Tuesday 25 October 2016

A Stranger In The Mirror.

An Indistinct Reflection: New Zealanders have been slow to turn against their country’s economic, social and cultural transformation. Most accepted the changes of the Lange government and its successors, at least initially, as necessary and positive. Thirty years on, however, the consequences of those changes are all around them. The global economy, with its free movement of goods and people, lacks the reassuring consanguinity of the homogeneous nation state. When a people looks in the mirror, it expects to recognise its reflection.
THIS IS THE STORY of a small nation which tried to move beyond its history as a British colony to become a more open and diverse society. It is also the story of how that country’s national identity was fundamentally altered in the process. To the point where many of its citizens are no longer sure who they are, or where their society is headed.
The story begins in 1986 when the new Labour Government of David Lange and Roger Douglas steered New Zealand in a radically new economic and cultural direction. It was widely believed that Lange’s predecessor, Sir Robert Muldoon, had allowed the country to become fixed in a view of itself that owed much more to the past than the present. Lange’s government was determined to modernise and open-up New Zealand to a new way of organising its “Polish shipyard” economy.
This determination went well beyond opening up the economy. An important part of New Zealand’s insularity, it was argued, stemmed from the narrowness of its immigration policies.
Prior to 1986, New Zealand’s immigration policies were driven by one, over-riding consideration: too preserve the country’s essential “Britishness”. For most of New Zealand’s history this objective had been interpreted quite literally. New Zealanders were proud to call themselves “Better Britons” and looked upon the United Kingdom as “home”.
From the 1930s onwards, however, this attitude underwent an important change. More and more New Zealanders, while acknowledging their British heritage, were determined to transcend it by constructing a nation that was more progressive, less hidebound and much more independent than the colony it had started out as. This view of New Zealand was given a huge boost by the reforms of the First Labour Government (1935-1949) and contrasted sharply with the more traditional view of New Zealand’s national identity espoused by the National Party.
By the 1980s, however, this Kiwi nationalist position was being widely dismissed as an unhelpful barrier to moving New Zealand into the new “global” economy. The survival of the sort of society favoured by New Zealand’s left-wing nationalists depended on the continuation of economic and cultural protectionism. But, with the tides of history running strongly against them, the Left’s preferences were fast becoming untenable.
The country’s almost entirely mono-cultural institutions added another complication. Since the land wars of the nineteenth century, New Zealand’s indigenous Maori people had been largely shut out of national life. Progressive New Zealanders demanded a new, bi-cultural, definition of nationhood. They also wanted New Zealand’s foreign affairs, defence and trade policies to reflect its geographical location in the Asia-Pacific region.
The inquiry launched by Lange’s Immigration Minister, Kerry Burke, in 1986 touched upon all of these considerations. It’s findings represented a decisive shift away from the de-facto “White New Zealand” policy that had, hitherto, preserved the country’s narrow ethnic profile.
Labour’s new immigration policy, like the free-market policy it was intended to complement, would take as its starting point the economic needs of New Zealand. Immigrants would be admitted on the basis of a culturally-neutral “points” system. Social cohesion, formerly achieved by its cultural homogeneity, would now be secured through strong economic growth. New Zealand was to become an increasingly diverse and multicultural nation.
Very little of this new population policy was known to New Zealanders. And the politicians of both major parties were in no hurry to inform them. There were clues, however, such as National Prime Minister Jim Bolger’s peculiar claim that New Zealand was an Asian nation.
By the time the rapid influx of non-European immigrants became impossible to hide, National and Labour could rely on most political journalists and a growing number of academic and business leaders to reassure the public that the new multicultural New Zealand was an entirely positive development. Those who objected, most notably the leader of the anti-immigration NZ First Party, Winston Peters, were condemned as racists and xenophobes. In the city where most new immigrants settled, Auckland, rapidly rising property values reconciled native-born citizens to its changing ethnic balance.
What the authors of New Zealand’s current immigration policy failed to account for, however, was the social inequality which free-market economics almost always generates. Where economic growth is based on large migrant inflows – as it is in New Zealand currently – and wealth is distributed unequally across the population, social cohesion begins to break down.
New Zealanders have been slow to turn against their country’s economic, social and cultural transformation. Most accepted the changes of the Lange government and its successors, at least initially, as necessary and positive. Thirty years on, however, the consequences of those changes are all around them. The global economy, with its free movement of goods and people, lacks the reassuring consanguinity of the homogeneous nation state. When a people looks in the mirror, it expects to recognise its reflection.
This essay was originally published in The Press of Tuesday, 25 October 2016.


jh said...

