“Trotter at his best”

Blazer said this was Trotter at his best…

I’m not so sure, unless that refers to his best at generalisation, labelling and taking sides in messy wars.

Bowalley (and The Daily Blog): Us and Them: The Fatal Divisions of Exploitative Culture.

OURS IS NOT JUST A RAPE CULTURE: it’s a Kill Culture, a Rip-off Culture and a Lie Culture as well. But, rather than attempting to reconcile ourselves to living in a multiplicity of malign cultures, it is probably more helpful to think of ourselves as inhabiting a single Exploitative Culture. One in which human-beings are consistently treated as means to another’s end – not as ends in themselves.

Cultures are far more complex than that. Labelling a whole society with negative culture tags is generally counter productive to sensible and reasoned discussion.

The trick to running a successful Exploitative Culture, therefore, lies in defining who is – and who is not – a member of it. Or, to put it another way: who is included in the idea of “Us”, and who belongs with “Them”.

Generally speaking the smaller the “Us”, the greater the power. If you’re a member of the “One Percent”, for example, it not only means that you are obscenely wealthy and powerful, but also that 99 percent of your fellow human-beings are, in one way or another, exploitable.

This sort of generalisation doesn’t help either. Yes, richer people are possibly more likely to exploit others (but are by no means the only ones who do that). But richer people are also more likely to contribute donations, and larger donations, to good causes.

Exploitation is always and everywhere associated with actual physical violence, or the threat of it. Without violence people simply would not consent to being treated as the means to someone else’s ends – they would rebel.

I don’t agree with this. Threat of violence is far from the only thing necessary for exploitation.

Exploitative Culture (which is to say all culture) may thus be further defined as the organisation of, and the devising of justifications for, purposive social violence.

We thus return to “Us” and “Them”: which may now be thought of, respectively, as those who must be protected from the imposition of purposive violence; and those upon whom such violence may be inflicted with impunity.

Does Trotter think that ‘the one percent’ are the only ones who threaten or use violence?

Consider the current controversy surrounding “Operation Burnham” the botched, or exemplary (depending on whether you believe journalists Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson, or the Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force, Lt-General Tim Keating) attack on settlements in the Tirgiran Valley in Northern Afghanistan.

What happened in the Tirgiran Valley could not have happened if its inhabitants were regarded by the New Zealand soldiers taking part in the operation as members of “Us”.

Wars tend to have an ‘us’ and a ‘them’. The SAS soldiers were acting on behalf of the Afghan Government which was acting on behalf of more than 1% of the population.

The whole purpose of their book, Hit & Run, is to make the reader see the victims of Operation Burnham as people like themselves: hard-working farmers; a trainee schoolteacher home for the holidays; parents and grandparents; a three-year-old girl called Fatima. And the more successful the authors are at transforming “Them” into “Us”, the more outrageous Operation Burnham seems to the New Zealand public.

I don’t think the whole purpose of ‘Hit & Run’ was to support Trotter’s theories on ‘us & them’.

Trotter seems to have decided that the Hager & Stephenson book is 100% correct and that the victims of the attack were as claimed by some and were all innocent people just like ‘us’.

He ignores the fact that people from that area are also alleged to have been involved in violent attacks on other people in Afghanistan, rebelling against their government and supporting an extremely repressive Taliban.

For ordinary men to accept their subordination to stronger, richer and more powerful men, Exploitative Culture supplies them with their own inexhaustible supply of subordinates – women and children. And since there can be no exploitation – no power – without violence, the maintenance of this primal dichotomy is of necessity achieved through the unremitting application of physical and emotional coercion. Domestic violence, rape, child abuse: these are not just the products of the masculine/feminine dichotomy, they are also the most tragic expression of the “Us” and “Them” divide.

The non-consensual penetration of a young woman at a party; the invasion of a distant river valley by airborne special forces; both are symptoms of the same dreadful disease.

There are certainly strong links between war and violence (and rape has often been a weapon used in wars) and domestic violence and sexual assaults.

But I think it’s all a lot more complex than Trotter suggests. For a start the perpetrators of domestic violence are far from confined to some financial 1%.

Leave a comment

55 Comments

    • Missy

       /  31st March 2017

      When you say comments, don’t you mean sycophantic fawning?

      If anyone at The Daily Blog told these people the sky was green and grass was red they would probably believe it, such is their inability to disbelieve or question what is said to them in their little echo chamber.

