WITH THE END of the year racing towards us, the temptation is strong to review the twelve months just gone. Some political journalists even go as far as issuing awards for the best and the worst of the nation’s political players. Others channel their inner schoolmarm and award grades, or marks out of ten. Away with all such malarky! What most interests the politically aware is not the past, but the future. Never is this more true that when the new year fast approaching is an election year.
I would be remiss, however, not to reference to the most jarring political event experienced by New Zealanders in 2022 – the occupation of Parliament Grounds. The full significance of this episode has only become clear with the benefit of hindsight. It intensified a prejudice against ordinary New Zealanders that, already strong, has since become a badge-of-honour among a distressingly large percentage of the political class. Before the Occupation, ignoring the wishes of the Great Unwashed could still elicit feelings of unease among “progressive” MPs. After the Occupation it became a positive duty.
How else to explain the outpouring of official concern at the amount of misinformation and disinformation coursing through the veins of the body politic. So swollen had these “rivers of filth” become that the Security Intelligence Service was prevailed upon to issue a booklet identifying the tell-tale signs of potentially lethal radicalisation in the boy next door. Concerned citizens were even given a number to call. 0800-STASI perhaps? It was all of a piece, however, with the melodramatic “Fire and Fury” documentary produced by Stuff’s Paula Penfold. In it, the time-honoured traditions of journalistic balance were jettisoned in favour of journalism which travelled in (if not at) the direction of the Government.
Clearly, democracy – unguided by the morally superior members of the political and academic mandarinate – can degenerate very quickly into the terrifying mobocracy that unleashed arson and violence in Parliament Grounds. These feelings of personal vulnerability, aroused among parliamentarians and journalists by the Occupation’s fiery end, were both palpable and novel. For the first time in decades they had been made aware of just how destructive those excluded from the nation’s political discourse could become – if sufficiently provoked.
The historical precedent for this outrage and anguish can be found in the reaction of “respectable” politicians and journalists to the rioting and looting that broke out in New Zealand’s four main centres in the summer and autumn of 1932 – when the Great Depression was at its deepest. The NZ Herald’s cartoonist, Gordon Minhinnick, captured the disgust of the newspaper’s middle-class readers by depicting the rioters as rats erupting from the sewers. The governing conservative coalition responded to the violence by passing the draconian Public Safety Conservation Act. Unconstrained by entrenched electoral clauses, the Reform and United parties were also moved to postpone the general election scheduled for 1934 until 1935.
As the Labour Party confronts the New Year, it will not only struggle to move beyond its now visceral mistrust of the Occupiers, but also of the third of the country who believed their anti-vaccination mandate grievances worth worthy of a hearing. There will be some among Labour’s ranks who feel keenly the irony of a supposedly working-class party living in terror of the actually existing proletariat, but most of the party’s members and MPs will dismiss the whole notion that the people Trevor Mallard turned the sprinklers on are working-class.
Certainly, they were very different from the ageing, Pakeha, blue-collar trade union delegates who turn up to Labour Conferences, or the loyal Pasifika workers who sit beside them. What Labour has forgotten, however, is that barely 10 percent of private sector workers any longer belong to a trade union. The world that the Employment Contracts Act made in the 1990s – and which Labour has never seen fit to unmake – changed the New Zealand working-class no less thoroughly than Thatcherism and Reaganism changed the British and American working-classes. Driven from the political stage, they have wandered into strange pastures and swallowed strange fruits. The degree to which these abandoned and marginalised workers are able to surprise the contemporary parties of the centre-left can be summed up in just two words: ‘Brexit’ and ‘Trump’.
‘Idiot Savant’, the hard-working blogger behind “No Right Turn” asks rhetorically: “Why won’t Labour keep its promises?” His favoured explanation is that the party has become too beholden to the lobbyists and donors that keep it solvent. He’s right, of course, but there’s much more to the problem than that. Labour is vulnerable to lobbyists, and increasingly dependent on wealthy donors, for the very simple reason that it is deeply fearful of ever again becoming a mass party – most particularly, a mass party of today’s working-class.
