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Open mike 26/12/2019

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, December 26th, 2019 - 38 comments
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38 comments on “Open mike 26/12/2019”

  1. Dennis Frank 1

    Gallup poll on socialism:  https://news.gallup.com/poll/268766/socialism-popular-capitalism-among-young-adults.aspx

    Not trending:  "positive views of socialism are flat across the age spectrum. Since 2010, young adults' positive ratings of socialism have hovered near 50%, while the rate has been consistently near 34% for Gen Xers and near 30% for baby boomers/traditionalists."

    Why?  Young adults like the warm fuzzy feelings it generates.  As they age, they notice the lessons provided by implementation.  Relevant role models:  Bashar al-Assad, Saddam Hussein, Robert Mugabe.

    "Ideologically an African nationalist, during the 1970s and 1980s he identified as a Marxist–Leninist, and as a socialist after the 1990s."  [Google/Wikipedia]  So he was the world's leading socialist when he died.

    Saddam was an expert practitioner.  "Ba'athism calls for unification of the Arab world into a single state. Its motto, "Unity, Liberty, Socialism", refers to Arab unity, and freedom from non-Arab control and interference."  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ba%27ath_Party

    "Saddam convened an assembly of Ba'ath party leaders on 22 July 1979. During the assembly, which he ordered videotaped, Saddam claimed to have found a fifth column within the Ba'ath Party …members were labelled "disloyal" and were removed from the room one by one and taken into custody… The 68 people arrested at the meeting were subsequently tried together and found guilty of treason. 22 were sentenced to execution. Other high-ranking members of the party formed the firing squad. By 1 August 1979, hundreds of high-ranking Ba'ath party members had been executed."  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saddam_Hussein

    "Bashar Hafez al-Assad .. is a Syrian politician who has been the President of Syria since 17 July 2000. In addition, he is commander-in-chief of the Syrian Armed Forces and Regional Secretary of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party's branch in Syria. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bashar_al-Assad

    Memes are contagious, their meaning, not so much.  Folks generalise the label, while ignoring relevant context.  To err is human, and political consciousness has but a marginal relation to reality…

    • Ad 1.1

      In living memory our socialist leaders were Nash, Kirk, and Muldoon.

      In order:

      – Useless

      – Conservative and shortlived, and

      – Autocratic

      Lange and Clark were courageous powerhouses and not at all socialist. 


      • weka 1.1.1

        Or, Lange didn't have it in him to stand up earlier to the libertarians taking possession of the party. Plus whatever went down as Labour came into power and had to deal with the apparent currency crisis.

        By the time Clark came along Labour were locked into neoliberalism with no easy way out.

        Framing not memery.

      • millsy 1.1.2

        Muldoon was the last PM to actually care about the people in this country. I think Lange might have, but didnt realise that it was too late that he had given too much power to Prebble, Douglas and Caygill, so he couldnt do anything about it. Jacinda? A damn sight better than Key and English, but too early to tell with her.


        • Anne

          Yes millsy that was the problem with Lange. He put his trust in them and it wasn't until halfway through their 6 year tenure he realised he made an awful mistake. I have sympathy for his dilemma because it so easily happens in life.

          As for Muldoon: just wait until the full story behind the Erebus aftermath is told. He won't be remembered as a socialist but rather… the Chief in Charge of thuggery and criminally acquired theft.

          And that’s just the start….

          • Sacha

            You really need to write a book.

            • Anne

              The truth has got to come our first and then yes… I might write the story. In fact it is already half written. Has a humorous side to it too. 🙂 

          • millsy

            If you ask me, running sightseeing flights to the Antarctic was a disaster waiting to happen. There was not even provision for an emergency landing down there, with the plane expected to limp back home if anything happened. No cold weather gear, no nothing. Civilian airliners are not really designed to fly in these conditions.

            • Anne

              The truth I'm talking about was not to do with the tragedy and whether or not they should have been conducting sight-seeing flights in the first place. They are safe enough under very strict conditions. The RNZAF has been making trips to McMurdo Sound for decades without serious problems.

              My story is – in part – to do with the ongoing skulduggery that occurred in the wake of the tragedy which continued to have repercussions for a number of years afterwards. It included harassment, intimidation and in some cases worse than that. 

          • KJT

            Well. Just goes to show that National hasn't changed much.

            • Anne

              Under Muldoon it was worse.

              I was never a great fan of Paul Holmes, but in his book "Daughters of Erebus" he describes Muldoon as "malignant, malevolent and a thug". I agree with him.

  2. pat 2

    "The problem, of course, is US president Donald Trump, who does not seem to understand that “managed strategic competition” with China requires good-faith engagement and cooperation with other countries. To succeed, the US needs to work closely with its allies and partners to bring its open-society, open-economy model into the 21st century. The west may not like China’s authoritarian state capitalism, but it must get its own house in order. Western countries need to enact economic reforms to reduce inequality and prevent damaging financial crises, as well as political reforms to contain the populist backlash against globalisation, while still upholding the rule of law."


    One observation from many inter-connected in a sobering article by Roubini….history never repeats?….maybe not exactly but the patterns remain the same.

    • Ad 2.1

      Trump's US economy is steady and strong.

      And the Chinese were rising well before he arrived.

      August this year Roubini was all chips in predicting recession for 2020. Pretty unlikely.

      • pat 2.1.1

        US economy strong prior 2007/8 as well…and the Chinese issue isnt the fact of their growing importance but how its accommodated (or not), no ones disputing a shift in global hegemony….I wouldnt dismiss Roubini's prediction out of hand though am happy to concede his timing may be off (theres always multiple actors working to avoid the worst outcomes but their success is frequently undone by the unforeseen) but that dosnt undermine his reasoning with the bigger picture….even though he dosnt appear to have factored in CC risk

      • AB 2.1.2

        "Trump's US economy is steady and strong."

        Therefore "steady and strong" economies can apparently co-exist with (or be the cause of) widespread human misery.  Odd  that we should care so much about such a sinister abstraction as "the economy".

      • KJT 2.1.3


        "Nobody seems to have noticed: the only two rich societies in the world with falling life expectancies, incomes, savings, happiness, trust — every single social indicator you can imagine — are America and Britain. It’s not one of history’s most improbable coincidences that America and Britain are collapsing in eerily similar ways, at precisely the same time. It’s a relationship. What connects the dots?

  3. Dennis Frank 3

    "What if everything you have been taught about how to succeed in life was wrong?"  Specialisation was the prevalent ethos when I grew up.  I suspect it was derived historically from the economic doctrine around the division of labour.  But efficiency in organisation doesn't necessarily provide the right recipe for resilience in troubled times.

    "From the '10,000 hours rule' to the power of Tiger parenting, we have been taught that success in any field requires early specialization and many hours of deliberate practice. And, worse, that if you dabble or delay, you'll never catch up with those who got a head start.  This is completely wrong."

    "In this landmark book, David Epstein shows that the way to excel is by sampling widely, gaining a breadth of experiences, taking detours, experimenting relentlessly, juggling many interests – in other words, by developing range.  Studying the world's most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, and scientists Epstein discovered that in most fields – especially those that are complex and unpredictable – generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. They are also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can't see. Range proves that by spreading your knowledge across multiple domains is the key to success rather than deepening their knowledge in a single area."  https://www.booktopia.com.au/range-david-epstein/book/9781509843503.html

    The author "has master's degrees in environmental science and journalism and has worked as an investigative reporter for ProPublica".  Silo-thinking is widely recognised these days.  I noticed it in academic culture when I was a student way back.  About a decade ago I was musing on the problem & decided to start identifying myself as a generalist.  Haven't really gone down that road due to diffidence & realisation that folks would challenge me to identify the general principles that apply to any situation.  I didn't really need the extra workload.  But it's true that I sat down one day in 1988 and summarised the basic principles of holism – filled the page no problem.  That page is still in my holism folder.

  4. Incognito 4


    I enjoyed reading this and won’t spoil it by (selectively) quoting from it.

    Sometimes, TS feels like an extended family group chat with all the ups & downs that you’d expect when people chat with one another thinking that they know one another well (enough). It can be fun.

    • weka 4.1

      is the group chat via FB Messenger? Surely we can do better than this?

      "The future is private," Mark Zuckerberg said earlier this year

      Got eye rolling muscle strain now. 

    • weka 4.2

      TS as extended family group chat… been watching leftie twitter yesterday, so many talking about reaching the limit of being around family by the afternoon. Not sure if that's business as usual with twitter amplifying it by being a public grumble space, or if people's tolerance for family has lessened.