      Sometimes Trotter comes out with some reasonably thought out stuff, but this is a flawed article, which you have nicely pointed out Pete, so I won’t go into it point by point and repeat much of what you have already said.

      He has tried to simplify something which is not simple, but also conflate things which aren’t necessarily connected. for example where he says “he non-consensual penetration of a young woman at a party; the invasion of a distant river valley by airborne special forces; both are symptoms of the same dreadful disease” give the appearance of comparison between an SAS operation and rape – really? I know some of the guys in the SAS they would be horrified at the thought of anyone comparing their operations to the rape of a woman.

      Reply
  1. Blazer

     /  31st March 2017

    I buy the 1% theory…..

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  31st March 2017

      Great video,yet to see any of the facts challenged.The last 20 minutes is very current to what is happening right now …with the Middle East , Real Estate ,petro dollars and the machinations of U.S hegemony.

      Reply
    • Corky

       /  31st March 2017

      You would buy ice in Alaska

      Reply
    • Gezza

       /  31st March 2017

      Aljaz tv recently re-ran this documentary. Don’t know if you’ve seen & posted it here before, Blazer, but a very good explanation of how Greenspan & Bernanke basically caused the 2008 GFC.

      Reply
  2. Blazer

     /  31st March 2017

    this is an interesting fallacy….’But richer people are also more likely to contribute donations, and larger donations, to good causes.’….a bit like J.P Morgan,Goldman and the like,get caught out on large scale fraud,money laundering ,etc and pay some of the gains back in fines.!

    https://www.google.co.nz/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjlprni_f7SAhVJhbwKHd06CAAQFggaMAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.psychologytoday.com%2Fblog%2Fhidden-motives%2F201008%2Fwhy-are-the-poor-more-generous&usg=AFQjCNHAl57MNJMmrtIqs0QzwgqVA6bZ2Q&sig2=7isyBNANZG-KzjLCmkXI6w

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  31st March 2017

      Not a criticism, Blaze, just a question, because I’m genuinely puzzled by this.

      How on earth do you wind up so often getting such incredibly long links for an article, instead of just this short one?: 😳
      https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hidden-motives/201008/why-are-the-poor-more-generous

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  31st March 2017

        not very au fait,not sure what I’m doing wrong….any ideas?

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  31st March 2017

          No. Sorry, I don’t know. I just tried to reproduce it by clicking on the ‘copy link URL’ selection for that article in the list of a google search results, but it just pastes as a short direct link as above. Someone more knowledgeable than me may know. What sort of device are you posting with & are you opening the page before you copy the link?

          Reply
        • High Flying Duck

           /  31st March 2017

          You’re getting the google link instead of the original url for the story.

          It looks like you’re copying the link direct from the google search results.

          If you click on the link from Google and then copy the URL from the address bar at the top you’ll get the shorter version.

          Hope that makes sense!

          Reply
      • Trevors_elbow

         /  31st March 2017

        Copying and pasting the Google search link not the actual page url…..

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  31st March 2017

          But pasting that takes you to a google search results list. Blazer’s long link takes you to a specific article. Not to worry. Doesn’t really matter, I was just curious.

          Reply
    • Having worked with a large charity I can assure you that the wealthy do bequeath and they do so very generously. Of course this is relative. You just need to visit the USA and see the generosity of patrins towards art, education, historical opreservation and health. When NZ gets to the stage where we have many billionaires the general population will benefit accordingly.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  31st March 2017

        personal anecdote, a convenient, but in no way…..compelling argument.The wealthy give what they can write off in taxes,that is a meagre amount in context, after their trusts and tax haven machinations are…satisfied.

        Reply
        • You’re a cynic and you have away of dissing all and everyone with a broad sweep. It’s your loss I suspect.

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  31st March 2017

            I am a cynic,with good reason.Perhaps your crime’ is irrational over exuberance ‘to quote once the hero of Capitalism,the now discredited…Alan Greenspan.

            Reply
      • Blazer

         /  31st March 2017

        ‘When NZ gets to the stage where we have many billionaires the general population will benefit accordingly.’…how audacious!Trav reboots ‘trickle down theory’….on …steroids.

        Reply
        • Anyhow … regardless … a neoliberal Oligarchic Charitocracy is only the early-21st Century equivalent of an ancient Feudal Aristocracy or an industrial revolution era Neo-Feudal Plutocracy …

          All things are provided by the LandLords … and we, the tenant Precariat, shall give them even the art they desire … that they are willing to pay for and thus control …

          Art that doesn’t challenge the prevailing orthodoxy isn’t Art … It’s Design … Fashion … Interior decorating … adornment … with a commercial imperative …

          Reply
  3. Let’s remove one absurd ‘escape clause’ element from the discussion first-up.

