Friday 22 March 2019

The Method In The Madness.

An Illusory Unity? Individuals on the Far Left are insisting that our secular, humane, democracy is nothing more nor less than an evil machine for the exploitation and oppression of marginalised and despised minorities That everything that has brought us together since Friday, 15 March 2019; the love that piled the floral tributes higher and higher; the solidarity that drew 12,000 Wellingtonians to the Basin Reserve; is nothing but a sham and a lie.

‘PROPAGANDA OF THE DEED’ is a concept formulated, and made notorious, by the followers of nineteenth century anarchism. Mikhail Bakunin, the most famous anarchist of the era, wrote: “we must spread our principles, not with words but with deeds, for this is the most popular, the most potent, and the most irresistible form of propaganda.”

After the terrible events of the past week, few New Zealanders would disagree. Possessing infinitely more force than a rambling 73-page manifesto, the murderous message delivered by the lone-wolf terrorist attack on Christchurch’s Muslim community has, indeed, proved irresistible.

We’ve been overwhelmed, principally, because the meaning of the terrorist’s message is so very hard for ordinary, decent people to fathom. What method could there possibly be in an act of such indescribable madness and horror?

That is the key question. But, to unlock the answer it is necessary to go deep and dark.

The evocation of abject terror and horror is not the sole purpose of the terrorist. His overriding objective is to completely eliminate his audience’s capacity for rational thought. The use of the word “audience” in this context is deliberate. Above all else, terrorism is a form of dreadful theatre. Staged by the terrorist “playwright” to ensure that our responses are formulated whilst in the grip of the most disorienting emotional agitation.

Bluntly, what the terrorist is trying to do is rob us of our free will. After the deed, he is counting on us doing exactly what the awfulness of his actions prompts us to do. He wants our reaction to be driven not by what we think, but by how we feel.

And, it’s working.

For the past week, New Zealand is been in the grip of the most profound emotions. We have recoiled in shock and disbelief. We have been overwhelmed by pity and compassion. We have reached out to the Muslim community with love. We have stood with them in solidarity.

Our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has embodied and expressed these emotions with a dignity and grace that has not only made a deep impression on her own people, but also on the peoples of the entire world.

Surely then, you will say, the purposes of the terrorist have been thwarted? Light has driven out darkness; love has overwhelmed hate. And, if our leaders are able to hold the ship of state to this present course, then New Zealand will, indeed, emerge from this deadly storm a stronger, more decent, and more loving nation.

The terrorist will, however, be confident that holding to their present course of love and decency will likely prove beyond our leaders’ powers. Human psychology being what it is, anger, recrimination and the desire to punish will sooner, rather than later, overwhelm what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature”.

Wreaking vengeance on the single perpetrator of the Christchurch Mosque Shootings will not be enough for those who refuse to see him as a lone-wolf terrorist, but rather as a symptom of New Zealand society’s deeper ills. The temptation, especially on the Cultural Left, will be to hold conservatives and conservatism individually and severally liable. Not, of course, for the deed, but for creating the ideological climate out of which the deed emerged.

Those even further to the left (among whom we must now include an alarming number of Greens) will go even further. They will tell New Zealanders that all this horror is, really, their fault. That they must simply accept that, be it the United States, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, the sins of the colonial fathers will out. That Pakeha New Zealanders must, accordingly, surrender their “White Privilege”.

Only then will they see the truth: that our secular, humane, democracy is nothing more nor less than an evil machine for the exploitation and oppression of marginalised and despised minorities That everything that has brought us together since Friday, 15 March 2019; the love that piled the floral tributes higher and higher; the solidarity that drew 12,000 Wellingtonians to the Basin Reserve; is nothing but a sham and a lie.

That’s the moment when the embedded propaganda message of the terrorist’s dreadful deed will stand revealed. Our fellow citizens cannot be trusted. They are not worthy of our love. They are not us.

And then we will know he has won.

This essay was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 22 March 2019.


Guerilla Surgeon said...

