Concerns about a climate revolution, particularly post-revolution

I support reducing carbon emissions.

I support reducing use of plastics.

I support moving towards much less reliance on fossil fuels.

I support reducing pollution generally.

I support healthier diets.

I have concerns about the form and degree of consumerism that has become deeply embedded in modern culture.


I have major concerns about attempts to launch the world into a revolution, purportedly to reverse climate change, that would have huge and often irreversible effects on the planet and on the world population.

One of my biggest concerns is the seeming lack of a credible post revolution plan.

I am extremely concerned about what seems like a highly idealistic ‘revolt and hope’ mindset.

Perhaps someone can explain what a post-climate revolution world might look like.

Can we save the planet without a revolution?

Can we save our planet with a revolution?

How much risk of making things worse from a revolution?

Another post promoting revolution to save the planet, from Damon Rusden at Pundit – Can we save the planet without a revolution?

The short answer is no; the long answer requires an explanation of what form that revolution will take.

I don’t know how he can be certain about that. Revolution implies drastic and rapid changes – I don’t know how many governments will risk going down that path.

After protests in France over fuel tax increases the Government there has just suspended the fuel tax – French PM announces suspension of fuel tax hikes after ‘Yellow Vest’ protests

The backpedaling by President Emmanuel Macron’s government appeared designed to calm the nation, coming three days after the worst unrest on the streets of Paris in decades.

“No tax is worth putting the nation’s unity in danger,” Philippe said, just three weeks after insisting that the government wouldn’t change course in its determination to wean French consumers off polluting fossil fuels.

A more pertinent question is whether revolution is possible without provoking counter-revolts. France just tried one tax rise, hardly a revolutionary step.

Rusden:

We all know we’re shafting the planet, and headlines every other week are making sure we don’t forget. As another Conference of the Parties (COP) conference kicks off this week – this time in Poland, this time called COP24 – we have been warned that decisive action in the next two years will be crucial.

The real problem is the solution; collectively we are still failing to meet our climate targets (by a lot) even after the heralded Paris Agreement and a global consensus on the dangers threatening us as a species. The issues need to be placed in the context of survival, because that’s what is causing this zero-sum game. The survival of our existing economic paradigm or the entire biosphere.

We cannot continue to be aware of the risks which come as a cause of climate change and believe that changing our coffee cups, picking up litter on a Sunday or buying solar panels will subdue the wave of destruction that is approaching.

This battle is not one we can win individually, nor can we afford to be content with micronized solutions.

There are many practical solutions which are put forward. A change of consumption is one method. Less meat, less agriculture, more forests. While this seems a feasible solution, it is simply too slow and too mired in development debate.

So if we accept that it is our imbedded, ‘extractionism’ method of production which is destroying the planet, we as individuals are not at fault and we’re running out of time, what do we do?

Hold those accountable responsible. Whatever form this takes.

Prosecution of the genuine polluters – the oil companies, agriculture giants, unsustainable logging companies and political enablers. There is precedent in local and international courts, but there would need to be serious political will.

Pressure politicians. While some governments are moving in the right direction, no change has come about from a complacent public. Some of the biggest changes have come from a local campaign at a council level and climbed up the governance hierarchy.

As what has just happened in France shows, there can also be strong opposition to change.

There has been a concerted effort over the past decade or so to embed Green activists in councils at local level and try to generate a revolution from there, but even relatively modest changes like installing cycle lanes and removing car parks has been controversial and contentious.

There is growing annoyance here in Dunedin over the disruptions caused by putting in cycle lanes that are hardly used, while road traffic flow is noticeably getting worse.

Public demand for taxpayers’ money to be used exclusively for green investment; ACC and the Super Fund are billion-dollar investment portfolios and could have a real impact. Some banks and universities have also done so due to public pressure.

  • Boycott. As individuals we cannot do much; as a collective we can do more. Polluting industries will respond. Awareness campaigns across the globe prove this.
  • Strike. Workers are the ones who produce; if there is no production there is no pollution. Strikes are an important part of workplace relations and bosses will get the message.
  • Shut it down. Hard to argue this wouldn’t make it clear that we want an immediate transition.

All of this must be done comprehensively.

