web analytics

Lange: Old Faiths New World

Written By: - Date published: 9:35 am, January 1st, 2013 - 32 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, Ethics, Media - Tags:

In the slow summer break, here’s a slow, thoughtful speech to ponder.  David Lange’s last public appearance, “Old Faiths New World”, delivered at the University of Otago on 5th August 2004.  The video doesn’t embed, but click here to watch the Otago podcast.

lange-last-speech

 

32 comments on “Lange: Old Faiths New World ”

  1. karol 1

    It’s a long speech, and interesting in retrospect. Lange was asked to answer this question:
    Can people of good will make a difference?

    There is a strong religious theme to the speech, but Lange has a pretty broad definition of religion, that encompasses all faiths. He ponders on the fact that religion has been the justification for destructive aggression as well as a vehicle for good. He warns against the false belief in human omnipotence, and says we should have respect for the beliefs and views of others, however they differ from us.

    He focuses mostly on the illegal invasion of Iraq lead by the US. He describes Blair as having the look of wanting to be teacher’s pet: to be the first in the line to the school dentist.

    I think the most important part of Lange’s speech, for contemporary times begins at about 30 minutes. Using the example of the illegal invasion of Iraq, based on the false manufacturing of the existence of WMDs, Lange says the US-led invasion broke international law:

    If the law is broken, governments we like are as much at risk as governments we don’t like.

    UN intervention should only be to deal with a crisis and no more. But the US-led invasion went beyond that.

    Lange says that, in Iraq the US has created an environment for terrorism to flourish.

    The most powerful nations have always been able to set aside the rights of smaller countries. There is a fact of power. It has happened many times.”

    Lange says that the US has not just broken to laws, but changed them to suit themselves.

    We have entered a stage of instability. International institutions are discredited.

    The authority of national governments is weakening as globalisation makes it harder for governments to meet the expectations of voters.

    To solve the dilemma of following a good path, many people avoid looking for deeper truths, ones that some people in the world call “god”. They avoid this,

    …by looking to temporary palliatives in the form of passing governments or new political allegiances or new political voting systems.

    He warns against the false sense of one’s or other’s omnipotence, as seen in the absolute faith in a politician. Instead, we should respect the views of each other: no-one, even the likes of Mandela etc, are infallible. There is no right to go to war to suppress those with different views. It is important to talk. The response to terrorism can be a solidifying of intolerance. These are political problems, requiring political solutions, with the contest over resources at the heart.

    Can people of good will make a difference?
    Lange says: everyone has the duty to respect the rights and beliefs of others. Treat others the way you would like to be treated.

  2. Tiger Mountain 2

    Lange was an engaging person if you ever encountered him personally as I did, and much of his wit is on public record. He had a limb amputated towards the end for palliative respite and quipped to the surgeon afterwards “did you get the right one?”

    It was nevertheless sad the way he somewhat ignominiously avoided a state funeral with the Auckland super top event, on one level it appeared egalitarian, to me it seemed he wanted to slide out quietly knowing he had failed. Failed as all ‘left’ leaders without a strong class analysis and programme fail. The holy grail for social democrats seems to remain contriving the employing class to behave decently, and for international law to prevail above US imperialism.

    So Lange’s legacy remains one of opportunity lost. But of course he was not helped by various unionists who were also captured, or at the very least given the run around by the then NZ new neo liberalism and the undemocratic LP structure which has only recently been given a good look at. I have rarely commented on the LP leadership issue here not being a member and seeing the membership at large running the outfit rather than the parliamentary wing as the significant matter; but it was interesting to bump into D. Cunliffe by chance at a social function. I said that I was a bit to the left of Labour but had good realations with a number of members and several MPs and he replied with a wicked grin “I am a bit to the left of Labour it seems at the moment too”. One should not take unguarded moments too seriously let alone report them publicly, but in this context of the Lange post are relevant.

    • Morrissey 2.1

      Lange’s infamous memorial service was not egalitarian, as a lot of foolish commentators claimed. It was an undignified and crass affair.