I'm not quite sure what you mean by your last few paragraphs Chris. But I must say I have succumbed to the "temptation" of blaming the extreme right for legitimising what I considered to be disgusting and for that matter idiotic views about people of other races and religions. Are you saying that they are blameless?
There are those who say that since Trump has been president of the US, attacks on "the other" have increased markedly. And as the extreme right gains ground in Europe, I would expect the same to happen there. AFAIK, attacks on Jews in France have been rising for some time, particularly since they elected Macron. And the problem is that we tend to ignore these people – being Kiwis and relatively polite – rather than confronting them. And we allow them our public spaces for expressing their hatred. And I'm of the opinion that that should stop. And I also think that private spaces like Facebook and YouTube who allowed this arse to live stream his murders should be punished in some way. Not quite sure how, but I'd certainly support a boycott on advertising.

Hilary Taylor said...

Thanks, Chris, for letting sanity prevail in your written pieces this week.

Nick J said...

Nice analysis Chris. Since the events in Christchurch I have seen and experienced what you describe, a rush from the cultural Left to ascribe blame and to extract concessions from the guilty members of society. It has a resonance of prior extreme Leftism, for "privileged White (male)" read Kulak and bourgeois.

On another blog I expressed that I didn't think the shooter was solely driven by alt-Right convictions, that narcissism was possibly the major reason. For this the cultural commissars immediately labelled me an apologist for white supremacy.
I thank DJS for his intercession, however the commissars kept up the demonization. This left me feeling slightly unclean until a colleague pointed out that one of these cultural Puritans had a criminal record for identity theft. Hmm, let he that has no sin cast the first stone.

Anyway that got me thinking about ongoing issues around our current thinking from the Left. I wonder how much this creation of a broad oppressor class ( white colonists) has diminished the focus of the Left on broad universal issues of social and economic justice? Or how divisive this focus is? I also wondered about whether the current Left focus on creating sacred victimhood for identities has generated extremist push back by those attributed with "blame"?

There's actually a major debate to be had, I for one won't let the Leftist nor Rightist ideological authoritarians walk rough shod over us. Nor off the hook for I for one see their influence writ large over many ills.

Tom Hunter said...

Frankly I'm not too worried about the Far Left. Admittedly they're a lot more numerous in this country than skinheads and other White Supremacists, but that's still a very small number.

All that's happening here is that a terrible event that cranks the emotions to 11, is being used by them to say about Right-WIngers like me - and more than a few Centre-Leftists - what they say all the time anyway.

The real concern is how far some of those Centre-Leftists like Russell Brown are willing to go in pushing the government on things like "hate speech" laws and outing people, like what happened to the blogger and blog commentator MacDoctor they other day. I'd be willing to bet they'll go a long way.

The Stasi would never have worked without the cooperation of large numbers of such people. I see plenty of Leftists online at present who are just gagging to "dob people in" - all for the best motives they say: fighting hate!

We survived the far worse bullshit imposed by Syd Holland in 1951. One of the earliest political stories my Dad ever told me was a possibly apocryphal tale about Walter Nash being blocked from speaking by some Senior cop on the basis of the laws Holland had passed, and being told by Nash that he was going to speak and the cop could arrest him. Fortunately the older cop had good judgement and let Nash pass.

Having said that, there's something a lot more insidious and more private now possible via the Internet. It could be less the State that we become afraid of than our fellow righteous citizens. I guess I'll just have to keep my confidence about the good sense of my non-blogging fellow Kiwis.

But I'll be keeping an eye on Brown and the Greens all the same.

Trev1 said...

Thank you Chris for capturing so eloquently my exact fears at this moment. It is good to feel one is not alone. This country seems to be turning ugly under the relentless goading of the extreme left and cynical opportunists in academia. It is truly frightening. Looks like we are reinventing McCarthyism for our time.

Charles W Etherington said...

Now that is speaking truth to power and academia. I hope they are listening.
You sound like Sam Harris or Jordan Peterson to me. By which I mean an extremely wise, decent and brave intellectual. Considered audio blogs & YouTube maybe?

I think they, just like you, have not only read widely and deeply, you have thought about these things for thousands of hours. That is rare in our now sound-bite world. Then in writing mostly you have resisted the reactive and emotional impulses which cloud, confuse and destroy reasonable discourse. Well done. Keep going.

Which leads me to reflect and apologise for some of the crap I have spouted in the past on your blog. Not all of it! And I am thinking more distant past..
But too often, and I am in good company here, I shoot from that small part of the brain which needs to be stood up to by not only the better angels part... but the 'long form thought part' for want of a better description.