We cannot continue extraction, production and materialism on the levels we are now. We cannot continue to live in isolation, or pretend that unrealised technology will save us. We must radically change the way we function, at the source. With direct action. And we have about ten years left to do so.

That is not going to be easy (to get public support and to get Government compliance).

And there is no guarantee that any revolution would succeed.

Nor is there any guarantee that adverse reactions and unintended consequences won’t make things worse.

It has already provoked violent counter-protests in France.  That sort of reaction could get much worse.

The poor people of the world would become more vulnerable – they would bear most of the brunt of radical changes. Richer people can more easily afford to adapt (or avoid).

It would be a very risky experiment with no way of knowing what the outcome would be.


From Hawkes Bay Today last year: (Damon Rusden: Our reliance on a failed model) – Damon Rusden is a politics international relations and public policy student at Victoria University. He is the Green Party candidate for Napier in the upcoming general elections.

His views seem to have not been very popular in last year’s election – Napier electorate:

  • Candidate votes 1,386 (3.63%)
  • Green electorate vote 1,938 (5.00%)

 

Books and documentaries on NZ political and economic history

A 25 year old dude with an interest in New Zealand politics asked at Reddit – Can anyone suggest a book that discusses NZ politics and economics of the past ~70 years?

My issue is, there is very little information available to me that lays out our entire history.

I’ve looked everywhere I can think of and I haven’t been able to find any concise histories of what the hell happened in our country in the last 70 years from our free trade deal with the UK til how we got to where we are today.

If anyone could suggest a book, it’d be greatly appreciated.

Hearing the last generation making vague allusions to events that happened 30 years ago that shaped their political views that I have no understanding of really makes it hard to evaluate where we are today.

There are a lot of misleading (and false) claims and assertions about what happened here economically and politically through the 1980s and 1990s (the move to the much maligned and misrepresented ‘neoliberalism’).

Some suggestions in comments at Reddit:

The documentary Revolution on NZ on Screen covers everything from postwar to post-Ruth Richardson era. It is very good.

Great series, I came across the book recently too. Adds some interesting detail.

Revolution (part one) – Fortress New Zealand

Documentary series Revolution mapped the social and economic changes in New Zealand society in the 1980s and early 1990s. This first episode focuses on NZ’s radical transformation from a heavily regulated welfare state to a petri dish for free market ideology. It includes interviews with key political and business figures of the day, who reveal how the dire economic situation by the end of Robert Muldoon’s reign made it relatively easy for Roger Douglas to implement extreme reform.

Revolution (part two) – The Grand Illusion

This second episode argues that in its first term in office, the Labour Government promoted neoliberal reform via illusory ideas of consensus and fairness, while PM David Lange mined goodwill from its indie anti-nuclear policy (famously in an Oxford Union debate, see third clip). The interviews include key figures in politics, the public service and business: an age of easy lending and yuppie excess is recalled, while those in rural areas recount the downside of job losses.

In a Land of Plenty (it’s on the youtube) is worth a couple of hours, focused more on our primary industries

New Zealand – In a Land of Plenty Full

2002 Documentary about economic changes in New Zealand during the 1980’s. Documentary by Alister Barry and narrated by Ian Johnstone.

Book suggestions:

by Raymond Miller covered enough of the basics to get through a 100 level Politics class, Miller was the lecturer though so of course he’d build the class content around his own book. “Democracy in New Zealand”

Raymond’s books are great. I’ve read a couple even though I only took a single politics gened. Recommend Party Politics in NZ too even though it’s moderately outdated now.

Can’t go wrong with Kings’ Penguin history of New Zealand for a great explanation of Maori colonisation to the present, and for the 20th century rudd & ropers’ the political economy of new Zealand is an excellent political & sociological analysis of our economy that doesn’t read like paint drying.

The Penguin History of New Zealand – tells that story in all its colour and drama. The narrative that emerges is an inclusive one about men and women, Maori and Pakeha. It shows that British motives in colonising New Zealand were essentially humane; and that Maori, far from being passive victims of a ‘fatal impact’, coped heroically with colonisation and survived by selectively accepting and adapting what Western technology and culture had to offer.