Such a party would be economically radical and socially conservative – precisely the opposite of the entity Labour turned itself into by embracing the more-market ideas of the Reserve Bank and Treasury in the 1980s. A key aspect of that transformation was the catastrophic defection of the tens-of-thousands of Labour members who did not sign-up for Rogernomics. But the dramatic reduction in the size of the Labour Party was a feature, not a bug, of the neoliberal transformation. Having a lot of members is more-or-less a guarantee of having a lot of trouble.
It used to be the case that New Zealand’s political fault-line ran not between National and Labour, but squarely down the middle of the Labour Party itself. Up until 1984, the really big arguments concerning New Zealand’s economic and social future were those that took place between the right and left wings of the Labour Party. But, when Rogernomics caused Labour to split in 1989, it lost virtually all of its left-wing members to Jim Anderton’s NewLabour (later the Alliance). That was critically important, because although it has gone largely unnoticed and unreported by this country’s political journalists for the last 30 years, the transformations of 1984-1993 relocated the nation’s political fault-line to the left of both National and Labour where, ever since the demise of the Alliance and NZ First, there is only the swirling and inchoate rage of unrepresented rebels in search of a cause.
Labour is likely to lose next year’s election because it has become little more than New Zealand’s alternate governing party. New Zealanders lucky enough to live in their nation’s comfort zones will turn to Labour when National appears to have exhausted itself, and to National when Labour fails to impress. The only task which mainstream voters set themselves is determining which of National or Labour is more likely to administer the status quo efficiently and effectively. In the face of a Labour Government struggling to cope with record inflation, a cost-of-living crisis, and all the other side-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, National’s hopes of reclaiming the Treasury Benches are, justifiably, high.
And that swirling mass of unrepresented and cause-less rebels: unimpressed by National and Labour, or their respective outriggers, Act and the Greens; what will they do in 2023? In the absence of a truly charismatic populist leader (sorry Winston) most of them will abstain from the electoral process altogether. Overall turnout is likely to be well down in next year’s election. An abstention rate of 25 percent is not inconceivable.
Not that National or Labour will care all that much. They have seen what the Deplorables can do when they get angry. They have no desire to see what they could make of Aotearoa-New Zealand if they ever got organised.
This essay was originally posted on the Interest.co.nz website on Tuesday, 20 December 2022.
Labour will be deservedly removed from office because it has deliberately promoted division throughout New Zealand society on so many levels, including by excluding the anti-mandate "Deplorables" you refer to but even more significantly through its unmandated agenda of "co-governance". Ardern's throwaway line of "two classes of people, yep, yep, that's what it is" when referring to the impact of the mandates on New Zealanders will continue to stalk her, as will her complicity in the antics of Mahuta and Jackson in the cause of enriching and empowering the iwi elites. This government has wreaked unprecedented damage on New Zealand's social cohesion that most people can now clearly see, despite the propaganda issuing from the bought and paid for media every day, and which any new government will struggle to repair. Labour's crowning glory however is their abject failure to deliver on infrastructure and other improvements to the lives of New Zealanders, while driving the economy into the ground. Begone!
I actually see clear differences between the two parties.
For a start, one is run by caucus whereas the other seems to be run by a racial subset of the caucus.
Now just for a moment, imagine the scenario without a government controlled media portraying only one narrative and without complicit social media platforms censoring anyone not on board with the "podium of truth".
Imagine if those with valid concerns about the path this government was on being about to unite across the various social media platform and share ideas and thoughts, contrary to the "podium of truth".
The unwashed are like a stroke victim that feels it but can’t get it out. All movements need their intellectuals.
In the 1980’s NZ decided to join a group of advanced (they believed) societies in doing away with racism. They saw the cohesiveness of NZ society as “deeply racist”. It is that observation that is at the core of that move.
The problem is that NZ society was based on a historic commonality which (by it’s nature) was exclusive. But while people of good-will would accept others as neighbour and workmate at the local level the uncertainty of a state composed of difference is counter to anything humans have experienced. Difference and trust don’t go hand in hand (unless the difference is embedded in trust).
