Eleanor Catton responds

Written By: - Date published: 8:30 am, January 31st, 2015 - 293 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, Media, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags:

With these words she has burned all the loud shrill right wing voices that this week have been assailed against her:

The New Zealand mainstream media, though quick to flare up over a condensed record of remarks made last week in Jaipur, are in general altogether behind the ball: I’ve been speaking freely to foreign journalists ever since I was first published overseas, and have criticised the Key government, neo-liberal values, and our culture of anti-intellectualism many times. One reason why my remarks have not have been noticed in New Zealand until now may be that in most modern democracies a writer expressing an opinion is not considered, in itself, shocking. The truly shocking thing would be the writer who only spoke in praise of her country; who was unequivocal in gratitude and platitude; who swore fealty to her government, rather than to deep-felt values or ideals; who regarded arts funding as hush money and a part-time teaching position as an intellectual gag. I hope that that author does not exist today; but if she does, she is the one who should make the news.

In future interviews with foreign media, I will of course discuss the inflammatory, vicious, and patronising things that have been broadcast and published in New Zealand this week. I will of course discuss the frightening swiftness with which the powerful Right move to discredit and silence those who question them, and the culture of fear and hysteria that prevails. But I will hope for better, and demand it.

Eleanor Catton take a bow.

293 comments on “Eleanor Catton responds ”

  1. North 1

    Hear hear !

  2. Macro 2

    Suck on that Plunkett!

  3. greywarshark 3

    A well-put point – arts grants should not be ‘hush money’.

    • Richard McGrath 3.1

      Agreed – but I believe the grants should arise from those who support the artist in question, not from taxes.

      • greywarshark 3.1.1

        @ Richard McGrath
        I believe in countries encouraging their outstanding people. Call me socialist then.
        It’s nice for the wealthy to throw pearls to those deserving of encouragement. I want the people to support their fellows and bring back their experience, and although it is an individual effort, I do think we should feel proud. But that pride should be there in support of the individual even if they don’t win, but because they are talented and stood tall against competition.

        • Richard McGrath

          One of the reasons I oppose grants being made from the pool of taxation is that some taxpayers may have an ideological aversion to the writings, art or otherwise of the recipient(s) and thus are unable to withhold their contribution. Patronage of artists and writers does not have to come from millionaires, as someone else has suggested – it can come from individuals giving gold coin donations. In Catton’s case, 25000 such donations could net her $50k.

          I wonder whether she pays tax on her grant? If not, why shouldn’t she, if the rest us have to pay it?

          • McFlock

            your problem right there is to think that a specific dollar of tax revenue was donated by a specific person and then allocated to a specific service.

            Your other problem is that you think that art is strictly a private good, rather than a public good.

            • Richard McGrath

              Not so, McFlock; tax revenue is pooled then redistributed so that every taxpayer contributes to all areas of government expenditure.

              • McFlock

                That’s like saying that my employer contributes to my power bill.

                I exchange my labour for money to pay that power bill.
                You exchange a portion of your income to live in a stable, flourishing society with rule of law and opportunities that are far greater than in, say, Somalia.

                I pay my power bill.
                The government pays the grants.

                And you ignored the point that arts and culture are public goods, not just private goods.

          • Murray Rawshark

            Grants for scientific research are taxable. I assume whatever Catton got would have been as well.

            As far as funding intellectuals is concerned, any money that went to her has had a fantastic return. When you fund a team of yacht racers, you get them coming back with second prize. How much did that cost? She wrote the best novel of the year for the year in question. She is a fantastic example to anyone who gets government grants.

            What has the government money that went to Ede, Williams, and Farrar achieve? An infection of the body politic. The money to Radio Works. More of the same.

          • Draco T Bastard

            Patronage of artists and writers does not have to come from millionaires, as someone else has suggested – it can come from individuals giving gold coin donations.

            But that is what happens and it happens in such a way so as:

            1. We end up with only art that rich people like and
            2. Very few artists

            Your method reduces the innovation and creativity of our intellectuals.

          • Psycho Milt

            One of the reasons I oppose grants being made from the pool of taxation is that some taxpayers may have an ideological aversion to the writings, art or otherwise of the recipient(s) and thus are unable to withhold their contribution.

            Any taxpayer who troubles themselves to think about stuff their government is up to will have an ideological aversion to no end of shit their taxes are spent on. So all you’ve got here is the standard-issue libertarian bullshit about government restricting itself to law enforcement and defence, to which the only response worth bothering with is “Oh fuck off.”

      • Colonial Rawshark 3.1.2

        Agreed – but I believe the grants should arise from those who support the artist in question, not from taxes.

        That’s because you don’t believe in supporting civilisation and culture with taxation, just the elite patronage of milionaires.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.3

        Taxes are the people supporting the

        1. artists
        2. Scientists
        3. Politicians
        4. infrastructure
        5. etc, etc

        If we do it the way you want we end up with less of all the above and with less of all that then we end up with less societal development and, eventually, the collapse of society as research already shows.

        Basically, your beliefs have nothing to do with reality.

      • b waghorn 3.1.4

        When you fund rising stars in the arts and sports etc you are funding role models for our young .

      • Clemgeopin 3.1.5

        @Richard McGrath:
        That is the approach of an uncivilised myopic bird brained stupid non intellectual capitalist neo liberal fool.

        • Macro

          You left out “neanderthal”, but otherwise totally agree.

        • Richard McGrath

          Cemgeopin: “That is the approach of an uncivilised myopic bird brained stupid non intellectual capitalist neo liberal fool.”

          Ah, such constructive criticism and avoidance of ad hominem. That’s what I come here for…

          • McFlock

            To be fair, the comment was also perfectly true.

            Albeit with some debate about the inclusion of the word “neanderthal”, of course.

      • Mike S 3.1.6

        I’d rather my tax dollars went to writers than to rent seekers like corporations receiving subsidies, rip off government contractors, landlords receiving the accommodation supplement, etc,etc.

  4. Lanthanide 4

    I get the impression from this that she’ll be turning down the offer of “a wine” with Plunkett.

  5. John Shears 5

    Sean will argue that he is right and Eleanor and all who support her are wrong.
    What a tosser.

  6. Colonial Rawshark 6

    Dammit, she’s good.

  7. Pete George 7

    The final word in this week’s debate about freedom of expression should be left to Eleanor Catton.

    Why? That seems like a contradiction.

    • Te Reo Putake 7.1

      Bullshit. Catton’s the victim of a pathetic and cowardly attack by one of your fellow righties. It’s entirely appropriate that she has the last word.

      ps: as usual, a warning to Standardistas. Anything you say to Pooter George can and will be used to fill up the blank spaces in YawnNZ.

    • tc 7.2

      You’d know all about contradiction petey being somewhat of a master at skirting round it with your beige brush.

    • Paul 7.3

      Do you support Plunkett over Catton?!!

      • Pete George 7.3.1

        No. I thought that some of Catton’s comments were inappropriate. Complaining about not winning a prize because she had won a prize for a different competition with different criteria and different judges in a different country seemed churlish. And her political boilerplate left/Green political comments were out of place in India and I’d expect an author to at least try to say something original.

        Plunket’s response was over the top which detracted from legitimate counter arguments. To me calling Catton a hua and a traitor was stupid or misguided attention seeking.

        So I don’t support some of what both of them said.

        But Catton had a right to say whatever she wanted to say. As did Plunket.

    • ankerawshark 7.4

      Pete George.

      Others are welcome to respond! At there peril. This woman is courageous and brilliant and she has really socked it to Plunkett, Key et al. Right now I bet Key is being told by Crosby Textor to leave this debate alone, in case Lorde jumps as well. Seriously.

      Catton has really socked it to them. Finally these white, middle aged, priveldged men, Plunkett, Henry, Hoskings, Key et al have been challenged. (and thanks to the men, like Simon Wilson and Gorden Campbell who added so positively to the debate.

      EC……….bravo .increase her grant. You go girl!

      • David H 7.4.1

        Her reply. To the rich old white. Hell just find some George Carlin he’ll describe them better. Certainly made my Sunday morning, they made me laugh

      • David H 7.4.2

        Her reply. To the rich old white. Hell just find some George Carlin he’ll describe them better. Certainly made my Sunday morning, they made me laugh

      • tricledrown 7.4.3

        Crowd fund her

    • David H 7.5

      The only contradiction is you. PG

  8. tc 8

    Key treated her like he treats most in this country who dare to challenge their ideology and their MSM puppets joined in.

    further focus from offshore on the owned and compromised state of media in NZ is just what is required, thanks for that John long overdue and all your own work.

  9. tricledrown 9

    Eleanor’s story has now made international news.
    The Bullying by the Rich and powerful of her opinion has highlighted the Truth of her opinions!

  10. millsy 10

    If anyone wants to know, the word ‘hua’ is regarded in Maoridom is a very nasty insult.

    • weka 10.1

      Thanks millsy, I’ve been thinking that too, I remember it from when I was a kid, but I don’t know what it actually means.

      • marty mars 10.1.1

        Tom Roa of Waikato University’s Maori department said “hua” was a shortened version of “upoko kohua”, which meant “may your head be boiled and eaten”.

        Over time the expression had been shortened to “hua”, he said.


        If you get called this by Māori it is very serious.

        • weka

          Thanks marty. I’ve been wondering if Plunkett used the word casualy, or intentionally, and if the latter whether he was aware how it would sound like whore.

          • Te Reo Putake

            Round my way, hua does mean whore. I think there has been a crossover of meaning based on the pun potential of the two words sounding alike. I believe that may be the case down south, where the scots accents renders whore ‘who are’. Either way, whether it’s ‘boil yer head’ or ‘whore’, it’s abuse.

            Just as an aside, my Dad once tried to have a discussion with Michael Lhaws on his radio show and was told to “go boil his head”. Dad was quite upset about it, because he knew the derivation of the phrase.

            • Bill

              Just having a wee smile here TRP.

