Friday 13 July 2018

Testing The Boundaries Of Political Discourse.

Crossing The Boundaries: Kent State University, Ohio, USA, 4 May 1970. The Youth Revolt of the 1960s and 70s was not quelled by Ohio National Guardsmen shooting down student protesters. All the conservative establishment's heavy-handed repression did was fuel the “New Left’s” sense of grievance and drive an iron spike of intolerance into its soul. Today's liberal establishment appears equally determined to make martyrs out of its right-wing critics.

TRANSGRESSION is extraordinarily appealing to the young. Giving voice to opinions that cause older people to throw up their hands in horror is always great fun. Almost as much fun as listening to music dismissed by the old folks as “noise”, or wearing clothes calculated to provoke Mum into inquiring: “You’re not going out dressed like that – are you?”

Adolescent psychologists put this sort of behaviour down to young people’s need to “test the boundaries” of the adult world. A coming-of-age process which helps to firm up the outlines of their future adult selves.

Politics, too, has its own forms of adolescent transgression, and this past week New Zealand has been introduced to two of its more notorious exponents. Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux, both hailing from the mild-mannered nation of Canada, have turned testing the boundaries of political discourse into something of an art form. (Or, at the very least, into a million views on YouTube!)

Like the normal adolescent, who is concerned to discover exactly how far he can go before his parents/teachers/friends bring the hammer down, political adolescents seek to discover how broadly or narrowly society has set the bounds of tolerance.

When I was a young person, political transgressors hailed almost exclusively from the left of the political spectrum. This was hardly surprising, since the prevailing social mores of most western nations in the 1950s and 60s were those laid down by the mainstream Christian churches. Throughout most of the Cold War era, the dominant political values were similarly conservative: unflinchingly hostile not only to the claims of communism and socialism, but also to all but the most anodyne forms of social democracy.

Yet, to the horror and fury of the RSA, young anti-war protesters attempted to lay wreaths commemorating the millions killed in “imperialist” wars – with special reference to Vietnam’s civilian dead. Scandalising the nation’s editorial writers, student leaders (like Tim Shadbolt) and visiting feminist luminaries (like Germaine Greer) uttered the word “bullshit” in public places. Young-at-heart poets also joined the provocation game: most memorably with James K. Baxter’s “A Small Ode on Mixed Flatting”.

Baxter cited the example of Robbie Burns “that sad old rip/From whom I got my fellowship”. A man who liked, as the bearded poet reminded his readers, “to toss among the glum and staid/A poem like a hand grenade”.

Fifty years on, however, most of the rhetorical bomb-throwers (like Southern and Molyneux) hail from the Right – not the Left. What happened?

In a nutshell, the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 70s congealed into an all-embracing liberal establishment. Over the course of fifty years, the transgressive ideas of what Colin James dubbed “The Vietnam Generation” became the orthodox beliefs of the Twenty-First Century’s ruling elites.

Accordingly, young women like Southern are calling “bullshit” on what they see as the constantly encroaching claims of an ever-more-intolerant feminism. Intellectuals like Molyneux are loudly insisting that what they call “the scientific evidence” must over-ride the plans of “politically correct” social-engineers to obliterate even the most obvious human distinctions.

Across the western world these right-wing firebrands are igniting bonfires of controversy over the meaning of nationality; the desirability, or not, of unlimited diversity; and the limits of religious toleration. Whether their agitation constitutes a rebirth of Enlightenment values, or (as the Left insists) the resurgence of ideas more commonly associated with extreme nationalism, even fascism, there is no disputing right-wing populism’s impact on the political complexion of the times we are living through.

Which is why, in my opinion, the Auckland Mayor, Phil Goff, erred in denying Southern and Molyneux access to all the public platforms controlled by the Auckland Council. Quite apart from turning the pair into free-speech martyrs (to the undoubted benefit of their YouTube accounts) Mayor Goff’s actions represented an authoritarian solution to a democratic problem.

