism eventually.

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  17. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Paragraphs Bryce.

    A useful device for making your comment readable.

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  18. slightlyrighty (2,475 comments) says:

    Mana Party, putting the Mao in Maori since 2011!

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  19. Roflcopter (463 comments) says:

    Te Tai Tokerau Māori aren’t that stupid. As soon as they start seeing what the Mana Party are gearing up as, they’ll desert Harawira.

    A good portion of Harawira’s vote was based on the Māori Party, not Harawira. Watch the Labour Party come screaming up the middle.

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  20. OTGO (548 comments) says:

    You mean screaming up the middle left Roflcopter!

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  21. Pete George (23,558 comments) says:

    The Manarxist Party is an interesting mix.

    Harawira appears to be a seat of the pants activist politician (do policy details matter to him?) who happens to most likely have a seat in parliament, and he seems to have taken the Maori Party support structure in TTT with him – in that electorate only. It looks like he has one recruit so far, Sykes.

    The left faction – McCarten and Treen – has some wider support structure (Unite) and are unionists who seem interested in policy and organisation, and want any easy ride on Harawira into parliament.

    And there are the opportunist activist dabblers like Minto and Bradford, no sign of policy from them yet unless they are also in the unionist camp.

    It’s hard to see this all coming together into a cohesive political force that will have more than extreme minority appeal. The ex Maori Party supporters who have jumped ship through disillusionment may put their illusions to an even greater test.

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  22. publicwatchdog (2,593 comments) says:

    # Murray (7,581) Says:
    May 17th, 2011 at 10:14 am

    John Minto the former useless prick hated by 99% of kiwis who should on no account be permitted to share his perverted world view any minor and whose only contribution to society was to lend his name to the poice batto? Yes that John Minto.”
    __________________________________________________________________________________________________

    errr…. that’s not the John Minto I know.

    Got any FACTS and EVIDENCE to back up your arguably ‘not so considered’ opinion, ‘Murray’?

    It’s ok – I do recognise how difficult it may be to change from your normal ‘style’ – but have a go!

    Just for the novelty factor. :)

    Try giving a fair and balanced assessment of John Minto’s contribution over the last 30 years, as presumably you would like others to do in your case?

    Perhaps ‘Murray’ – you would like to include a list of your ‘track record’ – what contributions you have made that have helped those apart from yourself, your friends or your family?

    I’m sure it won’t take you very long? :)

    Penny Bright
    http://waterpressure.wordpress.com

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  23. Inventory2 (10,337 comments) says:

    Murray doesn’t have to justify his track record to you or to anyone Penny, because he’s not seeking public office. On the other hand …

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  24. Roflcopter (463 comments) says:

    Shall we start with his police record, Penny?

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  25. Shazzadude (529 comments) says:

    “Te Tai Tokerau Māori aren’t that stupid. As soon as they start seeing what the Mana Party are gearing up as, they’ll desert Harawira.

    A good portion of Harawira’s vote was based on the Māori Party, not Harawira. Watch the Labour Party come screaming up the middle.”

    Hone did more than double the Maori Party party vote with his electorate vote in 2008, but what can’t be quantified for sure is whether the gap was solely to do with his personal profile, or strong tactical voting. As it happened, 45% of those in Tai Tokerau who gave Labour their party vote voted for Hone.

    The by-election (and probably moreso the general election, with it’s likely superior turnout) will give us a better indication of his pulling power.

    Over the last 20 years Te Tai Tokerau has been the most apathetic of all the Maori electorates to Labour, having only voted for a Labour MP in two out of the last six elections, I think that’s well worth noting.

    If there is a split in the voting, I suspect it will be Labour and the Maori Party doing the splitting. I see this by-election as being between the pro-Hone vote and the anti-Hone vote.

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  26. Rich Prick (1,699 comments) says:

    I don’t count harassing a young female tennis player as any sort of “contribution”.

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  27. grumpyoldhori (2,362 comments) says:

    Roflcopter so which iwi are you ?
    Hone will bolt in for one good reason, the Maori party are seen by a lot of hori of having sold out, joining Brash and co being just one example.

    I would not be surprised to see all the Maori seats either go to Hone or go back to Labour

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  28. lofty (1,310 comments) says:

    Do you see that as a good result Grumpy? (honest question)

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  29. Roflcopter (463 comments) says:

    Really grumpy?

    A lot of Ngāpuhi I’ve spoken too are happy to get gains, as opposed to being told they’re the last cab off the rank and getting nothing.

    They’ll get nothing backing Hone, they’ll get nothing backing Labour, but I’m still picking Labour to come up trumps, Māori Party second, Hone and his band of convicted criminal mates consigned to history (with any luck).

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  30. scrubone (3,099 comments) says:

    Seems to me that people who are this radical aren’t willing to compromise their political stance to get results.

    Put them all in one party and….

    Let’s just say, this should be fun to watch.

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  31. Black with a Vengeance (1,861 comments) says:

    The proportion of which top Mana party candidates are Marxists (or Maoists) will be as interesting as fecal matter on the public toilet doorknob.

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  32. peterwn (3,271 comments) says:

    There is a symbiotic relationship between Hone and the Marxists. Hone has the advantage of a seat in Parliament and a chance of retaining it in the byelection (I have no idea of what chance, anything from 20% to 80%). However he cannot even organise a piss-up in a brewery. Now the Marxist brigade have very little chance of getting a foothold in Parliament, but can organise things.

    At the end of the day, however, Hone will merely be a fall-guy for the Marxists and will part company with them as with the Maori Party.

    Perhaps National can dust off the old Cossacks election commercial.

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  33. markm (114 comments) says:

    Is Penny Notso standing for Mana

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  34. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    I’m kinda hoping these guys grab all the radical left wingers who currently vote green. Seeing that lot under 5% would be worth the theatre of a few old marxists getting used to the baubles of office.

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  35. rouppe (971 comments) says:

    Hone’s problem – that he might just recognise – is broadening his appeal in order to increase his vote.

    If he surrounded himself with the entire Harawira clan and all the Waitangi protesters etc, he would be narrowing his appeal down to just disgruntled Maori.

    One of the biggest voting blocs – for want of a better word – are unions. Some seem to be able to bully their members into voting how the union leaders want. By aligning with Minto and McMarten, who then direct their union member to vote for them/the mana Party, they could increase their vote substantially.

    The kicker is that if this is the case, then Hone has put aside his principles for votes. Which is not disimilar to what he’s accusing the Maori Party of doing, putting aside the totality of their aspirations in order to gain forward motion.

    I can’t work out whether Hone is acting intelligently, or whether he is plain stupid and is allowing his persona and party to be consumed by the opportunists – McCarten, Minto, Bradford…

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  36. Shazzadude (529 comments) says:

    “Roflcopter so which iwi are you ?
    Hone will bolt in for one good reason, the Maori party are seen by a lot of hori of having sold out, joining Brash and co being just one example.”

    Yep, I agree. I can see the Maori Party being punished just like Tau Henare and co were punished by the Maori electorates for what they considered to be selling out. Presuming Hone wins the by-election, I consider only Tariana Turia to be safe, and I think Annette Sykes will have a good chance of taking Waiariki.

    I’m predicting something along the lines of: Harawira 52%, Davis 27%, Maori Party candidate 16%, Legalise Cannabis candidate 3%, give or take a 5% swing between Hone and Davis. Turnout could be a crucial factor as well.

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  37. Steve Wrathall (284 comments) says:

    “eco-anarchists, Maori nationalists, unreconstructed 80s feminists and hard-core Marxist-Leninists ”
    otherwise known as Key’s target market

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  38. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,903 comments) says:

    slightlyrighty (1,849) Says:
    May 17th, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Mana Party, putting the Mao in Maori since 2011!

    slightlyrighty (1,849) Says:
    May 17th, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Mana Party, putting the Mao in Maori since 2011!

    Very good. Very good indeed.

    The commie white mother fuckers have found their latest useful idiot dumb arse who will be discarded once they have what they want.

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  39. publicwatchdog (2,593 comments) says:

    # Roflcopter (179) Says:
    May 17th, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Shall we start with his police record, Penny?”

    ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

    If you like.

    Off you go!

    Cheers

    Penny Bright
    http://waterpressure.wordpress.com

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  40. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Well on the subject of Minto would it help that a univeristy lecturer taking an ethics class recently acknowledged that the springbok tour protests were both illegal and unethical because of the violent confrontational methods they employed. Aside from that his racist agenda driven track record speaks for itself.

    You all are welcome to look at my police record. go nuts, its a boring read. It consists of having applied to be a police cadet in 1980 and coming 62 in a group that took 60. Having applied for and been granted a firearms liscence in 1990. Having aprehended and handed of to the police an associate of the mongrel mob who was participating in home invasion of one of my neighbours as well as recovering protery from the same. Most recently having handed in a wallet I found that still had $185 in it. I’ll be that kid is shocked to see that again. I did other stuff with the polce but that is classified. Not that exciting, just training stuff, but still classified, although it does relate to my military service of 12 years. You’re welcome.

    My additional contributions to society hmm. Well I was cub leader, a rowing coach, then a cadet forces instructor – which by the way I’d recomend, not one of those kids has ever gotten into any trouble with the law that I’ve heard about. also dolphins (thats like junior nacy cadets) I give talks on subjects of history and technology and school visits along the same lines as well as having had several exhibitions of my work on catapults as well as numerous public displays. I do all that at my own expense and with the aid of donations. Mainly from Americans if anyone is interested – probalby Trevor Mallard can make something of that.

    And finally I don’t give the slightest crap whether or not a fucking head case wannabe approves of what I do penny. I don’t answer to you, I answer to me. And as has already been pointed out to you, I’m not looking for votes.

    And as a special public service, I don’t take shit from assholes.

    Since you clearly have failed to just piss off and die your record of public service is seriously deficient.

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  41. Rick Rowling (813 comments) says:

    The Mana Party are just part of the VRWC

    Split the Maori seat Labour vote two ways, then National up the middle!

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  42. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Rick we’ve talked about revealing what goes on at the VRWC meetings.

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  43. lofty (1,310 comments) says:

    Thanks Murray, Rick do we have thrash you for letting out secrets?? I sincerely hope not my boy! ;-)

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  44. Elaycee (4,392 comments) says:

    Murray 2.23pm says “And finally I don’t give the slightest crap whether or not a fucking head case wannabe approves of what I do penny. I don’t answer to you, I answer to me. And as has already been pointed out to you, I’m not looking for votes. And as a special public service, I don’t take shit from assholes. Since you clearly have failed to just piss off and die your record of public service is seriously deficient..”

    Brilliant…

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  45. Christopher Thomson (376 comments) says:

    Sounds like Murray has been drinking deeply from the well of “pissed of with tosspot wankers” today.

