OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Dear Labour Caucus

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  • Damian Christie, in reply to BenWilson,

    I know you blame the Global Financial Crisis, but that heavy petting zoo was never going to fly (much like its inhabitants), although Pakuranga was an inspired location - I hope you didn't lose too much on that in the end.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Damian Christie,

    heavy petting zoo

    promising Battle of the Bands contender

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Damian Christie,

    Luddite entertainment...

    And this close to Christmas, it’s worth noting that there are very few machines than can’t be smashed to pieces by a toddler before the turkey is out of the oven.

    I reckon those 'nek minnit' bibs will just fly off the shelves...


    'ullo, Boson...

    atomic propositions
    shady deals

    more spin and counterspin...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to John Armstrong,

    It would be a real shame to lose your voice.

    Ah, but what is the point in having a voice if I can't use it? Because what you say about the usefulness of the community having a fairly well-defined ideological centre is true, but the centre shouldn’t be allowed to become the whole. In fact I think Russell and Damian’s latest point about how the need to constantly define terms might make people disinclined to participate is a perfect illustration of how this community’s supposedly inclusive self-regulating mechanisms (and I could write a book about “don’t be a dick”, I really could) reinforce its biases: it’s precisely by never defining terms that you get to the point where the preferences and needs of a sector of the middle class become the implicit horizon of every discussion, be it about food or travel or politics.

    There is a disconnect here in my view: if the sensitivity to alterity and diversity in Emma’s writing and threads could be transferred into the more broadly political sphere, the community would begin to see through class boundaries. I suspect that the people of Trotter’s ilk who lament the influence of identity politics might just be envious of its vocabulary and how it’s succeeded in making privilege visible.

    (That “hey, you’re middle class” should be considered offensive is in a way the crux of it. I don’t think that if I had said “hey, you’re a bloke” to somebody in one of Emma’s threads it might have warranted a scalding.)

    His voice is still on Twitter and Bat Bean Beam, of course.

    Plus I'm at the Tropicana every second Friday.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    There is a disconnect here in my view: if the sensitivity to alterity and diversity in Emma’s writing and threads could be transferred into the more broadly political sphere, the community would begin to see through class boundaries. I suspect that the people of Trotter’s ilk who lament the influence of identity politics might just be envious of its vocabulary and how it’s succeeded in making privilege visible.

    Interesting proposition, beautifully expressed.

    I do honestly think you've been difficult to have a discussion with elsewhere in this thread though. That's all.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I do honestly think you've been difficult to have a discussion with elsewhere in this thread though.

    But that's okay! I don't want to not be difficult. People should be difficult, from time to time. We have had benefits set under the poverty line for twenty years in this country, nine of which under a Labour government. When is it okay to stop being polite about that?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    There is a disconnect here in my view: if the sensitivity to alterity and diversity in Emma’s writing and threads could be transferred into the more broadly political sphere, the community would begin to see through class boundaries.

    The reason those discussions work is that no-one is dumb or insensitive enough to be a nit-picky fight chasing arsehole on those threads. My number two rule is "read kindly".

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    But that’s okay! I don’t want to not be difficult.

    And that's your right. In which case, you shouldn't be surprised if people point out that you are. Also, there's a fine line (or maybe it's pretty damn obvious) between being intellectually challenging, and being a snarky prick. Or perhaps it's a spectrum. And people might point out if they think someone is straying a bit too far in one direction. Or just choose not to participate. Or the first, followed by the second.

    I found our conversation the other day very difficult, and not in an intellectually challenging way. And being called middle class was pretty much the least of it, because as you point out, I'm probably am, although I'd need you to define the limits before I know for sure.

    On this thread, as with others (on different topics), I just start hearing this snarky tone emerge from various people, where it seems like people are just picking fights, and not particularly interesting ones. And if I'm honest, you're one of the people I most often pick up that tone from. But that's cool, honestly, it really is, as long as you don't mind it being pointed out, or don't mind me ignoring you or leaving the discussion, then keep going. As someone who has made a good middle-class living by existing on the snarky prick spectrum over the years, I can definitely handle it, it's more just a case of how long until I find no marginal utility from remaining in the conversation, as opposed to say, doing my laundry or trying to work out where that smell of cat piss is coming from in my room.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    We have had benefits set under the poverty line for twenty years in this country, nine of which under a Labour government. When is it okay to stop being polite about that?

