The Labour Party last night celebrated the 30th Anniversary of its greatest betrayal of New Zealanders with another spectacular act of betrayal. By working hand-in-glove with the National Ltd™ Cult of John Key to usher in “spy at will” legislation, Labour has colluded in the aborting of the democratic process and reduced Parliament to a mockery. What makes the betrayal worse is that the further demolishing of human rights in New Zealand is yet another price all New Zealanders have to pay for the imposition of the neo-liberal economic agenda of globalisation on our own society and across the globe.
The neo-liberal agenda was heralded in 1981 when Ronald Reagan uttered its fundamental mandate: “government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem.” Based on nothing but ideology, its proponents lurked in the shadows waiting for useful idiots to show themselves and, three years later, up popped Roger Douglas and the fourth Labour government. Starting in 1984 with a “blitzkieg” approach to law-making, the agenda was rammed down New Zealand’s throat so quickly and so thoroughly that the Labour Party became an international shining-star example held up to the rest of the world.
A generation later, the ideology had become so embedded into international thinking that it was adopted as the exemplar of nation-building and employed wholesale in the reconstruction of Iraq following the illegal invasion and occupation of that country. In June 2003, L. Paul Bremer, head of the then Coalition Provisional Authority, announced the broad outlines of the Bush administration’s plan to rebuild Iraq along strict free market principles. “The removal of Saddam Hussein,” Bremer explained, “offers Iraqis hope for a better economic future. For a free Iraq to thrive, its economy must be transformed — and this will require the wholesale reallocation of resources and people from state control to private enterprise, the promotion of free trade, and the mobilization of domestic and foreign capital.” Three months later, the CPA announced Order 39 permitting complete foreign ownership of Iraqi companies and assets (apart from natural resources), total overseas remittance of profits, some of the lowest taxes in the world, the privatisation of 200 state-owned enterprises, and the immediate sacking of 500,000 public servants.
Exacerbating the imposition of neo-liberal ideology at gunpoint was the process of “de-Ba’athification” but the effects of the ideology affected every Iraqi. By 2006, the unemployment rate in Iraq was 45% and, even today, some 25% of the population continue to live in poverty (i.e., on less than US$2.20 per day). The result was the creation of a mass of people ready and willing to take up arms, not only to kill infidels for the glory Allah, but simply to survive. Among the first groups to take advantage of the societal conditions was Jama’at al Tawhid w’al Jihad – the seed which germinated into ISIS.
Of course, one can go back 100 years to when earlier imperialist adventurers drew convenient lines on maps, or go back even further to grasp the workings of the intra-religious tensions within Islam to fully understand what’s happening in the Middle East, but to understand what happened in the New Zealand Parliament last night one need only go back to 1984 when Labour first betrayed the country. Now, in a sort of bizarre circle dance festival of continued support for US economic imperialism promoted with lies and myths, Labour has helped turn the “War On Terrorism” inwards upon its own people who now must now pay even more for neo-liberalism.
The cost extends far beyond just money and now includes the turning of our democracy into a parody and cavalier elimination of basic human rights. New Zealand has never seen such legislation passed so quickly, so cynically, and in so bright spotlight highlighting the blatant culture of deliberate malfeasance by our spying agencies. The week before, the SIS had been found to have been involved in the use of its material in the machinations of a Dirty Politics Machine being run directly by the Prime Minister. Over the years, our spy agencies have demonstrated that any powers they are given will be abused. The Minister in charge of the legislation, the Attorney-General, dismissed the participation of the public in the process as mere “chit chat”. The Attorney-General also gave the game away fairly early by stating that any “alienated people with a chip on their shoulder” were suitable targets for the new laws.
Last year, Labour railed against the way the National Ltd™ Cult of John Key rammed through the GCSB legislation. At the time, previous Labour Party Leader David Cunliffe promised New Zealanders that Labour would change the law to ensure it was “more protective of New Zealanders’ rights to privacy and freedom”. In the week before the new legislation introduced, current Labour Party Leader, Andrew Little, was in full-on righteous indignation about the politicisation of the security services. More than one political commentator has noted Labour’s breath-taking hypocrisy over this issue. Andrea Vance, for example, spells it out in detail, going on to suggest that John Key has played Labour like a fiddle. But no. Its New Zealand that’s been played like a fiddle by both Labour and the National Ltd™ Cult of John Key. The original drafting of the legislation has, apparently, been modified and Labour is attempting to portray its support of the passing of the laws as quid pro quo for those changes. More than likely, those changes agreed to – and negotiated by 1984 Labour Government Cabinet Minister Phil Goff – were intended give-aways designed to allow Labour to save face. I mean, is Labour seriously trying to tell New Zealanders that putting cameras in their bedrooms without a warrant is okay because instead of being able to do it for 48 hours the SIS can do it for 24 hours instead?