    ALL history and comment we read is by degrees generalisation … I cite as an example “escalating crime in NZ” just yesterday …

    No complex human event, situation, intricate organisation, society or civilisation can EVER be fully and definitively encapsulated in words … I cite as an example ‘Hit & Run’ … but the very nature of language makes this impossible anyway …

    Had Trotter explained and referenced every aspect of his argument, like I sometimes try to do, no-one would read it … It would be labelled TL:DR …

    Hence the intelligent, pertinent and ultimately only question to ask is: To what extent is this or that generalisation useful in my/our analysis of something?

    What does Trotter tell us about ourselves? What parts of his commentary “ring true”?

    A great deal of it rings true for me. I’ve been saying much the same stuff for years. He is essentially describing ‘Wetiko Disease’ … perhaps the strongest tenet of which is ‘divide & rule’ …

    And he’s describing the media-ized polarisation and dichotomy central to our Westminster parliamentary system … a watered down derivative of feudalistic protection for the nobility …

    His commentary is very useful indeed and bound to inspire lively and rigorous discussion …

    Reply
  4. Gezza

     /  31st March 2017

    I found Trotter’s article most interesting for how it largely attributes his “Exploitative Culture” on the 1% of obscenely wealthy people (although there is truth in that), but then diverts off in his last two paragraphs to equate the concept with the “rape culture”, child abuse, & domestic violence issues our society faces, & to my mind loses the plot at that point.

    Given he is illustrating his point by talking about Afghanistan, and Hit & Run, it might also have been relevant to mention the power, force & coercion used by the Taliban & other Islamic fundamentalists to subdue, terrorise & exploit their fellow followers of Islam, especially women – which is driven to a significant extent by a culture and an ideology of power enforced through both supposedly divinely-dictated moral, religious & cultural superiority, plus an intertwined culture of masculinity-on-steroids, and by blind, ignorant, faith – rather than by wealth per se.

    Nevertheless, I thought this was quite an insightful commentary on the subtle propaganda tactics employed by both Hager & Stephenson, and Lt-General Keating to get their own messaging across to the general public, & note from comments on this blog to date how those, to some extent, reflect how effective both sides have been, at different times, in changing some people’s positions on the issue.

    Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  31st March 2017

      I changed my mind several times just reading your comment. 🙂
      I think Trotter has written some excellent posts previously. This however is not one of them.
      He draws a bow so long it snaps in several places. Aren’t minorities also a “smaller us”.
      As far as I am aware no-one has disputed the villages attacked by the SAS housed violent Taliban insurgents. Hager & Stephenson just say that the ones being targeted were out of the village at the time.
      It also must be remembered the Afghan mission was a rebuilding one, and at the behest of the Afghan government. It achieved a great deal for the people (infrastructure, schools, roads) and from many accounts they did not want our troops to leave.

      Comparing that to rape enters the the realms of an alternative realty.

      Reply
      • “Hager & Stephenson just say that the ones being targeted were out of the village at the time”

        How ethically convenient for them all

        Reply
    • Gezza, interesting comment, partly because it makes me contemplate my own perception …

      I don’t think Trotter is asserting “attribution” or “equation” with regard to either “the one percent” or “rape culture”, violence and war at all …

      I think he’s talking about these things being symptomatic of the way our society or ‘civilisation’ is organised … ‘Hit & Run’ is merely the ‘handy’ current example …

      The higher up the wealth & power ladder one is, the more power one has to influence society’s organisation … the more exploitative it becomes, the more violence or threat of violence is required in maintaining that “exploitative” organisation …

      Citing “the power, force & coercion used by the Taliban & other Islamic fundamentalists” doesn’t negate Trotter’s argument at all … it supports it … because their power, force and coercion is basically the same thing … Symptomatic of an exploitative culture …

      The fact Trotter doesn’t cite it is by-the-by IMHO … irrelevant …

      Their exploitative culture often appears to be and sometimes is in direct conflict with our exploitative culture … although, remarkably, a great deal of ‘trade’ continues despite this …

      When you think of the power exerted across the world by Milton Friedman’s neoliberal ideology and the military-industrial ‘force’ used to instigate it (first in Pinochet’s regime) … Islamic extremism may not even be MORE ideological than extremes of our exploitive culture – banana and coffee workers for instance – although it may be more overtly extreme and, in isolated incidents, appear more violent …

      As an innocent civilian, what’s the difference, ultimately, between being decapitated by an extremist ‘insurgent’ and being ‘taken apart’ by 20mm cannon bullets from a helicopter-gunship-mounted gattling gun …?

