Friday 25 June 2021

They Say We Want A Revolution – But Do We?

The Writing's On The Wall - But Who's Wielding The Spray Can?  There are those who, remembering the bitter political turmoil of the Rogernomics Era, have enquired, gently, of Labour’s apparatchiks as to whether they might be getting just a little too far ahead of the voters on the issues of bi-culturalism and climate change.

IF IT FEELS like a revolution is happening all around you, then you’re not far wrong. The New Zealand state is on the verge of unleashing profound and irreversible changes. The sort of lifestyles New Zealanders have grown accustomed to are themselves now living on borrowed time. Not that anyone in authority has thought to ask the New Zealand people if such stonking radicalism is what they want. It’s not that sort of revolution.

We’ve been here before, of course. Thirty-seven years ago New Zealand was subjected to “The Quiet Revolution” of “Rogernomics”. It, too, ushered-in a raft of profound and irreversible changes without so much as a constitutional by-your-leave. We were told that there was no alternative, that the Fourth Labour Government’s “reforms” could not be avoided. All would be well, however, Labour reassured New Zealanders. Out of all this short-term pain, the nation’s long-term gain was guaranteed.

Think about that promise the next time you step over a homeless rough-sleeper begging on the pavement, or pass by the fogged-up windows of a car in which one of your fellow citizens is trying to sleep. Ask yourself how far down the social pyramid the Quiet Revolution’s long-term gain ended up trickling. How keen are you, really, for another round of life-altering changes imposed upon the people living at the bottom, by the people living at the top?

Sometimes the way History unfolds makes you laugh out loud. As a “free-marketeer” of no mean ability (the man has a PhD from the prestigious Wharton School of Business) Rod Carr could contemplate the installation of cash registers in public hospitals without flinching. Thirty years later, an equally rigorous Rod Carr (having swapped his corporate tie for a finely carved piece of pounamu) is advising the Government to tackle the challenges of Climate Change by transforming New Zealand society from top to bottom. Once again were being told to suck-up the certainty of short-term pain – this time for the planet’s (theoretical) long-term gain.

Not that Dr Carr’s revolution is the only instance of transformational change in motion. Although no one in the Labour Government is yet willing to admit it, the process of reconfiguring New Zealand’s key institutions in conformity with the Maori self-government (rangatiratanga) promises enshrined in te Tiriti o Waitangi is already well advanced. Get ready for comprehensive cultural and constitutional upheavals.

Once bitten, twice shy, however. There are those who, remembering the bitter political turmoil of the Rogernomics Era, have enquired, gently, of Labour’s apparatchiks as to whether they might be getting just a little too far ahead of the voters on the issues of bi-culturalism and climate change.

Not a bit of it! Labour’s people are not only supremely confident that they are right, but also that they possess more than enough in the way of persuasive power to “sell” their revolution to their admittedly more hesitant compatriots. They will simply not be told that phasing out New Zealanders’ beloved utes and SUVs, and changing the country’s name to Aotearoa without bothering to hold a referendum (which John Key was careful enough to do in relation to the New Zealand flag) is not quite the same as “going hard and going early” on Covid-19. Kiwis rewarded Jacinda for keeping them safe. They may not be quite so inclined to vote for a party that makes them feel “deplorable” or, even worse, cancelled.

The Labour Government’s confidence is undoubtedly boosted by what might best be called the “awokening” of the mainstream New Zealand news media. Trapped in the coils of “confirmation bias”, Labour’s strategists are clearly finding it impossible to grasp how emotionally jarring much of the news media has become to New Zealanders who have yet to graduate with honours in Critical Race Theory, speak Te Reo with the insufferable fluency of Guyon Espiner, or learn to feel dutifully re-educated upon hearing Otepoti substituted for Dunedin, or Kirikiriroa for Hamilton.

Having the media so obviously “on side” isn’t always the advantage politicians believe it to be. Labour would be wise to remember the Trump rally where the audience were invited to turn and confront “the lying media”; the purveyors of “fake news”; the “enemies of the people”.

Revolutions from the top down have a nasty habit of inspiring insurrections from the bottom up – and they’re not always “progressive”.

This essay was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 25 June 2021.


John Hurley said...

Failure at the Hui. Trademe bans a T Shirt with "It's Alright to be White" but suggesting rally's in support of Hamas and Hezbollah and calls for globalising the Intafada in Queens Street should be condemned equally (all terrorism) are "insensitive".

