The Dim-Post

September 23, 2015

Notes on post-ideological politics

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 8:53 am

I keep seeing all these think-pieces about Trump and Corbyn and what’s happening in 21st Century western democratic politics, and what it might mean to New Zealand, so I thought I’d toss my opinions on the stack.

  1. We’re transitioning into a post-ideological democracy. No one seriously thinks we’re going to be either a socialist or free-market economy. And no one believes that when the economy grows the benefits of that growth will be shared equally. Politics is about which groups will be privileged by policy settings and wealth distribution.
  2. Which is another way of saying that most politics is now identity politics. Groups that aren’t privileged by the status quo want both cultural and economic change. These groups generally break down across racial and gender lines. People who don’t want change – because it will come at an economic or social cost to them – dismiss this kind of politics as ‘identity politics’. But, of course, the fight to preserve the high status of (mostly) white males is also a form of identity politics.
  3. Although they affect to oppose it, mostly white men are the most ferocious practitioners of identity politics. That’s where Donald Trump comes in. Trump holds many views that are anathema to Republican elites. He’s in favor of socialised healthcare and higher taxes for the rich. Rank-and-file members don’t care about his policy positions though. They care that he’s a misogynist who hates Mexicans and Muslims and claims that Obama is a Kenyan. He’s signalling that he will champion his tribe of mostly white men against rival tribes. He will protect their privilege, which they feel is under threat.
  4. Corbyn is different, and he shows us that identity politics can be more fluid than ethnic or gender divides. Identity can be defined in a negative sense. The entire British establishment went ballistic when it saw Corbyn out-campaigning pro-status quo rivals for the Labour leadership, and this saw a surge of support from people who feel disenfranchised by that establishment. I think it was Karl Rove who said that to succeed in politics you need to make thirty percent of the country hate you. Corbyn did that, and people who feel antagonistic towards his enemies decided that Corbyn was their friend.
  5. In New Zealand terms, National has staked out a large privileged group which could be described as ‘predominantly white property-owners on middle and high incomes’. ‘Mainstream New Zealand’. Almost everything they do advances the economic and cultural interests of this group. National’s policy agenda makes no sense from an ideological point of view, but once you grasp that it’s not about serving an ideology, but rather a large, fairly homogeneous group of voters, generally at the cost of heterogeneous groups who are mostly less likely to vote then everything is perfectly logical.
  6. Winston Peters understands this political model. He’s been practising it for a while. He’s shifting his identity slightly, from someone who champions the elderly to a hero of provincial New Zealanders. I think Labour and the Greens are cheerfully oblivious to all of this.

49 Comments »

  1. Identity politics is itself a form of ideology.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — September 23, 2015 @ 9:02 am

  2. Also, if the fact that Corbyn’s anti-capitalist policies are supported by the people harmed by capitalism precludes him being an ideological politician, we would have to conclude that ideological politics is not only finished, it never existed in the first place.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — September 23, 2015 @ 9:04 am

  3. It’s like the left haven’t figured out that it doesn’t matter who people are and what their economic position is in reality, but who people see themselves as that forms identity and motivates people to vote one way or another.

    Comment by RHT — September 23, 2015 @ 9:11 am

  4. We’re transitioning into a post-ideological democracy. No one seriously thinks we’re going to be either a socialist or free-market economy. And no one believes that when the economy grows the benefits of that growth will be shared equally. Politics is about which groups will be privileged by policy settings and wealth distribution.

    And that in itself is a very ideological question.


    it’s not about serving an ideology, but rather a large, fairly homogeneous group of voters, generally at the cost of heterogeneous groups who are mostly less likely to vote then everything is perfectly logical.

    Their ideology is that people who work hard should be rewarded, and that society should be structured around people who create and maintain wealth. If you are making wealth then you are doing good in the world, and if you own wealth then you have done well in the world. The poor kid on struggle street just needs parents who want to make wealth, and she should make wealth when she gets good grades, takes a student loan and goes to university.

    This set of ideas is highly congruent with patriarchal and traditional ideas about society, but wide enough to include newer conceptions of society – particularly richer white well-dressed gay men enthusiastically adopting safe societal instruments like marriage.

    Are Labour and the Greens oblivious to this? No. They just use language that you don’t like. They’re also now occasionally polling as well as National.