      Reply
      • Interestingly, along these very lines, Kaikohe ‘community leader’ Tony Taylor is now asking FNDC to “bring about an emergency bylaw to enforce a curfew” on Kaikohe …

        There’s an example of Trotter’s “threat of force” right there … Symptomatic … In the same way the crime is symptomatic …

        To my knowledge, curfews cannot really be discriminate? This would affect the entire population of the town and a large rural hinterland surrounding it …

        Yet there it is, reported in the Northern News on Wednesday, immediately after the very same Tony Taylor says, and I quote, ” … it is a really good town. There are just a few dysfunctional families” …

        Ummmmmmm …. No. All families fall along a continuum of ‘functionality’, some more functional than others …

        “Dysfunctional families” will be the flavour of the year this election year … Despite their acknowledged tiny numbers they’ll surreptitiously dictate government policy … possibly an “emergency curfew” …

        Reply
  5. Blazer

     /  31st March 2017

    Its all about power though isn’t it.Interfering in the lives of other people who do not conform to our ideals is usually …unwelcome to say the least.The clever methods of justifying ‘interference’ have become an art.Look at those lazy,nomadic Aborigines wandering about half naked…lets civilise them,show them how to dress like us,behave like us….we can get them all a job at Bunnings,and then we can tax them…..and as for the…land….

    Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  31st March 2017

      Yes what we need is far less interference from the state and more personal decision making & responsibility!

      That’s what you’re getting at isn’t is?

      Reply
      • Yes, perhaps HFD … Or perhaps, if people simply won’t see the social consequences of their support for an exploitative culture … won’t take responsibility … the state has to interfere on their behalf … to require them to see …

        Reply
        • High Flying Duck

           /  31st March 2017

          The problem with this thought process is it involves choosing to be a victim.
          “Us & Them” is a left wing straw man argument.
          What is this “exploitative culture” really other than a meaningless word stick with which to beat on capitalism.
          People are people. Coercion is involved in most aspects of life – you simply cannot have a civilisation without requiring certain norms be followed.
          It is always a fine balance between what is required of people and what they are left to choose to do.
          My view is that being forced to take personal responsibility in as many areas as possible breeds self reliance and better outcomes. Others may, and do, differ.

          The Hager / Stephenson book is about potential crime and cover up. It is most likely complete BS, but that remains to be proven one way or another. What it is not is a metaphor for society.

          Reply
          • @ High Flying Duck – “People are people. Coercion is involved in most aspects of life – ”

            You said it. “Coercion” … which implies force, mental or physical … which implies coercer and coerced … perpetrator and victim … there’s your Us & Them “straw man” … Own it …

            I’m talking about recognising that the system’s foundation and much of its ‘infrastructure’ is exploitative, and taking social as well as personal responsibility … social responsibility is (almost) inherently decided by groups … ideally by the whole society …

            This is more like empathy than victimhood IMHO …

            Reply
            • High Flying Duck

               /  31st March 2017

              This is where we differ. Coercion is a natural part of life – it happens from birth and is entirely normal. For me coercion does not equate to perpetrator and victim.
              Or do you consider childhood a perpetual state of victimhood?
              For someone who strongly believes in community you have a very poor opinion of how the standards that community adheres to should be described.
              As to social responsibility being decided by groups you are correct. But the whole society? I wouldn’t want to live in that society. You need the rebels and outliers and you need the tension as to where lines are drawn as to what is acceptable. A society where everyone falls in line and agrees would be…inhuman.

              There are definitely victims in this world, and those who exploit. But this would happen in any society as these types of people always find a way to exist. You cannot regulate them out of existence as where the regulators hold the power – that is where the manipulators will go.

            • I take your point about “the whole society” and the interplay and tension of ideas …

              I don’t want a world where everyone falls in line either, because human social evolution is a work in progress … However I go favour consensus or as near as possible to it over simple majority rule …

              You and I would probably disagree about the details of social evolution.

