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Don’t despair

Written By: - Date published: 9:00 am, October 7th, 2016 - 134 comments
Categories: Left, Politics, uncategorized - Tags:

Originally posted at Boots Theory.

I know how you feel, team.

It’s year 8 of a National/ACT government and things are looking pretty bleak. And it’s really, really easy to spin down into a spiral of bleakness and anxiety.

It’s because we care. Because we see what this National government is doing to people, to our communities, to the things we’re proud of: having a social welfare system which genuinely helps people when they’re down, ensuring every family gets to live in a warm, dry house, going to see a doctor when you’re sick, getting a free, world-class education, being able to raise your kids without having to work three jobs.

The right are laying waste to our country and it sucks.

And god, I know the frustration you feel at your fellow New Zealanders. When you’re faced with what seems like an unstoppable war-rig of capitalism, it’s so much easier to scream at the people who voted National, or didn’t vote at all. “This is your fault! If you weren’t so stupid and self-absorbed and watching Real Housewives of Auckland we wouldn’t be in this mess!”

But we have to rein that in, folks.

We have to remember that a defining part of being on the left and being progressive and believing in social justice is that we have faith in people. We know people are fundamentally good. We know humans are social animals who form communities and friendships and look out for each other, when they’re not being hammered every day with rightwing narratives about bludgers and self-interest and YOUR taxpayer dollars being wasted on those parasites.


Andrew Ryan … why does that name sound familiar?

If we know people are basically good, how do we explain the situation we’re in?

We have to remember what the effects of this government look like. They look like people not being able to survive working 40 hours a week. People having to run Givealittle campaigns for the medical treatment they need. Airport security and junior doctors and bus drivers all having to threaten industrial action just to get safe rosters and decent pay increases, while economists still talk about a “rock star economy“.

And to be honest, many people don’t see a viable political alternative. Argue about rogue polls and methodology as much as you like, but the numbers aren’t really budging in terms of central government politics, and local body politics are in a dire state.

Little wonder a million people would check out of the political game when there are far more pressing little-picture concerns like “food” and “shelter” on their minds and there’s no easy way to change the big picture anyway.


People worrying about the bottom steps ain’t burning energy on macroeconomic policy.

But we also have to remember that all is not lost.


We’ve got inspiration popping up all over the place. Jeremy Corbyn just got thunderously re-elected leader of UK Labour, Bernie Sanders fundamentally shifted the debate on the US centre-left, Justin Trudeau is pretty hot, Podemos is kicking ass, and that’s just the stuff that gets West Wing fangirls hot and bothered.

Right here in Aotearoa, we’ve got ESRA kicking off talking about alternative forms of political organisation, the Meat Workers Union making forays into local politics with the Jobs That Count campaign, No Pride in Prisons systematically challenging the major flaws in our “justice” system, Living Wage Aotearoa bringing together communities and unions and faith groups to change the conversation about the very definition of pay.

At the Stand Up conference just over a week ago we got a hundred young unionists marching in the rain in Auckland to protest the housing crisis on a shoestring.

We can totally do this.


And we – the political nerds, the people who know how the system works, the ones who are, to be honest, obnoxiously “comfortable” middle-class types with time on our hands and access to plenty of the levers of power – can help change happen.

It’s not on us to lead it, God no – but it’s our duty and frankly our honour to hold open the door for other people, share our platforms, spend our time and money and exploit the hell out of our influence and privilege to support

We’re still going to be frustrated as all hell, and sometimes we’ll feel like it’s all bloody hopeless because goddammit why don’t people understand the issues??? But quite literally nothing will change if all we do is sit on our hands and rail to an increasingly small audience about how shit everything is.

Now chill with some Bob Marley.

134 comments on “Don’t despair ”

  1. save nz 1

    Good post. Agree +100

  2. One Anonymous Bloke 3

    One random piece of advice I’ve picked up is not to use double negatives (“Don’t despair”).

    Well said otherwise (pedantic nitpickers unite!)

    • Doogs 3.1

      Real double negatives are –

      “Don’t not do this”

      “I can’t not see this’


      Apart from the pedantry – excellent post Stephanie. This should be on the front page of every paper. MSM are failing us.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1.1

        It’s an old marketing anecdote apparently: Bic lighter advert – the lighter flicks, the flame goes on, the slogan: “never fails”. Sales plummet. Same advert without the slogan, sales go back up again.

  3. save nz 4

    You forgot to mention the Maori party.

    It’s year 8 of a National/ACT/Maori Party government and things are looking pretty bleak

    • Doogs 4.1

      It’s Year 8 of the National/ACT/Maori Party/United Future government and things are looking pretty bleak.

      Let’s not leave out any of the blame!

      • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1


        Accountability where it’s due.

      • Richard Rawshark 4.1.2

        +1 that Dunne’s clever been hiding for 8 Loong years i’d bloody forgot he was even there.

        OMFG Where is P. Dunne have the Nats murdered him. Has anyone checked if his government wages have been touched?

      • Stuart Munro 4.1.3

        Dunne is not a party – that’s a rort to pay the useless fecker more of our money.