    Comment by Moses — September 23, 2015 @ 9:12 am

  5. The current government’s proposal to erode the value of voters’ homes by deregulating the building industry (again) seems like counter-evidence. Transferring regulatory oversight from councils to private insurers and financiers is a very ideological stance. Would be interesting to see media ask Christchurch home-owners what they think of the suggestion.

    Comment by Sacha — September 23, 2015 @ 9:16 am

  6. What I can’t get my head around is the large number in my peer group who worship National, we are all mid 20’s, not long out of uni, middle tax bracket, renting, and half of us just trying to find or keep a job.

    Still they mostly hero worship Key, and everything National does; I don’t want to go on a “wake up sheeple” type rant, but I don’t get it, we are the bunch who they act at the expense of, yet some how they think voting National is going to help their lot.

    Comment by michael — September 23, 2015 @ 9:23 am

  7. (So I suppose my actual point is that maybe the real trick of this government has been convincing so many people to vote against their own self interest, and for the self interest of a significant, but not large, group of others)

    Comment by michael — September 23, 2015 @ 9:33 am

  8. The world is post ideological only in the sense that post 1989 the role of markets as the basic wealth generator is fundamentally uncontested for the first time since 1917. The remaining question is the point where the boundary between the public and private sectors sits. There are lots of possible answers to this. Overall fiscal and regulatory policy are more important here than specific spending proposals because they, more than anything, define where that boundary sits. In MMP both National and Labour can be happy to coalesce with a Winston Peters type party because they will have a specific and limited fiscal cost that can easily fit within an overall fiscal policy. A rough rule of thumb for Winston over Labour’s three years was about $200m. The Greens have hesitated to price their participation in government so far because they know that a price acceptable to either of the main parties will probably be unacceptable to their members and a price acceptable to their members will be unacceptable to the people who elect Labour and Nation-led governments, mostly because that price will involve a much larger shift in the boundary between public and private than most will find comfortable or workable such as, to use David Farrar’s hyperbolic example, shooting half our dairy cows, a policy whose implementation would be very entertaining to watch.

    Like small coalition parties, identity politics is a subset of the larger debate. In this area the free market has a major advantage over the socialists because a market does not have a position on identity issues. Maori businesses, for example, have been a big chunk of the provincial economies of the East Coast/Poverty Bay and large parts of the Bay of Plenty for generations and those who participate in farming, forestry, horticulture and tourism or provide services in those areas – banking, legal, accounting etc – have had to recognise that fact if they want their own businesses to flourish. Treaty settlements have spread that experience from one end of the country to the other.

    Comment by Tinakori — September 23, 2015 @ 10:05 am

  9. “I think it was Karl Rove who said that to succeed in politics you need to make thirty percent of the country hate you.”

    Great quote.

    Politics has always been about who gets what though, and I can’t see that changing, unless humans evolve new brains.

    And I think ideology will remain important. The great success of neoliberalism as an idea is its ability to convince the poor and middle class that it is in their economic interest. The truth is that under neoliberalism most of the wealth has gone to the top 1%, and more problematically, social mobility is limited, especially in the most neoliberal states (i.e. the US). As this has become more obvious, people are starting to reject neoliberalism, and that’s why anti-neoliberal politicians like Corbyn and Sanders are so popular.

    Trump is more complex. But there is clearly a segment of Americans who hate the current establishment and the economic ideology it represents under Democrats or Republicans (neoliberalism), and who want to see Trump burn the whole thing down.

    Comment by Seb Rattansen — September 23, 2015 @ 10:26 am

  10. What I can’t get my head around is the large number in my peer group who worship National…

    It’s pretty straightforward, Michael.

    Your peer group has only known one government since they likely became engaged in politics. They have also seen nothing but disarray on the left for at least the last 5 years and have been subject to a fairly skewed media environment (if they engage at all with traditional media).

    Not knowing the type of people who make up your peer group (but I will take a stab in the dark), their parent’s may also have been beneficiaries of precisely the identity policies Danyl describes, which would I suspect, have influenced dinner table conversation.

    Comment by Gregor W — September 23, 2015 @ 10:30 am

  11. These groups generally break down across racial and gender lines.

    Identity politics is just the left’s way of saying “we love these types of rich people”. For too long the left confined itself to helping the poor, but now thanks to identity politics it can ignore the facts of wealth begetting power and help those “oppressed by identity”. This allows the left to become as establishment and successful as the right.