              People on here constantly either imply or directly say that all the “manipulators” back in our terrible socialist days were esconced in government departments and bureaucracies … doing the bidding of the centrally planned economy …

              I disagree. There may have been some, but there were certainly many employers, manufacturers, salespeople, CEOs and entreprenuers as well … along with fraudsters and charlatans …

              There’s also considerable evidence that many public servants took their roles very seriously and acted with the very best of intentions, social responsibility and considerable altruism, using the instruments of their times … an example would be Dr Bill Sutch …

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Sutch

              If we’re going to perpetuate ‘Lest We Forget’ in this country, we should apply to our social and community ‘civillian heroes’ too …

            • High Flying Duck

               /  31st March 2017

              You never know – we may reach a consensus on more matters than you think.

              Over the years my view of democracy has changed. It is fine in a homogenous society, but where differing cultures and minority groups are part of that society, democracy needs to be moderated in some way to retain the societal cohesion while enabling cultural differences to exist and be celebrated. I will boldly suggest this is something you would agree with.

              You may have a different solution to me as I suggest this should happen through careful but light handed regulation to create a minimal framework in which cultures can coexist how they wish, but which sets minimum standards for all.

              Parallel systems with different rules and consequences based on race cannot work long term.

              On your other point, what i was saying was that fraudsters, charlatans and manipulators exist in all societies in equal numbers and no matter the political framework – from communist, socialist and capitalist to libertarian they always find a way to get what they want at the expense of others.

              Finding the system that moderates them and creates necessary checks and balances is the only way to minimise their impact. Are things perfect as they are – no. But regulators are more and more closing loopholes used by corporates and the wealthy to avoid their responsibilites.

              In a more totalitarian or state based structure it is far harder to control these people if they get their hands on the levers of power.

            • … apply it …

            • I like what you’re saying about “careful but light-handed regulation” …

              I personally believe that various degrees, extents and forms of “parallel system” are all but unavoidable … and we don’t need to fear them … though my idea of it is difficult to communicate … Maori ‘marae-based’ and Pakeha ‘community’ might be an example … ?

              These are not necessarily at logger-heads or in conflict with one another, except insomuch as one, marae-based, is currently much more tethered by local and central government than the other, ‘community’ … which more-or-less wholey supports those ‘pakeha’ forms of governance …

              Maori want their marae, obviously, but I don’t believe they want to run all communities along the same lines …

              Another example might be local currencies, something for which there is quite strong advocacy here in the Far North at times … regular letters to the editor …

              If your last statement is correct … and I’m not convinced it is … then we are in trouble. New ZealLand is a very “state-based system” and those people HAVE GOT their hands on the levers of power … IMHO …

              In essence that’s what Trotter is saying I reckon …

              I’m likewise not convinced that simply reducing government is the answer …

            • High Flying Duck

               /  31st March 2017

              I think we can all agree it isn’t simple. 🙂

              I hope you give credit where it is due to the current Government’s work along side the Maori party to set up, if not separate, certainly culturally specific frameworks for education, social welfare and family support outside the rigid state orthodoxy?

            • Absolutely I give credit where its due … and the National government – Maori Party accord SEEMS to be doing well in this arena …

          • Quite right HFD. It is a lot of things, but it is not a metaphor for society. My head was being quite done in with the attempts to characterise it as such. If Trotter has a particular fault it is these long bows he draws, and all too often.

            Reply
      • Blazer

         /  31st March 2017

        it appears that the U.S ‘DEEP STATE’ is the …problem.

        Reply
        • High Flying Duck

           /  31st March 2017

          It certainly does in the ‘could be’, ‘might be’, ‘what if’ stream of nonsense from NZ’s resident crazy uncle Peter Dunne.

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  31st March 2017

            I’ll accept Major Gen Smedleys word for it.

            Reply
            • High Flying Duck

               /  31st March 2017

              People’s politics always affect how they see a situation. It doesn’t make them wrong – but it doesn’t mean they are right either.

            • Gezza

               /  31st March 2017

              Who’s Major General Smedley & what’s he had to say that you’re agreeing with, Blazer? Are you talking about Smedley Butler? Do you got a link ?

            • Blazer

               /  31st March 2017

              @G….’https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smedley_Butler

          • Blazer

             /  31st March 2017

            you are a fan of Ayn Rand I take it HFD.

            Reply
            • High Flying Duck

               /  31st March 2017

              I try to take in various views. I have even read some Bruce Jesson. A rollicking ride that one was!

  6. Trevors_elbow

     /  1st April 2017

    Anything trotter writes for Bombers website is just a tad unhinged. The writer knows his audience. … anything first published in say a regional newspaper is more balanced and less hyperbolic in its themes and rhetoric. .. can see it in the first 3 paragraphs

    Reply

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