New Zealanders have been slow to turn against their country’s economic, social and cultural transformation
One reason is the show trial (public shaming) when someone uses the kith and kin argument. To anti-racists humans are like jellybeans (coloured on the outside but with leadership (coercion ) they will only see the clear gelatine base underneath. This thinking is based on environmental theories of behavior (Steven Pinker calls it the doctrine of the blank slate). The anti-racists Allie are the top business people in the non-tradeables sector (such as Harcourt Shanghai ).
Anti-racists have developed a line that goes: "racism came with British colonisation " (Spoonley); colonization should be seen as racism operationlised; both Chinese and Maori experienced racism at the hands of the British colonizer - racists; a new ethnicless society is the answer. To make that ideology work requires the acceptance of the view that NZ needs more people (essentially labour); hence the spinning of migrants as factor inputs as though they were the ultimate resource.
The media have been key in controlling the spin.

jh said...

In my neck of the woods people see the folly of immigration policy first hand but many think John Key is doing a good job. They equate John Key's ability to make money at Merrill Lynch with his knowhow of the NZ economy (period). They say: "but imagine if Labour was in power?". The media is controlled by a powerful oligopoli and countering the John Key myth takes more resources than are at present available.

David Stone said...

Hi Chris

The immigration flow, the way I see it, is just compliments the export of jobs to low wage no union no work-safe overseas countries. By eliminating import protection for domestic manufacturers , they have been forced to either move their operations offshore to where they can employ under the same conditions, or close down. While the government closes down most of it's own engineering shops etc . The flood of immigrants meantime places added pressure on the job market to allow some local businesses to survive at the margins. The left who would otherwise be screaming about the destruction of employment opportunity and conditions is silenced by the fear of being labeled like Winston , a racist xenophobe. Gotcha!

But the left should reflect who these migrants are. Mostly perfectly nice people to be sure, certainly in my experience. But they are not refugees, of whom we allow in precious few of the millions out there. And neither are they of the 2 billion or so people in the world who live below the poverty line. On less than $2 a day you can't buy an airline ticket , and neither do you know anyone who is going to buy one for you. The worker category migrants who come here from poor countries to improve their lot are already among the most advantaged in the country from which they come.

Furthermore for consideration , if we were to invite all the poor from just one Asian or African country to share our landmass and resources equally with theirs, so say New Zealand and Bangladesh shared our land and resources evenly between us all , it would not improve the lot of the average Bangladeshee perceptibly . But it would worsen the lot of the average New Zealander catastrophically . We don't have enough to share to make a difference for the world's poor, only to our own.

Another consideration from a very different angle on our acceptance of the changes wrought by the Lange government is back to the union issue . I remember having one of many discussions with my friend Max Purnel who some might know, sometime in the mid '70s, about the Wharfie's union. A closed shop at least in Auckland. Closed shop means you can't join unless you are invited, and you can't work on the wharf unless you are a member. At that time about 90% of what we earned went across the wharf , and 90% of what we consumed came over it in the other direction; So the wharfie's union had a tourniquet on both the economy's jugular and it's carotid , and they applied them just as ruthlessly as the banks and the multinationals squeeze us now. To the extent that at that time a wharfie was taking home more pay than the prime minister. Other unions in similarly vital positions behaved similarly to the extent of the indispensability of their industry . Muldoon's strategy ,since addressing the resultant gross inefficiency directly seemed impossible, was to subsidise the agricultural industry, recycling tax money to keep production going on the farm , for which he was ridiculed , as much by the farming industry as anyone else. At the same time unions serving workers in non critical situations were not able provide for their members any better than they can now.

The widespread perception that some unions were destroying the economy and holding the rest of us to ransom ,and that breaking down the import barriers and getting government out of the employment role, where their employees were also their voters, so they must be pandered to, to some considerable extent enabled the neoliberal globalisation changes to be accepted. If we ever get our country back this needs thinking about.

Cheers David J S

Unknown said...

The issue of immigration is indeed a controversial issue of public importance and we
consulted the programme-makers with your concerns. They state:
The program presented the views of a number of people who had specialist knowledge
and expertise about immigration. This included but was not limited to the Chief Executive
of Immigration who explained how the system works (including its strengths and
historical weaknesses), an immigration consultant who was critical of several aspects of the process and current policies, an academic who is an acknowledged expert in this area, and another academic expert who has consulted internationally in this area. In essence these people had specialist knowledge and experience of this issue, some supportive of current policies, and some critical. It would be our firm view that we canvassed a balanced series of viewpoints regarding immigration.
The Committee supports the view of the programme makers. The scope of immigration as a
subject matter is wide and far reaching; and the limitations of television production and distribution on any platform means that programme makers must narrow their focus and find balance within their chosen angle.
You have indicated a number of experts you would have preferred to have heard from in
your complaint. The choice of experts to be included in a programme is an editorial one, rather than an issue of programme standards. This type of editorial decision is one which the programme makers are entitled to make. The Complaints Committee considers that the experts chosen including the Chief executive of Immigration, an immigration consultant and two academics who study this issue, were sufficient to represent various views on this issue.

jh said...

