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July 14, 2008 | by  | in Opinion |
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An Interview with Jordan Carter

Political Reporter Conrad Reyners sat down with Labour Party hopeful Jordan Carter. They discussed economics, homosexual politics, blogging, and other interesting things. For the full interview see www.Salient.org.nz/blog

One of your opposition candidates in the Hunua electorate, Roger Douglas (ACT), probably has a divergent view of economics to yours. Care to comment?

Yes, he probably does have differing views of economics to mine. I’m a social democrat, he’s a liberal…

But why do those two labels have anything to do with economics? Could you not be a social democrat but also seek certain neo-liberal or liberal solutions to problems?

Well, (pause), I do think that the two have quite differing understandings of the linkages between economy and society, because they prioritize two different types of society. That has implications for the type of economic system you’d like to see. So a social democrat holds as an assumption that people are morally equal and that has a substantive impact on their human rights, and their social rights, their cultural rights and their economic rights. They are going to want an economic system that focuses on full employment, and on a reasonably egalitarian distribution of income and wealth, and a liberal – whose focus is on individual freedom as the underpinning of their belief system, is going to want an economic system that is free to pursue their own interests, and to succeed or fail in their endeavors, so that has implications through all forms of economic policy, whether that is fiscal policy, with the structure of the tax system, or what you spend on the state sector versus the private sector. The whole regime of economic policy in the long run is different if there are different values and functions motivating it. But in New Zealand we have social democrats who run reasonably neo-liberal economic policy, and I think that’s a historical oddity. And all around the world economies are more liberal then they were fifty years ago. I don’t think that being a social democrat implies that you have to be a protectionist for example. Or that you have to support very high income taxes.

But you are going up against Roger Douglas (ACT) and Dr. Paul Hutchinson (National), both quite well established politicians.

Indeed.

Any comment on that? Are you perhaps a little bit nervous, is there any trepidation going into that fight?

I think anyone would be a fool if they were not a little bit nervous about getting into the ring with two people who have been in politics for a very long while, one of them who for a very long time – Roger Douglas – was a minister years before I was born. He has done a lot of things in his political career. Everyone thought it was over, probably including him, and he’d decided to jump back into the ring from the metaphorical grave, and I say good on him. Dr. Hutchinson is a low profile MP, in a very safe National seat, part of which is the old Maramarua seat which Bill Birch held for years and years. It has very well organized National party organization. I’ve seen them both speak – Roger Douglas is the master of the soundbite – a very good speaker. Dr. Hutchinson isn’t, I’m an ok speaker. The point about it is that you’re up there to put out and campaign for Labour party values, and I think I can do that. You’ve got to start somewhere. If you don’t try it, you are never going to improve.

I’d like to talk about homosexual politics, you are of course an open homosexual.

Yup

Do you think that the struggle for gay rights has largely finished in New Zealand, do you think that the battle has been won?

No, no, I think the battle for gay rights, quote unquote, will be won when there isn’t a battle for gay rights anymore. When the idea of someone being gay is no more particular or significant than them having red hair, or them being short…

Do you think that’s a practical reality?

Where we are today?

No, that kind of utopian idea of equality
Well is it utopian? People always, you know, make jokes about people who are say, short, people always choose characteristics about others as a way to denigrate them… Like racism exists, sexism exists, homophobia exists, but if you want to have a society where people are accepted for who they are, and what they think and what they do, and what they say, and not just by the characteristics that they have by accident of birth, then you’ve got to build a society where that isn’t the issue, so the struggle for equality is never going to be over because people are entitled to their views and some think that keeping gay and lesbian people in a subordinate, subjugated position in society is a good idea. I don’t think it’s a good idea. Is it finished? No it’s not. I think a lot of the legal work, in terms of building formal legal equality between gay and lesbian New Zealanders and other New Zealanders is nearly there. There are several outstanding issues such as marriage and gay and lesbian adoption and so on, but law is just one thing, policy is another, culture is another. Homophobic bullying is still an issue in schools, and more so I think, I think, than racial bullying. Certainly at my school, when I went to school in Manurewa, it was such a mixed school, and occasionally there were tensions between various ethnic groups, but there were not many out gay or lesbians.

