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Species of Kiwi

Written By: - Date published: 7:24 pm, February 16th, 2013 - 67 comments
Categories: class, Deep stuff - Tags: , ,

In comments Ad proposed this interesting taxonomy of Kiwi social types.

It’s an exercise that takes place in the context of social inequality. It’s unfair, it’s highly damaging, and it’s at it’s highest level ever in NZ. Ad wrote: “my intent was to broaden out your discussion from straight vertical income calibrations to this kinds of lives we see ourselves within, and how inequality might matter to all of them. One of Treasury’s core missions is to make us all wealthier. But “wealthier” might express itself in different realms and definitions of personal freedom and generative activity.”

Here’s the original comment:


In my coarse view New Zealand now has a set of lives and subcultures that increasingly do not intersect.

1. The Shareholders
Those earning over $150,000 per person, with multiple properties and regular trips, who glide over the world and who can be seen in Life and Leisure magazine. Most likely found in Matakana, North Shore, Remuera, and Palm Beach. Or retiring to Cornwall. Frightfully fit, or at least vain.

2. The Educated bourgeoise property owners.
Have degrees, salaries, as much mobility as they could wish for, live in inner, East, and Auckland and North Shore and North Auckland, plus the few remaining in Maori Hill, Karori, Khandallah. Best calibrated by the quality of their landscaping and age of their car. Retiring to Wanaka, Arrowtown, Queenstown, Tauranga, and Gold Coast. With standard “economic conservative and moral liberal” values, at least deep into the evening.

3. The Rural Conservative
Live in smaller towns, highly sensitive to commodity and dollar-cross shifts. A decreasing strata found in Balclutha, Gore, Hawkes Bay, Bay of PLenty, Waikato, Masterton, and Kerkeri.

4. The Outsiders
The strata who live in the black or grey economies, often rural in Northland or North Island East Coast, bumping along the bottom, living from cash job to cash job with no thought for mobility. Often found in the urban-rural villages such as Waikato Heads, Ahipara, Houhora, deep forested enclaves, Golden Bay, and Coromandel village.

5. The Unstable
Those one injury or one bad payday away from bankruptcy or credit card default, under incredible daily stress. Found everywhere one cares not to look, but particularly in places such as Mataura, Manurewa, Avondale, Dunedin South, the far north. And out of rural slums, around Kawerau and other dying towns, in all the jails, often out of inchoate desperation or damage to one’s own life.

6. The Old Poor
In rest homes of dubious quality, particularly in Auckland’s west, Tauranga, Dunedin’s periphery, utterly beholden to the state’s largesse, quickly draining through their equity if they had any, sustained within incredible solitude and resultant institutionalised neuroses. Often with one partner dead. Have Readers’ Digests in their toilets for reading.

7. The Old Doughty
Those who had retired, kept their house, garden towards daily self-sufficiency through a lifetime of frugality, bump along on the NZSuper reasonably, whose parents and they themselves instilled astonishing discipline in to their daily lives, and who have dedicated this same ethic to their children, who have largely left the country. Still bottle their own fruit. Often retired public servants from a bygone age, such as teachers.

8. The Immigrant Family
A relentless telic drive to redemption through work that enables at least one of their children to gain
mobility to at least one of the classes above, keeping at bay the shame of ever returning to the origin country, but largely sustaining multiple jobs, if they get them, on close to minimum wage. Whose children gain some of this drive in turn, or fall into and out of the underworld.

9. Highly mobile Greeny Liberals
Found generally in Grey Lynn, Titirangi, Aro Valley, and a few in Ponsonby. The have huge expectations, great hope in the redemptive capacity of New Zealand’s musical digital, and visual arts, and buy everything possible at farmers markets. Subscribe to Good Magazine. Have some intersection with the Outsiders if they are individual contractors to the creative sector.

You can see by the way I have framed them which cultures are in the ascendant, which in the decline. The census will show this mobility in stark relief. Each one of those is a kind of politics; each crudely drawn. We know who we are, who has been missed out.

The normative direction to the original post is: who do we want more of? What kind of people are we becoming? Do we like it? Can we really do anything about it?

For me the deeper questions are along: does MMP and fractal democratic representation simply ameliorate splitter capitalism? Would FPP make mobility-from-poverty and mobility-from-middleclass more stark?

And after that: is our political system now so weak in its instruments that fewer and fewer will be able to change their strata?

67 comments on “Species of Kiwi”

  1. geoff 1

    Hey great post, you’ve definitely hit upon a few groupings I’d agree with. Care to put some
    population estimates along with each category?

  2. Interesting comment Ad. Where does Waitakere man fit in?

    In terms of urban liberals I see that the electorates with the highest green vote in 2011 were …

    (drum roll)

    Wellington Central (where the green party vote was higher than the labour party vote for the first time ever …), Rongotai, Auckland Central, Dunedin North, Port Hills, Mt Albert, Ohariu and Dunedin South.

