Revolutionary And Master Propagandist: John Ansell understands that to be effective an insurgent party's propaganda not only has to be bold, it also has to be cruel. The destruction of a government isn't a job for reasonable, fair-minded people.
JOHN ANSELL doesn’t give a rat’s arse what liberal New Zealand thinks – and that’s his strength. Don Brash’s and John Boscawen’s weakness is that, deep down, they still value the good opinion of their well-educated, middle-class peers. It’s what prevents them from embracing the sort of “fuck you” revolutionary politics that neoliberalism in extremis demands.
Mr Ansell also understands that in the current political climate (i.e. where the National Party is credited with attracting 55 percent of the popular vote) a revolutionary insurgent party, like Act, has only two immediate objectives.
First: it must find a way of cutting-through the “mainstream” news media’s ideological sound-proofing. If voters cannot hear Act’s alternative ideas, then National’s overwhelming electoral advantage cannot be challenged.
Second: Act’s messages must be as polarising as possible and framed in such a way that the voting public is instantly divided into strong supporters and (ideally) even stronger opponents. This is because many politically unsophisticated voters judge the worth and/or strength of an idea not only by how forcefully it is advocated, but also by how vehemently it is opposed.
The Act Party leadership’s decision to “tone down” Mr Ansell’s propaganda was all the proof he needed that his creative pearls were being cast before reformist swine. He might, however, have drawn some small comfort from the furore which even his bowdlerised newspaper advertisement had ignited. Mr Ansell’s strategic thinking has been vindicated in ways that Dr Brash and Mr Boscawen cannot refute.
Mr Ansell’s revolutionary temperament is also demonstrated in his conviction that, when it comes to winning power, Act should “go for broke”. Rather than accept a supporting role in what is essentially a National Party drama, he argues that Act should reject it’s traditional part as “National’s little helper” and pursue power on its own terms. Until such time as it has the numbers to form its own government, says Mr Ansell, Act should stay out of government.
Mr Ansell’s judgement as a propagandist is formidable. He is, after all, the man whose inspired “Iwi/Kiwi” billboards brought the Brash-led National Party to within an ace of winning the 2005 general election.
Central to his understanding of the Kiwi electorate is what he believes to be its profound indifference to the bland background noise of New Zealand’s mainstream parties. It’s this, the voters’ lack of political engagement, which confers such a tremendous advantage upon the incumbent party. Providing the Government of the day does nothing to really piss people off, it can be reasonably confident of re-election.
It’s why Mr Ansell emphasises “boldness” as the prime political virtue. Only by being bold can a politician and/or a political party hope to wake up the dozing colossus that is the Kiwi electorate. New Zealanders like a chancer and they appreciate plain-speaking. In their own, idiosyncratic, passive-aggressive, way Kiwis will quietly admire (and, at a pinch, even give their vote to) any politician bold and canny enough to tune them in to his or her political message.
How else to explain the phenomenon that is Winston Peters?
Or, for that matter, John Key?
The secret to the current Prime Minister’s extraordinary popularity lies, I believe, in his bold assertion that, with him in charge, Kiwi voters could quite safely forget about politics altogether.
Key’s “All New Zealand Boy” persona reinforces this. He comes across as a very ordinary person – at least in the way he thinks and talks, the way he chooses to enjoy himself, and the way in which he interacts with family and friends.
So, if you believe that New Zealand politics is fundamentally bland and unexciting, who better than a bland and unexciting politician to place in charge? (Of course, Key’s millions mark him out as someone just a little bit different, but that’s alright, because the unorthodoxy of financial success is one of the very few manifestations of non-conformity conservative Kiwis are prepared to accept.)
Even among working-class New Zealanders, Key’s ordinariness somehow manages to trump his millionaire status. He fits effortlessly into the classic Kiwi stereotype of “the good employer”, whose ownership of the shop or factory, and a big house up on the hill, in no way inhibits him from taking his coffee-break in the staffroom, “mucking-in” when things get busy, or wearing a silly apron at the end-of-year barbecue.
Crucially, this is the sort of Prime Minister that Phil Goff aspires to be: the genuinely liked, non-threatening Everyman who watches over the nation while its people get on with the things that really matter like pursuing their careers, raising their families, tending their gardens and minding the grand-children.
Phil’s (and Labour’s) problem is that there can only be one such leader at a time. The electorate seldom swaps one “Mr Nice Guy” for another. What would be the point?
“What indeed!” chuckles Mr Ansell who understands that the destruction of a government is no job for “nice”, reasonable, fair-minded men and women.