Perhaps: New Zealand Government and Politics

Sixth Edition Edited by Janine Hayward

New Zealand Government and Politics

  • Contemporary: updated following the September 2014 NZ election, makes this the most current text on the market
  • A truly introductory text the sixth edition has been carefully restructured and rewritten to suit the learning needs of first year students. Key introductory topics are covered early on, concepts have been simplified and there’s no assumed knowledge (as well as less specialised chapters).
  • Highlighting of Maori politics. NZ political science has taken a very long time to engage with this issue, and it is not only profiled right up front in Part 1, but also thematically woven through the other sections

I highly recommend Paradise Reforged by James Belich for his look at post-war economic and political history. His theories are entertaining AND enlightening. You’ll never guess how much of our history revolves around butter.

Paradise Reforged – A History of the New Zealanders, 1880-2000: The sequel to the best-selling Making Peoples, which was a bestseller and award-winner in New Zealand. It picks up where Making Peoples ended – at the beginning of the 20th century. The volume presents an account of a country which in 100 years undergone massive changes as a flood of “Pakeha” (European) immigrants built on the land opportunities opened by the ferocious British-Maori wars of the 19th century. Torn between British and Maori identities, New Zealanders have successfully created a new nation but one in which the tensiosn and injustices of its founding are never far from the surface.

If you’re looking for specific topics, the NZ Journal of History can be quite useful.

And Papers Past if you want to read what people were saying at the time (although it’s missing a lot of the more recent stuff).

 

“Freedom of expression is often one of the first victims of a successful socialist revolution”

The source of that headline quote might surprise some people.

Nándor Tánczos is probably best known as a rasta Green MP  from 1999 to 2008 – he lost his place in Parliament after the 2005 election, but as next on the list got back in soon after as Rod Donald died just before the new Parliament  met for the first time.

His current Twitter profile: Rastafarian social ecologist with anarchic tendencies

Nandor Tanczos

So this tweet is interesting.

This prompted a series of tweets from @LewSOS:

The trouble with revolution, socialist and otherwise, is that it *requires* suppression of free expression to prevent counter-revolution. Such repression is not merely a side-effect of revolution, but is intrinsic, and must be backed by violence if the revolution is to persist.

Lenin and Mussolini and Castro and Mao and Franco were all perfectly clear on this point. A revolution without repression and violence isn’t a revolution. It’s just an advisory campaign.

A democratic revolution is no such thing. It’s a nonsense. What the people vote for, the people can vote against, if they are allowed to vote again. So for the new regime to persist, they must not be allowed to do so. This is why I am neither a socialist nor a revolutionary.

At a basic functional level, it isn’t really. But the specifics matter. Popper was about very specific lined restrictions to safeguard the open society, but the revolutionary praxis in real life has tended to involve a great deal more murdering of dissidents

If socialist policies are adopted freely and maintained democratically, then at a regime level, for me there’s no very meaningful difference with any other democracy. The socialism bit is incidental and nearly irrelevant as it can be reversed at any time by a change of government.

(Whether it could be reversed in practice is another matter, because in principle capitalism could be reversed in the same way, and yet it has not been, because norms and institutions have power of a sort)

Some interesting and thought provoking stuff there.

So is it possible to have a revolution while retaining democracy?

Perhaps revolutionary change without having a revolution is possible.  Jacinda Ardern’s idea of government is revolutionary perhaps?

Too revolutionary for some. Not enough of a revolution for others. (Some thing it is little more than a softer same old).

Viva Jacinda?

Can Peters be Trotter’s Trotsky?

It has been entertaining watching activists on blogs and other social media trying to influence the outcome of the formation of a new government, from imploring parties to do what they want to subtle attempts at influence.

Chris Trotter has been in activist overdrive at hos Bowalley blog, and also at The Daily Blog and in weekly media columns.

Adults In The Room?

WHAT’S GOING ON, JACINDA? Why has the former Labour Finance Minister, Sir Michael Cullen, and Helen Clark’s former Press Secretary, Mike Munro, been invited on to your team of negotiators with NZ First? And, while we’re on the subject of Labour’s Rogernomics Generation, why was Annette King sent to ride shotgun alongside you for the duration of the election campaign?