        You’ll notice if you call things by their right names Dunne ACT Maori & National spell Damn. Just another instance of them paying lip service to their diabolical master.

        • Leftie

          Very good, very clever Stuart Munro!!

          Don’t you just love it how the Electoral Commission specifically changed it’s rules for Peter Dunne, after he lost the registration of United Future as a political party, and he wouldn’t or more likely couldn’t come up with the hard copies of his party’s membership?

          United Future: Electoral Commission changes rules over physical proof

          <a href="http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10891656

        • Leftie

          Apologies for double up of comment, the first one went in the wrong place.

          Very good, very clever Stuart Munro!!

          Don’t you just love it how the Electoral Commission specifically changed it’s rules for Peter Dunne, after he lost the registration of United Future as a political party, and he wouldn’t or more likely couldn’t come up with the hard copies of his party’s membership?

          United Future: Electoral Commission changes rules over physical proof

          <a href="http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10891656

      • Leftie 4.1.4

        Agreed Doogs.

    • Leftie 4.2

      yes Save NZ we should forget National’s cohorts

  4. Ad 5

    Lovely work Stephanie.

  5. RedLogix 6

    But quite literally nothing will change if all we do is sit on our hands and rail to an increasingly small audience about how shit everything is.

    This. Please less railing.

    • Who are you addressing that to, specifically?

      • RedLogix 6.1.1

        No-one in particular Steph. It’s a very good post and I enjoyed reading it. Ultimately politics is about engagement; inspiration and emotional alignment. Sanders and Corbyn (and no doubt many others less prominent in the public eye) demonstrate this admirably.

        As you say, sitting about ‘railing about how shit it all is’ is not attractive.

  6. mauī 7

    Nice post with a good dose of humour.

  7. weka 8

    Love this post Stephanie.

    In terms of the positive vs negative framing, I like ‘don’t despair’. If you had put ‘there is hope’ in the comments, you’d get a reaction the other way 😉 But I take the point OAB makes, and I think it’s the one you are making too. We know what’s wrong, and we need to focus on what’s right, what’s working too.

    Re the missing million. I think we need to be careful not to lump them into one group. Not all of them are caught up in survival needs. I know people who don’t vote on principle (won’t support the system), and people who don’t care or see themselves as apolitical. I think there are genuinely people who just don’t think about it and want to watch TV instead. I still think that you need a bloody good reason to not vote, and there aren’t many bloody good reasons. I do agree that pilloring people for not voting is a losing strategy in a number of ways.

    I also don’t think it’s as simple as people being good but under trying circumstances. Neoliberalism has socialised so many people now, NZ’s values have changed not just in indidividuals but in institutions (I know you know this, just making it visible). I do still believe that humans are fundamentally as you describe, but I would put an additional layer between that basic human nature and the difficulty of people’s lives now.

    That layer, third thing, is the one we haven’t been addressing IMO. If there is no credible political alternative is that perhaps because we don’t know how to shape culture? Or are reluctant to, because that’s what the manipulative, greedy people do? What would it take to bring forth a return to more egalitarian society, or create a new egalitarian society?

    One of the biggest impediments in this in the political sphere is the castigating of people who vote on the right as all being RWNJs, or Tories, or evil. We need to be building bridges with at least some of people who vote on the right, especially the old school conservatives, and talking about neoliberal (or whatever) policy and values rather than condeming people who are also part of this country and society.

    • RedLogix 8.1


      Hell we’ve crossed so often that you probably have some reservations when I say this … but that comment above is perfect.

      About a month ago I watched an interview with Scott Adams. In it he said “everyone is irrational about everything all of the time … it is the only way to make sense of the world”. As an engineer Dilbert and Walter are my heroes. 🙂 It’s a quote that’s been rattling around in my mind since.

      I don’t think Adams was using the word ‘irrational’ in a prerogative sense. What he means is that our emotional responses are not just dominant, but valuable and important to how we function as human beings. And critical to shaping how we vote.

      • weka 8.1.1

        “Hell we’ve crossed so often that you probably have some reservations when I say this … but that comment above is perfect.”

        Thanks Red 🙂 (We mostly only cross on Certain Topics, so when we’re talking about other things I think it’s safe to say that I don’t carry grudges over).

        Interesting quote from Adams (I agree on the face of it), and to see it in the context of voting. The danger I guess is that political parties think they should appeal to the more superficial motivations of voters.

    • Rosie 8.2

      +1. Nice one weka.

    • Richard Rawshark 8.3

      Well put Weka.

      One small point I would like to raise, your comment

      “That layer, third thing, is the one we haven’t been addressing IMO. If there is no credible political alternative is that perhaps because we don’t know how to shape culture? Or are reluctant to, because that’s what the manipulative, greedy people do? What would it take to bring forth a return to more egalitarian society, or create a new egalitarian society?”

      How do I say this.. hard..

      Media, it’s down to clever media, news and control of information.

      He who controls the message, controls the masses.

      To get a better society, media monopolies have IMHO to be dismantled. Nothing with that much power should be in control of a few rich men. Or there rich boards.