In Paul Spoonley edited Tauiwi (1984) we are told that some Maori and other minorities had been fooled by pakeha (small p) myths and it would take work by academics to correct this.
I've only read the first few pages. Helen Clark's husband contributes and Cluny McPherson who complained about Greg Clydesdales paper "Growing Pains" - our first high profile cancellation.

David George said...

It's not that difficult to see and hear what the people think and feel but "talking to the mirror" is a real problem for Labour, and even more so for the greens.
The parallels with left leaning parties throughout the Anglosphere are impossible to ignore.

The inimitable George Galloway is standing against Labour in a UK by-election, he has this to say.
Excerpt: This place is full of left-behind, ignored, neglected, taken-for-granted people, as is the case in Labour fiefdoms all over the north. Labour paid a big political price for it in Hartlepool, and next week, I promise you, it will do so in Batley and Spen.

The Workers Party is Labour as it should be. We are for the workers. We are people who believe in economically radical politics and in socially and culturally conservative politics, and that’s a good fit here, across all communities. We are the ghost of Labour’s past, and we are haunting them.

spiked: In what ways has Labour gone astray, and who is to blame for it?

Galloway: How long have you got? It has been going astray for at least 40 years. It’s not just Keir Starmer’s fault. Labour took a California turn almost 40 years ago. Class and economic policy became less important to Labour and identity politics and wokeness became the mantra.

It has infected both the left and the right of the Labour Party. It’s how Corbyn’s Labour ended up in the anti-Brexit position that it did. Keir Starmer was the architect of that anti-Brexit politics, and he will never be forgiven by the millions of working-class Labour voters who voted for Brexit.
The process started a long time ago, and it has gathered so much pace that Labour is now the party of the Guardian reader and the ethnic minority. And the ethnic minority here, for a set of very obvious reasons, has now also fallen badly out of love with Labour. That leaves the party with nothing. There are not many Guardian sales in Batley and Spen

David George said...

You couldn't get more out of touch with the concerns of your fellow Kiwis than this:
"Nash acknowledged that Hawke’s Bay had a gang problem, but said arresting people was not the solution to the problem.

In terms of public safety, Nash said any form of gang violence “tends to be perpetrated against other gangs”.

“In terms of feeling unsafe, unless you’re a gang member, you have no reason to feel unsafe. The public are not everyday target. I understand gangs can be intimidating, but unless you’re a rival member or tied up in the drug trade, you have nothing to fear.”

But the people are afraid, and rightly so:

Stuff: "Gang activity in Napier has led to locals being far more fearful about their safety than they used to be.

A survey of 597 local people, undertaken in February, has revealed that 44 per cent of locals felt the city was not a safe place to live. That compares to just 17 per cent last year, and 19 per cent in 2019.

Gang activity and presence came through as the biggest safety concern, with “Get rid of gangs” and “Ban gang patches” the most cited suggestions to improve safety.
Fifty-five per cent of respondents said gangs were the greatest safety concern."

David Farrar: "Labour seems to be the worst of both worlds – soft on crime and soft on the causes of crime.
An increase from 17% to 44% is massive. That’s an extra 18,000 people in one city who now say they are scared for their safety in their city. And the same will be the case in many other provincial cities.
And all but one of the responses were received prior to a gang shooting outside popular bars at West Quay on February 28."

Grahamj2 said...

Spot on Chris. Very timely and thought provoking. The Labour Party needs to remember that to get people to buy into your ideas you need to make them part of the decision making process.
Graham Jack

Nick J said...

Wise words Chris. What is happening is the classic "we know better" of a revolutionary clique grabbing control of the "useful idiots" of our administrative elite. Its straight out of the Leninist revolutionary workbook so unwittingly beloved of Douglas... "Move so fast they wont have time to respond".

We all know where revolutions based upon ideological assumption and compulsion lead. Our elites seem to have forgotten that in their hubris.

greywarbler said...

On young enthusiasts and idealists. I am reading a reprint of a book written by a woman who went to university when women were still not awarded degrees, before 1920. She had lost one of her brothers aged 19, in the Great War, another was killed in a plane crash in the Malayan jungle in 1939, and a third died working on the Thailand-Burma railway under Japanese control. She delayed marriage till she was 35, but her husband who had joined the RAF, was killed in a flying accident in 1943. (Mavis Doriel Hay in Death on the Cherwell.)

This book was published in 1935, before the majority of deaths occurred, but already her tone seems that of a thoughtful and resilient woman. Her book centres on women at university but she says of all the young students:

Undergraduates. especially those in their first year, are not of course, quite sane or quite adult. It is sometimes considered that they are not quite human. Emerging excitedly from the ignominious status of schoolgirl or schoolboy, and as yet unsteadied by the ballast of responsibility which, later on, a livelihood-earning career will provide, they enter the university like beings born again with the advantage of an undimmed memory of their former lives. Inspired by their knowledge of the ways in which authority may be mocked, they are at the same time quite ridiculously uplifted by the easy possibility of achieving local fame in the limited university world during the next three years.