The Youth Revolt of the 1960s was not quelled by jailing the Chicago Seven or allowing the Ohio National Guard to shoot down student protesters. Suppression merely fuelled the “New Left’s” sense of grievance and drove an iron spike of intolerance into its soul.

Friedrich Nietzsche, a philosopher of whom the Alt-Right are inordinately fond, wrote: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Those who believe they can kill right-wing extremism by denying it a stage are in for a very unpleasant surprise.

DISCLOSURE: Chris Trotter is a member of the Free Speech Coalition which is seeking a judicial review of Mayor Goff’s decision.

This essay was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 13 July 2018.


Guerilla Surgeon said...

"In a nutshell, the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 70s congealed into an all-embracing liberal establishment. "
Let us hope that this doesn't happen with the present lot.

A little ironic that that woman is against feminism, yet has complained about harassment from various members of the alt right who claim she should be married with children – thereby saving the white race from extinction. Well – when you lie down with dogs........

Kat said...

Correct me if I am wrong but wasn't Phil Goff only denying them "council owned venues" and not any other venue that may be available to hire privately. If so perhaps it could be considered that Goff was exercising some prudent fiduciary duty in the administration of council owned venues and not denying free speech at all.

The US Kent State University shootings were the result of an armed invasion of campus grounds by the National Guard. Thats a long bow to compare to the decision making of Phil Goff in denying a council owned stage.

Tom Hunter said...

The article I read today seems rather appropriate: Schlesinger - He's History.

I never had much time for him after reading A Thousand Days years ago, his "history" of the JFK administration, and he'd already had the accusation of hagiography made over an earlier work on FDR. A self-described unapologetic defender of the New Deal, he was already in trouble with the rising New Left of the late 60's, whom he compared to the Stalinists he'd fought twenty years earlier as part of the ADA:
The Stalinists of the 1930s, he wrote in his diary in 1970, were as “rigid, dishonest, and fanatical” as the New Leftists, but less malignant by virtue of harboring neither a “cult of violence, nor the associated contempt for the mind.”

But the 60's saw him crash from The Politics of Hope in 1963 to The Crisis of Confidence in 1969, so he must have already seen he was losing as he watched the New Left criticisms of America and the West in general that he and other "Liberals" had ridden for a while, morph into a self-hatred he could not accept. He ended up in 1991 with the The Disuniting of America:

Whatever the particular crimes of Europe, that continent is also the source—the unique source—of those liberating ideas of individual liberty, political democracy, equality before the law, freedom of worship, human rights, and cultural freedom that constitute our most precious legacy and to which most of the world today aspires. These are European ideas, not Asian, nor African, nor Middle Eastern ideas, except by adoption….

There is surely no reason for Western civilization to have guilt trips laid on it by champions of cultures based on despotism, superstition, tribalism, and fanaticism….

It was the French, not the Algerians, who freed Algerian women from the veil…; as in India it was the British, not the Indians, who ended (or did their best to end) the horrible custom of suttee—widows burning themselves alive on their husbands’ funeral pyres. And it was the West, not the non-Western cultures, that launched the crusade to abolish slavery—and in doing so encountered mighty resistance, especially in the Islamic world (where Moslems, with fine impartiality, enslaved whites as well as blacks). Those many brave and humane Africans who are struggling these days for decent societies are animated by Western, not by African, ideals.

White guilt can be pushed too far.

Even in 1991 that message was too late! And now Identity Politics has turned on it's creators and allowed the likes of Molyneaux and Southern to rise - not to mention Trump, Orbán, the new Italian government, the fracturing German coalition and the general demise of the Centre-Left in much of Europe.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

There is quite possibly a certain amount of hypocrisy here as far as David Farrar is concerned. I have a vague memory of him protesting about some and musicians being allowed to insult John key on the public dime. Is this not a similar situation?

jh said...

