“WHAT THE HELL IS THIS!” Gerald stared at the words on the screen as if, somehow, he could make them blink first.
“What’s up?” Gerald’s co-worker, Elise, swivelled towards him, eyebrows raised interrogatively. Gerald was usually such a quiet and studious worker, she found his angry outburst just a little bit shocking.
“See for yourself”, Gerald replied, turning his screen towards Elise.
“Hmmmm.” Elise settled back in her chair with a thoughtful expression. “That is certainly an unusual brief. Not the Boss’s style at all. What do you suppose has led her to issue such an odd assignment?
“I don’t have to suppose anything, Elise, I know what inspired this. It’s the second of those national anti-terrorism seminars. The first one was a complete waste of time, and the second has been a complete waste of time multiplied by ten. Why doesn’t the Boss just tell the Prime Minister to leave national security to the professionals?”
“Because Directors don’t get to tell Prime Ministers what to do, Gerald – as you well know. The PM has immersed herself in this misinformation, disinformation, bad actors stuff, to the point where she can no longer think rationally about national security matters.”
“No, she can’t. What Prime Minister in her right mind would ask her security chief to prepare a ‘How To Tell If Your Neighbour’s A Violent Extremist’ handbook? Dear God! Putting to one side the utterly appalling anti-democratic ramifications of the idea, why would a national security agency provide an actual or potential violent extremist with a helpful list of all the behavioural tells to avoid? How wise is it, do you think, to warn these characters what to keep hidden from their friends and family? Surely the PM can be made to see that putting out something like this only makes the bad guys’ work easier?”
“The problem, Gerald, is that she’s been persuaded that we, and all the other national security agencies, are either incompetent, or racist, or both. She probably thinks that, with the right sort of surveillance, violent extremism can be stopped in its tracks.”
“Yep. And the animosities stirred up by the Pandemic have only made things worse.”
“True, but whose fault is that? Who went from being the Good Fairy, trusted protector of the people; to full-on Maleficent, imposing vaccination mandates with a cackle? Who allowed the Speaker to go on whacking that Hornets’ Nest in Parliament Grounds until its occupants erupted in fury and started stinging all-and-sundry? Who made it clear how pleased she was with the sort of journalism that portrayed the country as brimming over with white supremacists and fascists?”
“I know, I know, Gerald. Nor does she appear to understand that the moment a political leader indicates an explanatory preference, that is the only explanation she will receive.”
“Hence, the Boss’s instruction to write this bloody handbook. I’m supposed to go through all our own files, along with the relevant files of our allies, and identify all the tell-tale signs that someone’s undergone radicalisation, and is on the verge of organising and/or engaging in an act of deadly violence. But, that’s not all. I’m also supposed to set up a special number for people to call if they suspect their next-door-neighbours are preparing to ram-raid their Petunias. I’m going to suggest 0-800-STASI.”
“If you’re thinking Stasi, you should talk to Dieter – he used to be a Colonel in the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, the Ministry of State Security, back in the days of the German Democratic Republic.”
“Yep. He moved here to be with his children and grandchildren after the fall of the Berlin Wall. He works for us from time to time. On contract, presumably. Come to think of it, Dieter’s been around the building quite a bit lately.”
“Do you think the Boss would contract him to give me a hand with this assignment? I mean, who is better qualified to write a handbook on identifying real and/or potential enemies of the state than a former Stasi colonel?”
“I don’t see why not. Gosh, Gerald, this is actually getting quite exciting. Have you been watching Kleo – that Netflix series about a GDR assassin?”
“I keep meaning to, but I haven’t yet, no.”
“Oh, but you must, it’s a hoot. Kleo worked for the HVA, the Main Directorate for Reconnaissance – the external arm of the Stasi responsible for espionage, propaganda, sabotage, and assassination. Believe me, Gerald, that girl is dangerous!”
“Hey, do you think, Dieter might have been in the HVA? I mean, espionage, propaganda, sabotage, and assassination – he’d know all about that stuff!”