              For all the misunderstandings that have ever come up due to accent, I can honestly say that I have never, in asking who someone was, been accused of calling them a whore (pronounced, as you say, ‘hoor’)…’Who’re you! and ‘Ya hoor ye!’

              Anyway. ‘Awa and bile yer heid’ is a fairly gentle dismissal for someones stupidity (from my part of the world) that, as an aside, causes some French people great difficulty vis a vis the pronunciation.

              Still smiling. Thanks.

        • joe90

          If you get called this by Māori it is very serious.

          Or this, by an Irishman.


        • Murray Rawshark

          Up around Whangarei, I grew up understanding it to mean someone completely useless and worthless. Possibly someone who might as well be cooked and eaten. It was not something to call someone lightly.

  11. Ad 11

    May there be more like her.

  12. vto 12

    It is truly most excellent to see people like Eleanor Catton standing up and expressing herself freely… similarly with Dame Anne Salmond and scientist Mike Joy (all have been unilaterally attacked with verbal violence by the right wing, and there has been zero engagement on the issues)

    this is of course what John Key wants to send troops to the middle east to defend. … . .. . … . so why the fuck is the fuckwit john key having a go at her? The fuckwit wouldnt’ even know himself such is his shallowness …. bloody ignorant wanker

    Go Eleanor go !

    and all you abusive right wing wankers go fuck yourselves… and while doing so think about how you might mature into useful grown-ups ….. sean plunket

    • Kevin 12.1

      Well…. You certainly won’t win any prizes for literary skills, or as a ‘mature, useful grown-up’!

  13. Pete George 13

    I will of course discuss the frightening swiftness with which the powerful Right move to discredit and silence those who question them, and the culture of fear and hysteria that prevails. But I will hope for better, and demand it.

    I hope for more thoughtful and original input than that from Catton but I won’t demand it.

    No one tried to silence Catton as far as I’m aware. Some have claimed Catton shouldn’t be challenged on what she said or disagreed with. That’s absurd.

    Ironically her political diss had more than a tinge of hysteria.

    • Sabine 13.1

      no, because calling someone a ‘Traitor”(something that used to be punished by death in times past) and a “hua’ is considered polite speak.
      So yes she should demand better but she won’t get it. Not in NZ, where little old men past their prime talk down to women who are younger and smarter. Must be a scary place for the likes the Key, PG, Plunket, and PG and the other Men of importance or impotence.

      • Sanctuary 13.1.1

        Pete George is just having a slow moving jingoistic tantrum, which isn’t surprising because he is old, so slow is all he can manage.

        • weka

          I don’t think it’s anything to do with being old. Nothing wrong with being old, and plenty of old people who are endowed with moving slow and being compassionate, intelligent, humane, politically insightful. Slow is often good.

          I’m not even sure it’s jingoism. Pete’s just shown the same lack of understanding about what happened to Catton as he does with Dirty Politics. He simply fails to understand the complexities and depths, or even the basic dynamics, that are at play, and so ends up making trite, misleading to the point of lying pronouncements like the one above (in other words, he’s in Dirty Politics apologist mode today).

          We have a choice at this point. We can let him make the thread all about him, or we can stay focussed on Catton and her exceptional intelligence and expression.

      • Pete George 13.1.2

        Sabine – I don’t find a Catton interview in India scary at all. And I manage to survive here and Kiwiblog.

        Funny you should mention impotence considering the failure of Catton’s Green politics to make much impact.

        I’d rather see her (and Greens) try a more original and constructive approach. Starting and continuing a slanging match from opposite corners rarely succeeds in achieving anything worthwhile.

      • David H 13.1.3

        @Sabine. And it was death by hanging not a nice way to go by all accounts.


    • marty mars 13.2

      “Ironically her political diss had more than a tinge of hysteria.”

      Oh deary me – going that way are you – what a dreary little man you are peter

    • vto 13.3

      Jeez Pete now I see why people get annoyed with you…. lets take a look at your post here…

      “I hope for more thoughtful and original input than that from Catton but I won’t demand it.”
      She has, I would suggest for reasons she has commented on herself, put all of her thought into it. So what sort of increased thought are you referring to? Your level of thought? The level of thought of an intellectual perhaps?. As for ‘original’ it is not as if the issue raised is original is it. It is as old as the hills and she has expressed her view on an old issue – raging ignorant conservatives. So your first sentence is hopeless and wrong-headed Pete.

      “No one tried to silence Catton as far as I’m aware.”
      Have you not been awake? Of course they have. Go and read what Key said about sticking to her knitting. Go read what Plunkett said about being grateful rather than criticising. Your second sentence is also wrong, based on the facts.

      “Some have claimed Catton shouldn’t be challenged on what she said or disagreed with. That’s absurd.”
      Bullshit. She has not even been challenged on what she said – she has just been attacked with violence of the verbal kind by your kind. They have not engaged n the particular issue raised at all. Not once. Nowhere. Your third and fourth sentences are absurd and make no sense in the context of the facts.

      “Ironically her political diss had more than a tinge of hysteria.”
      ha ha ha that is truly funny. Try backing it up with evidence and then we can compare your example of her “hysteria” with the likes of Plunket’s true hysteria. Last sentence also a big failure Pete.

      You post was woeful Pete and you are way out of your depth. You come across as a shallow fool, exactly the likes of which Catton speaks of. Just like Key, every time you open your mouth you provide support for her very point.

      Bloody useless Pete – take a leaf from Key’s book and stick to your knitting.

      • weka 13.3.1

        Can we please not make this thread about Pete? Catton is such an awesome bright light this week, let’s not let a dog in the manger wanker like PG ruin it eh?

        • vto

          I know weka, I ignore most always but just had to highlight him there for exposure purposes. If he can respond with clarity, logic and evidence …………… otherwise it is an ignore from this point

          • weka

            Exposure is good, and I’ve had my own comment on pointing out what a dick he is. Perhaps we could talk to each other about that, rather than to him, and just ignore his responsed?

        • Pete George

          You’re doing it again weka. Trying to do exactly what some are claiming has been done against Catton.

          You’re doing a bit of a Plunket. That didn’t do his argument much good, did it.

      • David H 13.3.2


    • Pete George 13.4

      Catton is too young and naive to have much political credibility, and being female doesn’t help.

    • AmaKiwi 13.6

      Is what Catton said accurate or not?

      That is what professional journalists would ask. Instead the Right Wing slanders her.

      School yard bullying from intellectual midgets.

  14. Sanctuary 14


    “Jingoistic national tantrum”


    Three cheers for Eleanor Catton, huzzah huzzah huzzah! .

  15. Sabine 15

    Interesting in this all is how the old white man brigade of NZ , the ones that are truly past their time are scared by a Young, attractive, smart, articulate and accomplished women.

    Stick to your knitting

    yes…that is smart, articulate well reasoned and it adresses in a measured way all the points that she made in her interview.

    Poor old national men of NZ, made all the money in the world and still can’t get no love.

    • weka 15.1

      Ae, the underlying misogyny is strong in this one.

      Lolz at your last sentence, very good.

    • Barfly 15.2

      Hey! Quit generalizing!

      “Interesting in this all is how the old white man brigade of NZ , the ones that are truly past their time are scared by a Young, attractive, smart, articulate and accomplished women. ”

      I’m old white and male but don’t bloody well put me in with PG, Plunket, Key et al.
      I am not an arsehat!

    • vto 15.3

      They are not scared, they just don’t know how to respond so they revert to classroom bully..

      • Pete George 15.3.1

        That’s kinda ironic considering the amount of classroom type bullying that goes on here. And this is relevant to the Catton debate where it’s claimed she is bullied to try and shout her down and shut her up. It’s a bad look no matter who does it, and regardless of whether they’re oblivious to the double standard or not.

        Or is bullying and abuse verboten if targeting Catton but acceptable if you don’t like the target?

        [Pete you are derailing this thread. It is all about Catton’s treatment, not you. Please desist. MS]

        • weka


          hey, vto, there are plenty of others here to talk to 😉

        • Te Reo Putake


        • vto

          As I outline at 13.3. above, your posts make no sense Pete

        • Wensleydale

          Poor Uncle Peter. He’s such a hopeless narcissist.

          • phillip ure

            and for no reason..for the narcissism..that’s the puzzle..

            ..he seems to be an anti-personality…

            ..a black-hole..

            ..he goes around vacuuming up anything ‘fun’..interesting..

            ..and if he can’t vacuum up the energy in a room..

            ..he sprays it beige..

            ..he certainly is unique..

            ..and for that we can give some thanks..

            …(and i just know he has grey loafer-shoes (with elastic-sides..)

            ..and he has matching sweaters and cardies…

            ..(more than one pair..)

            ..and he puts the poly in polyester..

            ..and sandals..

            ..lot’s of sandals..

            ..and.and..i’m going out on a bit of a limb here..

            ..but i reckon a safari-jacket..and beige in colour..

            • fender

              Baby-shit-brown is the colour for PG.

              I can only assume he’s been given a donation from the National Party to spout his crap via his blog and elsewhere because no-one can be as stupid as he acts, surely.

            • Clemgeopin

              he puts the poly in polyester..and sandals..

              hmm, ..sand in sandals… or…
              …dal in sandals?…

              …may be and in sals!…

  16. weka 16

    “in future interviews with foreign media, I will of course discuss the inflammatory, vicious, and patronising things that have been broadcast and published in New Zealand this week. I will of course discuss the frightening swiftness with which the powerful right move to discredit and silence those who question them, and the culture of fear and hysteria that prevails. But I will hope for better, and demand it.”

    I love this. We so need more of the literary classes to be standing up and speaking truth to power.

  17. saveNZ 17

    I’m surprised Key didn’t say
    “hey little lady, shouldn’t you be at home with your man, politics is not for women. Paula and Hekia is going to make sure under charter schools, women are taught their place and maybe go back to the gentle art of needlecraft not writing books. That’s why we banned grants for further education for beneficiaries. Under National with this ungrateful attitude we will make sure there are no arts grants whatsoever. We’ll just have film subsidies for Peter Jackson and big business.!”

