China Syndrome

Written By: - Date published: 12:41 pm, April 5th, 2008 - 21 comments
Categories: International - Tags:

elephant-in-the-room-harrison1.JPGLiberal democracy (ie. democracy where there are truly competitive elections) is the dominant ideology of government of our time, having seen off monarchy and totalitarianism in both its fascist and communist guises. And if there’s one thing the world’s liberal democracies agree on is that spreading liberal democracy is a good idea, (unless it interferes with other interests, naturally).

A lot of effort goes into trying to democratise other countries, because we feel a moral duty to do so and it’s good for business. Nation building, peace-keeping/building, free trade, multilateralism, conditional aid, cultural and educational exchanges, sanctions, military action, and good old-fashioned diplomacy are all tools that are used by Western countries to try to democratise other countries. The number of democracies continues to grow.

But there’s an elephant in this room, a rather large one: China. China is not a democracy, let alone a liberal one, and its interests are not served by other countries becoming democracies. Democracies are less likely to be willing allies of China and more likely to be critics. More democracy abroad increases agitation for democracy at home. So, China works to prop up non-democratic governments and shield them from democratisation pressure from the West. Fiji, Zimbabwe, Tonga, Samoa, The Solomon Islands, Sudan, North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, Burma, and Cuba are all examples of countries that are recieving diplomatic protection, aid, and investment with China meaning they haven’t had to turn to the West, with it’s ‘good governance’ demands, for support. China makes an attractive option for bad governments, it is a powerful ally that gives money and aid free of demands for better governance, all it asks in return is support in international forums and, occasionally, military access.

This makes our democratisation project more difficult. Countries are less willing to listen to us or obey our rules, and if we push too hard they will turn to China. This is increasingly happening in the Pacific Islands, and democratisation is stalling or reversing in several countries. As a contact working on Pacific issues puts it: “strategically, China’s got us fucked”

And there’s not much we can do about it because China is too important to us. It is the engine of the world’s economic growth. If Western countries want to continue to grow, they must trade more with China and that means remaining on good terms with the Chinese Government. Even if the West were to sacrifice warm relations with China for more strident defence of democratisation it would probably do no good. China can out bid the West for the allegiance of target countries in nearly every way, and its power is growing rapidly at the West’s (and particularly, the US’s) expense.

American rightwing thinking and military planning increasingly envisions eventually conflict with China (you didn’t think the US was buying all those F-22s to bomb terrorists did you?) but that just shows the out-datedness and bankruptcy of rightwing thought. There will be no war with China: there is no casus belli, the economic and human costs are too great for modern democracies to countenance, we are too interdependent, and China’s military is too strong.

What to do then, if we want to continue spreading democracy and not see the international stage increasingly dominated by a non-democratic actor? The only option is to build relations with China at every level. As it opens its society more we must engage with the Chinese people through trade, tourism, and growing inter-personal ties. As Chinese people become more exposed to life in democratic countries, the more they are demanding the same freedoms for themselves. We must encourage this process.

The Chinese Government’s actions to stifle freedom and democracy dismay and anger us but turning our backs on China on will do nothing to change things. Instead, we must build bridges with the country that, either way, will have most influence over the shape of the world in coming decades. The cornerstone of a democratic future is a democratic China.

21 comments on “China Syndrome”

  1. Pascal's bookie 1

    Thanks Steve, for the most part I agree.

    Liberal democracy is grand, fine and is by far and way my preffered system of govt and I think everyone should get some.

    I think it works best where it is a home grown phenomena. It’s far too easy for nondemocratic govts to run a ‘democracy is treason’ meme when the west rides in with demands and threats. Patriotism and Nationalism are the most powerful things in a nondemocrat’s arsenal and they just lap it up when a bunch of threatening foreigners start looking at them menacingly, demanding democratic reform.

    Where there are democratic reforms taking place we should of course applaud and reward them, and we should never hesitate to criticise abuses and suggest reforms. I honestly think that threats, sanctions and the like are counter productive. Active attempts to foster democracy by favouring one side in an internal debate also aften end up with us supporting the lesser of two evils long after they stop being the democrat. The history of picking winners has been unrelentingly poor.

    So poor that it almost seems as if ‘spreading democracy’ is just PR fluff, and that the real goals are usually strategic, and based around the control of resources and influence, or the limiting of same for one’s enemies.

