Tuesday 15 November 2022

The “Us versus Them” Worldview.

Behind Closed Doors: What were the organisers of He Whenua Taurikura, the second hui called into existence by the recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch mosque shootings, afraid of? Were they worried that journalists not 100 percent sympathetic to the ideals animating the hui might report something untoward? Like the truth?

THE SIGN said it all: “No Media Access”. Whatever was going on behind these closed doors, it was not open to the scrutiny of a free and independent media. Given the meeting’s/hui’s ostensible purpose – Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism – this was rather odd. The sheer volume of government and quasi-government noise being generated on the subject of extremism surely suggests that the proceedings of He Whenua Taurikura deserved the widest possible audience.

What were the organisers of this, the second hui called into existence by the recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch mosque shootings, afraid of? Were they worried that journalists not 100 percent sympathetic to the ideals animating the hui might report something untoward? Like the truth?

Something like the Director of the NZ Security Intelligence Service, Rebecca Kitteridge, announcing her concern that there were New Zealanders out there at risk of developing an “Us versus Them” worldview.

What could she mean? Who could she be talking about?

Is it possible that she was thinking about the 120 members of the NZ House of Representatives? Certainly, our Members of Parliament are irretrievably enmeshed in the “Us versus Them” worldview about which the SIS Director is so concerned. One can only imagine her horror upon discovering that the House, itself, is quite deliberately divided into “The Government” (Us) and “The Opposition” (Them). The radicalising effect of the Chamber’s architecture, which forces these antagonists to confront each other from a distance traditionally expressed as the length of two drawn swords, can only be imagined.

When it comes to officially sanctioned polarisation, however, Parliament does not stand alone. Our legal system openly describes itself as “adversarial” – with the “Prosecution” (Us) doing all it can to discredit and undermine the “Defence” (Them) – and vice versa. And what about labour relations? The radicalisation of exploited workers confronted by rapacious bosses is as old as capitalism itself.

Clearly, Director Kitteridge is on to something: the “Us versus Them” worldview is everywhere!

It would certainly explain why the SIS has devoted considerable resources to producing a helpful handbook encouraging New Zealanders to “Know the Signs” of somebody at risk of succumbing to “violent extremism”.

There are no fewer than 50 of these signs, apparently, a cluster of which involve the afflicted individual deliberately seeking out opportunities for camaraderie and self-sacrifice, learning how to handle firearms and explosives, and surrounding themselves with martial and nationalistic symbols.

We must assume that Director Kitteridge has already been alerted, via the SIS’s special contact number – 0800STASI – to the existence in Aotearoa of a force of more than 5,000 such individuals, and that this violent organisation, “The NZ Army”, has been placed under round-the-clock surveillance.

Ms Kitteridge has become an easy target for this sort of satire for the very simple reason that hers was one of the few contributions to He Whenua Taurikura that received extensive coverage by the mainstream news media.

What the country didn’t hear very much – if anything – about were the contributions of other hui attendees. A cynic might suggest that the suppression of this material was deemed necessary by the hui organisers because if the average citizen was made aware of its existence there would be an outcry. Most New Zealanders do not see it as a role of their government to “guide” the thinking of the nation towards the radical, ideologically-driven goals of a tiny, unelected, elite of bureaucrats, academics and activists.

To be fair to these elite reformers, the presence of the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, at the hui, could be construed as a sign that she and her government had cast the mantle of their protection over He Whenua Taurikura’s deliberations.

Indeed, since the horrific events of 15 March 2019, the Prime Minister has evinced an uncompromising determination to strengthen the country against the violent extremists of word and deed. One could almost say that she has been “radicalised” by her experiences, and that her views on matters like “hate speech” have become deeply polarising.

Ms Ardern’s and her government’s radicalisation is fast becoming electorally problematic. Precisely because radical ideas, practically by definition, are polarising, they tend to make those who espouse them politically defensive and hostile to criticism. Those citizens who oppose state-sponsored radicalism, mark themselves as “enemies of the people”.

“No Media Access” is only the beginning.

This essay was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 11 November 2022.


Jack Scrivano said...

Not sure what you are worried about, Chris. Our present government is the most open and transparent ever. Ms Ardern promised us that it would be. Remember?

Odysseus said...

Excellent questions Chris. The suggestion that those who are unsympathetic to this government's agenda are "extremists" is very disturbing. Thanks for calling it out.

Frank Black said...

Most transparent government indeed.

John Hurley said...

At He Whenua Taurikura, I used the analogy of how the Department of Conservation would go about caring for and protecting Aotearoa New Zealand’s natural environment as a radically new frame to address disinformation. Instead of seeing regulation and codified laws as the most effective way to stop disinformation’s seed and spread, I flagged how the management of forests and parks focussed on ecological balance and inter-dependencies. In nature’s rich, diverse ecologies, the quality of groundwater, soil and underbrush directly influence the health of a forest or park. What grows or does not is in a symbiotic relationship with the larger environment. Pruning branches, cutting trees or new saplings will not lead to a healthier ecology if groundwater is contaminated, or what’s planted is incompatible with native wildlife. The same applies to laws, regulations and policies around content inciting hate, where what’s proposed and implemented needs to be fit for purpose, country, context, community and culture. A whole of society approach to combat disinformation – what the Royal Commission Report on Christchurch terms ‘social cohesion’ – requires us to address, amongst other issues, the enduring violence of post-colonial history, unmet Te Tiriti obligations, and acknowledge other domestic problems, like racism. While disinformation may never be eliminated, social and political responses to content inciting hate and harm can and should be cultivated in such a way as to reject calls for or expressions of violence.

an odd metaphor defining a social ecology. Does he not realise that that is only the POV of "a tiny, unelected, elite of bureaucrats, academics and activists."