  18. joe90 18

    How the filth roll.

    John Hart ‏@farmgeek

    Anyone else find @TaxpayersUnion doxing of Catton’s grants by Jordan “fanny between their legs” Williams more than a little creepy?


    John Hart ‏@farmgeek

    This http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/raw-data-taxpayers-union-summary-govt-grantsassistance-eleanor-catton-168056 … and this for context #rpt


    H/T – itstricky

  19. whateva next? 19

    “I will of course discuss the frightening swiftness with which the powerful Right move to discredit and silence those who question them, and the culture of fear and hysteria that prevails.”
    …..and point out to Mr.Plunkett and his ilk that it was NOT Key’s personal money that supported you, but the people of NZ’s, and those that wholeheartedly support you Eleanor. Go well.

    • vto 19.1

      Yep good but overlooked point. The taxpayers supported her not frickin’ John Key, Arse Plunkett, Mike Hosking or any of the other turds who took umbrage at being highlighted with bright highlighter pen ….

      • rhinocrates 19.1.1

        A Key (ha ha) point to make. Yes, the government supported her, the taxpayer, the lotteries commission. None of these are the National Party.

        Whenever someone brings this up, remind them that it’s the state and the people that supported her, not any one political party, ephemerally in majority.

        Quothe Louis XIV: “L’etat, c’est moi”*. Nope, nope and never – remember what happened to his descendent.

        *”The state, it is I.”

        • whateva next?


        • Clemgeopin

          Let me guess: [lol]

          The execution of Louis XVI, by means of the guillotine, took place on 21 January 1793 at the Place de la Révolution (“Revolution Square”, formerly Place Louis XV, and renamed Place de la Concorde in 1795) in Paris. It was a major event of the French Revolution.
          After events on the 10 August 1792, which saw the fall of the monarchy after the attack on the Tuileries by insurgents, Louis was arrested, interned in the Temple prison with his family, tried for high treason before the National Convention, convicted in a near-unanimous vote (while no one voted ‘not guilty,’ several deputies abstained), and condemned to death by a slight majority.
          His execution made him the first victim of the Reign of Terror. His wife Marie Antoinette was guillotined on 16 October, the same year.

    • AmaKiwi 19.2

      “I will of course discuss the frightening swiftness with which the powerful Right move to discredit and silence those who question them, and the culture of fear and hysteria that prevails.”

      What did she say that was so threatening to Key?

      She managed to hit his hot button in a way no one else has.

      There is a deep vulnerability here. What is it?

      • whateva next? 19.2.1

        Made him look silly in front of his top mates abroad, only thing he does care about, apart from money.

  20. Shona 20

    Ms Catton has given me a little hope in the otherwise bleak and arid spiritual landscape NZ now resides in. Oh and I have read The Luminaries unlike the majority of males who like to denigrate her for having the temerity to write a tome. A tome which has been optioned for filming . So watch this space folks. It is my most fervent wish her creativity will eclipse that unoriginal hack Peter Jackson.

    • saveNZ 20.1

      I’m tired of my F – ing taxes supporting Key and his cronies including the F-ing Taxpayers Union (aka reptilian descendants of the business roundtable), to sell off our country

      • fender 20.1.1

        I have zero respect for the joke that calls itself the taxpayers union and all those associated with it. But please link to anything that supports your claim they receive funding via taxpayers, I’d be horrified/riotous if that were true.

        • Wensleydale

          Anyone else find it odd that they call themselves a union? I mean, isn’t it basically a pair of odious National Party shills rummaging through someone’s undie drawer looking for skidmarks?

          • Anne

            I suspect it is a derivation of the name… Association of Consumers and Taxpayers (ACT) .

            A bunch of right wingers who pretend they’re a community-based union standing up for the rights of consumers and tax payers. In reality they’re a cover for ultra right wing corporate marketeers… not unlike the various right wing think tanks which have set themselves up here and overseas in recent decades.

            • greywarshark

              I call the government the UNACTS (pron. eunuchs) because they are so bloody fat and impotent.

          • fender

            Yes, a more accurate name would be the National Party Dirty Deeds Facilitation Group.

            “…… looking for skidmarks?”

            Pretty much, or they get notification of the skid-marks from the Beehive 9th floor, and it’s their job to publicise with spin the RWNJ reaction on behalf of Key.

            I’m surprised a bunch of union hating creeps would be so keen to use the word.

            • Wensleydale

              Perhaps they appreciate the irony.

              • fender

                If they do then I guess there’s been a little progress amongst the RWNJ crowd who previously believed irony was a clothing flattening chore they made their “missus” perform. 😉

          • Chch_Chiquita

            I find it a bit ironic. I thought Union is a dirty word in RW vocab.

  21. I really admire both Eleanor Catton and her father, Philip Catton for remaining calm and eloquent in both speaking their minds and in articulating their right to speak their minds in the face of intimidation.

    Best of all, they know the rule for fighting bullies – find out what they want, and don’t give it to them.

    Plunket, Hooton, Farrar and Ede, following Key’s dog-whistle, wanted to intimidate her into silence, NBR is doxing her, PG is tagging along indulging in his perverse martyr fantasies.

    Instead, they remained, calm, clear, stated their terms without hiding behind phoney politeness that so often becomes effective obeisance (I don’t expect Kathryn Ryan to dig particularly deep on that bizarre courtship dance between Williams and Hooton on Monday morning).

    Do listen to Philip Catton at this link. He’s calm and clear, but doesn’t give an inch and he’s blunt too where he needs to be. Completely nonplussed, all Plunket can do is make odd gargles and strangling noises:


    The right are trying to use fear and bulling to create a climate in which dissent is dangerous and pre-empted before it needs to be punished. There are not secret police taking people away in the middle of the night (though we know that Hooton would love assassination to be used) … yet. However, people will think twice before speaking and therefore remain silent if they know that they’ll be publicly humiliated and if threats are made against their livelihood – again, this is what Plunket and the NBR are doing.

    The right are trying to create a climate of fear in which anyone will fear speaking out. I admire the Cattons for coming back, never losing track of the real issues in the face of obscene abuse and speaking on their own terms.

    They really are an inspiration. We must never be intimidated into remaining silent and letting someone else take the flack and we must applaud those who do stand up. Thanks to The Standard for doing this.

    • saveNZ 21.1

      +1 rhinocrates

      • weka 21.1.1

        +2 I feel inspired by the Cattons. Thanks for the audio link. I hadn’t listened it because I couldn’t stand Plunkett, but have listened now to hear Catton’s perspectives.

        A couple of thoughts.

        I think some of the intellectual points Catton was making were beyond Plunkett. The stuff about the need for formal criticism, esp in the Universities, was good, as was the difference between political criticism and name calling (which Plunkett failed to get).

        Plunkett appeared to be quite personally bothered by E Catton’s criticism of neoliberalism, and focussed on the word greedy as if she had called him a greedy person. Time to front up Plunkett, you are part of the sub culture that is greedy.

        • weka

          The other thing I thought about Plunkett is all those years he worked on the govt’s dime at RNZ where he wasn’t allowed to speak out. Bet that sticks in his craw, or maybe this is just his bitterness leaking out.

    • Pete George 21.2

      I really admire both Eleanor Catton and her father, Philip Catton for remaining calm and eloquent in both speaking their minds and in articulating their right to speak their minds in the face of intimidation.

      Yes, good on them, a very good approach.

      Best of all, they know the rule for fighting bullies – find out what they want, and don’t give it to them.


      The right are trying to use fear and bulling to create a climate in which dissent is dangerous and pre-empted before it needs to be punished.

      That can’t be pinned on ‘the right’ Certainly some on the right do it, but so do some on the left.

      The right are trying to create a climate of fear in which anyone will fear speaking out.

      Said here that’s ironic.

      We must never be intimidated into remaining silent and letting someone else take the flack and we must applaud those who do stand up.

      I agree.

      These ideals aren’t something you can support when it suits and ignore when you feel like being as intimidating and as much a bully as the worst of those attacking Catton.

      And yes Rhinocrates, that applies to you as much as anyone.

      • weka 21.2.1


        • rhinocrates

          I know weka, he’s still fishing in the pool of his own tears. 🙂

          This is more appropriate for Open Mike, but… I grew up with a family member who had alcoholism (something I fight with too). When he got particularly plastered, he’d become belligerent and then, when someone pointed out his misbehaviour, he’d start crying, “You’re all getting at me!” This was someone I should have loved and respected, but all I could feel at the time was sadness, pity… and I must admit, disgust at his abjectness.

  22. Stickler 22

    I’d like us to explore further this notion that apparently quite a few on the Far Right have, that if one is in receipt of government monies, one is not permitted any criticism of the government.

    While I quite enjoy the idea that such public purse beneficiaries as film production companies, yacht racers, farmers and manufacturers and their ilk should not be permitted to express any opinions on public policy, I regret some of the others that might be forever silenced.

    I’m thinking of unemployed and sickness beneficiaries, those on universal super, people receiving ACC, people in State – sorry, Social housing, and those on a government-derived salary. Especially MPs – these are quite explicitly much too biassed to express opinions on government.

    Are we looking forward to the day when all government grants come with a silencer clause, like public servants enjoy?

    What about those of us who are retired and living partly off private savings? Do we get to express half an opinion? If so, which half?

    • weka 22.1

      Paula Bennett set the standard on this a few years ago. Two women on the DPB spoke out publicly about the axing of the travel grant for beneficiaries in education. Bennett took confidential information about the two beneficiaries including their benefit rates and gave it to the media as a deliberate act to bully them and any other beneficiary who spoke out against govt policy. Bennett got taken to the Privacy Commissioner, who found against her. Bennett basically told him tough shit, she would do it again.

      That’s the calibre and intent of this govt.

