Monday 5 September 2022

Sounds of Silence.

Comforting Generational Voice: The end of one era in New Zealand broadcasting, and the beginning of another, is being met with widespread public indifference.

A SIGN OF THE TIMES every bit as telling as Paula Penfold’s shock at anti-vaxxers’ hatred for the mainstream media. That the folk who once cried “Hands off National Radio!” have greeted the imminent demise of Radio New Zealand with … silence. The folding of Radio New Zealand and Television New Zealand into “Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media” (ANZPM) an “autonomous Crown entity”, is supposed to be complete by 1 March 2023. This, the end of one era in New Zealand broadcasting, and the beginning of another, has so far been met with widespread public indifference.

Over the past five years, Radio New Zealand’s hitherto ferociously loyal listeners have lost almost all their passion for public radio. Some, aggrieved by the “Maorification” of National Radio, have simply stopped listening. Others, aware that there is nothing better on offer from the private stations, have continued to tune-in – albeit in a mood of sullen resignation. That the station’s programming is uninterrupted by advertisements offers some small consolation.

These listeners skew decisively towards well-educated members of the Pakeha middle-class, 55 years  and over. Given the average New Zealander’s longevity, these listeners have another twenty years of “loyalty” in them before they, and Radio New Zealand’s core audience, give up the ghost. The key challenge facing ANZPM, therefore, is to formulate a schedule that will attract and hold the ears and eyes of the post-Baby Boomer generations.

This is not going to be easy. Historically-speaking, the whole point of public broadcasting – both here in New Zealand and across the Western World – has been to mold the political consciousness and cultural tastes of the middle-class in such a way that they become the state’s most reliable reservoir of “common sense”. Though values and tastes change, the existence of this group – the prime generators of reliable “public opinion” – has, until relatively recently, constituted public broadcasting’s greatest achievement.

At the heart of their success lies the public broadcasters’ preservation, and occasional renovation, of the nation’s core narrative. Or, to cast them in a slightly more heroic light, they have acted as “nation builders”. Their mission: to promote their country’s diversity without sacrificing its unity. Capturing many reflections, but all within a single mirror. Until recently, New Zealand public broadcasters were doing this pretty well.

Perhaps attributable to our post-modern era’s obsession with deconstruction: its determination to put an end to all “grand narratives” in favour of relativism and subjectivism; the West’s broadcasters’ drive for unity has, of late, appeared to weaken. In New Zealand, the post-modernists’ deconstructivist urges have gone hand-in-hand with the rise of Māori nationalism. The latter’s determination to “decolonise” the Pakeha settler state and “indigenise” New Zealand society, has seized at least some of our public broadcasters’ imaginations as a mission worthy of the new ANZPM.

Certainly, the ANZPM’s Charter will set down “clear expectations” for the new broadcaster’s relationship with tangata whenua. It will be te Tiriti affirming and at least two out of ANZPM’s nine-member board will have to be fully conversant with the language, values and practices of te Ao Māori. In light of the stipulations of New Zealand On Air’s Public Interest Journalism Fund, the new public broadcaster is likely to operate under an exhaustive set of “partnership” protocols.

One can only speculate as to how the initial radio broadcasts of ANZPM will strike the ears of Radio New Zealand’s present audience. If the enthusiasm of the current Broadcasting Minister, Willie Jackson, for enhancing the Māori and Pasifika output of the new public broadcaster and “combatting misinformation” is any indication of its future content, then further defections can be expected. Not all of those switching-off will do so sadly and privately. With ANZPM due to hit the airwaves at the beginning of March in an election year, it is hard to imagine the opposition parties not being invited to weaponise its allegedly “woke” programme schedule.

Regardless of partisan loyalties, there will be those who look at the new structure with a certain measure of apprehension. ANZPM is going to be a mighty big beast, with more than enough muscle to dominate New Zealand’s media space.

Relieved of the obligation to return a dividend to the state, the television arm of ANZPM will be able to sell advertising at cost – to the obvious disadvantage of its private sector competition. In its outreach to the young and the ethnically diverse, the new public media entity will find it hard not to step very heavily on the toes of private radio. While printing presses form no part of its remit, ANZPM will be up there online with NZME and Stuff.

Pledged to “meeting its audience where they are” the ANZPM board might think it wise to equip itself with a truly nationwide news-gathering service. With over $100 million for capital investment, how long will it be before ANZPM ’s newsrooms, video and radio production facilities, and live broadcasts become the “places to be” for every talented journalist in the country?

The problems confronting the private sector media would not be limited to ANZPM’s scale and scope, and the competitive challenges they represent. The long-term risk must surely be that ANZPM’s public status, its editorial independence, and the creative freedoms thus conferred, will eventually eclipse the efforts of all media operations encumbered with less generous shareholders. How long will it be before these profit-driven enterprises cry “foul”?

And they might not be the only ones with a grievance. At least some of the voters might come to look upon ANZPM as a state-owned media behemoth stuffed choc-full with left-wingers of all kinds, and sufficiently resourced to dictate the terms of, and easily dominate, the media’s political coverage.

