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Friday, March 6, 2009

The New Worker

I have just finished reading Chris Trotters new op-ed piece at his blog site Bowalley Rd in which he gives voice to his opinion of Andrew Little, the new Labour Party President, the Labour Party's current situation and also yearns for the old days when the Labour Party was full of passionate debate united by a common thread of a socialist path for New Zealand.

Since I started The Home Office, I've been investing a lot of time in reading more of the leftist blogs such as Bowalley Rd, The Standard (always a staple), Socialist Aoteroa and the Workers Party.

What has come to mind has been that the militisicm of old, that stereotypical waterfront worker staring the police down on the waterfront in 1951, that kind of violent say-with-my-fists-what-my-mouth-can't passion seems to have gone. Sure, there are traces of it here and there. And the "about" tabs of some of these blogs seem to be transposed directly from Marx's Communist Manifesto. But even Chris seems to lament that core stereotype of the New Zealand worker.

What defines a new Zealand worker as we grow older as as a nation?

We are in a world full of Gen - Y's (Gen Y Neos, they tell me now) where the Ipod is king, consumerism is rampant and communication is on a scale never seen before. In fact my 14 yr old niece's cellphone appears to be hardwired to her fingers, she doesn't need to look to string a text message together and she can even converse in a somewhat meaningful way while she does it! We are moving to a more knowledge based economy that means more and more people are moving from the factory floor or the waterfront to the air conditioned office and the computer keyboard. There seems little room for the old stereotype of the militant socialist - or even the vociferous one at that. Chris Trotter comments himself on the fact that the Labour Party, with it's roots deep in the workers heart, now numbers perhaps 2000-odd paid up members. Where have the old days gone? Why are there not more people struggling to rise from the grip of the imperialist fist?

Perhaps the question should be: Is the socialist movement in New Zealand keeping pace with the changes in society? Who is "The New Worker"?

There will, I hope, always be a Left and Right - two opposing opinions on how the state of affairs should be run. Democracy requires this so that consensus is reached and the will of the people is acceded to. There is no doubt, if recent polls are to be believed, that the Left is in a state of tatters while the Right is in the ascendancy. This is reasonable I guess given the fact we have had a significant shift in thinking as evidenced in the result of the last election.

However, sometimes I wonder about the relevance that the socialist side has to todays world and is that movement answering the question above: Is the socialist movement in New Zealand keeping pace with the changes in society? Who is "The New Worker"?

I think Andrew Little has an idea who that new worker is? Chris bemoans the fact that he is respected by the people he represents and the people he purports to battle. I would have thought that this was a good thing; consensus being the way forward and all that democratic type of stuff.

I apologise in advance if I malign anyone with the stereotype of "the worker" painted above or indeed their views and opinions. However I think it valid to point out that while such an able bloke as Phil Goff languishes at the bottom of the polls, perhaps some stereotypes the old left may have need to be broken and the needs of the New Worker identified.


  1. More power to your pen!

  2. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



  3. Thanks Sarah,,

    If I can let my vanity prevail for a mo', please pass it along.

    Any praise is welcome

  4. Interestingly enough waterfront workers and seafarers who are members of the Maritime Union (formed 2002) command generally much better wages, conditions and job security than that sector of workers who have been deunionized.
    The tragedy of casualization and its effects on people's lives continues to unfold but maritime workers remain one of the more unionized groups of workers, which of course is a result of their long experience that you don't get any handouts from the boss, you have to fight for them.
    Victor Billot, MUNZ