      How many political bloggers are there that are on benefits? The main one I can think of is Sarah Wilson. She wrote about her long and difficult experiences with WINZ, and disability in general, both on her blog and in a column in a Nelson newspaper, and garnered national attention for her descriptions of how bad it was, including from Labour MPs (Bennett of course was in complete PR denial). Some time after that Wilson wrote,

      Earlier this year, I did an Official Information Act request for my personal file from WINZ. I asked for all correspondence between WINZ staff, following my revelations about my experiences in the media, and for any other information relating to me. The folio I got back was massive and some of the things I discovered in it were horrifying.

      I haven’t published all of that because I am afraid to. But in the light of recent discussions about government surveillance, I do want to share one thing. During that time I was in the media, WINZ staff monitored this site and all of my public social media. They also examined CCTV footage of me in the office. This isn’t against the law as far as I can tell but it sure scared the hell out of me.

      So at my meeting yesterday, I asked my case manager if I was, in fact, still being monitored in this way. She went to find out and called me later with this answer.

      “Work and Income do monitor print and web media in regards to Work and Income so from time to time this would include your website.”


      I’m guessing that the list of people in NZ who have to think twice about what they say in public is not getting pretty long.

    • Colonial Rawshark 22.2

      Remember, to the Right Wing scum, money is power: both the presence and the absence of it.

    • sabine 22.3

      maybe we need to educated people as to where the money that the government spend comes from.

      paid for by

      the citizens
      the businesses

      In germany on your monthly pay stub is listed”

      salary received
      unemployment tax
      health care tax
      retirment tax
      solidarity tax (installed with the unification of east and west germany)
      income tax.

      so everyone knows what they pay for what. In NZ, one has the idea that no one pays for services like unemployment benefits or grants to the arts, while we are in fact pre-paying these services. I pay taxes not only for the consolidated fund but to the Health Care sector, to the unemployment fund etc. so that when I need the services i can apply and expect to be helped be it with a bed in a hospital for surgery or unemployment benefits until i find a job.

      In NZ we need to get that right. John Key, Bill English, Paula Benett and their ilk don’t give anything to anyone, the state does and the state is us. They are nothing more than administrators and as such should be held accountable.

  23. “as much a bully as the worst of those attacking Catton.”

    OK, I’ll take that, because it’s politically relevant.

    There is no equivalence when structural power is involved. Key pulls the levers of the state, the NBR, Farrar et al are the paid sock puppets of the rich.

    There is not even a false equivalence, there is no equivalence at all.

    The power relationships are intrinsic to the conflict. Behind every utterance from those goons is the latent threat of government power. Beneficiaries do not have the power to release Bennett’s personal details but she has abused the power to do it to them and even buffoons on talk radio try to wield the power of a lynch mob behind them.

    PG is both being disingenuous is deliberately obscuring this structural imbalance and still trying to gain pity as if his personal problems were part of the same narrative. It’s not. His narcissistic personality disorder and craving for attention have nothing to do with a brave and principled opposition to political power.

    PG does have my pity, but not for the reasons he might think.

    • weka 23.1

      Ae, it’s about the power, and it’s about the fact that some of the people with power in NZ are no longer constrained by the social ethics that we used to have.

      As for PG, it’s all trolebait, pure and simple and I think us trying to explain anything about power dynamics is a special kind of stupid 😉 I’ll take your comment as for the rest of us 🙂 (this is a man who thinks that Dirty Politics is people being mean to each other 🙄 ).

      • Pete George 23.1.1

        Ae, it’s about the power, and it’s about the fact that some of the people with power in NZ are no longer constrained by the social ethics that we used to have.

        Yes, Same thing applies here. Some are unconstrained by their power or their impunity.

        Sure the more the position of power the worse it is. That’s why it’s worse if a radio jock does it.

        But Key or Farrar responding is hardly an abuse of power. It’s hypocrisy if abuse and bullying is totally unacceptable from a position of greater power – unless it’s you who have the power.

        And it’s a version of political correctness gone mad if those with greater power are supposed to remain silent and never respond to criticism.

        • Te Reo Putake


        • vto

          I repeat. Your posts make no sense. Truly Pete, they make no sense.

          • The lost sheep

            Every time I see a Pete George thread I can’t help thinking of Dr Pavlov and his puppies.

            • weka

              I’m sure you could if you wanted to.

              • The lost sheep

                I’ve tried Weka, but the more often I observe the daily cycle, the more I marvel at the ability for otherwise intelligent beings to be conditioned to react in a predictable manner to a set stimulus.

                • weka

                  I think you are missing the arch trole dynamic. If those of us who you believe are trapped in a Pavolovian response don’t respond, the trolebaiting continues unabated and other people just get caught up in it. Unless you are suggesting that Pete’s powers extend to anyone who reads here.

                  Your Pavlov analogy is simply another version of DNFTT, and we already know that doesn’t work. Nice try at shifting the responsibility though.

                  I’m actually proud of how the community handled Pete’s troling today. Mostly they just saw it for what it was and treated it as such. Not really any big long thread derailments that tried to take his arguments at face value. Instead, just exposing the idiocy and calling him for what he is and moving on.

                  • The lost sheep

                    If you don’t respond to the tr**ling it will continue unabated….
                    So you have to respond every time….and it continues unabated.

                    And anyone new who comes along might be a tr**ll, and so out of caution they must be treated as one….and it continues unabated.

                    So what’s the result? Half of all the exchanges on this blog are in the tr**ll / tr**ll reaction mode?

                    It looks to me like that’s an endless loop there Weka, and not at all a healthy one. There is more than a hint of paranoia to that.

                    At the very least, if the tr**lls are real, (and come on, who are these tr**lls, and what is their significance?), they have got you locked into their reality, and dancing to the tune they are playing.

                    But many of you seem to be perfectly happy to run through the exactly the same game every day, so far be it from me to suggest it is actually a case of mutual dependence.

                    • McFlock

                      Profound comment, right up to the penultimate paragraph where you admitted you have no idea what the issue is.

                      Try wikipedia.

                      Anyway, I’ll continue scanning for interesting articles, links and comments, and maybe laugh at an idiot or whatever. Which I guess is pretty much the same as most other readers/commenters.

                      And if a T gets in the way, I’ll skim over or engage (depending on my mood at the time).

                    • weka

                      Trole infestations of online communities is as old as online communities. Some of us have experience with and knowledge of this (I’m guessing you don’t).

                      The only consistent trole here currently is PG. I call him an arch trole because of his high level of troling skill, his persistence, and the fact that he’s figured out how to trole without getting a ban (he’s been banned in the past for his behaviour).

                      One important thing to remember is that PG’s behaviour is recognised across the NZ political blogosphere. PG is known for his behaviour pretty much everywhere, and he’s banned on a number of forums, so there’s no real reason to think this is about the standardistas.

                      I agree the dynamic is unhealthy, and I believe it is damaging the community. But DNFTT doesn’t work, not least because you would never get everyone to do it and you will never get an agreement on this from the regulars, let alone find a way for new people to not get sucked into PG’s troling.

                      I haven’t said new people should be treated as troles, I said they don’t recognise PG’s troling. This is either because they don’t understand what troling is, or they get caught on a day when Pete is trying to be good and faux redeem himself. See OM today for an example. So even if we all ignored Pete, new people wouldn’t and on and on it goes.

                      The only people with the power to stop the dynamic are Pete and the standard moderators. Neither is willing to do this thus far, so we are at a stale mate.

                      “But many of you seem to be perfectly happy to run through the exactly the same game every day, so far be it from me to suggest it is actually a case of mutual dependence.”

                      Except we can’t do anything about it, so it’s more a case of either leave or make the best of a bad situation. I (and I assume some others) also take the view that I won’t stand by and let someone shit on something I care about, so I’m going to name PG’s bullshit when it seems useful to do so. What I won’t do is treat his comments at face value.

                      As for being perfectly happy, there are some pretty skilled debaters here and they will obviously challenge bullshit where they see it. Doesn’t mean they’re happy about it. You’re also not taking into account all the people that are avoiding the place currently. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that if you asked people to put their hands up today, I’m pretty sure that by far the marjority would say they are unhappy with the situation, even those that take part. One highlight of the thread we are in now is that there has been almost universal frustration with PG’s behaviour. See also micky’s moderation comments (in bold).

                      Myself, I would much rather be talking about politics, but Pete keeps ruining the threads, so I just deal with what is in front of me.

                    • The lost sheep

                      A thoughtful response Weka.

                      You are correct that I am a new comer to blogs/TS, and so I am seeing the dynamics with ‘fresh eyes’. And yes, as you say, what really strikes me as blindingly obvious is that the ‘tr**ll / tr**ll’ reaction cycle is an active cause of dissatisfaction for most participants, and there is a broad agreement TS would be a much better forum without it.

                      But I disagree that there is nothing more that can be done to alter the ‘unhealthy’ situation.

                      On a personal basis – If you recognize someone as a genuine Tr**ll , i.e. posting more for reasons of personality than politics, simply DON’T respond to them in personal terms?. Stick to answering any actual significant points they make, and ignore all the hooks that lead to diversion.
                      Honestly, that would cut most ‘tr**ll’ reaction threads by half at least, and eliminate about the same percentage of the negativity expressed on this blog.

                      If I start by saying that I believe it is the respect for freedom of expression, and consequent lack of moderation that make TS the only genuinely vibrant and eclectic political blog in NZ…
                      Will that piece of blatant flattery cover the sin of going on to make a suggestion on how it could improve?

                      I wonder if moderation policy could include an ‘Anti-Hogging’ clause?
                      As in ‘Thanks for your contribution, but it is so frequent today that you are ‘hogging’ the debate, and stifling the opportunity for the conversation to develop outside of your personal narrative. Please, sit back and take a turn at listening to other voices, and come back with new comment only when you have something new to say that you have not already said 20 times today’.

                      Given a bit more air for other voices to breathe, not only would the blog be ‘healthier’ for current participants, I believe TS could reach, influence, and involve a much much wider audience.

                • tricledrown

                  Just like lost sheep!

            • rhinocrates

              Sigh/chuckle… guilty…

              Light relief, Eddie Izzard on Pavlov’s lesser-known experiments with a cat:


          • rhinocrates

            Indeed. This one’s a doozy:

            “It’s hypocrisy if abuse and bullying is totally unacceptable from a position of greater power – unless it’s you who have the power.”