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  46. labrator (1,850 comments) says:

    Nice work Murray. I look forward to the response but I expect it to be equal to or lesser than all current contributions with a sum value below zero.

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  47. publicwatchdog (2,593 comments) says:

    Murray (7,585) Says:
    May 17th, 2011 at 2:23 pm
    …………..
    And finally I don’t give the slightest crap whether or not a fucking head case wannabe approves of what I do penny. I don’t answer to you, I answer to me. And as has already been pointed out to you, I’m not looking for votes.

    And as a special public service, I don’t take shit from assholes.

    Since you clearly have failed to just piss off and die your record of public service is seriously deficient.”
    _________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Well on the subject of Minto would it help that a univeristy lecturer taking an ethics class recently acknowledged that the springbok tour protests were both illegal and unethical because of the violent confrontational methods they employed.
    errr… think you need to remove your head from your bottom ‘Murray’ and keep up with the play?

    It was ‘Roflcopter’ that started this off.

    # Roflcopter (179) Says:
    May 17th, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Shall we start with his police record, Penny?”
    ____________________________________________________________________________________________

    Murray (7,585) Says:
    May 17th, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Well on the subject of Minto would it help that a univeristy lecturer taking an ethics class recently acknowledged that the springbok tour protests were both illegal and unethical because of the violent confrontational methods they employed.”
    _________________________________________________________________________________________________

    errr….. who was that ‘univeristy lecturer’? ‘Murray’?

    Were they present at the 1981 Springbok Tour protests?

    If you check out the history, (and I WAS there as one of 12 on the Auckland ‘Demonstration Committee that organised the Auckland protests against Springbok Tour) the position of the group leading the protests was non-violent, civil disobedience.

    It was after the Police became ‘violent’ and ‘ confrontational’ and attacked Wellington protestors that we starting wearing motorcycle helmets and PROTECTIVE clothing.

    Like yourself ‘Murray’ – I ‘ don’t take shit from assholes’ (as it were) either.

    Especially FACTUALLY incorrect sh*t.

    Given the thousands of decent New Zealanders who did participate in the 1981 Springbok Tour protests, I think there will be plenty who can back up what I am saying.

    Kind regards

    Penny Bright
    http://waterpressure.wordpress.com

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  48. kiwi in america (2,439 comments) says:

    The hard left operate in an almost hermetically sealed echo chamber of radical fellow travelers and are always destined to be disappointed by the inate conservatism (small c) of middle New Zealand. Chris Trotter is one of the great thinkers of the NZ left and his one paragraph sums up the plight of Mana.

    Only tone deaf lefties like Penny Not So can shrug off the pratfalls to date and sing Kumbaya (or should I say The Internationale):
    * Hone calling Osama Bin Laden a freedom fighter
    * Titiwhai berating her own people at a crucial Nga Puhi hui and inviting the memories of her and Hone’s atrocious violence at Carrington Hospital
    * The arrogance of an unnecessary by-election
    * The aggressive involvement of unions like Unite and Matt McCarten leading to a compulsory union platform now utterly discredited
    * The high profile involvement of known Communists like Bradford and the spectre of her full time in your face protesting and rent a mob before sneaking into Parliament as a watermelon.
    * Annette Sykes and other Maori radicals – remember she went to Libya with Donna Awatere-Huata and others to train for the type of stuff the Urewera 12 wanted to have a crack at
    * Finally the high profile involvement of the permanently angry John Minto and his selective aggressive advocacy for all the sacred holy cows of the far left.

    Add in a threat to nationalise what is it monoplies and duopolies with the taxpayer already $16B in the hole, I can only wish Kelvin Davis the very best of luck in ridding us of the turbulent priest that is Hone Harawiri and thus drive a stake through the Marxist heart of Mana.

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  49. Ed Snack (1,872 comments) says:

    Just a note on the classification of those on the (mostly far) left. Most leftist groups of all persuasions are Marxists as a broad description, including Maoists. That is they trace the origin of their political philosophy on Marx although some may disagree. However Marx has been “interpreted” in many different ways, ways that are essentially tactically different although in many cases the differences are incomprehensible to all but the anointed few involved.

    Thus the groups can be labelled as Stalinist, Maoist, Trotskyite, Leninist, etc etc, all being generally “Marxist”. Many of these are self-classifications and can be disputed. Usually, the smaller the difference the greater the rancour.

    Quite what factions are represented within Mana I’m not sure, but if more than one, look for some reasonably nasty arguments to erupt.

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  50. Scott (1,792 comments) says:

    Penny, Penny, Penny — I don’t think I have ever made comments to you before but I cannot help but comment on your assertion that —
    “If you check out the history, (and I WAS there as one of 12 on the Auckland ‘Demonstration Committee that organised the Auckland protests against Springbok Tour) the position of the group leading the protests was non-violent, civil disobedience.It was after the Police became ‘violent’ and ‘ confrontational’ and attacked Wellington protestors that we starting wearing motorcycle helmets and PROTECTIVE clothing.”

    Well I was there too my dear and you are quite frankly being economical with the truth. There were many elements that embraced violence and you know it. Clearly following the cancellation of the Waikato match the Springbok tour protesters wanted to stop the matches. Of course that would involve violence. At Wellington there were a number of groups who knowingly got involved in confrontations with the police. Getting involved in confrontations with the police was part of the fun. And if you organised Auckland to be non-violent, then how well do you think you did?

    If we are going to comment let’s not just talk rubbish for the sake of it, shall we?

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  51. Zapper (1,021 comments) says:

    Murray, brilliant post and thank you for your public service. One imagines you would attract more than the 12 or so votes the person you’re addressing has achieved, should you choose to run for any public office.

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  52. Muzza M (291 comments) says:

    Penny says: 1 2 3 4 we don’t want your racist tour
    I say: 5 6 7 8 go home and masturbate

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  53. grumpyoldhori (2,362 comments) says:

    lofty, a good result getting rid of the Maori party, yep, I hate bloody hypocrisy and the Maori party agreeing to second class titles for the hories on the foreshore is plain wrong.
    Far better to have ALL the foreshore in crown hands, the pakeha who own some can get the $7000 each that is deemed good enough for hories as they lose their foreshore.

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  54. Rich Prick (1,699 comments) says:

    History is littered with non-violent, peaceful Marxists. Or so Penny would wish us to believe. What makes you think that today’s crop is any different? Their means may have changed, loud-hailers and harassment rather than guns and gulags, but their objectives have not.

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  55. Inventory2 (10,337 comments) says:

    Quite so Scott; does anyone REALLY tjink that the gang members (Headhunters, Mongrel Mob and Black Power) in the front rows of the demo’s at Auckland really cared about rugby or apartheid. They were there to have a crack at the police, whilst protected by a mob of demonstrators.

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  56. kiwi in america (2,439 comments) says:

    Penny – hoist by her own petard – thanks Scott. I never saw Minto ever protesting against Mugabe’s thuggery in Zimbabwe or Saddam Hussein’s genocide of the Kurds and March Arabs. No – Israeli female tennis players a much easier and PC target for the Israel hating left.

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  57. grumpyoldhori (2,362 comments) says:

    Roflcopter which Ngapuhi ? what hapu ?

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  58. Inventory2 (10,337 comments) says:

    Penny Bright; professional shit-stirrer since 1981 ….

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  59. Manolo (13,735 comments) says:

    Penny Bright; professional shit-stirrer since 1981.

    Never professional: she’s the most amateurish loony you can ever imagine!

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  60. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    On behalf of the thousands of decent kiwis who think you and your kind are utter fuckwit assholes penny piss off and get a job, you and the 12 people who voted for you.

    And yes I was there. As was my brother who was walking backwards interviewing Minto untill he was stopped by ross murant batton. I even had the joy of having the army teach me to string barbed wire, I had an interview with a senior police officer who was at the incident where the head mistress of Westlake girls claimed to have been assulted. Where they filled two jumbo bin with the shit that had been thrown at them. Including by said head misstress.

    Oh no you fucked up AGAIN. Stuipd stupid stupid dipshit bitch.

    By the way the cops saved your useless fucking lives by keeping you away from the rest of the country. they would have masacred you all and gone home happy. You waged war on the people we pay to protect us from lawlessness and you’re proud of it. Is there a name for what fucking wrong with you people?

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  61. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Christopher Thomson, we call those the days that end with a y.

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  62. RightNow (6,994 comments) says:

    Murray, she suffers from terminal hypocrisy. One week she’s all gung-ho about people following the ‘rule of law’, the next she’s boasting about how she ignores it when it suits her.

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  63. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Oh by the way penny you probably missed it because you’re not very bright but you just got bitchslapped into next week.

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  64. Viking2 (11,467 comments) says:

    One observes that NZ has gone downhill since 1981. Crime gets worse, people have left, prosperity has gone down the gurgler.
    Politicians have got worse and the Laws have become more and more draconian.
    That’s what we have to thank Minto and Bright and their friends for.

    Total lowering of community standards of course aided by people like Clark and Peg leg Meg and all the rest of those scumbag tossers who considered that their opinions on South Africa at the time had greater legitimacy than the rest of us Kiwi’s who wanted to go about our lives unfettered by their misinformed opinions.

    Jackboot terrorism in disguise.
    And that Penny is your legacy.

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  65. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    The endlessly superficial threads about Marxism at blogs like this one never cease to puzzle me. Here’s something I wrote in response to an earlier thread:

    For all their references to Marxism, folks at Kiwiblog and similar sites never seem once to cite, let alone discuss, a text by Marx, or a Marxist concept. For them, Marxism and socialism seem to have become vague swear words, to be aimed at anyone who advocates a more intricately tiered tax system, or a raise in the minimum wage, or an independent foreign policy, or some general belief in ‘equality’, whatever that means. There’s never any mention, from the anti-Marxists, of the basics of Marx’s intellectual system – his materialist view of history and of historical change, his dialectical method of analysis, his concept of modes of production, his use of the base-superstructure metaphor to try to capture the relationship between the different parts of society, his theories of the tendency for the rate of profit to fall and the tendency towards crises of overproduction, and so on. I don’t expect right-wingers necessarily to agree that Marx’s intellectual creations are useful for the analysis of society and history, but I do think that if they are going to spend so much energy deploring Marxism then they might want to find out a little bit about what Marxism actually is.

    It’s easy to get the impression, reading some of the more paranoid comments at sites like Kiwiblog, that Marxists control large parts of New Zealand society, especially the trade unions, the state sector of the economy, and the education system. The reality, of course, is that Marxist ideas have no hold at all on the mainstream of our society. They are upheld by only a tiny number of people, and sometimes the way they are upheld is uselessly dogmatic. The influence Marxism did enjoy thirty years ago in the trade unions is only a memory now.

    The only people in New Zealand who at present do seem to have a discernable attraction to Marxist ideas are postgraduate students in the social sciences and humanities. A noticeable minority of students in this area seem to become enthusiastic about Marx’s method and his concepts as they undertake their research.

