John Moore argues that leftwing opposition to the Chinese bid for the Crafar farms highlights how progressives in this country continue to frame their politics within a conservative economic-nationalist framework. Despite the protestations of leftists opposing the Shanghai Pengxin bid, the fact is that their nationalist rhetoric has nothing to do with progressive politics and everything to do with crude foreigner bashing.
Moore provides some history:
For example during the early part of the twentieth century the Federation of Labour, through its paper the Maoriland Worker, railed against Chinese immigration. …
Many from New Zealand’s contemporary left would acknowledge this history of racism and bigotry, but would argue that progressives in this country have now embraced diversity and tolerance over bigotry and xenophobia. However, such leftists’ continued adversity to immigration and support for little New Zealand nationalism points to continuity with the left’s racist past.
Moore looks at the Crafar issue:
Labour’s careful construction of a new nationalist synthesis amounted to the formation of a post-conservative form of patriotism that most of the left could now feel comfortable with. Whereas the New Left of the 60s and 70s often rejected any form of nationalism, many contemporary leftists now feel comfortable with this new form of ‘Kiwi’ identity. However, the problem with the acceptance of this form of ‘progressive’ patriotism is that it inevitably allows for forms of bigotry, racism and xenophobia to be accepted as legitimate when they are framed within this ‘liberal’ nationalist framework. Therefore, the recent left-wing opposition to the Crafar farm sales can be seen as being a kneejerk reaction of a left that has been schooled in this new form of ‘liberal’ chauvinism.
The question the left should be asking itself is: How is ownership by local capitalists in anyway preferable to foreign capitalist ownership? Does New Zealand’s corporate elite have some special genetic or cultural trait that makes them more socially responsible and caring owners and mangers of local resources? …
Clearly our local capitalists act no differently than economic elites anywhere in the world. Therefore, attacking foreign bids within a nationalist framework acts purely to support local capitalist of the likes of Michael Fay, who will cynically exploit nationalist sentiments to secure and foster their own corporate interests.
I am sure Sir Michael thanks Labour for their advocacy (again) on his behalf.