            It’s a grammatical monstrosity, and breaking it up into its clauses doesn’t help.

            Does he literally believe that criticising someone from a position of lesser power is actually an attempt to silence them and that it could work?

            I think that PG could be persisting in ignoring the reality of structural power. The point is, Eleanor Catton does not have such power, and never did.

            PG is being stupid and or dishonest.

            It’s dishonest to say that anyone’s tried to silence Plunket or Key. On the contrary, Philip Catton engaged Plunket in his own studio with civility and good faith – far more than he had shown himself. And as far as I know, nobody has shown up at Key’s mansion and dragged him away in a car with blacked-out windows on a one-way trip to the Lubyanka.

            And really, it’s naive in the extreme to think that intrinsic power is irrelevant of can be dismissed so easily. Farrar and Ede are not just ordinary citizens and are in fact astroturfers with a great deal of money and an agenda behind them, Bennet did have access to confidential files that beneficiaries do not have themselves and Hooton and Odgers really did think that they could get an assassin to do their dirty work for them, which Nicky Hager could not do.

            And is Key NOT speaking in his capacity as PM? I know that he claims to be sometimes acting in a different capacity – for example, when he’s texting Slater, he’s presumably acting in his capacity as Batman or a garden gnome.

            And this is where the contradiction occurs. PG admits “Sure the more the position of power the worse it is” and yet somehow Key is not PM, yet in his dismissal of Eleanor Catton he explicitly denigrated her for lacking respect for his position and said that she should stay out of politics, so obviously he was speaking in his capacity as PM and had left the bat mask at home.

            Sure, he was responding to criticism, but it was as PM as he pointed out himself, with an enabling and encouraging power of a powerful dog-whistler – and sure enough, the hounds started baying for blood. He knew that, and that’s how the two-tier system works. He doesn’t use the words “traitor” and “whore” himself because he knows full well that others will do it for him at his signal.

            I don’t think that PG has the remotest comprehension of what power is or how it works.

            PG is just one tiresome narcissist who for masochistic self-gratification wants to be the victim, but that’s his personal psychiatric complaint and I know that in the coming days, many fools and proxies are going to say, “but she criticised that nice man” (and they have of course), so keep hammering home the point of structural power and its colossal imbalance. Of course she’s getting into politics – because politics is getting into all of us.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              In the sentence you quoted I’m pretty sure “you who have the power” are commenters at The Standard, with Pete as the victim of our repression.

              All part of his false narrative that dirty politics is rudeness on blogs.

      • rhinocrates 23.1.2

        Hi weka, I hope you’re having a nice day.

        Despite the sideshow of PG’s maudlin self-dramatising, this thread and the overall controversy have been very useful, highlighting the dynamics of dirty politics.

        It provides the sane, reasoned points of debate to be used in many casual encounters and arguments that will inevitably follow, and to summarise, as I see them:

        The state is not any one political party that temporarily occupies the treasury benches. Criticism of a political party is not treason.

        State support is not hush money – see preceding point

        Democracy means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear – that’s from Orwell.

        Power is intrinsic to relations. If power is unequal, then the debate is unequal.

        There is a climate of fear being created, it is orchestrated and one needn’t call that a conspiracy theory because it’s been in the open for centuries as a tool of the powerful. It’s the principle of “Pour encourager les autres” – “for the encouragement of others”.

        When the mechanisms of the magic tricks is exposed, the Prestige is lost (BTW, I really recommend that film), so there may be a rather rote and pompous nature to my comments, but I hope that some of these points can later be used to burst a few toxic bubbles.

        I’ve been very heartened by the level of support for Eleanor Catton and its eloquence. I dare to hope that we as a nation are at last cutting through the crap.

        • weka

          Hi rhinocrates,

          I also feel heartened, and I’m noting the number of people in this thread that have said the same. I agree, a good sign.

          Haven’t seen The Prestige in a long time, but I think I have a copy so might catch it again this week.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 23.2

      Well said Rhino.

      The difference in structural power is the whole point.

      “What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?”

    • Colonial Rawshark 24.1

      What a whining little git. A pretend journalist who really dreams of a job as a paid PR lackey.

      • Bill 24.1.1

        Ah – so you missed that it was an acerbic piss-rip by Andrew Gunn and not actually something written by Sean the Plunket?

        Rather well done, no? . A perfectly passable ‘echo’ of what might be expected from Sean the Plunket.

      • Clemgeopin 24.1.2

        Ha, ha! You got fooled ….or were you taking the proverbial in your comment? That was a very clever sarcastic piece taking Plunket to task! If the former, read it again CR….May be you didn’t read it….or may be you speed read it!!

        They closed ‘comments’ on that article. Iwonder why!

    • Wensleydale 24.2

      That was some A-Grade satire from Andrew Gunn. Read the comments; they’re hilarious in a sad, embarrassing sort of way. Honestly, sometimes I feel as though I’m wandering aimlessly through a shopping mall full of mental health outpatients. There’s something terribly wrong with this country right now.

      • Anne 24.2.1

        …I feel as though I’m wandering aimlessly through a shopping mall full of mental health outpatients.

        I’ve been feeling that way for some time.

        Mind you they say:

        If you think you might be mad then you’re not. But if you are convinced you’re not mad then you are. 🙂

  24. Incognito 25

    The pen is mightier than the sword and John Key does not appear to be “relaxed and comfortable” with this saga that has now got a life of its own thanks to his little henchman Sean Plunket. I suspect Textor & Crosby are working overtime to douse this fire.

    The other little henchmen of the right have also been mobilised. Jordan Williams is making a fool of himself and the Editor of the NZ Herald has also put his (?) foot in http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11394465

    I am glad Eleanor Catton does not show any signs of backing off and it seems that the apple did not fall far from the tree.

    • weka 25.1

      “Catton is entitled to criticise the level of public funding of art and express any view of the Government. But to suggest she is a victim of the “tall poppy syndrome” is a bit rich.”

      Ok, can the anonymous editor at the Herald really be so ignorant of the irony of that statement?

      And what does that editorial actually do apart from say we were good to you Eleanor and now we’re pissed off with you, so we’re going to criticise you but without providing any useful content or context apart from our hurt feelings?

      Probably hasn’t gotten round to comprehending what Catton had to say to the Guardian today either,

      She told the Guardian that her [Jaipur] interview had been formatted to edit out the questions, “presenting my views in a list ordered by subject, rather like a disgruntled ranting person to whom a new thought keeps occurring”.

      “The distortion that this formatting might cause was never once addressed by the New Zealand media, who reacted to the interview on face value and at fever pitch,” she said. “My remarks about tall-poppy syndrome, for example, were treated as if I had answered the question ‘How has your work been received, and how have you been supported, by the New Zealand government and people?’ In fact a journalist had simply asked me to define tall-poppy syndrome, as she was not familiar with the term; I did so using an example from my own recent experience. It is baffling to me that any respectable journalist would question my motivation without investigating the context in which I spoke, including to whom, and when, and where, and at what provocation.

      My emphasis.

      • Incognito 25.1.1

        The interview in the Guardian was very good. Indeed, context matters; without it anything that you say can be used against you. I could draw a parallel with mass surveillance but that’s too far OT.

      • Wensleydale 25.1.2

        From the tone of the editorial, it sounds a bit like John Roughan. When he’s not vomiting partisan bollocks, he spends his days renovating his home… in the Prime Minister’s trousers.

        *slaps thigh*

  25. Neil 26

    It seems to be a common trait of the right wing to abuse those who speak out against them, as has been well demonstrated by Paula Bennet.
    I have also noticed that those who support the likes of Key etc. also display these same traits, including being elitist.

    • The lost sheep 26.1

      “It seems to be a common trait of the right wing to abuse those who speak out against them.”

      If you study the thread above, or almost any other thread on this blog, I believe you will find evidence the characteristic is not confined exclusively to the Right.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 26.1.1

        Except that for the Right, it’s their only effective response, on account of reality’s Liberal bias.

        • The lost sheep

          I shouldn’t ask I know…

          “reality’s Liberal bias.”

          As evidenced by?

          • rhinocrates

            It’s a reference to political satirist Stephen Colbert,


            He was himself referencing a Bush administration lackey who said that criticism of his government came from the “reality-based community” whereas they, the Republicans, “make their own reality”.

            Have a look here:


            OAB is making a joke. Maybe you’ve heard of them.

            • The lost sheep

              Joke, yes.
              Even attempted a couple here myself (drew more abuse than laughter unfortunately).

              But while OAB is obviously a funny type of guy, he also mixes in a significant amount of spiteful abuse in his posts, and I haven’t yet learned to read the difference correctly…maybe he could use that /sarc thing greywarshark told me about.

              Thanks to the link to Colbert. I laughed a lot.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Horses for courses.

                By definition, reality has no bias. It’s a humorous observation; that said, when referring to the English-speaking victims of ‘neo-Liberalism’ – as described by Pascal’s Bookie at 34 – it’s a good rule-of-thumb.

                If members of the modern English speaking Right believe their own rhetoric, they’re delusional.

  26. Anne 27

    The tragic truth is: Eleanor Catton is too good for New Zealand. I hope she makes her home overseas with regular private visits home to see family and friends. As her fame grows it will become harder and harder for plebiscite up-starts like Key, Bennett and the media misogynists and wankers to claim her as ‘one of us’. We can then smile at the delicious irony because they were responsible for ‘us’ losing her in the first place.

    • Incognito 27.1

      Nonsense! Nobody ever is too good for his/her country. That’s just elitist thinking so please drop this before it takes hold in your mind. I think John Key has already made it perfectly clear that she’s not “one of us” but a Greenie who’s just spouting the party line. This was obviously lost on Jordan Williams, Sean Plunket and the Herald editor but henchmen are known to be a little slow in the uptake AKA one fry short of a Happy Meal.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 27.1.1


        Well put.