      • weka 8.3.1

        on my way to a meeting, but just wanted to add that we are talking on the largest left wing blog in NZ. That’s not without influence, and I don’t think we are presently using it in the most wise way we can 😉

        Yes, media. In the spirit of the post, let’s agree that they’re a problem, and that it would be better if they changed. We can focus on talking about how terrible they are, or we can get on with creating something new and better.

        • Incognito

          on my way to a meeting, but just wanted to add that we are talking on the largest left wing blog in NZ. That’s not without influence, and I don’t think we are presently using it in the most wise way we can

          I completely agree with this!

          I think we’re often squandering good opportunities & resources (time!) here on TS (and elsewhere?) and this is not too different from the way the Government and also the Opposition have been ‘performing’ over the last 8 years, dare I say it.

          Still, a little light entertainment goes a long way and a good rant or railing can be quite cathartic indeed 😉

  8. Richard Rawshark 9

    Can’t help it though, too many weirdo’s saying weird things should be normal..IE

    sick people should have to work

    “break times are a Louxsuree ”

    there will always be poor

    • aerobubble 9.1

      Explaining is losing, coz detail, context, distorts. harder to lie when its clear how neolib came about, huge cheap liquid dense fuels flows hit the 80s economy was always going to create growth whatever ideology, so the financier class got put in front and told everyone who’d listen, explaining is losing, but if you have to, say free markets will provide if only deregulation, privitazation etc, thus explaing was not losing, it was explaining a lie, that markets no mayter how free would growth unevitable fuelled by cheap oil. After 30 years of syphoning profits into a bloat financial out of touch non-economy, we are all waking up. Now voters are following Thatcherite example, if it aint working sack them too. Of course this is counter productive, because its fllowing a negative proposition not a positive, Thatcherism is essential cannnabalist, it works to sacrifce a few on top of the temple when over populated, and they did, miners, soils, seas…air. Now we enter the last phase, incapable, elites having financified unis, mass smeared cuvic discord, unwilling to be honest, two no hopers run for Prez, one incapable of revolt, the other lying trust me he’ll do it honest his hands are big, really.

      • aerobubble 9.1.1

        So yeah, i have a lot of hope, just not with Labour, or Nats, just with people waking from the nightmare

  9. Michelle 10

    Weka I agree with some of your post but not all. The old conservatives in my view need to pull their heads in. They got free tertiary education they got a stay at home mum and they got a welfare state that actually helped them not denigrate them and they got nice state houses, they went into a land ballot ( only pakeha soldiers early racist policy ) and they got land. We now have this Tory government that have divided this country so they are evil and nasty and some are very judgmental. Why ? when the state looked after them and still is with a state pension and state care.
    (hospitals and old peoples homes) The right have been throwing stones at the poor many who don’t have a voice. We are bombarded with the media who are right wing advocates and I for one am sick of this in our country when our people( the Maori ) fought an died for this country only to be treated like shert. No weka this is not acceptable and people like myself will continue to fight for a fairer country one that looks after us all not just a few.

    • weka 10.1

      I think you might have misunderstood my intention Michelle. I certainly think that people who vote on the right have responsibility, and culpability, for what NZ has become. I just think that we don’t have Tory govt so much as a neoliberal one. Part of the reason why the old left/right fight isn’t working is because we’re not fighting the old right, we’re fighting a different beast.

      That old school conservatives vote for them is a problem for sure, but I have to wonder if it’s not the same problem the left has except on the left many people just stopped voting at all.

      So yes, what has happened is appalling and we should be fighting it with everything we’ve got. And Key and co deserve all the condemnation they get. But there are people who vote on the right who are otherwise ok people (not all of them by any means) and if we want them to behave differently I think lumping them all into a sin bin called ‘evil tories’ isn’t the way to do it. We still have to live with them after all.

  10. Rosie 11

    Awesome post Stephanie. And so timely at this “feeling stuck at this point in the cycle” groove.

    Couple of things I took from your post: Good use of Malsow’s hierarchy of needs. I’m always asking people their political views, where appropriate. The most disengaged I speak to are those just trying to get by each week. Such a struggle drains the mind of energy for other thoughts. We can’t blame people for not voting or “paying attention”. All we can do is encourage people, and listen to their stories rather than planting our view of the world on to theirs.

    Yes, there ARE good things going on, as per your examples. At the party political end of the spectrum, away from the grass roots (which is where my hope and attention always lies, well ahead of party politics) is that we have progress between opposition parties in the form of the MOU between Labour and the Greens.

    Thirdly, and personally, I’m a little over the right/left divisions in NZ. I’d rather forgive and forget those people who did vote right during the last three general elections. Some of them are starting to feel the pain themselves. Some of them might be looking to NZ First next time. Again, this can only be encouraged, instead of continually despising and harassing them. It just doesn’t help the situation. Extend the hand of friendship folks! (even if it does make you wince a little). This comes down to having faith in humans. Again, something you referred to.

    Yeah, we can totally do this. I agree 😀

    • Chuck 11.1

      “I’d rather forgive and forget those people who did vote right during the last three general elections.”