    If the paranoiacs at Kiwiblog are to be believed, these young people are attracted to Marx because they’ve been brainwashed by their teachers, and because they want to ‘fit in’ to a Marxist public sector. In reality, of course, an interest in Marx is usually an encumbrance, rather than a benefit, for any postgraduate researcher. Marxism is not fashionable amongst Heads of Departments, and Marxist concepts are not likely to smiled upon by job interviewers in the public sector.

    A sophisticated interest in Marx does not even give students much credibility with New Zealand’s miniscule Marxist political groups: many of these groups are decades or more out of touch with the research produced by Marxist scholars, and all are more interested in selling badly-produced papers and organising poorly-attended meetings than in exploring the finer points of research and theory.

    The reason why postgraduate research students continue to be drawn towards Marxist ideas has nothing to do self-interest, or even, in many cases, with political belief. They are drawn towards Marxist ideas because those ideas, despite their incomplete and sometimes contradictory nature, offer exciting ways of understanding society and history. For all its flaws, and in spite of its continual need of refinement and revision, Marxism as a mode of analysis is vastly superior to anything offered by postmodernism, with its theoretical fuzz and inability to see the big picture and long duree, or classical liberalism, with its futile focus on a non-existent rational individual consumer as the unit of analysis, or the halfway house of Keynesian/social democratic/Third Way thinking about society, with its politically-motivated evasions and equivocations.

    Marxism is such a powerful way of analysing society and history that it has been coopted and abused by people with belief-systems Marx himself would have abhorred. We all know about the way that Stalinists captured and distorted Marx’s ideas, turning them into a closed, rigid, inhuman system, but what is less known is that the more thoughtful parts of the right have been pillaging Marxist ideas for many decades.

    Marxist ideas were used in a distorted form by hawkish intellectuals like Christopher Hitchens and Norm Geras, journalists like Nick Cohen and David Aaronovitz and even by the British government minister John Denham to justify the invasion of Iraq. Seizing on Marx’s ill-advised early enthusiasm for the invasion of nations like China and India by capitalist Britain, and ignoring his later belief that capitalism was not a progressive and inevitable stage in the development of human societies, the pro-war ‘left’ threw its lot in with the American neoconservatives around George Bush.

    In the late nineties and early noughties, when Western economies were surging and politicians and business analysts were proclaiming the end of the boom-bust cycle, influential economists like Meghnad Desai emulated the method of Hitchens et al by reaching for Marx’s early enthusiasm for capitalism and globalisation, stripping this enthusiasm of its nuance, and claiming that Marx would have accepted the invincibility and righteousness of capitalism at the beginning of the twenty-first century. (As the venerable Eric Hobsbawm noted in a recent interview, the pendulum is now swinging the other way: with the global economy in trouble, scholars and commentators are turning their attention to parts of Marx’s oeuvre which discuss capitalism’s chaotic nature, and its tendency to produce sudden crises).

    I won’t hold my breath, but the day that the right-wingers of the New Zealand blogosphere actually make the effort to find out what Marx thought will be a great step in their intellectual evolution. It will also make their arguments a lot more interesting.

    http://readingthemaps.blogspot.com/2011/01/politics-ideas-and-other-monkey.html

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  66. reid (16,440 comments) says:

    You might find some of us studied it at uni, Scott.

    Honestly though, after decades of real life after uni, I’ve decided that none of the political philosophers explain society sufficiently enough to make it useful as anything more than background.

    So I just these days and have for decades, look at what actual people and countries and economies actually in fact do and I have models that have been synthesised from all sorts of sources which help me to predict and understand behaviours. This is called thinking.

    Seriously Scott, if you want to discuss the in’s and out’s of the Marxist dialectic here, on a thread about commies, whether or not they are also marxists, I’m not sure you’re barking up the right tree.

    It must have taken ages to write though. Well done.

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  67. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    The comment was part of another debate, reid, over at Kiwipolitico.

    I don’t see how you can contrast your own empirical studies and model-building to the sort of thing Marx did. Marx was nothing if not a researcher and a synthesiser of data – he had an incredible capacity for empirical work, and he produced one model after another in an attempt to get a handle on his world, often throwing out or radically modifying models as he went along. The curious thing is that none of those who preach the evils of Marxism here ever discuss any of his texts or models. How do you feel about, say, Marx’s claim that history is overdetermined by material forces? What about the claim that capitalism is subject to inevitable crises of overproduction? What about the Asiatic mode of production as an explanation for the failure of India and China to develop capitalism? It’s theories like these (and I don’t agree with all of Marx’s theories) which need to be knocked down, if anti-Marxism is to be anything more than hot air…

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  68. reid (16,440 comments) says:

    Scott if you really think Marxism is a practical solution then how come the rest of the 8.2 billion or so don’t think so? How come capitalism rules? I’ll tell you why.

    It’s cause capitalism is a superb self-adjusting distribution and price-setting mechanism, that gels perfectly with innate genetic programming to do with hunting, which we do, when we work.

    We need to be in control of our own destinies Scott. If work is given to us in a pigeon-hole and we are supposed to fit into that, whether or not that is who we are, we die inside.

    Now people don’t seem to like that and as a practical reality, it’s not a good thing, is it.

    So if you can give us a Marxist model that is all of the things that capitalism is and none of the things that Communism is, then pray tell. But if not, then get with the program, cause the capitalist world is up and running and you might as well deal with that fact and live accordingly. It’s not so bad.

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  69. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    Your words of praise for capitalism sound remarkably like the first section of the Communist Manifesto, Reid. Marx was the first thinker to really try to get to grips with capitalism, and especially in the first decades of his career we can find him praising capitalism as often as he damns it. Neocon Christopher Hitchens calls himself a Marxist because he holds to the ebullient view of capitalism put forward by the young Marx; you could call yourself a Marxist in the same sense.

    But there are other Marxes – at least half a dozen other Marxes, probably. The elderly Marx is depressed at the damage done by capitalism in the colonial/developing world, and decides that pre-capitalist peoples like the Russian peasants and the Iroquois Indians might be a better bet for revolution than the Western working class. And the elderly Marx’s belief that capitalism doesn’t so much gloriously transform older modes of production but instead lives parastically off them could be mentioned in the context of your claim that all 8.2 billion of the world’s people live in capitalist societies. I’d guess that at least a quarter of those people live in societies where pre-capitalist modes of production dominate, and capitalism thrives only in the odd city. Most of the nations of the Pacific still have strong pre-capitalist modes of prdocution as part of their economies. The US went into Iraq and Afghanistan talking about bringing democracy and capitalism but has ended up propping up neo-feudal social systems. Even in the heart of the capitalist world, cities like Detroit and Baltimore are decaying, and pre-capitalist economic practices like barter and subsistence living are reappearing. I’m not sure if I’d agree, then, that the vision of capitalism as an unstoppable revolutionary force which Marx laid out in the Manifesto in 1848 holds today.

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  70. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    Here’s that famous pro-capitalist passage from the beginning of the Communist Manifesto. It’d be interesting to know if any of the Marx-knockers on Kiwiblog actually disagree with what the chap says here (I do, in a number of places – I can’t share Marx’s positive view of the colonisation of India and the Opium Wars, for instance):

    “From the serfs of the Middle Ages sprang the chartered burghers of the earliest towns. From these burgesses the first elements of the bourgeoisie were developed.
    The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh ground for the rising bourgeoisie. The East-Indian and Chinese markets, the colonisation of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in the means of exchange and in commodities generally, gave to commerce, to navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby, to the revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society, a rapid development.
    The feudal system of industry, in which industrial production was monopolised by closed guilds, now no longer sufficed for the growing wants of the new markets. The manufacturing system took its place. The guild-masters were pushed on one side by the manufacturing middle class; division of labour between the different corporate guilds vanished in the face of division of labour in each single workshop.
    Meantime the markets kept ever growing, the demand ever rising. Even manufacturer no longer sufficed. Thereupon, steam and machinery revolutionised industrial production. The place of manufacture was taken by the giant, Modern Industry; the place of the industrial middle class by industrial millionaires, the leaders of the whole industrial armies, the modern bourgeois.
    Modern industry has established the world market, for which the discovery of America paved the way. This market has given an immense development to commerce, to navigation, to communication by land. This development has, in its turn, reacted on the extension of industry; and in proportion as industry, commerce, navigation, railways extended, in the same proportion the bourgeoisie developed, increased its capital, and pushed into the background every class handed down from the Middle Ages.
    We see, therefore, how the modern bourgeoisie is itself the product of a long course of development, of a series of revolutions in the modes of production and of exchange.
    Each step in the development of the bourgeoisie was accompanied by a corresponding political advance of that class. An oppressed class under the sway of the feudal nobility, an armed and self-governing association in the medieval commune(4): here independent urban republic (as in Italy and Germany); there taxable “third estate” of the monarchy (as in France); afterwards, in the period of manufacturing proper, serving either the semi-feudal or the absolute monarchy as a counterpoise against the nobility, and, in fact, cornerstone of the great monarchies in general, the bourgeoisie has at last, since the establishment of Modern Industry and of the world market, conquered for itself, in the modern representative State, exclusive political sway. The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.
    The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part.
    The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.
    The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers.
    The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.
    The bourgeoisie has disclosed how it came to pass that the brutal display of vigour in the Middle Ages, which reactionaries so much admire, found its fitting complement in the most slothful indolence. It has been the first to show what man’s activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals; it has conducted expeditions that put in the shade all former Exoduses of nations and crusades.
    The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.
    The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.
    The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of Reactionists, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilised nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.
    The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilisation. The cheap prices of commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.”

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  71. James (1,338 comments) says:

    Marxs central pillar,the labour theory of value….fails because it doesn’t acknowledge that value is subjective and that while a worker may labour to produce something that doesn’t give the product value…..the desire of the end consumer does that.Indeed its possible to mix labour with resources and actually destroy value.I could take paint and fresh canvas and create my own masterpiece to sell but people may reject it and not want to buy it.I am left with useless canvas and am poorer for the effort.

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  72. ch123 (647 comments) says:

    Do you seriously think people will read that massive copy and paste? Paraphrase/summarise please.

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  73. reid (16,440 comments) says:

    But there are other Marxes

    Essentially what I’m saying Scott is, who cares?

    Fact is, capitalism is the only proven operating system. Nothing else features. I’m not saying it doesn’t stink. I’m saying that like democracy in the political arena, capitalism is just better than all the rest, in the economics arena.

    I mean it seriously stinks. Everyone knows that. Duh. But it’s still the best of the available alternatives.