Conscious of the brevity of their college life, they are ready to seize every opportunity to assert their individuality. The easily acquired label of 'originality' is so much more distinguished than the 'naughtiness' of their out-passed schooldays, and quite a lot of wildness may be mixed with a modicum of work and form a sound basis for a highly respectable later life.

Colleges and universities treat their students' ideas with more respect now I believe, but the process of growing up, acquiring knowledge and understanding, and using critical thinking remains a constant. Reaction to the prompts of events and individual and peers' considerations about them, can result in a rash rush to proclaim a perceived truth and demand action seemingly central to solving today's and future problems.

A moment of quiet reflection and reference to history, and perhaps to Sun Tzu, Chinese general from ancient times as well as thoughts of other seers, would indicate that precipitate action can be misplaced. As Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie's creation states often that he finds sitting and thinking the answer to activity hopeful of finding clues that will answer the problem of the crime, he considers and reflects using 'the little grey cells' of the brain. The wrong moves and more crime can result, and truth become more obscure. Authors whose books become popular have put much thought into the ways of humans and usually construct believable tales of human endeavour, good or bad.

Odysseus said...

What "we" want is irrelevant to the current ruling clique. They deliberately kept hidden their intentions before the election and now we find ourselves in the middle of a "hostile takeover" as Karl du Fresne likened the situation in today's Australian Spectator. This morning the clique announced their hate speech proposals. It seems the Police will be tasked with rounding up feminists who protest transgender participation in women's sport while religious extremists will have free rein. But isn't Jacinda lovely?

Anonymous said...

Membership of the South Island Independence Movement will triple this week like it did last week during the ute business.

Word is getting around the South about what the government plans to do with our land. People are not happy about that or the taxes or the focus of this unknowable government that will only ever engage on its own terms.

We have the wealth, we have the manpower, and we have the guns. It will be over very quickly. Many already feel that the government already has one foot over the line. Don't underestimate us.

petes new write said...

Enjoy the next five or six years before things change again. I'm too old to worry.

Jens Meder said...

Regardless of revolution, anything needed or desired to be done beside just primitively consuming hand-to-mouth what is available -

without sacrificing or saving for it at the expense of consumption potential, nothing creative can be done.

In other words, unless a revolution aims to return to a pre-stone age "paradise" way of survival on the "free gifts of Nature" alone, the revolutionaries cannot escape from the economic basics of profitable capitalism.
Or can anyone prove that it is not so ?

Tom Hunter said...

... the advantage of an undimmed memory of their former lives...

Wonderful. You know "greywarbler", you have a very weird mind, one that floats all over the place. At times I feel I'm listening to some hippie on LSD at some beach community in California, circa 1967.

But that's a lovely quote.

Then there's this..

Colleges and universities treat their students' ideas with more respect now I believe,...
Heh. Actually, given the "takeover" crap that was tolerated your formative era of the 1960's, that has been the case for decades now. It's been some time since any professor or university administrator has told students that they had a lot to learn, had presumably come to varsity to learn it, and could therefore take their whinging complaints and fuck off. But the grey heads of the 1960's university, born in the 1900's or earlier, gave the Baby Boomers their head, and here we are.

Tom Hunter said...

Lost in all this talk of "protest" and "grassroots" reaction, is the knowledge that such things did not really happen in the late 1980's. New Zealanders simply shrugged their shoulders and moved on from the dead Government-owned towns and jobs.

Perhaps that's what these He Puapua revolutionaries are counting on. After all Rod Carr would know - and thanks for that piece of history that I had forgotten. From 1980's business suit and tie to being a bearded git with a huge chunk of greenstone around his neck, Carr is testimony to Sir Humphrey's philosophy of the Civil Servant:

"Bernard, I have served eleven governments in the past thirty years. If I had believed in all their policies, I would have been passionately committed to keeping out of the Common Market, and passionately committed to going into it. I would have been utterly convinced of the rightness of nationalising steel. And of de-nationalising it and re-nationalising it. On capital punishment, I'd have been a fervent retentionist and an ardent abolitionist. I would've been a Keynesian and a Friedmanite, a grammar school preserver and destroyer, a nationalisation freak and a privatisation maniac; but above all, I would have been a stark, staring, raving schizophrenic.".

Geoff Fischer said...

Kia ora Chris
We live in a time of evolving nationalist sentiment in Aotearoa, as evidenced by increasing use of te reo Maori in public discourse, the teaching of New Zealand history and Maori culture in state schools, and proposals for legislative and constitutional change.
You see nationalism as an electoral phenomenon or, not to put too fine a point on it, an electoral problem, and the key question for you is "Will the Labour Party be able to bring or hold together a majority of voters by getting on board with this broad ranging movement?"
You do not have a lot of evidence to support your opinion that it will not, which leads me to wonder whether you are bringing in electoral consequences as a pragmatic argument against a cause which you abhor in principle.
The second question you raise is whether this is a popular movement or whether it is an elitist cause largely driven by elements within the state, as was the case with the Labour Party's last adventure in radical reform, the economic restructuring of the nineteen eighties.
This is where your approach is simplistic. Like any popular movement, New Zealand nationalism as a broad phenomenon is complex and contradictory. Political elites and the state itself are not slow to take advantage of or to try to control the direction and outcomes of the movement. Examples would be John Key's proposal to change the New Zealand flag, and the "He Puapua" and "He whenua taurikura" projects. The first failed because not because it was opposed by the Labour Party (which held to a steadfastly colonialist position on the matter of the flag) but because it was resented by radical nationalists (who have their own flags or have no need of one) and viewed with suspicion by more moderate nationalists (who wondered why John Key, a thorough going colonialist himself, would want to put through a change that would appear to favour the nationalist cause). "He Puapua" will fail for much the same reasons. It would be seen for an attempt by an elite group with strong colonialist connections to hijack the nationalist movement and take it in directions that no one else would want. It won't get past Cabinet.
Meanwhile, a lot is happening at the popular level. Outside the echo chambers of blog sites like Bowalley Road, the vast mass of our people are comfortable with the teaching of New Zealand history and the use of te reo. Instead of reacting with fear to the exploration of history, they merely demand that the history as taught should consist of "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" and that all biases and preconceptions should be open to challenge. Instead of getting angry when someone on radio or television uses words that they do not understand (a mistake that no five year old child would be prone to) they endeavour to learn what they do not know.
The elites, and the state, are responding in their own devious ways to a genuinely popular movement. They come up with top down proposals which are either more show than substance, or which are fundamentally undemocratic and which will entrench the power of the colonialist elites. The real popular movement continues to proceed as it has been, slowly by trial and error and millions of simultaneous dialogues in the homes, workplaces and marae of the nation, and the outcomes will be overwhelmingly positive.
In all this your personal position remains obscure, but comments such as the one about Guyon Espiner's "insufferable fluency" give the game away. You are not at all comfortable with nationalism as it is manifesting in Aotearoa. That is fine, but it is a position which you should openly acknowledge as your own, rather than hiding behind the mythical 15% of voters who will supposedly desert the NZLP if nationalist sentiment is given its head in this country.

Doug Longmire said...

Well said Chris.
It is becoming clearer by the day to all of us that the government is,in fact, comitting the Great Reset to the Brave New World.
The destruction of democracy, establishing a racist dictatorship.
The centralization of all power and authority.
The impoverishment of our nation in the name of Climate Change (Hello ! - "it's a matter of LIFE and DEATH)In a situation where New Zealand's CO2 emissions are 0.17% of human global CO2 emissions, and we simply make no difference.
George Orwell described this is his book, 1984.

Anonymous said...

So I heard a rumour that the National Party has been facilitating transnational crime for a decade. Does anyone know whether that's true?

sumsuch said...

Climate change is '500' times the 30s crisis. Except we come at this species extinction from the comfort side. Mounting comfort, like heating up crayfish. We've never encountered that challenge before, why we're fucking it up.

Labour, attached to the teat of focus groups since the 'winter of discontent' in '99 is peculiarly unprepared to do 'revolution'. We need an Asimov 'mule', an unpredictable introduction beyond the forecasts of the comfortable. I can't believe in any sense Grant and Jacinda ARE NOT comfortable.

Why I suggested the humble 65-year-old former Mayor of ChCh. You and I equally don't know her name. Call her up from her library, like Lord Melbourne was called up by the Whigs.

Just a possibility for a 'mule'. If we rely on 'mules' we are lotto believers. Why movements are vital. In an era of 'letter-writers'.

Mazza said...

The real revolution, the revolution behind the"revolution", the "resistance":

amatteu said...

Thanks Chris, so good to have your voice available. Knowledgeable unbiased opinion - valuable. Cheers.

John Hurley said...

