When was the last time a journalist or commentator used the term working class in a report or opinion piece? A long time ago I guess.
Not that the media have ever used the “working class” to report on class issues. The middle class is commonly used, but the working class or the ruling class are no match for it. One of our national myths involves European settlers arriving here determined not to reproduce the bitter class divisions of Britain that they left for a better life here. “Jack was as good as his master,” so the myth put it. Needless to say, this was never a reality. Access to capital meant that the social and economic structures of colonization were firmly class-based. Not being seen to flaunt one’s wealth was the only concession to classlessness – a point abandoned since the Rogernomics revolution of the 1980s.
Its only lasting legacy may be the relative informality of clothing here, but this owes more to the climate than to avoiding class divisions. John Key, drinking beer from a bottle at a barbecue is all about telling us that we are all equal when in reality we are one of the most unequal countries in the world.
Today’s media reports on economic and social issues never use the term working class, but instead focus on the disproportionate impact of government policies on Maori and Pasifika. The problem is seen as disproportion rather than the policies themselves.
This focus on the disproportionate impact of economic and social policies on Maori and Pasifika is not a problem in itself – it reflects institutional racism and our long history of colonization which are critical issues facing Aotearoa New Zealand. ‘attack head-on. Te Tiriti o Waitangi has been mistreated for 180 years and dealing with this and its legacy reverberating in the present is of crucial importance. The new development and redevelopment partnerships between the Crown and Maori indicate a positive path forward.
Many bloggers, myself included, have focused on this in many different contexts, for example talking about housing, prison rates, health, education and even taxes.
Yes – it is true that Maori and Pasifika pay a higher proportion of their income in taxes than anyone else – not because the tax system discriminates against them on the basis of race, but because they are disproportionately owned. the working class which is the target of savage taxes. rate compared to the super rich billionaire class.
It is also true that 62% of the people on the State House waiting list are Maori and Pasifika, but it is also essential to note that 100% of the people on the State House waiting list are working class New Zealanders.
At one point we would have expected the labor movement to advocate for the needs of the working class in the face of discrimination in health, education, housing and tax policies for example, but the largest union in the The private sector is hip affiliated with the Labor Party and the Council of Unions is dominated by relatively well-paid workers from public sector unions. There is no leadership on these issues.
The media’s use of Maori and Pasifikas as synonyms for the working class has also been motivated by the current emphasis on identity politics. Race, gender and even religious identity now take center stage in political debate as the working class as a whole is on its own.
Identity issues that are the subject of a decent and long overdue public broadcast are a healthy sign because identity is important to all of us. We all deserve to feel accepted for who we are and comfortable with society’s view of us.
But why does the media focus so heavily on identity politics rather than seeing our economic and social policies from the perspective of the working class? For the same reason, he has always avoided speaking of workers’ struggles. Private sector media depend on the revenues of large corporations that advertise online, on the radio and in newspapers. The first priority is to keep an eye on the ads they run as the private sector media fill the ever-narrowing gap between ads with news stories.
Identity issues are more suited to media, avoiding the awkwardness of disturbing advertisers and the big companies behind them.
To my knowledge, at least two initiatives will attempt to engage the country on key class issues of housing and taxation in 2022, where the focus will be on class rather than identity politics.
We will have to deal with these issues ourselves – the media will be slow followers – if at all.