Unknown said...

Anarchist Peter Kropotkin had a reply to Bakunin "...a structure based on centuries of history cannot be destroyed with a few kilos of dynamite ".

They are now just a foot note to history but the anarchist gunmen and bombers shook the Establishment of Europe and America to their core.

The Christchurch gunman has shaken New Zealand to its core. But with the passage of time his ugly deeds will also become a footnote to history.

Remember the old Kiwi proverb " Today's news, tomorrows fish and chip wrapper '.

Puddleg said...

The latest news, proudly tweeted by a Green MP as a sign that NZ is "getting it right" (among other things like the totally reasonable gun ban and the dubious gestures of the Mongrel Mob) is that Whitcoulls have banned a Jordan Peterson book that specifically warns against seeing one's perceived disadvantages as reasons for grievance and hate (Whitcoulls are still selling Mein Kampf and an AR-15 semi-automatic conversion manual).
The odds are that Whitcoulls stopped selling 12 Rules after threats from the far left group that thought it was funny to simulate a terrorist attack on Jews a little while ago, and who pursued a vendetta against Prof Peterson when he visited.
These people are not currently the threat the far-right is, because intersectionality has robbed them of effective leadership. But they do provide unnecessary stimulus to far-right grievance, undermine the aroha of the centre left, and generally take pride in making people shitty with each other on the internet.

Michael Johnston said...

Thank goodness for commentators like you Chris. I certainly have my differences with you on economic matters but that is of small account compared with my admiration for your insight into threats to our liberal democracy.

This isn't a question of left versus right; in your observations here you are essentially at one with David Seymour (libertarian) and David Ferrar (center right). This is about the temptation to seek scapegoats and to succumb to authoritarianism in moments of crisis.

The outpouring of solidarity with our Muslim community has moved me beyond words - and that should be our sole response. In other respects we must carry on as we are, albeit with less innocence about our erstwhile illusion of safety. If we do otherwise, we hand the terrorist victory.

Thanks again. Kia kaha!

Shona said...

I've always been to the left with my political views. However I find myself in agreement with Davis Seymour and Simon Bridges regarding the changes to our gun laws now upon us. We need more than a week in select committee. The buy back will not work because NZers do not trust the police that much. The police who have blocked the registration of firearms for 30 years for administration reasons are now suddenly going to be able handle the administration of these new laws. I think not .We need a separate authority for these new laws made up of firearms experts. That is what the headless chooks of the overtly compassionate far left have inflicted upon us,fucking chaos. We will now have a very profitable and buoyant black-market in semi auto matic weapons. A NZer did not commit this atrocity. This is not us we did not create this hatred and chaos.

pat said...

That could happen...but it dosnt have to

Damien Grant said...

Impressive writing Mr Trotter.

Te Rangi said...

Hi Chris,
As a relatively silent observer over the last week, I'm heartened that someone has been able to put into words exactly what I've been thinking and seeing.

I'm Māori, and it has been astounding that as soon as I even started questioning what I was seeing, I have been labelled a racist, a white-supremacist (LOL), and a Nazi.

All logic and reasoning has gone out the door, and there is a group of people with large platforms who are actively trying to redefine "alt-right" as anyone who did not vote for either the Labour Party or the Green Party at the last election.

Simply staggering, and incredibly dangerous.

Tom Hunter said...

I must admit I was amazed that Tumblr - super woke Tumblr - could have produced the following contrasting images, in this case from Slate magazine.

Tom Hunter said...

... attacks on Jews in France have been rising for some time

Yes they have, and it's been noted mainly by Right-Wing sources, especially those outside France.

And your implication is that this rise is due to the Right in France. Of course. You're the Guerilla Surgeon Cyclops.

In fact you're a perfect example of what Chris is talking about in this article.

John Hurley said...

Jacinda the Good needs to explain why it is only, in the Western countries that we have seen policies which deliberately disrupt the ethnic state giving other ethnic groups equal footing in the national boundary (NZ just under 94% European in the 1950s)? They are not us. Can she demonstrate the "immense" benefits of diversity as claimed by Labour MP Keri Burke in 1986. A recent NZ Research poll found we are divided 50:50 on how we feel about diversity and only 41% think immigration from Asia will have a "positive impact" - Asia NZ Foundation. The moral panic over "racist" must be seen in that context.