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  74. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    I don’t see the labour theory of value as Marx’s central pillar, but it’s worth noting that the theory doesn’t assert that all labour creates value. You can perform labour without creating value; not all created things are commodities. Nor does Marx say that labour is the source of all wealth: to do that would be to deny the role of the environment, for instance. The labour theory holds that the value of a commodity can be calculated in terms of the labour which went into the production and presentation of that commodity, because labour is implicated in the production of every commodity, but it doesn’t make labour all-important.

    And value has different aspects, according to Marx: there is exchange value, the value which the marketplace puts on a commodity, and use value, which measures the actual usefulness of the commodity. A printshop worker might labour to turn out another thousand copies of Ken Ring’s wacky earthquake predictions, and he might produce a certain amount of exchange value because, sadly, there are many people keen to read Ring’s rubbish, and his publisher will sell those thousand copies at a profit. Use value, though, is a different matter.

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  75. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    reid, you’ve got every reason not to care about what Marx wrote – as long as you don’t want to argue that Marx’s ideas are invalid, old hat, discredited, evil, or whatever. The moment you and others here make claims like these, then it’s reasonable to ask you to back them up with some substantive critiques of Marx’s texts and theories. Even if you were correct, and capitalism really was the only economic-social system which existed in the world, that wouldn’t count as an argument for the automatic irrelevance of Marx, because the vast majority of Marx’s texts are studies of capitalism.

    You and others here seem to think Marx spent all his time talking about the glorious socialist future. The reality is that he was extremely reluctant ever to describe what socialism would look like in any detail. When he did offer suggestions they involved real-life models he had studied – the Paris Commune, for example. Marx wrote obsessively about capitalism – its prehistory, its growth, its various forms, its depredations – and so the relative dominance of capitalism in today’s world if anything only makes his work more topical. Numerous commentators have cited the passage from the Communist Manifesto I pasted upthread as an extraordinarily prescient vision of late twentieth century globalisation. Marx’s writings on rural development in Russia and India are of great interest to scholars of agrarian societies undergoing capitalist development today. His view of capitalism as a system guaranteed to go through regular crises of overproduction has attarcted the interest of many commentators in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008. Those who say Marx has nothing to offer have to contend with these sorts of interest in his work, amongst others.

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  76. Rich Prick (1,699 comments) says:

    Scott, sorry, emperical studies don’t count much for all of the souls that are now bodies in graves. That is Marxism in its application, and we have recent decades as proof. That is all, please take your thesis elsewhere. we are more concerned with living Marxism and where it might take us in the form of the Mana Party.

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  77. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    ‘Do you seriously think people will read that massive copy and paste?’

    I complain that most of those who condemn Marx here don’t want to read his texts and debate his theories. Others disagree. I paste the opening paragraphs of Marx’s most famous text – and it’s too much hassle!

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  78. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    Post links then ass-hat.

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  79. Rich Prick (1,699 comments) says:

    I’d wipe my arse with Marxist texts Scott, can you pop some in the post. Cheers. Not the ones printed on communist produced paper, its rough on the ring. Ones printed on capitalist produced paper will suffice, much softer.

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  80. reid (16,440 comments) says:

    reid, you’ve got every reason not to care about what Marx wrote – as long as you don’t want to argue that Marx’s ideas are invalid, old hat, discredited, evil, or whatever. The moment you and others here make claims like these, then it’s reasonable to ask you to back them up with some substantive critiques of Marx’s texts and theories.

    Scott I’ve said nothing whatsoever of the sort and if you don’t believe scroll up and have a look.

    I’ve never said I don’t care about what he wrote, I’m saying and have been for some time that in the context of 2011, so what.

    If you want it put crudely but please steel yourself cause sometimes lefties get the wrong idea: So. Fucking. What?

    I mean it. You have had two great experiments in Russia and China and both failed miserably and you may not put that down to Marxism yourself but surely if it was going to work someone somewhere in the 50+ years those states were in full flight, some scholar somewhere would have decoded the key…

    But no-one ever did, did they.

    Despite both Russians and Chinese both being extremely high on the intelligence and industry scales.

    Not sure if that says anything, or not.

    Meanwhile, back in 2011…

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  81. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    ‘emperical studies don’t count much for all of the souls that are now bodies in graves. That is Marxism’

    So Pol Pot’s killing fields and Stalin’s gulags automatically invalidate every argument Marx was making a century earlier during his studies of capitalism? Let’s take Marx’s theory, which he arrived at after a study of the economic crisis of 1857-58, that capitalism is prone to recurrent crises of overproduction, because of the way investors pour capital into briefly profitable sections of the economy and eventually create a glut. This theory has been debated for one hundred and fifty years, and the financial crisis of 2008 seems to have brought it into favour in some quarters. Are you seriously suggesting that the theory of recurrent crises brought on by overproduction can be dismissed as false because of what Pol Pot did in the 1970s? Why? Do you really think there’s a causal connection between Marx’s argument about overproduction and the graves at Tuol Seng?

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  82. Rich Prick (1,699 comments) says:

    “So Pol Pot’s killing fields and Stalin’s gulags automatically invalidate every argument Marx was making a century earlier during his studies of capitalism?”

    Yip, pretty much, when added to Stalin’s, Mao’s and every other crack-pot Marxist’s toll on humanity. Lets see where the Mana Party goes with the theme.

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  83. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    If I understand you rightly reid your argument is ‘I’m not interested in reading Marx’s texts and leaning about his ideas, in fact the prospect bores me, but I know that Marx’s texts and ideas are worthless because of Stalin and Mao’.

    Given that 99% of Marx’s texts are concerned with nineteenth century Europe and the parts of the world it was colonising, and that they contain not a single extended blueprint for how a future socialist society should look, let alone a blueprint which corresponds to what Stalin and Mao created, I can’t agree with you.

    The fact that Stalin actually supressed many of Marx’s works and killed off the achivist who had been busy producing scholarly editions of those works only makes your argument stranger.

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  84. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    ‘Yip, pretty much’

    How? I’m genuinely curious as to how you think Pol Pot’s crimes invalidate a theory Marx produced to describe the behaviour of economic systems in the West. Do you really think that anyone who accepts the theory of periodic crises of overproduction is in danger of wanting to herd his fellow citizens out of the cities and work them to death building rice paddies? We’re talking about a theory which has become quite mainstream in many schools of economics.

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  85. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    Here’s a thoughtful critique of Marx from a fairly extreme right-winger:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQsQOqa0UVc
    You see, comrades, they do exist!

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  86. Rich Prick (1,699 comments) says:

    And I don’t particularly recall seeing Rockafella’s killing fields, nor Richard Brandson’s gulags. Even though Trump is a joke, we are allowed to call him one, Mao on the other hand had other ideas for those who laughed at him. Take your Marxism/Socialism/Maoism and shove it as hard up your arse as you can, and even then you are only half way there. Shove harder after that.

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  87. Rich Prick (1,699 comments) says:

    Oh for fucks sake, when did Marxism/Socialism/Communism/Maoism ever cause “over-production”? Well, I think it did once, it was in left footed shoes in Moscow circa 1980 – but not reported was the shortage in right-footed shoes.

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  88. reid (16,440 comments) says:

    If I understand you rightly reid your argument is ‘I’m not interested in reading Marx’s texts and leaning about his ideas, in fact the prospect bores me, but I know that Marx’s texts and ideas are worthless because of Stalin and Mao’.

    Well Scott you misunderstand me profoundly.

    I haven’t said ‘I’m not interested’ all I’ve said is ‘Show me a working example.’

    I’m sorry if you think this is unreasonable.

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  89. Rich Prick (1,699 comments) says:

    “I’m genuinely curious as to how you think Pol Pot’s crimes invalidate a theory Marx produced … ”

    Modern equivalent would be a goat-kucking peadophile from a certain part of the world a few hundred years ago writing a fairy tale called the Koran, we ended up with 9/11, Bali, Mumbai, Madrid and London.

    Its all in the application.

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  90. reid (16,440 comments) says:

    Don’t obfuscate RP. Scott is clearly sincere.

    He didn’t mean it, Scott. Unless he did.

    Did you, RP?

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  91. Rich Prick (1,699 comments) says:

    Fuck reid, I thought he was taking the piss …. do you think he is a Marxist? I have a gulag in my basement, woops too much info, and I don’t have the ratan canes to carry it off.

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  92. reid (16,440 comments) says:

    I know RP, isn’t it terrible. I think he’s definitely a Marxist, but let’s not put him in the gulag just yet, for now…

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  93. Rich Prick (1,699 comments) says:

    I’ve found the leather, if he is prepared to live out his Marxist dreams ;) Just give the politburio order. That’s how it works right?

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  94. Rich Prick (1,699 comments) says:

    Most instructive though, is that this is the lunatic fringe that will willingly associate with the “Mana” Party. Fantasic.

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  95. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    We’re twelve or so comments in and, James’ comment about the labour theory of value apart, I’m still waiting for a concrete piece of criticism to be made about one of Marx’s texts or theories!

    RP thinks that if we accept any of Marx’s theories as correct we set ourselves in the footsteps of Pol Pot. It’s a short step, apparently, from arguing that capitalism is periodically prone to crises of overproduction to digging mass graves.

    Let’s apply RP’s dubious logic consistently, though. In The Communist Manifesto Marx argues that capitalism acts progressively, when it spreads over non-capitalist parts of the earth. He salutes the colonisation of parts of the non-European world because he believes capitalism is an improvement on what existed there before (Marx subsequently changed his mind, but his paean for capitalism in the Manifesto remains one of the most famous things he wrote).

    Now, could I assume that the likes of RP and reid would agree with the Marx of the Manifesto that capitalism is a progressive force, and that colonisation had progressive results in the non-European world? Certainly such views are not rare on the right.

    Following RP’s logic, though, agreeing with Marx’s theory puts him in the camp of Pol Pot and Stalin. After all, all of Marx’s ideas, even relatively obscure economic arguments about overproduction, lead, according to RP, to the killing fields and the gulag…

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  96. reid (16,440 comments) says:

    ..this is the lunatic fringe that will willingly associate with the “Mana” Party

    Yeh but they will become stronger by feeding of the strengths of the other. Together they [Maori warrior + commies] are a formidable force and key to countering them is education, which their demographic doesn’t have a whole hell of a lot of.

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  97. Bobbie black (507 comments) says:

    It’s gonna be really interesting how man votes the Mana party will actually get.

    I wonder if they can get into four figures.

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  98. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    ‘Well Scott you misunderstand me profoundly.

    I haven’t said ‘I’m not interested’ all I’ve said is ‘Show me a working example.’

    I think in a sense we’re talking at cross-purposes here. You’re saying Marx’s ideas have no value if there has been no successful socialist society established; I’m saying that this isn’t the best way to judge the value of Marx’s ideas, because Marx’s ideas concern the prehistory and evolution of capitalism. Marx wrote virtually nothing about what a future socialist society would look like; he was preoccupied with trying to find out how capitalism came into being and how it worked.