    Are you a wealthy, hard working individual who has an income in the top 2%, but feel shut out of the top 0.2%? If you have any identity outside of the cis-normative, white, male, hetero, judeo-christian, capitalist, exploitative narrowly defined core – the left is there for you. Support the left today and they will help you.

    Comment by unaha-closp — September 23, 2015 @ 11:31 am

  12. The so-called ‘end of idelology’ has been heralded for some time now. Francis Fukuyama, observing the collapse of the Soviet Union, went on to write: “We are witnessing the end of history as such: that is, the endpoint of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of western liberal democracy as the final form of government.”

    It would be optimistic to believe that we have reached a utopian endpoint — just as it would be optimistic to believe many Western government are democracies rather than oligarchies — but it’s broadly true that a bland and incoherent consensus has been reached in most western democracies. Most voters do not care for ideologies and neither do politicians.

    Still, it would be wrong that ideologies have vanished. They have just become much more invisable.

    Comment by Nick — September 23, 2015 @ 11:33 am

  13. Damned italics.

    My opinion on Trump/Corbyn phenomena is: these are primary elections and party selections of limited relevance to the wider electorate.

    Comment by unaha-closp — September 23, 2015 @ 11:36 am

  14. (*it would be wrong to believe
    * invisible )

    Comment by Nick — September 23, 2015 @ 11:37 am

  15. @Michael

    If you’re twenty and you look for some relevance in what we call the left in NZ what do you see? Chris Hipkins – Nerdy head boy type; pretty guaranteed to say something uncool. Jacinda Ardern – weird nerdy girl (probably has strange parents). Gareth Hughes – you know he was that one weird kid at primary school. The rest of the left are a bunch of old hippies and teachers, none of who care about anything you do. Pretty much either your or one of your friends embarrassing parent.

    Whereas John Key looks like your friends dad who always let you have a beer, and likewise the rest of National looks like people’s normal parents.

    So who are you going to trust? Probably the normal parent.

    Comment by rsmsingers — September 23, 2015 @ 11:51 am

  16. He’s [Trump] signalling that he will champion his tribe of mostly white men against rival tribes. He will protect their privilege, which they feel is under threat.

    The data doesn’t back this up. Trump’s support is, perplexingly, fairly evenly spread across most of the demographic breakdowns of Republicans. Of course he’s doing terribly on a national stage with Latino’s, but among registered republicans and independents that lean republican he’s polling quite consistently across all age ranges, geographic breakdowns, and income thresholds. He’s even doing ok with women – the gap between male and female support for Trump is not that big.

    I don’t know if anyone’s cracked exactly why voters are flocking to Trump (beyond “outsider” status) but it’s pretty clear that his support is not all coming from privileged white males.

    Comment by Phil — September 23, 2015 @ 11:58 am

  17. Regardless of whether you like ’em or hate ’em, Corbyn, Sanders and Trump have tapped into those who’ve had a gutsful of ladder-pulling hypocrisy, and the notion that ‘it’s not illegal when President Nixon’s doing it’.

    They’ve been harangued to about ‘honest hard work’ and the need to ‘tighten your belt’, while billions in taxpayer dosh have been doled out to ladder-pullers for effectively looting the financial system. They’ve heard the ladder-pullers harangue about ‘Broken Britain’ and the ‘War on Drugs’, while the Bullingdon Club goes about its hijinks with impunity and Wall St writes off cocaine binges as tax expenses. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — September 23, 2015 @ 12:02 pm

  18. I don’t know if anyone’s cracked exactly why voters are flocking to Trump (beyond “outsider” status) but it’s pretty clear that his support is not all coming from privileged white males.

    It’s been cracked pretty well by a bunch of commentators.
    He appeals to that deep, rich vein of white supremacy in the US which no one wants to talk about.

    Comment by Gregor W — September 23, 2015 @ 12:02 pm

  19. + anti-intellectualism and virulent distrust of the Washington machine.