Inevitably, ANZPM’s need for an audience to replace the dwindling eyes and ears of the Baby Boomers must lead it towards the younger generations of New Zealanders. It is to their values and tastes that the cultural production of the big public broadcaster will inevitably be attuned.

The political consequences of such an orientation are equally inevitable. The material aspirations of younger New Zealanders, their easy-going acceptance of co-governance and other Boomer bogeymen, plus their rock-solid determination to take climate change seriously, make it unlikely that the neoliberal economic and political axioms of their elders will be tolerated for very much longer.

The fear of those same elders is that the material broadcast by the new ANZPM will only hasten the day when their cherished values and tastes are rudely overwhelmed. A hard core of them are already convinced that Radio New Zealand has successfully unleashed its own version of the Cultural Revolution. Hence their unwillingness to get too excited about Radio New Zealand’s imminent demise.

No matter how unkind, it is tempting to further discombobulate these grumpy old-timers by shouting: “Comrades, you ain’t seen nothing yet!”

This essay was originally posted on the website on Monday, 5 September 2022.


Geoff said...

I agree entirely with the thrust of your argument.
I am an older cis/white male,(hiss/boo etc) and have given up on TVNZ/RNZ many years ago as being capable of delivering unbiased coverage on almost any subject one cares to name.
It is my firm belief the public good would be best served by their total closure/sale. A pity Roger Douglas did not do so in 1984 !
Their collective patronising condescension is insufferable, and they generally offer nothing for the enquiring mind .

Brendan McNeill said...

"Perhaps attributable to our post-modern era’s obsession with deconstruction: its determination to put an end to all “grand narratives” in favour of relativism and subjectivism; the West’s broadcasters’ drive for unity has, of late, appeared to weaken."

Nowhere has the determination to end our historical "Grand Narrative", forged from the past 1,000 years of Western Civilisation and underpinned by Christianity, been more determined than in our State owned Universities and Media.

It is deeply ironic that without a grand narrative, one that is essentially religious, there is no foundation upon which to build national unity. Combative tribalism, partisanship and strife is our alternative destiny. Eventually, weakened through internal dissent, even civil war, the tribes are overcome by a competing and supremely confident nation.

We are presently in a time of transition having extinguished our former grand narrative, but not yet formally decided on the new. Will the religion of 'woke' prevail, or are we simply waiting for the PRC to make us a non-negotiable offer? Is it possible we might return to the grand narrative of our past?

Few on the right of politics will lament the demise of RNZ, although its reincarnation may produce a beast more partisan. RNZ may have been a force for unity a generation ago, but it has a different mission today.

boudicca said...

I'm over 55 and long ago gave up on RNZ. When I can listen to various overseas broadcasters online and on YouTube which "agree" with my anti-woke world view, why would I bother

swordfish said...

You're not wrong. Previously a regular listener of RNZ ... now find it increasingly hard to stomach.

Ludicrous moral lecturing & hectoring from Woke wannabe elites ... as pompous & self-regarding as they are socially-ignorant & crudely deluded in their understanding of reality.

David George said...

Willie Jackson, as you say, has emphasised that, apparently above all else, the new State Media's focus will be on Maori and Pacific race and culture. Pakeha culture and interests barely acknowledged, a mere afterthought. Apparently we can still keep Country Calendar; thanks Willie. I wouldn't have thought, in a free and democratic country, that media content and direction were the plaything of the Government and it's ministers. Part of the 'tweaking" involved in our "new version of democracy?

I no longer listen to Nat. Radio or watch TV (The Chase and Country Calendar excepted); they're either insultingly childish or blatantly coercive, sounds like they're determined to make them worse in that regard. People have an instinctive recognition for, and an aversion to, manipulation; good luck getting folk to listen or watch your dodgy State Mega Media.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

" they generally offer nothing for the enquiring mind ."

Then you can't have a very inquiring mind.

"Nowhere has the determination to end our historical "Grand Narrative", forged from the past 1,000 years of Western Civilisation and underpinned by Christianity, been more determined than in our State owned Universities and Media."

And thank God for that Brendan given that it is a grand narrative of war rapine and plunder, particularly the Christian part."

"It is deeply ironic that without a grand narrative, one that is essentially religious, there is no foundation upon which to build national unity"

I couldn't speak to the irony, but I will say that that is completely untrue. The more religious a country is, the worse its stats seem to be, and often the less unified it is. Funny, you want nationalism yet you bitch and moan about Islamic nationalism. About which of course you are theologically unqualified to comment.

Gosh David you're missing out on so much by not listening to national radio. Catherine Ryan regularly interviews small business people to ask them about how they became successful. As does Kim Hill, as do whoever does that Sunday and afternoon programs these days And 'no advertising' be damned.
It's once in a blue moon and you're lucky to come across it that she actually has someone from a trade union on so I'd have thought it was really your cup of tea.
Of course she does reasonably often interview brown people so I guess you're trying to avoid that?

Odysseus said...

This is an exciting step forward in Aotearoa's progress towards joining the Eastern bloc, albeit 35 years late. Our very own version of Rundfunk der DDR! Congratulations and many bouquets are due to our State Broadcasting Committee and its ineffable Minister Comrade Willie.

David George said...

I don't think many are overly concerned what happens to TVNZ and Nat Radio, in view of Jackson and Co's comments they should be about the intent.

It looks and smells like State Media are to be reconfigured as weapons in an ideological war, servient to the cornerstone He Puapua agenda. Overly dramatic? We'll see, but there's no doubt that the questions around co-governance and iwi control are going to be front and centre in the next election; what better way to subvert and influence opinion than directly control the media. Weasels!

Barry said...

Chris - you assuming many more than actually listen to RNZ.
as an example is me. 10 years ago I would be listening to RNZ right now (Tuesday 11.09am) but Im watching Youtube video of how the Roman Empire was organised.
When I get in the car its ZM especially if its morning or the midday rural hour (its excellent).
If Im at my PC its the Platform I listen to.
In the evening its Youtube or Netflix or Veely. Usually its Youtube videos of things like Uncommon Knowledge or International Affairs or Oxford Union presentations or Royal Institue lectures or farming around the world.
Ive even given up on Saturday morning Kim Hill since shes gone all LGBTetc or chasing some very unusual author.
And whats more - none of my 4 children -well theyre 40+ - even know of RNZ let alone listen to it.

Brendan McNeill said...

Dear GS

Good on you for pushing back against the historical benefits of Western Civilisation.

Dissent is not so easy for those living under the PRC, nor was it ‘cost free’ for those who lived under the former glorious Soviet Union. Deconstruction is always easier than building anything, particularly an enduring civilisation. Let’s see how long Woke lasts before it implodes on its own purity tests.

However I give you full marks for consistency.

Kat said...

"Ive even given up on Saturday morning Kim Hill since shes gone all LGBTetc or chasing some very unusual author......."

What frequency are you tuned into Barry, there surely can't be two Kim Hill's. The one I listen to doesn't sound anything like you describe, quite the opposite. If you tune into the Kim Hill I listen to you would, for example, have heard the brilliant Irish journalist and author Fintan O'Toole. His recent book "We don't know ourselves" is a fascinating and compelling read. There are many similarities between Ireland and New Zealand and much for us here in "Godzone" to learn from Ireland's national transformation.

Shane McDowall said...

RNZ still provides the best hourly news service. And that's about it.

I did learn from RNZ how crappy Pre-European Maori music was. Flutes with about two notes.

TVNZ can't get any worse than it is now. To think their 5pm anchor show is five year old episodes of The Chase. If TVNZ does get a good show, like Gotham, they start the show at 11pm... on a weekday.

They would be better off playing shows from the 70s and 80s during daytime week days.

Archduke Piccolo said...

Guerilla Surgeon makes some cogent points, but on the whole I agree with Geoff and others, who find the 'state broadcaster' a little too smug, a little too self-righteous, and a little too much the Tory echo-chamber to offer a satisfactory medium of information. What is really vexing - and this is as true of the printed media - is being told what to think. I 'went off' Kim Hill eventually for two reasons. The main one was one was never quite sure whom Ms Hill was interviewing: her interlocutor, or herself. This led to the other, a tendency to let her own views, especially when at variance with those of her interviewee, to take centre stage. It is all very well and good to challenge someone's point of view, but it would have been kinda nice to hear the person complete a thought - or even a sentence. Perhaps she was and is best with non-controversial topics. I wouldn't know; I haven't listened to Kim Hill in years (I actually thought she had retired years ago).

Twenty-odd years ago the BBC radio was my 'go to' scene for world affairs - coming handily on air whilst cooking dinner - but the rapid transition from something with at least a veneer of non-partisanship into a candidly pro-Tory mouthpiece has long since turned me away. The New Zealand MSM has always been pretty sus, always to be taken 'cum grano salis', owing to a decidedly 'Blue' political leaning. These days the saline condiment has to be shovelled on too thickly for credible listenability.


David George said...

Thanks for the advice GS.
Look, I know you delight in being disagreeable, if not outright offensive, but how about toning it down a bit. It's getting a bit weird.

greywarbler said...

GS You are very cheering to read because I know that you want NZ to be a bright, intelligent place where we are encouraged to have working brains and a country with a body and heart. Those who don't bother to interact with our local input, our own quality thinkers and what they are considering or revealing, are not really part of the country at all, their minds have wandered and will lose touch with those around them even before dementia sets in.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Weird David? Are you somehow looking for political correctness from me? Or are you trying to censor my freedom of speech? I realise that sometimes pointing out your little hypocrisies might make you uncomfortable, but I'm not necessarily trying to be offensive, but to perhaps make you think in a slightly lighthearted way. But I've always said that conservatives have very little sense of humour, so I may well be pissing into the wind here.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Brendan – you realise that communism is the result of Western civilisation right? You don't get much more Western than Karl Marx.
As usual Brendan you seem to think that anyone to the left of Genghiz Khan wishes to live in North Korea. Or you just suggest it in a cynical way, I'm not sure. I've mentioned this before, but you keep coming up with the same old stuff. Still if it keeps you amused.

David George said...