You run a political blog, JustLeft. How important do you think blogging has become in the New Zealand political environment? For example Kiwiblog is quite popular, the Standard is quite popular…

I think that blogging has an influence in politics, in the sense that it’s a bit of a thing that destroys, there are some political journalists who spend an unhealthy amount of time interviewing their favourites menu, by consulting the political blogs and getting leads for stories and stuff. And the blogs can provide a way to turn party talking points into news stories. The thing that I wish was great about political blogging, and isn’t, is the dialogue. The discourse, because if you read any comments section on any political blog in the blogosphere, you’ll see exactly what I mean. It’s trash. There is the odd gem of wisdom among a whole bunch of people who have already made up their minds, and it’s an echo chamber. You know, it’s hard to take it seriously. I certainly don’t take it seriously. I only have comments on my blog because it drives traffic. More people come to your blog if they can comment. I tend not to read them. And there are all sorts of people in the blogging world who want to get their hate on towards other people in the blogging world. It’s silly. So blogging could in a political sense be more important if it was not political blogging. People write family blogs, or blogs like the public address system, kind of, like some of it is political and some of it isn’t. And the stuff that isn’t has a much higher quality of debate and discussion around it. I think it’s a shame, it’s a lost opportunity.

Some commentators are quite disparaging of the blogosphere; they think it is some kind of place where the politicos go and hang out, and it has no real relevance to ordinary new Zealanders…

Well you could say that about the whole political system couldn’t you?

That’s a slightly disparaging view of New Zealanders don’t you think?

Umm, no, I think, no, I’m not meaning to be disparaging at all, in any political system there are groups of people who are more engaged, and a group of people who are less engaged. Do I think the blogs represent New Zealand? No I don’t. Do I think they are well connected to mainstream views? No I don’t. I think their influence lies in feeding information and stories to the mainstream media that then filter out. They are not a reflection of how society is, they are not a reflection of the values, or thank God, the kind of conversations that most people have about politics. Some people think the blogs are more important than they are. You’d never win an election with a blog. It’s just a piece of the puzzle.

Week on the Blogs

www.salient.org.nz/blog

Conrad went up the NZUSA conference in Auckland and did some live updates, before being banned from attending. He blogged about that too anyway. Topics in his posts ranged from media censorship, men’s conferences, institutionalised homophobia and why he doesn’t like Jimmy Cowan.

Jackson was obviously procrastinating over his honours paper, as he posted three things. A record for him. He reminded us of the nasty Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the racism of provincial media, and he counter spammed a Nigerian. What fun!

Comment of the Month

Adam Smith
July 7th, 2008 at 6:15 pm AN INQUIRY INTO THE NATURE AND CAUSES OF THE WEALTH OF NATIONS by Adam Smith 1776 INTRODUCTION AND PLAN OF THE WORK THE annual labour of every nation is the fund which originally supplies it with all the necessaries and conveniences of life which it annually consumes, and which consist always either in the immediate produce of that labour, or in what is purchased with that produce from other nations. [Comment abridged by Jackson Pols. Ed. due to length (it was fucking long): if you would like to read the rest of Adam’s comment please visit this link]

Adam Smith
July 7th, 2008 at 6:26 pm My milk shake brings all the boys to the yard, and they’re like, its better than yours, damn right its better than yours, I can teach you, but I have to charge [Comment abridged by Jackson Pols. Ed. due to length (it was fucking long): if you would like to read the rest of Adam’s comment please visit this link]

Jackson Wood
July 7th, 2008 at 6:29 pm The obvious answer to Adam’s comment is Stiglitz: “the reason that the invisible hand often seems invisible is that it is often not there.” And if it is there it is probably holding a milk shake.

Adam Smith
July 7th, 2008 at 6:34 pm Are you attempting to apply Stiglitz to my first or second comment this evening? I believe both applications would be flawed, but am prepared to engage you on only one.

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About the Author ()

Conrad is a very grumpy boy. When he was little he had a curl in the middle of his forehead. When he was good, he was moderately good, but when he was mean he was HORRID. He likes guns, bombs and shooting doves. He can often be found reading books about Mussolini and tank warfare. His greatest dream is to invent an eighteen foot high mechanical spider, which has an antimatter lazer attached to its back.

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