Did anyone notice the moral failure at the Counter Terrorism Hui. Hugs are fine but no one took a stand in support of Juliet Moses call for all displays of support for terrorism in NZ to be "condemned equally".

Those who walked out cited racism/wrong place to raise the issue/ we are the victims.

Professor Bronwyn Hayward walked out Tweeting that "we need a more thoughtful way to have these (important) listening conversations" .

That is an insidious call for Marcuse's "Repressive Tolerance". Which means they decide whose voices should be heard and Juliet Moses shouldn't have been there*.

How much Repressive Tolerance is already practiced by our media?: if you know an issue fairly well and who the big hitters are it isn't hard to detect (it is either that or ignorance).

For example Q&A on immigration: Paul Spoonley; Arthur Grimes; Oscar Knightly; Arama Rata. Absent Michael Reddell and what about Greg Clydesdale expelled from Massey by Spoonley, McPherson etc?

On Bronwyn Hayward's Twitter feed someone asks "who are the hosts?" -Huh?. Hayward says she is looking forward to the kawa of Ngai tahu.

Of course the criticism of RT is "who deicides?" and there is your answer: the wallies who hang out at UC Woke.

Anonymous said...


"The second question you raise is whether this is a popular movement or whether it is an elitist cause largely driven by elements within the state, as was the case with the Labour Party's last adventure in radical reform, the economic restructuring of the nineteen eighties."

It's several elitist causes being driven by Silicon Valley and hedge funds will long term investments in so-called renewables (mostly mining).

Check the grantmaking of this "charity" - it's political funding:

greywarbler said...

namaste is a soft word of welcome - meaning Greetings to you.
The site above starts - For the love of Earth and all beings.
The organisation is affiliated to - The Silicon Valley community foundation, the gift trust,
Philanthropy New Zealand (repeated in Maori I think).
So far, so feel-good.

They state: Our approach to philanthropy aligns with the three principles of permaculture: Earth care, people care, and fair share.

EARTH CARE - Namaste Foundation primarily supports nonprofits focused on Earth-based themes, including conservation, regeneration, and education. There is a major gap for such grantmaking, with environmental causes receiving less than 5% of traditional philanthropic funding.¹ We favor projects that are local and grassroots in nature.
PEOPLE CARE - Namaste Foundation seeks to empower nonprofits with full trust and autonomy, recognizing that most funding needs are investments in people and livelihoods. We aspire to operate in the spirit of ‘gift’, and the root definition of philanthropy: ‘love for humankind.’
FAIR SHARE - Namaste Foundation is a spend-down fund, targeting completion in 2025. We feel the context of our time calls for an accelerated approach to giving. We take a holistic view of total assets under management, through gifts, impact investment and supporting social enterprise.

Ends with - Made with recycled stardust. 100% compostable.
But I don't trust weasel words. It could be actually 100% combustible.

The realistic person knows that as humans we are devious, we rationalise, there are many ways of looking at a truth, perspective is all. The chances of the young 'smart' people on this site, being anything other than capitalists doing their idea of 'good works' and being very adequately recompensed in some way, is small. But what harm they can do? One is to prevent the poor people they work amongst from using their own knowledge and skills, but relying on gifts. Then again they may help to save the Barrier Reef etc with laboratory findings and on-site observations and local lore, that makes breakthroughs to enable the people and their piece of the planet to survive. We have to move, do stuff, not be filled with so much suspicion that we are frozen in negativity.

I suggest look to the people already doing worthwhile forward-looking practical things, who are accepted by the community and integrated with it, and help them with grants and materials, also instituting other systems to ensure that things are done efficiently or eventually the system will collapse. (The namaste idea seems to be to step back from controls, giving 'full trust and autonomy' which tends to looseness of purpose!) There can be too much optimism so that controls and measures aren't instituted leading to the system not being promoted and nurtured as needed.

Numerous pilot schemes by local people to benefit their sustainability would be a good start for seeing change to a status quo that is unconscionable. I don't trust the opinions of anyone who thinks they know all the answers, but there must be a definite attempt to change conditions and direction. This will need to not rely on politicians; they could be a part of it, but it appears at present they are deep in capitalist, technocratic thinking which will not benefit the majority of people, and only a few will have security of jobs and salaries but in deteriorating conditions of environment and society. The thinking person should always keep this in mind.

Jens Meder said...

Greywarbler - if you are trying to clarify or obfuscate something, please explain.

But if you say that philanthropy without a personal wealth creative recommendation or message in it, is not a perfect practice of compassionate capitalism, then I agree, because it does not aim for the receiver to move towards more self-sufficiency and diminishing needs for charity.