      And I also forgive you Rosie for voting left during the last three general elections.

      “Again, this can only be encouraged, instead of continually despising and harassing them”

      So no more early morning raids and sending right wing families off to re education camps? 🙂

      Hmm and the activist left wonders why they get no cut through with the rest of NZ.

      • weka 11.1.1

        way to twist what someone said as part of your political agenda :-/

      • Rosie 11.1.2

        Clearly you didn’t read the bit about extending the hand of friendship………..You completely misunderstand my remarks.

        Also, please don’t make assumptions about commenters and their “activism”.

        • Chuck

          Nope, no misunderstanding your remarks.

          “Extend the hand of friendship folks! (even if it does make you wince a little).”

          And if they don’t convert, then is it back to “despising and harassing them”?

          • adam

            Oh look Chucky doing what he does best, enthralled in his own little conspiracy theory world.

          • Rosie

            Oh for goodness sake Chuck. Grow up and stop making stuff up.

            You’ve clearly chosen to take the spirit of reconciliation and twist it. It’s pretty lame. Don’t bother responding to my comments in future.

            • Chuck

              “You’ve clearly chosen to take the spirit of reconciliation and twist it”

              If your post was about genuine reconciliation, it would need to read very differently.

              And to use the word “reconciliation” is just bizarre to say the least…it suggests anyone that voted other than the way you wanted them to has committed a crime.

              In my family and friends people vote anyway from Mana, Greens, Lab, Nat, MP or ACT…we have some friendly banter about it from time to time…but no one feels the need for “reconciliation”.

              Maybe its just an activist thing??

          • Groundhog

            Well that is the pattern on the left wing echo chamber.

  11. Michelle 12

    I have no empathy for those that voted those nasty Tories in when we all know they sell everything and privatize everything they can. If people who voted for this nasty group are suffering I say good job think of others and our country when you vote not your selfish self.

    • Richard Rawshark 12.1

      Sadly Michelle it’s us that have Empathy that’s why we get so upset, they don’t have any, that’s why climbing the ladders such fun for them.

      Never lose what you are, it’s special, you do have empathy, I’m sure you empathize with their disability, they never smell flowers, they don’t know what a starry night or sunrise on a beach is. They never see anything but the number that dictates their bank balances.

      Pity them, empathize with their plight, Michelle, to have lived my life missing the wonders of it completely, like they do, would break my heart, ignorance is bliss I suppose.

    • Puckish Rogue 12.2

      Should we take at a look at who sold more, National or Labour?

      • adam 12.2.1

        Sheesh PR, what a pathetic argument, when you support a party who has sold the china. So to suggest comparing at this stage is just desperate, but you seem to getting more desperate of late…

        • Puckish Rogue

          Still stings though eh especially knowing that National will never come close to the sell off that Labour gleefully instigated

          • adam

            Umm, you know I don’t support, nor have ever supported the labour party. Goes to show how poor your comprehension skills are.

            I support labour, the rights of workers and poor people. Dude, you are getting desperate.

            That said, before your edit – Your loss of hope, nah not much of a loss to me or anyone else for that matter.

            • Puckish Rogue

              Pretending it didn’t happen isn’t healthy and no one else is likely to forget it either 🙂

              • adam

                That comment by you just proves you don’t read peoples comments, and are just here for your own vanity.

                If you actually took the time to read, I know it’s hard PR. You would get that I’m highly critical of the love affair of the labour party and neo-liberalism. I’ve never denied anything about labour party and am on the whole, a harsher critic of them than you.

                That said, you sounding desperate, more and more these days…

                • Puckish Rogue

                  “Sheesh PR, what a pathetic argument, when you support a party who has sold the china”

                  National hasn’t sold the china, National kept the controlling interest and it was Labour that sold the china (for a pittance), that’s the difference between the left and right in NZ

                  • Colonial Viper

                    You’re being a meanie now

                    • Puckish Rogue

                      Michelle started it 🙂

                    • adam

                      What does that comment even mean CV?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      I was referring to PR needling lefties about the free trade neoliberal nightmares that have been recent Labour Governments.

                      It’s of a difficulty level akin to shooting fish in a barrel. With a gatling gun.

                      The problem is its hard not to get baited by him and once you are, PR is happy to keep trolling you ad infinitum…

                  • adam

                    Wow and you prove my point, by going back and reading what I wrote two posts up, then responding. Sloopy PR, just like your boy’s in the national party.

      • Stuart Munro 12.2.2

        Nope – punish them all severely.

        Confiscate all their property and set up a prison on the Auckland Islands for them to live out their lives in the kind of bleak despair they treacherously visited on the people they were sworn and paid to protect.

    • You might need to re-read the post.

    • Red 12.4

      As Theresa May put to U.K. Labour cut the sanctimonious crap that the left hold the moral high ground and only they care. very good advise for some here

  12. Groundhog 13

    What a fascinating post.

    At a time when we have more international attention on our success as a nation than ever before (we currently have our market driven electricity model being replicated overseas), there are still a few socialists out there who have decided they would rather live in a collapsed economic system whose principal method of implementing policy is suppression of freedom.