It's not a case of not "bothering" to interact with local news and opinion Grey. Speaking for myself, it's a conscious decision to reject lies and distortion; I'd rather be ill informed than misinformed. Faith in the media is at the lowest level ever - and falling. Is that because people have become overly cynical or disinterested? Perhaps they suspect they're being treated like fools, lied to and mislead.

I read quite widely and help financially support one local rightwing blog site (The BFD) and one international site (UnHerd) but I'll be damned if I'm going to be coerced into reading or listening to the infantile drivel and blatant bullshit that characterises our, so called, news media. Sorry.

From her resignation letter to the once great New York Times, Bari Weiss:

"All this bodes ill, especially for independent-minded young writers and editors paying close attention to what they’ll have to do to advance in their careers. Rule One: Speak your mind at your own peril. Rule Two: Never risk commissioning a story that goes against the narrative. Rule Three: Never believe an editor or publisher who urges you to go against the grain. Eventually, the publisher will cave to the mob, the editor will get fired or reassigned, and you’ll be hung out to dry.

For these young writers and editors, there is one consolation. As places like The Times and other once-great journalistic institutions betray their standards and lose sight of their principles, Americans still hunger for news that is accurate, opinions that are vital, and debate that is sincere. I hear from these people every day. “An independent press is not a liberal ideal or a progressive ideal or a democratic ideal. It’s an American ideal,” you said a few years ago. I couldn’t agree more. America is a great country that deserves a great newspaper.

None of this means that some of the most talented journalists in the world don’t still labor for this newspaper. They do, which is what makes the illiberal environment especially heartbreaking. I will be, as ever, a dedicated reader of their work. But I can no longer do the work that you brought me here to do—the work that Adolph Ochs described in that famous 1896 statement: “to make of the columns of The New York Times a forum for the consideration of all questions of public importance, and to that end to invite intelligent discussion from all shades of opinion.”

Ochs’s idea is one of the best I’ve encountered. And I’ve always comforted myself with the notion that the best ideas win out. But ideas cannot win on their own. They need a voice. They need a hearing. Above all, they must be backed by people willing to live by them."

David George said...

Oops, that should read "I'd rather be uninformed than misinformed".

Kat said...

"I'd rather be uninformed than misinformed".

Ah ha, Gerald Bostock is amongst us....

greywarbler said...

David George
You show your prejudice against NZ thinkers by damning them all, and referring particularly to the local media. There are other thinkers than whom appear in the media, which (humour here) often 'lie in their teeth which are false', or tell half-truths, slant news to suit a supportive sector eg real estate one, imported retail consumerism, the big banks, or present a middle-class cultural viewpoint or interest. They may place items that are sponsored pieces which they will declare honestly, but which mainly help the paper's appearance of content. The world news, and our understanding of what humans elsewhere are doing is, in stuff, limited to USA interest and effects, apart from the odd freak event. So newspapers and magazines are suspect, so why would I keep getting my paper delivered?

Well that's because I don't give up on everything in a throwaway manner, I support written news on paper, not dependence on momentary electronics which are owned by people or corpse', which count scruples on the debit side of the ledger. I am anxious about our society, to keep informed on what is happening to it, and what explanations there are about that. Knowing some Great Mind's thoughts is useful, but then I look for what evidence there is of what was said. Spouting erudite stuff in a lordly manner makes me think, but how can the suggestions make things better for all of us, and the planet? What about the children!!

A lot of what we hear from all around is how to fit into present society. But that is not working satisfactorily for all and the planet, so we must change from what we have done for centuries; that's uncomfortable. There are huge drifts of people piled up begging, in the midst of a supposed economy that is buoyant, though having a short-term decline; we seem to be in a new industrial age. We know about conditions in that age if we have bothered to educate ourselves thoroughly! We should halt that right now, But how, what is best and will leave us in good condition to adapt to climate change? Listening to factual news won't do it, we have ignored all we needed to know satisfactorily to us, in the last 50 years. Think, join with other thinkers who care about our great world, and design specifications for one that cares about our universal humanity.

Or lose it! As Fagin sang in Oliver on methods of reshaping his life - 'I think I'd better think it out again!' We haven't much time. Can we work shoulder to shoulder in good faith with each other and stop worshipping money and real estate speculation as a way of life, or its underpinnings? Put that way it sounds pretty hollow as a belief system to me. What about all youse out there?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

The problem is David, that you will believe any old random source on the Internet as long as it positions itself as beyond the "MSM" and suggests it has hidden knowledge of some sort.
What you don't realise is that the "MSM" gets it right most of the time – if you cared to give some examples of infantile drivel, blatant Bullshit, lies and distortion I'd be a bit happier, but you never seem to.
And you go on quoting Bari Weiss – that really takes balls of steel, given that she spent much of her university career trying to stop people from giving others access to a story that goes against the narrative. You consistently ignore her complete hypocrisy, and lies about her resignation. I can't see how you can still quote the woman without cringing to be honest – but you seem to manage the cognitive dissonance quite well.
God help us, supporting Cameron Slater's blog. As I may have said before thats low even for you. The man is a mine of misinformation, disinformation, lies and bullshit. You've perhaps heard that he'd been sued into bankruptcy for lying? I'm sorry, if you believe him you'd believe anyone – point made.
If you want infantile drivel, try going to some of those right-wing places – Ben Shapiro for instance who insisted that "Say – hypothetically – the sea level rises by 10 feet. Don't you think those people on the Coast would sell their houses and move somewhere else?"
Surely even you might say "Sell to whom – fish?"
Time after time David you go on about some sort of mythical antidemocratic left wing group trying to take over the country/world – members of which you can't name, and neither can your hero Jordan Peterson – while ignoring the actual antidemocratic moves by right wingers all over the world. There's a huge beam in your eye there David, time you removed it.