“Jeez, Gerald, we’re not at that point – surely? All we’re being asked to do is alert people to the tell-tale signs of violent extremism. That hardly makes us the Stasi.”
“Actually, Elise, that’s exactly what it makes us. In the early years of the GDR there really were thousands of former Nazis to identify and punish for the crimes of 1933-45. By the 1980s, though, the Stasi were keeping tabs on just about everybody. Neighbours were asked to spy upon neighbours – and they dared not refuse. A word in the right ear, and your worst enemy could lose her job, or you could be thrown into prison. When thoughts become crimes, Elise, everybody is a potential criminal.”
“And what better incentive could there be for committing an act of violent extremism than being punished for thinking about one?”
This short story was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Friday, 4 November 2022.
"she’s been persuaded that we, and all the other national security agencies, are either incompetent, or racist, or both"
Hahahahahaha ... The history of the service suggests this is true – spot on Chris.
I don't think NZ is quite ready for a handbook on how to tell if your neighbour is a violent extremist quite yet, and if we do get to that stage we could probably borrow one from the US where they tend to elect them.
Are we once more entering the age of the nark, the informer, stool pigeon and the neighbourhood judas? The Thought Police, though not yet a fully constituted body, looks set to become so soon. When people talk of 'hate speech' - meaning, of course, undefined, you find the appellation attaching to fair criticism as much as racism, bigotry and intolerance of 'the other'.
I still recall the BCNZ audience participatory programme '1984', fronted by Sharon Crosbie, that was a discussion of how far we had gone down the track to Orwell's dystopia. The thing was broadcast, as you'd expect, in 1984.
Late in the show, a proposition was put forward to the audience on the matter of 'free speech'. I don't recall the exact wording, but the proposition went like this "Freedom of speech is essential so long as it does not give offence to anyone." The audience by large went along with this.
I'll never forget the startled look - almost of horror - that flashed across Ms Crosbie's face when that audience response was read out. I WISH that that footage - even just that bit of the show - were available on YouTube or some similar platform.
Speech as action is one thing. Speech as opinion is something else altogether, and, however offensive to you, me, he, her, them or those, is not for anyone to curtail.
Ion A. Dowman
Okay, this is getting beyond a joke now. The delusional obsession with "extremists" hints at psychosis. "Jacinda - Just Go!"
It is true that Dieter would be best positioned to tell New Zealanders exactly were we stand on the road to totalitarianism. Typically those who have lived in totalitarian societies in the past are first to see the warning signs in their land of exile.
It begins with propaganda and ends with the Stasi.
We are being deeply immersed in the propaganda phase while it appears the Stasi infrastructure is being quickly put in place. This could not have happened in New Zealand, but in Aotearoa it appears anything is possible.
I find it illustrative that now the SIS have – admittedly under pressure – decided to at least admit the existence of danger from the extreme right, conservatives have similarly all of a sudden noticed the existence of the "surveillance state". Anyone who reads widely enough about New Zealand history should be able to name at least half a dozen people whose lives were ruined or whose careers were quietly shelved by the establishment because of the SIS. The Americans have an acronym IOKIYAR – it's okay if you're a Republican. Illustrates the general hypocrisy of the regressive right.
But Guerilla surgeon, that is exactly what the NZSIS has just published. A handbook on how to identify extremists, terrorists
Presumably this article has been written in response to the recently released “Web of Chaos” and what is set to be the anti-counter-terrorism hui that Ardern spoke at. Members of the Disinformation Project were attendant at both.
was very interested to note who Sanjana Hattotuwa of the Disinformation Project has been funded by for the past decade.
Mr Hattotuwa’s source of income has hired to come via his online magazine. Groundviews has largely been funded by grants from the US State Department and associated groups, including the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a well-known and openly
acknowledged front at this point for CIA funding.
I would also note that units with the same
name have seemingly been set up in the USA, UK, and Canada, with input from former and apparently present military intelligence professionals.
Oh dear, this is when satire sniffs reality.
A pity that the public couldn't view the counter terrorism hui, so many gems at the last one.
