Thursday, August 12, 2010

Equality for all is the heart of the left

Yesterday I pointed at the Dim-Post's vicious but accurate description of their mood-swing against National. What I didn't talk about was their suggested strategy for Labour to capitalise on it: abandon "social engineering" (that is, any moves to ensure equality for anyone who isn't a white male).

That proposed strategy has spawned a large discussion over at PA System, with several Trotterites crawling out of the woodwork screaming for Labour to throw women, Maori, children and gays under a bus in a quest for the votes of its "traditional base" of (supposedly racist, sexist and bigoted) working class males.

This is a position I cannot understand. Because when you get down to it, the core idea running through the heart of the left, from the Levellers to the Radicals to the Chartists to the Marxists, going all the way back to the Great Peasant Revolt even, is a demand for equality for all. That equality has never just been economic, but also political and social - a demand for an end to serfdom, for the right to vote regardless of wealth, for the right to participate fully in society regardless of class or creed, to be who we are, not who some stuck-up "lord" wants us to be. And while in the past it was confined to white men, with the expanding of the moral circle, "all" now means exactly that.

What the Dim-Post and the Trotterites are suggesting is that we sacrifice the equality of some for the peace of mind of others. And that's just not acceptable. Either you stand for the equality of all, or you're supporting lords and peasants again. There is no middle ground on fundamental rights.