    • Margaret Pope 2.2

      David left no instructions for his funeral. It took the form of a service at the Onehunga co-operating parish church, where he went most Sundays when he was well. Mark Gosche MP told me that the government ‘wanted to do something’ but who designed the memorial event at Mt Smart, or with what intention, I do not know.

      • r0b 2.2.1

        Welcome Margaret, thanks for your comment here.

        For all the flaws of the government he lead, many of us remember David as an outstanding orator and a wonderful human being. I will always be proud of the nuclear free legislation that he defended so ably. I consider myself privileged to have been in the audience for the address presented here.

        Anthony / r0b

        • marty mars 2.2.1.1

          Yes indeed.

          I met David a few times and liked him. He remains for me one of the very best politicians and men this country has produced. Kia kaha to all his whānau.

        • Jenny Kirk 2.2.1.2

          And in addition to what rOb has said, not only was David Lange an outstanding orator and wonderful human being, he had the guts to stand up to the neo-liberals when he realised just what the end results would be for people and our country. They battered away at him non-stop – for many months – a verbal lynch mob in full cry. Extremely nasty to witness.
          David Lange tried very hard to stop them in their tracks – but had little support and they would not listen. Can people of good make a difference? Yes – they can give inspiration to others to follow. Lange may have left a “legacy of opportunity lost” as Tiger Mountain suggests, but he also left a legacy of wisdom, inspiration and courage. That is how I remember him.

          • LynWiper 2.2.1.2.1

            That’s how I remember that time and David Lange also. Hate to think how lonely that felt. Speaking of loneliness, I wonder how DC is getting on? Just a thought.

  3. Foreign Waka 3

    Admired him endlessly, even if he was getting a bit over defensive in the last years. But then again who wouldn’t. He was on the political landscape a hero and as such perceived by many Europeans. His insight, empathy, wit and intelligence is so missed in today’s submissive behavior by the many to the power yielded by a few. Lange never submitted to that.

  4. Anne 4

    I think one of his funniest moments was when Margaret Thatcher turned up in lil’ old NZ to ‘talk some sense into him’ over the nuclear issue, and he called out as she was walking away from his Beehive office:

    Hey Maggie, you’ve left your broomstick behind.

    • kiwi_prometheus 4.1

      Ha ha, that’s awesome.

      Was it for real though or just myth?

      • Anne 4.1.1

        I’m fairly sure he mentions it in his autobiography “My Life”.

        My one and only close encounter with David Lange still makes me cringe with embarrassment. Indeed, this is the first time I have revealed it.

        It was the night (no, not a dark and stormy one) of the Labour selection meeting in Mangere following the resignation of Colin Moyle. There were some 10 or 12 aspirants, and David Lange drew the straw for the last speaker of the night. The previous speeches were long and boring, so I decided to slip out into the school quadrangle for a few puffs. (I gave up the habit years ago).

        Pacing the quad. was this large, shabbily suited fellow called David Lange. I knew he was a lawyer of some sort but that was the extent of my knowledge of him. I took it upon me to give him some moral support and – short of actually patting him on the back – I told him… not to worry, it’ll soon all be over. He then went inside and delivered the most impressive speech anyone in that large, packed hall had ever heard before – including me. He had no speech notes, and I realised afterwards that during the course of his pacing (10 mins. max before he was due to make his speech) he had just started to think about what he was going to say.

    • Matthew Hooton 4.2

      It wasn’t Thatcher.

      • Anne 4.2.1

        I stand corrected.

        It was an emissary sent by Thatcher to give Lange a “telling off” – Baroness Somebody or another. Apparently he yelled out “Oi” before delivering his broomstick message to her. Baroness Somebody or another swept into the lift without a backward glance… mission unaccomplished.

  5. bad12 5

    The mans gift for the gab sadly lacked an equal gift for Government, sadly and too my undying shame i trudged the miles stuffing letterboxes to help elect that Government…

  6. Steve Wrathall 6

    I’d rather have uranium on my breath than Saddam Hussein’s boot polish.