This is why nations need a core ethnic group that remains confident – it is just the logic of human behavioural evolution.
Immigration policy has tended to reflect the monocultural stance of Pakeha. There are three fundamental goals of this policy: to restrict entry to those who can assimilate; to protect local inter-ests in the labour market; and to ensure a high degree of ethnic and social cohesion (Zodgekar 1997). The recent reaction to Asian immigration reconfirms these central tenets of immigration policy and suggests that New Zealanders are receptive towards immigrants if there are obvious eco-nomic benefits but are less-enthusiastic about immigrants as such, and even less so if they come from Asia and the Pacific. The arrival of new waves of immigrants—from Asia, South Africa, and the Pacific—contributes to the central question of this book: who are as New Zealanders, and what sort of society do we want to establish?
Recalling Aotearoa – Paul Spoonley Augie Fleras 1999
One little sentence from Eric Crampton to Sean Plunket: “they all help make the boat go faster”.
Who believes that, or what constitutes “the boat”? The gas-bottle man said “Now I’m just a dumb fella but I can see that they are coming here because their country is over crowded”.
To: All Bowalley Road Commentators.
Some of you have upbraided me for not enforcing my own Bowalley Road Rules more strictly and fairly.
I plead guilty. There has been some slippage - motivated by the desire to let the arguments, for and against, be presented without too much in the way of censorship.
Sadly, this appears to have encouraged a view that the rules no longer apply - with predictable results in terms of increased vituperation and abuse.
There has also been a steady pressure from some commentators to turn Bowalley Road into a vaccination-sceptical blogsite. Let me again warn all of those attempting to push the boundaries, such scepticism (not to say downright denialism) will not be published - REPEAT - will not be published.
So, once again, all commentators are asked to read again the Bowalley Road Rules and do their utmost to follow them. Respond to the arguments advanced - both in the post itself, and in the commentary arising from it. Do not argue ad hominem. Actually, do not personalise your comments at all - that is solely the Moderator's prerogative.
Try and tell us things we have not heard before. Strive for a light and amiable tone. If you can - offer the readers a little humour.
Here endeth the sermon, but, be warned, the days of laxity are over. I don't care whether you are coming from the Left, or the Right, but I do insist that while you are on my blog, you play by my rules.
'Brexit' and 'Trump' - where the voiceless and marginalised fetch up. But isn't that to forget 'Bernie Sanders' and 'Jeremy Corbyn'? Or, come to that, Barack Obama - or what Barack Obama seemed to be until the presidency found him out?
It has been my belief all along that the votes for 'Brexit' and for 'Trump' were votes in anger. I don't think it is fully appreciated just how enraged the electorates of the United States and the UK are. What were 'Occupy', the 'Black Lives Matter' and the so-called 'insurrection' of 6 February 2021? I'm pretty sure Trump didn't realise what he was unleashing at the time. And the Fourth Estates (sic) that was the subject of Trevor Noah's embarrassing hagiography before the politicos in Washington DC has now become the lickspittle slave of the corporates and politicians - what some of us 50 years ago used sneeringly to call 'the Establishment'.
Why didn't the enraged electorate vote for Sanders or Corbyn? I'll give you three guesses. Even then the 'Establishment' had to strain every nerve to prevent that happening.
So ensconced far from real discourse has the Fourth Estate become, that we are now hearing of the emergence of a 'Fifth Estate', to which the name of Julian Assange has been attached, to do the job the Fourth Estate was supposed to do. And of course, what is this 'disinformation' of which the Government concerns itself sufficiently that it must institutionalise the nark, the curtain twitcher, the neighbourhood Judas? Anything the Government doesn't want you to know, credit or believe. So we are expected instead to listen all agog to the malinformation the Government chooses to disgorge.
'Believe nothing until it is officially denied' quoth the wiseacres. Except this: take any official brag as a confession of guilt.