  5. joe90 5

    The likes of Bill Ryan, Harry Leslie Smith and Greta Thunberg keep my misanthropy at bay.


  6. Robert Guyton 6

    "Can you imagine a theology that would suggest that we will be judged together as a collective and that heaven awaits us if all life that we touch has been improved by our presence, including both human and non-human; that the meaning of life is a collective effort, not an individual competition?

    I offer this, not as a theological proposition but as a thought experiment, one that is not without precedent. "


    • Incognito 6.1

      That was an excellent read (albeit very long and I did not follow any of the many links in it). I made some brief notes as I worked my way through it.

      Illicit drug use is being monitored by analysis of wastewater. I don’t know how much of these substances make it into our waterways. It could put a new spin on “high and dry” or ‘having the attention span of a goldfish’.

      Poisoning of environment is mirrored in poisoning of ourselves through substance abuse and (bad) food choices, for example; the world and we humans are not separate but extensions or manifestations of one and the same.

      A new theology will have to compete with the retrograde fundamentalism of (some) existing religions, of which there are many. Similarly, “our society” is diverse and so will be its (our) response(s).

      The language of economics and commerce may be expedient, but it is incomplete; by using it, something is lost.

      The same could be said about the language of science.

      This is where religion and philosophy come in. While some see them as the obstacle, I see them as the solution.

      I think the solution lies in an integration of all major ways of analysing our world (e.g. economics, science, religion, and philosophy) into some kind of Grand Unifying Theory.

      Instead of viewing nature as simply a resource or waste sink for our own benefit, we will find ways to see the value it possesses beyond human utility and efficiency. We will see value in all life and appreciate inter-dependencies that cannot be detected in a laboratory or calculated in a market exchange. The fact that we can’t measure or price this value does not mean that it doesn’t exist. It simply needs to be examined and expressed in different ways. [my italics]

      In this context, one could start by using the word “worth” instead of “value”. Hannah Arendt made a clear distinction between intrinsic worth and relative value.

      • Sacha 6.1.1

        Who sets the worth?

        • Incognito

          Yes, good question.

          My attempt at an answer: the commons should be managed (guarded and treasured) by the community for the community; it is non-commodified and non-tradeable that has intrinsic worth to the community. Because it is not tradeable on the market, worth is a quality, not a quantitative attribute like value. In fact, one could value the commons at zero, but its worth is infinite in dollar terms, as it cannot be sold, bought, or traded.

  7. Robert Guyton 7

    "“We have become, by the power of a glorious evolutionary accident called intelligence, the stewards of life’s continuity on earth,” paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould wrote. “We did not ask for this role, but we cannot abjure it. We may not be suited to it, but here we are.”"



  8. Robert Guyton 8


    Many rightly express alarm that we are not moving fast enough and are therefore doomed. Some believe that we have already waited too long and only a dark future lies ahead. Ethicist Clive Hamilton warns that, “those who argue for the ‘good Anthropocene’ are unscientific and live in a fantasy world of their own construction…I cannot see how, in a world warmed by four degrees, anything can be described as good.” I look at books on my shelves and see dismal titles that send a similar signal: Learning to Die in the Anthropocene and We’re Doomed, Now What?

    But even if you are among the camp that believes it’s too late to prevent many dire changes to society and the natural world, we must still try. With each passing day, the signal events of the Anthropocene are becoming increasingly hard to ignore while the concept and its meaning for our existence are becoming easier to understand. At some point the signals and the concepts will converge and the world will change. In fact, we can see signs that this is happening already."


    • Sabine 8.1

      unless we are happy to give up the comfort of this life, endless water conveniently from the tap, a car for everyone and their dog, a boat, a jet ski, and a livestyle cause we are owned it, nothing will change for better. 

      The world will not change, the world will burn in some parts, run out of water in other parts, and people will fight for survival. the planet 'the world' does not give a flying shit about us, we have no more value then the koalas and roos corrently burning to their death in their natural habitat. 

      that is the problem with the hope gospel, we can see what happens, but still have hope that someone somewhere is gonna have a grandiose idea to save the' world' without having to give up our livestyle. 

      and frankly us over 50 we be fine, its the young ones -especially the women who will be the mothers of tomorrow- how are screwed. But then no one really seems to care about that either.

  9. joe90 9


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