    I totally agree about that - it's economic violence against our own countryfolk that we're all responsible for not demanding fixed. But I don't believe we need a discussion about what counts as "left", more about what counts as human. Accompanied by some firm action.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    I suspect that the people of Trotter’s ilk who lament the influence of identity politics might just be envious of its vocabulary and how it’s succeeded in making privilege visible.

    That is astute.

    I've often felt that people practice a level of consideration when talking about race or gender or sexual orientation that they abandon when they talk about class. But we have no more choice over the families we're born into than than the bodies we get.

    Perhaps one of the reasons that people seem reluctant to talk about class is that they don't know how to talk about it without sounding like they're blaming people for how they were born.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 134 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to ,

    That isn't name calling.

    Smellysocks pantie-poos

    *That's* name calling

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Emma Hart,

    The reason those discussions work is that no-one is dumb or insensitive enough to be a nit-picky fight chasing arsehole on those threads.

    Wow. Really? Okay. Except my working hypothesis is that if Public Address treated sexual orientation the way it treats class, you'd be denouncing it very loudly. From another blog. And you'd be as snarky as the day is long. As indeed you are here, liberally and often, including making comments about commenters in your threads from the twitter feed that runs alongside the thread.

    So, being a dick? In the eye of the beholder, if you ask me.

    And that's your right. In which case, you shouldn't be surprised if people point out that you are.

    I don't have a problem with people pointing out that I'm difficult. When the moderator does it, it's different, and it sets the tone of the place and the limits of the discussion. When he does it for the tenth time for the same reason, and you think the reason is bollocks, in can be exasperating, and pretty much leaves you no chioce but to bugger off - which of course is fine, too. I hadn't posted here for months for a reason. I certainly regret popping back in.

    But I don't believe we need a discussion about what counts as "left", more about what counts as human.

    It doesn't have to be called Left, for me Left can mean something as simple as a consideration for people south of "middle [insert name of country here]". I do know however that a generic commitment to fairness doesn't cut it - we get that from every single political party. I also agree with an observation that WB Sutch made 50 years ago about the lack of social imagination of our ruling class. We need to sharpen that imagination radically and that might involve the odd impolite discussion about just who is being served by either of our main parties in government.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    whose interests are served always strikes me as a great question about any proposal

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Sacha,

    whose interests are served...

    +1 - pro, cui bono...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Isaac Freeman,

    Perhaps one of the reasons that people seem reluctant to talk about class is that they don’t know how to talk about it without sounding like they’re blaming people for how they were born.

    I suspect also because it’s a dirty little secret of the nation – one of its big founding myths was to escape the squalor and human sardine tin of Dickensian Britain, in the same vein that America was the ‘land of the free, home of the brave’.

    We are indeed a classless nation – that is, in the institutionalised British sense. What’s emerged instead is a de facto caste system as seen in America, where celebrities and executives have effectively become lords and barons by another name. It's all the more so with unskilled hands being made obsolete by machines and industrial globalisation.

    To name just one example: Auckland Grammar, despite being a state school, acts like it’s the Eton of the Pacific.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    that might involve the odd impolite discussion

    Well, we're going to have bugger-all impolite discussions now, aren't we? (I mean obviously, do what you've got to do, and all that. But... meh.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I'd be more worried about the fantasies of some usual suspects about the left.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Greg Dawson, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    (and I could write a book about “don’t be a dick”, I really could)

    Umm, I know I'm interrupting something, but can we have that book? Or the discussion and debate that makes that book?

    As someone who has basically built his life around that precept (after finding religion and sport a bit useless), I'd be keen. Maybe on BBB?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 294 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Greg Dawson,

    Maybe on BBB?

    Ah, but he's been hating on 'don't be a dick'. Because the concept of dickishness is culturally defined and the precept thereby works to silence those who don't conform to that culture.

