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Protecting democracy

Written By: - Date published: 7:10 am, December 4th, 2019 - 40 comments
Categories: democratic participation, Dirty Politics, Media, political education, uk politics - Tags: ,

My heart went out to the Brits last week on the day of their latest terrorist attack. Terrorism is a particular horror compounded when a relatively functional democracy is having to adjust to the normalisation of fundamentalists doing high profile killings during an election campaign. That and the creeping reality that society has moved on from a biased media culture to one of outright lies, manipulation and bold as brass dirty politics.

The day of the attack someone created a ‘lefties side with the terrorists’  fake tweet from Jeremy Corbyn and it circulated fast on social media. This is what happens in the age of deceit,

Not coincidentally,

And of course, fuck all the Zuckerberg robber barons of the world.

Some hard lessons coming up for New Zealand next year. Not sure what the solutions are, but I suspect some of them are based in the ongoing need for solid left wing and progressive grassroots movements allying with Māori.  We need to normalise a political culture based on real relationships, where people can work through their beliefs and thinking about how they want society to be without being constantly bombarded with information and processes that are deeply anti-human.

If it’s easy to get sucked into the emotional manipulation of a high octane social media egged on by feeding frenzy MSM, that becomes a bit harder when talking to an actual person, a taxi driver for instance. Once we are having those conversations with people we know and have meaningful relationships with (family, friends, colleagues), the impetus to work through or accommodate difference is stronger still, and the conversations can go in a different, more life-affirming direction.

The challenge for the left isn’t how to convince the likes of Hooton, Farrar, Gosman or whatever rabid opponent on the internet. It’s how we generate politics that appeal to people who are politically transient but likely to be captured by the drama and addictive nature of the latest meme as it scrolls on by.

For those of us doing politics online, Stephanie Rodgers had some potent advice in a recent twitter thread,

Seeing a lot of really good messaging around not boosting / repeating bad political takes, because they need oxygen. But I also know how frustrating it is seeing awful things and not responding / rejecting them (and of course that’s how they’re designed!)

Here’s my tip, which I will happily admit I am sometimes terrible at following: find the counter-message to boost instead. Don’t acknowledge the nastiness – just put the positive out into the world, because it deserves to be there anyway.

Find the politician or NGO or commentator putting the good messages and data forward. Or say it yourself. People who’ve seen the terrible take will know what you’re responding to, people who haven’t won’t be exposed to it through you. AND you get to vent that frustration!

Another challenge for the left in NZ is how we approach election year. If we want a Labour/Green government, what’s most likely to give us that? Especially when we may be stuck between the rock and hard place of a right intent on dragging NZ into MAGA-land and a left disappointed, sometimes bitterly, in how little the Labour-led government has managed to achieve in its first term. I’m torn between writing all the bad stuff about the government now and getting it out of the way, or spending time now building a strong frame of encouragement to vote them in again. I don’t feel we can afford to be complacent about this.

40 comments on “Protecting democracy ”

  1. Stuart Munro. 1

    Not usually my stomping ground but the positive memes over the attack are quite funny, especially those that contrast with US gun enthusiasms.

    https://www.rt.com/uk/474746-narwhal-memes-london-bridge-attack/

    First Dog has some counter propaganda out there too:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/dec/03/you-know-youre-not-legally-required-to-like-jeremy-corbyn-in-order-to-vote-for-him-right

  2. cleangreen 2

    “I don’t feel we can afford to be complacent about this.”

    We do need to give this government the time to “weed out the national Party bedded in many obscene changes they made during their nine years of terror, “Lest we forget”

    Your head-line is prefect for this warning of being complacent.

    “Protecting democracy”

    We could apply the long serving global term;
    “The price of freedom and democracy is constant vigilance”.

  3. Ad 3

    Neither people nor digital media self-regulate.

    Even in New Zealand's state regulated mainstream media, such as television and print and the advertising within it, the regulation available is too slow to be effective for the speed of election campaigns.