    How quaint.

    [Stephanie: this snide crap has nothing to do with the post and functions only as flamebait. Shape up or get shipped out.]

    • Rosie 13.1


    • Infused 13.2

      God help we have real problems with this country. The left will lose their shit.

      • adam 13.2.1

        You mean like water quality, housing, employment, the environment, employers treating immigrants like slaves, domestic violence and the rapid decline of the quality of our land. On planet Key nothing to see here ah infused, no child poverty either in your book…

        Your lies infused are just pathetic, but my fault for expecting more from a whiney little Tory lip-spittle.

        • Infused

          They are not as bigger problem as you lot make out.

          ‘poverty’ here can’t be addressed properly until you start measuring it properly.

          • adam

            I love your fall back lie.

            The only people who are unwilling to measure poverty are you lot.

            Your comment begs the question, when people are dying from these issues, why are you so quick to down play them?

            • Groundhog

              Who is ‘you lot’? There are many measures of poverty, however most are simply measuring deprivation of wants not basic human needs.

    • Michelle 13.3

      Groundhog are you talking about the electricity model the one that promised to deliver us cheaper power due to more providers creating more competition. We are still waiting for the market like we are still waiting for Bradfords cheaper power he promised just like we are still waiting for Johns brighter future.

      • Groundhog 13.3.1

        I’m talking about the power model that is being studied and emulated by other countries becasue it works on delivering an affordable, stable supply.

    • DoublePlusGood 13.4

      Of course the business elites that want to loot other countries want to replicate our market electricity model – it will be very lucrative for them. Terrible for the people though.

    • Groundhog 13.5

      Actually it has everything to do with the post. You are advocating a political system that is almost exclusively implemented on the populace under duress. You’re defensive response simply makes my point.

  13. Paul 14

    How boring.
    Another right wing troll comes to clutter this site.

  14. seeker 15

    Thanks for such an uplifting, hopeful ‘shot in the arm’ post Stephanie. And thanks for the reminder that we have to have faith that people are fundamentally good.
    I think one of the big issues is the deafening silence of this fundamental goodness at election time, thus allowing the horrors of poverty and homelessness, especially for children, to continue.

  15. Puckish Rogue 16

    Can’t believe I’m doing this but what the hey…

    Check out David Farrars poll of polls


    National: 53 seats
    MP: 2 seats
    Act: 1 seat
    United: 1 seat
    Total: 57 seats

    Lab/Green 52 seats

    NZ First: 12

    That’s quite close so its not as bad as you think

    • Bearded Git 16.1

      @ Pukish

      Thanks for that. Took a short look at the Farrar site (stifles shudder). The interesting number there is National 44.3%. They are dead in the water below 45%.

  16. McFlock 17

    This post perked me right up 🙂

  17. Jester 18

    I disagree with your premise that people are fundamentally good. People are only “fundamentally good” when it suits ’em.
    Otherwise this war-torn, poisoned planet would indeed be different.
    The satisfied masses of the First World are all too well aware of poverty, starvation, war crimes, environmental degradation etc, but for most there has never been any motivation to change things.
    As a species, we form collectives when there’s “something in it for us”. Furthermore, not all those collectives have a universal increase in wellbeing as their objective.
    You overestimate Homo sapiens Stephanie.

    • I disagree with your premise that people are fundamentally good. People are only “fundamentally good” when it suits ’em.

      You’re welcome to hold that opinion, but then you probably shouldn’t be on the left, if that’s where you politically identify.

    • weka 18.2

      As a species, we form collectives when there’s “something in it for us”.

      Humans evolved over an incredibly long time in close kinship groups and are traditionally bonded by blood ties and social structures that enabled the survival and wellbeing of the tribe. It’s true that in modern times we form groups for other reasons, and some of those are altruistic and some are self serving, and many are both. But that doesn’t mean the underlying pattern of human evolution doesn’t exist. We can look at that pattern via anthroplogy or biology, either way we’re hardwired to care.

      (I’m happy to drop this Stephanie if it’s off topic).

    • Ant 18.3

      People are neither fundamentally good nor bad; people are fundamentally evolving. It’s often overlooked that alongside organic evolution and the emergence of intelligence there is also the evolution of consciousness, – a distinctive aspect of being human that increasingly regards the world in terms of integration rather than fragmentation. Countless are the examples of people who have shed the competitive nature for the cooperative one, – not as a prompting of conscience or altruistic inclination, but as a quantum (and often unexpected) shift in consciousness.

      Whist cooperation among early hominid clans was clearly in the interest of the group, many contemporary alignments tailor their efforts to the needs of the earth and all its life forms. The philosopher Teilhard de Chardin, writing early last century, saw in this the hope of humankind, – a sort of tipping point where sheer numbers embracing the broadened consciousness transformed the agenda for all of humanity.

      • Incognito 18.3.1

        What a wonderful comment and so apt!

        You may want to check out a thread from earlier this year in which I wrote:

        Evolutionary speaking, empathy and cooperation, or group solidarity, are part of our instincts but so are selfishness and competition. It all depends on the environmental context which of the two ‘traits’ dominates (check out the work by primatologist Frans de Waal).