    • Morrissey 6.1

      Look out guys, it’s a moron!

      [lprent: Make a point to go with this style of comment. ]

      • Steve Wrathall 6.1.1

        “Making a point” would require Morrissey to engage cerebral functions in defending Lange’s foreign policy. Not likely as on this issue it’s always been:
        BRAIN –> OFF
        ANTINUCLEARISM –> ON

    • mike e vipe e 6.2

      SW WMD words of mindless deception

  7. David Lange was an important Prime Minister in New Zealand’s history. In fact I tribute David Lange with New Zealanders “coming of age” in our thinking.

    When he became Prime Minister and refused to bow down to either France after they committed an act of terrorism in our country then refusing to bow to the Americans over Nuclear powered ships he made New Zealander realise they did have a voice in the world and we had every right to determine our own future.

    Until John Key was shoulder tapped to get New Zealand ready for sale.

  8. Steve Wrathall 8

    Refused to bow to France? He caved and sent the saboteurs to Club Med Hao.

    • Napkins 8.1

      Steve, your ignorance of international diplomacy is legendary. Criminal convictions and prison time was more than enough to send the required message to one of the permanent members of the Security Council.

    • mike e vipe e 8.2

      he also got better access for our primary produce to the EU out of the bargain!

  9. This prophetic and historic lecture was the inaugural Otago University Chaplaincy and Dunedin Abrahamic Interfaith Group’s inaugural peace lecture. For the text of David Lange’s 2004 lecture, and for the text of subsequent peace lectures see http://www.dunedininterfaith.net.nz

  10. millsy 10

    A few weeks ago, I browsed through a few old online articles, that involved interviews with Lange, nearly every one of them has him tying himself up in knots trying to justify the Douglas reforms. He was an active precipitant in the reform process, and only stopped when Douglas was about sweep away our welfare state (Remember: it was National that slashed and burned our health and welfare system, prior to the 1990, we still had things like Housing Corp mortgages, Family Benefits, UB at a decent level, etc).

    Fact: Till the day he died, David Russell Lange never expressed an ounce of remorse or regret that the neo-liberal reforms took place.

    • jenny kirk 10.1

      Yes he did express regret and remorse publicly, and he apologised. In fact, David Lange had doubts about the Rogernomics during the 1987 election campaign and he said something publicly about this soon afterwards – I think (from memory) that might have been his “cup of tea break” comment.
      Haven’t got the details to hand but I’m fairly sure it was over the summer break following that election that he started to express his doubts, and to privately query with Douglas what was happening.

      • millsy 10.1.1

        If he had doubts about Rogernomics during the 87 election campaign he had a funny way of showing it, he could have quite easily demoted Roger and his mates in a cabinet reshuffle after that election (though from what I understand, he proposed that the finance portfolio be split in two or something like that, but nothing came of it), and then take things in a different direction.

        And anyway, when he delivered his valedictory speech in 96, he said something to the effect of “the people thought that they had a right to an endless treadmill of prosperity, and we screwed the lot of them”

        • Anne 10.1.1.1

          I have to assume you have quoted him out of context millsy. I’m not saying he didn’t say something to that effect but to accept Lange would acclaim the view we screwed the lot of them doesn’t fit with the reality of the man.

          My recollection of the ‘cup of tea’ event is that it happened soon after the 87′ election. I doubt he could do it any earlier because of the consequences it might have had on that election.

          In some ways there is a similarity between the Rogernomes of the 1980s and today’s Mallarfia. Lange was answerable to the Rogernomes. They put him in the top job and he relied on their support to stay there. Moreover they were bullies, and they had very powerful non-Labour backers. After he put a stop to the neo-con madness, I recall some of the venal claims and jokes (also aided and abetted by a pliant media) that were made about David Lange and his soon to be wife, Margaret Pope. I sometimes wonder how much effect it eventually had on his failing health.