    Comment by Gregor W — September 23, 2015 @ 12:03 pm

  20. Phil: Most of us know that Trump is a reactionary blowhard. I suspect he’s managed to capture those who would have supported Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot in past presidential races.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — September 23, 2015 @ 12:07 pm

  21. I have never posted on here before but i am an avid reader. The thing is the post ideological politics you describe is essentially an ageist related politics because most of my age cohort do not vote and even if they did they are outnumbered by the baby boomers who are “entitled” to a pension (even though they have not fully paid for it – see bernard hickey) and also they demand further benefits like the gold card etc which is abused by a small number for their own gain see ferries in auckland and the airport bus in wellington. the big problem is this is not sustainable as eventually baby boomers will become tax takers (pensioners) and not take makers (workers) in the long run our policies are not sustainable. Please give me your thought as to why this short term thinking matters and why on earth my age group should vote when we know the odds are stacked against us, we are the most qualified and most educated group of NZers yet and we want to work hard just like everyone but still we should probably expect lower living standards than our parents now why is this so? Thoughts?

    Comment by Phil — September 23, 2015 @ 12:14 pm

  22. Agree that tribalism is a big factor, but media focus is more on personalities and charisma. Rock star politics, or a game of “.Survivor” where the tribe gets to vote the annoying weirdo off the island

    Comment by ropata — September 23, 2015 @ 12:51 pm

  23. He [Trump] appeals to that deep, rich vein of white supremacy in the US which no one wants to talk about.

    I’d be more inclined to believe this if we were seeing material differences in income and/or geographic support for Trump. I’m sure there is an element of white supremacy to Trump’s support, but to stop there would be about as intellectually rigorous as saying “everyone who supports John Key is an investment banker”.

    In hypothetical head-to-head matchups between Clinton and Trump, Clinton only leads by 3 points!
    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/2016_presidential_race.html

    There is certainly a lot more going on here and to dismissively wave Trump away as candidate only supported by racist sexists is to make the same mistake D-Mc suggests Labour and the Greens are making.

    Comment by Phil — September 23, 2015 @ 1:07 pm

  24. Ok maybe I should choose a new handle huh seems like Phil is taken😦
    I was comment 21. Yea Trump is full of rubbish and the long primary process will grind him down. Plus his fundraising abilities are not that of other candidates.

    Comment by Phil — September 23, 2015 @ 1:14 pm

  25. Phil: your time will come. Best for you and your age cohort to get into the habit of voting so that political parties will begin to take notice. Eventually the baby boomers will start dying off, go senile or otherwise reduce in numbers. You will then be able to vote in parties which cut off, or at least means, income and asset test national superannuation.

    Comment by cctfred — September 23, 2015 @ 1:14 pm

  26. I’d be more inclined to believe this if we were seeing material differences in income and/or geographic support for Trump

    One doesn’t need to be a poor, under-educated, Confederate battle-flag-toting white male from the South to fall into the broader white supremacist camp.
    I think I chose the term poorly though.

    What I meant, for example, was the deeply structural racism that infects white, middle class soccer moms that dogmatically believe in the ‘angry welfare blacks / lazy hispanics / dangerous muslims’ meme and who are, in their own way, just as vitriolic as the aforementioned rednecks.

    They just say it more quietly (and in more polite company) and premise their sentiments with “I’m not racist but…”

    It’s this broad church of bigotry, anti-intellectualism, authoritarianism and demagogic populism which Trump appeals to and, I think, explains his appeal.

    Comment by Gregor W — September 23, 2015 @ 1:56 pm

  27. Perhaps this is not about political ideologies, but about human nature. Perhaps it’s not about concepts of fairness or equity, but something far more basic

    On of the most basic drives that shape our behaviour is the need for long term security – will I have enough to feed myself and my family tomorrow, next week, next year? Will I have a secure shelter….? In an affluent society, such as Nz, Oz, Britain and the States the way to achieve this is through having a large degree of control over your income and housing.. The usual way to gain this control is usually through study, sacrifice and hard work. The older generation and those over forty who have done this also want it for their children and so want a society that allows and encourages this to happen. They don’t necessarily want themselves or their children to be rich, but they do want them to be secure, and they will vote accordingly.

    You could call this the Aspirational Society. America would be the epitome of the Aspirational Society and Donald Trump would be it’s poster boy. In NZ his could explain Key’s continued popularity – a shining example of a self made man.