To think we were raised on tales of the heroism of our ancestors and then this:

The future of Auckland is the focus of a panel discussion chaired by Bill Ralston at the Auckland Museum. It features Marina Matthews from the law firm Chen Palmer; and Waikare Komene, a young architect from Otara, along with Professor Damon Salesa from the University of Auckland, and business commentator Rod Oram, well-known to RNZ listeners.

Bill Ralston: I mean Marina picking up on the Herald thing and based on your massive study. Going back (I think it was 2001) 67%of our island city was pakeha. Now it is down to 54% and falling rapidlyIt wont be long before Pakeha Aucklanders are a minority. Is that necessarliy a good thing or could it be a bad thing?

Marina Mathews: I think it could be a good thing. I'll just draw on my experiences working 10 years in the public sector in Wellington. I mean when you look at Wellington it has it's own ethnoburbs as well. Um the population and ethnicity of folk in Eastbourne (across the water) is a bit different to that of Cannons Creek by Porirua . So it is slightly systematic. It 's starting to grow across NZ. Asia NZ did a survey (a 2015 report)on the population of house buyers in Auckland. It was just a little more scientific than Phil Twyford may have ventured about people who had surnames that might have sounded like some foreign word who were house owners. What they did say is that 25% of the population of Pine Hill in NZ are Chinese. Um 10% of the population of house owners in Glenn Innes are Indian and so what is happening as a result is that businesses are having to alter what they are doing, how they are delivering and how they are coping. The number one seller at Pac nSave in Albany is white rice (not white potatoes). Another big seller is chicken feet. And so you are seeng the market (I love the French market in Parrnell) It's a lot different to if I went down to Otara on a saturday.

It's a lot different to if you went down Sandringham Road where there's a whole pile of medium spice shopsand Restuarants, um and down the back of Dominion Road there is the biggest Chinese Supermarket I've ever seen (bout 2 or 3 football fields in size) and you can buy whatever you want. That's the gift, I suppose, that diversity brings.

Rod Oram:
Absolutely! That makes Auckland a fabulously interesting city. And obviously the key thing we need to care a lot about about are that people are moving around and are appreciating and taking more interest year round rather rather than just turning up at Albert Park for a lantern show or Diwhali festival. And of course there are people who just hunker down in their neighbourhood or their community. But I'd like to think there are people particularly amongst the younger generation who are strong in their own identity but are keen to appreciate other identities too.

Seems like someone has been listening to Gríma Wormtongue.

Trev1 said...

Yes, exactly. Another very perceptive column thank you Chris. We are on the brink of another major cultural conflict. The existing order of political correctness and conformity will be upended.

jh said...

Knives out For Trotter

To be honest it didn't make a lot of sense to me . Without this:
Like Plato’s ring of invisibility, Marxist-Leninist ideology seemed to grant its adepts the power to sin with impunity. The rest of humanity were regarded as mere raw material – objects upon which they were free to work without ethical restraint. The crimes of their enemies were shrilly condemned, while those committed by their friends and allies were passed over in silence.

This superior attitude was by no means restricted to the multitude of communist sects. If anything, it was even more pronounced among the radical followers of the so-called New Social Movements: Anti-Racism, Environmentalism, Feminism, Gay Rights. Like the heroes of the 1969 cult-movie Easy Rider, these "new" leftists saw themselves as an enlightened but despised minority trying to do right in a world populated overwhelmingly by the ignorant and hostile.

Even today, this deep contempt for the majority remains clearly evident in the Left’s language. To question the ideology of Maori nationalism is to reveal oneself as a racist "redneck". Working-class communities attempting to defend their jobs from the demands of environmentalists are dismissed as "feral" or "white trash". The slightest challenge to the sacred precepts of Orthodox Feminism will provoke torrents of vitriolic abuse.

