Tuesday 23 November 2021

Dissing The Farmers.

Neale vs The Revolting Farmers: One has to admire the way Capital Government Relations CEO, Neale Jones, covers-off all the bases of the current political zeitgeist. In a masterfully composed tweet, he lambasts the Groundswell protesters as sexists, racists and reactionaries, clinging for dear life to “a purely extractive economic model: pollute, emit, exploit, and let someone else bear the cost.” As if all capitalists don’t fit that description.

THERE’S NO DISPUTING that Neale Jones is very good at what he does. As a public relations practitioner working in Jacinda Ardern’s Wellington, he has an instinctive feel for the lines that will be remembered and re-tweeted enthusiastically by the Ardernian establishment. Jones’ tweet of this morning (22/11/21) offers an excellent example of the CEO of Capital Government Relations’ craft.

Responding to the self-styled “Mother of All Protests” organised by Groundswell, Jones tweeted:

“Aside from the casual racism and sexism, Groundswell represents a reactionary attempt to cling to a purely extractive economic model: pollute, emit, exploit, and let someone else bear the cost.”

One has to admire the way Jones covers-off all the bases of the current political zeitgeist. Right up front there is the reference to the opponent’s “casual” racism and sexism. The use of the word “casual” is instructive in this context.

That all men are sexists, and all White people racists, are core axioms of the Identity Politics that dominates all aspects of official life in the capital city. No Pakeha male operating in this environment would be so foolish (or career limiting) as to deny either his sexism or his racism. Were he to do so he would be denying the systemic character of these entrenched structures of privilege. Instead, he would offer his assurance that he was “working” on his sexism and racism. Not with any real expectation of becoming a better person, you understand, but in hopes of not becoming a worse one.

That’s why the word “casual” is so important. Jones’ charge is that the farmers behind the Groundswell protests are so antediluvian, so Neanderthalic, that they are either unaware of the gender and ethnic privileges they enjoy – enabling them to engage in sexist and racist behaviour quite unconsciously. Or, that the social milieu in which they operate is so saturated with misogyny, homophobia and racism, that they have grown accustomed to voicing their prejudices “casually” – without the slightest fear of reproof.

Having successfully consigned these moral ingrates to the ninth circle of Woke Hell (in an admirably economical seven words) Jones then moves on to the central charge of his tweet. Groundswell, he asserts, represents “a reactionary attempt to cling to a purely extractive economic model: pollute, emit, exploit, and let someone else bear the cost.”

Let’s unpick this statement forensically.

The first thing to note is that it is phrased in the language of classical socialism, as well as the rhetoric of classical environmentalism. The importance of this mix will become clear presently.

The first thing to note, however, is that the farmers organising the Groundswell protests aren’t just sexists and racists, they are “reactionaries”. The choice of epithet is important, because “reactionary” grounds the word’s user in the political landscape of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

According to Wikipedia, a Reactionary “is a person who holds political views that favour a return to the status quo ante, the previous political state of society, which that person believes possessed positive characteristics absent from contemporary society.” Synonyms for reactionary include: archconservative, die-hard, hidebound, traditional and unprogressive.

Historically-speaking, “reactionary” described the politics of the dynastic regimes which did all within their power to extirpate the ideas and institutions spawned by the French Revolution, and then spread across Europe by the armies of Napoleon Bonaparte. In the first half of the twentieth century, however, “Reaction” became a catch-all term, applied to those who stood against the forces unleashed by the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.

So, it is a very heavy word to use in a political conversation. To be a “reactionary” is to set your face not only against the future, but also against the present – making you a very dangerous person (or group of people) indeed.

The danger is lessened, however, when Jones describes these farmer reactionaries as “clinging” to the expectations and practices of the past. Now, who “clings”? Frightened children – to their mother’s skirts. Mountain-climbers – for dear life on a vertiginous cliff-face. Lovers – desperate not to lose the object of their affections. All rather pathetic, all rather desperate. Anybody, or anything, that clings is not strong, or, at least, not in a strong position. In this instance the “cling-ee” is the “purely extractive economic model” which, because the “cling-ers” are reactionaries, must be a thing of the past.

And, just to make sure that Jones’ readers understand how very bad that past was, the elements of the “purely extractive economic model” are spat out like bullets to remind them: “pollute, emit, exploit, and let someone else bear the cost.”

This is the classic formula of old-school environmentalism. Of the Values Party – forerunner of the Greens. Of the many activist conservation movements of the 1970s and 80s, which condemned the “rip-in, rip-out, rip-off” mentality of miners, loggers, fishing companies and, yes, farmers. You’ve got to hand it to Jones, this is a truly masterful evocation. These sexist, racist, cockies aren’t just the backward-looking enemies of social progress, they are, Jones implies, the foes of Mother Earth herself.

If you were commissioned to lay the groundwork for a full-scale assault upon the New Zealand farming sector, launched in the name of Aotearoa “meeting its responsibilities” in the global effort against Climate Change, you could hardly have made a better start. Small wonder that the people organising the Groundswell protests are driving Federated Farmers and Dairy NZ to distraction. With “friends” like these blokes, the farming industry doesn’t really need enemies!

The genuinely inspired quality of Jones’ tweet is, of course, the way it appears to banish the “purely extractive economic model” to the dark recesses of history. Like the Divine Right of Kings, the ideas of these “reactionary” farmers are relics of a bygone era. The forces of social and economic progress are moving onwards and upwards. Those who refuse to join them in their heroic ascent towards the light, must resign themselves to living in the shadows.

Except, of course, it is all misdirection and disinformation. The “purely extractive economic model”, far from being a relic of the past, is still the driving force behind the entire capitalist system. “[P]ollute, emit, exploit, and let someone else bear the cost.” That isn’t just the disgraceful formula of colonial-era farmers who clear-felled the forests and drained the wetlands, it is the purest contemporary essence of actually existing capitalism the world over.

New Zealand’s farmers are not reactionary throwbacks, yearning for a world that has gone forever, they are stressed-out twenty-first century capitalists, some of whom came to town last Sunday (21/11/21) to remind the very capitalist government of this very capitalist country, that if it intends to go on monetizing her golden eggs, then it should remove its choking regulatory fingers from around the neck of the Golden Rural Goose.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Tuesday, 23 November 2021.


Odysseus said...

Jones' tweet helpfully distils the current ruling clique's contempt for farmers, who represent the last bulwark of independence and free enterprise in the economy. Stalin would likely have tweeted something similar when he waged war on the Kulaks en route to the collectivization of Soviet agriculture. And yet farming has never been more important for New Zealand. Dairying sustains us just as oil once supported Venezuelans. No matter, as the Socialist ruling clique in Venezuela have shown, you can strangle the economy and still look after yourselves very well while everyone else is denied access to food or medical supplies. After all, some animals are more equal than others.

oneblokesview said...

Just remember your dis the farmer comments Chris, next time you eat vegtables or NZ grown meat.

With out farming and the generations of farmers (keep in mind the huge Maori agriculture, Dairy holdings) WHat the #$%%! would you be eating.

Without the rural sector and its export dollars, who the $^&&&& would generate the overseas funds for you to buy your fancy car?

Just saying. Putting blinkers on and having your anti farmer rant looks a bit childish from where I sit.

However I did like the put down of the Chief Spinmeister in Jacindas office.

theRelic said...

not often i make the effort to post anything despite having much to say, due to poor keyboard skills & some over thinking it can take up to an hr to produce something which is blocked arbitarily & i now believe it not best use of my time.
i'm 64 & have read your pieces over the years - i wasn't political & can't remember subject matter but my impression was left. i have been forced to include politics because it has forced it's way into our homes & i recently came across your work on "daily blog". Have to say martin bradbury's bullying, insulting, deceiving & shrieking of talking points is shameful, he is part of the problem & he should retire.
your deconstruction of this judas jones "article" is spot on, a little wordy, but accurate & probably overdue. there is so much involved in our current predicament i have again taken too much time so for what it's worth going to just put couple ideas down & stop
english language & prob others are multi faceted. so many ways to say things / word choice & large vocab allow more accurate comms & can be structured to shape perception which U expose here so well.
when combined with a captured media, spoon fed questions & active suppression of counter point it is at best advetorial / propaganda at worst betrayal of the people they swear to serve.
the fact Winston has not been knighted - shame or has he already rejected it
last thing & reason i made effort - here is my team to Make Aoteoroa Great Again ... Winston, Sandra Goudie, Kim . Com
& me - here is the rationale: Winston as U say has Mana, contacts, experience, handle tova O"mg & wee terrier jack russell.. i mean tame, better than jl. ross & he is a New Zealander at heart - flawed like us all - not a schwab.
Sandra Goudie - her & W should have things in common she also has priceless experience in local govt etc she also should b highly motivated having been recently made an example of
but she too a tough cookie who sensible & media hardened ( just had vision of shreiking bradbury in black block picketing her Thames office.
Kim . Com also got lots of experience, skin in game, has global reach & understands big tech, innovator.
all of these people have large ready made potential supporters looking for better representation - Goudie going to get all those who happy to be vaccinated but not prepared to b pressured into getting "jabbed". that is an unprecedented voter base to start a party on .... add Winston & the grey army getting shafted, shamed & pillaged by new normal.
now finally the force multiplier - they take this Dream Team global thru Alex Jones who would have them on in a heartbeat prob give them a regular spot - he often mentions NZ, world is watching & Winston be a coup for Jones ! then as a result of them going on the show media here have to cover it - prob by mocking etc but too late - next they meet with Donald J.

Shane McDowall said...


Where did the farmers' tractors come from ? Where did the diesel that powers them come from?

