[Marxism] Pim Fortuyn and liberalism

Philip Ferguson plf13 at student.canterbury.ac.nz
Thu Jun 24 16:33:16 MDT 2004

Ian P wrote:

>Pim Fortuyn, who one should note also wished to abolish public spending
on health and education, I believe).



In NZ, the founder and leader of the Libertarianz political party, who
want to abolish taxation and public spending, Lindsay Perigo, is also an
openly gay man.


It is another indication of the way in which the logic of attacks on the
working class and the implementation of neo-liberal economics is
logically accompanied *not* by conservative social policies, as much of
the left assumed to be a permanent and global truth, but by
liberalisation of social conventions and laws.


The NZ case was this.


In 1975-84 we had an ultra-Keynesian government, led by Robert Muldoon,
which substantially increased state intervention in economic life.  In
fact, when the neo-liberals finally emerged in 1984, they would talk
about Muldoon as Enver Hoxha and NZ as being the most economically
regulated society outside Albania.


Muldoon's government, of course, was not Labour.  It was the National


Their ultra social-democratic economic policies were accompanied by
ultra-conservative social ideas.  In 1977, Muldoon gave us one of the
most restrictive abortion laws in the world, at a time when the trend
even in countries like Italy and France, where the Catholic Church had
much more power than in NZ, were liberalising.  There were huge
propaganda attacks on solo parents, especially solo mothers, etc etc.
Male homosexuality remained totoally illegal, etc, etc.  Basically the
National Party government was the 'old right' - the social democratic
economic consensus and a load of reactionary social policies.


In 1984 Labour swept into power and the liberal middle class, which was
what most Labour MPs were, got their mits on the levers of power.  They
carried out the most extreme neo-liberal economic reforms seen outside
Pinochet's Chile, certainly more extreme than Thatcher in Britain.  And
they liberalised social conventions and laws - decriminalised male
homosexuality, banned US nuclear warships, liberalised the de facto
situation regarding availability of abortion, promoted middle and upper
class women, expanded the Treaty of Waitangi industry and opened up the
path for a layer of Maori to become middle class and even get into big
business, etc etc etc.


This is the 'new right'.


They are very different indeed from the old right.


While NZ was an *extreme form* of neo-liberal economics and social
liberalisation, it is far from the exception.  All of the other
imperialist countries have followed a *roughly similar* course - the
differences have been *of degree* rather than of a fundamental nature.


The only exception that I can see is the US, and this explains why some
of us in other imperialist countries always end up in arguments on these
kinds of issues with American comrades.  


However, I would argue that the things that have made the US something
of an exception to the general trend in imperialist countries have not
stopped the general trend from occurring in the US, merely slowed it


For instance, it is clear that there actually is a new black middle
class in the US and thousands of black elected officials.  This is *very
different* from the Jim Crow era.  Instead of just saying, "Yeh, but a
middle class Afro-American can still be stopped by a cop under the
'Driving While Black' offence" - which, of course, is true - wouldn't it
be a fruitful exercise to look at how this social phenomena affects
politics more generally and what function this new class fraction plays
in consolidating the hold of the ruling class over society in general
and over black workers in particular?


Maybe I don't read the US left widely enough, but all I ever come across
on this issue in the US left press that I do see is the denial that the
integration of blacks and women into the middle class and into the
management of the system, at both the economic and political levels, is
of any significance at all.  Reading 'Against the Current', for
instance, is like being in time-warp.  It's like being transported back
to about 1968, which I guess is when all its editors and most of its
writers had their politics shaped.


To fight capitalism *today* we need to know not only the fundamentals of
Marx's economic theory but also the mechanisms and forms of capitalist
political rule, how political integration is used and so on.







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