The civil rights movement in the US gave the black ethnic group equality within the national boundary. They were allready within the national boundary but in the West we bring them in as a policy. We do not do it carefully and slowly as through inter-marriage but as "a deliberate stategy" - "In New Zealand not only do we welcome diversity we celebrate it" says Michael Woodhouse MP for Real Estaton as he welcomes Syrian refugees. How does Kyle of the National Front feel about his ethnic mana in these circumstances? The survival of his ethnic group is based primoidaly on one important thing the ethnic bond that sees people prepared to be lead into battle and die (take up arms)for that ethnic group. Can Mai Chen and Paul Spoonleys "diversity divident" beat that?

Eric Kaufmann writes about "left-modernism" and "liberal high culture" and "the religion of anti-racism" (and yes it is a religion whose high priests are treated with "genuflection" - Paul Spoonley/ Ta Nse Coates).

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"You sound like Sam Harris or Jordan Peterson to me. "
Well as far as I'm concerned, Chris you have just been insulted. Both of these guys are recognised experts in their own field, and both of them make absolutely incredibly stupid statements outside of it – which recognised experts in those particular fields cringe at. Peterson for instance lives on beef and water. Yes – that's all he eats. You should hear nutritionists on that.

Nick J said...

Dunno if I'd be insulted GS, yes I find Peterson wierd at times, mind you a north Canadian winter could result in any amount of strangeness. He is however as you say in his field rather expert and fascinating. I'd note he dislikes the extreme Right as much as the extreme Left.

I think it's instructive of the current debate that both sides, but the Left in particular have developed a very sophisticated method of labelling people, lumping them together as "fascists" and deplatforming them. Their "crime" is invariably that their ideas oppose the current Leftist orthodoxy of post modernism. Unfortunately this stifles any criticism and debate from within Leftist circles of Leftist ideas as well. We are back to Bolsheviks versus Menshoviks, and the rise of intolerant orthodoxy.

Nick J said...

Yes let's blame all white Australians....that is hate speech.

Nick J said...

The Rangi, I got savaged by the ctrl-Left for making the comment that in our rush to massed immigration that we might not have considered that the Treaty process was incomplete as was the reconciliation of pakeha and Maori into something both parties accepted. My sin was to say that took precedence over incoming cultures and that they must understand that coming here was conditional on that.

I was whisked off to the metaphorical Gulag immediately.

Bonzo said...

GS said "Peterson for instance lives on beef and water. Yes – that's all he eats. You should hear nutritionists on that."

It relieves the symptoms of an auto immune condition he has. His daughter suffers from an even more extreme version of it that led to hip and ankle replacement surgery in her teens. She explored the restricted diet to great effect and JP tried it successfully too.

Puddleg said...

Exactly Bonzo,
comments on JBP's diet that ignore the context - the medical benefit he gets from it - are just another example of prejudice against people whose habits are different from our own.
There are nutritionists who have experimented with the all-meat diet for themselves and their patients, and these people - true scientists, not just peddlers of received opinions - are not so quick to condemn it. It has a history that can be traced back to early diabetes diets (1790s), the Bellevue experiment of 1929 ( ) and Blake Donaldson's 1960's book Strong Medicine.
The all-meat diet's success in reversing inflammatory disease and type 2 diabetes is an important corrective to a false view of the role of red meat in disease causation that has wide currency.
If only our false ideas about religion and ethnicity were so easily disproved.

Geoff Fischer said...

Chris: I agree with your commitment to maintaining freedoms in the aftermath of the Al Noor massacre. In fact freedom of speech and opinion has now become more important than it ever was in less critical times.
However I do not take such a sanguine view of the societal response to the massacre. I attended Jamaat prayers at an Islamic centre yesterday, and was touched by the response of "ordinary" New Zealanders, Maori and Pakeha, who arrived at the Masjid in a show of compassion and support.
Afterwards I made my way to a Civic Memorial function where politicians took the platform to spout pure hypocrisy while the New Zealand police stood around flaunting semi-automatic rifles.
Two different worlds, and this is our problem.
The political side, the state, will not change. The causes of ethnic, religious and social tensions will remain.
People, and the media, are taking comfort from the moderate, restrained and generally constructive response of Muslim leaders - the various imams, FIANZ and so on.
But younger Muslims will be saying to the imams "You did not keep our people safe", and the imams will have no reply to that.
New Zealanders have not solved the problem. They have hardly got to the point of understanding what the problem is. Suffice to say that it goes much wider than notions of "White supremacy" or "Islamophobia" and the political undercurrents that led to the Al Noor massacre are generated by much deeper forces than Facebook.

