What are we resisting?

Is there revolution brewing in New Zealand? If so, what are we resisting?

Jonathan Milne writes: Vive la resistance! Now to decide what we’re resisting.

As a country what New Zealand may be resisting most is much interest in politics.

After the surprise conservative uprisings that were the UK’s Brexit vote and the US election of Donald Trump, it is easy to look for a grand sweep of history to explain Le Pen’s rise. Will that same broom sweep through the UK general election next month, we ask, through Germany in September, through New Zealand the same month?

The last post The ‘Meh’ election? started off as a reference to this but grew legs of it’s own, I think we are different to elsewhere.

Drawing such a line in the dust, though, is a lazy attempt to avoid looking closely into the challenges facing our own communities. It’s easier to blame history for a rise of fear and loathing than to take responsibility for what is happening close to home.

Brexit and Trump and Le Pen are not the bastard offspring of Russian hackers and alt-Right hate merchants. They spring out of genuine unhappiness within large tracts of their nation’s populations, a belief that others were prospering at their expense. In France this week this can be discerned in an ugly combination of moderately high unemployment, terror attacks, and a fearful instinct to blame immigrants for both.

So in New Zealand, are we listening to our own neighbours? Or are we only listening to friends with whom we agree, our mutually-reinforcing opinions rising to the top of each other’s Facebook feeds?

Those of us with an interest in politics look for people who are willing to talk about it, but probably the vast majority of Kiwis choose to ignore most politics most of the time.

Like France, New Zealand has a widening rift. In this country, it is between those with homes and those without.

I don’t see a lot of similarity between us and France politically or socially.

Our housing crisis is creating an underclass: poorer, often young, more reliant on the social media purveyors of fake news in forming their opinions.

The French may blame foreigners for terrorism; in New Zealand we like to blame them for our housing crisis.

That’s true to an extent. And politicians in particular like to lay blame, usually on each other. But sometimes they pick scapegoats to campaign on. Immigrants, who some see as virtual foreigners, are easy targets for politicians wanting to pander to those who may be intolerant of people who are “not like us”.

The more fearful and paranoid we become of outsiders – whether that be Asian immigrants, Russian power-brokers or Trump’s alt-Right backers – the more we are distracted from responsibility for solving our own problems.

That’s a good point.

Our biggest problems in New Zealand – like violence and alcohol abuse and P abuse and related crime, and mental health that is related to both crime and drug abuse – our our own problems.

Even then some try to blame these problems on others amongst us, like Maori, or men.

We also have an obvious housing problem – simply put, we aren’t building enough houses for a growing population. But this is a self inflicted problem too. We choose how many immigrants come here, we choose how difficult it is to subdivide. And more Kiwis than usual choose not to go overseas or choose to return home.

We need to solve our own problems without creating other problems out of nothing but a stoking of intolerance.

Perhaps in New Zealand we need to revolt against our own way of thinking, of blaming rather than fixing.


  1. Blazer

     /  May 7, 2017

    this….’Our housing crisis is creating an underclass: poorer, often young, more reliant on the social media purveyors of fake news in forming their opinions.’……I blame it on….John Key….his legacy….unaffordable houses for NZ workers,and exploding homelessness.

    • Corky

       /  May 7, 2017

      The voters say you are full of it… Even in the best of times buying a first home has always been a mammoth undertaking.

      • Blazer

         /  May 7, 2017

        utter rubbish…3% P.O loans,historical house prices 3-4 times annual earnings,compared to Aucks today…10-13 times.

        • Corky

           /  May 7, 2017

          Look, sure houses are harder to afford now. But like I say, relatively its always been a hard undertaking. And if people want to move…and affordable undertaking. Auckland is no different from many other major cities -re house prices.

          • Blazer

             /  May 7, 2017

            very poor argument…’Auckland is no different from many other major cities -re house prices.’…..tackle the reasons why.

      • Corky – that is such a cop out comment. So there’s nothing to worry about then? So house prices are normal and saving the median house deposit of $100k on the median household income of $65k isn’t that hard even though it would take 8 years saving 20% of the household income to save $100k and by then house prices could have doubled, meaning you’d only have 50% of the deposit! I know Bill English likes anecdotal evidence so I can tell you that my grandfather bought his first house on the Auckland north shore outright on one income. My father bought his first house at the age of 25 on one income.

        • PDB

           /  May 7, 2017

          No doubt your grandfather didn’t spend all his money on the latest wide-screen TV, latest fashion trends and smartphones either….

          • Blazer

             /  May 7, 2017

            oh so that’s the root cause of housing affordability!?Go back to…sleep..

            • PDB

               /  May 7, 2017

              Where did I say that? No wonder you love Hager when he is the king of spinning what other people say……

  2. Tipene

     /  May 7, 2017

    Most of these problems are quite easy to resolve – they simply need the populations locus of control to switch from external (x is the fault of y), to internal (I can assist with x by doing y).