Archduke Piccolo said...

"... the SIS has devoted considerable resources to producing a helpful handbook encouraging New Zealanders to “Know the Signs” of somebody at risk of succumbing to “violent extremism”."

That kind of attitude by an outfit that one would be forgiven for supposing existed to ensure citizens' safety and security is as worrying as it is problematic. It is the harbinger of the nark, the informer, the neighbourhood Judas. This little '50 signs' publication might as well be titled 'The Nark's Manual' - 'The Squealer's Squawk'.

But I strongly suspect that, just as the FBI in the US now exists to create crime rather than prevent it, our soi-disant 'security' agencies exist now to create threats to our security, rather than to obviate them. The rat-catcher gig. To maintain his living, the rat-catcher will make damned sure he has an endless supply of rats. To maintain their purpose, security agencies will make damned sure there will be endless threats to this nation's security.

Frankly, every time the government legislates to erode my human rights, I feel a bloody sight less secure. The police - in general a rather less malign outfit - are themselves well down the road of becoming 'just another gang'. I usually attribute this comment to Ben Franklin: 'who would give up a freedom for the sake of a little security deserves neither the freedom nor the security.' How much more contemptible, then, are those who would give up the freedoms of others for the sake of a 'little security' for themselves?

We are citizens; the Government is 'Them'.


Guerilla Surgeon said...

And what's causing the radicalisation? The ability to lie without consequences.




""We must assume that Director Kitteridge has already been alerted, via the SIS’s special contact number – 0800STASI – to the existence in Aotearoa of a force of more than 5,000 such individuals, and that this violent organisation, “The NZ Army”, has been placed under round-the-clock surveillance"".

Oh Touche' Sir. ... And I laughed my (obscenity) off

A more accurate sarcasm laden, a more cutting, incisive, pointed, pomposity pricking take down I have not seen in many a year.

Samuel Pepys himself would have struggled to beat this one.

PS: I shall be phoning 0800 STASI regularly as I believe both my neighbors and the post lady ... are ... up to no good.

Phil said...

Director Kitteridge referenced the 'them' on RNZ recently. It seems young, single, heterosexual, white men are a problem. To my mind it isn't good for social cohesion to frame a significant block of the population as under suspicion.

CXH said...

It is my understanding that the media was invited. The problem was when the free and independent media wanted to also attend.

Finding only allowing government media to attend, while banning the rest, was a step to far (at the moment), they had to ban them all. It is likely that the tame media will get some fortuitous leaks on what we are allowed to know.

Kyle Reese said...

Bravo, Chris

Loz said...

Director-General of Security Rebecca Kitteridge said New Zealand must confront a rapidly changing security landscape, with the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) pivoting sharply to "anti-authority" concerns. The position was echoed by Jacinda Adhern stating that "anti-establishment radicalisation a global issue".

Democracy itself grew from a radical anti-establishment ideology that maintained the legitimacy of government is derived from the equality of citizens and transparency over all facets of government power. Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson tick a lot of boxes in the "Know the signs" publication and were certainly considered violent radical extremists by the establishment in their day too. Liberal democratic tradition for more than two centuries viewed the American revolutionaries as heroes in championing democratic ideals against the entrenched power of the establishment, but it appears that we are developing national security states more committed to preserving established power structures rather than the core foundations of democracy.

The most horrific act of terrorism in New Zealand was the massacre carried out by Azov Battalion aligned Brenton Tarrant. The violent overthrow of Ukraine's democratically elected government in 2014 and its replacement with a repressive national security state committed to cultural cleansing should have been condemned by the countries committed to the principles of democracy. Yet, we would eventually understand that the secretive power of US national security interests were directly involved in supporting and emboldening the anti-democratic extremists that led to the humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine today.

Anyone with a belief in democracy should be worried about the path our government is on. The tenants of National Security in requiring government secrecy, monitoring of domestic populations and controlling information flow to limit the questioning of approved government narratives are an anathema to maintaining a functioning democracy.
Our political leadership increasingly looks like Lenin's 'Advanced Vanguard' with a mission to transition society toward a new era of enlightenment. The consent of the governed is of little importance when those exercising power believe they are enacting a righteous and progressive crusade that is an inevitable part of the march of history. Those who doubt the benign dictatorship are dismissed as simply corrupted by outmoded values born of previous eras. To achieve a successful transition of society, the vanguard accepts that Information must be controlled, free speech and information critical of the official narrative must be labelled as "disinformation" and the development of a Stasi in monitoring the population for subversives is necessary for preserving the position of the central committee.

