Forwarded from Jurriaan

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Fri Sep 27 14:22:37 MDT 2002

Louis gave me a stern warning not to send messages in html. Subsequent to
that I revised my post on the autopsy of NZ social democracy somewhat, and
posted it again. Now I see that Louis already posted my first post anyway.
Just ignore that first post and read the second post, it is better (I
hope). I was intrigued to find out more about NZ's alleged "budget
surpluses" - something that a hooker might mention to a client - and
included that with the new post.

Actually NZ's terms of trade today are about what they were in 1969, in
other words you have to export more and more, to be able to import the same
amount of goods from overseas. Unsurprisingly, no significant increase in
productivity has occurred in the 1990s, despite claims that unfettered
capitalism would make labour so much more productive, despite low wages,
despite rising foreign investment, and despite high unemployment
disciplining the workforce. That is the core of the whole debt problem.

The reality is that NZ's industrialisation came too late, it occurred when
the world was already divided up among the imperialist countries. There
isn't a single country in the world who has been able to achieve an
allround industrialisation since that time, despite heroic attempts, such
as Korea. New Zealand's industrialisation took place behind a wall of
protectionism and state regulation, but it simply could not keep pace with
the rest of the world.

As New Zealand political journalist Bruce Jesson once noted, New Zealand
lived perpetually beyond its means, pretending to the consumption habits of
an advanced Western country. It is a credit to the New Zealand people that
they were able to do this for such a long time, that they managed to keep a
pretty good lifestyle despite those adverse conditions. That requires
considerable ingenuity.

But how long it can last is uncertain - the trend since the recession of
the 1970s and 1980s is a steady decline towards the status of a "third
world" economic neo-colony, a client state. The capacity for New Zealand to
borrow overseas today, hinges greatly on the maintainance of social
stability, a stable political regime, which is probably one reason why the
left there keeps so quiet, and why a coherent political ideology is unable
to form. The question however is, how low can you go, before people finally
revolt ?


Louis Proyect

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