Ion A. Dowman
I presume I am allowed to comment on your blog ; unlike your mate Bomber Bradbury who restricts those who disagree with him, U thought you might want to consider this : A gentle reminder about why you are utterly exhausted…
No one I know began this year on a full tank. Given the vicious onslaught of the previous two years (let’s just call it what it was) most of us dragged ourselves across the finish line of 2021… frazzled, spent, running on aged adrenaline fumes…
We crawled into 2022 still carrying shock, trauma, grief, heaviness, disbelief… The memories of a surreal existence…
And then it began… The fastest hurricane year we could ever have imagined. Whether we have consciously processed it or not, this has been a year of more pressure, more stress, and a race to “catch up” in all departments… Every. Single. One. Work, school, sports, relationships, life…
Though not intentionally aware, perhaps hopeful that the busier we are, the more readily we will forget… the more easily we will undo the emotional tangle… the more permanently we will wipe away the scarring wounds…
And attempts to re-create some semblance of “normal” on steroids while disregarding that for almost two years our sympathetic nervous systems were on full alert, has left our collective mental health in tatters. Our children and teens are not exempt. The natural byproduct of fighting a hurricane is complete and utter exhaustion…
So before you begin questioning the absolutely depleted and wrung-dry state you are in- Pause. Breathe. Remind yourself of who you are and what you have endured. And then remind yourself of what you have overcome.
Despite it all, you’re still going. (Even on the days you stumble and find yourself face down in a pile of dirt).
Understanding brings compassion…
Most of the world’s citizens are in need of a little extra TLC at the moment. Most are donning invisible “Handle with care” posters around their necks and “Fragile” tattoos on their bodies…
Instead of racing to the finish line of this year, tread gently. Go slowly.
Amidst the chaos, find small pockets of silence. Find compassion. Allow the healing. And most of all… Be kind. There’s no human being on earth who couldn’t use just a little bit more of the healing salve of kindness.
With love ♥️
Credit to Naomi Holdt - Psychologist and Speaker
Fair enough, Chris.
But perhaps you should follow your own rules and stop publishing anonymous comments.
It has been my belief all along that the votes for 'Brexit' and for 'Trump' were votes in anger
Eric Kaufmann and Anne Applebaum present those two sides here:
Listen to How to Start a Business with Max Key @ 18:00 (fatherly advice)
https://podcasts.apple.com/nz/podcast/how-to-start-a-business-with-max-key/id1641823324?i=1000590484248 The Key's thought 19% was a good return, the Chow's said "no, they are rubbish" They went for 25%.
What do you want to be remembered for?”
“Going back to that main point I think it was Muldoon who famously said “I want to leave the country in no worse condition than I found it”.
“Isn’t that a low ambition?”
“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.
Thank you Prime Minister
Then (of course) we have a brutal form of density.
Paula Bennet's guest from Bailey's "there are good apartments and bad apartments" (near the start).
Near the end Paula says her must have in a property is privacy.
Paula went on Q&A saying we should double Auckland's population ("if we want the infrastructure").
Arthur Grimes and Paul Spoonley says NZ used to be dead boring; Grimes says Auckland is "tiny".
Then you have snide open border people on the left. Recently Bernard Hickey scoffed at Christchurch for arguing we get less sun because of our latitude.
Is it any wonder so many people hate the MSM?
Winston won't be getting my vote. My hope is that he takes votes off National and not Labour.
Not sure National will win the next election. Chris "Bottomfeeder" Luxon is Labour's secret weapon. The man has the charisma of a carrot, and the tact of Stalin.
What gets me is the survival of the ACT Party. One of the weaknesses of our electoral system is New Zealanders really love having a pet local MP. Think Peter Dunne.
That anyone would vote for unreconstructed Freidmanites has shit for brains. You would think no one remembers Ruth "Decent Society" Richardson. Or they do, and don't care.
"Anything the Government doesn't want you to know, credit or believe"
Yes Ion, it's quite remarkable how the legacy media are now so willing to toe the line - there's some token dissent but the overall thrust is clearly pro the establishment narrative. The new revelations of direct coercion by the FBI (as well as other government and political party agents) in social media raises more serious concerns about even the "fifth estate".
I wonder if TPTB appreciate how corrosive of trust this conspiracy to silence dissent and discussion really is. Do they even care such is the arrogance. Perversely, of course, it plays directly into the hands of the conspiracy theorists themselves.