Most notably though they control the discourse in the media. Last night I watched Lauren Southern's Farmlands. I was reminded of Catherine Ryan's "I cut my teeth on racism in South Africa" and Paul Spoonley's
Racism is the ideological belief that people can be classified into ‘races’ ... [which] can be ranked in terms of superiority and inferiority ... racism is the acceptance of racial superiority … It is often used to refer to the expression of an ideology of racial superiority in the situation where the holder has some power. Thus prejudice plus power denotes racism in the modern sense ... racism is essentially an attitudinal or ideological phenomenon. … A dominant group not only holds negative beliefs about other groups but, because of the power to control resources, is able to practice those beliefs in a discriminatory way ... This ideological concept structures social and political relationships and derives from a history of European colonialism. The idea of ‘race’ has evolved from its use in scientific explanation (now discredited) and as a justification in the oppression of colonised, non European people

Where is sociobiology in that definition and what about the struggle for resources which are as old as time? I note Mutu has great animosity for white South Africans (Scottish mother aside).

Armchaircritic said...

When I was a student at the University of Otago, I was part of the anti-fees protests in 1989.

I recall, fondly, walking down George Street with my placard: 'Fuck off, Goff'.

It was a deft and carefully crafted message.

And still stands today.

Bonzo said...

Guerilla Surgeon said "There is quite possibly a certain amount of hypocrisy here as far as David Farrar is concerned"

Vague memories don't really cut it. Farrar said they were perfectly entitled to call Key whatever they liked but he wasn't keen on the taxpayers funding it.

And if you want to get a taste of the calibre of the individuals involved...

Definitely worthy of taxpayer funding.

greywarbler said...

As Kat says Kent University invasion nees to be compared to another NZ
act. That was the invasion of Tuhoe, an astoundingly hostile police action, to repress people and eliminate dissenting or negative attitudes that did not agree with authorities.

Unknown said...

Hi Chris -

I note that in a recent voice you mention "the true voice of the Prophet...".

In the "spirit of togetherness", I am happy to supply a few quotes that indeed show this voice.

"Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. "
- Quran 9:29 - Surah At-Tawbah,18,19,22,28,41,48,83,84,85,20,21,31,27,95,34,101

"Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah's Messenger said, "I have been sent with the shortest expressions bearing the widest meanings, and I have been made victorious with terror (cast in the hearts of the enemy), and while I was sleeping, the keys of the treasures of the world were brought to me and put in my hand."
- Hadith - Sahih al-Bukhari : Book 56, Hadith 186

"But if you do not - and you will never be able to - then fear the Fire, whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers."
- Quran 2:24

Narrated by 'Abdullah bin Zam'a - ( Good news - flogging women isn't ok. Pity about the slaves. Hey - slaves? B-b-b-but "human rights!" "Religion of peace!"...... )
"The Prophet said, "None of you should flog his wife as he flogs a slave and then have sexual intercourse with her in the last part of the day."
Sahih Bukhari - Volume 7, Book 62, Number 132

Narrated Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri: ( This one is great - it points out Islam's view that the majority of inhabitants of hell are women and that women are less intelligent than men.... )
"Once Allah's Messenger went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) of `Id-al-Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. Then he passed by the women and said, "O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women)." They asked, "Why is it so, O Allah's Messenger?" He replied, "You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you." The women asked, "O Allah's Messenger! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?" He said, "Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?" They replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn't it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?" The women replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her religion."
- Sahih Bukhari - Book 6 Hadith 9

I have a suspicion as to one of the reasons that you see Islam so positively, Chris.
You may have talked to Muslims about Islam.
This is problematic - they would simply tell you what they know you want to hear. They will show you a good-looking verse and say "See? This is the beauty of Islam!"

What they will *not* tell you is that the verse has almost certainly been *abrogated* (made obsolete) by a *later* verse.
That is how the Islamic texts work. If there is a conflict of verses, the later one abrogates the earlier one. That is a big problem because the later verses are the *more violent* ones.

Finally, a couple of must-read links.
"Statistical Islam" -

Islam 101 -

Regards -
- j.g.

jh said...

Of course they are trying to write the label on the bottle before the public get a look. Last night I watched Farmlands and tonight South African Vlogger "Winston" who vlogs about life in China.
This video confirms the (unbelievable) Lauren Southern documentary.

GJE said...

Absolutely right ...The progressive dream was always going to end badly....Phil Goffs frustrated outburst was just another example of this happening...fashions come and go but human nature unfortunately remains stubbornly the same...

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Oh fuck here we go the evils of Islam.

Here are some Bible verses to keep them company.

Deuteronomy 25:11-1: If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.

All that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you. Leviticus 9:10

Exodus 21:20-21 – "If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property."

Deuteronomy 2:32-35
When Sihon and all his army came out to meet us in battle at Jahaz, the Lord our God delivered him over to us and we struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army. At that time we took all his towns and completely destroyed[a] them—men, women and children. We left no survivors. But the livestock and the plunder from the towns we had captured we carried off for ourselves.

I could go on but it's boring.

In the South Africa thing again. That's perhaps put it into some context as Jordan Peterson fans would say.
1. White farmers in South Africa live often miles away from anywhere, and usually are fairly wealthy. So naturally they are targets for thieves.

2. In the past white farmers treated their labour almost as slaves. Low pay, often corporal punishment, even killing. So you think there might be a bit of resentment built up there? Sometimes you just reap what you so.

3. It's difficult to find the figures, but the ones I have found suggest that the murder rate for white farmers isn't a hell of a different for the general South African murder rate.

So it could be all bullshit, the could be just a bit of truth in it, but having listened to Lauren Sutherland, I suspect the former.

And as far as the dispossession without compensation goes, how much compensation did the various tribes get when the white farmers' government confiscated their land? Again, sometimes you just reap what you sow. Something to think about if you're actually into thinking.

Puddleg said...

The Left needs opponents and dissidents - better ones than these, no doubt - to have any hope of removing its own cognitive dissonance.
Intersectionality is the cognitive dissonance in the core of social justice today, implanted there by Marx's linguistic fetishization of victimhood. Because the Arabs are historically romantic underdogs, the Left turns a blind eye to antisemitism, misogyny, and homophobia from that direction (vide Corbyn and British Labour's corruption by Arab interests), and Jews, feminists and gays are driven to the right. Because transactivists claim extra intersectional points and are are romanticised as stormtroopers attacking a supposed rotten system of gender construction (which no-one understands, because no-one has heard of Chesterton's fence, nor thought much of evolution for that matter, progressives being Lysenkoists at heart), the left turns a blind eye to misogyny, medicalised child abuse, and homophobia from that direction, so lesbians and others are driven to the right. Indigenous rights are another romantic appropriation but are really a Conservative project - saving traditional ways of life from being updated - thus more "intersectional" with Conservatism than progressive liberalism.
Where's Stalin to purge the Party when you need him? Before we know it the Right will be the party of social justice and the Left will be Isis, gnawing on the bloody bones of its impotent resentments.

David George said...

Guerrilla Surgeon attempts to defend the indefensible with a ridiculous bit of whataboutery while completely ignoring vile Auckland preacher (and recent guest at the Police meet the Muslims event) Dr Sahib's belching sewer pipe of hate.

"No woman can dare step out of her house without the permission of her husband”.

"Read history and you will understand that the Jews of yesterday are the evil fathers of the Jews of today, who are evil offspring, infidels... the scum of the human race whom Allah cursed and turned into apes and pigs... These are the Jews, an ongoing continuum of deceit, obstinacy, licentiousness, evil, and corruption...".

A "Guerrilla Surgeon effect" is developing - similar to the "Guardian effect" as coined by Douglas Murray to describe the widespread belief that whatever they say is opposite to the truth. The ideologically possessed muppets absolutely panned his book which went on to be a number one best seller even from the Guardian bookstore. Priceless!

Victor said...

Tom Hunter

Schlesinger is offering you, at best, half truths.