    Let’s assume, again, for the sake of argument, that there is no alternative to capitalism. Capitalism may have only existed for a couple of hundred years, a tiny period of total human history, but let’s assume it’ll be round forever. Even if we make this assumption, we don’t ipso facto render Marx’s writings irrelevant, precisely because Marx’s writings are almost all about capitalism. We can debate Marx’s account of how capitalism works, his studies of capitalist development in various parts of Europe, his theory of the enclosures in Britain, his changing understanding of the relation between wealthy and dependent countries/colonies, his discussions of the ideological effects of capitalism on the people who live in capitalist societies, and so on and on. He wrote millions and millions of words. I’m not saying Marx’s writing is automatically relevant, just because it is concerned with capitalism and capitalism still exists; I am, though, trying to point out that it doesn’t become irrelevant just because capitalism still exists.

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  99. adze (2,126 comments) says:

    Scott, out of interest – what sort of system would you prefer, assuming it’s not the regulated capitalist democracy we have today?

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  100. Rich Prick (1,699 comments) says:

    Scott, wot?? you are serriously fucked up. Go to bed, there may even be a little bit of warmth left in Marx’s body for you to cuddle.

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  101. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    I wrote: ‘I’m genuinely curious as to how you think Pol Pot’s crimes invalidate a theory Marx produced’

    RP wrote, mysteriously: ‘Its all in the application.’

    Well, I’m waiting for you to explain how Marx’s analysis of capitalism, which made up 99% of his writings, was ‘applied’ by Pol Pot. How do we get from Marx in his London flat scribbling away deep into the nights of the winter of 1857-58, analysing the latest data from the world’s first major crisis of overproduction, and developing his theory that the crisis of overproduction is a natural feature of capitalism, and will occur again and again, to Pol Pot marching Cambodians out of their cities into the countryside and making them work on huge hopelessly designed hydrology projects? I confess that I just can’t see the connection. I think that Marx’s theory of recurrent crises of overproduction is one of his most successful creations: these crises have been seen again and again since 1858. Does believing that capitalism has an inbuilt tendency to crises of overproduction really make one a soul brother to Saloth Sar?

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  102. Rich Prick (1,699 comments) says:

    “Marx’s ideas, even relatively obscure economic arguments about overproduction, lead, according to RP, to the killing fields and the gulag…”

    Tell it to all the dead. Wanker.

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  103. Rich Prick (1,699 comments) says:

    Oh just fuck off you pious wanker, we hate Marxism round here and you are clearly a script-bot, so just fuck off to a place that might suit you, like North Korea. I bet you have a beard and take the bus everywhere too, and smell bad.

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  104. reid (16,440 comments) says:

    Scott thank you for your 11:53 explication.

    I agree Marx was and is a mis-understood, under-acknowledged genius like Tesla, Hayeck and many others you can name.

    The importance of their work is to make their ideas relevant to today, in people’s lives.

    How one does that over the crescendo of the existing symphony, is the key, n’est pas?

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  105. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    adze – fair question. I think that when we look back over the long span of human history we can see that capitalism has only existed for a very short time. Perhaps just as significantly, capitalism has existed, and still exists, in radically different forms: there’s the free market capitalism of America, the state-corporatist capitalism of Bismarck’s Germany and today’s China, the hybrid capitalist and pre-capitalist systems we see in many Third World Countries…

    I think it’d be naive and hubristic to assume that any form of capitalism, let alone the US-style free market form of capitalism, will always exist. Every civilisation has had a tendency to believe its reality is the only possible human reality.
    Precisely because of this tendency, it’s very difficult to guess what new forms of social organisation the future will throw up. One of the things I like about Marx is his reluctance to draw up elaborate blueprints of the future. He tended to point at real-life examples of progressive forms of organisation – the Paris Commune, the Iroquois Federation, the Russian peasant commune…

    One of the underlying assumptions of many commenters in this thread is the incompatibility of Maori sovereignty and left-wing political traditions. I don’t see such a sharp opposition between these two trends as the likes of Bryce Edwards and Chris Trotter do (I’m always arguing with Chris about this – see for instance: http://readingthemaps.blogspot.com/2010/04/history-necessity-and-new-zealand-wars.html). I’m enthusiastic about movements and societies in this part of the world which have opposed some of the nastier features of capitalism and colonialism with socialistic forms of organisation that draw on Polynesian tradition and culture. If I were to talk about progressive responses to capitalism I’d talk about the likes of Parihaka, the Waikato Kingdom, the Mau movement in Samoa, and Timorese socialism, rather than anything from the other side of the world. I’ve blogged about some of this stuff at:
    http://readingthemaps.blogspot.com/2010/05/first-white-marxists-reach-tuhoe_11.html

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  106. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    ‘How one does that over the crescendo of the existing symphony, is the key, n’est pas?’

    I dunno, comrade! I’m very much in a minority in Marx studies, because I’m all for the man’s very late writing, which gives up on Europe and the inevitable emergence of socialism from capitalism and dives into the histories of ‘primitive’ peoples like the Russian peasants, the Javanese, the North African Arabs, and the Polynesians (Marx was actually reading about Maori culture in the last year of his life). The disappointing thing is that some of Marx’s keenest defenders, as well his staunchest critics, can’t accept that he changed his mind again and again over the course of his life, and that is oeuvre, when taken as a whole, is full of contradictions. It’s a vast untidy frequently brilliant workbook, not a finished masterpiece. In the debates underneath the posts I linked to in my last comment you can see the ‘ding-dong’ quality of the debates that Marxology too often features.

    Anyway, I’ve published my book on the subject and am now moving on to less well-trodden topics:
    http://www.manchesteruniversitypress.co.uk/catalogue/book.asp?id=1204782

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  107. reid (16,440 comments) says:

    I dunno, comrade! I’m very much in a minority in Marx studies, because I’m all for the man’s very late writing, which gives up on Europe and the inevitable emergence of socialism from capitalism and dives into the histories of ‘primitive’ peoples like the Russian peasants, the Javanese, the North African Arabs, and the Polynesians (Marx was actually reading about Maori culture in the last year of his life).

    Crikey Scott, I can’t wait for you to burst upon the political scene. You will be fantastic, in every simply super way imaginable.

    GL.

    P.S. You’ll be simply super.

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  108. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    Well, I’ve got big Hugo in my corner:
    http://readingthemaps.blogspot.com/2007/09/chavez-is-not-marxist-but-neither-was.html

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  109. kiwi in america (2,439 comments) says:

    Scott
    My father is a history professor and I grew up with insufferable academic bores and you show all the signs of being one. Apart from being isolated from the real world in the ivory tower, Marxist academics display a unique level of disconnect from the real world as was painfully evident from your rambling discourses on Marx.

    99% of people couldn’t give a toss about the theory of Marx – all they know is what it looks like when applied in the real world. They see group think, brainwashing, absence of real democracy, suspension of freedoms, summary imprisonments and executions, no freedom to speak/write/broadcast/protest anything other than the party line, purges (and thus deaths) of those not deemed pure enough, widespread poverty and starvation due to the inherent inefficiencies of the state control of all resources, massive secret police and internal security forces to ensure repression, travel restrictions, a corrupt party elite who live in luxury whilst preaching purity to the masses, aggressive attempts to expand the ideology at the point of a gun, slave labour camps, perversion of academia and the arts to further only the party line – the list goes on and on – but in short a body count of 50 million EACH in Maoist China and Stalinist Russia. So frankly you can wank on about what precise aspects of Marx’s dialectic materialism Pol Pot ignored and failed to impliment whilst mainstream voters in free democracies know EXACTLY what Marxists stand for and what are the real results of their ideology and vote accordingly and you and your ilk are consigned to the nutty extreme fringe where you belong.

    Capitalist owners of capital risk their savings to start the companies that pay the taxes and hire the workers who also pay the taxes to fund the universities so wankers like you can sit in your office and spout your communist crap.

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  110. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    Are you guys ever going to get round to talking about one of Marx’s texts or theories? So many of you have wasted so many words, and yet, apart from James, who discussed the labour theory of value, we still have not seen you explain why you disagree with a single one of Marx’s arguments. I don’t think shouting ‘Pol Pot!’ at the top of your lungs quite cuts it as a criticism of the theory of the tendency to crises of overproduction.

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  111. Bobbie black (507 comments) says:

    Yeah, I do vaguely remember walking into the university bookshop in Dunedin as I often did out of sheer boredom and bought a book on the theories on Marx.

    Basically, it was three or four guys debating the theories of Marx.

    It began something like this:

    Publisher:

    “OK C, can you begin and give us a basic plain English summary of the theories of Marx?”

    C:

    “Well, I could hardly give it in layman’s terms but…blah blah blah…blah blah blah…but in conclusion we could say a pink unicorn will hardly marry a blue mermaid unless she was wearing a purple apron.”

    Publisher:

    “Thanks C.”

    At the time I remember thinking what condescening pricks but now I know that is precisely it that:

    1. No one wants it and it could never succeed on planet Earth. Maybe the Kling-ons could try it;

    2. No one gives a shit about Marx except insecure dicks who want to show they are intellectually superior.

    By the way Mao is loved by the majority of the old Chinese generation as good at war, a resentful pesant farmer who unified China (in their opinion).

    But it was Deng and his predecessors who directed China towards a capitalistic country, the ultimate free market and opened the doors to international trade, making it the powerful economic country it is today.

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  112. kiwi in america (2,439 comments) says:

    Scott
    You still don’t get it – no one cares about the minutiae of Marx’s theories – except the radicals that infest the English and Wimin’s Studies departments at universities. We’re more concerned about the horrific real world application of Marxism – something you seem to be blithely unconcerned about.

    You’ll have to find another sandpit to play in I’m afraid.

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  113. Black with a Vengeance (1,861 comments) says:

    SCOTT HAMILTON vs THE (kiwiblog) WORLD

    current score : Scott 7 World 0

    SCOTT HAMILTON FTW !

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  114. kiwi in america (2,439 comments) says:

    No Black its actually

    The REAL world 7 Scott 0

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  115. Ryan Sproull (7,109 comments) says:

    TAKE YOUR FANCY BOOK LEARNING AND GET OUTTA HERE, YA FANCY BOOK READER.

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  116. Black with a Vengeance (1,861 comments) says:

    Heh

    Maybe so k.i.a, but here in VIRTUAL Kiwiblogistan, you’re all getting pwned.

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  117. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    I have to confess that I’m not too worried about the horrific real-world effect of the theory of recurrent crises of overproduction, KIA. I haven’t noticed the scholars who use that or one of Marx’s any other hundreds of theories looking longingly at the distant countryside and dreaming of driving the rest of there with whips and making us all work on paddy fields.