"The people in charge of these institutions enforced the new parameters by expanding the definitions of words like “violence,” “harm” and “safety.” Things once considered part of everyday life in America—like disagreeing about whether a global pandemic started in a market or a lab in Wuhan—were increasingly off limits.
Twitter’s waning appetite for ideas or points of view outside the mainstream, in other words, was part of a broader trend sweeping the country."
I'm sure you'll find this essay interesting Ion - Aris Roussinos on UnHerd. https://unherd.com/2022/12/who-will-rule-twitter-next/
"It is in the friend-enemy groupings coalescing on social media, particularly on Twitter, that the political battleground deciding our future has been drawn, and it is in the battle for who controls the edge cases of acceptable speech, that the power to make the arbitrary decisions defining political sovereignty resides. It is a marvel of America’s political culture that, at precisely its moment of greatest internal conflict since its civil war, the world’s richest man could buy himself, if not the throne itself, what is likely to be a veto on who next ascends it. Similarly, for all that Schmitt has re-emerged as a source of political inspiration on the Right following his 2000s adoption by the populist Left, it was America’s liberal establishment that revealed themselves the true Schmittians, in their urge to save American democracy from its errant voters. Under their guidance, echoing Schmitt’s definition of crisis as where “a case of extreme peril, a danger to the existence of the state” exists, American politics since 2016 has become a permanent state of exception, in which the diminution of sovereign power in the White House was manifest largely through manipulation of social media."
There was nothing working class or dispossessed about the Parliamentary Grounds Occupation. These people - who could afford to take time off from their jobs, for a glorified road trip - were well-off, new-age nutters, mixed with actual neo-nazis. Anti-vaccination sentiment is strongest among the backers of the Nats and ACT - about as far as from the dispossessed as is possible to get.
Quote: Stuff’s Paula Penfold. In it, the time-honoured traditions of journalistic balance were jettisoned in favour of journalism which travelled in (if not at) the direction of the Government.
In the one encounter (never! again) ... that I had with PP she showed her true colours. CT confirms. You have been warned.
DS : B/S , a poll of the protestors in fact showed the majority were Labour and Greens supporters.
John Hurley 9.42
That Paul Spoonley quote - immigrants only 'if there are economic benefits, what! What a limp-wristed comment from him? We accept refugees despite there being no economic benefits to us because we are doing it out of compassion and humanitarian values that often lie dormant in our chests. But of course we need to think of the economy and the effects of unwise numbers of immigrants.
Is it Paul Spoonley that we have to blame for the flood of low-rent people taking the beds of our low-rent people, who are already needing our humanitarian support? What a fool these academic people can be, and it reinforces the disdain for 'ivory-tower academics' that I thought we would no longer see. When this tripe comes out, we should stop squeezing the tube.
OIhope that criticising Paul Spoonley doesn't break the rules Chris Trotter, but I think he needs calling out, along with other scatter-brained smarties that have arisen anon.
David George; thanks for the link! That is a pretty rich meal to digest - and I'm not 100% I understood it - especially some of the early paragraphs.
My attitude to censorship (which is really what we are talking about, I think, even if it is the reverse of the coin we're looking at) is one of 'against in principle; in favour in practice'. But note which comes first and has the higher priority. I think we can all accept that the social media are problematic, as any nutjob can express a view, or even go in for something that goes a bit beyond mere 'speech'.
'... here we see the essential contradiction of Musk’s self-imposed mission: the conflict between free speech and the good of the community is fundamentally unresolvable. Decisions will always finally have to be made by someone, and those decisions are always by their nature political, arbitrary, and thus always a source of dispute.'
Perhaps the solution lies in the reversion to autocratic rule such as seems to have been Elon Musk's objective. Frederick the Great was once asked why it was that he allowed such widespread and vituperative criticism of his rule. His response: 'They can say whatever they like. Just so long as I get to do whatever I like.'
