Composite Image: The release by party insiders of material outlining what amounts to a far-right plot to take over and drive the National Party sharply to the right indicates a level of factional intrigue that should give all New Zealanders pause. Godwin's law notwithstanding, the 1930s German precedents bear close scrutiny. Exposing the plotters is always better done sooner than later - before it is too late.
THE PHOTOGRAPHS could have saved 60 million lives. They were taken on 4 January 1933, outside the Cologne residence of Baron Kurt von Schroder, a well-connected German banker. Captured on film as they passed through the baron’s gates were Adolf Hitler, Rudolf Hess, Wilhelm Keppler and Heinrich Himmler. A little while later Franz von Papen, the recently dismissed German Chancellor and intimate friend of Reich President, Paul von Hindenberg, joined them.
Within hours, this photographic evidence of the Cologne conspiracy was in the hands of Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher. By the next morning Berlin’s newspapers were denouncing Hitler’s “secret meeting” with von Papen.
It proved to be too little and too late. By 30 January Hindenberg had replaced von Schleicher with Hitler. The new Vice-Chancellor was von Papen.
Had the saner elements within Germany’s ruling class acted earlier, and with General Kurt von Schleicher’s readiness to expose the Nazi Party’s behind-the-scenes machinations with politically-driven bankers and businessmen, the world might have been spared the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust.
As the political philosopher, Edmund Burke, rightly observed: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
New Zealanders should breathe a large sigh of relief that “a few good men” can still be found in their country’s own ruling class, and that they have seen fit to act earlier – and, hopefully, with more positive effect – than their German counterparts of the 1930s.
The leaking of documents allegedly penned by the right-wing political consultant, Mr Simon Lusk, should be sufficient to forestall what can only be described as a sinister “long term plan to move the political centre to the right.”
Let me state very clearly at this point that I do not consider Mr Lusk to be a Nazi, nor indeed a fascist of any kind. If the material attributed to him (and he has not disowned any of it) offers us any guide, then Mr Lusk’s political beliefs match very closely those of the extreme right-wing of the United States Republican Party.
New Directions: Simon Lusk appears to be drawing his political inspiration from the far-right-wing of the US Republican Party.
What he appears to favour is the establishment in New Zealand of an outright plutocracy: a state in which, although the formal institutions of democratic government remain in place, their capacity to impede the interests of the very wealthy has been rendered ineffective by the intimidating tutelage of an ideologically-driven bureaucracy, and pressure weighted with crushing quantities of cash.
This impression is, once again, confirmed in the leaked documents, which state quite openly: “This means reducing the size of government, weakening the power of those who believe in big government, and investing for at least 20 years to ensure that these changes are permanent.”
Mr Lusk appears to have been pursuing his plans for a plutocratic (or, to use the language of the leaked documents “fiscally conservative”) government, led by members of an ideologically re-booted National Party, for at least three years. Tellingly, the earliest documents look to the United States not only for inspiration but funding.
In the document dated July 2010, it is proposed that the highly professionalised political culture of the United States be transplanted to New Zealand so that, over time, and with the interest accruing from an initial investment of $5 million from conservative American donors, “an enduring centre right majority, with a pro United States outlook on the world stage” can be elected to parliament.
There are those who dispute the attribution of “evil” motives to the author of these documents. They point to the fact that Mr Lusk has devoted considerable time and energy into making himself one of the very few professional political consultants operating in New Zealand. Is it not possible, they argue, that these documents, intended for the eyes of like-minded National Party members, might simply be Mr Lusk “writing his own job description”?
Well, yes, of course it could. But, even if that’s true, the sinister aspects of the plans attributed to Mr Lusk are in no way diminished. He is already credited with assisting four individuals into parliamentary seats: Sam Lotu-Iga; Louise Upston, Chris Tremain and Jamie-Lee Ross. Political commentators are constantly linking his name with the alleged leadership aspirations of Justice Minister, Judith Collins. The documents he is said to have authored speak openly of the present National Government being “a disappointment to fiscal conservatives” and promise “there will be a clean out” following the party’s next defeat.
New Zealanders deserve better than a hollowed-out democracy in which government of the wealthy, by the wealthy, for the wealthy becomes the norm.
Nor should it be forgotten that any political figure openly promising to make his economic and social programme “permanent”, is also promising to prevent its opponents from mounting a successful challenge. Ever.
And when the programme fails?
Who will there be left to complain?
This essay was originally published in The Press of Tuesday, 4 June 2013.