    We can certainly guide and cajole the influencers we know to do better. But that's no effective sanction.

    The US has had comprehensive and unanimous reporting from its full intelligence community that showed how much the Russian government successfully attacked the US 2016 elections through social media campaigns, but there's no sign of any resulting constraint on social media electoral speech.

    Our own Prime Minister has been at the forefront of trying to form some global conscience about terrorist acts publicised on social media platforms. But few democratic states are prepared to really go there.

    And even where the media is both state owned and state regulated (such as Maori Television, RNZ, and TVNZ), there's plenty of inherent framing bias of the public sphere.

    We are a long way from having a local a regulator who could be effective to clamp down on inflammatory messaging during an election period.

    • Gosman 3.1

      Give me an example of "inflammatory messaging during an election period" in a NZ context please.

        • Gosman 3.1.1.1

          1975?!? You have to go back all the way to 1975 to find something that is disturbing. Come on. even you must realise that is hardly indicative there is an issue currently in NZ that needs addressing.

          • weka 3.1.1.1.1

            An oldie but a goodie, demonstrating that National have form.

            Want something more recent? The attack ad on Deborah Russell.

            https://thestandard.org.nz/nationals-faux-outrage/

            Not bothering with finding something from an election campaign, I don't need to waste my time because it's so obvious that this is normal political campaigning now, largely thanks to National.

            • Gosman 3.1.1.1.1.1

              At least that one is relatively fresh. However it is rather a feeble effort and against a bit of a non-entity in the government. Frankly it had far less cut through than Chloe Swarbrick's 'Okay Boomer' comment in Parliament.

              • weka

                Lol, you appear to believe be running a line that inflammatory messaging isn’t part of the NZ political landscape, so of course you are going minimise examples.

                Saying that it was ineffective is part of the dirty politics.

                • greywarshark

                  Thanks weka. That National advert is a real piece of sh.te. It is good to be reminded what deceit and hyperbole the left are up against.

                • McFlock

                  lol I couldn't put my finger on what the bother was, cheers for that.

    • Incognito 3.2

      The root cause of why people don’t self-regulate is the same as why they’re so easily influenced, swayed, distracted, and bored and like to (or need to) ‘self-medicate’. Some call it human nature but this explains little and offers no answers, at least not easy and/or quick ones.

  4. Jenn Falconer 4

    I get really cross with th oft repeated assumption that the present coalition government has let us down by not fulfilling its objectives as quickly as we would like. Why not just increase benefits across the board for example? When I really thought about it it's not that simple. How do you get a benefit to match a living wage without degrading the efforts of those who are working who earn no where near that amount. And another problem recently raised and one which I support is when two single people decide to cohabitate and MSD decide that that they can live on a reduced income by insisting that they are now a couple. Even they are it is still complicated – both may have children by a previous partner. He may by law be providing child support for two to their mother, and she may be receiving support from the father of her two. The only saving that can be made for the couple is possibly on the rent which may be why they moved in together in the first place. The cost of running the house, feeding and clothing everyone – eg during the week accommodating maybe four on weekends six, or a comprehensive week about arrangement for the two families still costs money and time to make it work properly. Families don't always blend easily and often there isn't family support. The punitive practise that often relies on someone 'dobbing them in' in the first place belongs with a different government.

    During the nine years of John Key 's government I don't recall so many strikes and demands for more wages from teachers, doctors, nurses – why is that?

  5. Stuart Munro. 5

    The fake Corbyn tweet resembles nothing so much as the fake policy list the Exclusive Brethren published in Coromandel to prevent Jeanette Fitzsimons taking the seat.

    Among the outright lies they published was that the Greens would introduce a CGT. Having spent six months trying to persuade the policy group to do just that, unsuccessfully, I was particularly incensed.

