Saturday 9 November 2019

Has Shane Jones Just Saved NZ First?

Counter-Puncher: The “activists” and “radicals” (his own words) from the Indian community who took such strong exception to Shane Jones’ remarks about Immigration NZ’s treatment of arranged marriages, may end up bitterly regretting their intervention. Jones is not the sort of person who turns the other cheek to his critics.

SHANE JONES may just have come up with a sure-fire MMP threshold-busting election strategy. He has committed NZ First to formulating a comprehensive “population policy”. If handled adroitly, this exercise will likely evoke a strong electoral response from “native” New Zealanders. Almost certainly powerful enough to guarantee the party’s return to Parliament.

Since the mid-1980s, both Labour and National have followed the population policy first enunciated in the 1986 Review of Immigration Policy commissioned by the Labour Party Immigration Minister, Kerry Burke. In essence, the Burke Review was about engineering New Zealand’s demographic transformation. From a “white” country – albeit one with an indigenous adjunct – New Zealand was to become a multicultural nation. NZ First has consistently opposed this policy. It has not, however, found a way of moving beyond rhetorical flourishes about “Asian Invasions” towards formulating a clear, “first principles” population policy of its own. That may be about to change.

The “activists” and “radicals” (Jones’ words) from the Indian community who took such strong exception to his remarks about Immigration NZ’s treatment of arranged marriages, may end up bitterly regretting their intervention. Jones is not the sort of person who turns the other cheek to his critics. He is, however, the sort of highly-educated individual who understands the wisdom of taking controversial issues right back to first principles. Shrewd enough, also, to recognise the advantage of undertaking such an exercise in relation to the rapidly changing shape of New Zealand’s population.

Unlike the young commentator on Maori issues, Morgan Godfery, Jones recognises the threat posed to tangata whenua by the dramatic expansion in the number of immigrants from China and the Indian sub-continent. In the space of less than 40 years, the percentage of the New Zealand population designated “Asian” has undergone a seven-fold increase: from 2 percent to 15 percent. If this extraordinary rate of increase continues, then within the next decade the “Asian” population of New Zealand will overtake that of Maori. Godfery insists that this need not be a problem since, in relation to the political position of the indigenous people, it is the Treaty of Waitangi that counts – not the size of the Maori population. Godfery’s optimism is heroic.

A population policy is, however, about a great deal more than mere immigration statistics. It begins, as the Burke Review does, by asking questions about what sort of country New Zealand should be. Back in the mid-1980s, the assumption of the Review’s authors was that New Zealand was much too deeply rooted in the values and prejudices of its colonial past. Though they did not express it in terms as explicit as our trans-Tasman cousin’s “White Australia” policy, New Zealanders subscribed to exactly the same notion that immigration should be shaped by the existing racial contours of the nation. This view limited the countries-of-origin of any new arrivals to the British Isles, North America, North-West Europe, Australia and the island micro-states of the South Pacific. The Burke Review dismissed this stance as racist and short-sighted. The Empire was dead. New Zealand and the rest of the world stood on the threshold of “The Asian Century”.

In the years since Jim Bolger described New Zealand as “an Asian country”, to the present day, the implications of the Burke Review’s repudiation of the “cultural fit” approach to immigration have revealed themselves in demographic and cultural changes that have altered New Zealand dramatically, if not irrevocably. Crucially, the whole process was facilitated by the consistent support of both major parties. Politically, it is not wise to challenge the “Multicultural New Zealand” consensus. Not unless you enjoy being called a racist and/or a white supremacist.

Jones may not enjoy being called a racist, but he is unwilling to let such taunts deflect him from what he clearly perceives to be his duty to defend the cultural and political integrity of his homeland. In this he is (like his leader) hugely assisted by his indigenous identity. Eight hundred years of continuous occupation of these islands gives Maori a slightly more solid position from which to pronounce upon Aotearoa’s core values than people who have been here for eight hundred days. It allows him to become the spokesperson for all those who have lost patience with a political class that point-blank refuses to listen to anyone whose views run counter to the official multicultural consensus.

The problem facing the political class of New Zealand (along with just about every other western nation) is that the impatience of these dissenters has grown to the point where its potential for serious political disruption is obvious to anyone with the slightest trace of populist ambition. And Shane Jones has considerably more than a trace.