        Guest Post … Build Mass Movements continued.

        I think it is a human need (!) to belong and to seek unification. Before we developed speech and language this feeling was already present but ‘primitive’. With the development of speech and consequently our cognitive abilities we started to give this feeling names and conceptualised it. But this is only as good as our language, which still falls way short in fully ‘describing’ the breadth & depth of it, let alone ‘understanding’ it, whatever it is or is not.

        Maslow considered Self-Transcendence as the highest attainable (?) level of human needs.

        Jung, as far as I understand it, considered the Collective Unconscious to be somehow ‘integrated’ with the individual mind to become (?) Self, which describes some kind of unity with everything … You can tell I’m struggling here and lack the words & understanding to properly describe it.

        Perhaps all just variations on a theme, to phrase it in a terribly crude way.

  18. swordfish 19

    ” Argue about rogue polls and methodology as much as you like, but the numbers aren’t really budging in terms of central government politics”

    While I don’t entirely disagree with this overview (the Left should, of course, be doing significantly better after 8 years in Opposition against the backdrop of intensifying social crisis), you buttress your argument with a fairly out-of-date Colin James article: Poll of Polls: Coalition has a way to go

    That was written back on 10 June – when the Nats were almost 5 points ahead of the Lab-Green aggregate in terms of the 4-Poll Average. That lead has now fallen to 3 points. And, of course, a resurgent NZF now finds itself easily holding the theoretical balance of power in a way that it rarely did in Polls before mid-2015 (and, once again, rarely did in the final months of 2015).

    “And we … the ones who are, to be honest, obnoxiously “comfortable” middle-class types with time on our hands and access to plenty of the levers of power – can help change happen.”

    Not sure you can make that assumption. A number of regular commenters here have mentioned over the years that they’re in poorly paid employment … and others – like me – are from low-income (albeit politically-aware and active) family backgrounds.

    • When I say “we, the ones who are [xyz]” I’m obviously talking about “the people who are [xyz]”. That’s the point.

      There were no more recent Poll-of-Polls I could find on the RNZ website, and using any individual recent poll would just start an argument about rogue polls and methodology.

      • swordfish 19.1.1

        I used the average of the last 4 Polls (to be compatible with James).* = a 3 point gap between the Nats and Lab+Green.

        * Although – given the paucity of polls this year – using this method to gauge the latest trends in public opinion starts to become more than a little problematic. (the fourth-to-last poll, for instance, (Newshub Reid Research) was largely conducted back in late July).

  19. AmaKiwi 20

    Stephanie, Your reasoning is great BUT it will not win the election.

    Trump’s appeal is NOT rational arguments. He is so irrational no one is sure what his policies are. He understands people vote their feelings: betrayal, insecurity, outrage, etc.

    Labour will never win based on facts. Key won with fatherly assurances: “At the end of the day I’m comfortable with that.”

    Labour needs passion: “The country is a mess. They are liars, hypocrites, thieves. We will make NZ great again.” Logic does not win elections. Emotions do.

    • I don’t believe I said anywhere that “Labour will win based on facts”. In fact, I completely agree that evidence/policy-based campaigning doesn’t generate widespread support, and what we need is bold principles and passion. I’ve written about this a lot:


    • Puckish Rogue 20.2

      I’m not disagreeing with you, I am in fact I’m agreeing with you however you need someone with charisma to sell the message and Andrew Little, though probably an intelligent, well-intentioned guy, just isn’t inspiring enough

      • Stuart Munro 20.2.1

        Lady Di couldn’t have sold Leftishness to you PR.

        Little has left credibility – the union influence that makes you shrivel up like Gollum in sunlight is regarded as an endorsement and a virtue by the people who might actually vote for him.

        • Puckish Rogue

          I’d be less concerned about trying to sell leftishness to me and more concerned about selling to the swing voters

          And as for union credibility last time I checked only approx. 15% of the country were in a union and over half of those were public servants

          • Lanthanide

            I doubt Little’s leftness matters a damn for the swing voters, ditto with the union cred.

        • Chuck

          “Little has left credibility – the union influence that makes you shrivel up like Gollum in sunlight is regarded as an endorsement and a virtue by the people who might actually vote for him.”

          I agree in part, the union influence is what propelled Little into the leadership role.

          Taking Labour further left is the mandate given to Little by the unions.

          Does Little have credibility other than among the activist left? Well for one the business community does not think so (poll the other week that rated Little below most other Labour / Green MP’s).

          • Stuart Munro

            The business community were never Left or even socially responsible.

            Actually the activists want someone a bit more outspoken than Little. You think he’s angry? Not angry enough.

            • Chuck

              Yep you are correct in saying…

              “Actually the activists want someone a bit more outspoken than Little. You think he’s angry? Not angry enough.”

              I should have said the left and not activist left.

              • reason

                Where’s that angry rapey BM hangin out nowadays chuck ???

                And Have you noticed how key is quick to anger when he’s half drunk in Parliament ???

