Reprinted with permission from Invisiphilia’s blog Rabblerave
In 2006 Ben Elton wrote a novel called Chart Throb. It was a hilarious send-up of the all too familiar reality TV show series format in which little-known yet potentially talented individuals get to make their big debut. Sadly I only know one other person that’s read it, so to date Elton’s clever musings have remained mostly locked up in the mental archives of my book club of one.
Elton’s book came to mind when I was reflecting on a couple of political events of last week. Internationally, Climate Change finally got cemented into the mainstream as the big issue of the 21st century. Sadly, the COP21 delegates assembled on the shadows of the recent terrorist actions by Islamic State fundamentalists. Yet Parisians rose to the challenge, working within security restrictions to create an awe inspiring protest action based on shoes. The shoe installation was arguably a work of high art, with an X factor which brought to our attention that CO2 emissions are not only a major threat to the environment, but also to international security by virtue of the fact that it’s an issue that can’t be confined to state boundaries.
The good news is that essentially we’re entering a new era of collective responsibility. As this notion is so out of step with neo-liberalist philosophy, it means that the reality show of NZ politics that 99 % of us are currently enduring through gritted teeth is soon going to experience a drop in ratings. Those of you who missed the irony of NZ being awarded “fossil of the day” for our inaction on reducing NZ’s transport, energy, and agricultural emissions the day after the rearrangement of the New Zealand Labour Party might want to start paying attention. Andrew Little’s brutal reshuffle is a political manoeuvre designed to capitalise on the fact that there will be whole new generation of voters enrolled at the next election. The demotion of David Cunliffe to the backbenches is a sad indictment on the culture of NZ politics, rather than the man himself, which Chris Trotter rightly describes as “the unwarranted triumph of spiteful Fives and Sixes over a much-maligned King of Hearts”.
Shamefully, under the current government, NZ Politics with a capital ‘P’ has become a game between those aspiring to emulate the narcissistic lifestyles of the rich and notorious and those on the outside looking in. In Parliament, members bills aimed at improving people’s circumstances constantly score a frustrating 61-60, thanks to David Seymour and Peter Dunne. The National Party treats it’s detractors with about as much respect as the snivelling rejects in Elton’s book who wail “but I’ve wanted this all my life”, while in the media, wall to wall male ‘personalities’ scrap over the smallest morsel and create controversy in place of real and intelligent debate. Fortunately for the author, a source close to home provides regular Tumblr and Facebook updates which indicate that Youth with a capital “why?” are tired of seeing Mum and Dad struggle to pay the bills.
The best thing that came out of last week was the hope that the ridiculous and worn-out image of Greenies as nothing but sandal wearing, mong bean eaters was finally given a decent burial. However, unfortunately for those of us on the left, we still have another 2 year walk in hand-me-down shoes before we can lie on the couch and allay the ghosts of elections past. Stay tuned and remember, politics happens while you’re busy making other plans.