    But no, in about 5 months, the majority of the adult population will sleepwalk their way to the local school, RSA, or Rotary club, huddle into an orange cardboard voting booth, sigh resignedly, and then vote for more of the same, thereby insisting that “someone else” be responsible for fixing these problems.

    Over a million voters won’t bother, having discovered that representative democracy never really did represent them.

    Revolution? Such an act would require courage and self-sacrifice by a sufficiently motivated number of people with a cause to champion.

    The USA? Yes.

    The UK? Yes.

    France? We will see.

    NZ? Not a chance.

  3. Oliver

     /  May 7, 2017

    Vote for the opportunities party. That will be the f you vote that was missing last election.

    • PDB

       /  May 7, 2017

      I agree – the more left-wing wasted votes the better.

  4. Corky

     /  May 7, 2017

    I see two similarities between France and New Zealand- a large underclass and immigration. The difference being scale and points of impact on society. New Zealand is in the process of building its immigrant ghettos, and the underclass are yet to unite around a common cause. Our mill stone that’ll eventually magnify all of our ills is Maori. At least France doesn’t have native French people who don’t see themselves as French.

    As for Jonathan Milne. I have no time for man. I went into bat for the anti vaxxers. Milne had been publishing letters from the less literate of the anti vaxxers. Even though their points were obvious to those who had researched the topic, to the average Joe the letters looked like the work of nutters. He wouldn’t publish my rebuttal pointing out by email the flaws in my arguments. I answered all criticisms……showed up his ignorance. Never heard from him

    So excuse me if I have little time for the man. In fact, the quoted article above starts with:
    ” After the surprise conservative uprisings…” Enough said.

    • Far from being the “mill-stone that’ll eventually magnify all of our ills”, Maori are Aotearoa New Zealand’s change-agent ‘opportunity’ IMHO Corky … even if they appear to or actually do “magnify our ills” for a period of time …

      Western Secular-Christendom has become a virtual vacuum …

    • With respect New Zealand and France have fundamentally different histories and issues with immigration …it’s not just scale .

  5. Maybe violence, alcohol abuse, P abuse, much mental ill-health and crime are just symptoms of deeper problems? Symptoms of ‘existential frustration’?

    Resistance isn’t necessarily a negative thing. Are we derogatory about the French Resistance against Nazism during WW2? Perhaps they should have looked at “their own way of thinking”? Stopped blaming Adolf Hitler for their problems?

    I’m resisting an ideology. After reading Victor Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ I know more about what that ideology is …

    It’s ‘enforced existential frustration’ … The purposeful frustration of humanity’s WILL TO MEANING by a pervasive ‘global’ ideology and practice which focuses our human needs-and-wants, our WILL, on “the mere satisfaction of drives and instincts” and “the mere adaptation and adjustment to society and environment”.

    On being “units of production and consumption” … earning and spending money …

    I haven’t mentioned Adolf Hitler willy-nilly. The world learned an awful lot from him. Under his rule – his ‘tutelage’ – the concentration camp arguably reached its zenith, although he certainly didn’t invent this terrible human machination; the term coming into widespread use during the Second Boer War (1902) when over 26,000 Boer women and children died in British camps. The Americans used them for Native American Indians since about 1830 …

    Perhaps no-one else will see this. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if I only talk to myself PDB … I have my own will to meaning, just as you do …

    Today, for those in the West who “adapt and adjust”, the fence is ‘out-of-sight’ and no longer electrified … the perimeter is greatly expanded … There’s a vast exercise yard and plenty of ‘entertainment’ .. endless ‘goods and services’ to satisfy our ‘drives and instincts’ … the concentration camp has expanding exponentially … “Man’s powers and follies have become fantastic” …

    And as ours expands, for those less fortunate – wherever they may be in the world – who make our cheap goods for us, who’s resources we must exploit to make them, our own ‘service workers’ or those who simply can’t or won’t “adapt and adjust” … the wire closes in a little more …

    But the essential, fundamental problem with concentration camps remains. Those in charge simply cannot make them work completely, thoroughly, entirely, and above all humanly …

    Currently, for example, there aren’t enough huts …

  6. Brown

     /  May 7, 2017

    People looking to do stuff, like build houses, have to do so within the regulations that are imposed on them by central and local government. Maybe its not the people looking to do stuff that is the problem? I just can’t see the left options like the Greens being better at allowing us to do what we want and need to do than the disappointment that National are.

    • Looking to do stuff like …. what?

      Dynamite fishing? Duck shooting ‘on the water’? Head-high tackles …?

      Build a high-rise apartment in an otherwise low-rise suburban area …?

  1. What are we resisting? – NZ Conservative Coalition