David George said...

Are people up for the truth, willing to confront it and to shoulder the burden of what it tells? What happens when the easy attractions of the expedient, comforting and convenient lie are preferred.

Another great essay from Mary Harrington:

"What if, in fact, the threat to democracy is real, but the battle is already lost? What if, in fact, the West stopped trying to form democratic citizens some time ago? And what if this is a problem not just in America, but across the entire democratic world?"

"Delving into the interlocking histories of print, Christianity and democracy, the author argued that all three of these combined to create a particular type of subject well-suited to democratic governance. And, he suggests, the principal means by which such democratic subjects were shaped was long-form reading.

Long-form reading builds up an interlinked base of knowledge, held in long-term memory, that you can use to think with. But sustained engagement with long-form text also creates the capacity for abstract thinking, inner life as such, and a shared belief in objective standards and the value of deliberation."

Conclusion: "And if I’m right, it won’t matter how devoted older conservatives are to the print era’s flagship political form. If we just aren’t making the kind of people who founded that system, the system will become something new. And then, to paraphrase one of the great Left-wing authoritarians of the last century, Leon Trotsky: you may not be interested in Caesarism, but Caesarism will be interested in you."

pdm said...

As long as the Maori Activist Willie Jackson does not touch or Nationalise NewstalkZB I will probably be ok.

The over use of Maori on TVNZ is moving me to TV3 or whatever it is called these days - just have to persuade mrspdm to agree - Country Calendar and the Chase excepted. Thank goodness for Peta Credlin, Andrew Bolt and Paul Murray as well as Sky Sport now they have cricket back.

Anonymous said...

This government has successfully managed to divide and distract the working class by getting us to fight among ourselves over stupid culture wars, instead of fighting back against low wages, expensive food/housing and growing inequality. A declining standard of living is what most New Zealanders have in common now, including the 'Once Were Middle Class'.
Given the co-governance and Three Waters 'grand theft' being foisted upon us by extremist Maori iwi elitists and their sycophantic Pakeha friends, at the considerable cost of democracy, social unity, and public trust in government institutions, on top of our current housing/health/education/economic crises, I feel there is very little public appetite for a bloated taxpayer-funded broadcaster pumping out what will be perceived by most as government propaganda. I certainly won't be listening, and I'm under 55.
Particularly any radio or TV station promoting this ridiculous myth that the Treaty of Waitangi was ever intended to be a "partnership" between the Crown and Maori, meaning that 16% of the "indigenous" part-Maori population are entitled to significantly more legal rights, funding and cushy govt jobs than the rest of us foreign "colonial" imported bastards who were born here as well, but not into wealth.
Like many non-Maori who are seething at this covert introduction of apartheid, I'm sick to death of being told what I must believe, what I must say, what the 'true' name of my town is, having to endure endless karakia in the allegedly secular workplace in homage to non-existent spiritual over the virtue signalling, autocratic bullying and hypocrisy from the woke left - who are mostly well-paid managers with no financial worries!
Parallels with Mao's Cultural Revolution are no longer an exaggeration, which is deeply worrying...independent thinkers like me will soon find it impossible to work in the public sector, even if there is no official gulag.
As an old skool left-winger, I fear the social/ethnic divisions created by Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson, Nanaia Mahuta and all their cronies will turn out to be just as damaging for many decades as the neoliberal crimes committed by Roger Douglas, Richard Prebble and David Lange in the 80s.
This fake Labour Party must be annihilated at the next election for the good of the country, so that a truly socialist, colour-blind, non-woke, democratic party might rise from the ashes. Identity politics can fuck right off.

David George said...

Thanks for the comments and suggestions Grey and GS.
It's not just me, as I pointed out, that has lost faith in our legacy media. The recent (April '22) survey had overall trust at only 45%. Reported reasons for mistrust in the media include political bias, politicisation of media, media pushing certain social and other agenda (including climate change), media offering opinions not factual news and information, not offering a full picture of events, selective reporting, poor standard of journalism, including poor sourcing, factual mistakes, poor grammar and low standard of writing.

The Blogs are also slanted of course but at least they don't try and pretend - you know what you've got. I regularly read this one and The Daily Blog on the left and BFD, Karl Du Fresne and Kiwiblog on the right. The BFD is quite heterodox compared to most, our Chris has a regular column there and there's a lot of non political stuff - cooking, lifestyle and humour so it's not surprising that it's the most popular.

The standard of writing from our supposedly premier media is also disappointing. Indicative of weak thinking?


Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Even today, there are striking overlaps between worldwide literacy and nations that embrace some form of democracy – which correlate strongly with the prevalence of Christian belief."