For example, western concepts of equality and universal obligation owe far more to the originally Middle Eastern Judeo-Christian traditions than to anything thought up in Europe, albeit that the Hellenistic tradition was far stronger on liberty.

Egalitarianism was further bolstered by Islam, which, like Christianity, preached the spiritual equality of all believers, a concept that the Greeks would have found rather puzzling.

And, of course, the Islamic world was the main bastion of classical scholarship and rational enquiry for approximately half a millennium, whilst Europe pulled itself painfully out of its post-Roman mire.

Meanwhile, as to tolerance, the Islamic world somewhat surpassed Christendom for most of the medieval period. Moreover, in India, according to some accounts, the Brits essentially held onto power by playing one religion off against another, whereas their Mughal predecessors had preferred inter-communal harmony.

In short,none of our civilizations has a monopoly on either virtue or vice, albeit that one or other might have a good claim to being the main exemplar of enlightenment in any given century.

And, no, I don't go in for the "Islam is a Religion of Peace" shtich. It isn't. But, then, no religion is, apart from Bahai and a few small sects such as Quakers and Mennonites.

Even so, it wouldn't harm some westerners to be a little less up themselves on such matters.

Victor said...

On reflection, Chris, amongst your many errors on this subject, the most objectionable may be your comparison between, on the one hand, these egregious Canadians and other right-wing iconoclasts and, on the other hand, the youth revolt of the 60s and early 70s.

Rebellious young people of that era tended to be (for good or ill) on the side of all other rebellious young people world-wide. And it wasn't just a matter of attacking capitalism. We were, for example, also on the side of our Czechoslovak contemporaries, in 1968, as they faced up to "Really Existing Socialism".

But what we didn't do was proclaim that we were only on the side of other young people if they were white and shared our traditions and prejudices.

Puddleg said...

Douglas Murray is coming to Auckland soon with Sam Harris, Eric Weinstein, Bret Weinstein, and Maajid Nawaz to talk the philosophy. Jordan Peterson was on the UK leg but unfortunately hasn't made it this far.
These are for the most part the progressive movement's dissidents - Bert Weinstein was a cheerleader for campus activism in the US until it got too crazy and turned on him, Nawaz a UK Islamist who somehow realised the point of Israel.
I expect that local activists will not be happy with even liberal, tolerant free speech, given the narcissism of small differences. The Civic is the venue - who owns that?
Tickets are pricey and the women who should be on this bill (such as Claire Lehmann, Quillette editor) are missing, but it's a start that will hopefully encourage others along these lines:

Session 1: Why can't we have civil conversations about politics, gender, race, immigration, intelligence, wealth, power, tribalism and other important topics?

Session 2: The Path Forward: How can we use reason and science to create a stronger foundation for civil society and human cooperation?

Session 3: A Meditation Workshop with Sam Harris (followed by an audience Q&A and panelist input)

Main Event: Reckoning - What Really Matters?

I'm not sure what mindfulness has to do with anything, but okay.
Watch this space.

John Hurley said...

What do you think of this program Chris


A comedian does hit jobs. Don Brash is a racist because he doesn't think te reo should be compulsory. A common language is a rather ancient institution in society. The engineers of yaw must have put it there for a reason?

I thought of complaining based on denigration but then I remembered Susan Devoy called people opposed to Te reo on Espiner NZ "booring bigots"?

Unknown said...

I have never been happy with half-naked fatsos waving weapons and poking their tongues out at visiting foreign dignitaries. The Treaty of Waitangi industry that has sprung up fills me with fear and loathing. But Don Brash IS an anti-Maori bigot. Like others of his ilk - Bob Jones and Lindsay Perigo come to mind - Dr Brash is very skilled at using the language of anti-racism to cloak his racism. His " Kiwi Not Iwi " was the most insidious piece of electioneering since National's 1975 " Dancing Cossacks ". Grow a pair Dr Brash and just admit that you are Maoriphobic.