Chris Trotter versus revolutionary reality

Chris Trotter aslks (in a verbose and round about way): While Evils Are Sufferable: What would it take to rouse New Zealanders to revolt?

Not being natural ideologues, we struggle to make the connections between the neoliberal policies imposed upon this country by successive governments since 1984 (none of which have ever had the courage to seek an explicit electoral mandate for the entirety of the neoliberal programme they intended to pursue) and the appalling social consequences to which those policies have given rise.

Not being natural ideologues and anti-ideologues like Trotter.

Although the cause-and-effect relationship between cuts to mental health services and successful suicide attempts is indisputable, very few New Zealanders would consider it fair or appropriate to lay those deaths at the door of the responsible Cabinet Minister. Similarly, most Kiwis would feel uncomfortable about sheeting home the blame for child abuse and domestic violence to a government’s failure to pursue policies of full-employment and the provision of public housing. Many of us regard such ills as the unavoidable “collateral damage” of responsible public administration.

Where most New Zealanders would draw the line, I suspect, is at the suggestion that their government might be willing to sacrifice the life, or lives, of a New Zealand citizen, or citizens, in the pursuit of purely partisan political objectives.

The protection of its citizens, both at home and abroad, is the first and most fundamental duty of any government. To abrogate that duty, for whatever reason (other than to ward-off an imminent and deadly threat to the whole population) would not be accepted by the vast majority of New Zealanders.

Were it to be proved that the government had been willing to allow one or more of its citizens to be reduced to a mere pawn and then ruthlessly sacrificed in some partisan political chess game, that might just be enough to see Kiwi “prudence” thrust angrily aside.

Such a government would have forfeited all claim to moral and political legitimacy. Channelling the spirit of Thomas Jefferson, many thousands of New Zealanders might even conclude that, in the face of such insufferable evil, it was their right – and their duty – to throw off such a Government, and provide new guards for their future security.

I think I know what Trotter is angling at, but I don’t think he’s on a revolutionary track there.

There are probably not many Kiwis who share Trotters interest in Jeffersonian history.

A handful of ever-hopefuls like Trotter and Redbaiter dream of a grand revolution that fixes everything (but I’m not sure what the outcome would be if Trotter and Redbaiter inspire revolts at the same time).

A comment in response to Trotter’s latest treatise from Ian is far more succinct and closer to real life.

Getting New Zealanders to revolt is easy. Firstly stop broadcasting rugby and Coronation street, stop producing Marmite, and decrease the fishing quota for the average Joe Bloggs. That ought to do it.