It’s what makes him so effective – and so dangerous. Not giving a rat’s arse for the opinion of reasonable, fair-minded people is just the beginning. As a revolutionary master-propagandist, Mr Ansell knows that an insurgent party’s message must not only be bold, it must also be cruel.
It must identify the source of all the frustrations and irritations of those not yet comfortable enough to tune-out of politics. And around the designated scapegoats (Jews, “Welfare Queens”, Maori Radicals) the revolutionary party must group their worthless, “women-thinking” enablers – the ones who want you to believe that “nothing’s wrong”, and that “everything’s just fine”, while all the time undermining everything you: the excluded, the over-ruled, the under-valued – hold dear.
Perhaps we should be glad that Dr Brash and Mr Boscawen are anxious to keep a foot in the reasonable and fair-minded New Zealanders’ camp. Because the day they decide to fall in step with Mr Ansell’s revolutionaries we are all in serious trouble.
This essay is exclusive to the Bowalley Road blogsite.
You ultimate para.
Just in time by the look of it.
From TVNZ's interview with the good Dr this morning, it appears the two "B" Teamers, Brash and Bascowan themselves developed the advert.
To describe them as amateurish would be charitable.
The capital gains tax situation illustrates the dynamic i have commented about a few times. The reception to it was mis-judged and looked bad, the gate keeping was more transparent and Key was a seen in that effort of fobbing it off which didn't come over well in general. So Labour was scoring with perhaps their most sincere attempt at a major progressive policy for some election cycles, and they hadn't yet entered into the arena.
So que the Greens. They've been campaigning on this for years, although this is really the first time it's been important enough to make a big deal about for them, they know all about it, and it's for making the rich pay etc etc i.e. the Greens are the socialist front for the news cycle & coverage. So Labour loses some left support and the rest of the electorate has pretty much had it's full of the policy & it's a Green thing - particularly for the National block, that's that.
Before Labour can deal with the National support block they have to deal with the Green party, & if they are cowered by that prospect then they are dreaming in efforts to take on National. That's just the situation and this has illustrated it quite clearly.
Now there is no mention that the Green's want to sell of half of the remaining national assets, and think the old national infra-structure asset sell off conflict from 80s & 90s are not relevant & an uncool scene, not many votes in it. Nor that they are prepared to go into coalition with National - something Labour are not prepared to do. So questions of legitimacy could be raised in that when Labour do have policies, particularly major economic ones, they at least do campaign on those policies. Or that surely some of the point of CGT is so assets do not get sold.
Also is it responsible to be promoting policies with an emphasis on attacking the rich, as a national sentiment? Is that really New Zealand? Also the concerns that raises with high profile participation with corporations and the like related to carbon schemes, raising the price of living even more for the average person and the promotion of carbon credit speculative economics as the way to deal with global warming or cooling or whatever it is officially.. Does this jive with economics about attacking the rich?
Mr Trotter is right in that Labour can't out nice Mr Key, and I would add that with the Green party barrier they also can not be heard by the majority of the electorate to their left or right.
Mstr Humphrey Pinkerwrinkle the 15th.
He hopes for a backlash from Mana supporters that would just prove his point. One wonders, very cynically, if Mr Ansell had a pound of Semtex weather he'd put it an either Mana or National HQ. My money would be the latter.
The last legal discrimination against Maori disappeared in the 1980s. I have yet to discover anything from Brash or any of the others that were old enough to say anything at that time criticising this type of apartheid. To paraphrase the advert – Brash, where the bloody hell were you?
An interesting view of the Key phenomena, but he is greatly helped by the media. Witness the sycophancy from Sean Plunket on TV3, and the fact that Key avoids any searching interviews, while also appearing in the news every night. The real John Key appeared in the comment, in regard to the capital gains tax, that everybody would have to engage tax accountants, when only people like him can afford to pay them.
Key actually relies on a deference to the rich, and has a preference for colonial based titual honours, which is completely at odds with the so-called Kiwi egalitarianism.
An interesting problem is defining "Maori" in the context of the Act advertisement. Deborah Coddington used this to attack Don Brash as racist as a From The Right commenter on Nine to Noon. The "Maori" who want title to the foreshore and seabed fall down like cardboard cut-outs to make way for the nice ordinary "Maori" (who Don was shooting at).
Brash has my vote. He's honest as the day is long! Key is the traitor here.
Two men running a marathon in a stadium, a Pakeha and a Maori- they are neck and neck after ten laps, when suddenly the Pakeha's coach runs out and holds the Maori back while the Pakeha runs ahead and gains a full lap. Outrage from the Maori supporters in the stadium lead the coach to let go, and the Maori resumes his race, now a full lap behind.