    It’s pretty clear that the Marx-knockers here don’t feel that they have to read the man’s works and construct criticisms of his theories. It’s enough for them to point out societies like Pol Pot’s Angkar and Stalin’s Soviet Union and say ‘look – that’s what you support if you find one single correct proposition in Marx!’ Apparently everything Marx wrote is connected, in some mysterious way which no one can explain, to the career of Pol Pot. And anyone who proposes even moderately left-wing policies – the construction of a public health care system, for instance, in the US, or the scrapping of GST down here – can be accused of heading off down the slippery slope to Pol Pot.

    KIA is obviously quite satisfied with this sort of anti-Marxist/anti-leftist routine, and he thinks ‘99%’ of the public like it too. But a look at the way that the radical right have campaigned in America against Obama’s health care programme suggests that the old ‘This is what created Pol Pot! Walk away slowly’ rhetoric might have worn a bit thin. The constant claims by the Tea Party and Palin that Obama is a dangerous socialist and that Obamacare would lead to totalitarianism in the US just weren’t accepted by the majority of the population. In fact such warnings have become a joke. There are echoes of the way the Brtish public rejected Winston Churchill’s hysterical claims that a welfare state and nationalisation of key industries would bring gulags and secret police to Britain and voted Labour into office in 1945.

    I can’t help but think that the contemporary right would be better off actually reading Marx and developing nuanced positons on his stuff. It wasn’t too hard for right-wing thinkers of previous eras.

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  118. Pete George (23,558 comments) says:

    Scott, to me Karl Marx is a bit of an historical curiosity, the world has changed a huge amount in the last 150 years. We can learn a bit from what people have written in the past, but we benefit more by focussing on modern realities.

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  119. Ryan Sproull (7,109 comments) says:

    Scott,

    That’s how many Christians feel about Christian-bashers only complaining about how Christians have acted, rather than what the Gospels teach.

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  120. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    I well remember the Springbok protestors marshalling in Auckland and explicitly dividing into violent groups and those who wanted to protest non-violently. All the helmet wearers went into the former.

    I also have a cool photo I took of a whole bunch of cops marching in formation up New North Road. They were all whistling “When Johnnie comes home”.

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  121. Black with a Vengeance (1,861 comments) says:

    Hahaha…contemporary right wing thinkers.

    That’s a good one Scott. Right wing reactionaries more like. Reluctant to think, resistant to change.

    Jerk that knee. Shoot that messenger. Whistle that dog. Spew that bile.

    DON’T THINK>>>REACT !!!

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  122. tom hunter (4,805 comments) says:

    And following on that religious aspect:

    … but here in VIRTUAL Kiwiblogistan, you’re all getting pwned.

    I would point out that pretty much the same thing would happen were we to get into an argument about the bible with a fundamentalist or evangelical Christian. That person would almost certainly claim that we were getting pwned because we had not read it sufficiently to comprehend it. I’ve no doubt they could demonstrate a superior understanding and better argue the fine points.

    All of which would completely miss the main point – that in the real world most people have moved beyond spending time trying to obtain much guidance from such a thesis, let alone attempting to apply it in a strict, everyday fashion.

    Your average Marxist theorist might like to ponder that the next time they try to demonstrate intellectual superiority.

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  123. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    I agree with you about the danger of erecting idols and letting them become covered in dust Pete. But I wonder whether you’d argue that, say, Plato or Saint Augustine or Machiavelli or Kant are old hat now, just because they lived in previous eras? Isn’t there a quality in great thinkers which protects them, to some extent at least, from the attrition of time?

    Some of Marx’s theories were outdated and being substantially modified even in his lifetime; others, though, seem still relevant. When a mate of mine gave an adult ed course in Marx’s claim that capitalism inevitably suffers from cyclic economic crises – crises of overproduction and so on – back in 2008, just before the global financial crash, he found to his surprise that there were several stokebrokers in his audience! Perhaps they were able to avoid the disaster about to hit their industry with a bit of Marxian foresight. It’s hard to remember now, I know, but there were commentators and even politicians like Gordon Brown talking brazenly about the end of the boom bust cycle and a permanent upswing in house prices and other key commodities in the years before the crash. Marx was wiser than them.

    And there’s also the question of Marx’s historical materialist method, as opposed to the theories he developed with that method. The view that societies have a material (eg economic and technological) ‘base’ and a cultural and ideological superstructure (think of religious ideas, politicial ideologies, and son on) and that the base tends to influence the superstructure more than vice versa has become mainstream in the social sciences. It’s probably been unconsciously accepted by most people. It certainly seems like common sense to many folks. A hundred years ago, though, it was wildly controversial to try to relate a set of ideas to the economic base of a society. Eric Hobsbawm remembered a book which set the scholarly world ablaze seventy years ago by daring to relate the development of the concept of purgatory in the medieval era with the growing financial power of the church in that era. It seemed shocking to try to explain a highfalutin’ metaphysical idea like purgratory with reference to the church’s desire for dosh. How shocking does such an argument seem today?

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  124. Black with a Vengeance (1,861 comments) says:

    The main point Tom Hunter, is that none here, apart from Scott, seem to know enough about Marx to be able to criticize him or his theories with any validity. And that DPF is looking to scare the dumbass redneck fraternity with the old ‘reds under the bed’ myth, some ‘asian invasion’ Maoists and dancing Maori cossacks pissing on the graves of the illustrious european Kiwi forefathers capitalist utopia, hiding behind the Mana party.

    *yawn*…not much of a bedtime story but hey, it keeps the faithful barking til all hours and provides a nice wee distraction for team blue getting their arses kicked on their dismal track record with the economy and blaming everything on the past Labour government.

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  125. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    ‘That’s how many Christians feel about Christian-bashers only complaining about how Christians have acted, rather than what the Gospels teach.’

    I think the comparison is fair. The argument that ‘X’ (the intellectual father of the creed) didn’t say go and do these horrible things’ obviously has some validity – I mean, who would want to say that the Lord’s Resistance Army was the logical and inevitable outgrowth of the Gospels, or that Al Qaeda were just being good Muslims, or that Kyle Chapman is just acting out his Mormonism? – but it can be used in a wearing way. I do think it’s legitimate to look at Marx’s life and writings in the light of the regimes that eventually used his name. Was there something in his work that left it vulnerable to misuse? The British Marxist historian EP Thompson made a fascinating argument when he said that Marx’s thinking is too cold and quantitative and economics-obsessed, and that it lacks imaginative and aesthetic qualities. Thompson felt that Marx could have taken a different turn by embracing the ideas of his contemporary the poet and painter and wallpaper man William Morris, who was trying to bring socialism together with a revolution in the human spirit. Morris was a bit of a hippy, and Thompson felt he could have loosened Marx up.

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  126. Pete George (23,558 comments) says:

    say, Plato or Saint Augustine or Machiavelli or Kant are old hat now,

    Yep, old hat too. You can learn something from anyone historical, but they had no idea about contemporary social and political issues in New Zealand, and that’s what’s most important to most of us here now.

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  127. tom hunter (4,805 comments) says:

    The main point, which you still don’t get, is that the real world examples of every practical application of Marxism have been such unmitigated disasters that non-intellectuals don’t feel the need to criticize him or his theories with any validity.

    You don’t get that and you never will, which is why you’re doomed to continue ferociously arguing with other shades of Marxists in small, obscurantist groups that affect the real world not at all.

    And the truly funny thing is that the rest of us are fine with that, even as it provides the basis for your crowing about the superiority of your received wisdom.

    … it keeps the faithful barking til all hours and provides a nice wee distraction for team blue getting their arses kicked on their dismal track record with the economy and blaming everything on the past Labour government.

    This may come as a surprise to you (I imagine many things do) but the readership of this blog are not unaware of the various aspects of “spin” that National Party defenders indulge in. Moreover, should you choose to continue looking at the blog you may notice the large amount of Key/National shit-kicking that many here apply on their dismal economic track record and to which they will return as this thread winds down.

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  128. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    ‘Hahaha…contemporary right wing thinkers.’

    There has been a real decline in the quality of right-wing thought over the past fifty years. If we go back and read key Cold War era critics of Marx and the left like Karl Popper and Sidney Hook we find in them a level of sophisticiation which is unimaginable in most parts of the right-wing blogosphere today. Even mainstream American politicians like Goldwater and Nixon are amazingly sophisticated, compared to the likes of Sarah Palin or George Bush. But I think there’s been a decline in parts of the left, too. The prevalence of conspiracy theories – 9/11 rubbish, Obama’s birth certificate, and so on – across the politicial spectrum is a sign of problems. People aren’t doing the reading and thinking they used to do. The left in New Zealand would benefit from having to deal with strong and sophisticated right-wing arguments. At the moment, in threads like this one, it gets served softballs and verbal abuse.

    In the blog post about politics and Kiwi intellectuals that I quoted upthread I suggested that Miles Fairburn might be considered a major conservative thinker in contemporary New Zealand:

    ‘If we wanted to talk about studiously apolitical scholars who produce work which might be used to support many right-wing positions, then I think the Canterbury University historian Miles Fairburn would deserve discussion.

    Fairburn doesn’t have the media profile of a Michael King or a James Belich, but his reputation inside academia is vast, both in New Zealand and abroad. His early, polemical work The Ideal Society and Its Enemies examined Pakeha New Zealand in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and argued that it was one of the most individualistic societies ever to exist anywhere on the earth. Pakeha Kiwis were, Fairburn argues, determined to establish their own self-sufficient livelihoods and lives in the country they had conquered, even if the price of their desire was poverty and loneliness. Fairburn’s book challenged generations of arguments by Fabian and liberal historians and commentators by showing that, historically, Pakeha were not a cosy little group determined to build a just society free of the iniquities of the mother country.

    Nearly out of Heart and Hope, Fairburn’s monumental microhistorical study of the diary of a fin de siecle agricultural labourer in the Wairarapa, showed how stubbornly some of the poorest New Zealand workers refused to rebel against capitalism, even as the system drove them to homelessness and the edge of starvation. Thanks to Fairburn’s example, many historians now look for signs of individualism and conservatism, rather collectivism and radicalism, in New Zealand history.

    It is by no means clear, though, that Fairburn’s work necessarily offers support to a right-wing political agenda. There is, after all, a difference between stating a fact and celebrating that fact. If the left in New Zealand were more tooled-up theoretically and less insular then it would seize on Fairburn’s work and mine it for insights which could be incorporated into a new account of our nineteenth and early twentieth century history. But doing this would mean abandoning cosy old myths about a collectivist, anti-elitist colonial culture.’
    http://readingthemaps.blogspot.com/2011/01/politics-ideas-and-other-monkey.html

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  129. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    ‘Plato, Marx etc had no idea about contemporary social and political issues in New Zealand’

    True. But you can’t just look at a problem and get an answer to it pop into your head. There’s no interpretation inherent in any piece of social phenomena: we have to bring the tools for interpretation. We need intellectual tools to deal with what we find in the world around us, and some of the thinkers I mentioned created tools which are still pretty sharp. Some Maori scholars have examined the problem of Maori sovereignty and biculturalism in New Zealand using dusty old Kant. Marx inspired some of the best and most influential scholars of New Zealand society, like Dick Scott.