    These all have the following characteristics:

    1. They are all inner city seats (Port Hills is close).
    2. Apart from Ohariu they are all Labour held electorate seats.

    Interestingly the Green vote in New Lynn and Waitakere, which I thought would be hot beds of Green support, was not so good. Perhaps Cunliffe’s and Sepuloni’s (Pillay’s) performances reduced the desire of local lefties to change their support.

    • geoff 2.1

      So labour is losing a lot of their traditional voters to the Greens? Is this why Labour caucus seem to be pursuing a light blue strategy?

      • mickysavage 2.1.1

        Um caucus seems to be on a focus group mandated approach to politics.

        The Greens appear to be on a principled approach to politics. They appear to be picking up a number of urban liberals who can be good activists and also have the resources to contribute to a political movement.

        If it was up to me I would forget about the focus groups …

        • Afewknowthetruth 2.1.1.1

          Which principle is that [the Greens are pursuing]? Burn up the last of the fossil fuel reserves and bring on abrupt climate change -in other words burn up the planet we live on- via promotion of economic growth, Ponzi economics and manufacturing?

      • karol 2.1.2

        I think it’s parliamentary Labour’s increasingly light blue approach that has caused many of us to shift from voting Labour to Green.

    • QoT 2.2

      Where does Waitakere man fit in?

      Category 10: Mythical Shit Made Up By Political Commentators To Justify Their Arguments.

    • karol 2.3

      Well, I have been voting Green plus Cunliffe in the New Lynn electorate. As I’m now moving back to New Lynn (having finally been lucky enough to find somewhere a little better to rent than my current place for a reasonable-ish rent), I will probably be voting thus in 2014. I am not blue-green as many like to label us ex-Labour-now-Green party voters. I just see the Greens as having a more solidly left agenda, processes, narrative and policies than parliamentary Labour

      • Coronial Typer 2.3.1

        You’ve done we’ll with that rent; property prices are going up super-fast in New Lynn. In no small part due to the New Lynn transit station built a couple of years ago, and the massive urban regeneration occurring around its neighbouring streets.

        On top of the new 4 storey car part will be 10 floors of apartments, many under $400,000, and all selling fast as well. Lynn Mall will double in size within 3 years (with its shops facing to the street). The Mayor of Auckland will open the medical centre and car park and street rebuild in a couple of weeks.

        That was all leveraged by central and local government working together, and did not require direct transfers of wealth through income tax or capital gains tax or social welfare.

        It can be done.

        • karol 2.3.1.1

          property prices are going up super-fast in New Lynn.

          *Sigh* When is this madness going to end? So we have another suburb with a solid industrial and working class history, in the process of another take-over by those with money (or debt availability).

          I now feel really at home with New Lynn, and being into Auckland’s history, wanting to learn more – while those only interested in the best investment or speculation sliding in over the top of all that.

          However, I do think some of the development looks promising – aiming to integrate medium density residential living with pedestrian and cycling spaces, shared spaces, and available outdoor recreation areas. And all that in close proximity to public transport and retail enterprises.

          Pity that it’s likely to become more of a place for the middle classes to benefit from such an integrated community. I also know some long term residents who are worried about being pushed out of the area by the developments. Nevertheless, there’s still a lot of low income residents, and it’s quite multicultural.

          Interesting times, but also worrying.

    • JNCC 2.4

      Auckland Central is a National seat despite Jacinda’s best efforts.

  3. Lanthanide 3

    No one lives in Christchurch.

    • NoseViper (The Nose knows) 3.1

      Lanthanide
      Odd that. Is Christchurch now just part of the regions, to be unconsidered in the shadow of Auckland’s bright fireworks of growth and prospects for deals?

      I also notice a missing group the Well-paid aspirational middle class parents and child avoiders.
      I know a few in and around this group. Can we have a summary of their attitudes and pathways? What I notice is that they want now what their parents had to work for over a lifetime, and when they get it, decide they don’t want that and while they make up their mind as to what they want, shift back to Mum and Dad or at least lean on them. They are reluctant to commit themselves to a settled future, believing there are all sorts of alternative possibilities and unable to consider that fate may cause a decline in those. The cargo cult mentality perhaps?

      • Coronial Typer 3.1.1

        Probably best not to presume who lives in Christchurch until after the census.

        Nose, the glaring absence for me was younger (pre 30) people who have a reasonable education, fantastic tech savvy, great sports equipment, and little aspiration at all. Incomprehensible to me.

        But gets to the point of the original post: how on earth do you generate meaningful policy for those who are quite fine as they are, thank you very much. Not easy.

        • NoseViper (The Nose knows) 3.1.1.1

          Not easy Coronial viper. I am afraid that Labour will be going for the easiest option – doing the Karl Rove thing where you ignore your dedicated voters and the needs of the country. You just go for the swinging middle vote after data mining to find out their names abd addresses, personal preferences and then you send them letters addressed to Dear John or Emily or whatever and also phone them in a friendly, respectful manner to ask their vision for themselves and the country.

          • Coronial Typer 3.1.1.1.1

            Like being stuck at the ballot box with a pen and going “hmmm, go for mildly worse but got us through the GFC and has a super charismatic leader, or a punt on getting mildly better, but with a most uninspiring leader?” Hope that isn’t me next time.

  4. Tim 4

    Brilliant. I’d make the following observations though.
    The ability for one to transition between subcultures can be heavily age-dependent, and/or as you note (in the case of say ‘The Unstable’), one pay day, heart attack or injury away from flopping down the food chain.
    As I wander through the streets of Wellington too, I often notice the same people at the same establishments night after night who, if they had to ‘cash up’ tomorrow would find themselves having to enter another sub-culture (this can sometimes include “The Shareholder”).
    It’s interesting too the ‘once were hippies’ – seeing where they are now, or the once were Onslow College trendy liberals who once proudly protested their left-wing leanings, yet now pretend not to see you when you offer them a cordial “hello” when walking down Marjoribanks Street. (Dare I suggest it – perhaps that’s where the Labour Party ‘old guard’ come from.)

  5. This is a descriptive taxonomy and doesn’t account for the social origins or trajectory of these ‘types’.
    The first 3 seem to be fractions of the national bourgeoisie. Capitalist owners (shareholders), property owners (speculators?) and capitalist farmers (rural conservatives). Bankers should be included in the second category as most banking profits also came from rural rent farming.
    They are in fact part of the same bourgeois class. They own the means of production and employ others to work for them. But only the farmers and manufacturers are productive of surplus. Bankers and property speculators are not.
    The story of the NZ capitalist class is the rise and fall of productive capital, and its takeover by unproductive parasitic capital. (It was always there in embryo since farmers had to speculate in land values to pay the banks).
    Agriculture and horticulture remains NZ comparative advantage but it has been internationalised into the hands of a global capitalist class of which the NZ part are the backers of the NACTs. Manufacturing is now largely internationalised in largely foreign hands. Banks never stopped being British and Aussie.
    As the wealth of the country is gambled by international casino capitalism its no wonder that there is huge confusion as to the social identity of the rest of us. Are we petty bourgeois, working class, Westies, underclass, Doughties, migrants, outsiders or what? White settler NZ has always been petty bourgeois in culture as the ideal was always self-employment. The ‘working class’ came and went as a state of mind. Bosses were small and state aided, and workers always tried to escape out of wage labour.
    But today we have a huge gap between the international bourgeoisie in all of its fractions, now dominated by the bankers, and a working class beset by massive divisions including what is now described as the ‘middle class’.
    Yet these differences are small in relation to the common fate of all those whose wages are falling and who middle class aspirations end in bankruptcy. All the categories above 4-9 are fractions of the working class. Self-employment is a form of disguised wage labour that either goes up via property speculation or down in debt.
    Those who are pushed down become marginalised as outsiders, old poor, retired, demonised underclass, alienated youth etc.
    Fortunately, some seek to reverse this process by making a virtue of necessity. Among them are educated un or under-employed who are the new leading political fraction of the working class in unions such as Unite and SFWU and parties of the Left.
    To paraphrase Marx, we are not determined by our history because we can consciously struggle to transcend it. This is the category ‘revolutionaries’.

    • Murray Olsen 5.1

      I like your analysis, Red Rattler. It shows what we have in common and who we should be fighting alongside, rather than dividing us into mythical tribes based on whether we recycle or not (or some other sociological detail). It goes deeper than surface appearances, which is what we as the wider left need to do.

    • karol 5.2

      Yes, good analysis red rattler. I agree with ad in general that there has been an increasing disconnect between various communities and layers in NZ.

      But, I also don’t see myself, or some others I know, in any of ad’s groups. I’m non-property owning educated middle class, single woman, living in a mixed class suburb of west Auckland, semi-retired, with some savings – and pensions – which have kept me from crashing since my significant accident 18 months ago. Am part outsider, part Old Doughty, with a little bit of instability.

      Red rattler’s class analysis is probably a better basis for identifying the current social and economic divisions. Ad’s reads more like the sort of consumerist categories favoured by marketers. RR adds, not only class analysis, but an lement of power differentials. Also there needs to be a recognition of social/cultural capital in the analysis – which accounts for cronyism (in the past AKA “old boys network”).

      In this there needs to be acknowledgement of how ethnicity, gender and cultural values play within and between the class divisions: e.g where do South Auckland Pasifikans people fit in? And the Immigrant Family group seems to focus on South East Asian and possibly Middle Eastern and some European immigrants. These have a high proportion of middle class people with middle class aspirations, education, values and aspirations, rather than diverse Pasifika people. A large proportion of Pasifika families were brought here to do working class jobs. Some have worked and educated their way into the middle class, but many still do the low paid kind of jobs that their parents did.

      • red rattler 5.2.1

        Re Murray and Karol comments.
        The link put up by Joe90 http://www.lrb.co.uk/v34/n07/john-lanchester/marx-at-193
        is relevant.
        The writer says that Marx today got most things right, but that society it much more complex today than Marx could have envisaged.

        Yet the examples of ‘complexity’ are such as a more ‘complex’ class system with lots of mixed identities rather than based on any one class position. Eg he claims that workers can also be bourgeois by virtue of being in pension funds. Tell that to the so-called middle class in the US whose Pension Funds have been stolen by owners! This is perhaps the basis of his claim that in the West the bourgeoisie are the majority class!!

        Second, that the working class is fragmented between and within countries rather than being internationally united force. Eg he says the massive Foxconn workforce in China won a big wage increase not by striking but through a NYT article exposing the rash of suicides. So Apple was forced to respond to global public opinion of a world working class (of consumers yes) that condemned its super-exploitation. Working class unity is also expressed in its power of global consumption.

        His third example is Marx failure to predict the destruction of nature. This is outright wrong. Marx saw capitalism becoming increasingly destructive of the forces of production which are in the main nature, both as the source of raw materials, and human labour power. Global warming etc is the working out of this prediction in the deep structures of nature, just as is the rising global movement of humanity as workers to stop the destruction of capitalism.

        The relevant point here is that writer says that what let Marx down was his rejection of ‘empiricism’ as a preoccupation with surface forms rather than deep structures. I would say that this is the writers problem. It leads him to say that the nature of capitalism has qualitatively changed as it surface complexity has increased. Yet the deeper dynamics that are driving capitalism continue to polarise classes in the extreme and I would suggest make Marx even more relevant at age 193.

    • Coronial Typer 5.3

      I just wonder about the degree of desire between those who own rentable property, and those who don’t. The original post looks like its trying to spread out a discussion about inequality, along a simple vertical axis of income and assets, into something which asks: how many groupings are in fact happy the way they are? This is after all, paradoxically, both a highly entrepeneurial culture, and also one renowned in the world as a “lifestyle choice”. Where you get of the career mobility, glamour, and hustle of Sydney or Singapore or New York. Beyond the extremes of the slender segment who are incredibly avaricious, grasping and driven, do most people feel that they have chosen the segment they occupy, and are generally content within its tolerance limits?

  6. Pete 6

    There was a book a few years ago called 8 Tribes: The Hidden Classes of New Zealand that had a similar premise, albeit along social lines, not so much economic ones.

    The North Shore Tribe – Achieving

    The ambitious, hard-working, heavily-mortgaged inhabitants of the great suburban jungle for whom looking good and keeping up appearances are fundamentally important. They survive in the jungle by constantly moving ahead, up through the ranks of job, car, house, street and suburb.

    The Grey Lynn Tribe – Intellectual

    The highly educated intelligentsia who value ideas above material things and intellectualise every element of their lives. Their most prized possession is a painting by the artist of the moment, they frequent film festivals, feel guilty about discussing property values and deep down are uneasy about their passion for reality television.

    The Balclutha Tribe – Staunch

    The tribal mind of the Kiwi heartland, the provincial conservatives, who see themselves as a source of stability and commonsense, bearers of on-going connection with the land – solid, reliable and down to earth, but deceptively smart and just quietly, very competitive.

    The Remuera Tribe – Entitled

    The round-vowelled children of privilege for whom breeding is the greatest virtue, manners really do make a difference, money is great if it’s old but crass if it’s new, and what school you went to defines the rest of your life.

    The Otara Tribe – Community

    Urban, often immigrant, often Polynesian, community-minded people where family is paramount and Church is likely to play a central social role, or if not Church then another club-based group. The sense of belonging and support structures are very strong as is the pressure to ‘do the right thing’ and uphold appearances.

    The Raglan Tribe – Free spirited

    The independent spirits who value the ability to live a life according to their own priorities, not as part of the common consumer herd. They tend to be highly sensate and internally focussed – hedonists, or spiritual journeyers, or fitness fanatics or adrenaline junkies. Many Kiwis join the Raglan tribe for three weeks at Christmas.

    The Cuba St Tribe – Avant Garde

    Members of the urban avant garde who constantly seek out the cutting edge of cool, regard new, original and unique as the greatest virtues and fear being labelled ‘mainstream’ more than anything else. If you’re a student of mass culture, watch these people to see the direction that herd will move in next.

    The Papatoetoe Tribe – Unpretentious

    Urban working people who hate “wankers” and define themselves by their unwillingness to think of themselves as better than their mates – or anyone else for that matter – the classic “state house and jug of beer” Kiwis.

    • Coronial Typer 6.1

      Even in the few years since that book came out, we have changed. Clearly the truth will come out in the census, but I can definitely see distinct subsets emerging within older people for example. There, what truly matters is a mix of asset ownership, health, service proximity, and social networks. While NZ Super alleviates significant older poverty, one can see that there’s little point thinking about mobility from (say) 60; it’s set. For over half of New Zealand, from that point one still has at least a quarter of their life still to live.

      Elderly capacity to sustain the segment they are now in, is under constant threat as their role in bringing up grandchildren increases fast, as health lurches episodically, as savings (if any after our successive crises since 1987) are undermined.

      And yet NZ Super and the healthcare system and the Goldcard system support this segment (merely as an example) more than any other. Shifts in tax or asset taxes generally mean little. What remains is to sustain their networks, and remain as best they can within the lives they have chosen. S a simple class analysis, even for this highly assisted group, isn’t sufficient.

  7. Afewknowthetruth 7

    Taranaki no longer exists.

    That does mean the rest of NZ no longer gets any natural gas, and the balance of payments is thrown further into the red with all the indigenous oil no longer of importance. Also, a vast amount of engineering disappears, along with a substantial portion of the dairy sector..

    All in all quite a good scenario, I guess; fast collapse from the height of industrial empire into sustainable living for the few who have a food supply.and fairly rapid starvation for the rest.

  8. xtasy 8

    I have commented this again and again, like a broken record:

    NZ is DIVIDED, very divided, and it is getting worse by the day, and the government, the whole system as it is now, is nurturing and reinforcing it.

    It is bloody time to create an environment and society, where members start talking with each other again, not just about what the job entails, what needs to be done at work on the day, and what the last cricket or rugby game was about. Nor do we need to focus on the new “hottest” show – or opposite sex member – on the television, or in real life around us, to try and get what life is about.

    People have grown up divided now, the younger gen X and Y do not have much understanding and experience at all of “belonging”, collective efforts, common sharing and responsibilities. So society has intentionally been created to be divided, divisive, commercialised, consumerist and non-caring, I see no easy solution to change this.

    Well, a kind of meteorite swarm hit Russia yesterday, that may “wake” a few up and count themselves lucky to be alive and well, it may create a sense of urgency to reconnect, same as the Christchurch earthquakes did. But can we not get this shit working together without such disasters, or are humans just such nasty pieces of advanced “animals”, that they need to bleed, suffer and face death, to come to their senses?

    I am close to bloody despair about what goes on here in NZ, and in the world as a whole.

    • Afewknowthetruth 8.1

      When you consider that humans deliberately construct equipment to inflict pain on other humans for hours, days or weeks on end before killing them, i.e. torturing to death, you can say with considerable justification that humans are the nastiest species extant on this planet.

      When you consider that people have sent children down coal mines (along with donkeys) to pull cart-loads of coal along nearly pitch black tunnels you can say that humans are the nastiest species extant on this planet. When you consider that similar practices take place in modern times in the more destitute parts of Africa in order that global corporations can make bigger profits you can say that humans are the nastiest species extant on this planet.

      When you consider that humans are causing the extinction of dozens of species every DAY you can say that industrial humans are the nastiest species extant on this planet.

      When you consider that ‘developed’ nations have economies predicated on continuous abuse of animals, i.e. factory farming, you can say that industrial humans are the nastiest species extant on this planet.

      The ‘good news’ is that Gaia is in the process of eliminating the industrialised human species via resource depletion, abrupt climate change, acidification of the oceans etc. – all self-inflicted by industrial humans of course! That makes industrial humans the stupidest species extant on this planet.

      • RedLogix 8.1.1

        Interestingly though we are also a species sufficiently self-aware to eventually realise all of those horrors you mention are wrong … and stop doing them.

      • johnm 8.1.2

        Go! Afewknowthetruth!

        You can throw in all the wars and genocides as well and stuff like slavery and the madness of huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons! :-( Which our Generals more than capable of using.
        And the cruel heartless slaughter of Whales by those nice japs that Seashepherd is trying to block, they’re in a sanctuary but humankind still can’t leave them in peace.

    • Coronial Typer 8.2

      Kind of reminds me what one of the French commentators said in the middle of the 1968 riots and general strike. “Without tv, or work, people came out of their houses, children played in the street, there were few cars, people talked across the fence, and remembered what is was to become human again.”

      • Tim 8.2.1

        @ CT: Would that still be the case though? I’d imagine somehow that if the cellular network, or power grid suffered a catastrophic failure that put it out of action for more than a week, we’d probably have mass suicide.

  9. RedLogix 9

    NZ is DIVIDED, very divided, and it is getting worse by the day, and the government, the whole system as it is now, is nurturing and reinforcing it.

    Mainly because when women started to participate in the workforce more it came at the cost of allowing far too much of our community and social life to decay.

    I agree that most people under the age of 50 have no idea for instance of how to run some simple collective entity … like a tramping club for instance. Yet if you attended one of our meetings you'd find representatives of every social grouping you mention all happily mingling.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      Mainly because when women started to participate in the workforce more it came at the cost of allowing far too much of our community and social life to decay.

      Yep. We need incomes which enable one parent to stay at home each day to look after their children, should they choose to.

    • MeToo 9.2

      Except, of course, working class women have always worked. Looking after other people’s children, doing piecemeal sewing at bit-rates, doing laundry, growing and selling produce, working alongside the men in their lives in whatever their work was, or factory work while another working class woman did the childcare.

      I look back at my female antecedents and the only one who didn’t work in paid employment while she had children at home or school was my maternal grandmother. She had her first child in 1937, husband worked for the government and they lived in a state house and were incredibly frugal. Supplemented wages with a housecow and a garden; all clothes were home made. But her mother and my other great-grandmothers? All worked, all needed the extra income. My other grandmother? Did factory work, despite spitting out children, because her husband drank away his wages. And my mother was in the paid workforce, even with young children, in the early 1960s.

      • Colonial Viper 9.2.1

        Nice family anecdotes. But it speaks nothing to the hundreds of thousands of NZ women who were forced to leave the home for paid work out of necessity in the 1980′s and 1990′s. Creating a generation of latchkey kids which did not exist just a few years earlier.

        • Tim 9.2.1.1

          ….and so rather than categorising and defining various sub-cultures – which is probably quite useful in many ways – we’d be better off devising policy that ameliorates the negative aspects within each CHANGEABLE sub-culture. (Admitedly Ad, one probablt first has to identify the characteristics before devising policy, but we do know the shit that’s been happening in recent times – just as we did during Rogernomics and Ruthenasia eras).
          Like Karol (I think), I, and many I know fit across a couple (2 or 3 actually) sub-cultures – especially if I want to place myself in an individual context, or participate in the wider context f whanau.
          Actually, now I think about it – job well done as a parent when each of the offspring fit into an alternative sub-culture box.

          BUT – as I said in the original comment above: Brilliant (in THIS time and place).

          • Coronial Typer 9.2.1.1.1

            I’m now at the airport and on the way here I listened to Pete Seeger singing Little Boxes Made of TickyTacky. His song is not only about manufacturing subjecthoods like any other mass production. It’s also about how some are complicit in the replication. Quite a few of those cartoon categories listed in the post don’t want to change. May not be satisfied, but sure are stable. So one point of the post I see is that talking about inequality is fine, but not everyone wants to change.

            Also, there’s ‘sideways violence’; the social force and violence applied when people seek to shift up, or into another group. Stigma. Parochialism. Membership. Carpet-bagging. Envy. Exclusion. Making and example of. Manners. “Gauche”. Immigrant status. Language exclusion. Any kind of reason to not let you in.

            We are now so so far beyond the egalitarian dream of few strata, and permanent strata porosity, that many prefer to be within their milieu, knowing they will never get better or different. Which makes policy hard, ameliorating difference, even by wealth, really hard. So many prefer to remain held by their segment, or just leave the country.

  10. Afewknowthetruth 10

    A better way of categorising Kiwis is as follows.

    1. Those who know Peak Oil is in the process of demolishing traditional economic arrangements and are preparing for the inevitable collapse.

    2. Those who know about Peak Oil but are doing nothing to prepare.

    3. Those who know about Peak Oil but pretend it won’t affect them.

    4 Those who know about Peak Oil but ignore the whole issue and pretend that present economic arrangements will continue far into the future.

    5. Those who are so ‘away with the fairies’ they have never heard of Peak Oil

    We can then change the theme to Abrupt Climate Change and list the same five groupings.

    And change the theme to Fractional Reserve Banking and list the same five groupings.

    And change the theme to The Sixth Great Species Extinction and list the same five groupings.

    99% of the populace fall into groups 2 to 5 on all counts.

    • Lanthanide 10.1

      6. Those who know about Peak Oil and are over-reacting to it, forgetting that humans are the most adaptable species on the planet and that when the shit hits the fan, things can change very quickly without collapsing.

      6a. Those who know about Peak Oil, but don’t know about history and pretend that humans can’t live without fossil fuels, despite fossil fuels being the exception not the rule.

      • Colonial Viper 10.1.1

        6a. Those who know about Peak Oil, but don’t know about history and pretend that humans can’t live without fossil fuels, despite fossil fuels being the exception not the rule.

        Hmmmm. You do know that although you are strictly correct, the pre-oil population of this planet was less than 1.5B.

        And for most of the last 20,000 years of modern human civilisation was well under 1B.

        That suggests that most of us are living well into overshoot right now.

        6. Those who know about Peak Oil and are over-reacting to it, forgetting that humans are the most adaptable species on the planet and that when the shit hits the fan, things can change very quickly without collapsing.

        Agreed. It will be a gradual generational decline, not a collapse over one or two years.

        • Pete 10.1.1.1

          It will be a gradual generational decline, not a collapse over one or two years.

          That’s the nature of peak oil. The tap being gradually turned off, which should give us time to adapt. It’s not that oil will run out overnight, it’s that it will go into decline after reaching a peak – which some models say has already happened. I do like some of the work being done with the Transition Towns movement on this and obviously a more public transport friendly government is needed, along with support for locally produced goods. But I can’t help but get the impression that some of those who are advocating on peak oil issues are anarcho-primitivists in disguise.

          • Colonial Viper 10.1.1.1.1

            Yep. One could also argue that “cheap” oil (let’s say, under US$50) has already been depleted and will not be coming back. Also note that its the % of GDP (or household income) that energy takes up which is going to be key, not its nominal pricing. As incomes deflate, a litre of petrol at a fixed price becomes relatively more expensive and unaffordable.

            But I can’t help but get the impression that some of those who are advocating on peak oil issues are anarcho-primitivists in disguise.

            Some of us advocate on energy depletion issues to ensure that’s the feudal road we avoid :)

          • Rogue Trooper 10.1.1.1.2

            :)

        • Lanthanide 10.1.1.2

          “Hmmmm. You do know that although you are strictly correct, the pre-oil population of this planet was less than 1.5B.

          And for most of the last 20,000 years of modern human civilisation was well under 1B.

          That suggests that most of us are living well into overshoot right now.”

          Certainly. However we both know that Afewknowthetruth is very extreme on this, saying humans as a species will be extinct by 2050. He has previously predicted in the comments on this site that by this time (2013), there would be people starving to death in Auckland due to lack of food.

          International trade on boats has existed for literally thousands of years. Trade over land has existed for literally thousands of years. In NZ it is very unlikely people are going to be literally starving to death.

          • Colonial Viper 10.1.1.2.1

            Agree that we are in a very good position here.

            AFKTT is a bit too keen on a sudden catastrophic collapse scenario. In NZ a gradual economic slowdown/depletion over many decades is much more likely.

            • Afewknowthetruth 10.1.1.2.1.1

              The timing of collapse is difficult to gauge. However, for Greece, Spain and a lot of other countries it is effectively all over, with general unemployment rates well over 20%and rising, and youth unemployment rates well over 40% and rising,….. and no prospect whatsoever of recovery of the present economic system only a recovery FROM the present economic system. Note that Germany, supposedly a ‘power-house’ has now joined the list of nations going rapidly down the drain.

              The severe US drought continues, more or less unabated despite it being winter there. So grain harvests have been well down ion many states and farmers are thinking seriously whether it is worth even bothering to plant seeds in the worst affected states.

    • Coronial Typer 10.2

      In fact you can do a whole taxonomy of catastrophists, like a history of the apocalypse.
      - those who thought Jesus was coming again in ad1000
      - those who thought there would be nuclear annihilation
      - those who thought World War 2would destroy us
      - those who thought Communism would rule us
      - those who believe in the Rapture
      - those who thought Maori would die out
      - those who thought the energy crisis would start in 1979 and continue
      - those who thought New Zealand was the best place to be at the end of the world
      - those who thought the Black Death signalled the Great Judgement
      - those who think we are in a permanent moral decline

      On any one of these, there have been responses with quietist/retreat variants, charismatic variants, state-run variants. Sorry if you feel relativised, but human history affords me confidence that we really do adapt.
      None of those crises signalled much of the end of anything. Many forced technological changes, belief-system changes. Through each, we have shown remarkable ability to panic, and yet improve.

      • NoseViper (The Nose knows) 10.2.1

        Coronial Typer – got it right. We need to be passionate about the future not apathetic which I feel that I and many have often been. When should we start panicing though? Can you give me a lead. I have hears recent commentators on radio talk about the world having 15 years to change course to a safer path.

        • Coronial Typer 10.2.1.1

          Well to confess, I oscillate between pessimism and self interest. More in retreat mode in Wanaka, which is a bourgeoise fantasy of the purest order. I like the Transition Towns people, the ecoenthusiasts in every town like Wanaka Wastebusters, and strong Mayors – I don’t see strong or willing states emerging in the next 20 years who have the capacity to implement strong policy, especially after the post-GFC hangovers. I see only localised responses, greater oil multinational dominance, and (if Labour/Greens don’t win) a fully privatised energy market here. My advice: shift everything you have into Montaine land, and garden furiously.

          • Colonial Viper 10.2.1.1.1

            Greer on the Archdruid report regularly makes note of previous doomsday prophecies – there are lots of them – which have come to naught.

            I generally agree that NZ has 15-20 years of relative freedom to get ready the infrastructure, economy and a society prepared for the long term future. After that point it will get much harder, much faster.

            Imagine trying to run NZ on half the petrol and diesel it needs to run on today; that tends to concentrate minds.

      • Afewknowthetruth 10.2.2

        The energy crisis did start in 1979. That was the year of maximum per capita global energy availability. And it has continued ever since. It’s just that most people didn’t notice because the effects were minor until around 2007.