    Besides being a set of blatant lies, it was an instance of the moneyed interest subverting the democratic process, a day of shame in NZ politics for which the culprits escaped justice as usual.

    In the unlikely event MPs wish to restore their trust rating to something above Nigerian scammers and child molestors, they have to see to it that lying is neither normalized nor unpunished.

    • Ad 5.1

      You match the benefit-to-wage ratio without damage by Government raising the benefit by the same % as minimum wage rises.

      • weka 5.1.1

        That was a reply to comment 4 right?

        The government did that at the last budget (effective April next year). Problem is that benefit rates are still set below livable, so if they're indexed to wages and wages are rising in sync with an increase in the cost of living, then benefits are still below livable.

        Jenn's point misses that people aren't generally saying that benefits should be the same as a living wage. They're suggesting lifting them so that people aren't kept below the poverty line. There are all sorts of problems with the supplementary benefit system, but in the meantime this is how WINZ is theoretically supposed to be ensuring livability for people who cannot supplement their income. Doesn't work in practice.

        Here's the WEAG recommendation,

        Recommendation 20: Reform main benefits by:

        • increasing main benefits by between 12% and 47% as set out in table 2, page 99
        • increasing the abatement thresholds for:
          – Jobseeker Support to $150 a week
          – Sole Parent Support and Supported Living Payment to $150 a week and $250 a week.

        http://www.weag.govt.nz/weag-report/whakamana-tangata/appendices/appendix-d-full-list-of-recommendations/

        Two things going on there. One is the base rates increase to account for the 1990 cuts and subsequent lag. The other is that abatement rate is lifted, which means it's easier for beneficiaries to earn part time income while not letting them get ahead of full time low wage workers.

        That needs to be coupled with this, for the people who cannot earn,

        Recommendation 24: Reform supplementary assistance and hardship assistance so they are adequate, appropriately designed and easy to access.

        Labour did change the abatement rate, just not enough. Even if they can't raise core benefits this term, they could do recommendation 24. There's plenty of lower hanging fruit than that too. This is Labour's Achilles heel, because there's not really any good explanation for why they are not.

        • Ad 5.1.1.1

          Sorry yes reply to 4.

          Great to see the Childrens Commissioner giving them a lash on this area recently

    • greywarshark 5.2

      I fear the EB who have muscles to flex to further their own interests. They are relentless and double-dealing.

  6. Gosman 6

    You don't need to make up stuff about Corbyn and the Terror attack at London Bridge. His comments about it being fueled by the invasion of Iraq provided more than enough ammunition. The guy is a genuine muppet.

    • adam 6.1

      “The guy is a genuine muppet.”

      Says the hard right ideological hack.

      Too soon?

      • Gosman 6.1.1

        I won't be losing the UK election though 🙂

        • Stuart Munro. 6.1.1.1

          Yeah – that's the far right for you – lie and cheat their way into power and laugh in the face of democracy. Stuff up the whole country and then whine "Where's the civility?"

  7. Gosman 7

    Just in case I am accused of making up the story about Corbyn blaming the terror attacks on the UK being involved in Iraq and Afghanistan

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/dec/01/jeremy-corbyn-uk-military-intervention-fuelled-radicalisation

    • weka 7.1

      Don't think there's anything particularly controversial about the theory that the war on terror is creating more terrorists. Righties don't like the theory, presumably because it makes them more culpable, but that's not the same as Corbyn being a muppet for talking about it.

      More concerning here is that you are conflating the fake tweet that intentionally aligns Corbyn with right wing lies about left wing politics, with a relatively mainstream political analysis of the wider causes of terrorism. It's like you can't tell the difference, or, you think it's ok to smear politicians in this way. You're part of the problem.

    • joe90 7.2

      A fortnight after the IRA murdered five people at the Conservative conference in Brighton, Corbyn invited two convicted IRA terrorists to Parliament..

      A couple of years later Corbyn was arrested at a solidarity demo for the Brighton bomber, Patrick Magee.