Taking the NZ First membership back to first principles on immigration would likely produce a policy radically at odds with the official consensus. New Zealand would, in all probability, emerge from this exercise as a unique mixture of indigenous and western values: an egalitarian, secular and democratic nation under no obligation whatsoever to subordinate – or even adapt – its cultural values and political institutions to the needs of people arriving here from other parts of the world. To those who do not like this version of New Zealand, the members and supporters of NZ First would doubtless reiterate Jones’ advice to catch the next plane home.

It is not difficult to grasp why, all around the world, the immigration issue has become the ideal opener for some very large cans of worms. It feeds directly into just about every facet of life under neoliberalism. Jones and NZ First may begin by formulating a radically different population policy, but from there they are certain to move into a host of other contentious issues.

Not the least of these is likely to be the role played by the mainstream news media in defending the neoliberal/multicultural consensus. It is probable that Jones already perceives the enormous political benefits of casting the nation’s media as mouthpieces for the unmandated transformation of New Zealand’s society and culture. Alongside the “radical” and “activist” immigrants who daily assail him, he will be able to set “woke” journalists. Their increasingly shrill attacks, far from harming NZ First, will only highlight how little they have in common with “garden variety” New Zealanders. What else can they be but “enemies of the people”?

Neither Labour nor National will be able to do very much to counter this strategy. Their complicity in the creation of multicultural New Zealand precludes them from doing anything more than mumbling embarrassingly about immigration numbers. The Greens, naturally, will be rendered incandescent with rage by the “racism” of their partner in government. To no avail. Providing Jones is equal to the task of describing the New Zealand his party’s population policy is determined to preserve, protect and defend, NZ First’s worries about clearing the 5 percent MMP threshold can be put to rest – and Winston reassured that he has chosen a worthy successor.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Thursday, 7 November 2019.


greywarbler said...

We have been fed with ideology to Mr Creosote's bursting point. If Shane Jones brings some pragmatism to the immigration matter it will be welcomed. First may I say that many of my friends are immigrants, and even the acquaintances I have made among the Indian people in the local supermarket which also employs NZs by the way, I have asked. And then I appreciate the Filipinos that are in the staff of a residential house where a needy relative lives. I admire them and their smarts and committed ways to NZ and a good world to live in.

It's just the number of immigrants and why they are being welcomed to this country that bothers me. Then there is the disgusting way that the Immigration Department treats them, charging high prices to make application, suddenly changing the criteria so they are excluded and their payment is not returned. Then there is the disgusting way that government allows many to be conned by dodgy agents, enslaved by dodgy employers often their own people and robbed of wages so important to them and their families and perhaps to repay their flight costs to here, and their ability to save their return fare. I was disturbed to find that one Indian agent advertised a house for sale on his own behalf at an elevated price which would have included his own profit, while the owners had set their own price with their own agents. That was a new trick.

Then there is the situation of the wealthier or aspirational not adding any required skill; real estate agents and local liquor stores are not needed here. The sharp practices learned at home add to our need to be really savvy about any business and tradesmen in NZ but particularly immigrants. There was a very good interview by Kim with a thoughtful Indian woman on the arranged marriage situation this Saturday morning.

There are so many ways that government should be limiting immigrant and foreign entry and forays into NZ, and we are very compromised by the open-door free-market treaties that we have told ourselves we must have. The reasons for such treaties may seem to have been transparent, but I think we look into a one-way window and see differently than the players on the other side.

It is time to look coolly and critically at our political practices and the outcomes from the template we have been following and Shane Jones can lurch into what will be a fray, like a good All Black committed to winning. Many of us will cheer him on in a good way, but some with chips on their shoulders will take the opportunity to show their narrow, febrile minds; if you stir the pot you bring up the lumps from the bottom. Better to think about dealing with what is with this quote from the good book in mind -

'For now we see through a glass, darkly;
but then face to face:
now I know in part;
but then shall I know even as also I am known.'

John Hurley said...

You just have to look at the way our bond with our Australian cousins dissolves as Chinese and Indians migrate to Eastern Australia. Blood is thicker than water.

Mark Simpson said...

Thank you Chris. This is "where angels fear to tread" territory - labels of racism are confettied upon anyone who doesn't embrace our current immigration norms. Today Kim Hill referred to Jones as "the infuriating Shane Jones."

But NZ politics is now identified and shackled with stultifying tweaking. Gone are the new governments who have a bold vision and plan to set our country on a new social and economic paradigm. (For better or worse, Savage's Welfare State; Douglas's Rogernomics.) Over the decades, Mr. Peters has garnered many (most?) of his votes from disaffected people dismayed at our open door policy to Asian immigration. Yet, for all his constant pre-election rhetoric, what has NZ First ever done to make the slightest bit of difference to immigration policy?