    I suspect Key and National would want an Aspirational society, whereas the Left would probably opt for a fair and equitable one

    Comment by BOF — September 23, 2015 @ 2:33 pm

  28. BOF: How much of the so-called ‘aspirational society’ is dependent on housing bubbles for its income?

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — September 23, 2015 @ 2:55 pm

  29. And from my own experiences, the ‘aspirational society’ has turned out to be more like the survivorship bias fallacy in practice.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — September 23, 2015 @ 2:57 pm

  30. 27.BOF: How much of the so-called ‘aspirational society’ is dependent on housing bubbles for its income?

    Auckland, under the “fair and equitable” governance of Len Brown.

    Comment by unaha-closp — September 23, 2015 @ 3:49 pm

  31. This is one of the most annoying things you’ve ever written but only because it is one of the most depressing thing you have ever written.

    The people who dominate political debate in the media and on social media have forced the debate this way. I don’t think it is inevitable although it may be inevitable given the state of the media and civilian attitudes towards civics. Unfortunately I think people need an event like WWII fresh in their minds to realize the importance of civics and universal human rights, or any rights beyond the right to “keep my stuff”, or take that guy’s stuff. It is very sad that debate has been reduced to this. Activists such as the one’s who run Doing Our Bit prove that bloody minded persistence on issues of wider importance works.

    Yes the problem is public consciousness, but it can be effectively raised as per the noted example. But I have little hope that most of those who consider themselves activists on the left have the convictions to do the same. Identity politics is ultimately solipsistic. Taking on the burdens and struggles of others is what is needed but sadly identity politics, especially on the left, undermines that: I think, because identity politics on the left is about calling on others to respect your personal iteration or unique identifiers (through defending the rights of others broadly aligned), whereas identity politics on the right is about calling on others to take on the collective identity of Aspirational Man”. And the Borg always wins. The end philosophy of left rights’ movements is a losing street of cul de sacs for the right, sped past in laughter by the likes of Mike Hosking in his red Ferrari, and never to be caught up with.

    Comment by Will — September 23, 2015 @ 4:35 pm

  32. Sorry, that was a lazy post by me.

    Identity politics, aimed at ensuring efforts towards social and economic equality, is essential to those efforts. We must adjust them to ensure that minority and other disadvantaged groups are not out-voiced in any debate and that any measures are appropriate for all and given any existing obligations, such as those that exist under the Treaty.

    But as it is practiced on the left, too often substantive debate is not had, because the debate beings and often ends with language, or arguments about what constitutes proper tone. It is important that men, for example, are conscious of any prejudicial language and attitudes that have emerged from historical inequalities, and it is good that people point that out. But that should not be the end of the debate. I wonder sometimes what the point of those lessons are if their students are expelled from the room after class, which often seems to happen. Meanwhile, as these arguments go on, often ending in acrimony and the end of dialogue, “the right”, or property owners, focus on what unites them: their bank balances.

    That language is so important to those concerned with identity and the rights of the disadvantaged is no surprise. Many of the thinkers who championed civil liberties and brought to attention the cultural and historical depth of inequalities between black and white, gay and straight – like Fanon, or Foucault – were deeply concerned with language.

    I don’t think that the debates that go on in many left circles about language are unnecessary or side issues, however, I do think that without effective and united efforts to extend the democratic franchise to those less fortunate, or those not benefiting from their labour, those debates will be largely theoretical.

    Post World War II, the old class system fell apart, as working class people demanded the same rights as the middle class, having fought equally aside one another.

    Perhaps I am mistaken, but the wider project of “the left”, or its intelligentsia, used to be to find ways to communicate the idea that the efforts of working class and middle class people (and the ownership class) were more or less equal and deserved to be recognized as such through the provision of social services and wealth distribution, to a lesser or greater degree. The Labour Party seems to have given up on this, even allowing the National Party to talk of unionism as being something alien to or to be avoid by the Labour Party, which grew out of the union movement.

    That plumbers and carpenters now earn about as much as lawyers and others in traditionally middle class jobs may have given us all the impression that we are progressing socially upward, and onward. But the traditional working class has simply been replaced by the service class, and outsourced out of sight and out of mind to the world’s contemporary centres of slavery. These new social dynamics need to be properly articulated, and fought for. But it is hard to see New Zealanders developing a global consciousness when those comfortably well-off don’t give a shit about their neighbors, and when those who consider themselves to the left of centre are focused primarily on speech.