These are important questions, because when Jacinda talked about ushering in “generational change”, most New Zealanders fondly assumed that she was committed to taking their country forward – not back.

The other assumption New Zealand made, as the baton of leadership passed from Andrew to Jacinda, was that she was completely up to the job of carrying it without assistance.

I think she’s up to doing it without Trotter’s assistance.

“Dear Winston” – An Open Letter To The Leader Of NZ First.

Changing the government will require a wise head and a great heart. You have until Thursday, Winston, to prove to New Zealand that you possess both.

The Hallelujah Song.

Winston needs to know that Labour’s reach continues to exceed its grasp: that its MPs strive for something beyond mere political power; that it is still a party of nation-builders.

He will be studying Jacinda Ardern especially closely. Does she fully appreciate the sheer weight of the hopes and dreams New Zealanders have heaped upon her? Is she ready, truly ready, to fulfil them? And, does she show even the slightest sign of knowing how? Is hers the principal voice among Labour’s team of negotiators? Or, does she constantly defer to her friend and ally, Grant Robertson? And does Grant, in turn, look to his mentor and patron, Sir Michael Cullen, for the right words at the right time? And has Sir Michael ever known how to sing the Hallelujah Song?

In the absence of the Left’s uplifted voices, Winston will take what he can get from the Right.

When he’s not in despair Trotter is often angling for his revolution.

Play It Again, Winston: An Article Written 12 Years Ago For “The Independent”.

Jesson took a kinder and more measured view of his subject:

“Perhaps the truth is that Peters is a sensationalist with an element of sincerity? Who knows? Probably not even Peters. It doesn’t matter anyway because Peters’ importance is his role not his motives. His role is indicated by the name he has chosen for his party: New Zealand First. And it is indicated by the things he campaigns about, because there is a consistent thread running through them. He is as fiercely opposed to foreign investment as he is to the government’s immigration policies. Peters is a rarity in New Zealand, he is a nationalist – probably our only serious nationalist politician since Norman Kirk, or perhaps even John A. Lee.”

It is significant, I think, that both of the politicians to whom Peters is compared by Jesson were from Labour.

At this point in its history, New Zealand stands in need just such a nationalist politician. Already, in the private seminars and political briefings paid for by the big corporations, there is talk about the changes our association with the burgeoning economies of Asia is bound to bring. Hints that our Enlightenment faith in individual liberty and the Rights of Man may have to be modified if we are not to antagonise our new “partners”.

Winston Churchill heard similar whispers in the early months of 1940 – and rejected them. Britain, he knew, was more than a collection of islands, it was a collection of ideas. Ideas too valuable to surrender for the paltry “rewards” of a dictated “peace”. Ideas worth fighting for.

It’s that same determination to stand and fight that lifts the movie Casablanca so far above the ordinary Hollywood fare. The unlooked for appearance of the idealistic Ilsa, draws forth a kindred response from the world-weary Rick. In the end we discover that the hero’s dead-pan, wise-cracking persona hides something altogether more admirable – more noble.

So play it Winston. Play it one more time.

You know what we want to hear.

You played it for Bolger, now play it for Clark.

If he could stand it, so can she.

Play it.

Play out the revolution for Chris. In his next post he actually headlines the ‘R’ word.

Talkin’ ‘Bout A Revolution – Or Not?

“THESE TALKS ARE ABOUT A CHANGE in the way this country is run. Both economically and socially.” That is how Winston Peters characterised the government formation negotiations currently drawing to a close in Wellington. But, what could his words possibly mean, in practical terms?

If seriously intentioned, Peters’ call for economic and social change would have to encompass the thorough-going “de-neoliberalisation” of New Zealand.

A well-organised campaign to root out neoliberalism from all of our economic and social institutions would signal that Peters was serious about changing the way this country is run. And for all those who pretend not to know what the term neoliberalism means, let me spell it out. I am talking about the deliberate intrusion and entrenchment of the logic and values of the marketplace into every aspect of human existence.

Replacing it with the deliberate intrusion and entrenchment of the ‘logic and values’ of the government into every aspect of human existence.

Governments often seem to lack logic, and struggle to appreciate that singular values cannot be applied evenly and fairly onto millions of people.