Even if Shane Jones's utterances are the catalyst to give NZ First a decent result, can we honestly be confident that anything substantial will change regarding our "infuriating" policies?

(By the way .... what exactly are the "first principles" you allude to?
Thanks Chris.
Mark Simpson

Brendan McNeill said...

The first mistake when discussing multiculturalism is to conflate culture with race. It is typically those who lean leftwards in their politics who are first to shout ‘racist’ when anyone questions the ideology of multiculturalism. Culture is not about race, but rather a combination of beliefs, customs, and religion that define a people or a nation.

To be clear, multiculturalism is a unicultural phenomena. It is found only in historically Judeo / Christian western nations. Japan has no interest in multiculturalism, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and virtually all Islamic countries express no desire to become multicultural.

So what drives this phenomena in the west?

It stems from a form of cultural loathing, a desire to deconstruct the faith, history and institutions that formed the foundations of western civilisation. Multiculturalism is an expression of anti-culture, an attempt to subsume western civilisation in anything that might emerge from the rubble of multicultural deconstruction on the presupposition that anything but Christianity, anything other than western civilisation is preferable to preserving the roots of our past.

Sociologist, philosopher and author Philip Rieff describes our age as one of ‘fantasy’. The first attempt in human history to build a social order that is not predicated on a sacred order. And so we entertain the fantasy of multiculturalism.

No doubt its authors view multiculturalism as a destination, but it is never that. Rather it is nothing more than an airport transit lounge, or an inner-city bus exchange. A place where strangers meet on a journey towards their final destination. And what is that final destination but another form of uniculturalism. Once the battles have been fought, the blood shed, and the victor emerges triumphant a new unitculture will be established.

This is no more or less than an historical fact.

The only question remaining is which of the worlds three dominant ideologies will shape our future? Christianity is in decline, cultural Marxism is on the ascendency, Islam is the wild card.

The politics of Shane Jones simply doesn't feature.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I feel that while we may need certain skilled people from other countries, we seem to be importing all sorts of others, who compete with poorer unskilled New Zealanders for jobs at the bottom of the heap. While we might need Sri Lankan doctors for instance, I don't see why I need a South African to sell me a T-shirt, and I don't see why we import Filipinos to work on farms. I think I've mentioned this before. "Great little workers" – that oh so casually racist way they've been described – when of course one phone call from the farmer will see them back home again, so of course they are. "New Zealanders don't want the jobs!" they say – whereas in actuality New Zealanders don't want the jobs "at the wages you're paying". They always forget to add that.
And students, particularly at polytechs regard studying here as an expensive but alternative way of getting to stay, and we don't get the brightest of these either. They tend to go to Canada, Britain or the US. It's funny – with the ground swell of support for cutting migration neither party seems keen to do it. Of course given that both are now dependent on big business, and give large donors special access to ministers I guess you can see why. It's a simple rort to provide them with cheap labour.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

The first mistake when discussing multiculturalism, is to conflate culture with religion. Thus ignoring the fact that while virtually all Islamic countries have the same religion, they often have quite different cultures. As in Indonesia for instance. It is typically those who lean right those who are 1st to shout "reverse racism" when their privilege is threatened. Those of us on the left know far more about what culture actually is than those "rightists".
So what drives this phenomenon on in the West? It stems from a form of openness and acceptance, and acceptance that other cultures have something to contribute to Western civilisation now as they have done in the past. Indeed, some are part of Western civilisation.
The sociologist Andrea Voyer says "multiculturalism is also an ideological position founded upon the claim that minority identities are important to the people who hold them, and that the identity groups they create will persist. Because identity and identity groups matter, they must be recognized and accommodated in social and political life."
It's nothing to do with cultural loafing or a desire to deconstruct religion, although to be fair I do have that particular desire considering how much damage religion has done in the past and is still doing to society. Particularly the type of religion described in Chris's latest column.
Oh gosh cultural Marxism – that thing that doesn't actually exist which was invented by Hitler in the 1930s, and which is associated of course with anti-Semitism. A simple but very common in right-wing circles "snarl word" which is used to imply that anyone with left-wing tendencies is some sort of secret Communist determined to impose their ideology through the universities. By way of music, homosexuality, and civil rights.
Of course – that's the main reason why we've had neoliberal governments in New Zealand since 1984.
And Islam – that bogeyman of the Christian right. You have to laugh given that 25% of those Muslims who have migrated to America have actually left the "church". That's what education and an open secular society tends to do to religion, and given that secular/nonreligious societies are actually much better to live in than religious ones, we can only regard this as a good thing – Shane Jones or not.