Does that seem like a Clayton"s Balance to you Chris?

Polly said...

I live in central Auckland, when I look in the mirror I see immigrants taking over our country and our politicians, local and parliamentary, looking on benignly.
I don't like what I see.

Wayne Mapp said...

It reads as if you are about to be seduced by Winston's siren call.

He certainly thinks he is on track to 20% or better with the Brexit vote and trump as evidence of the unhappiness of many traditional voters. So far that type of discontent has never been more than 15% in New Zealand, but maybe that is about to change.

It is not really evident in the polls, but if one goes by the blogs there is a lot of angry people who pine for the way it was.

If Labour is no longer the answer, then perhaps Winston is?

BlisteringAttack said...

After Douglas, Caygill, Prebble, Goff et al everything became commoditised.

A public good, like university education for instance, had a value in the form of tuition fees.

We became a society with a price tag on everything.

greywarbler said...

Muldoon's tinkering with the controls would have led to better outcomes than ex-Labour official's son Roger Douglas just steam-rolling over us and too fast to catch the breath to cry out the usual tests, Why What How? And time for a meeting and a cup of tea to prove it on paper first, before you experiment with us, in belief and willing sacrifice of the country's zeitgeist.

Now this country's mood is encapsulated regretfully in a review of Scott Fitzgerald's biography by Turnbull when the zeitgeist of the 1920's is described as "those years when the corks popped, the music played, life was full of extravagance and laughter, and there was the heartbreak of emptiness behind it all". Enough people in NZ enjoy this lifestyle or hanker after it while turning their eyes away from those living Calcutta, Bangladeshi style amongst us, many of them native NZs. Those of us who don't like this had better do something more positive and useful than wring our hands, talk and promise change (a pocketful of mumbles, such are promises (Neil Simon). What are you doing peeps?

Jens Meder said...

Perhaps sub-consciously there is no real opposition to the changes of the last 30 years in NZ, but only a feeling for some innovatively progressive amendments to them ?

Nick J said...

The 84 Labour government was truly a revolutionary model. Questions were not asked of the governed nor consent requested in any meaningful way. It was the Leninist principle of hit hard and constantly to keep them off balance whilst forcing the agenda.

Years later we have the consequences. It is too late to decide if we got it right: we have a fait accompli.

For those who object to immigrant cultures I dont agree but I do sympathise. When you are not consulted it breeds resentment. You know that you are being lorded over, treated as fools, held in contempt by the political classes.

The end result; Trump. Brexit. La Pen. Treat the plebs as plebs and get a plebian reaction.

Robert M said...

As I've said before my view is the neoliberal reforms of the mid and late 1980s were less intended by the likes of Kerr and Treasury to create a modern liberal diverse advanced post industrial society than to reduce New Zealand back to a small limited farm based nation of say 2.5 million without a significant industrial base of nearly internationally competitive industrial base combined with purely employment creating industries such as the bottom half of the car and electronics industries and the other extras and requirements of sophsiticated western society advanced culture and media and land public rail and bus transport which Roger Kerr thought as a waste of money. The alterations of immigration policy in 1986 had a similar reactionary aim to bring third world and asian people whose more conservative people and professionals, ie Doctors, whose attitude would better fit with a conservative rural society. More recent changes to immigration policy accelerate the trend from higher grade Asians aspirationey money Koreans, Chinese from the mainland and HK and Japanese towards much lower grade and less westernised Asians and Africans from generally poor parts.
The desire to move away from the often fairly high grade professionals and technicians from London, North America and Holland that moved or desired to move to NZ in the 1955-1975 period was also a main driver to the drift towards encoraging third world immigration. The government probably very wrongly did not want advanced people from the Northern Hemisphere anymore because they didn't ahve sufficient belief in the country, themselves or realise the awfulness of ordinary peoples New Zealand to recognise the necessity of moving in the other direction to abandoning the idea of NZs exceptionality.

jh said...

To the puzzlement of many and the delight of some, New Zealand has not been exempt from such transformations even if it has taken some time for us to perceive the shape of the new order.

Conspiracy alert!?
10 million New Zealanders by 2062?