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  130. kiwi in america (2,439 comments) says:

    Scott
    You should stick to exploring the inner cavities of Marx’s arse and refrain from US political commentary. Obama and his party just suffered the worst mid term defeat since 1938 and the largest reversal in total legislative and Gubernatorial offices since 1926 precisely because such a large majority of US voters rejected his attempt at reforming health care.

    Most of the emerging Mana Party activists are Marxists – something you not only don’t deny but seem proud of. The results of implimenting policy even if only in the name of Marx led to the things that I listed – its a historical fact that the hard left just want to pretend never happened or claim that these excesses were a mere abberation from the pure Marxist way that has never really been implimented. I heard Minto peddle that line a a public meeting I once attended. Mao and Stalin murdered 100 million innocent people trying to impliment THEIR version of the ideology you blithefully rabbit on about as if you were talking about the difference between a diesel or a petrol engine for your Volvo!

    Your figure of 99% is accurate – it’s the percentage of New Zealand voters who aren’t Marxist. I know – you’re snug and safe in your university Fabian Society chardonnay tasting circle where you can pontificate on Marx and show how extremely clever you are (and thus give people like Black with a Vegence a hard on). Meanwhile us evil capitalists get on with the job of exploiting the proletariat by taking risks, hiring workers that we pay well to do the best job to grow the company so we can pay the company and PAYE taxes that enables the government to fund your cushy lifestyle in the ivory tower.

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  131. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    You can’t win with KIA. If you talk about Marx he tells you talk about the real world, and if you talk about an up to the second subject like Obamacare he tells you to crawl off back to the books. He’s a hard taskmaster…

    The attempts of the Tea Party to defeat Obamacare by invoking the spectres of death panels, totalitarianism, and gulags have failed to resonate with most Americans. Last week, when Rand Paul told a senate committee that the acknowledgement of a universal right to health care would lead to secret police knocking down his door at night he was widely ridiculed. Opinion polls show clear support for a public health system, the Tea Party is in decline, Palin and Trump are fading away, and key Republicans are suddenly running from the prospect of a 2012 electoral confrontation with Obama. It is significiant that the Republican front runner, Mitt Romney, is actually defending the concept of universal public health care.

    It’s pretty obvious that the attempts of the hard right to redbait Obama have been unsuccessful. KIA tries the same sort of tactic here when he accuses anyone who says something positive about Marx’s analyses of capitalism of being a secret Pol Potist, and when he tries to link John Minto, whose politics can probably best be described as those of a classical social democrat, of the sort which dominated the Labour Party in its early years, to Stalin. It really is silly stuff, and I don’t see why it’ll work any better against Minto than it did against Obama.

    KIA is a symptom of the decline in political discourse I mentioned upthread – a decline which has been seen on the left as well as the right. I have the very old-fashioned and ivory tower idea that we should investigate a person’s ideas by reading and analysing their texts, not by shouting ‘Pol Pot!’ or ‘Hitler!’ and putting our fingers in our ears.

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  132. Scott (1,792 comments) says:

    Tom Hunter — couldn’t disagree with you more regarding — the Christians and the Bible and most people have moved past that thesis. I appreciate that in New Zealand there are less Christians per capita than 50 years ago but I think the death of the church in New Zealand is not with us yet. In fact there are very lively churches, many young people are being saved and the church is alive and well. If you don’t believe me just check out a large church in your neighbourhood and see how many people are there, how many young families and you might be surprised. Also around the world there are more Christians than ever before. Places like China, Africa and South America have experienced explosive church growth. So the secular thesis that religion is on the way out is actually false in my opinion.

    Regarding Marxism and Scott Hamilton’s passionate defence I actually think that Marxism is very much alive and well and being applied in real-world situations. Although the economic side of Marxism is only being applied in a very few countries now the social side of Marxism is bigger than ever. The thesis that there is an oppressor and an oppressed, the idea of struggle and liberation has been used successfully by the gay rights movement, the Maori separatist movement and the women’s liberation movement. All of these movements claim an oppressor — in these cases the oppressors are in order — heterosexual men, white men and all men in general. And all of those movements claim an oppressed — homosexual men and women, black men and women, all women.

    Marxism has been a force for violence and revolution for many years. Now it is used to destroy our institutions and particularly to destroy our Judaeo-Christian morality. I actually think Marxism is from the devil. That’s just me being theological — but that’s what I actually think. I think Karl Marx was an agent of Satan as was Lenin as was Stalin as was Pol Pot as was Chairman Mao.

    I think feminism is seriously misguided as is gay rights. As is our Maori separatist movements. But they all have borrowed heavily from Marxist theory.

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  133. kiwi in america (2,439 comments) says:

    Scott
    Perhaps if you opined more accurately about the American healthcare debate you’d be afforded more respect. The most recent poll of likely voters (the most accurate polling sample) done on May 16 2011 has support for repeal of Obamacare at 55% and those opposed to repeal at 38% http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/healthcare/health_care_law.

    The original draft of the healthcare legislation proposed granted the Independent Payment Advisory Board with similar powers to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence the British NHS body that makes life and death decisions. This story is one of thousands who die prematurely in Britain because NICE deny care for cost reasons. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/6127514/Sentenced-to-death-on-the-NHS.html
    Palin’s use of the term ‘death panels’ was crude but it did the trick and Pelosi and Reid amended the powers of the IPAB to prevent it from acting like the NICE. Death rates from from almost all forms of cancer are twice the rate under the NHS compared to those in the evil American system. Sure the healthcare system needs reforming – but most Americans dont want a British or Canadian single payer system and when asked if they want government run healthcare of that type, they oppose it. Liberals of course cite polls that say the opposite but when you ask the question focused on government vs private sector provision, private sector provision wins out. Washington Post/Kaiser did a series of polls in 2009 on healthcare that showed the huge swings in support depending on how you phrase the question AND for which age group you question (younger voters more positive about private provision with seniors more positive about government run Medicare).

    Im not a Palin supporter and her fade in the polls is a good thing – she’s too inexperienced to be President. Trump was never a serious candidate so him pulling out because NBC gave him an ultimatum over “The Apprentice” is hardly evidence of the GOP running scared likewise Huckabee choosing to keep his presenter role at Fox – citing both as evidence of a faltering Republican challenge is leftist wishful thinking. Gallup and Rasmussen have Obama’s post Osama Bin Laden bounce gone already, with unemployment now creeping back up, GDP growth tumbling, housing sales and building starts still declining it has led to more economic commentators and analysts to talk about a double dip recession. After spending a trillion dollars on a failed stimulus that a recent detailed economic study done by economists from the University of Ohio and University of Western Ontario concerning the real job effects of the stimulus proved that all it did was to save 450,000 government jobs but COST 1 million private sector jobs with a net loss of 500,000 jobs (Google Conley Dupor study – David limits us to 2 internet links without moderation). If the US economy stays on this faltering low to no growth bare recovery almostv recession mode for another year, Obama is in real trouble.

    Like so many on the left, you attempt to lump all conservatives together in some extremist corner whilst simultaneously underplaying the radicalism of your favoured lefties. Left leaning academics like you shroud your extremism in mellifluous calming tones. I do not believe that you support Pol Pot – nor would Minto. Likewise Scott I have no doubt that you condemn Stalin and Mao. My point is this. Minto is an avowed Marxist – unashamedly so and he makes no secret of his true political leanings. Will Mana propose hard line Marxist policies? – of course not. But would Minto and Sykes in their heart love to see NZ adopt pure Marxist ideology – you bet. They believe that the right ideology properly implemented means THIS time it will work – North Korea, Cuba – well they made mistakes you see plus they’ve been oppressed by the evil imperialist America. My point is that when Marxists run and control the government, the list of excesses cited earlier occur. Minto would both minimise the facts of what the form of Marxism implemented in Russia and China actually caused and would adamently deny that were his true ideology be fully implemented in NZ that there would be any problems. Marxists see utopia around every bend in the road – Mao and Stalin promised it with each 5 year economic plan. China didn’t make really serious inroads into poverty and starvation until it began to gradually embrace capitalism.

    What academic purists like you are effectively saying is that if only declared Marxists read Marx and did what he said properly then all will be well. The truth is that almost every permuation of Marx’s teachings have been tried in dozens of countries ALL with varying degrees of disasterous consequences. Having come from years of activism on the left before becoming a conservative, I’m fully aware of the group think, the suppression of inconvenient opposition and the attempts to mask and hide the truly leftist progressive policies under stealthy, mealy mouthed platitudes of fairness and equity and that their introduction, even if only by centre left socialist leaning governments, still always fail to live up the promoters’ promises.

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  134. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    ‘I think Karl Marx was an agent of Satan’

    Oh dear. The floor’s getting lower here, isn’t it? First everyone who thought Marx had something interesting to say about capitalism was a secret admirer of Pol Pot; now they’re part of some Satanic cult. I did see a strange conspiracy theory website once, which argued that Marx was a Satanist on the basis of a few fragmentary and – apparently, according to people who’d read them – indifferent attempts to rewrite Goethe’s verse play Faust. I’m not sure if that quite counts as evidence for Stanaism, because every young German intellectual seems to have tried to write like Goethe for the first fifty years of the nineteenth century! The devil turned up in every young man’s plays and poems.

    If Scott wants some fresh material, though, he could have a look at the way that the structure of The Communist Manifesto, which is still (unfortunately, from my perspective, given the jejune praise for capitalism and colonialism in its first section) Marx’s most famous text, takes its formal structure from Faust. Each section of the Manifesto corresponds to an Act of Faust. Suspicious? I must sniff the pages in case they reek of sulphur…

    I’m not too sure whether Marx, who was a bit of a sexist old devil – he fathered but failed to acknowledge an illegitimate son, and said in a late text that he valued weakness in a woman – would be too happy at being made the flagbearer for women’s lib. If Scott broke with the Kiwiblog approach to left studies and actually read a few things by Marx and his followers, he’d see that there has been the odd blue over the years between feminists and Marxists. Marx was preoccupied with exploitation, not oppression, and attempts to claim that the oppression of minorities are as important as the exploitation of the working class have tended to rile many – though certainly not all – Marxists over the years. There are still lively debates about this subject erupting at places like Chris Trotter’s blogand Hand Mirror.

    But who needs to actually read Marx and his successors when one can sniff about for sulphur, or shout ‘Pol Pot!’?