      • Anne 27.1.2

        Also found in: Legal, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
        ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
        Adj. 1. patronising – (used of behavior or attitude) characteristic of those who treat others with condescension – arch, condescending, patronizing, superior.

        Transposing your attitude on to me Incognito? Under this Key administration and it’s great many fan girl/boy culture-less acolytes (of which you appear to be one) she is too good for NZ.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          How does Incognito appear to be an acolyte? Do you think their characterisation of Key’s attack puts him in a good light?

          Would an acolyte call the Curate a henchman?

        • Incognito

          I disagree with your statement regarding Catton being too good for New Zealand and you simply reiterate it without any new arguments except for irrelevant drivel; John Key and his mates are not the only ones in New Zealand. In fact, there are many good people here so Catton is not too good for this country; nobody ever is and it is a silly thing to say – you call that patronising? Taking your logic to the extreme, millions of us would be too good for NZ, so let’s all leave in droves till we have a change of government.

          PS You presume wrong about my attitude and my adoration of Key.

  27. Colonial Rawshark 28

    Syriza Government sacks heads of Privatisation Agency

    Pay attention Labour, this is how it’s done.

    Jan 30 (Reuters) – Greece’s new leftwing government has asked the heads of the state privatisation agency to resign after halting state asset sales agreed under the international bailout programme, the agency’s chief executive Paschalis Bouchoris said on Friday.

    He said both he and Emmanuel Kondylis, chairman of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF), had been told to leave by Deputy Finance Minister Nadia Valavani, the minister responsible for overseeing state revenues.

    “We were asked to resign immediately,” Bouchoris told Reuters. “She explained to us that the privatisation programme will be ended and so there was no reason for the agency to continue in its current form,” he said.

    The government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has already halted a string of major asset sales which had been planned as part of debt-cutting efforts agreed with its creditors in the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

  28. English Breakfast 29

    We either advocate for free speech or we don’t. Catton has every right to her opinion, as do her critics. Politeness is not a requirement of free speech, nor is being politically correct. Regrettably Catton’s opinion has been abbreviated from the full context of what she said, and so in the media it reads like a anti-NZ moan, whereas really her concerns are not ABOUT her country but FOR her country. At the same time I saw nothing out of the order in Key’s response; indeed he spoke warmly of her writing. Catton’s comments were deeply political, surely she should have expected something similar in return?

    • weka 29.1

      “whereas really her concerns are not ABOUT her country but FOR her country.”


      “At the same time I saw nothing out of the order in Key’s response; indeed he spoke warmly of her writing.”

      It’s what he said and how he said it. He dismissed her via ad hominems. After that I don’t give a shit about his opinion about her writing (which btw, was part of the pat on the head, there there, you can write but you should leave politics to the big boys).

      See Rhinocrates’ analysis above about power. Also, Key responded as the leader of the National party and made it quite clear that he’s there only for certain NZers. My expectation of the NZ PM is higher than that.

      • Pete George 29.1.1

        “It’s what he said and how he said it.”

        That’s only subjective opinion.

        Would you have found anything he said or how he said it acceptable? I haven’t seen any evidence that anything other than a minority took exception to what Key said – and that minority are anti Key anyway.

        • One Anonymous Bloke


          Ethical principle = subjective opinion, ‘apparently’. Petty post-modernism.

        • weka

          “Would you have found anything he said or how he said it acceptable?”

          Of course. As you well know because I gave an example when this was first discussed the other day, in a conversation that you were taking part in. You’re a fuckwit of the first order Pete. That’s not me abusing someone who is speaking out against me, that’s me being disparaging to someone who delights in disingenuous trolebait and ruining other people’s enjoyment.

      • English Breakfast 29.1.2

        I struggle to see how you read all of that from a response that was just a few words. As I understand it, here are those words “I’m disappointed if she doesn’t have respect for the work we do because I have tremendous respect for what she does as a writer”. There is no ad-hominem there, and his comment about her writing seems to be more than just a pat on the head. Catton’s comments were hard hitting, opinionated and I would venture to suggest highly emotive. I’m fine with that, let’s have all opinions out there and subject them to scrutiny. Including the man who has been elected PM.

        • Colonial Rawshark

          You gotta get a bit emotive about the country you love, otherwise why not just leave it to the bean counters and number crunchers.

          • Clemgeopin

            @ Colonial Rawshark

            “You gotta get a bit emotive about the country you love, otherwise why not just leave it to the bean counters and number crunchers”

            or to ego driven self centred untrustworthy foreign exchange currency gamblers!

        • weka

          He said more than that English.

          And he should be speaking as PM (who is the PM for all the people here not just those who voted for him), not as the hurt feelings of the National Party.

  29. The article below is a longish read, but worth it. It looks at the hysterical reaction to Eleanor Catton, the writer’s own experiences of attack from the neoliberals and links it with the insecure nationhood diagnosed by Gordon Mclaughlin in A Passionless People and Bill Pearson’s Fretful Sleepers.


    Fretful Sleepers Is available online here, by the way.


    Just click on the plus sign by the essay title and it’ll open into links for each section.

    It is very long, so save it for when you have time. It seems to me as if someone at Crosby Textor read it as an instruction manual on how to exploit a people’s insecurities to gain power. It lays out the control panel of all the buttons that they’re pushing.

    Here’s a discussion of it from the good old days of Public Address:


    • The lost sheep 30.1

      Just addressing this notion of a ‘hysterical public reaction’…..

      How many individuals need to express a specific view in Aotearoa before it can be classed as a ‘Public reaction’ and therefore valid evidence for broad generalizations about the nature of NZ society?

      It seems to me that in this case there was an extremely small sample of individuals suggesting Eleanor should not be allowed to voice an opinion, and a not much larger number of individuals expressing disagreement in a respectful manner.

      On the other hand, there seemed to be a significantly larger number of people across many forms of public debate expressing solidarity for Eleanor’s right to express what ever view she wished.
      And with the obvious outcome that it is re-affirmed that of course she does, and will continue to do so freely.

      The phrase ‘hysterical public reaction’ just seems a touch ‘hysterical’ to describe what actually happened here?

  30. srylands 31

    It is bizarre that she refers to the country as neo liberal. Last time I checked we had a socialist government. She acts like a green taliban spoilt batch.

    • fender 31.1

      Yeah REAL socialist eh, selling state houses is just so socialist, spylands 🙄

      • Paul 31.1.1

        If we wanted to discuss someone who was a traitor to the people of New Zealand, srylands would make a good candidate.

    • Pete George 31.2

      This Government is so far from neo-liberal it isn’t funny. The last budget was more money for free under 13 healthcare. The announcement this week was an extra 3,000 low income families to get larger subsidies for the rental properties. The Government spends hundreds of millions on subsidies for arts, science, innovation and the like. And the welfare system is one of the most generous in the world.


      ‘Neo-liberal’ has come have some vague blanket meaning to a few people and is meaningless to most people.

      • marty mars 31.2.1

        right, so now we know the gnat line – good doggy

        • Pete George

          Do you disagree with any of that or are you just dissing it for no good reason?

          • marty mars

            I rather talk to the organ grinder than the monkey

          • Te Reo Putake


            • weka

              Love the trifecta there TRP 🙂

              • Te Reo Putake

                Cheers, weka! A little humour is always good. Mind you, it doesn’t disguise the fact that Pete Beige is trolling the life out of the Standard. Not helped by Open Phil being hijacked as well. I really want my Standard back.

                • weka

                  Me too!

                  I just wrote above that I am proud of how the community handled PG’s troling today. Mostly just naming the bullshit and calling him what he is and leaving it at that, or giving him the 🙄 . Of course there will also be those that simply walked away 🙁

                  • Pete George

                    Except that you haven’t named any bullshit, you’ve resorted to it yourself. As per this example, discredit the messenger without any attempt to address the information.

                    You might think it’s winning something obscure but it gets you nowhere.

                    [Pete the problem is that you think that the information and the discussion is about the messenger (you). It is not. This particular post is about Eleanor Catton, the attacks on her and her response. By all means address these but this is not about the treatment of you – MS]

                    • Pete George

                      MS – so the Catton principle of free speech means free shots are fine but responding to them is forbidden?

                      That’s much of what the Catton issue is all about, free speech and a right of reply.

                      [I deleted the latest comment aimed at you. But you are again trying to make this post about your treatment and not about Catton’s treatment. It is called derailing a discussion. There is an important principle here, it is the actions of a government and its lackies amongst the MSM in attacking a young woman for daring to criticise the way that things are. Your attempted comparison of your treatment by some pretty exasperated commenters is galling and will invite a flame war – MS]

      • phillip ure 31.2.2


        ..farrar wd never have used that attack/defence before..

        ..attacks on neo-liberalism was just something to ignore..

        ..of no/little matter..

        ..for him to be gearing up/attacking/defending this way..

        ..clearly means the right is packing it..

        ..as neo-liberalism is dismantled in greece..

        ..and soon to be in portugal/spain/scotland..etc..

        ..and the head of the bank of england comes out..declaring austerity-politics a failure..and economy-killing..

        ..they are scared of contagion to/of the neo-lib nat/lab/austerity-politics-consensus that has prevailed for so/too long here..

        ..as they should be..as they should be..

      • Te Reo Putake 31.2.3


      • The Murphey 31.2.4

        It must be difficult knowing oneself is battling so openly with what life really is Pete

        Time is running short and yet you are still floundering in mental adolescence

        Have some self respect and take some time out to think how best you can improve on what remains of your journey in this life so perhaps in the next you may not continue repeating the same errors

        Witnessing a man at the stage you are portraying himself in such ways is unfortunate but it takes all types

        That you seem to enjoy playing the role you do so vigorously indicates you have some large barriers to overcome with little time left on the clock

    • “Batch” doesn’t make grammatical sense in that sentence, so we can guess what you really wrote Srylands. Thank autocorrect for not making that a misogynist reference like whore, eh?

      So far we’ve got “Whore”, “Traitor” and now “Bitch”. What’s going to be next?