Utter nonsense. Countries that embrace Christianity can easily be less democratic than countries where religious belief is at a premium. Just look at the US.

Christ on a crutch not this again – "the overuse of Maori words". A few words which are normally followed by an English translation or preceded by one. Words that actually harm no one. Don't you people get sick and tired of getting angry over shit that doesn't really effect you? You're putting yourself in heart attack country for no real reason. Oh well, as long as I don't have to pay your hospital bills.

Brendan McNeill said...

RNZ could play endless repeats of Ronald Reagan’s speeches, or Willy Jackson’s musings, it matters little if we as parents fail to pass on our cultural capital, beliefs and virtues to the next generation. That failure began in earnest 50 years ago, and the result is manifestly expressed in Rotorua’s MSD mile, homelessness, hopelessness, dysfunction and failure.

Furthermore, shootings, ram raids and school truancy have recently become an established feature of the New Zealand’s largest city landscapes. If anyone believes these social problems can be turned around by speaking more Te Reo on RNZ, renaming our institutions of State and even the St Johns Ambulance service, they are possessed by a strong delusion.

“There is no Government program that can compensate for generations of collapsed family structures and family networks. We have not figured out how to replace fathers as agents of socialisation for males.”

But yes merging RNZ with TVNZ, and rolling out a new digital platform - that’s a priority.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

“There is no Government program that can compensate for generations of collapsed family structures and family networks. We have not figured out how to replace fathers as agents of socialisation for males.”

Yeah – right. And one of the the secrets to non-collapsing family structures is to give everybody a decent job at a living wage so they can provide for their families. One of the prime causes of family breakups is money problems. We had that before you neoliberals started throwing everybody out of work or into Mac jobs.

David George said...

There's little doubt that it was Christianity, it's underlying foundational belief in the divinity of man that lead to liberal democracy as we understand it. An idea/ideal that eventually manifested in things like the abolition of slavery and universal suffrage. An essay (really a review of the book "Inventing the Individual": The Origins of Western Liberalism, by Larry Siedentop) I've referred to here previously is worth revisiting in this context:

"liberalism, secularism, human equality and natural rights, the social contract, and the shielding of the private from the public and of society from the state should not be treated as innovations of modernity in either of these ways. Instead we should understand these essential features of the modern West as products of Christianity itself."

"Hence the “embarrassment” of contemporary Europeans as they thrust away any recognition of the Christian foundations of their civilization. They have privileged the secular over the religious, and made enemies of two institutions — church and state — that grew up together as brothers. But “secularism is Christianity’s gift to the world,” Siedentop says, and it is not a doctrine of “non-belief or indifference” but a way of supplying “the conditions in which authentic beliefs should be formed and defended.” Those who raise the banner of “secularism” while they attack religious belief as retrograde, irrational, or tyrannical are sawing off the limb on which they sit.

Those on the religious side of our culture wars, who rightly worry about contemporary liberalism’s corrosive effect on moral norms of conscience and its increasing attachment to statism, should imbibe Siedentop’s caution not to mount a counterrevolution against liberalism or secularism properly understood. Far from there being any fundamental incompatibility between the Christian faith and political doctrines of human equality, natural rights, and individual choice, the latter should be recognized as the offspring of the former."

Odysseus said...

To Anonymous at 00.40 today. I could not put it better myself, you are 101 percent on target.
Many people feel like you but can't express their thoughts as well.

David George said...

The use of non English words and phrases, in an English text, is usually accepted where there is no ideal or equivalent English word, the alternative is generally, and widely, understood and the meaning unambiguous. "Marae" is a good example. "Moi" (me) is generally, and rightly, seen as a pretentious affectation.

A while back Ash Bloomfield, giving his daily covid report, said "a hundred and twenty whanau across the motu" had tested positive. What was all that about? Literally translated it means "120 families across the island". I don't think that was what he was attempting to say. Who knows? To what purpose then? Clear and precise communication or ambiguous affectation?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

There is a great deal of doubt in fact about Christianity being responsible for democracy. But even if it were true, Christianity today is challenging democracy in a number of countries. The religious right is authoritarian all the way, as long as it's them that gets the authority.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"The BFD is quite heterodox compared to most, our Chris has a regular column there."

I have not been there, as I refuse to put money in Slater's pocket, and I don't need an extra wash. If Chris Trotter has anything to do with Cameron Slater, he goes down in my estimation, and I should probably rethink my association with this site. Anyone who has anything to do with Cameron Slater goes down in my estimation. Indeed David I had thought you were simply a misguided right-wing person until I found out you contributed to Cameron Slater. Now I think you're a raving lunatic.

David George said...

The use of Maori, in an English text, is now the order of the day in the public service, education, local government and the courts. I tended to view that as the work of some sort of fool, fraud or firebrand but it appears that it is now being ordered from "above". Ashley Bloomfield's health department, in their public and internal correspondence liberally use them. To what purpose?