Unknown said...

This blog has been *outstanding* in the last few days, it really has!
Huge kudos to you, Chris, for your excellent posts, and to the commenters here as well, particularly Nick J, Tom Hunter, Michael Johnston.

As mentioned elsewhere, I'm a conservative, but I can say that this Chris Trotter guy is a pretty darned good bloke for a Lefty.... ;)

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"comments on JBP's diet that ignore the context -"
Ah context. The favourite Jordan Peterson fan boy statement. We always ignore context don't we. Unfortunately the consensus of experts in nutrition – of which Jordan Peterson is not one – seem to think that this is not a sustainable long-term diet. They also seem to think there is certainly a bit of the placebo effect going on here. And that there hasn't really been enough long-term studies of the effects.
I might say from my own knowledge, that people who do live on an all meat diet tend to eat everything. Up to and including the brains. That's the only way you can get all the vitamin C and minerals and shit that you need from an all meat diet.
Not to mention that his daughter makes quite a good living at $120 a pop selling you this bullshit.
On the other hand what the experts say......
"says Jody Dushay, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. "It doesn't matter what the food is! Even if it's a 'perfect' food, it will still be imperfect." She points out that Peterson's diet leaves him without sources of crucial vitamins and minerals, not to mention carbohydrates. "It's not anything that can sustain human life," says nutritionist Judy Simon, a clinical instructor at the University of Washington Medical Center.
They also stay that a study of two people for one year in 1930 (or whenever) is not scientifically relevant.
And given that neither of them will admit to taking supplements, I suspect that long-term it's simply not going to work.
" true scientists, not just peddlers of received opinions"
Oh dear, the clarion call of every peddler of Woo since the year dot. From psychics to flat earthers. Fuck there's just no answer to that it's so stupid. The "peddlers of received opinions" include of course every academic that doesn't believe in this bullshit. Unfortunately that's the overwhelming majority of some of the most intelligent people on the planet. Still, Peterson and his daughter are a living experiment. If I live long enough on my awful boring varied diet of meat grains, fruit and vegetables I'll be very interested in the long-term results of this.
PS. Apparently scurvy is making a big comeback in the states at the moment. :)

Guerilla Surgeon said...

" Left in particular have developed a very sophisticated method of labelling people, lumping them together as "fascists" and deplatforming them."

I heard a lawyer say the other day that free speech is a negative freedom. In other words the government will not persecute you or prosecute you for what you say. But it is still under no obligation to provide you with a platform to say it. And these days, with so many platforms around I don't see it as a huge disadvantage, and I wouldn't care anyway when it comes to the so-called alt right. If they want a platform, they can damn well hire a platform and the security that goes with it. And anyone at their meetings whatever you want to call them who breaks the law in any way should be detained by that security, turned over to the police and arrested for breaking whatever law they have. And as far as the alt right goes that's capitalism they support it and they can put up with the results of it without whining maybe.
As far as Peterson is concerned I haven't read anything but what he says as a public intellectual. Which I find nothing more than vague word salad, which people can ascribe what ever meaning they like to. And I suspect it is deliberately vague, so that when somebody who knows what they are talking about picks him up on it he can say "I didn't mean that."
What I also get tired of is the fan boys who assume that if you haven't read every little thing the stupid bugger has written, you can't judge the man. Or the ones that keep repeating "context" ad nauseam.

Nick J said...

Fair enough GS, I'm all for the alt-Right paying for security, however I reckon if the ctrl-Left push them that far then expect a return favour. Is that what we really want?

On Peterson I'm fine if people criticize his political utterances, you don't need to read him, same as anybody else. My criticism of critics (of not only Peterson) is that to not listen accurately and respond rationally seems default setting.