A hundred laps later the Maori, cheated and discouraged and hopeless, has fallen even further behind - yet his pleas for fairness fall on deaf ears - "It's been a fair race since lap ten" the white crowd roars.
But the Maori supporters do not give in, and eventually justice prevails - it is agreed that the Maori should be carried by high-speed taxi for three laps - "But that was a hundred laps ago!" the white crowd roars "Everything is equal now" "He's cheating!!"
And they watch in bigotted racist horror as the Maori flies towards the finish line in his Government paid taxi, whilst the tired Pakeha struggles to run valiantly onward.
And while this race is far from over, indeed it is not a race at all - People like Brash and Ansell and all the "Equalitarians" should be deeply ashamed for being the deliberately forgetful baying dogs that they are.
If he is honest why didn't he speak out agin discrimination against Maori. It's only when Pakeha think they're about to lose something that 'race relations are being set back ...' blah blah blah.
The problem with Kilians example is that the held back Maori is a distant relative of todays aggrieved victim who is exposed to many other influences including Pakeha ancestors.
Chris the big problem with the ad is that the very people who are needed by ACT are the least likely to be swayed by this sort of tripe. There is no need for ACT to get involved in all the matters that come before the public, they need to pick the fights in which they can be seen to know what they are doing. So far,judgment poor.
I see Ansell as a kind of latter-day Albert Davy, the Reform Party's PR wunderkinder of the 1920s. Davy, like Ansell anti-Socialist to the core, revolutionised the way parties approached Election Campaigns in New Zealand. Largely responsible for Reform's victorious 1925 Election strategy, Davy had studied the latest electioneering methods in the US. He took the unusual step of building a presidential-style campaign almost entirely around Coates' leadership, employing the latest advertising techniques, graphic design and imagery, and imploring New Zealanders to take their 'Coats off with Coates', 'the man who gets things done'. Like Ansell 80 years later, Davy gained a reputation as a superb strategist. A thoroughly Modern Milly.
Just like Ansell, rifts quickly emerged between Davy and the major party of the Right, with Davy condemning Reform as "increasingly socialistic".
And, just as Ansell moved to ACT and then fell out with Brash for being "too timid" and "cowardly" (and Key for being too "lilly-livered"), so Davy - the political soldier of fortune -set up a new Party of the laissez-faire Right - United, before condemning it for relying on Labour to govern, "caving into Labour demands" too readily and implementing the same "socialist" policies for which he'd quit Reform. This political odyssey ultimately ending when he co-founded the Right-Wing Democrat Party for that most historic of all New Zealand Elections: 1935.
Like Ansell, Davy's ultra-Right revolutionary temperament and strategic creativity meant he could never be entirely satisfied.
Just found this a few days late. Fascinating. What an evil person I am for... for what?
For telling the truth, that's what. 40 truths in that one ad alone. Every single fact provably true.
That telling the truth as plainly as it can be told can be so roundly condemned is a sad comment, not on me, but on what a sick, dishonest country politically-correct New Zealand has become. The Land of the Long White Lie, I've taken to calling it.
And Chris: it was your superb column urging politicians to champion the anti-Maorification cause which inspired me more than any other to begin the ACT campaign with that subject.
All I did was give it a name: the Maorification of Everything. I thought it described what's been happening perfectly. Am I right or not?
So please don't call me cruel. Truthful is what I am (and few others are).
Yes, I'm a revolutionary, because New Zealand sorely needs a revolution - a revolution of honesty, a revolution of plain speaking, especially on matters Maori.
But no, I'm certainly not 'far right'. Gun-toting Norwegian mass murderers and Germans with toothbruth moustaches and a chip on their shoulder about Red Sea Pedestrians are far right.
Much as I might salivate at the prospect of eliminating a generation of socialists, my preferred medium is persuasion, not perforation.
(And anyway, many of ACT's future members will be today's Young Labour stalwarts. Most socialist-pessimists mature into capitalist-optimists. Of course, some don't :-))
No, ACT and I are simply right wing. Nothing wrong with that. We just appear far right to unthinking Kiwis with their beaks in the sand who haven't twigged that all the other NZ parties, including National, are further to the Left than the Australian Labor Party.
But back to your point about my cruelty. Yes, I realise that my brand of truth can hurt. But the only people it hurts are those brought up on a diet of lies. I can't help that.
The only way to expose those lies is to come right out with the facts and let them absorb and adjust.
Do I enjoy hurting the feelings of my Maori friends (and yes, I do have some)?