      The more you guys do it, the more you prove her point.

      • srylands 31.3.1

        Sorry I meant “bitch”, not “batch”. I was at the cricket in Wellington . Lots of glare. One eye on the match, etc.

        Look you are being nuts. She decided to go all political. Now she is getting political back. Anyone calling the current government “neoliberal” is asking to be called out big time. We have a socialist government that funds a giant welfare safety net and generous support for the arts, which this individual has used to her benefit.

        She is very entitled to her opinion. But she can expect to be ridiculed.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          S Rylands, the market fundamentalist who leeches on the political tit, knows all about ridicule.

    • Colonial Rawshark 31.4

      We are living in a right wing, neoliberal, capitalist run society shitlands.

      It’s simply not as shot as the USA yet.

      • srylands 31.4.1

        Can you please refer to me as “srylands” in correspondence? There is no cause for rudeness.

        • Clemgeopin

          Can you please refer to me as “srylands” in correspondence? There is no cause for rudeness

          Yet you right wing shitland arseholes can refer to the award winning best international writer of the year 2013, as ‘bitch’?

    • McFlock 31.5

      To recap:
      Author makes statement about NZ culture.
      SSpylands doesn’t understand that statement.

  31. Foreign Waka 32

    What a relief that a person like Eleanor exists. Not just for all Nzlanders but especially for women who often sit at the receipting end of those neo lib policies. We need more people having the guts to speak their mind publicly. Thank you Eleanor.

  32. Chooky 33

    I will be buying her book…. great writers have courage and speak out eg Harold Pinter

    • Weepus beard 33.1

      That is an interesting outcome, Chooky, and one I can understand.

      Until now I’d read about The Luminaries and it’s acclaim, but right now I’m too busy making ends meet to read, unfortunately.

      Elanor Catton for a long time was a figure pained by our excruciatingly shallow media as merely the ra, ra, recipient of an international award. Other than that not much was reported about her beliefs. Her success was all that was important to the media and the dumb NZ public.

      The fact Elanor Catton has bravely brought up the very issues the current government and all their enablers (the dumb NZ public) want to be kept as quiet as possible makes me want to buy her book and read it.

  33. Pascals bookie 34

    This whether or not we are neo-liberal thing is pretty boring.

    I mean, if you are hung up on the purity of use of the word then you sure as shit better never talk about socialism as anything other than the nationalisation of the means of production and exchange.

    So much for the linguistics.

    On the substance.

    The Douglas reforms.

    Were they Neo-liberal? Everyone told me they were at the time and in the years following them.

    Were they implemented here as purely as anywhere in the world? That’s what I was told at the time and in the years following, and what the Economist reported.

    Did they structurally change the NZ economy and political environment? That’s what everyone told me, and what everyone seems to say they did. And when anyone questions those reforms, they sure seem to get shouted down by the political establishment and chatterers of the economic opinion pages.

    Have they been repealed in any major way? Not so far as I’ve seen, and the likes of DPF seem quite keen on pointing that fact out when it’s convenient.


    We had a bunch of what was called neo-liberal reforms that fundamentally changed the country and that have not been changed and that when it’s suggested they get changed people freak out and shout ‘communist’ or whatever.

    What the fuck are you all talking about when you suggest that our political classes aren’t neo-liberal?

    • Pete George 34.1

      Which neo-liberal?

      Neoliberalism is the resurgence of ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism beginning in the 1970s and 1980s, whose advocates support extensive economic liberalization, free trade, and reductions in government spending in order to enhance the role of the private sector in the economy. The usage and definition of the term have changed over time.

      Reductions in Government spending?

      In 2004 core crown expenses were $41.6 billion. Labour increased them by 54% over five years to $64 billion.

      From 2009 to 2014 (based on PREFU forecast) core crown expenses rose a further 11.4%.

      Today the term neoliberalism is mostly used pejoratively as a general condemnation of economic liberalization policies, such as privatization, open markets, and deregulation.


      I’ve seen some saying we should ditch ‘neo-liberalism’ but I haven’t seen that explained properly.

      • joe90 34.1.1

        Reductions in Government spending?

        Too fucking easy.

        Core Crown expenses have fallen from around 35 per cent of GDP in 2010/11 to a forecast 31 per cent of GDP this year. They are then expected to continue falling to below 30 per cent of GDP by 2016/17.


      • Pascals bookie 34.1.2

        Did you even read my comment Pete?

        • Lanthanide

          He thought it was a personal invitation to him to define neo-liberalism for you.

          • Pete George

            So you don’t get it.

            How would you define neo-liberalism for 2015?

            • Te Reo Putake


            • One Anonymous Bloke

              The structural changes introduced by the Douglas reforms. No, wait, Pascal’s Bookie already said that. Ah well, reading is a skill, after all.

              • Pete George

                But as I’ve shown the meaning has kept morphing.

                Douglas reforms stopped the country going broke. Which of them specifically would you undo (as if that was possible)?

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  You’ve “shown” nothing: parroting two cherry-picked descriptions does not a demonstration make. You’ve made no attempt to engage with the argument in front of you.

                  If we let you dictate terms, nothing is “possible” – you speak to your own vacillating incompetence and that’s all.

                  That’s why this post is about Eleanor Catton – we’re discussing someone who did something worthwhile.

                • Clemgeopin

                  Douglas reforms stopped the country going broke

                  Then how come this clueless Key-English RW National government has increased our nation’s debt from a low 10 billion when they took over from the efficient Clarke-Cullen excellent Labour government in 2008 to OVER 90 BILLION now, in just six years….and climbing higher and higher every day !…And these buggers can not even close the inequality gap nor improve the lives of ordinary disadvantaged people or the poor. But, hey, the wealthy, their rich mates and the foreign corporates are well looked after and fine alright.

                  This is an useless crap government and you defend these buggers while unfairly attacking Labour and the left by your hot- and-cold-blowing-annoyingly-argumentative-thread-derailing- cunning-comments by getting hold of pretty insignificant little points and phrases here and there.

                  • srylands

                    “how come this clueless Key-English RW National government has increased our nation’s debt from a low 10 billion when they took over from the efficient Clarke-Cullen excellent Labour government in 2008 to OVER 90 BILLION now, in just six years”

                    Why do you think? Because like other socialist governments it has maintained a giant system of social and health spending in the face of the post GFC revenue hit. The borrowing was an alternative to austerity. Because of the strong balance sheet and expenditure restraint, the debt levels will decline over time.

                    But be my guest. Lobby for aggressive debt consolidation. You could provide a list of expenditure cuts totalling 10% of operating expenditure. Let me know how you get on. Start with the giant arts grants, funding for National Radio, corporate welfare. Then move on to some time limits for benefits.

                    When you ask such idiotic questions as “Why do we have $90 billion of debt” you will be the target of contempt.

                    The short answer is “to avoid austerity being imposed on the feckless”. Which is what I thought the Left would welcome. But if you don’t I suggest you write a letter saying so to:

                    Hon Bill English
                    Minister of Finance
                    Parliament Buildings
                    WELLINGTON 6000

                    Maybe you can circulate an open letter to The Standard bretheren. You can all fucking sign it.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      S Rylands sounds upset about something. Perhaps it’s the abject failure of everything he’s ever leeched money to promote.

                      Let’s all take a moment and laugh at him 😆

                    • Clemgeopin

                      This government continued with and copied the sensible and fair social and health policies of the previous Labour government because of political vote gathering expediency, you idiot, and not because of any sudden love for what Key termed the ‘under class’.

                      The GFC and the Christchurch earthquake did NOT cost anywhere near the 80 BILLION dollars of debt.

                      Giving huge tax breaks that helped the wealthy the most and increase of GST that hit the ordinary people and the poor the most is the type of stupid policy thought out by the rogue RW greedy ‘experts’.

                      Selling off our profitable assets primarily benefiting the wealthy and foreign interests while depriving the country of perpetual future revenue is the economic ideas of idiots.

                      Selling off of our very worthy caring state houses to benefit private interests and developers is another ideologically driven hair brained ‘plan’.

                      NZ is becoming a quite a RW shitlands, except for the wealthy, their mates and the corporates.

                      If I were a finance minister there would be REAL socialism, real closing off of the economic, income and social gaps, real fair progressive taxes, highly controlled sensible immigration, reform of the reserve bank settings, Capital and capital gains taxes, Ban on off shore buying of NZ properties/business, Years and years of jail terms for tax evasion/avoidance, free health and free education including tertiary, fair Controlled free market, break up of monopolies and duopolies, Controlled inheritance, real help for small businesses and entrepreneurs, modern environmentally sustainable industries, real clean green smart agriculture, energy and export……lots of things that would make you and the evil RW rogues roll their eyes and go real nuts.

  34. reason 35

    srylands admitted paying money to the whale oil site before the election …….

    [So that we can avoid a Pete George debate I am deleting this sentence – MS]

    And that is where those two are coming from in this thread.

    The taxpayer union is a false flag operation run by some of the grubbiest pimps and money earners from Nationals Dirty Politics Club.

    Farrar in particular is filth with a very bad attitude to woman …… You would not let loved ones go to a party at his place ……. In Saint Nicks book he came across like some creepy old roastbuster ready to get the girls drunk and serve them up like meat to his national party mates.

    No surprises he’s fully involved in the Nats PR ‘strategy’ against Eleanor Catton.

    • Pete George 35.1

      [Pete this post is not about you. Trying to make it about you is trolling. Comment deleted – MS]

    • Pete George 35.2


      One section of Nicky Hager’s book stated I had organised a Princess Party, and had dialogue from some unnamed people about getting girls drunk, with an implication I was part of that conversation.

      I was not the organiser of the party, and was not a party to the conversation. Yet Hager published this as fact. It is reasonably defamatory as various people have smeared me over it.


      Dirty Politics:

      As an example, without using people’s names, when David Farrar organised a Princess Party for National Party friends, a conversation between some of the guests was approvingly reported…



      The e-mails have been released by Whaledump, and I quote from then below. I’m redacting the names of the participants, but of course the source e-mails are on Whaledump.