Professor Paul Spoonley
Increasing New Zealand’s population to 10 million people, under a comprehensive 50 year Population Policy to build the economy, is just one of the ideas being discussed in an immigration conference at Massey University’s Albany campus from October 24–26.

No doubt as one sided as Nigel Latta's The New New Zealand (Property Council TV)

jh said...

Wayne Mapp says
but if one goes by the blogs there is a lot of angry people who pine for the way it was.
John Key says Winston supporters are dying off. The problem with young people is that they know no better. In 1950 Chrisctchurch had less than half it's population while it still had it's parks and far more gardens. Half the population cycled and we had the third highest living standards in the OECD.
NZ on Screen don't consider the Landmarks series important enough to put more than 2 episodes on screen but it tells the story of how New Zealanders made their nation. In The Pastrolists the Welds cleared out of the North Island as Maori kept raising the rent on the nations first sheep farm. Eventually the Canterbury Plain saw a wheat and wool bonanaza. Defeat and Victory in the Hills tells the story of soldier settlers beaten back by forest, eventually to beat the forest and populate the hills with sheep. The Main Trunk Line begins with Maori trails seeking Greenstone and finishes with roading and the Raurimu spiral. In 1850 there was no contact between Otago and Canterbury for a 7 month period. The narrative now is that we were all but one wave after the other rolling in over the shore.

jh said...

Anonymous Nick J said...
For those who object to immigrant cultures I dont agree but I do sympathise.
The aim is to produce a majority/minority outcome all lauded over by the social scientists. Too bad if increasing the population is bad for New Zealanders; too bad if house prices go sky high; too bad if we have all the ills so common overseas (traffic, density); too bad if community cohesion breaks down and we have to use coercion and media manipulation (Latta's The New New Zealand).

The Potentialities and Politics of Urban Superdiversity

How does or could a focus on superdiversity destabilise and challenge normative approaches to urban diversity management or national projects in ways that create new spaces and options for an inclusive/progressive politics? And who are they key players? This seminar also explores who is typically included in discussions of superdiversity and those that might be excluded such as hegemonic majority ethnic groups, or corporate and private sector organisations. Settler society superdiversity is used as one example to explore the complex possibilities of emancipatory politics.

Gutless and greedy National MP's are o.k with the above

Nick J said...

Hmm, super-diverse reality. I would challenge most Kiwis to question their everyday lives and the impact of immigration. I go to the dairy most days, good Indians, Ugandan exiles, we talk on first name basis. Kiwis well integrated but with their own culture. My work buddy is English, married to a Samoan. My work buddies include Chinese, Indians, South Africans etc. My wife spends her day with children from Samoa, Tonga, Abyssinia, Iraq. My best man is Welsh, he married tangata whenua. We watch and cheer for the All Blacks, I'm awaiting the addition of a Jappie name or a Chinese name amongst Pasifika and Maori names. It will happen. I could go on but what I can say is that on a one to one level these are all "new Kiwis" with their own identities adapting to and changing our "culture". This is the reality of what we face and it is not so "terrible". I can see that it could become overwhelming if the velocity exceeded the ability to "integrate / adapt".

If their is a real issue with immigration it is not with the mix. It is with the economics and the resultant impact. It is with the volume and the knock on effects upon services, housing availability and price, and employment. My original contention is that those impacted adversely by this (predominantly lower decile communities with high unemployment / marginal wages etc) bear the absolute brunt. They are Treasury's collateral damage. They are those ignored, by successive centrist governments, and by capital. As Brexit showed, it does not pay to ignore them for too long.

jh said...

As Brexit showed, it does not pay to ignore them for too long.
That's why Mai Chen is imploring migrants to get out and vote (otherwise Kiwis will take over).

jh said...

It is a fatal mistake to assume migrants enter a society. Professor Spoonley and the social scientists seem to think they are the alchemists. Migrants are that society. How do we know they aren't looking through that ethnic lense. Those Social Scientists have purged their academic institutions of dissenters (Spoonley kicked out Clydesdale) and they don't do sociobiology/evolutionary psychology? Note how they promote the idea that population growth is necessary and healthy while (right now) no one wants to hear the idea of a no-growth-world (isn't that what zero interest rates are all about)? What happens to society during scarcity? Remember also their allies are in real estate?
when you are on Mars and you are running out of oxygen , you don't start a game of touch rugby, and as George Mombiot points out when you have human induced climate change you don't build another runway at Gatwick (or rave about tourism in Aotearoa).

jh said...