                Keys low honesty ratings are going to bite when he defends his tax havens …. where the rich get to steal from the poor and children in secret ….

                It was the lack of womens votes which kept Brash from power when he tried to race bait an election win

                I tend to think more woman will be recognizing key as being perhaps even more ugly a person than Brash ……….. and more likely to switch their vote away from Key due to his results such as Kids living in cars …. the poisoning of our rivers ……………. cheating on climate change etc etc .

                Notice how all Nact trolls are male ?????????????????

                And unlike literal ugly dick pics which only women and females receive and suffer from ,,,,,, the troll ones are bisexual and the sad ‘men’ behind them show themselves to everyone

                They wouldn’t even care if there were children around …. the sick buggers .

  20. Plan B 21

    From Croaking Cassandra, pretty much sums it up>

    we have a government run by a Prime Minister who in a recent interview declared that

    Where would chairing the UN Security Council rank in your career highlights?

    Right up near the top

    I guess when there have been eight years of no substantive economic reform, no progress in improving the relative performance of the New Zealand economy, no progress in reversing decades of relative economic decline – just the pretence that somehow we are a global economic success story – we shouldn’t be surprised that chairing an ineffective meeting of foreign officials and ministers, dealing with an intractable problem in a far-away land, counts as some sort of career highlight.

    Young New Zealanders, facing unaffordable houses, and the prospect of growing up in a country slowly drifting ever further behind, might perhaps have hoped for something rather more tangible rather closer to home.

    • Wayne 21.1

      Actually there has been major progress in improving the relative performance of the NZ economy.

      NZ is one of the few OECD countries running a surplus, growth is third from top of the OECD, and participation in the work force, second highest in the OECD. These are not pretend figures, they are real. Which is also why Key and English are highly rated by their OECD counterparts.

      It also explains why the Key govt polls as well as it does at the end of 8 years. Despite what you may think a large percentage of NZ’ers can also see the economic progress.. NZ is one of the few countries where polls consistently show that the majority of people (quite large majorities in fact), think the country is going in the right direction. they may not necessarily vote for the govt, but neither do they want radical change.

      Wanting the govt to deal with problems and issues is not the same as wanting to change the govt. Many people just want this govt to solve some of those problems.

  21. Cinny 22

    Awesome post. I’m super excited about next years election and the change of government we will see, waiting patiently, not long now 🙂

    I’ve got big plans to execute next year, making sure the public in my electorate (they are a clever bunch), but more importantly the voters in the electorate next to mine (they need some logic bombs) are VERY well informed.

    “Everyone has their own if/then conditional programming, a situation where if certain conditions are met, then a logic bomb detonates”

    Logic bombs 🙂

  22. Barfly 23

    “Watchmen” icon movie snag? Loved the movie FYI.

  23. Thanks for this post. People are people, funny little living entities and they are us and we are them. The clouds on the hills in front of me are disappearing in the warm sun. Kia kaha.

  24. Ant 25

    “And to be honest, many people don’t see a viable political alternative”.

    True, and decades ago a world-wide movement began unplanned, un-coordinated, unheralded, and until recently undocumented. Sick of trying to change the system through the ballot box large numbers of people began building the world they longed for themselves, though with an eye on planetary needs. “Think globally but act locally” became their mantra as co-ops sprung up in unprecedented number.

    I am encouraged when I go online and discover just how many such groups are around to-day. Their proliferation is increasingly destined to make their ideas and ideology a political force.

    • Ian 25.1

      So true Ant. That is why dairy farmers are doing so well.

      • Ant 25.1.1

        Presume tongue in cheek Ian? The ruin of our once clean and swimmable rivers are hardly the outcome of planetary needs and ‘thinking globally.’

  25. gsays 26

    cheers stephanie, a great tonic and some inspiring reading.

    i, for one, prefer to read about what esra, mwu and living wage aotearoa have been up to rather than highlighting the inconsistencies of the current mob in parliament.

    i was left hanging in the paragraph about ideas of what the more priviledged in society should be supporting with their time and money.

    keep up the good work.

    • How about we start a Positive Politics campaign?

      Everyone can participate. Lets use the channels available to each and every one of us to really promote the champion work done by such organisations. To champion the efforts of those unsung individuals chipping away to provide the kind of society we’d actually like to be a part of. Even if it seems OTT at first, Rather than continually tearing down, lets really build things up, put ’em out there, and see what happens?

      Think I’ll go re-activate my Facebook page and update my Linkedin. See you there?

  26. gsays 27

    hi tns,
    i am all for a positive politics campaign.
    less on highlighting the bad/wrong and more about how it can be.

    the channels i will use will probably be limited to here and the daily blog, internet wise.
    the face to face contact will be where most of the positive politicing will occur for me.

    i am disinclined to facebook but it seems like a place for this to occur, more strength to your arm (or typing fingers).

    this week i will focus on the fact that a ubi can be funded by a financial transaction tax on the bankers and money movers.

  27. Incognito 28

    A thought-provoking post, thank you.

    We know people are fundamentally good.