Odysseus said...

The volume of immigration over the last decade, much of it low skilled, has placed enormous strain on our infrastructure, services and the environment. It has thoroughly screwed the housing market and depressed wages. Both Labour and NZ First promised limits at the last election but they appear to be only fiddling at the margins. There is a great hunger for what Jones appears to be selling. We do need a population policy which takes into account the needs of the economy and now our "zero carbon" aspirations also. I'm not convinced however Jones is proposing much of substance beyond slogans that will be quickly forgotten if NZ First gets up again.

Unknown said... unto others etc etc. We are just fortunate enough to have a politician with enough fortitude and savvy to say what needs to be said. The shape of our country is our business, and that includes the who, what, where, why and when of the different people that are already here, and those that want to live here. If we don't, we certainly cannot look for our own 'Brexit' option, because there isn't one. Take this for what it is, a timely discussion on what matters for the future of New Zealand, and not based on a blueprint made over thirty years ago that looks to be well past it's use by date.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Dammit, that should be loathing not loafing – but I'm tempted to let it stand given the laziness of Brendan's analysis.
" It has thoroughly screwed the housing market "
I don't think it is the poor and unskilled coming to New Zealand that have skewed the housing market somehow. That is the result of a cascade from the very top, where the superrich and sometimes the merely rich are buying houses in countries they regard as safe – either from societal breakdown caused by global warming, or from governments they don't trust to let them keep their money, or their freedom. It is particularly noticeable in London and other major international cities in the developed West, where thousands of expensive houses and apartments sit empty because they are owned by the rich who don't live in them, just use them as a hedge or bolthole.

Nick J said...

GS, it's all so easy to say that "cultural Marxism" does not exist. Maybe not but something sure as hell does, something creeping and nasty. It's the same spectre that haunts both Left and Right, the tendency to demand adherence, to command and expect obedience. With the Left it's Jacobinism to gulag, with the Right it is Fascism to Austwitz.

Whilst the Left paints it's former proletarians and redundant factory hands as alt-Right deplorables, the real Right makes hay. Their sun shines brightly. There is something very rotten in the state of Denmark. It's name is many things, political correctness, post modernism, cultural Marxism etc. If the Left doesn't Lance the boil septecemia will kill the body. How long must the Left suffer at its own hands?

John Hurley said...

People are individuals but people also have ethnic identities. As I mentioned above NZ's bond with Australia has weakened:

What is driving the politics?

Well I do think the demographics are important : our shift in focus towards Asia (with the Chinese and the Indians). I don’t think it is so much a rejection of NZ as a pivot towards Asia. There was a shift away from the UK when Britain joined the EU. In some ways you could argue the same is happening here a shift towards Asia: Asian migration, Asian students, Asian implantation [ ?] infact. Our attention has been taken by South East Asia and as a consequence the politics may flow from that shift in thinking.

Yes to demographics and yes to ethnic nepotism. I think what is presented as racism by European to Maori is more ethnic nepotism than racism. Racism is favoured because the other is athwart the ideal of an ethnicless society? Racism is favoured because it is presented as a disease which is not part of humanity whereas ethnic nepotism is. What do you think Chris trotter?

guerilla surgeon said...

"the tendency to demand adherence, to command and expect obedience. "
There has always been an authoritarian strain of left 'ism' no one is arguing there isn't. But cultural Marxism is an invention, and if it did exist it's not doing a very good bloody job is it? Given our succession of neoliberal governments.

"Whilst the Left paints it's former proletarians and redundant factory hands as alt-Right deplorables"
Nobody automatically paints redundant factory workers as Alt Right deplorables. People are painted as such when they espouse alt right attitudes and policies. And as far as I'm concerned, if the cap fits – that's what they are. Just because someone is a member of the proletariat doesn't excuse them being racists or white nationalists or whatever you want to call them these days. That makes them Nazis as far as I'm concerned. 'Beefsteaks' perhaps because authoritarians can easily switch from one philosophy to the next as long as it's another authoritarian philosophy. You can't excuse it by saying they are proletarian. Just makes it worse in my opinion. And it's time someone stood up to them and told them exactly what they are.