It’s important to understand what drives the prime minister

To understand the idealogical beliefs of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern we can look back to her time as president of the International Union of Socialist Youth, writes Steve Elers.

OPINION: It is important to understand political ideologies because they provide a lens into the underpinning beliefs and values that guide political goals and decision-making.

We would be fools to believe political decisions are primarily evidence based. Given we are facing what is likely to be many years of economic turmoil and hardship, the political ideology of our Government needs to be laid bare so we can gain insights into what a post-Covid-19 New Zealand economy might look like.

Arguably, the Government revolves around Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – she calls the shots.

It’s a fair assumption to suggest that at the time of entering Parliament, an MP’s political views and beliefs are set and are the motivation to enter politics in the first place. Accordingly, to understand Ardern’s political ideology it is important to revisit 2008, when she entered Parliament as a Labour list-MP.

Earlier in 2008 Ardern was elected president of the International Union of Socialist Youth. In early 2009, just two months after becoming an MP, Ardern presided over the union’s World Council annual meeting in her capacity as president.

Official records of that meeting give us insights into Ardern’s political ideology. For example, the meeting documents state the aim of the union is to “defend and spread our core socialist principles”.

The 2009 union meeting is relevant not just because Ardern was president, but because the official resolutions outlined “progressive answers to the financial crisis” – aka the global financial crisis or GFC. Given Ardern and her comrades had “progressive answers to the financial crisis”, those answers might now be used to guide us through the turmoil and hardship of post-Covid-19.

By the way, I have used “comrade” because it is how union members referred to themselves throughout the 2009 meeting.

The definition of “comrade” from An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Marxism, Socialism and Communism is as follows: “Originally, one who shares the same chamber. The term has been adopted by socialists and communists for party members.” I do not use “comrade” disparagingly here, as indeed Ardern herself used the term 15 times in just seven minutes at this public event.

So, what “progressive answers to the financial crisis” did Ardern and her comrades come up with? Did they propose ideas that would stimulate the economy so businesses could thrive thereby creating job opportunities?

Not quite. Instead, Ardern and her comrades stated: “Redistribution will lead to more financial stability and justice. As IUSY we struggle for redistribution between the north and the south and for redistribution between the poor and the rich, because we believe in equality and justice.”

On the same trajectory, Ardern and her comrades said: “Human beings are born with unequal resources available. We as young socialists believe in a social democratic system which secures a redistribution of resources.”

Oh, I get it now. Ardern and her comrades think it’s best that everyone is equal and this is achieved through securing a “redistribution of resources”.

After resources – aka your income and wealth – has been “redistributed’” what happens when some people start accumulating more income and wealth than others? Does that mean that the clock needs to be reset so everyone is equal again? And how often should the reset occur?

For example, if Ardern and her comrades take away your income and wealth and give it to me, but through either hard work, initiative, entrepreneurial spirit and luck you manage to have more income and wealth than I have in say a year from now, does that mean I get to have more of your income and wealth so we become equal again?

I suppose that is exactly what Ardern and her comrades mean because they further stated: “Today’s dominating economical system of Western capitalism has contributed to the unequal distribution of wealth worldwide.”

I wonder then what is the exact point whereby “inequality” becomes acceptable? For example, is a 20 per cent gap of “inequality” acceptable? Or does it need to be closer, like 10 per cent? Or do we all need to have the exact same amount of income and wealth?

I don’t know. But what I do know is Ardern and her comrades provided the above answers in 2009 and now she is leading us into the economic recovery of post-Covid-19.