Instead we get a MSM sanitised version from journalists who would have been quite at home with Kate Hanna and cried along with Tracy Macintosh, or the Ngai tahu Lindsay (?) "settler terror state".
Archduke I don't go with total freedom of speech. I don't go with anything being said to be 100% right. The whole point about having grown up in an intelligent species aware of a range of possibilities in just about everything, is that judgment is called for, balance is called for, in achieving a satisfactory life bordering on happy. So keep your bold assertions and choke on them, because we keep coming back to 20th century thinking as being the 'be all and end all' now, when if it had been right then we wouldn't be in the fix we are in now
I remember Voltaire and his bold assertion about the right to free speech, which apparently was,I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.His own name was François-Marie Arouet (1694-1778). But Quote Investigator finds it was said by someone else (S.G. Tallentyre, the pseudonym of historian Evelyn Beatrice Hall in 1906)in a particular context. https://quoteinvestigator.com/2015/06/01/defend-say/
Arouet did apply himself to bringing more freedom and tolerance in France, against the horrible religious schism that had washed over France, and the wrongs done to Huguenots. http://www.voltaire.ox.ac.uk/about-voltaire/
This was a major success in his efforts for a better philosophical structure enabling freedom of speech and choice of religion in society. What turbulent and brutally draconian times.
The Calas affair was a defining moment in this crusade for tolerance. The Huguenot Jean Calas was tortured and broken on the wheel in 1762 after being found guilty, on the basis of dubious evidence, of murdering his son. Voltaire successfully led a determined campaign to clear Calas’s name, writing many letters and publishing a number of works, including Traité sur la tolérance (1763). Other campaigns followed – a successful one to obtain the rehabilitation of another Huguenot family, the Sirvens, accused of having murdered a daughter recently converted to Catholicism, and an unsuccessful one to achieve a pardon for a nineteen-year-old man, La Barre, condemned to be burned at the stake for having committed certain trivial acts of sacrilege (and for having in his possession a copy of Voltaire’s Dictionnaire philosophique). These struggles brought Voltaire to even greater public prominence, and it in no way diminishes his undoubted determination and courage to say that he obviously relished his new role: in a letter of 1766, he wrote to a friend ‘Oh how I love this philosophy of action and goodwill’.
Could our new repressive measures take us towards these 1700's behaviours? The human mind can justify anything, given a chance and a following wind. Voltaire's supposed words are often quoted to erect a banner of freedom. But bold words do not solve the problems arising every day, attention to concerns raised; managing to utilise the excess energies of the proponents could deflect their obsession and reroute it to bring about the improvements they wish. Anger is energy, we need to learn to use it. Hah I have it. For a start seat them on a bicycle contraption for a few hours pedalling and driving electricity into the local grid. What a good solution; a virtuous circle, not the usual vicious one.
The difficult thing for people to get their heads around is that it is the liberal West that is taking a totalitarian turn. It's not Russian influence, or Christian conservative.
(In fact, as an aside, the West is doing exactly what the anti-fascist - "fascist" if you read the Western press - Eastern chauvinist philosopher Alexander Dugin said it would do.
According to Dugin, liberalism is another branch of Western modernity along with Communism and Fascism and taking a totalitarian turn was as inevitable for liberalism as it was for socialism and conservative nationalism.)
Many of the prime movers and shakers in this turn have been presented as far left radicals in the media, and were recruited from a pool of existing protesters. But who were they recruited by, exactly? No one in the media has followed that trial back like some outside it have: from organisations claiming to be grassroots in New Zealand to the heart of the US establishment, via their funding - to the US national security state; which, like Colonial Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, seems to have got completely insane up in a river encampment of its own making.
Perhaps it all sounded too much for sleepy old New Zealand to those who were prompted or to those who, after a few wines, made it out themselves, shook their heads, and said to themselves: it can't be.
How many journalists did make it out for themselves? How many asked the right questions: Who or what is ActionStation? The Workshop? What has been the role of organisations like the Online Progressive Engagement Network? Why have left wing activists, recruited at university, been wined and dined in Washington for the past decade? Why are "left wing" pressure groups now bankrolled by the funder of the 2014 Maiden Coup, Pierre Omidyar, and funds like NEO Philanthropy, rather than by union dues? On that, to what extent have the unions been captured? what has been the role of the rather shady unions like First Union and associated groups like Socialist Aotearoa?