    You might find this interesting.

    http://www.newamerica.net/publications/articles/2008/waving_goodbye_hegemony_6604

  2. 4 million Kiwi’s trying to influence over 1 billion Chinese….hmmm well, I wouldn’t get too worked up about it. Anything NZ does has a very ,very limited impact. I support trade with China becuase NZ has to pay its bills somehow now that the American age is slowly coming to an end. Once this trade agreement is signed and passed through Parliament it will be easier to trade with China than it will with the former home of free enterprise, the USA.
    But expecting to influence China towards democracy? No, its not a realistic goal for two long Islands in the far South Pacific. The Chinese in the end will find their OWN solution.

  3. Draco TB 3

    The Chinese in the end will find their OWN solution.

    Which is how it should be but that shouldn’t stop us from showing the Chinese people that there is a better way.

  4. Jay 4

    “This makes our democratisation project more difficult. Countries are less willing to listen to us or obey our rules, and if we push too hard they will turn to China.”

    This is something that dubya’s speechwriters would have used.

  5. Matthew Pilott 5

    I found this rather insightful – bit of a who’s who of liberal democracies…

    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-03/20/content_7829212.htm

    Or not.

  6. RedLogix 6

    No.

    The CCP is only interested in its own survival. If that requires them to destroy the 20 odd “liberal democracies” that oppose it… then so be it.

    In the meantime they may play some childish little games with us, like indulging in “free trade”, in order to prop up the illusion that they are anything other than an ugly totalitarian state for a little while longer…. until it is too late for us to do anything about it.

    And yes we could have done something. Most of the CCP growth is coming at the expense of jobs and industries in the West, but they correctly calculated that our own greed would blind us to the reality of the power game being played here.

    Trade with China is supping with the Devil; and he will send us the bill.

  7. deemac 7

    the idea that NZ could have any influence on China is real “wrong end of the telescope” stuff which seems to afflict a fair number of Kiwis on a variety of issues. They don’t care what Europe thinks, so why would they take any notice of NZ? But rapid industrial growth in China is repeating what happened in the first industrial revolution, with workers flexing their muscles. The more open contact we can have with such developments, the better their chances.
    The alternative is – what?

  8. Ari 8

    China: The new Ostpolitik? 🙂

    I agree with you in the long-term. I think it’s important we don’t lock china out of the international world altogether- that just gives them free reign to do whatever they like internationally without a care for world reaction.

    I just wonder whether it’s worth making a few symbolic gestures now and again to remind them just how serious we take their agitation against representative government.

  9. Actually, China is a democracy. When the people get tired of the government, they overthrow it. Sure, it’s messy and bloody, but it’s been proven to work throughout Chinese history [and yes, that is meant to be sarcastic]

    Back in the real world:
    China is not a democracy, but it is democratising. Slowly, and in its own way, but still, it’s democratising. It’s not just experiments with “grassroots democracy”, which started with free elections for village officials and have been slowly moving up through the levels of government, either. If you’d been here (I live in Beijing, just to make that clear) last (northern) winter, you’d have seen the central government responding to the big snow disaster in the south pretty much the same way you’d expect western politicians to react- taking off and visiting the disaster-struck areas, pressing the flesh and promising the government’s full efforts to rescue the people and rebuild their villages, towns, cities, lives and economies, as if they themselves had elections to face. It’s often surprising just how much attention China’s central government pays to public opinion, and how much their behaviour resembles that of elected western politicians.

    The Xiamen PX case last year shows how this attention to public opinion and democratisation is spreading to lower levels of government, too.

    “Countries are less willing to listen to us or obey our rules,”

    Do you not see how this simply reeks of imperialism? My impression is the developing world is thoroughly sick and tired of Western demands and Western impositions. I know the Chinese certainly are. The fact is when developing countries have obeyed “our rules” they have, at best, achieved nothing. Too often, especially when it comes to the demands of the IMF/World Bank crowd, they’ve wound up worse off.

    Not only that, but Western hand-wringing over China’s actions in Sudan or Zimbabwe has more than a whiff of hypocrisy about it. China’s swapping arms for Sudanese oil certainly is amoral, and perhaps even immoral, but what the hell is happening with Western oil companies in the Niger delta?

    Indeed, the best thing we can do is constructively engage, and that does not simply mean trade with China and the developing world. It also means listen to, respect, learn from, and cooperate with the developing world, China included. Hypocritical preaching will rightly be rejected as “the West” trying to keep everybody else down and maintain its position at the top of the heap. Heeding our own democratic advice and approaching the rest of the world on an equal footing has a much better chance of actually improving things.

    And “Mooney hatred” as your captcha? Trying to tell us something?

  10. RedLogix 10

    If you’d been here (I live in Beijing, just to make that clear) last (northern) winter

    I guess you’re not working 7 days a week, 12 hour days then?

    The fact is that China can add 10 million NEW workers to it’s industrial labour force, every year for the next 80 years without exhausting it’s supply of cheap rural labour. And in doing so destroy every job in the Western world because they will ALWAYS be able to undercut us, no matter how productive or competitive we try to be.

    Slave labour is always cheapest, and the CCP knows this. With the enormous profits this is generating they will simply BUY the rest of the world.

  11. IrishBill 11

    To be fair there have been negotiations between Chinese unions (they are still state unions) and the govenment to introduce some minimum employment standards in China. This move has been vociferously opposed by US multinationals, most notably Nike.

  12. higherstandard 12

    IB

    You must know that the unions in China are nothing more than government puppets.

    Truly democratic unions in China would run counter to the undemocratic, one-party state. Allowing a democratic union movement to form would threaten both Dickensian capitalism and authoritarian communism, and diminish some of China’s competitive advantage over other low-wage but not authoritarian nations in Southeast Asia, Central America and elsewhere.

    captcha insist Rewarded

  13. IrishBill 13

    I fully realise that HS, but this is a move to better standards nonetheless. I think you have fallen into the trap of assuming China has no strategic plan and will happily continue to be a low-wage low-skill economy. I can tell you that nothing is further from the truth. Over the last few years China has been putting in some of the most advanced plant and equipment in the world and has been improving the conditions of its workers.

    To assume that China’s only advantage is low-cost labour and economies of scale is to fall into the same tacitly racist trap as the politicians who think that we will leave China to do the bulk run stuff and we’ll be the nation of “innovators” that drive it. But the truth is that China is moving forward very quickly. She has sent her children out into the world to learn and will reap the rewards of doing so. If you think all of those Chinese students you have seen topping the list of achievers in educational institutes here and around the world for nearly two decades now are going home to make american sports shoes for 10c a day you might want to think again. I know a high-ranking union official that came back from visiting China a couple of years ago shocked at how advanced their manufacturing really is.

    Through careful and controlled engagement with the world economy China is setting itself up to be the next superpower. We can certainly fault their human rights and environmental record (and I do) but the truth is that that “Dickensian capitalism and authoritarian communism” is becoming less and less central to China’s competitive advantage.

    Just as aside I recall as a child how “made in Japan” used to be a synonym for cheaply produced junk. After a while one learns first-hand that “history repeats” is more than just a snappily titled split enz song.

  14. Steve Pierson 14

    Thanks for the excellent quality of the repsonses on this. I would make three points:

    a) obviously New Zealand in itself will have no measureable impact on China, this is about how the liberal democracies together approach China, and New Zealand’s policy, including the trade deal, is part of that.

    b) a few of you picked up on the ‘our rules’ line which I was wary of but used for space: I’m not arguing that liberal democracy is ‘good’ I’m arguing that it, like all ideologies of government, wants to survive and expand – that’s the demooratisation project – and part of how we do that is by excerising liberal democracy’s hegemonic poistion by holding countries to account according to a set of rules that we set – the concept of human rights being the more obvious example – through a variety of processes and institutions. Is that imperialistic? If you want to call it that, yes, but I would prefer to say it is expansionist and I’m not passing a moral judgment. That said, is there anything wrong with the system of governance that has produced more freedom and more peaceful, prosperious lives for the majority of the population than any other government system ever invented trying to spread those positive outcomes to other people?

    c) some of the Left commentators’ have rejected the suggestion that engagement with China is the way to go pointing to Chinese labour conditions and human rights abuses (which, in itself, reflects a lierbal democratic paradigm, of course) but I have to ask do you think those conditions will be improved by our disengagement? We can not (metaphorically) starve China into submission like we did with apartheid South Africa, if we want it to change isolating it and hoping it will collapse on itself is not the way to go.

  15. RedLogix 15

    Steve,

    That is a nice rational dissertation. It covers the main bases and makes sound arguments. You pose legitimate questions. You are correct, I don’t think we can alter the path China will take for itself, neither by isolating ourselves from it, nor by engaging.

    Within a generation China will not be so much a superpower, but a colossus of 2 billion people, united by a common language, a prodigious work ethic and a totalitarian government buttressed by a highly deferential culture with 2000 years of experience in running slaves and bureaucracies. It will be nothing like the world has seen before.

    China will not become a clone of the USA, or another Eurozone. The CCP is a gerontocracy that plans long games over generations, and now has the people, the cash, the resources, the technology and above all the patience to simply subsume to entire world into it’s orbit.

    This process does not require military confrontation. They understand that military forces are primarily required to quell internal dissent and mop up huge numbers of otherwise truculent young men. Moreover they realise that nuclear weapons have made conventional warfare obsolete. (It astounds me how few people realise that no matter how large your armed forces, a handful of large enemy WMD’s landing on your capital city is game over.)

    Their plan is more subtle and far more potent. The intention is to simply BUY the world. To use the crude power of capitalism and the illusion of “private property” against itself. For some years I’ve had Robert Greene’s “The 48 Laws of Power” at my bedside. They are largely derived from the great philosopher Sun-tzu and draws heavily on examples from Chinese dynastic history. The fundamentals are: prudence, stealth, and a total absence of mercy. Your analysis makes perfect sense from a Western perspective. It is childish foolishness to the Eastern one.

    Steve. The CCP leadership DESPISES the liberal West for it’s short-term thinking, for being disunited, weak, greedy and irresolute. Taking us is like taking candy from a baby, and done simply by planning over a 50 year time frame. These people have absolutely NO intention of becoming like us. The “democratisation of China” is a daydream. China in ALL of it’s very long history has NEVER been anything like a Western liberal democracy, and there is precious little evidence to suggest they plan on becoming one.

    The film “Amazing Grace” left a lasting impression on me, and all these perfectly rational sounding arguments for doing business with China, sound exactly like the same arguments that were used hundreds of years ago to defend doing business with slave grown cotton. Now imagine we are faced with the same slave herding mentality, but armed with a full spectrum technical, economic, information and political dominance that China will have with a few years. Will it be better to recognise our position early, or later?

    What do I want? I want clean hands. I buy NZ made stuff wherever I can, and cheerfully I pay extra for the privilege. This FTA with China will likely obliterate even that small token of choice remaining to me.

  16. r0b 16

    Hey RedLogix, quite a post! You’ve certainly done a lot of reading and thinking in this area.

    Pardon me I’m an economic ignoramus. So when you say “This FTA with China will likely obliterate even that small token of choice remaining to me”, I don’t see how that can be (unless you mean that all industries in NZ will be driven out of business?). So, could you please elaborate?

  17. RedLogix 17

    I don’t see how that can be (unless you mean that all industries in NZ will be driven out of business?). So, could you please elaborate?

    A mere decade ago the idea that a company like Icebreaker would move it’s manufacturing to China was an absurdity. Now it is a commonplace. Given such a dramatic rate of change, how to predict another mere decade into the future?

    Short of the entire Chinese government collapsing like the Soviet Union (which I very much doubt) there is nothing to counter this trend, therefore I assume that in another 10 -20 years there will be no actual manufacturing in NZ as we know it, other than a few peculiar cases where transport costs preclude competitive imports. (Toilet paper is a typical example, the product has too large a volume/value ratio to normally make it profitable to import against the local plant.) NZ could look like a wholly different place, with an economy even more narrowly dependent on agriculture and tourism than it is now.

    Nor am I convinced by NZ developing “high end niche” markets argument. Look I grant that there will always be a few standout performers usually based on the talent and sheer hard work of a few exceptional individuals. Companies like Rakon and Vega Industries http://www.vega.co.nz/ have remarkable stories to tell. Yet they are vulnerable. The Chinese have no effective intellectual property right protections and as their technical sophistication inexorably rises there will be no barriers to them simply copying or exceeding anything we develop here… and always at a lower cost.

    Yes I accept that the brute excesses of their current “dickensian capitalism” will likely ameliorate with time, if only to moderate internal rebellion… but the raw economic fact that China can add 10’s of millions of new workers every year, and never exhaust the pool of the impoverished rural poor to induct next year (at least not in our lifetimes)… will always keep their labour costs lower than ours.

    Another alternative is that we will have to dismantle most of NZ’s existing labour laws and conditions in an attempt to remain competitive. It is possible these remnant industries will be CCP owned or controlled anyhow. In this scenario us white New Zealanders will likely develop a keener appreciation of what our brown skinned cuzzies were on about with this Treaty of Waitangi thing.

    r0b, I’m conscious that I’m peddling a discomforting line of reasoning here. Part of me would love to hear a convincing case proving me wrong.

  18. r0b 18

    r0b, I’m conscious that I’m peddling a discomforting line of reasoning here. Part of me would love to hear a convincing case proving me wrong.

    And I wish I was the one to construct an opposing case, but I’m not. Anyone else?

    I think you’d be interested in the book “The Democracy Sham: How Globalisation Devalues Your Vote”, Bryan Gould, 2006, Craig Potton Publishing, Nelson (ISBN 10: 1-877333-50-6). I was at a presentation Bryan gave on the book, raising similar worries to those you identify above. I got a copy, haven’t got round to reading it yet.

  19. Emil 19

    “but a colossus of 2 billion people, united by a common language,”

    Which China is this ? Common language ?? Common script, maybe, but China has minorities with populations equal with that of the UK, minorities that have a history of opposing the central government, whether it was Han, Manchu, Mongolian or Communist. To buy into the “united China” is the same as buying into the various Roman empires that kept Europe “united”. If US or EU will experience a deep recession and will stop pumping money into China, the central government will have no significant resources to administer and will either lose it’s hold on the provinces or return to military control. The land grab or the repression that will follow will not be nice to watch.

  20. RedLogix 20

    Which China is this ? Common language ??

    Yes when I wrote that I realised that it was a simplification. Blog comments get long enough as it is.

    You pose an interesting scenario, but I suspect it too glosses over some important fundamentals. The forces holding together modern conglomerate nations like the USA and Europe seem to be larger than the ones tending to split them apart. Lessons drawn from pre-WW2 history are useful, but the world has also changed over the last 60 years in some profound ways.

  21. Gobbler 21

    This colossus of two billion people also has India to its south; a country which by many estimates will be bigger than China in terms of population by 2050

    http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/jun2006/gb20060609_715333.htm

    And an older link but still useful:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/1999/aug/14/population.suzannegoldenberg

    With such scenarios putting huge strains on natural resources aren’t we surely going to see more of this sort of thing?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/apr/06/food.foodanddrink

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/7327858.stm

    What sorts of scenarios will this produce?

    I would argue that once people begin to starve to death and riot on a mass scale; arguments about democratisation etc. will become irrelevant people will simply want to survive and will do almost anything to do it.

    Could this be the time that China’s (or to a lesser extent India’s) military is used to either

    A) Repress the populous that are causing dissent

    Or

    B) Invade countries that are effective at producing certain crops to ensure complete supply chain management? I.e. Vietnam for rice, Australia for wheat and even little old New Zealand for meat and dairy (a real doomsday scenario I know but don’t laugh didn’t this happen recently when there were concerns about supply of another commodity? Namely; the USA; Iraq and oil?)

    This could provide them with the means to feed their own populations.

    The invasion of course doesn’t even have to by the military what if all New Zealand’s productive capacity is owned by such interests and they begin to dictate where and when things should be sent?

    Wouldn’t farmers just say ‘No!’?

    But wouldn’t just such a reaction lead to control through force?

    I believe RedLogix is right in saying that the Chinese have the west pretty well figured while the West is still trying to unravel the Chinese enigma where New Zealand positions itself or what actions it takes to ensure we prosper and continue our way of life through just such a shift in wealth and power similar to what we have seen recently http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/article3130023.ece remains to be seen.

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  • Magdalen Burns, 1983-2019, fighter for women’s liberation
    by the Redline blog collective At Redline we are very saddened to hear of the death of Magdalen Burns who passed away on the morning of Friday, September 13 (British time). Magdalen was a great fighter for the rights of women in general and lesbian women in particular, a defender ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    4 days ago
  • Parliament and the Executive
    The Brexit issue has certainly brought with it a series of apparently difficult constitutional issues, many of them concerning the respective roles of the executive and parliament. Most of them arise because of the unwillingness of MPs, despite their professions to the contrary, to be bound by a constitutional rarity ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    5 days ago
  • The Abigail Article; Martyn Bradbury’s Article, and My Response
    . . This blogpost is different to my usual format of reporting on issues… Since July 1011, I have blogged on a variety of political issues; near always political and/or environmental; mostly highly critical of the previous National Government. Other issues included Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and repression of ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    5 days ago
  • Police will have to wear silly Buckingham Palace hats from now on, says Police Minister
    Those close to the Police Minister believe the initiative may be the result of Nash “seeing a great deal” on AliExpress. In a move that comes seemingly out of nowhere, Police Minister Stuart Nash announced this afternoon that he expects all frontline staff to don bearskin hats, famously worn by ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    6 days ago
  • A sensible crackdown
    The government has released its Arms Legislation Bill, containing the second tranche of changes to gun laws following the March 15 massacre. And it all looks quite sensible: a national gun register, higher penalties for illegal possession and dealing, tighter restrictions on arms dealers and shooting clubs, and a shorter ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • California bans private prisons
    Private prisons are a stain on humanity. Prison operators explicitly profit from human misery, then lobby for longer prisons terms so they can keep on profiting. And in the US, prison companies run not only local and state prisons, but also Donald Trump's immigration concentration camps. Faced with this moral ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Why PPPs are a bad idea
    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    6 days ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    7 days ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    7 days ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    1 week ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    1 week ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    1 week ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    1 week ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    1 week ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    2 weeks ago

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