The Radical Center
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The Radical Center

The Really Ugly Side of Middle-earth

The idea of Left and Right often doesn’t make sense. Consider the New Zealand government of today — it’s a mixture of the Labour Party holding power in coalition with a bigot who is usually described as far right.

The Washington Post ran a headline: “How the far right is poisoning New Zealand.”

In 1922 the first apartheid government was formed in South Africa and the so-called “Progressives” in the Labour Party were in a coalition with the National Party. Both parties supported apartheid and the unions represented white works only. Apartheid was pushed because it kept blacks from competing with whites for urban jobs, keeping white wages high. It restricted them to rural areas with a dearth of jobs keeping farm workers wages low. So both the white trade unions and the white farmers were cheering for apartheid. The “evil” capitalists were against it while the trade unions marched through the streets with signs saying: “Workers Unite and Fight to Keep South Africa White.”

The current Labour government of New Zealand is cheered on by the fringe Left around the world but it is rather similar to the coalition apartheid government of 1922. Jacina Ardern is some sort of left-wing messiah. But, as the Washington Post piece noted: “the real power lies with the far right. And, more terrifying: The far right seized power by exploiting the very system meant to be a fairer version of democracy.”

Under the Labour government of Helen Clarke the same thing happend. Labour was so desperate for power they signed an agreement with one of the most bigoted politicians in New Zealand. Ardern went even further making the head of the extreme New Zealand First Party, Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister. Ben Mack, a New Zealand reporter, wrote in the Washington Post:

“Peters and New Zealand First held the country for ransom, repeatedly delaying the announcement of their decision for several weeks as they extracted more and more concessions from suitors. When Peters finally declared on Oct. 19 that New Zealand First would go into a coalition with Ardern and her Labour Party, it was only because Ardern had kowtowed the most to his increasingly extreme demands.”

This chic Progressive female leader of the Labour Party has endorsed the racist policies of Peters in order to hold power. Power above principles!

Amid pressure from New Zealand First, the government has vowed to slash immigration by tens of thousands by making it harder to obtain visas and requiring employers to prove they cannot find a qualified New Zealand citizen before hiring a non-citizen. They’ve also put forward legislation banning non-citizens from owning property, the new minister for immigration has equated increased immigration with increased unemployment (while also failing to denounce his party’s claims that immigration is a factor in New Zealand having the highest rate of youth suicide in the developed world) and proposed a plan that would require people receiving welfare to work.

Like American white supremacists in the age of Trump, bigots in New Zealand have also been emboldened by New Zealand First’s success into taking action beyond ranting on Internet message boards and social media. In late October, clashes erupted when white supremacists rallied in front of Parliament. Threatening fliers have also appeared in public, calling on white people to “unify” in order to “preserve identity.”

Mack has gone so far as to say that Ardern is only the willing face of the actual power in New Zealand, the bigots around Winston Peters. “Put simply, while Ardern may be the public face, it’s the far right pulling the strings and continuing to hold the nation hostage.”

Mack says if Ardern wants “New Zealand to be a more tolerant place for all and to set a worldwide example that hate is not acceptable, it would be best for Ardern to end her unholy alliance with New Zealand First and the far right, even if it meant she might not return as prime minister. As long as the far right has power, bigotry and hate will continue to fester in Middle-earth.”

What he doesn’t ask is why Labour was so willing to enter into this coalition—and not for the first time either. Helen Clarke ran as far Left and did precisely the same thing. Libertarian Member of Parliament David Seymour, of the ACT Party warned votes regarding Peters: “”I think he’s a terrible guy. I think he’s done nothing in 40 years,… we can move on as a country from the kind of racist and divisive politics that he’s brought to this country for too long.” Seymour issued a press release in 2017 asking: “Why is he [Peters] so concerned about whether immigrants are Asian or European? What matters is their ability to contribute to New Zealand, not their race.” In Parliament Seymour didn’t mince words saying of Peters, “the way he campaigns is racist” as Peters desperately tried to interrupt him and change the topic.

The idea that the Left is automatically opposed to the populist racist policies of others is just now factual. It wasn’t true historically and it isn’t necessarily true today. Ardern may be the Bernie Sanders of Middle-earth and Peters is clearly the Donald Trump, but they are politically in bed together about as close as you can get and Labour is pushing anti-immigration policies in a major way. In the last U.S. election one in eight Sander’s supporters voted for the racist candidacy of Donald Trump, a figure enough to swing the election in his favor.

Where the libertarian-oriented ACT Party has pretty consistently opposed the bigotry of Winston Peters, the Labour Party has twice given him the keys of the kingdom. With only 7% of the vote Peters is setting a dark and ugly agenda for New Zealand and the only reason he is able to do it is because the union-dominated Labour Party handed him the power.

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