    (See, Gio, when you flounce, people speak for you. Flouncing: it's dangerous.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew E,

    Without wishing to get too drawn into this too much further, I will (again) state my support for Giovanni. I don't think the reply of his to Damian that prompted Russell's intervention was over the top. It seems to me that it is precisely because people get defensively prickly about class labels that any offence which might have been intended or caused has been magnified. He's right too, when he suggests that it's not being a dick to find it helpful to define our terms. The wooliness of too much of language around politics has come from politicians bending things out of shape for too long, to enable their desire to sell you a chimera of 'fairness', 'community', 'justice', 'sustainability', etc.. If we are not clear about what we mean by these terms, and do not demand clarity of meaning from politicians when they wield them, then we all do ourselves a disservice. Which, coming full circle, is precisely what I thought a blog like Keith's was dedicated to doing, and why I - and Giovanni - found this particular post to be a disappointment. It purported to demand something of politicians, but in fact was engaging in a hoary old vaudeville trick of misdirection: look over here at this shining principle we can all agree on, and while you're looking over there, I'll stick this knife in over here.

    So, in the interest of attempting to be constructive, perhaps I could propose something a little less ad hoc in terms of topics for blogs for a while. Instead, why not have more structured series of posts on which the intelligent, articulate, crowd that populates PAS can get stuck in. What do we consider to be important principles, and useful actions, to tackle poverty, improve education, ensure adequate provision of healthcare, conserve our environment, build our cities and transport networks? What has attracted me to Public Address has been the debate, but it many ways it reacts to events too much. If the new Labour leadership wants to hear from people, then this as good a locus for constructive, proactive, discussion as anywhere. The work that was done around 'Open Labour' was a useful start, but if politics that is remotely left of centre is to be reinvigorated in this country, that kind of openness needs to continue, and not just take place in spaces owned and defined by one political party.

    174.77 x 41.28 • Since Sep 2008 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Andrew E,

    people get defensively prickly about class labels

    People sometimes get defensive because of tone rather than content. Especially if their own resilience is low for whatever reason.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to ,

    As opposed to sexual orientation, class position can shift. Thats my experience. I was once illegible to the literate class, which did lead to times of poverty. Try getting employment that doesn’t involve reading and particularly writing skills. Then you will understand the qualification of my anecdote.

    You know this, Steven, but it's worth saying again. Your trajectory is among the elements of PAS of which I am most proud. You came in and got intro trouble talking to people with a far more natural command of language than you, and I pissed a few people off (there were fairly frank email discussions with Tze Ming) by wading in in your defence. But I could see what you were trying to say.

    I never expected you to subsequently put in the work you did, or to attain the level of literacy that you did. I know that you spent hours on the kind of thing that takes me minutes, and I'm still amazed by that. Quite honestly, I feel pleased whenever you pop back. Cheers.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Andrew E,

    Instead, why not have more structured series of posts on which the intelligent, articulate, crowd that populates PAS can get stuck in.

    I know someone who would agree with that ,sort of, but I would prefer that we don't need to be told off like children who know no better and are confined to the naughty step.. It honestly is reminding me of the old adage "children should be seen and not heard. I mean you got 3 moderators here up against Giovanni for nothing more than a passionate view that incites a bit of anger from one moderator. Damian was okay to point out his discontent with that ,at the same time, spray (cat analogy in keeping with his theme)) and walk away. Russell will try to smooth the way because that's what he does. Emma will come in because Gio paid a compliment of which she didn't appreciate and thus Gio is gone a bit flabbergasted but gladly still persevering, because I agree with him too, just like Andrew E. I don't disagree with Damian, he has his view. I don't disagree with Russell. he has a Blog to appease all sorts. Emma will automatically defend herself if she disagrees. But I don't disagree with Gio. I felt I understood his view. I felt he was making his point. I should stop now. I read Gio and I hear Italian, (and that in my book is a compliment) Jus' sayin'.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    Emma will automatically defend herself if she disagrees.

    Actually, I do, and I won't.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I never expected you to subsequently put in the work you did,

    Yes you did. That's why you persevered.That is why you defended him against another you have high respect for. Steven Crawford is no better or worse than anyone on here. Ability to express or not. He may not be of academic calibre but soo many of us are in that boat. We are all so different .It's the rules that keep getting in the way. Jus' sayin'

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

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