    Comment by Will — September 23, 2015 @ 5:43 pm

  33. “Auckland, under the “fair and equitable” governance of Len Brown.”

    With his arm being twisted by Denise Krum, Dick Quax, Cameron Brewer, George Wood…

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — September 23, 2015 @ 5:51 pm

  34. I’ve mostly given up working out how politics has changed and why this has left the Left stranded.

    I sort of know why I’m disillusioned, and that’s only a sort of, but as for the greater trends I really don’t know.

    Currently reading Pas pleurer by Lydie Salvayre which manages to capture how I feel.

    Comment by NeilM — September 23, 2015 @ 8:56 pm

  35. Len Brown must have joined the Labour Party about the time of rogernomics and he has never left the fold. His rates policy has been to reduce rates on businesses by 50%. He spent his first 3 years in office slashing council job numbers and outsourcing everything. He has been the greatest gift to property speculation Auckland has ever witnessed. He drives up public debt to finance private gain.

    He appears to be a consummate rogernome.

    Comment by unaha-closp — September 23, 2015 @ 11:11 pm

  36. @unaha-closp

    That’s pretty cocky. I heard that the takedown of Len Brown was long planned. Chung > W > ? (young Nat) > Media

    Comment by Pete — September 24, 2015 @ 2:49 am

  37. If we accept “We’re transitioning into a post-ideological democracy. No one seriously thinks we’re going to be either a socialist or free-market economy. And no one believes that when the economy grows the benefits of that growth will be shared equally. Politics is about which groups will be privileged by policy settings and wealth distribution.”

    How come so many readers still Witter ing on about “neolib” and “sheeple”

    Comment by Richard Williams — September 24, 2015 @ 7:31 am

  38. I think the reason for this post has become clearer as we’ve watched Danyl’s mate James Shaw get all post-ideologically cosy with John Key over the flag referendum. A vert Farrar-esque pre-emptive strike.

    Comment by Sanctuary — September 24, 2015 @ 7:50 am

  39. If you want to know why you are disillusioned with politics, I suggest consulting a mirror. People need to take a step back and look at their expectations of politicians. You should be critical and questioning of politicians, but also keep in check your expectations of them. They are unlikely to lead us to nirvana (Whether that be free-market or no inequality) anytime soon. If that is your expectation you will be sorely disappointed and have no one to blame, but yourself.

    Identity politics can make these impossible expectations worse. Far from falling in behind someone like ourselves, we can be more critical of people we identify with if they do not lead us to nirvana. We can end up having no true Scotsmen debates to explain why someone we identify with did not lead us to the Promised Land (They were not a real lefty/feminist or libertarian). Finally, the reason the left is in trouble is that expectations are generally higher for left wing politicians than right wing politicians. As a result, left wing politicians cannot seem to do anything right (Really we just have stupidly high expectations of them).

    Comment by Sam — September 24, 2015 @ 8:09 am

  40. Pete,

    National have never liked Labours right wing.

    Comment by unaha-closp — September 24, 2015 @ 9:12 am

  41. I think the reason for this post has become clearer as we’ve watched Danyl’s mate James Shaw get all post-ideologically cosy with John Key over the flag referendum. A vert Farrar-esque pre-emptive strike.

    That statement is even more ridiculous than the post that inspired it.

    Comment by Moses — September 24, 2015 @ 10:18 am

  42. @rsmsingers: “If you’re twenty and you look for some relevance in what we call the left in NZ what do you see? Chris Hipkins – Nerdy head boy type; pretty guaranteed to say something uncool. Jacinda Ardern – weird nerdy girl (probably has strange parents). Gareth Hughes – you know he was that one weird kid at primary school. The rest of the left are a bunch of old hippies and teachers, none of who care about anything you do. Pretty much either your or one of your friends embarrassing parent.

    Whereas John Key looks like your friends dad who always let you have a beer, and likewise the rest of National looks like people’s normal parents.”

    Intriguing choice of characters.

