This is a question which gets thrown around every time someone in the Labour Party takes a pot-shot at women, at queer folk, at beneficiaries, and then gets called out for being a judgemental, privileged douchebag.
Why can’t Labour get back to its roots? Back to being the party of the worker? As muerk commented on Twitter,
Labour was a party for working class folk, like miners. It doesn’t represent them like it used too.
Well muerk, that might just be because we’re in the 21st fucking century now.
Now, don’t take this wrong. I’m not saying the priorities of miners are unimportant just because they’re a much smaller part of the population than they used to be (that would just be hilariously ironic); what I am saying is that the privilege of viewing the entire NZ population in terms of:
Rich white dudes | hard-working white dudes | other [chicks | brown dudes]
… is not one anyone with half a brain should be coveting these days.
Yes, welcome to the world of identity politics. The world wherein people have those horrid “identities”, i.e. have the temerity to be loud and demand that the world recognise the many ways in which we are not just rich white dudes, hard-working white dudes, chicks, or brown.
Identities which were not necessarily chosen, but embraced, because white-dude society used different aspects of our rich and complex human experience to make the world their playground and shut out anyone who was different.
So now we don’t get to just pretend that all politics is an epic struggle between The Upper Classes [white, dudely] and The Working Classes [white, dudely]. Now we have to accept the basic human reality that women, and people of colour, and migrants, and people with disabilities, and queer people, and the non-working poor are actually all around us. Don’t run, they can only see movement!
And here’s where it gets totally freaky, people longing for The Good Old Days. Those working-class folk, like miners, who Labour used to represent?
Some of them were probably queer.
Some of them certainly had disabilities, if only through the kind of workplace accidents you get when you’re in a manual labour industry.
Some of them, these days, will be women. Or Maaori. Or Muslim.
It is frankly a fucking crime against the amazing diversity of human existence that some people want to pretend that all those nasty “identities” are just exclusive little groups on the fringes, demanding more than their fair share of the political spotlight.
And it is frankly fucking stupid to act like retreating one’s focus and attention back to that once-mainstream group, identified purely by Current Location Relative To Mode Of Production, contains even a milligram of political sense.
Because when Labour people, or people in the non-specific-Labour leftwing zone, attack abortion rights, attack marriage equality, attack beneficiaries, attack Maaori, they’re not saying “let’s get back to focusing on the issues facing all workers”.
They’re saying “let’s get back to focusing on the issues facing all workers which are strictly limited to white, hetero, cisgendered, able-bodied currently-employed dudes.”
And that’s a ridiculously small segment of society these days. And a lot of them actually support progressive issues which don’t actually affect them individually! It’s like they understand that society is made up of a lot of people and when we’re all being treated with dignity and respect and given the opportunity to live our lives to the fullest, everyone benefits!
So, really. When you talk about “Labour getting back to its roots”, all I hear is “waaaaaah, stop talking about issues that don’t affect me personally, I want all the attention!” Because it’s not even politically rational.
Unless of course these people honestly do believe that a political party can only discuss one issue at a time. And that thought is simply depressing.