Neoliberals have been hard at work in New Zealand society since 1984 and the damage they have inflicted upon practically all of its institutions is enormous.

There have been large scale changes for sure – but they have been a mix of success and failure, improvement and deterioration.

New Zealand has significant social challenges for sure, but going back to a type Muldoonism, that Peters seems to hanker, would be as misguided as it is impossible.

I somehow doubt that trotter was a fan of the pre-1984 government. He hankers for winding the calendar back further, to 1972 and to 1938. The world has changed a wee bit since then.

It is possible, of course, that Peters is talking-up his disdain for the Greens in order to avoid spooking his core supporters in the countryside; and that, privately, he is right behind the eco-socialists’ radical policy agenda. Except, if that is the case, then he must surely be bitterly disappointed by Labour’s extreme policy timidity.

In other words, non-revolutionary.

Is the sort of party that invites Sir Michael Cullen and Annette King to join its young leader at the negotiating table, really the sort of party that is getting ready to throw its weight wholeheartedly behind “a change in the way this country is run. Economically and socially”?

Labour and National got by far the biggest share of the vote (over 80%). NZ First got 7.2% – even if Trotter can convince Peters to lead his revolution it would be with small minority support.

Trotter is an opportunist, imploring what he thinks is the most likely way to swing his revolution. Winston Peters is a very unlikely Che, but it seems to be Trotters’s best and possible only chance right now.

An Expression Of Democratic Interest.

REGARDLESS of NZ First’s ultimate decision, Writ Day, 12 October 2017, was a day for celebration. The 2017 General Election, now completed, will, eventually, deliver a government which has been shaped by the will of the New Zealand people – in full accordance with democratic principle.

The tragedies and injustices that impelled the electorate’s judgement will carve-out for themselves a substantial and urgent claim upon the new ministry’s programme.

How many votes were compelled by “tragedies and injustices”? No evidence, Trotter is speaking for himself only.

The priorities of government will change, for the very simple reason that we, the people, have changed them. Any politician who believes it possible to simply pick up where he or she left off before the voting started, is in for a rude awakening.

Not that our elected representatives need to be told this. Those who live and die by the democratic sword require no lessons in the keenness of its blade. Of much more concern to us should be the people in our community who wield delegated authority. Those employees of central and local government whose daily decisions influence people’s lives so dramatically. The class of persons who used to be called “public servants”, but who are, increasingly, taking on the appearance of our masters.

It’s a process which has been underway for the best part of thirty years; set in motion, as you would expect, by the radical “reforms” of the Rogernomics era.

Back to this again.

That these free-marketeers seized upon the “public choice” theories of the American economist, James Buchanan, is unsurprising.

It was only after Buchanan’s death that researchers uncovered his life-long links to the most extreme anti-democratic elements of the American Right. Buchanan’s concern, like that of his wealthy backers, was that the stark contrast between private selfishness and public altruism would, in the long term, prove politically unsustainable. Only by forcing the public sector to become as vicious and unaccountable as the private sector could the dangerous example of collective caring be negated.

Labelling the private and public sectors as vicious could itself be seen as vicious.

If our new government is serious about wanting to bring public spending under control, it could do a lot worse than to start by reversing the perverse reforms of Buchanan’s “public choice” disciples. After all, if there is one group these free-market theorists hate more than responsible and caring public servants, it is responsive and caring politicians.

Who are “these free-market theorists” in New Zealand? Straw men and women?

It is a measure of the free-marketeers’ success in undermining the credibility of anyone claiming to serve the public good, that merely suggesting a politician might be responsive and caring is enough to invite instant incredulity and derision.

That’s extreme ideological nonsense – one could say inviting incredulity and derision.

Buchanan and his ilk’s hostility to democracy arises precisely out of its ability to create public institutions capable of responding positively to the expressed interests of ordinary citizens. Democracy also makes it possible for ordinary citizens to redirect economic effort away from purely private purposes and towards more publicly beneficial endeavors. In other words, the expressed will of the people is able to override the “logic” of the market.

“Politics without romance” was how Buchanan described the substitution of market forces for Democracy’s “expressive interests”. If the 2017 election was about anything, it was about turning that around.