I imagine they have people rehashing whole reports to make them more "inclusive" but, thanks to the manifold inadequacies of the language, lacking the required clarity and pin-point-precision possible in English alone. Take this word "whanau"; it can, apparently, mean an individual, group of individuals, immediate family, extended family or even people that don't know each other but have some sort of commonality (as in Marama's "trans whanau") and both singular and plural of all of them.

What the hell sort of a clown show have we got running the show? We've had people sent down the road for declining the dodgy jabs, dug a mighty deep debt hole, kids coming out of school incapable, record homelessness, health system falling apart, crime, suicide, all sorts of social problems and then there's Gollum gloating about creating two classes of people.

Be good to have some actual grown ups in charge.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Guerilla Surgeon @ 7:07

When asked to contribute to the BFD's pay-walled "Insight" section, GS, I told the Editor, Juana Atkins, that I would offer her nothing that I wouldn't happily post on Bowalley Road.

She agreed.

The BFD, GS, unlike your good self, does not believe in censorship.

I find it intellectually stimulating writing for an audience whose views are diametrically opposed to my own. The trick is to keep them reading to the end. Perhaps you should give it a try? Beats the hell out of pounding the same old drum incessantly.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Interesting you should suggest that Cameron Slater and his blog or whatever it is doesn't believe in censorship. In fact I was banned from his blog twice for merely disagreeing with him, and his TOS read something like "We may ban you for any reason or no reason." Have you read the BFTs TOS? In fact you don't need to, I had a quick look this morning and found someone being threatened with censorship for using "profanity". And it wasn't even proper profanity, because they had * out most of the letters. Which I wouldn't have done. So I think my good self is probably less in favour of censorship than them. If you think I'm getting a bit too much of a drum pounder, fine – I'll stop. It was getting a bit boring anyway given that no one seems to be able to answer the issues I raise.

David George said...

Thanks for the kind words GS. You know it's not a good idea to assume that people that have a different point of view are mad or bad, mostly they're no madder or badder than you are.

You should check out the BFD, you won't get diseased or even need a shower - maybe a stiff drink and a lie down - there's a link above on Chris's blog roll section. Most of the content is free to view and comment on - they won't tolerate personal abuse and bad language though so watch out. I started supporting them initially solely so I could read Chris's essays. I'm happy to continue.

John Hurley said...

Cultural liberalism is the belief that individuals and groups should have the freedom to express themselves, should not be compelled to endorse beliefs that they oppose, and should be treated equally by social norms and the law.

Cultural socialism is the idea that public policy should be used to redistribute wealth, power, and self-esteem from the privileged groups in society to disadvantaged groups, especially racial and sexual minorities, and women. This justifies restrictions on the freedom and equal treatment of members of advantaged groups.

Guyon Espiner "admits he enjoys winding those sorts up". There is a problem though: it isn't democratic; it is "expert" lead. That was what Isaiah Berlins warned about in Two Concepts of Liberty. He argued that the 20th (horrible) Century was due to this process of positive (proactive?) liberty where choice (negative liberty) is taken away for a presumed greater good. The pernicious part is the totalitarian aspect. People with counter opinions barely get a look in.

I was interested in the infiltration of Action Zealandia because (overall) I'm sympathetic to the is but not the ought. If they are Nazis and anti-Semitic I would like to discuss that openly. In the 70's King Ansell came to Lincoln College with his Nazi salutes and people laughed (everyone had a father who had taken part in WW2). Instead the far-left superdiversity sillies get the wrap around. I strongly suspect Nazis are a bit of a trophy; as a background: "experts advise of that there is no meaningful distinction between white nationalism and white supremacy". Tame Iti is celebrated and Valerie Morse was invited to the anti-terrorism hui?

Barry said...

Collapsed family structures came about at the same time as welfare policies started in the 1960s - and accelerated at the same speed as each other.
It was reinforced by one of the offshoots of feminism - what do we need males for?. And many males took advantage to such an extent that about 80% of black children born in the USA are now to solo mothers.
Government programmes have no hope of fixing it.
As a friend of mine says " the country doesnt have the resources, the people or the money to even start adressing the challenge. We have to consign a large part of the current generation of solo parents and their children to societies scrap heap. There is no option" And I think he is right. He said this 20 years ago.
He lives in the Hokianga and has a business in Auckland.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"they won't tolerate personal abuse ... so watch out"

Good grief David – how on earth have you survived them? I guess they don't regard calling someone a communist as personal abuse.
It'd be a first though I must say, because I've been personally abused on Whaleoil, Kiwiblog, and by your friend Dufresne, who allows his toadies to abuse people, but doesn't allow them to reply and seems proud of it. And of course here numerous times.
But I think I've had enough of NZ political blogs.
Being disparaged on freedom of speech to someone who has censored me and banned me, by someone who has also censored and banned me at least once I think was the last straw.
Have you noticed how few people from the left comment here? Perhaps they comment on other sites or perhaps we are dying off. But if this goes on, it will just be Chris and the usual gang if right wing commenters with time on their hands who will castigate him when he's left, and patronise him when he says something that the right agrees with. Good luck with that.
As to the mad and the bad, the only person here on the right that I've seen who is both 'sane' and comprehensible is Wayne Mapp. If you ever read this Wayne I will miss your comments which were always clear, often cogent and sometimes even correct. (We'll forget about Afghanistan and Iraq being stable.) :-)

Chris Trotter said...