Nick J
Someone came up with a slogan for Christchurch once it was to be "The most beautiful city in the world".
In letters to the editor someone opined that many of our suburbs are quite grotty. Yet some people manage to live their lives in the picture postcard parts of town and not see the other parts. Likewise if you are a good looking bloke or a head turning woman life is different to a short dumpy person.
Migrants get on well with locals when they are (a) not creating a problem and when they are (b) not in competition. Winning Lotto helps or being an actor, singer, famous academic or journalist etc as you can pick your circumstances. When you are up there you can look down on the ignorant and stupid and siding with migrants is one way of demonstrating your superiority.

jh said...

On Kiwiblog they are discussing life in 1975.
ONe of the key differences between then and now is that while it was hard to afford a house, the housing market went up and down. Now ((or for now) it doesn't. Those property spruikers weren't selling snake oil (thinking of a baker who now lives on a canal home in Brisbaine). Aset inflation isn't wealth creation; it simply creates a "charge elsewhere in the economy".
House prices have been pushed up by migration and globalisation. The real wealth has been created in China and the beneficiaries (emergeant middle class) have bought lifestyle in NZ at a cost to New Zealanders ((I never had the Chinese finger pointing upwards at auction).
Also the idea of community, kith and kin has been turned on its head as though human nature can be turned on its head. We now "celebrate diversity"; which just demonstrates a tail wagging the dog as it is a combination of academic ideology, vested interests and media drowning out public opinion.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Again with the "Spoonley kicked out Clydesdale." Christ I've been on holiday and I can barely keep up with the rantings, but if Spoonley kicked him out, it's probably because:
A. He published his academic research in newspapers rather than proper journals.
B. His academic research was ripped apart by other academics, and seems to have been extremely sloppy.

greywarbler said...

Migrants are here to stay, just like pakeha in NZ. Stop going on about them in a general sense. They do act to bring vitality to the country, but it is the numbers entering that smother us. I wish you would stop beating the drum obsessively, we got your message a few months ago.

If we think of a carpet mulch to shut down growth in a garden springing with a mixture of plants, after a while they are pressed down, don't die but are easier to control. That is the same result of allowing too many immigrants in, increasing competition for jobs of all kinds, except special professional and skilled people, and decreasing wages and living conditions for everyone except said professional types.

Charles E said...

My god what a load of fear and loathing above.
Look, we are a nation of immigrants and most of the recent lot add, not subtract from the character of our society. They are mostly people who will love this land and its culture. They are likely to preserve its best features and so embrace them you xenophobes.
Be honest, you immigration haters are talking about Chinese and Indians not Brits and Aussies or Yanks aren't you!
Well in my experience those new non-British lot are actually pretty Anglo actually. They come here because they want to escape the shit holes that are China and India today, and want the Anglo paradise we still are. Actually a lot of Brit immigrants come here for the same reason, as they see their own country getting ruined by really alien immigrants.
Just relax and realise the people coming here are reinforcing our culture not ruining it. Embrace them and make them Kiwis.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Oh God Charles, here we go again. Some of us think that filling the country up with no matter who, will make it the same overcrowded shit hole that people are leaving. No matter where they are from.

And of course there's the usual Bullshit like this.

"Actually a lot of Brit immigrants come here for the same reason, as they see their own country getting ruined by really alien immigrants."

And where are these "really alien" immigrants coming from? Considering that the largest contributing country seems to be Poland at the moment. How alien are Poles for God's sake? There have been numerous Poles in Britain since at least 1939. And of course the next largest group are Indians, which you seem to favour. So please, please tell me who are the "real" aliens. Are we talking ET here?

jh said...

Call for action to tackle growing ethnic segregation across UK
Cantle called for “salesmanship” of the positive benefits of mixed areas, including the cultural choices, and activities. We’ve never sold the idea that mixed communities are more exciting places with more going on,” he said, adding that after the Brexit vote there had been a bit of move in the opposite directions with the immediate surge in hate crime.

Why can't these social scientists just get the message: ethnocentrism is an evolutionary adaptation? Social scientists proactively caused this situation in the UK, NZ, Australia and Canada: "to the delight of some and the puzzlement of many" Spoonley. We have a situation where one lot are deemed to need changing and are the subject of government social engineering and it is all based on the out dated Standard Social Science Model

I found a good way to get to sleep: listen to the Reith Lectures. I heard a Ghanaian talking about national identity. The gist was that these things are phoney constructs and can therefore be changed. A woman in the audience (hint of skepticism) asked him why nationalism is so strong. He thought it must be something learned and can therefore be changed. So today we have a new mum for you sonny: look she's a bit younger than your original dragon and she (also) has two arms, a nose and can make chocolate brownies!