There has been zero reporting on these important matters, and now we find the characteristics of a totalitarian national security state, like extreme surveillance and censorship, being applied in the name of traditional left wing values. But not one single journalist has gone looking for the wizard or wizards behind the curtain, accepting every stage device and claim made about them uncritically.
Instead, we have had every fart by Peter Thiel reported on by Matt Nippert. A small consolation for those of us aware of the much bigger story. A story that has been in the weeds, or the comments section.
Meanwhile, the equivalents of Smith's Dream's Smith has already felt the jackboot of the state. And I'm not taking about the far right rabble rousers, who also have next to no idea about what is really going on.
"Why have left wing activists, recruited at university, been wined and dined in Washington for the past decade? Why are "left wing" pressure groups now bankrolled by the funder of the 2014 Maiden Coup, Pierre Omidyar, and funds like NEO Philanthropy, rather than by union dues?"
1.I don't know about the left-wing activists, and given that you haven't mentioned any names or given us any context, either you think we are mind readers or you don't either.
2.All around the world the right is censoring books, making it more difficult to vote, putting journalists in jail or murdering them. So tell me again how it's the left that is the danger to democracy.
Nice demonstration of whataboutism, Guerilla Surgeon!
Many New Zealand activists have been sent to train in Australia with an offshoot of John Podesta's Center For American Progress, for about 10 years, now. Some of those activists have received grants to work with MoveOn and related organisations and political PACs in the USA. Quite a few. Many of the activist talking heads in the media.
It is unprecedented to have activists recruited and trained by a foreign-funded organisation in the way they have been over the past decade. This is liberal imperialism, and you will find if you do your research that these organisations are sponsored by banks and tech companies advancing a mid to long-term business and investment agenda, as well.
"It is unprecedented to have activists recruited and trained by a foreign-funded organisation in the way they have been over the past decade."
No it isn't – people have been going to the US for political training for years. Usually admittedly in order to subvert democracies in their own countries, in favour of right-wing dictatorships but even so. This is complete Bullshit. Take off the tinfoil hat – it's not as if there is any secrecy about it it's all up there on the Internet.
Perhaps you'd like to explain how they are a danger to democracy?
Liberal democracies only remain so when our ruling elites embrace a generous attitude towards their detractors. Once that disappears we end up with State funded propaganda in our media designed to discredit, marginalise and ‘other’ their opponents. Think “Fire and Fury” and the more recent “Web of Chaos”.
This is followed by actual marginalisation, think of the two societies our PM was delighted to create in an attempt to coerce an otherwise free people into taking a medical procedure they preferred to avoid. The fall out from that decision continues, and will likely be one of the reasons Robinson suggested Labour MP's may not be able to ‘walk about’ freely in the lead up to the election next year.
In his book, The Demon in Democracy, Legutko explores the shared objectives between two political systems, the Soviet and Liberal Democracies, and explains how liberal democracy has over time lurched towards the same goals as communism, albeit without Soviet style brutality. (yet)
Aside from the ideology driving our present slide into totalitarianism, when people cease to be self-governing the State is forced to increase surveillance and policing to maintain civil order. Liberal Democracies were built on the foundation of a prevailing Judeo / Christian worldview. They cannot be sustained in its absence.
"In his book, The Demon in Democracy, Legutko explores the shared objectives between two political systems, the Soviet and Liberal Democracies, and explains how liberal democracy has over time lurched towards the same goals as communism, albeit without Soviet style brutality."
Did they also explain how liberal democracy has at times lurched over into Fascism and continues to do so today? Without Nazi style brutality – yet.
Funny how you seem to be able to ignore the danger of modern fascist states and yet seem to fear a mythical future of a communist New Zealand Brendan. Perhaps you approve of it? They certainly seem to use religion as one of their props. Soviet communism is dead Brendan – I wish I could say the same for fascism.
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