      • Gosman 7.2.1

        Corbyn also states he is willing to talk to all sides to try and make peace but I don't remember him trying to arrange meetings with representatives of the UDF or the IDF when he was promoting "peace" in NI and the Middle East.

    • I wasn't under the impression you were making it up, I'm just struggling to figure out how Corbyn pointing out something fairly obvious and uncontroversial makes him a "genuine muppet." Are you claiming that the destruction of Iraq and Afghanistan didn't fuel radicalisation among Muslims?

      • Gosman 7.3.1

        It isn't uncontroversial. It is highly inflamatory. The person carrying out the attacks had NO links to any country impacted by recent UK military interventions. His interest was in Kashmir. Are you blaming the recent problems in Kashmir on the UK now?

        • Stuart Munro. 7.3.1.1

          The truth is often highly inflammatory.

        • Psycho Milt 7.3.1.2

          The person carrying out the attacks had NO links to any country impacted by recent UK military interventions.

          The fact that you don't understand Muslims or the concept of the ummah isn't Jeremy Corbyn's fault.

        • weka 7.3.1.3

          "The person carrying out the attacks had NO links to any country impacted by recent UK military interventions."

          This demonstrates a bizarrely poor understanding of the radicalisation of British youth to terrorism.

          Born and raised in Stoke-on-Trent, Khan was originally jailed along with eight others, who were arrested in 2010.

          The nine, inspired by al-Qaeda, had been under surveillance by MI5.

          https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-50611788

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usman_Khan_(terrorist)

          But well done Gosman, derailing a post about how to protect democracy by running dirty politics lite talking points that people feel obliged to respond to because of their inaccuracy.

          "The challenge for the left isn’t how to convince the likes of Hooton, Farrar, Gosman or whatever rabid opponent on the internet. It’s how we generate politics that appeal to people who are politically transient but likely to be captured by the drama and addictive nature of the latest meme as it scrolls on by."

          I'll be thinking about how to do that under my posts now, cheers.

      • Gosman 7.3.2

        By the way I thought the Terrorists aren't driven by their religious belief. Remember it is because they are a sick individual not the religion that causes them to kill innocent people.

  8. Karol121 8

    Who could ever sincerely suggest that religious doctrine or dogma represented true democracy?

    If I masturbate, is this sexual intercourse?

    A British (more at English policy) prison "reform" by way of early release driving licence to go out and violently assert religious fanaticism or belief is a result of a system that has it’s eyes shut.

    It was almost in a sense, a “licence to kill”, issued by the English prison and justice system itself.

    The actions by “Usman the knife” were as much a message of concept based willful dominance by that offender, as violent or socially damaging extremist idealist actions carried out in any other way is, by anyone else wishing to make their own fantasy somebody else's reality.

    It is not about religious belief so much as about the way it is asserted and promoted, along with what inappropriate methods are used to influence others with.

    I know and would bet that there are a myriad of Muslims on this planet who are as saddened by this event as most of us are, and who also deeply embarrassed about it being carried out and associated with a person who is said to be of their belief.

    However, this is something that they will have to accept as being their how so many others identify them as being, rightly or wrongly.

    I am sure that if some of the better known, long standing Christian based religions went back to the "good old days" of inquisitions and both persecution and slaughter of those who "didn't see things their way", they too would be looked at with suspicion and with a certain amount of trepidation.

  9. greywarshark 9

    Democracy – Gosman cares so much for it, he is writing all the comments. What a character (actor)! He would be great if he would declaim: What a piece of work is man, How noble his reason! But dear me, I think his feelings about man and woman are the opposite.

    What I am going to do is note the good and clever things that are happening and also which are particularly resulting from Labour facilitation or provision.

    Am thinking of heading each one up with a word different from our usual, and thought Bonum Labour would be a good heading to search on.

    So Bonum Labour for advancing marijuana legal use with safeguards.

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