There is quite a battle on at the moment. In one corner is Chris Trotter and the latest here, in the other is Lew from Kiwipolitico. I think BK Drinkwater sums it up well on his blog where he says,
"What followed was a debate in extraordinarily explicit terms over the role of identity politics in Progressivism. For Trotter, class is the sole sufficient statistic for the identification of a group's interest. For Lew, belonging in a power-minority group must be taken into account.
This fundamental disagreement prevents Lew and Trotter from agreeing on, well, just about anything. Among the issues they've hashed over is the independence of the Maori Party from Labour. For Trotter, the Maori Party's supply and confidence agreement with National is nothing short of a betrayal of the interests of the Maori people: an interest he sees as belonging in the Labour Party and movement. For Lew, Maori are infantilized when portrayed as being dominated by class interests: Maori are active agents with a special identity in the world we all live in; this identity is not to be subsumed by nineteenth-century European categorizations in terms of economic class.
What the present fight seems to be about is the right to call oneself Progressive. Trotter thinks that it's a term that belongs to fairly old-school socialists whose understanding of the world is derived mainly from class analysis; Lew insists that the vocabulary of minority groups and power structures is essential. It's probably a healthy debate for the Left to be having right now, and it's interesting to read."
So what do i think? Well there is much to comment on, so I'll just stick to one point.
I am in Lew's corner simply because his arguements make sense, they are actually not coloured by personality or animosity as trotter's are. I think that Chris Trotter is wrong. I'm just going to talk about the maori party issue although i agree with Lew that the Green and left-women have also experienced his diatribe.
Insulting the maori party for sticking up for their constituents is really just paternalism and racism. Trotter doesn't understand maori, their world view or how they are utilizing their own resources, including debate, to create their own solutions to their own issues, political representation being one of those.
Trotter says, " I have never argued against the rights of women or indigenous peoples – nor denigrated any person for doing so."
This is just not true. By calling maori party leaders kupapa and using the slaughterhouse imagry, trotter has argued against the rights of maori. By attacking maori political leadership he insults all who voted for them. Remember he is not really attacking the policies of the maori party - he attacks individuals - personally - in the guise of attacking the policies. He thinks he know best and he thinks he knows best about what is 'best' for maori. He can see the road ahead, while the maori party just don't have the 'vision' or they have sold out their strength for baubles or they have been enticed by personal gain to ditch their principles and back the rightwing plans. Ummmm sorry chris that is all rubbish. Your mountaintop is really just a hill - with a mediocre view.
No one elected you trotter. Maori didn't vote for you - but they did vote for the maori party. The success of the maori party in representing their constituents will be tested at the ballot box. I expect MORE seats for them.
Trotter argues against the rights of maori all the time, whether it's his oppostion to the 'h' in Whanganui, or his personal animosity for the leaders of the maori party. In trotters world maori are not able to handle their own destiny. They need the large, warm, white hands of 'progressives' to lead them and help them achieve their emancipation. Maori have the right to seek their own destiny and they will. The maori party is a representation of maori, or at least a large section of maori - whether you like it or not chris.
You are not maori chris, you have no idea what the maori worldview is - yet you sprinkle your tomes with maori words and concepts as if that adds some gravitas to your arguement. All it does it show you up for the self declared racist you are.
So the fake tears and hand wringing from trotter hold no water for me. He gives it out but can't take it. His pompous tone and continued disgraceful personal attacks on the maori party show him for what he is - a racist not a progressive at all.
With friends like trotter who needs enemies.
FOOTNOTE: Well chris doesn't like me commenting on his blog and has deleted one of my comments. I was simply pointing out that his comments about the maori party were personal and it was precious of him to be offended by Lew for playing the man not the ball - when he does that all the time. I also said that non-maori using maori concepts and words to insult maori was ironic. And my final point to him was that as a self-declared racist, surely his independence and neutrality could be called into question.