          Long after the neo-con acolytes have been forgotten, David Lange will be remembered for the intellectual giant that he was… and for his bravery in the face of international adversity and (of course) his legendary wit.

    • mike e vipe e 10.2

      cups of tea are the answer!

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Project protects jobs and nature
    A Waitomo-based Jobs for Nature project will keep up to ten people employed in the village as the tourism sector recovers post Covid-19 Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says. “This $500,000 project will save ten local jobs by deploying workers from Discover Waitomo into nature-based jobs. They will be undertaking local ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs makes three diplomatic appointments
    Foreign Affairs Minister Hon Nanaia Mahuta today announced three diplomatic appointments: Alana Hudson as Ambassador to Poland John Riley as Consul-General to Hong Kong Stephen Wong as Consul-General to Shanghai   Poland “New Zealand’s relationship with Poland is built on enduring personal, economic and historical connections. Poland is also an important ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 hours ago
  • Major redevelopment of Wainuiomata High School underway
    Work begins today at Wainuiomata High School to ensure buildings and teaching spaces are fit for purpose, Education Minister Chris Hipkins says. The Minister joined principal Janette Melrose and board chair Lynda Koia to kick off demolition for the project, which is worth close to $40 million, as the site ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    8 hours ago
  • New expert group appointed to advise Government on Oranga Tamariki
    A skilled and experienced group of people have been named as the newly established Oranga Tamariki Ministerial Advisory Board by Children’s Minister Kelvin Davis today. The Board will provide independent advice and assurance to the Minister for Children across three key areas of Oranga Tamariki: relationships with families, whānau, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • COVID-19 vaccine slated for possible approval next week
    The green light for New Zealand’s first COVID-19 vaccine could be granted in just over a week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today. “We’re making swift progress towards vaccinating New Zealanders against the virus, but we’re also absolutely committed to ensuring the vaccines are safe and effective,” Jacinda Ardern said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • New ACC Board members announced.
    The Minister for ACC is pleased to announce the appointment of three new members to join the Board of ACC on 1 February 2021. “All three bring diverse skills and experience to provide strong governance oversight to lead the direction of ACC” said Hon Carmel Sepuloni. Bella Takiari-Brame from Hamilton ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Economic boost for Southland marae
    The Government is investing $9 million to upgrade a significant community facility in Invercargill, creating economic stimulus and jobs, Infrastructure Minister Grant Robertson and Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene have announced.  The grant for Waihōpai Rūnaka Inc to make improvements to Murihiku Marae comes from the $3 billion set ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Celebrating the Entry Into Force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
    [Opening comments, welcome and thank you to Auckland University etc] It is a great pleasure to be here this afternoon to celebrate such an historic occasion - the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This is a moment many feared would never come, but ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Supporting disabled people to stay connected
    The Government is providing $3 million in one-off seed funding to help disabled people around New Zealand stay connected and access support in their communities, Minister for Disability Issues, Carmel Sepuloni announced today. The funding will allow disability service providers to develop digital and community-based solutions over the next two ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Voluntary saliva testing offered to quarantine workers from Monday
    Border workers in quarantine facilities will be offered voluntary daily COVID-19 saliva tests in addition to their regular weekly testing, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. This additional option will be rolled out at the Jet Park Quarantine facility in Auckland starting on Monday 25 January, and then to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Next steps in firearms buy-back
    The next steps in the Government’s ambitious firearms reform programme to include a three-month buy-back have been announced by Police Minister Poto Williams today.  “The last buy-back and amnesty was unprecedented for New Zealand and was successful in collecting 60,297 firearms, modifying a further 5,630 firearms, and collecting 299,837 prohibited ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Jobs for Nature projects target iconic ecosystems
    Upscaling work already underway to restore two iconic ecosystems will deliver jobs and a lasting legacy, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says.  “The Jobs for Nature programme provides $1.25 billion over four years to offer employment opportunities for people whose livelihoods have been impacted by the COVID-19 recession. “Two new projects ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New Public Housing Plan announced
    The Government has released its Public Housing Plan 2021-2024 which outlines the intention of where 8,000 additional public and transitional housing places announced in Budget 2020, will go. “The Government is committed to continuing its public house build programme at pace and scale. The extra 8,000 homes – 6000 public ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Prime Minister congratulates President Joe Biden on his inauguration