      Name 1, 4/26, 12:02am

      my email doesn’t get read


      Apparently Pinko is the main driving force behind the Princess party

      Now this e-mail is presumably why Hager thought I was the organiser. But he gets it totally wrong. They are laughing at the fact that someone thinks I am the organiser. This is the problem where you write a book on stolen e-mails, and don’t verify, fact check, or interview a single person for it.

      Off memory it was called a Princess Party, because the Royal Wedding was occurring around then. As a Republican, I’m an unlikely organiser.

      When asked about this on an NBR Q&A Hager said:

      It is virtually impossible to write a whole book, with hundreds of source documents, footnotes etc, and not have some errors.

      I’m only human and I am relieved that I got nothing substantial wrong. In the case of Francis Till, I was quickly informed about his correct gender and it was changed in all the subsequent printings of the book.

      On David Farrar organising a princess party, some of his close mates said in writing that he organised it but there can easily be different views about something like that.


      So a strong denial from Farrar and an example of a claim in Hager’s book based on nothing more than ”apparently Pinko’ in an email, and a failure by Hager for taking responsibility for his laxity, doing little more than vaguely admitting he made errors.

      • Pascals bookie 35.2.1


        haven’t seen DPF criticising much of the dirty work that was clearly demonstrated in the book.

        He’s been pretty damn quiet in that regard, so I think it’s fair enough to say that he doesn’t have a problem with it. Not an unfair assumption to assume he plays too.

        • Pete George

          As this shows serious accusations in the book were based on assumptions from vague and questionable email texts.

          There were other things in the book that deserve condemnation and yes Farrar has been generally very quiet on it. He has a right to remain silent but I’m well aware he’s got some dirty politics on his hands, I knew that before the book came out.

          Key also has some dirt on his hands but I doubt as much as some have claimed. His failure to strongly condemn what his office was involved in and wait he at least aided and abetted is very disappointing for a Prime Minister and I’ve been critical of him for it.

          I’ve copped flak on KB for pointing out dirt that has been proven and for what Key has failed on. They can use similar tactics that are used here.

      • McFlock 35.2.2


  35. Paul 36

    We should also thank Nicky Hager for his book Dirty Politics at this stage.
    He has shown us how the two track tactic works,

    And it happened with the Eleanor Catton story.

    A problem arose for this government. A talented, articulate and famous New Zealander made specific criticisms of the economic and moral direction this government is taking New Zealand.

    Track 1. Jovial John Key laughs off her comments and makes himself sound like a gentle kind of guy…with she’d respect us, we respect her and makes a dig at the Greenies, which would appeal to the fan base.

    Track 2. Once their dear leader has spoken, the pit bulls are released. Talk hate radio is let loose, lobby groups (posing as unions ) questions her funding.

    Dirty politics.
    It is so obvious now, thanks to Hager.

    New Zealand, we are on the road to fascism.
    We can all behave lie Hager and Catton and act courageously and calmly to stop them, or we can quiver in silence as they suppress dissent through intimidation and fear.
    The choice is ours.

    • mickysavage 36.1

      Agreed Paul although I am pretty sure there was a track three and a track four in operation as well.

      Track 3: starve Andrew Little of as much media time as possible. Under no circumstances should his discussions about the future of work or Labour’s relationship with small businesses be given any media air.

      Track 4: divert attention away from the circumstances of Mike Sabin’s resignation. Provoke a shit fight with a female leftie author. The anti intellectuals will love this. Besides Keys knowledge of what happened here is a very important issue. Expect this to be a weeping sore for National …

      • Paul 36.1.1

        Naomi Wolff
        10 easy steps to fascism.
        We are on the way to this.


      • Anne 36.1.2

        +100 ms and Paul. Unfortunately only a few of us know it. The rest are too lazy and apathetic to even bother to read Dirty Politics. They don’t wanna know cos it might hurt their brains and anyway they may have to admit to the truth about Key and his stooges.

        No 9 is appropriate at this moment in NZ

        Cast dissent as “treason” …

        • Paul

          These are the 8 of the 10 steps we have already crossed in NZ

          1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
          2. Create a gulag
          3. Develop a thug caste.
          4. Set up an internal surveillance system
          5. Harass citizens’ groups
          7. Target key individuals
          8. Control the press
          9. Dissent equals treason

          Not yet done..

          6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release
          10. Suspend the rule of law

          • Paul

            From Naomi Wolff’s article.

            ‘It is a mistake to think that early in a fascist shift you see the profile of barbed wire against the sky. In the early days, things look normal on the surface; peasants were celebrating harvest festivals in Calabria in 1922; people were shopping and going to the movies in Berlin in 1931. Early on, as WH Auden put it, the horror is always elsewhere – while someone is being tortured, children are skating, ships are sailing: “dogs go on with their doggy life … How everything turns away/ Quite leisurely from the disaster.”

            As Americans turn away quite leisurely, keeping tuned to internet shopping and American Idol, the foundations of democracy are being fatally corroded. Something has changed profoundly that weakens us unprecedentedly: our democratic traditions, independent judiciary and free press do their work today in a context in which we are “at war” in a “long war” – a war without end, on a battlefield described as the globe, in a context that gives the president – without US citizens realising it yet – the power over US citizens of freedom or long solitary incarceration, on his say-so alone.’

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            We have a gulag?

            • Daveinireland

              “We have a gulag?”

              Otherwise known as thestandard.org.nz……..

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                So, no illegal prisons then.

                • weka

                  Or politically motivated ones. I think you could argue successfully that the US prison system is a gulag when you look at the incarceration of people of colour, or poor people who use drugs, and how the system is set up to control those populations. It’s not an accident. They also have Guantanamo.

                  In NZ, you might be able to argue that to an extent re Māori, but I think it’s more a consequence of colonisation and refusal to address that than it is intentional.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Wolff defines a Gulag as a prison that exists outside of the law – so Guantanamo certainly qualifies.

                    Paul stated quite confidently that we’ve passed this stage – I just wondered what he meant by it.

        • Paul

          From Naomi Wolff.
          More relevant stuff to the events surrounding Catton.

          ‘7. Target key individuals

          Threaten civil servants, artists and academics with job loss if they don’t toe the line. Mussolini went after the rectors of state universities who did not conform to the fascist line; so did Joseph Goebbels, who purged academics who were not pro-Nazi; so did Chile’s Augusto Pinochet; so does the Chinese communist Politburo in punishing pro-democracy students and professors.

          Academe is a tinderbox of activism, so those seeking a fascist shift punish academics and students with professional loss if they do not “coordinate”, in Goebbels’ term, ideologically. Since civil servants are the sector of society most vulnerable to being fired by a given regime, they are also a group that fascists typically “coordinate” early on: the Reich Law for the Re-establishment of a Professional Civil Service was passed on April 7 1933.’

          • weka

            “Threaten civil servants, artists and academics with job loss if they don’t toe the line.”

            Didn’t this happen to academics and economists who started to speak out about the Rogernomics reforms? People started to lose funding grants etc. Can’t remember if it was during Labour’s term, or afterwards once National got in.

            • Anne

              Yes, and it happened to individuals too weka. I can attest to that because I was one of them. The Met. Service (before it became an SOE) spied on the (then) Airways Corporation because they believed Air Corp, was setting up in competition with them. Somebody decided I was part of the conspiracy so they spied on me. It was balderdash but paranoia ruled the day – a direct consequence of Rogernomics in the late 1980s and Ruthanasia in the early 1990s.

              Of course after that idiot affair I did become a genuine threat. You can imagine the fallout if it had become public knowledge that one govt, department was spying on another.

              Edit: Wayne might be interested to know that yet another government department – with which he is well acquainted – was also implicated. 🙂

    • b waghorn 36.2

      Well spotted

  36. Dan1 37

    Eleanor Catton gives me hope. We need more high profile NZers to make similar commentary in the same way Ed Hilary (with much support) did years ago in the face of the Muldoon disaster.

    • Clemgeopin 37.1

      +1. Well said. The RW half wit politicians and media commentators are no match for the deep thinking honest intellectuals such as Elenor Catton and Glenn Greenwald.

  37. blue 38

    OhMnonG, PG, if you are going to continually polish a turd then don’t dont use Matt Brown Glitter attached with your own (slightly acidic which, by the way, dissolves shit) sychophantic spittle.

  38. reason 39

    The false flag tax payers union, David Farrar and his sewer of a site are all one and the same as far as their purposes are concerned ……….. National Dirty Politics spin. Its how he lives and makes his money.

    Regarding his ‘princess party’ ….. the way his charming male guests were talking sounded very roastbuster like to me ………. Farrar apparently had his own RTD’s made up …………. A drink his associate and fellow Dirty Politics Club member Kathy Odgers calls ‘liquid panty removers’ ….. or something charming to that effect.

    Fairly recently I can not recall Farrars stance on John Keys refusal to apologize to Tania Billington but the other members of the Dirty Politics Club were very nasty ( as usual ) using the smear Tania had made it up as she was a Green party supporter or something.

    Farrar was probably pretending to be mr reasonable then but he’s at the heart of Nationals PR strategy …………. He understands attack politics and is neck deep in the dirty stuff.

    I would not be at all surprised if he’s behind the green party membership inaccuracy they threw at Eleanor Catton ………

    Farrar makes my skin crawl and is one slippery creep helping to call the shots against Catton…….

  39. North 40

    Deep inside Plunket squirms with embarrassment because he KNOWS he’s been OWNED by Eleanor Catton. Deliciously it’s all his own work.

  40. Saarbo 41

    Hear, hear.

    The Right have been exposed for what they are in this whole saga: Dumb, just fucken dumb.

  41. Melanie Scott 42

    I wonder if Plunkett will dare show his face at the next Auckland Writers and Readers Festival? The festival organisers should invite him to chair a debate or do an author interview anyway. It would be a great opportunity for those attendees (both writers and readers) to let him know what they think of his hysterical rants about a writer who dared to express a personal opinon.

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