But of course I'm not seriously suggesting any such thing. That is just one area in which the social media are problematic. I noticed later in the essay, in respect of terrorist groups, that they maintained their presence by moderating their content. So what's the problem there? Are we now going into the business of judging content by who presents it rather than what is being presented? This goes to determining whether or not you are permitted a voice depends upon who or what you are, rather than what you have to say. We already know where that can lead.
I reckon, David, there is a hell of a lot here to think about. I've barely scratched the surface. But, for now at any rate, I'm coming down on the side of permissiveness rather than proscription (or prescription) in the social media. If the repressed can not express their rage in speech, than maybe they will be inclined to express themselves in other ways. It is better to assume the agency of ordinary folks than simply to deny them. They'll learn.
"If the repressed can not express their rage in speech, than maybe they will be inclined to express themselves in other ways."
I suspect the opposite is true. Leaving aside the fact that private organisations can sense to you for any reason or no reason, particularly if what you say might lose them money, at least some of the "free speech" around the place has resulted in real-world consequences. Alex Jones caused huge mental and physical problems for the victims of a mass shooting. Donald Trump and his minions encouraged and attempted coup which resulted in a number of deaths and injuries.
But of course, people have learned to use dog whistles in their speech. Everyone knows what they mean, or at least everyone who is interested.
And I suspect that the hope is amongst the extreme right that people will absorb what they are saying and "express themselves in other ways". It's called stochastic terrorism, and people like Tucker Carlson have become experts. They never say anything out loud – apparently they are "just asking questions" leading to the American expression JAQing off. Americans have a remarkable facility for inventing interesting words and phrases it seems to me. :)
I very much doubt DS ever visited the Parliament protest group or he wouldn't make such silly comments.
Most surveys conducted within the confines of the protest clearly showed a distinctive labour/greens tilt in their politics and the few that I have spoken with were certainly ardern fans at the start of 2017.
To label them as neo nazis shows a complete lack of intellect and as someone who refused the pfizer/moderna injections I am by no means anti vax and myself, my wife, my children and now grandchildren have all had the vaccinations that were available at the alloted time.
Between the powerful and the powerful.
I prefer talk about that than subsidiary parties trying to change it. It is after all our basic belief -- fairness.
Spot on. Couldn't agree more.
I was thinking of commenting before Jacinda resigned, but (obviously) dithered. However, I think there was, and still is, a reasonable chance of significant change, in a rightward direction, after the next election.
I think it's both easy and dangerous to underestimate (or misunderestimate, as George W Bush put it) political opponents.
I think the Tribal Left backers of the current government may be misunderestimating David Seymour, and ACT, at their peril.
First, the infamous needling of Jacinda that led to the "arrogant prick" incident. It might not have been the final straw, but it can't have helped.
Further, after Grant Robertson received police protection from lamington weilding protestors, Seymour quipped that he would have thought lamingtons needed protecting from Grant Robertson much more that Grant Robertson needed protecting from lamingtons. Not quite Michael Cullen cutting wit, but getting there. (I imagine that caused lemon lipped Tribal Left muttering about dog whistle body shaming and fatphobia. Grant himself self deprecatingly admits to preferring old photos of himself because he looks skinnier).
And I was looking forward, after the last election, to fireworks within an ACT caucus of libertarian newbies under a leader inexperienced in running a caucus. But if that is like herding cats, Seymour seems to have quickly become a competent cat herd.
I take Seymour at his word, that he values policy wins over cabinet posts. He does not want a Labour-lite government, or, as he put it, a red government under a fresh coat of blue paint. The sort of problems this gives National is summed up in Todd Mueller's current responsibilities. He is spokesperson on both agriculture and climate change. He has to try and reassure farmers considering voting ACT, and, at the same time, reassure urban "teal" voters National is fully on board with adequately addressing climate change.
What could stop ACT getting policy wins? The Great Handbrake of New Zealand politics himself, Winston Peters, perhaps. If he's still got the energy for it, and if he can go fishing in the "river of filth", and come up, as immaculately turned out as ever, clutching enough votes. The thought of Luxon trying to govern while needing both Winston and ACT is almost enough to overcome my longstanding extreme aversion to Winston, and vote for him. Almost, but not quite.
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