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has congratulated President Joe Biden on his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States of America. “I look forward to building a close relationship with President Biden and working with him on issues that matter to both our countries,” Jacinda Ardern said. “New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Jobs for Nature funding will create training and employment opportunities
    A major investment to tackle wilding pines in Mt Richmond will create jobs and help protect the area’s unique ecosystems, Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says. The Mt Richmond Forest Park has unique ecosystems developed on mineral-rich geology, including taonga plant species found nowhere else in the country. “These special plant ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Pre-departure testing extended to all passengers to New Zealand
    To further protect New Zealand from COVID-19, the Government is extending pre-departure testing to all passengers to New Zealand except from Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific Islands, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “The change will come into force for all flights arriving in New Zealand after 11:59pm (NZT) on Monday ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Bay Cadets learn skills to protect environment
    Bay Conservation Cadets launched with first intake Supported with $3.5 million grant Part of $1.245b Jobs for Nature programme to accelerate recover from Covid Cadets will learn skills to protect and enhance environment Environment Minister David Parker today welcomed the first intake of cadets at the launch of the Bay ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Cook Islanders to resume travel to New Zealand
    The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Mark Brown have announced passengers from the Cook Islands can resume quarantine-free travel into New Zealand from 21 January, enabling access to essential services such as health. “Following confirmation of the Cook Islands’ COVID ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Supporting communities and landowners to grow employment opportunities
    Jobs for Nature funding is being made available to conservation groups and landowners to employ staff and contractors in a move aimed at boosting local biodiversity-focused projects, Conservation Minister Kiritapu Allan has announced. It is estimated some 400-plus jobs will be created with employment opportunities in ecology, restoration, trapping, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Border exception for some returning international tertiary students
    The Government has approved an exception class for 1000 international tertiary students, degree level and above, who began their study in New Zealand but were caught offshore when border restrictions began. The exception will allow students to return to New Zealand in stages from April 2021. “Our top priority continues ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Tiwai deal gives time for managed transition
    Today’s deal between Meridian and Rio Tinto for the Tiwai smelter to remain open another four years provides time for a managed transition for Southland. “The deal provides welcome certainty to the Southland community by protecting jobs and incomes as the region plans for the future. The Government is committed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New member for APEC Business Advisory Council
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has appointed Anna Curzon to the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). The leader of each APEC economy appoints three private sector representatives to ABAC. ABAC provides advice to leaders annually on business priorities. “ABAC helps ensure that APEC’s work programme is informed by business community perspectives ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Govt’s careful economic management recognised
    The Government’s prudent fiscal management and strong policy programme in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic have been acknowledged by the credit rating agency Fitch. Fitch has today affirmed New Zealand’s local currency rating at AA+ with a stable outlook and foreign currency rating at AA with a positive ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Additional actions to keep COVID-19 out of NZ
    The Government is putting in place a suite of additional actions to protect New Zealand from COVID-19, including new emerging variants, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “Given the high rates of infection in many countries and evidence of the global spread of more transmissible variants, it’s clear that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 19 projects will clean up and protect waterways
    $36 million of Government funding alongside councils and others for 19 projects Investment will clean up and protect waterways and create local jobs Boots on the ground expected in Q2 of 2021 Funding part of the Jobs for Nature policy package A package of 19 projects will help clean up ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • New Zealand Government acknowledges 175th anniversary of Battle of Ruapekapeka
    The commemoration of the 175th anniversary of the Battle of Ruapekapeka represents an opportunity for all New Zealanders to reflect on the role these conflicts have had in creating our modern nation, says Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Kiri Allan. “The Battle at Te Ruapekapeka Pā, which took ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago