Friday, 6 January 2017

Taking The Offensive.


FROM:           Perdita Causa Public Relations Ltd
TO:                 Hon. Andrew Little, Leader of the Opposition
RE:                 Winning in 2017
 
THINK OF YOURSELF, Andrew, as the captain of a company pinned down by enemy fire and fast running out of ammunition. In this situation, you have three options. 1) Put your faith in the Geneva Conventions and surrender. 2) Hope that reinforcements arrive before your ammunition runs out. 3) Identify a weak spot in the enemy’s defences and attack.
 
Option No. 1 should be ruled out. The Geneva Convention may still apply in warfare, Andrew, but what we are discussing here is politics. Clausewitz may have said that “war is the continuation of politics by other means”, but what he neglected to say is that, of the two forms of conflict, politics by far the more unforgiving. There are no Geneva Conventions in politics, Andrew. If you give up the fight, your reputation will be shot.
 
Option No. 2 is worth considering – especially in light of your “Memorandum of Understanding” with the Greens. Our problem with this option, however, is that – so far – we’re not convinced that the Greens fully grasp what it means to be a political ally.

Yes, they stood aside for Michael Wood in Mt Roskill – to excellent effect. So, why aren’t they doing the same in Mt Albert? Yes, National’s not fielding a candidate, we get that. And, yes, the Greens are keen to give Julie Anne Genter more exposure, we get that too. (She’s very impressive.) What nobody in the Greens seems to get, however, is that all Joe and Josephine Public will take from the spectacle of Labour versus Greens in Mt Albert is that these two parties are not BFFs after all – they’re rivals.
 
All of which, Andrew, leads us to wonder whether relying on the Greens to hoist you and Labour into power on their shoulders is really such a good idea. Reinforcements aren’t much use if your unit’s been over-run and slaughtered. About all they’re good for then is burying the dead. Which (and we must apologise here for expressing such a wicked thought) may well have been their objective all along.
 
Which brings us to Option No. 3 – finding a weak spot in the enemy’s defences and attacking.
 
On the face of it, this would seem to be the most unrealistic option of all. National is bigger than Labour, richer than Labour, and enjoys all the advantages of incumbency.
 
Key may have gone, but Bill English is well respected – and may soon be well liked. So, if you were thinking about targeting English as National’s weakest link, then we would urge you to stop right now. Playing the man rather than the ball always makes those responsible look petty and weak.
 
No, if you want to discover National’s weak spot, stop looking for a person and start thinking about the spirit of the times. Things are about to turn very nasty: not just here, but everywhere. The coming of Donald Trump is History’s answer to Leonard Cohen’s last, chilling, challenge/question: “You want it darker.”
 
Your winning strategy, Andrew, is to answer that challenge/question.
 
Michelle Obama famously quipped: “When they go low, we go high.” Well, Andrew, if the zeitgeist wants to make it darker, then you and Labour must promise to make it lighter. With tolerance and decency shutting down all over the world, you must make New Zealand a shining refuge for both. With the state, everywhere, assuming the role of overseer, jailer and spy, Labour must speak out boldly for liberty, dignity and the individual’s right to privacy.
 
Here’s what we propose.
 
Labour announces a dramatic overhaul of the freedom of information legislation. State sector CEOs are warned that, under a Labour Government, the unjustified with-holding of information will be a sacking offence. The Ombudsman’s Office will receive a massive boost in funding. Every cabinet minister in a Labour-led Government will be required to make themselves available for live media interviews. There will be more money for news and current affairs programming on public radio and television, and a special fund for the support of investigative print journalism. The surveillance powers of the SIS and the GCSB will be curtailed.
 
Remind your colleagues, and the electorate, Andrew, that Labour stands for the freedom and dignity of every New Zealander.
 
Charge!
 
This essay was originally published in The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 6 January 2017.

15 comments:

Victor said...

To return the compliment you gave me a few weeks back, Chris, fine words but......

Contra Michelle the Magnificent, all the signs now are that if your opponents go low, you need to go lower.

Yes, it's awful and I hope I'm wrong!

Welcome to 2017!

David Stone said...

Death or Glory

David said...

What is required are big plans to solve big problems, starting with housing. Go big and go hard.

Mr Tank said...

I'll take alternative four mate...

Jens Meder said...

O Chris.
Are you joking, as if there is not enough freedom of information here ?

Is not the real problem in that there is too much resistance among us to take notice of the relevant information and facts and even opposition and unwillingness to know about it - if it is against our self-(not Govt.) imposed ideological, emotional (or whatever) convictions ?

What about this long standing weakness in New Zealand economic policy -

that we still have not been able to prevent and eliminate poverty amidst plenty in a sustainable way, and our current economic progress is still lop-sided on that, by intensifying our socio-economic polarization into haves and have-nots?





aberfoyle said...

The truth of fact,kiwi voters history shows are comfortable conservative.

What is the saying,us Kiwi!s dont like to rock the boat.

Polly said...

There would be some/ many? in Labour who would be prepared to favour your option 1, a grand coalition government with National would keep them in their hallowed safe seats, I am of the opinion that to all of the Labour MPs a safe seat is all they really care about.
I also believe The Green co-leader David Shaw would also show an interest in a coalition with National. His business training background would point out the good sense of such a move.

Should Labour and the Greens need any advice on these matters then they should have a chat with Winnie, he has form and is the Grand Master of political coalition, it works for him why would it not work for the LabGreens?.

jh said...

Governing elites find it hard to pursue policies that fly in the face of public opinion. But for adverse public opinion on a given question to be an effective political constraint someone has to articulate it. The question has to be placed on the national agenda. This role can fall to the Parliamentary Opposition but when bipartisan positions are adopted, as happened with immigration in 1980, formal political channels are blocked. This does not necessarily stifle adverse opinion but, if it is to be heard and to be effective, it must be promoted by other means. For example, organized protest groups can form, and with competent and articulate leadership they can provide a voice for an electorate disfranchised by bi-partisanship, a voice that politicians will be obliged to heed. Where these groups gain the sympathy of the media, the process will be accelerated. But, if the intelligentsia are not interested and the media unsympathetic, protest groups may not even form or, if they do, they are likely to remain on the fringes. Their activities will be ineffective and they will easily be written off as cranky and irrelevant.
........
A number of intellectuals, as a consequence of the kind of work they do, have privileged access to the means of communication. In many cases the opinion that is actually heard is either that of members of the national �lite or it is the opinion of intellectuals. Intellectuals can form an 'attentive public', actively engaged in political debates and controversies and, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, the kinds of opinions voiced at seminars and conferences, in media interviews, and in 'letters to the editor' will be taken as the working equivalent of 'public opinion'. But there is no necessary reason why educated and articulate opinion should mirror public opinion in general and by the late 1970s the educated and the less educated were at odds on the question of immigration. The general opinion of people with tertiary qualifications was quite unlike the general opinion of less educated people.
http://www.thesocialcontract.com/artman2/publish/tsc0104/article_56.shtml

...
Looks at ideology. Garotting of public opinion.
Comments Closed: "We love to hear from you"

Jh said...

The idea of multiculturalism has its intrinsic merits and its intrinsic problems but when we put these to one side and look at it as an ideology, we see that it may function as a status marker and that it may have more tangible effects as well. It can show that those who approve of it are tolerant, cosmopolitan members of the professional classes, not to be confused with narrow-minded plebeians, but it also has more specific consequences to do with social policy in education, housing, foreign affairs and, of course, immigration. If the tolerant cosmopolitans are employed in one of these areas their commitment to multiculturalism may affect other areas in which they have an interest connected with jobs, promotion, special grants, and bureaucratic rivalries. And, more generally, it can advance interests that the affluent classes have in recreation and personal services (the cheap and exotic restaurants, the delicatessens, the newly affordable domestic help).

"The land developer, the building
contractor, and the supermarket chain,
all have an interest in population
growth and so may the apparent altruist."
http://www.thesocialcontract.com/artman2/publish/tsc0104/article_56.shtml

jh said...

What did you think of that article Chris?
1. The unarticulated experience of the plebiscite.
2. The intellectual as a seperate class with seperate interests: not the doctor of society but a capitalist, using his human capital to further his own ends and yet fulfilling the role as a/the public?
3. Maintaining positions about things to signal status.
4. The last to have skin in the game?
....
It could help explain Trump. People saw the primary issue as "the media and liberal elite are my enemy". By saying he would build a wall he signaled which group he was supporting etc

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"The intellectual as a seperate class with seperate interests: not the doctor of society but a capitalist, using his human capital to further his own ends and yet fulfilling the role as a/the public?"

What do we mean by intellectual? Are we talking about political intellectuals like Jean-Paul Sartre? Or actual scientists who to research and know stuff? Because while everyone has an agenda, and the right to speak publicly, and even to be considered as part of public opinion, some people just no more than others about particular subjects.
Build the wall is a prime example. Because while it sounds great, and right wing intellectuals (I use the term advisedly) are all for it, geographers and engineers and for that matter economists have explained that:
a. It basically can't be built, because the geography is very difficult.
b. If it can be built it's going to cost a shitload more than Trump claims.
c. Even if it can be built for a reasonable price, there is no way to make Mexico pay for it. Not without beginning a trade war.
So public opinion might be valuable on some things, but less so on others.

JanM said...

He he - I've always thought of 'right wing intellectuals' as being a contradiction in terms in view of the lack of emotional intelligence

jh said...

What do we mean by intellectual? Are we talking about political intellectuals like Jean-Paul Sartre? Or actual scientists who to research and know stuff? Because while everyone has an agenda, and the right to speak publicly, and even to be considered as part of public opinion, some people just no more than others about particular subjects.
...,.
JONATHAN HAIDT: Yes. It is certainly a monoculture. The academic world in the humanities is a monoculture. The academic world in the social sciences is a monoculture – except in economics, which is the only social science that has some real diversity. Anthropology and sociology are the worst — those fields seem to be really hostile and rejecting toward people who aren’t devoted to social justice.

JOHN LEO: And why would they be hostile?

JONATHAN HAIDT: You have to look at the degree to which a field has a culture of activism. Anthropology is a very activist field. They fight for the rights of oppressed people, as they see it. My field, social psychology, has some activism in it, but it’s not the dominant strain. Most of us, we really are thinking all day long about what control condition wasn’t run. My field really is oriented towards research. Now a lot of us are doing research on racism and prejudice. It’s the biggest single area of the field. But I’ve never felt that social psychology is first and foremost about changing the world, rather than understanding it. So my field is certainly still fixable. I think that if we can just get some more viewpoint diversity in it, it will solve the bias problem.
....
JONATHAN HAIDT: They’re so devoted to social justice, and they have accepted the rule that you can never, ever blame victims, so if a group of victims makes demands, you cannot argue back. You must accept the demands.
http://www.mindingthecampus.org/2016/02/a-conversation-with-jonathan-haidt/

Plaquer said...

Lets's see if Mumbly Little can ditch the union lackies that surround and advise him and present a case to NZers that is a departure from the heartless one-dimensional nonsense of Key and likely English.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Again JH posts cut-and-paste. At least this time it's intelligible. But still from someone who is at the very least controversial in his field. Christ, he's even been criticised by Sam Harris, who is as right-wing as they come. And I'm supposed to take his word about anthropologists and social psychologists and what they do and the mistakes they make? I've been studying anthropology now for a couple of years, and I haven't seen this culture of activism that Haidt mentions, though they certainly point out how indigenous people have been treated by capitalism. I regard them as a legitimate counterweight to the Bullshit founded by economists to be honest.
Here is some cut-and-paste of my own.

"Haidt, although he has a refreshing disdain for the Enlightenment dream of a rational world, fares no better than other systematizers before him. He too repeatedly departs from legitimate science, including social science, into the simplification and corruption of science and scientific terms to promote a unified theory of human behavior that has no empirical basis. He is stunningly naive about power, especially corporate power, and often exhibits a disturbing indifference to the weak and oppressed."

"ve been reading Jonathan Haidt’s work over the years with an attitude that follows an unfortunate trajectory, downwards. At first, it was with interest — his ideas about moral intuition being defined by a kind of emotional response first with the intellectual response forming a veneer of rationalizations after the fact seems valid. But then he went off on this “moral foundations” stuff, where he identified different axes of motivations, like care vs. harm, and then the axes started proliferating, and pretty quickly it all became a lumpy mush without much utility. He’s succumbed to Labeling Disease, something that hits some psychologists hard, in which they observe that which they measure, stick a name on it, and try hard to reify it into existence, even if it has no correspondence to any substrate in the brain at all. Id, ego, superego, anyone?

Then he won a Templeton Prize, shredding most of his credibility. Lately he’s been wandering around in a fog of sincere open-mindedness, letting his brain sublimate into a kind of misty moral ambiguity that looks more like blithe nihilism than anything else."

'The ready acceptance of pseudoscience undergirds Templeton’s “history of seeding fields of study almost from scratch,” as Nathan Schneider describes it.'

"After Sir John Templeton’s death in 2008, the heir to his legacy was Jack Templeton, an evangelical doctor with abundant conservative political connections who had been active in fighting same-sex marriage and defending the Iraq War. He and his wife Josephine contributed $1 million to the fight to pass California’s anti-same-sex marriage Proposition 8.67 Jack Templeton was also the second- largest donor to the Red White and Blue Fund (RWB), a super-PAC that supported Rick Santorum’s 2012 presidential primary campaign.68 The younger Templeton passed away in May 2015,69 but before his death, both critics and Templeton grantees worried that Jack would steer the Foundation further to the right, and perhaps further away from mainstream science. - See more at: http://www.politicalresearch.org/2015/08/12/big-questions-about-templeton-how-the-philanthropic-giant-legitimizes-faith-healing/#sthash.1Gl9HzV2.dpuf"