    Others have already picked up on this and I think I know what you mean by it. However, personally, I don’t think binaries such as good-bad, right-wrong or left-right, for that matter, get us far; often they are value judgements.

    I like to think in terms of action-reaction or cause-consequence; they can be desired/planned or unforeseen/unintentional, for example. People don’t always think of all the consequences, which, in reality, is impossible, but they also refuse to accept (some of) the consequences of their actions. People are great denialists and equally good at being dishonest or blaming.

    If we all think a bit more about the effects of our actions, become a little more considerate, show a little more compassion and patience (!) for our fellow humans then we’ve made a small step as individuals but a giant leap forward for mankind (and the environment!).

    That’s not revolution; it is evolution!

    • RedLogix 28.1

      It might be more accurate to say that people all have the potential to be good. But it doesn’t necessarily manifest spontaneously … it has to be nurtured and encouraged.

      The power of expectation is enormous; and revolution creates very bad expectations.

      • Jester 28.1.1

        History shows, when interests align, large groups may form, and great and dramatic change may be affected. But when individuals no longer see any benefit from continuing to pour their energy into sustaining that group, they tend to focus their energies back on themselves.
        If we are evolving into something capable of behaving altruistically by default, as some seem to be suggesting here, then I suggest that rate of evolution is insufficient to remediate the environmental and societal collapse current evidence is pointing towards.
        I hope I am wrong, but…….well…….Exhibit “A” Your Honour; Planet Earth, circa 2016.

  28. Dale 29

    Well at least we’re not in a recession like we were after 8 years of Labour. Remember when we went into a recession even before the GFC.
    No matter what ,you can’t rewrite history,although many of you try to.

    [Stephanie: Your derail game is boring. Try harder or sod off.]

    • Macro 29.1

      No matter what ,you can’t rewrite history,although many of you try to.
      Well you’re certainly trying to!

  29. Incognito 30

    many people don’t see a viable political alternative


    It’s not on us to lead it, God no

    I found these two statements strangely paradoxical.

    People, especially of older generations, are so used (conditioned?) to look to authority for guidance and directions. But we don’t trust our (political) leaders, we don’t vote in elections, we disengage, but at the same time we expect them to somehow sort our shit and give them shit when they inevitably fail!

    In the present day, with its obsession on personal freedom, self-reliance, and self-interest the persons and institutions of authority have ceded their authority.

    Thus we have to sort it out ourselves, provide solutions and alternatives ourselves and not wait for politicians or the Opposition, for example, to get their A into G.

    And the greatest irony, or paradox, if you like, is that we cannot do this on a purely individual and self-centred basis but only through a truly collective and collaborative effort.

    How to synergise self-interest with social needs without ceding personal power & authority but whilst respecting the collective authority and obeying the collective decisions is perhaps the great dilemma of our Western democratic model.

    • Ant 30.1

      “How to synergise self-interest with social needs without ceding personal power & authority but whilst respecting the collective authority and obeying the collective decisions….”

      We’d all like a perfect world overnight, but the wheels of evolution turn slowly, unless we regard the now, with all the agonising/soul-searching/disillusionment, as the curriculum of our time.

      To borrow a term from ethologists there exits also (on a higher turn of the spiral), an innate releasing mechanism within the human psyche. Its (involuntary) activation follows years of aspiration, striving, discontent and search for coherency in a world increasingly perceived as chaotic. For some the change follows a religious conversion, -but within a personal version of restrictive dogma; for others it comprises an unexpected ‘awakening’ to the fact of human unity and their part to play actualising it. Self interest, so potent a force formerly, becomes eclipsed by a new integrating center that views the ‘former’ ego as no more than an agent of contact for creative and holistic ventures within an unhappy world.

      At best we can all employ our best efforts empowering the change we believe in.

      • Incognito 30.1.1

        Thanks again for another most-stimulating comment!

        It has already led to much interesting reading.

        I will probably get panned for saying this but the world is neither perfect nor imperfect, it just is, without any value judgment.

        Perhaps the wheels of evolution turn slowly as far as genetic selection and the likes are concerned – epigenetic changes and selection might occur on much shorter time scales than, say, random mutation. However, I wonder whether psychological-spiritual stages of evolution are subject to the same limitations/boundaries of space & time or to the same extent – I think they may not.

    • The two statements aren’t in conflict. The point was to make it very clear that while we may need new political movements, or new inspiring leaders, there’s a trap where the educated middle-class liberal Pākehā crowd decide “I must show the poor brown working-class folk the way because they can’t do it for themselves!”

      That kind of paternalist approach should be anathema to a truly progressive movement.

      • Incognito 30.2.1

        Yes, I agree and this trap is all too real. In any case, it is a fine line between state interference in people’s lives, even with the best intentions, and becoming overbearing, paternalistic, or worse.

  30. Michael 31

    So all we need to return to Nirvana is a “Labour” government in the Beehive? I think not and so do a large number of alienated voters, who no longer bother to vote for Coke v Pepsi. If someone offered a realistic atlernative to neoliberalism it might be worth engaging in the exercise; however, that’s not on offer and hasn’t been for many years. Perhaps 2020 will be different?

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