Trotter seems to be trying his hardest to turn one claimed extreme (grossly exaggerated) into his own preferred extreme.

I doubt that Peters is the one who will deliver it for him. If Winston starts a Trotterite revolution (very unlikely) there is likely to be a very unhappy electorate. That’s not what most of us voted for.

Trotter should try to get himself appointed to the NZ First board. Too late this time round but he might then be in a position to choose the government in 2020.

But Trotter joining NZ First is about as likely as Peters taking his pleas for revolution seriously.

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.

Revolt to change everything back to how it was

It is a week to go until the French presidential election (round 1) but many voters remain undecided, and the outcome is far from certain. A dominant sentiment is dissatisfaction with the status quo.

The French want “everything to change, so things can go back to being the same”.

Sound familiar? But it’s only political activists from the hard left and hard right in New Zealand who want an impossible revolution.

Stuff: With the French presidential elections, anything is possible

“Tous les scenarios sont possibles. Tous.”

These are weird political times, and France has caught the bug. More than a third of the French are still undecided on their vote for who will replace the Socialist French President Francois Hollande.

Many voters may simply stay at home. Political science is struggling to make any confident predictions about what this all means for the result.

“I’ve covered French presidential elections for 30 years and I’ve never seen one like this one,” says Philippe Marliere, professor of French politics at University College London.

“This campaign has been a roller-coaster of minor, major upsets, surprises, twists and turns. And it isn’t over yet.”

This is a country of people sick of the status quo, who feel the country has gone down a dark, depressing alley. They want everything to change, so things can go back to being the same.

They want a revolution. They want heads to roll. They’re angry, and they’re about to vote.

That sounds much like the US situation, and to an extent Brexit in the UK.

But I don’t think there is anything like a widespread heads must roll type of anger in New Zealand, yet at least.

There is anger here, but but not so much against the current Government.

Does New Zealand need a revolt?

Bryce Edwards in NZ Herald: Will Trump effect be felt Downunder too?

Donald Trump is the latest political success to highlight the power of anti-establishment politics – but he’s not the best advert for it.

Instead, Trump is a reminder that revolts against the Establishment emerging around the world at the moment take many different forms. Some are left-wing, others right-wing, nationalist, populist, and so forth. So to be anti-establishment doesn’t necessarily mean being a supporter of reactionary politics.

What all these revolts have in common is their rebellion against the status quo and those in power.

Such a revolt could be beneficial in New Zealand – especially if it took a much more progressive orientation, compared to Trump and other more populist, reactionary and nationalist demagogues who sometimes surf the wave of public disenchantment with mainstream politics.

While political commentators and media may long for a revolt, boring same old doesn’t put them in the limelight, do people in New Zealand generally want a revolt against the system? I don’t see any sign of it apart from the likes of Edwards and Chris Trotter and Martyn Bradbury and a few radicals in social media.

It’s interesting to see Edwards wish for a specific type of revolt – “a much more progressive orientation”. As in socialist?

Much as they might like to I don’t know that media commentators get to pick the nature of revolutions.

Anti-establishment politicians and movements are a necessary part of politics. They shake things up and open up possibilities with radical ideas.

By asking difficult questions, putting forward unfashionable ideas and questioning authority, an anti-establishment force can highlight problems in the system and give voice to the powerless and forgotten.

From what I see they tend to give voice to themselves, frustrated activists on the margins who think they represent the will and the needs of masses but are far removed from reality and ordinary New Zealand.

Such a movement here is likely to be more left-wing. Earlier in the year when a UMR opinion poll on the US presidential candidates gave a choice between radicals, 77 per cent of New Zealanders chose Bernie Sanders, compared to 8 per cent for Trump.

Why is it likely to be more left wing?

Mana failed last election when they joined forces with Kim Dotcom, they went backwards rather than forwards with their hopes of revolution.

Labour and Greens are hardly likely to precipitate a revolution, they are trying to look united and a mainstream alternative. Their leadership seems entrenched and hardly El Che.

Edwards then details his “10-point manifesto for change in New Zealand”. Is he a political scientist and commentator, or a political activist?

He is leaving Otago University next year and moving to Wellington.