        Now the energy and environmental crises which have been ignored for decades take the front seat everywhere except in the minds of the saboteurs who constitute NZ parliament and other similar saboteurs in other parliaments or houses of representatives.

    • johnm 10.3

      Hi Afewknowthetruth
      I’m category 2. Because at almost age 65, I expect to be safely dead when the shtf with climate change and severe fuel shortages. But that doesn’t absolve this or any government from facing reality to protect the people as opposed to their well orf sychophants, that is. Unfortunately the latter applies. :-(

  11. NoseViper (The Nose knows) 11

    We have these social strata, and the split in attitudes into the personal preference of each, without bringing much overview, intelligence or analysis to the world’s problems being exacerbated by exponential population growth. We need to be cutting birth rates and so limiting this growth.

    This morning on radio interview with young woman of great intelligence, she was saying that at one time she was following up her anthropology degree by distributing condoms but wanted something to do that was more constructive. It is such an important thing, but prevention is less satisfying than some positive action.

    We have to break through these dismissive attitudes which have resulted in a loss of effort started some decades ago. Even if we can get the discussion and action on family size minimisation going and the helpful use of condoms for that and to prevent disease, then we will have religious fundamentalists and the quirky against it. There is always the outspoken university woman who has had ten children and is against any sort of birth control. Or yhe type like that French rich tarte who rides down pedestrians on footpaths on her motor bike and hates the idea of gay marriage or child raising because she herself didn’t have a stable family life.

    The rich can afford to indulge themselves as to children, and then send them to boarding school to imbibe their education as to values, morals, and the thinking and knowledge that will enable them to maintain their privileged position as adults. The poor are often dominated by male supremacy and/or religion and lack of commitment to family planning or even a willingness to desert the family almost completely.

    • Coronial Typer 11.1

      We have precisely the opposite problem in New Zealand. The birth rate is plummeting, Local Authority areas outside of Auckland and Hamilton are in population stagnation or decline, and even Auckland remains propped up by 15 short years of high immigration. The point of the post was to respond and add a bit more nuance to income inequality, not cure the world.

      • NoseViper (The Nose knows) 11.1.1

        CT
        Yes, but how can we separate ourselves from the world problems. The stresses are influencing us all, each country in its own way perhaps.

        • Colonial Viper 11.1.1.1

          Yes each country will have its own very specific issues to handle. The USA with tens of millions of handguns and assault weapons out in the wild is not going to be a fun place.

          Yes, but how can we separate ourselves from the world problems

          We reduce our reliance on imported energy, put some distance between ourselves and foreign sources of capital and the international financial system, move to a policy of import substitution, develop/find/keep the best people on our shores, and maintain a strong and capable defence force and maritime patrol capability.

  12. Afewknowthetruth 12

    The pre-industrial population of the world was around 700 million. Industrial agriculture, initially based on coal, but vastly expanded by the use of oil, allowed the human population to get into overshoot by a factor of around ten, i.e. there are at least ten times too many people living on this planet. When you consider that for most of the 200,000 years of the human experience there were fewer than 10 million humans living as hunter-gatherers we see that the overshoot is actually around 700 times a sustainable population. Humanity has achieved this overshoot by degrading the planet’s life support systems at an ever faster rate to the point of planetary meltdown.

    Contrary to what many uniformed people think, the decline in oil availability will be quite sudden for most ‘developed’ nations because the export-land model indicates that rising domestic consumption in oil-exporting nations coupled with depletion results in a rapid fall off of internationally tradable oil. And all the good, easy oil has been used: most of what what is left to be extracted is difficult, low quality oil.

    The other aspect few people consider is that most western nations are buying oil with worthless paper generated via the bond market. Many nations are working on systems to bypass the US dollar, which will result in catastrophic failure for nations still caught up in fiat money-printing madness. Japan is likely to be the first big domino to fall, almost certainly later this year, with most of Europe not far behind.

    The comments I’ve read indicate that most people are still uninformed/misinformed.,

    I’m still sticking with 2015 as the year that most things people currently take for granted being difficult to obtain or unavailable, and around 2020 for complete collapse of present economic arrangements..

  13. Macro 13

    One category Ad seems to have missed is the:

    “I’m do’n all rite! small business self employed contractor/trades person”

    Has a small business garage paint shop etc and works 15+ hours a day charges $65 + an hour and effectively money gouges his customers because they are forced to use his services for whatever reason – mainly regulatory. Can’t see why every one else in society isn’t like him, and generally has a poor opinion of anyone not like him – his loving spouse is of a similar opinion. Listens incessantly to talk back radio and therefore considers himself to be well informed.

    • Colonial Viper 13.1

      I wouldn’t bitch at this group of auto/mechanic shop owners. They know that they’ve just been royally screwed by the National Govt. And they are being royally screwed by the banks, the power companies, the insurers, etc.

  14. Anne 14

    Listens incessantly to talk back radio and therefore considers himself to be well informed and thinks John Key is the best thing since sliced bread.

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