Nick J said...

If the bugger doesn't eat roast potatoes, I'd question his wisdom. He's not invited to dinner at mine.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

" I'm all for the alt-Right paying for security"
Everyone should pay for their own security if they're making money at some sort of speaking venue. And every protester should go there with the guts to take it on the chin if they are arrested for breaking the law. Seems to me that's honoured more in the breach than the observance by right-wing protesters anyway judging by the bitching of some of them about it. The problem is though that at least one – Milo wotsisface owes someone in Australia I think 50 grand for security for one of his talks, and he's just walked away from the debt – I suspect it's one of the reasons why he wasn't allowed into Australia. So it's quite possible that they couldn't get private security. And in the end of course the police are responsible for public order and that comes out of my pocket.
On Peterson – well you sort of do have to read him, and listen to him, because people all over the place including here use him as evidence of something. And although it's not as bad as going to storm front or somewhere, it still leaves me in a fog. And I have a number of degrees which have a requirement for clear and concise English language. Admittedly not always evident here but I'm usually in a hurry. :)

Charles W Etherington said...

GS I doubt you have listened at length to these new media exponents (Harris, Peterson, Rubin, Rogan, Weinstein x2) who I predict will help bury the old media, as well as reform tertiary education. Insult? You see you don't realise they are actually mostly of the left. Or were and are now in the centre I would say.

So it is no insult to Chris at all. The opposite. He is left of course of old, but represents that part now standing up to the seriously dangerous and toxic radicals who are creating a mirrored response on the far right. He and others are doing essential work and most importantly, engaging well with their similarly open and moderate 'opponents' on the right. The Radicals will not engage. They just label and insult and ban and de-platform.
Truly they are ‘deconstructionists’, which means vandals. They want to tear down our civilisation.

These idiots have swallowed too much post-modernist bile, mostly from the faux French ‘intellectuals’ of mid last century and now they are funded in their tenures by the people and states they want to destroy. We need to fear and stand up to them as much as Islamists and Nazis.

But these labels, left & right although useful are crude and shallow perhaps. Good minds get wiser as they get older and it is an old truth that radical leftists usually grow up and head towards the centre, where there is more light and air.
Not always. Some still remain fossilised in their bitterness and resentment til too old to think much of sense at all. Like a criminal incarcerated for so long he loses the will to be a bastard any more.

Anonymous said...

Funjily enough, Holland’s great grandson, Adam Holland, is a dangerous islamaphobe.

Anonymous said...

This is the organizer of the divisive rally in Auckland. Make your own mind up, but i think that many of these vigils and events have been hikacked by the Marxist far-left for their own purposes:

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"GS I doubt you have listened at length to these new media exponents"
"comments on JBP's diet that ignore the context -"
Just as Christians gravitate to the "no true Scotsman" fallacy when someone who uses their holy book does something wrong, these seem to be the go to's of Jordan Peterson fan boys.
Let me make it quite clear, I have read enough of Jordan Peterson to know that outside his area of expertise he is a vacuous idiot, who spouts vague words salads out of which people take what they wish. Vague enough again as I said to be able to say when pressed "Oh – I didn't mean that." I do not intend to read any more of him. I think I've managed to absorb the contexts as well.
Again, I would like to stress that deplatforming as used by Jordan Peterson fan boys happens more to the left than to the right. It's just that 90% of the publicity goes to four or five professional provocateurs, who make their money saying controversial things, who deliberately provoke deplatforming in order to increase their notoriety and therefore their income, and in at least one case don't pay their debts.
Charles I doubt you have read enough post-modernists to condemn them. I doubt you have read enough French intellectuals to condemn them either.
"old truth that radical leftists usually grow up and head towards the centre, where there is more light and air."
Popular myth – wrong. Certainly wrong in the US, as far as Britain goes just crude and shallow perhaps.

Phil said...

Ditto. I'm also a conservative who enjoys Chris's thoughtful, well-reasoned essays.

sumsuch said...

Just commenting on the title, Chris. You're as little about the unity I'm feeling now as the prick on the NZ Herald. Then 2 more articles along the same lines. You've seen all that can go wrong. The positive rubs that all out. Of course, in the long run.