    Comment by jmarshall — September 24, 2015 @ 11:33 am

  43. I think the reason for this post has become clearer as we’ve watched Danyl’s mate James Shaw . . .

    I was actually way, way, way closer to the Greens when my wife was political director. I have pretty much nothing to do with anything they do or say nowadays. Hopefully I’ll catch up with James for coffee soon, but that’ll be like, the third time I’ve seen him since he became leader.

    Comment by danylmc — September 24, 2015 @ 11:40 am

  44. I hate to say it but Sanctuary was almost precient…

    “Moses on September 24, 2015 at 10:18 am

    Sancturary said “I think the reason for this post has become clearer as we’ve watched Danyl’s mate James Shaw get all post-ideologically cosy with John Key over the flag referendum. A vert Farrar-esque pre-emptive strike.”

    That statement is even more ridiculous than the post that inspired it.”

    Comment by Richard Williams — September 24, 2015 @ 12:20 pm

  45. Post ideology? Nah. Ideology is just more fragmented in some ways, and less in others. The current left in NZ is more fragmented than the right, the opposite of how it was about 10 years ago. The reverse situation is probably the case in the USA right now. There is probably less of a single coherent left, but that doesn’t make the fragments, in themselves, less ideological, nor smaller than the right, in aggregate. The right’s ideological discourse has remained pretty strong and coherent, still a rallying cry for those people who care about it, whether any of the things they propound are actually exemplified or even helped by their practices, or not.

    This sort of thing cycles, as human thought always has about many things that are not really matters of fact, but just matters of opinion. Even all this “post”-this and “post”-that is something that’s reared its head many times in our history. Like the question of what kind of facial hair is best, we have times where proclaiming a major historical trend change on the strength of a few years evidence strikes a few chords. Usually we forget that we did that 10 years later.

    I mean seriously, what could it possibly even mean to be post-ideology? We’re ideological creatures – most of what we think is not grounded on strong evidence, but on a bit of evidence and a lot of hype over it. That’s normal because we have to make decisions whether we have good evidence or not, all the time. In fact, most of our most important decisions are like that. Who really chooses the love of their life based on statistics? What child chooses their educational path based on sound evidence about the likely outcomes of it? What strong evidence do we base liking rugby on? Since when was a political party chosen by cold hard facts about their performance? Democracy mostly works in the negative – it makes an informed choice that the current lot are fuckwits and it’s time for change. At least there’s some actual evidence about that after 9 years (our average length of service for a party). But we look for these huge grand trends and massively overgeneralize about them. Including the trend to make decisions not based on ideology. Yes, we’re becoming a little bit more fact based, particularly about things that are amenable to facts. But this doesn’t signal some massive change in the nature of humanity. We still elect people on our gut, our ideology (which might have nothing to do with the capitalism vs socialism question) and whether we hate the current government.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — September 24, 2015 @ 4:45 pm

  46. rsmsingers: One’s normal is another’s mediocre.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — September 24, 2015 @ 5:00 pm

  47. One week ago according to Darren National were the finest left wing government NZ has seen. One week later its all post ideological id polictics. You lot are utterly confused.

    Comment by Simon — September 25, 2015 @ 8:08 am

  48. Ben: you make some very good points, but what you describe as ‘ideology’ broadens the term into meaninglessness. You’re quite right, I think, when you say we elect people on a mix of tribalism and gut instincts. But this isn’t ideological at all – in fact I think its quite the opposite to the kind of a priori reasoning from first principles which is the core of ideological thinking.

    Comment by robhosking — September 28, 2015 @ 6:26 am

  49. >Ben: you make some very good points, but what you describe as ‘ideology’ broadens the term into meaninglessness

    That’s true enough. It’s also by design – ideology is not a well defined word. That makes it great for sweeping generalizations, and impossible to pin down on any point at all. We can define a particular ideology, and say that has fallen from favour, but to say that we’re no long ideological? I don’t think that’s a meaningful claim. Where does it say that a system of beliefs we picked up from our tribe and our guts is not an ideology? I think it’s even likely to be an ideology shared by a lot of people, for any particularly person and a particular ideology.

    A better claim might have been to say that the traditional lines of left vs right as exemplified in the socialist vs capitalist angle, is no longer the most dominant political discourse, so we’re post THAT ideological battle. Maybe. I still think it’s a pretty huge battle. It may ignite again.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — October 2, 2015 @ 12:48 am


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