ODT: Politics lecturer leaving amid humanities cuts

Dr Edwards used Twitter to announce his voluntary resignation after 10 years in the politics department.

“Sad to be saying goodbye to @otago — just signed my voluntary redundancy from Politics Dept. Finish in April, appreciative of 10 great years”.

On leaving the role in April he planned to move to Wellington to complete a book about problems in New Zealand democracy and take “a very active role” analysing the general election.

Will the book be launched in the election  campaign?

I think Bryce is hoping for something exciting to happen in New Zealand politics to give him more to write about and talk about.

But with this revolutionary talk does he hope to spark the revolution?

I don’t think New Zealand needs a revolt, we could do with a few tweaks to a system that is generally working quite well.

The source of the Panama Papers speaks

A post by ‘John Doe’, who claims to be the source of the Panama papers, gives a mention to New Zealand and John Key but also promotes the next revolution, digitized..

THE SOURCE OF THE PANAMA PAPERS SPEAKS

Income inequality is one of the defining issues of our time. It affects all of us, the world over. The debate over its sudden acceleration has raged for years, with politicians, academics and activists alike helpless to stop its steady growth despite countless speeches, statistical analyses, a few meagre protests, and the occasional documentary.

Still, questions remain: Why? And why now?

The Panama Papers provide a compelling answer to these questions: massive, pervasive corruption. And it’s not a coincidence that the answer comes from a law firm.

That sounds quite like political activism.

Shell companies are often associated with the crime of tax evasion, but the Panama Papers show beyond a shadow of a doubt that although shell companies are not illegal by definition, they are used to carry out a wide array of serious crimes that gobeyond evading taxes.

I decided to expose Mossack Fonseca because I thought its founders, employees and clients should have to answer for their roles in these crimes, only some of which have come to light thus far. It will take years, possibly decades, for the full extent of the firm’s sordid acts to become known.

It’s hard to believe that one law firm from Panama is a major part of the problem throughout the world.

For the record, I do not work for any government or intelligence agency, directly or as a contractor, and I never have. My viewpoint is entirely my own, as was my decision to share the documents with Süddeutsche Zeitung and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), not for any specific political purpose, but simply because I understood enough about their contents to realize the scale of the injustices they described.

One person claiming to have done it all by themselves sounds familiar.They seem to fancy their chances of starting a revolution.

Historians can easily recount how issues involving taxation and imbalances of power have led to revolutions in ages past. Then, military might was necessary to subjugate peoples, whereas now, curtailing information access is just as effective or more so, since the act is often invisible.

Yet we live in a time of inexpensive, limitless digital storage and fast internet connections that transcend national boundaries. It doesn’t take much to connect the dots: from start to finish, inception to global media distribution, the next revolution will be digitized.

He goes on, including singling out New Zealand and John Key for a mention.

Of course, those are hardly the only issues that need fixing. Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand has been curiously quiet about his country’s role in enabling the financial fraud Mecca that is the Cook Islands.

That’s all that’s said about here but it has stirred up media and discussions.

Stuff reports on this in Panama Papers whistleblower calls out John Key over silence on ‘fraud Mecca’  and quotes a response from Key:

Key said he was aware he had been singled out over the Cook Islands in the overnight statement, but said it was historic.

Speaking at the National Party northern regional convention in Auckland on Saturday morning, Key said he was confident neither he nor any of his ministers would be on a list of several hundred names due to be released on Monday morning.

“I won’t be on that list. These people have had these papers for a year looking through politicians,” he said.

“I know my own personal situation. I can assure you if I’d been in it or my ministers had been in it, we’d well and truly know by now. He’s made reference to me as the Prime Minister of New Zealand.

“We haven’t seen the papers so we can’t comment in any great note and when we get the chance we’ll work our way through them.”

There will no doubt a lot more attention paid to this as more information becomes available (which is really quite sparse so far).

But The Standard are already relishing the chance to pile more on Key, with two featured posts on it today:

Panama leaker’s statement singles out John Key

Over night the Panama Papers leaker “John Doe” released a “manifesto”.

In it he/she mentioned just one national leader by name, singling out our very own John Key, for his “curious silence”…

Why was John Key singled out by Panama Papers hacker?