No I don't.
But Chris, there's a higher principle than not upsetting people. It's called truth. I commend it to you.
Thus, I have no regrets about what I said, even though it may mean I never work again.
A lot of people, few of them prepared to speak publicly, have commended me for saying what they were thinking.
At this stage, that'll do me. Mind you, hearing about Albert Davy above has got me thinking :-)
Kilian's tale of woe would be fair enough, if it were true.
(Oh by the way, here's Kilian giving the left a bad name on my blog. Note his touching reference to my parents: http://johnansell.wordpress.com/2011/07/12/the-intelligence-level-of-the-left/)
People in the Land of the Long White Lie wilfully forget that Maori are the most advantaged native race on earth. Yes, advantaged.
If you don't believe me, rewind to the 1820s and 30s...
Maori tribes, notably Nga Puhi, have taken a fancy to the musket and are killing, enslaving and having each other for dinner at a rate that makes the Tutsi-butchers of 1990s Rwanda look like conscientious objectors.
About half the Maori population have been ethnically cleansed by their fellow Maori.
But now the remnants of the conquered are becoming adept musketeers themselves.
So the intrepid Nga Puhi warriors run to Queen Victoria, hide bravely behind her skirts, and beg for protection from their utu-bent rellies.
After ten years of begging, Queen Vic agrees to take them on. On one condition: that they let her run things.
And they're happy to, given the alternative of becoming next Sunday's roast chief.
Then the Queen's men promise the chiefs something unprecedentedly generous for the times.
Seven years after the abolition of slavery, the Maoris - yet to invent the wheel - are granted equal citizenship with the most advanced people on earth.
It would have been a lot easier for us today if the Brits had adopted the overseas settlement strategy of the Spaniards or the Belgians - or indeed the might-is-right Maori.
Take Ngati Toa. Ten years before the arrival of the settlers, these Taranaki terrorists paddled down to Wellington and slaughtered the tribe that had lived there for centuries, Ngati Ira.
Their Hone-come-lately status did not stop today's Ngati Toa from claiming tangata whenua status for the purposes of receiving $10 million compensation from Chris Finlayson for loss of their 'maritime empire' - otherwise known as the exclusive right to cross Cook Strait by canoe and massacre Marlborough Maori.
And Maori wailers and moaners forget that the British abolished not just British slavery, but also Maori enslavement of other Maori. The Treaty allowed many Maori slaves to go free.
Now of course, the usual complaint levelled at the Brits around this time was that they introduced all kinds of diseases. And they did.
But as I learned just last night at the launch of a book by scientist-researcher Dr John Robinson (on which I'm about to blog), Maori depopulation in the late 1800s was caused largely by the demographic consequences of so many young Maori males being slaughtered in the Musket Wars - and by the charming Maori practice of daughter-slaughter.
(Though to be fair, this ceased when the parents realised that the Europeans valued their daughters more highly - as prostitutes.)
So Maori depopulation by disease is a myth. The population declined from 120,000 in 1820 to 70,000 by 1840 thanks to the debilitating effect on the human body of the sudden onset of musket ball and tomahawk.
Then, because of the lack of reproductive stock, it declined further to 56,000 by the first census in 1858, and eventually to a low of 47,000.
But as the numbers of young men and women regenerated, the population grew, and is still growing.
But the most amazing thing I've encountered on this whole issue is last night's confession by Dr Robinson that he was forced to alter his findings on depopulation because they did not fit the myth being put about by his state paymasters.
I'll be blogging the evidence from his book tomorrow. It's the smoking musket of the grievance gravy train. If you're riding that train, the truth is going to hurt.
Andy C (July 11): you're right. Honest Hone is only doing what his voters elected him to do - being an idiot. He provides some welcome light relief to the otherwise semi-intelligent business of politics, and all power and legal paua to him.
But Key is doing the opposite of what his people elected him to do. He is, in fact, a traitor to his country, as is my former friend, chief Maorification apologist, Minister for Treasony Settlements and Activist-General, Christopher Finlayson.
So in answer to your question, if could have my pound of Semtex and the icy veins of a cruel, clear Norwegian, I certainly wouldn't plant it at National HQ, and I even more certainly wouldn't do anything to disrupt the performance of Cirque du Hone.
I'd have it cunningly stitched into the chair padding of the afore-mentioned Prime and Sub-prime Minister.
Literal liberals and SIS goons please observe my tongue firmly planted in my cheek. I bomb only at long-term political party employment. I wish both gentlemen a long life - but a short Parliamentary career :-)
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