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  135. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    KIA – two very quick points, which are not made mischeviously:

    ‘Minto is an avowed Marxist – unashamedly so and he makes no secret of his true political leanings’

    I honestly haven’t read everything John has written over the years. I’ve read the occasional article – his op-eds for the Herald, for instance – and I’ve heard him speak on a number of occasions. My impression is that he is the sort of old-fashioned social democrat who wants a big government to ameliorate the worst excesses of capitalism and to control the ‘commanding heights’ of the economy through nationalisation and planning. I’d put him in the same ideological box as Harry Holland and Chris Trotter. As I say, though, I havent followed him very closely over the years. Can you cite a text where he says he’s a Marxist?

    ‘What academic purists like you are effectively saying is that if only declared Marxists read Marx and did what he said properly then all will be well.’

    No: I’ve said over and over, both in this thread and in my published writing, that the biggest obstacle to an understanding of Marx – and it is an obstacle that affects both left and right, being a legacy of the Cold War, when both superpowers had an interest in repressing research into Marx and presenting his ideas as some homogenous entity – is the belief that there is some single ‘correct’ reading of Marx. As I said upthread:

    ‘The disappointing thing is that some of Marx’s keenest defenders, as well his staunchest critics, can’t accept that he changed his mind again and again over the course of his life, and that his oeuvre, when taken as a whole, is full of contradictions. It’s a vast untidy frequently brilliant workbook, not a finished masterpiece.’

    I also said:

    ‘Marx was the first thinker to really try to get to grips with capitalism, and especially in the first decades of his career we can find him praising capitalism as often as he damns it. Neocon Christopher Hitchens calls himself a Marxist because he holds to the ebullient view of capitalism put forward by the young Marx; you could call yourself a Marxist in the same sense.

    But there are other Marxes – at least half a dozen other Marxes, probably.’

    Hardly the words of a one true church man, are they? I think that, like Freud, Marx is now, in the aftermath of the end of the Cold War and the publication of the many texts repressed by Stalinism, being read not as a God or Devil, but as a discontinuous and relentlessly adventurous thinker, whose texts are works in progress, not holy writs. Take a look at a book like Kevin Anderson’s recently-published Marx at the Margins to see how undogmatic and adventurous some of the new Marxology is. It’s a pity some of the folks here are still apparently fighting the Cold War.

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  136. kiwi in america (2,439 comments) says:

    Scott Hamilton

    Minto wrote this on the Socialist Workers – Unity blog, a well known gathering spot for Trotskyists and former Communists. Minto has been a member of this group:
    http://unityaotearoa.blogspot.com/2007/08/john-minto-race-sex-class-and-greatest.html

    “Part of this is to push marxism and socialism back into the mainstream of public discussion in New Zealand. Marx had a very clear understanding and analysis of the structure of society under capitalism. We have to open up discussion with our fellow New Zealanders about the alternatives to the destructive, unethical and immoral system of capitalism.”

    His article is followed by a Worker’s Rights Manifesto that looks pretty Marxist to me.

    In 1995 my brother attended a meeting at St Matthews in the city in Auckland to welcome Nelson Mandela. John Minto was there and he harangued Mandela for allowing private enterprise to stay in the new South Africa and he expressed his extreme dismay that socialism or communism had not replaced a market capitalist economy. My brother said Mandela was startled and said to Minto effectively “Where do you expect our people to find jobs?”

    That incident sums up Minto. He was happy to lead protests against Apartheid as long as his communist hero Mandela got to implement Marxism in South Africa. Mandela was no fool and was watching Mugabe in Zimbabwe destroy the once thriving capitalism economy. Mandela, Minto’s hero, was now a capitalist dupe and a sell out.

    Minto is trying to hide his radicalism and so what he writes in his Herald column will never be what he writes for Socialist Workers blog. In your leftist world only an unreconstructed Trotskyist could be described and merely wanted to ameliorate the worst excesses of capitalism. He is fundementally and diametrically opposed to capitalism and seeks its replacement with workers collectives.

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  137. kiwi in america (2,439 comments) says:

    I was in a hurry – the 2nd to last line should read “Only in your leftist world would an unreconstructed Trotskyite be described as merely wanting to ameliorate the worst excesses of capitalism.”

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  138. kiwi in america (2,439 comments) says:

    Perhaps now as a Mana Party candidate Minto may choose to fulfil his stated wish – to open up discussion on the Marxist alternative to capitalism. I sure hope so.

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  139. simpleton1 (224 comments) says:

    Thank you both for your posts and debate.
    Always make a point of following your commets, kia, thankyou

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  140. Pete George (23,558 comments) says:

    Mike Treen will be shoulder to shoulder with Minto in Mana:

    Mike Treen is national director of the Unite Union in Aotearoa/New Zealand and a member of the newly formed Mana Party. Socialist Aotearoa is an activist organisation of anti-capitalist workers and students.

    “We believe that struggles for justice and liberation should be guided by an anti-capitalist vision of the future. ”

    MANA- 1. (noun) prestige, authority, control, power, influence, status, spiritual power, charisma.

    All the charisma of an unhumped hedgehog on a highway.

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  141. Elaycee (4,392 comments) says:

    Pete George says: “All the charisma of an unhumped hedgehog on a highway.”

    Ha ha ha – Brilliant.

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  142. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    Hi KIA, the Workers Charter was an attempt – one of a seemingly endless series of short-lived attempts – by Socialist Worker to create an outline for a broad left party that could attract social democrats as well as Marxists. Its programme is therefore redolent of the programme of the early Labour Party. I’ve heard Minto attack the neo-liberal GEAR policies promoted by Mandela, and I thought what he was saying was great, but his points could have been made by anyone to the left of Phil Goff – he was attacking privatisations and so on, but he wasn’t exactly demanding the nationalisation of the whole economy under workers’ control and rule by soviets! I’m not knocking Minto or trying to lay out some template by which one is or isn’t a Marxist – as I’ve said upthread, there are many possible types of Marxist – I’m just suggesting that, on the basis of what I’ve seen, he might be better considered a classical social democrat. Arguably, though, the classical or left-wing social democratic tradition represented in this country by the likes of Harry Holland and the early Labour Party, is in at least some respects Marxist: its proponents sometimes cite Marx, and they can point to early followers of Marx like Bernstein, Kautsky, and the Mensheviks as their own precursors. Marxism is a very broad and disorganised church, which is another reason why it’s silly for folks to try to equate every worshipper with Pol Pot or Stalin.

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  143. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    Incidentally, KIA, what did you think of the big anti-Mugabe protests Minto organised and led in Auckland back in 2004?
    Did you join in, or were you stateside then?

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  144. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    I missed this:

    “Only in your leftist world would an unreconstructed Trotskyite be described as merely wanting to ameliorate the worst excesses of capitalism.”

    Has Minto ever written about Trotsky or used any of Trotsky’s theoretical terms in his texts? I haven’t seen any. Has he ever belonged to a Trotskyist group (HART, Workers Charter, RAM, GPJA etc don’t count – they have had Trotskyist members but hardly run as Trotskyist outfits). It’s a bit hard to see how he can be considered an ‘unreconstructed Trotskyist’. Come to think of it, what would a ‘reconstructed Trotskyist’ be? How do you spot a reconstruction?

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  145. kiwi in america (2,439 comments) says:

    Scott Hamilton
    Voters are utterly disinterested in understanding the various nuances and shades of Marxism and the extent to which each branch was or wasn’t faithful – its the People’s Front of Judea vs the Judean People’s Front if you haven’t figured that out. Save it for your graduate PolSci students. To them Minto is an anti capitalist radical and so are many in Mana. They’ll try and hide it under clothes of moderate sounding centre leftish rhetoric but they are what they are. You and them represent about 1% of the voting population. Have you enough self awareness to realize why?

    Oh and no I was in Christchurch in 2004 but good to see he picked the right side of the political debate in Zimbabwe – belatedly I might add. I never saw him railing against Mugabe when we was forcibly expropriating private land for his socialist experiment long before 2004. But then isn’t that what Stalin and Mao did. Bet you won’t find any verbal or written condemnation from Minto about that huh.

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  146. kiwi in america (2,439 comments) says:

    Scott
    According to my brother, Minto’s criticism of Mandela went beyond the privatisations which, as you state, any lefty would oppose. It went to heart of Minto’s belief that Mandela had betrayed his communist roots and not implemented Marxist type economic policies in South Africa. It was not the kind of Goff vs Brash on privatisation – it was a sense of betrayal that a brother in the cause had gone soft.

    You have to give it to Minto (and Bradford, Locke etc) – they are true believers – like Elsie Locke, they will die true to the faith regardless of the tiny numbers of true believers. Most Marxists like them are content to operate via more regular left leaning organisations and try internally to win even small hard left agenda items. Leila Hare for instance was succesful in busting up the Alliance over the issue of Anderton’s support for the invasion of Afghanistan in 2002. That allowed the more left leaning foreign policy of the Greens to be more purely represented in Parliament. Locke has been utterly consistent in his hard left foreign policy pronouncements. If Hone Harawira wins the Te Tai Tokerau by-election, he might jump ship to Mana if he thinks he’d get a high enough list ranking and they were polling over 2% (which I think they might for a period of time). Minto and Bradford are much more his ideological bedfellows than Kedgley or Delahunty.

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  147. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    KIA, but I’m not sure I don’t see a contradiction between the idea that Elsie Locke Minto etc are all true believers who could never change and the charge that differences within the left – between a Trotskyist, a Maoist, a social dem, a Greeny socialist, and so on – are irrelevent to those not concerned with minute analysis in the Ivory Tower. Often these labels are very important for the people who use them and reflect years of thought and the evolution in action – they represent, in other words, the sort of change that you deny took place when you present these people as fanatics. I’d recommend Connie Birchfield’s recent bio of Elsie Locke, which shows how she moved from a fairly doctrinaire Stalinism in the Communist Party through a critique of Stalinism to something like an eco-socialism. My mate EP Thompson moved in Britain from a sort of patriotic British Stalinism (yes such a thing existed!) to a ‘neither Washington nor Moscow’ socialism to a sort of green liberalism tinged with socialism to a despairing liberalism that alternated with bouts of defiantly Marxist rhetoric! People are complex. Thompson wrote some incredible books and became a famous political leader all the time he was struggling to define his politics. Minto himself may be – I stress the words ‘may be’ moving from a youthful left-wing Catholicism (an important political tradition in this country) to a Marxist-tinged classical socialism, or even all the way to revolutionary Marxism. It’ll be fascinating to see how he goes inside Mana. I certainly wish him all the best.

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  148. Pete George (23,558 comments) says:

    Scott – paragraph breaks would make your posts much more readable.

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  149. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    A cardinal sin, I know, Pete – my only defence is that I was typing at beyond the speed of light in the tiny piece of time I had between breakfast and work. Anyway, getting back to an earlier topic of conversation, here’s something more I wrote in paragraphs about those who would set up a firm distnction between the left and tino rangatiratanga, and even counterpose the two:
    http://readingthemaps.blogspot.com/2010/08/fighting-for-land-and-for-enlightenment.html

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