Why, out of all the rotten, corrupt and unprincipled nations of the earth, did the Panama Papers hacker single out New Zealand’s John Key for special mention?

Simon Louisson does his best to interweave Key with the post of the supposed source of the Panama papers.

I think that at this stage the self promotion of the next revolution, digitized, is of more note.

 

 

Are Republicans revolting?

It appears that the popularity of Donlad Trump in the US is a sign of Republicans revolting against the Grand Old Party stuck in the past, and against big Government and Washington, and against ‘political correctness’, and probably against many other things, a pent up rage against the machine finding a way out.

From The Atlantic:

The Great Republican Revolt

The GOP planned a dynastic restoration in 2016. Instead, it triggered an internal class war. Can the party reconcile the demands of its donors with the interests of its rank and file?

The angriest and most pessimistic people in America aren’t the hipster protesters who flitted in and out of Occupy Wall Street. They aren’t the hashtavists of #BlackLivesMatter. They aren’t the remnants of the American labor movement or the savvy young dreamers who confront politicians with their American accents and un-American legal status.

The angriest and most pessimistic people in America are the people we used to call Middle Americans. Middle-class and middle-aged; not rich and not poor; people who are irked when asked to press 1 for English, and who wonder how white male became an accusation rather than a description.

We get some of that here in New Zealand – both accusations and reactions.

White Middle Americans express heavy mistrust of every institution in American society: not only government, but corporations, unions, even the political party they typically vote for—the Republican Party of Romney, Ryan, and McConnell, which they despise as a sad crew of weaklings and sellouts. They are pissed off. And when Donald Trump came along, they were the people who told the pollsters, “That’s my guy.”

They aren’t necessarily superconservative. They often don’t think in ideological terms at all. But they do strongly feel that life in this country used to be better for people like them—and they want that older country back.

Funnily here in New Zealand anyway it’s also the far left that want their older country back too, the pre-neoliberal one.

You hear from people like them in many other democratic countries too. Across Europe, populist parties are delivering a message that combines defense of the welfare state with skepticism about immigration; that denounces the corruption of parliamentary democracy and also the risks of global capitalism. Some of these parties have a leftish flavor, like Italy’s Five Star Movement. Some are rooted to the right of center, like the U.K. Independence Party. Some descend from neofascists, like France’s National Front. Others trace their DNA to Communist parties, like Slovakia’s governing Direction–Social Democracy.

But we keep chugging away herewith one of the most popular Prime Ministers ever. John Key seems to be keeping his National fans happy-ish.

Except that the hate against Key also seems to be mounting.

But if the anti-ists find something that strikes a chord here amongst the masses, something far more meaningful to the non-political than trumped up and overblown asset sales or TPPA campaigns, could revolution also blow into the land of the long white cloud?

This year, they are counting for more. Their rebellion against the power of organized money has upended American politics in ways that may reverberate for a long time. To understand what may come next, we must first review the recent past.

Not so long ago, many observers worried that Americans had lost interest in politics. In his famous book Bowling Alone, published in 2000, the social scientist Robert Putnam bemoaned the collapse in American political participation during the second half of the 20th century. Putnam suggested that this trend would continue as the World War II generation gave way to disengaged Gen Xers.

Sounds similar to here, apart from some who are desperately willing the missing million to stand up at the polls and be counted.

Putnam was right that Americans were turning away from traditional sources of information. But that was because they were turning to new ones: first cable news channels and partisan political documentaries; then blogs and news aggregators like the Drudge Report and The Huffington Post; after that, and most decisively, social media.

Here in New Zealand at the moment Facebook is the hidden power. Can any party or political movement work out how to tap that potential?

Or is it a matter of chance, like Nek Minit?

I think there are significant differences between the US and us right now. Their right wing party is in turmoil while our right-ish wing party is enjoying ongoing strong support at up to double that of it’s main opposition.

But at some time a revolution may emerge out of social media, as The People get fed up and want something different.

It could happen gradually, or something could tip us over the edge and ‘easy does it’ suddenly becomes to hard too sustain.

Despite the frantic fulminating for revolution of a few hard core activists it doesn’t seem to be anywhere near imminent here.

But there could be a social media fuse waiting for a real reason to be lit.