Of note, I see that today CNN has been banned from further reporting in the Kherson region because it slipped up and broadcast a Ukrainian soldier sieg heiling on the streets of the captured city. This is the definition of 'democracy', with all the violence and cultural identity assertions, and support from an oligarch class, that our establishment is prepared to support while dissenters are labelled the extremists.

Anonymous said...

I just feel sick. Our country is going down the gurgler and there seems not much we can do about it at this point. Bring on the movement for freedom from the Stasi. Whatever it takes.
Is anyone counting the lies that JA has told? Her ass should be flaming red hot by now.

ZTS said...

Really bad news and whilst I think you could be correct Chris, I am not sure.

NZers may well be facing a government of zealots who are so immured in their point of view that hundreds of Kiwi's are potential terrorists that rather like the Jesuits, they are only too happy to leave behind the tenets of their Faith in the need to root these people out.

As fellow FSU member, Karl du Fresne noted on his blog:

"This issue (Hate Speech) arose following the Christchurch mosque massacres and the subsequent Royal Commission of Inquiry. Recommendations for revised hate speech laws formed a small and relatively insignificant part of the commission’s recommendations. Deficiencies in existing laws were not identified as a cause of the massacres and there’s no evidence to suggest that tougher so-called hate speech laws would have prevented the atrocity".

Similarly, Brenton Tarrant wasn't a Kiwi as effectively neither was the Supermarket stabber (and he is probably mischaracterised as a terrorist in any event).

A more cynical interpretation is that our government is using select events to gain mass surveillance over the populace. So why would the government do this?


1) They have genuinely lost the plot and gone so far down the rabbithole that a little power has become a very dangerous thing
2) They want to be able to suppress people in the circumstances of social unrest caused by ? Impending disaster? Effective Civil war (Where is Co Governance going ultimately?) or financial melt down etc
3) They are planning a silent Coup by changing voting laws, adding in Maori seats and other changes across all standing orders across the administration and commerce. They understand that when NZers see the extent of the picture that there will be a huge backlash and they want to be able to stop dissent in its tracks.
4) Our Leader has career aspirations and she sees the reinvention of our country as her offering for a place at the table.

I am leaning towards No 3 because if the Strengthening Democracy BIll is passed before the next election, it would be almost impossible to get Labour out of power at least in the medium term. I also ask myself, why isnt Labour concerned enough about their impending loss to make substantive change to policies voters hate? Is it because they know it wont matter in the end because they will have tinkered with so many aspects of our democracy by then that they will almost certainly win in 2023 and will then stay in power for a longish run.

In a similar vein, I read this weekend about how the Government took out the submissions gathered by the Tax Payer's Union on 3 Waters (I think in excess of 60,000) and declined to read them.

Whatever side of the blanket you were on, through limiting usual access, the Govt had made it necessary to put your submissions in via the Tax Payer's Union or similar as they were only accepting written submissions again as a way to limit dissent. When this didnt work, they simply skipped the vast majority of submissions.

The more I see these things come through one after the other, the more disturbing it gets. For a year or so I have been supporting the low intellect and zealotry combo but I am finding recent events quite worrisome.

I'd really like to be convinced that Jacinda is a nice lady who has got a bit caught up but all of this stuff en masse, strikes me as both fulsome and orchestrated. These are not the actions of someone who just had a great idea, they are practically labyrinthine (sp?) and there is definitely a sharp intellect or two at the bottom of things.


While Jacinda's mob retains its absolute majority we should be very afraid.

In the remaining months until they are all turfed out, an irresistible temptation exists to "do stuff" ... to go all ideological ... create radical policies and let the voter be damned.

My picks is that they will move full bore on 3 Waters, co-governance and other Te Puapua racist signals ... to secure Māori support.

This is not the New Zealand your average Kiwi can tolerate.

John Hurley said...

Disinformation isn't just a thing Alex Jones does.

Compare Arthur Grimes reasons for wanting a monster Auckland to:
John Key
“Yes I want to leave the country in better condition than I found it and if theres something (I genuinely beleive) It would be lifting our confidence to a certain degree about how we see our selves in the world and what we think we are capable of achieving. Now I think individually there is masses of ambition that sits out there there but can we actually take that and convert that to take the opportunity .
And I always thought what was happening in the opposition of politics (of course they would oppose National, that’s their job actually apart from everything else) but it was a bit negative about our place in the world. So we played a bit about whether people coming here was a good or bad thing whether people should invest here was a good or bad thing, or whether we have a trade agreement with parts of Asia was a good or bad thing, but actually in my mind, the reason that I want to say yes to those things is because they are the opportunities that reflect our opportunities to both get wealthier (which is all about what you can do with that money) and then ultimately the opportunities for Kiwis. I’d like New Zealanders to feel (after my time as Prime Minister) they have become more confident outward looking nation more multicultural.


Key (of course) teamed up with the Chow Bro's; has "friends with more boats than the NZ Navy".

What's more high on the list of why migrants come to NZ has been low population

Enjoy Auckland Grifters - The Movie