To: Guerilla Surgeon @ 8:25

If your really are intent upon abandoning Bowalley Road, GS, then I, for one, will be very sorry. You have resisted the claims of right-wing commentators steadfastly these many years - never fearing to call a spade a bloody shovel.

The price to be paid for such forthrightness, however, is that people tend to be forthright in return. Being willing to pay that price (within the bounds of reason) is part-and-parcel of the rough-and-tumble world of political disputation - as you have often reminded us!

Please stay with us, GS. Because, you are right, leftists of the traditional sort are, indeed, a dying breed. Those "leftists" defined by the admittedly inadequate word "Woke" have never really frequented Bowalley Road - precisely because it is a disputatious place where people fight back. Younger people who think of themselves as "left" cannot seem to get their heads around the notion of debate: that there may be many more than just one way of looking at the world. But, I - and I am sure a great many of my readers - get a great deal out of your responses, and would be very sorry to see them disappear from Bowalley Road's commentary threads.

Brendan McNeill said...

Dear GS

Yes, we would miss your abrasive commentary. I don’t always feel to respond to your criticism but just occasionally bring a constructive contribution. 🤭

greywarbler said...

What an awful level of hierarchy you feel you belong in. Self-satisfied men probably, with money to hand to satisfy whims and 'invest' where the highest return or safest entity can be gouged. And women can be up there also. Money, style and personal choice is everything. Religion is something that can be bought and the donation will produce positive societal outcomes.

There is no reason for looking down on women who are solo parents, and to take the attitude that they are lesser people because they have difficulties. Wealthier people indulge their children, or bring them up with rigid carrot and stick behavioural methods, then often send them to boarding school. Poverty is enforced by our present political regime, it's part of the cult that modern economics has designed for society.

It's to adopt the age-old idea of supremacy and superiority dividing humans into classes;the desirables and the deplorables. The deplorables are regarded as degraded, often mentally deficient and so don't feel as much pain or cold because they are stupid, and can be used in a way that wouldn't be acceptable in the upper class etc. That is a prejudice ready for being implemented in repression or genocide.l A horrible and degraded attitude, and it is likely to lead to the degradation of the perpetrator if they are not careful eg Ron Brierley and his penchant for young girls.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Still making up my mind – at the very least I think I need a holiday from the grind. I will say this though, I did go along to BFD. I made two comments, one of which said something along the lines of I thought that Avi Yemeni – the fascist "journalist" who was convicted of hitting his wife was a bit of a coward. And of course you don't have to let a convicted criminal into the country, and maybe shouldn't. It was removed. And at the same time, people were describing "leftists" as vile among other things. So I'm pretty much lumping them in with Dufresne as being in favour of censorship that those who don't agree with them.

Anonymous said...

I was considering chipping in before, but let it slide. Then RNZ made me laugh, with what I'm pretty sure was totally unintended humour.

Kathryn Ryan was speaking to an Australian doctor, Lachlan McIver, on more pandemics arising because of environmental degradation, his experiences with doctoring in the less developed part of the world, and the like.

After what I'll call an exposition on the environment by Kathryn (close to a rant, but not quite) the good doctor responded to the effect that his work here was done, as "you've got those points nailed down pretty well, I'll just let you take it from here".

Which made me laugh, and think that reality has outdone satire (again). The good doctor pretty well summed up the problem in one sentence.

The great pity is that there are still glimpses, but only glimpses, of what good public service broadcasting should be doing. Also on Nine to Noon, but with Lynn Freeman filling in for Kathryn, Dr Michael Johnson of the New Zealand Initiative was interviewed on a report he has written on the state of education in New Zealand.

He is of the opinion (not an unreasonable one, given the decline in scholastic achievement) that the Ministry of Education use of "self directed learning" in open plan classrooms since 2011 has not helped reverse the decline. Indeed, it may even have made it worse for some students. But he got close to zero response to his enquiries to the Ministry of Education. No interviews. A Freedom of Information Act request was met with two web links on architecture, nothing on teaching methods. No information on any measurement of teaching success or failure. No visits to schools by Dr Johnson allowed. As he said, if the Ministry's succeeding, why would the Ministry not want to show how it is succeeding? Has the Ministry been operating on ideology, not evidence?

The Ministry declined to be interviewed on the show. They have a standing invitation to appear.

I thought this a great example of what public service broadcasting should do. Interview an expert whose opinions probably don't align with those of the majority of RNZ listeners. Then try to hold to account those in power spending public money on issues that effect us all.

It's only anecdotal evidence, but the most alarming feedback was from a parent whose child had been going to school in the US before coming to New Zealand. They were struggling at school here, and wanted to go back to a "real school". The parents had to resort to private tuition to help their child.

The last alarming news (I'm relying on memory here, I'm not sure where I read it, but it fits) is that Willie Jackson thinks RNZ is "with the program" but TV1 still needs to "adjust its attitude".I hope Willie is turfed out from being the minister responsible as soon as possible. I think he needs a spell in Opposition, or out on the street, to give him time to adjust his attitude.