The fencing wire. The concrete. The milking machines. The ute. The motorcycles.

Farmers today would starve to death if they lost the technology and products that come from cities.

Farmers have never given a shit about anyone else in New Zealand, but they expect us to worship the ground they walk on.

No farm is an island.

Jens Meder said...

It is mightily reassuring to see the fact acknowledged here, that serious world conquering capitalism began with the invention of, and investment in agriculture - and its indisputable - even if not intended - corollary, that survival of our current billions of population on Earth is impossible without serious rural and urban capitalism.

Therefore, for the sake of more egalitarian fairness and democracy, should not a systematic effort secure direct participation in capitalism by all citizens (e.g. through the $1000.- (unconditional) Kiwi Saver kick-start from birth), which could also help to prevent us slipping into totalitarian State Monopoly Capitalism? ?

Furthermore, as it is almost certain(?) that capitalism alone cannot maintain the sustainability of current living standards for unlimited numbers of population growth,
should not some form of population growth restriction be introduced, which would reduce poverty and the consumption of resources ?

Anonymous said...

Ardern's team use the politics of hate. Whether it be marginalised teens in South Auckland who were just following government covid advice, young Maori mums having OT turning up at births, remote towns with no vaxxing amenities, landlords regulated out of rentals,Opposition leaders speaking doing their job for the country, Labour cabinet ministers that could be rivals, now it's farmers protesting NZs largest industry. She exists on the public hating anyone that doesn't fit her narrative or gets in her way.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I think Bob Jones of all people got it right when he said – the transport system is the engine of the New Zealand economy. One of the few times I ever agreed with Bob Jones.

Anonymous said...

Where did the farmers' tractors come from ? Where did the diesel that powers them come from?

Its that ambidextrous waffle that this site specialises in...... its not a situation as to where the buck stops Shane..... but it is as sure as hell a situation of where it starts.

The woke are slow to wake, they dream on, believing that their world depends on controlling distribution

Chris Morris said...

Bit of an own goal there in your stupid comment Shane.
Where did the tractors, diesel, wire ute motor cycles and probably half the cement and milking machines come from? Overseas. And how were they paid for along with about half the cellphone and TV and other consumer goods you have? The foreign exchange we earn from agriculture.
There is very little of our goods produced in cities. They are mainly service economies. Very little is manufactured here now. If you want tit for tat, where does your food come from? A private allotment? If not, you are a hypocrite

greywarbler said...

the Relic
Good on you for having a go at thinking about our conundrum in NZ. So many people spend their time choosing new furniture, or a new tank, or chasing moments of pure pleasure, and not to worry about people who are on the basics and always on edge. So having said that I stick up for Bradbury because it is a task to wake up sleepy or easily diverted NZs. He sticks at it and you can always tell him off about a particularly awful offering he makes - he won't put it up probably but I think he would read it if approached from a fair, reasoned viewpoint.

greywarbler said...

Anonymous If your mummy was bossy and censorious on you, take it up with her and don't project it onto Prime Minister Ardern. She is not just an authority figure for you to kick against,; at the worst go outside and kick a ickey Mouse pillow.

Shane McDowall said...

So the farm machinery and vehicles were manufactured overseas. I had no idea.

Thank you for enlightening me oh Enlightened One.

My food comes from a supermarket, same as yours.

Shane McDowall said...

What exactly is "ambidextrous waffle"?

You need to go back to q-anon with all the other right-wing nutters.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to read an analysis of word choice. This is where I believe that Ardern excels, in selecting words and phrases that elicit the response she wants. Have watched with amusement over the last year where she used "we caught x number of cases at the border" to describe the numbers of individuals returning with covid. Caught has connotations of competence and "safe hands" on her part, and evil wring doers on the part of the returnees who apparently want to infect the pristine purity that is New Zealand with that "tricky" virus. All very puerile but apparently effective. The tweet you analysed bristles with arrogance and seek to dismiss any and all concerns of the protest through snideness, generalisations and nasty metaphorical Lang age. Please tell me people can see this for wha it would is.

Anonymous said...

I would imagine an ambidextrous waffler to be one who 'waffles' (or words to that effect) with both hands.

Anonymous said...

q-anon dictionary. Ambidextrous waffle: Rubbish speak from one who cannot determine left from right

andrew314159 said...

I enjoyed your dissection of that statement. There could be a career waiting for your talents to assist us lay people to understand what we are being told to think.

Michael Johnston said...

Shane. Your food comes from a supermarket. Really? They have a veggie patch out the back I assume.

Shane McDowall said...

No, but they do have one in Pukekohe and an orchard in Hawke Bay. Sadly, both are being over run by suburbia, just like what happened in west Auckland.

Anonymous said...

It's probably just as well that I'm living abroad at the moment. If I was back home in Wellington I'm not sure that I would be able to overcome the temptation to smash Neale Jones in mouth. Arrogant sod.