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The Great Giveaway

Written By: - Date published: 11:23 am, January 31st, 2010 - 78 comments
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From where I’m sitting the Left will never be back in power, not because they will never win elections, but because the power game is over. The nation state as we know it is being slowly dismembered before our eyes, the leviathan of globalisation has one flank firmly grasped, while rapidly discohering communities of self-interest are ferociously nibbling at its underbelly, each mindlessly determined to have its own ounce or two of flesh.

The power started leaking badly about when Hiroshima and Ngagasaki cracked open the seams, and later when Thatcher, Reagan and Douglas used Friedman’s ravings to slap an intellectual veneer of psuedo-science over their old dream that greed really was good, and that the elites should own almost everything again… the innards of cohesive community rotted and oozed. It’s only ironically proper that a hollowed out society should have appointed hollow men to steer the hulk.

In most countries the political process is paralysed, a Mexican standoff between varied power factions none of whom no longer know what is even in their own best interests, much less the good of the people they contemptuously pretend to represent. As for ‘us the people’, we delude ourselves, we no longer want to know of  news that might prompt a sincere re-evaluation of our own personal privileges and comforts. We mostly prefer to believe ourselves just ‘not yet rich’.

We delude ourselves to be happy, yet the dosing rate for anti-depressants rises, we cannot have ‘fun’ without first ‘smashing’ our conscience into incoherence, being fed empty rushes of addictive fleeting thrills that trap abusers and victims alike into cycles of guilt, shame, social and mental breakdown.

We delude ourselves to be succesful, while the consequences of our collective stupidities accumulate. Whether it is CO2 induced climate change, peak oil/water, biodiversity collapse, uncontrolled WMD proliferation and use, a prolonged global economic Depression, or some miserable combination of them all… matters little.  Voltaire made it simple, “Man argues… Nature acts”. The truth is that victory and fame Monday to Thursday are nothing but hollow ironies if you and your children are all dead Friday.

How did we get to be so distracted, depressed and helpless?  Where exactly did we misplace our true capacity to act intelligently with foresight, to be creative, fulfilled and content? How did we get to believe that money, possesions and power would take the place of these things? Why do we measure a man’s worth by how what he has, by how much power he wields over those around him? Because of this belief we have for thousands of years been locked in a vicious game of ‘beggar thy neighbour’, now massively amplified by oil and technology, and ultimately played to the point where the outstanding, the primal reality of this world, is that the top 1% of people control more wealth than the bottom 90%.

And this gross extreme of wealth and poverty, not just the cause of  cruel, heartless suffering for so many, makes us all unhappy. As much as we want to pretend our small personal lives are good, there is an oft-muted voice in us that sulks under the pretence regardless. It knows we have been robbed of our birthright to be decent, wise, loving and happy, but for fear of loosing the meagre fragments of these things left to us… the voice remains silent. Worse still it locks us into failure; the planet simply cannot ever sustain the entire human race being ‘succesful’ on the same consumption terms as we define them for the top 1%.

What if instead we measured a man’s worth, not by how much he had, but by how much he gave away?

What if the lasting aphrodisiac was not power over others, but service to others? What if we valued talent and wealth not for what it could do for us, but for how it was used for those around us? What if it what we really wanted was… to give it away?

78 comments on “The Great Giveaway”

  1. How did we get to be so distracted, depressed and helpless? Where exactly did we misplace our true power to act intelligently with foresight, to be creative, fulfilled and content? How did we get to believe that money, possesions and power would take the place of these things? Why do we measure a man’s worth by how what he has, by how much power he wields over those around him?

    We toed the company line, thinking the company to act in our own best interests if we acted in its. We invested our intelligence, foresight and creativity while deferring responsibility to the state in exchange of a belief we could one day be the boss or at the very least share in the bosses profits.

    instead the company sold the masses/workers into state sponsored slavery and bought off the gov’ts while we were too distracted by localised tribal politics to see who the real enemy was and what they were doing.

    as for the left, gone are the days when socialism could through belief in action mount an alternative challenge to capitalism because the enemy is not the state and is not localised within your nations boundaries.

    where as revolutions in the past were conducted against the state in various places and governed by differing systems, now we virtually have one system governing the planet but we are still led to believe we don’t. still led to believe the enemy is an ideal and that on either side of this ideal there exists a right and left that is fundamentally in opposition. in as much as standard warfare tactics cannot counter assymetric insurgent tactics so can we not counter thru protest and demonstration the assymetric tactics of the corporate elites hiding behind the ideal.

    the key is to see past the mask, identify a physical cornerstone of the enemy and mount an assymetric attack on the system at its weakest point and in such a way as they cannot control its outcome should a critical mass be attained.

    for me that is the immutable and ubiquitous banks who act with callous impunity. crash them, make the accumulation of money worthless and the elites lose their power. in one stroke the playing field gets levelled, not just locally but globally. obama should have let the banks fail. when something gets ‘too big to fail’ it’s probably time to let it fail and rebuild.

    I believe the more you try to hold on to something, the more it will be taken away from you and if it is within your power to give freely and with abundance yet ask for nothing in return, then do so. it enriches your being moreso than being rich.

    in traditional polynesian society, the chief was chosen by how he would best serve the people not by how he could make the people best serve him and those who sponsor him. i think key, obama and most ‘leaders’ could do well by becoming more polynized 🙂

    • Bored 1.1

      I dont think we need to launch asymetric attacks at all. When the oil goes, the climate gets too hot and the population cannot be supported all that once was will not be anymore. Central collapse by degrees, its what we do for ourselves at the edges that really matters.

    • SHG 1.2

      Last time I checked, Polynesian chiefs were chosen according to how closely they were related to the last chief.

      • pollywog 1.2.1

        you might want to check the traditions then SHG but yes, blood will always have a major say though not neccessarily blood of the first born.

  2. Bored 2

    Red, that little diatribe nearly depressed me, but hey I have for a number of years been given the same treatment as one of those guys who walks around with a sign saying “repent, your doom is nigh”! All for just saying perhaps this oil thing, or climate thing wont last…..nobody loves a party pooping Jeremiah.

    More to the point bugger all people are prepared to believe what is true if it does not fit within their comfort zone (bloody hell Lenin realsied that, make it hell and they will rebel..). I gave up with dire prognostications except to take issue with one eyed idiots, my solace may be to watch and see the discomfort levels rise and see how they react.

    • RedLogix 2.1

      It was oddly enough written in two parts. It was started on back in late November, but I couldn’t finish it constructively. You are right, the party pooping Jerry is not a welcome guest… but unless I could constuct a valid alternative reality, then terminal depression would be the only sane response.

      What if the reality we have been living for all of our known history was a mistake? What if the popular notion ‘the end is nigh’ (sometime probably in 2012)… was a metaphor for the ending of it?

  3. Lew 3

    RL, I think this line of reasoning falls apart without your highly contentious interpretations of “the left”, “power” and “us”. I these derive from a somewhat rose-tinted view of the olden days which doesn’t really hold.

    For one thing, the seams didn’t start leaking at Hiroshima and Nagasaki: those particular seams started leaking with the Schlieffen Plan, and The Bomb was a crude but desperate attempt to seal them up again. It failed. But then, the alternative was worse.

    And this is what it comes down to: what are the alternatives? You lament the corporate-political power nexus embodied by liberal democracy and capitalism, and its atomisation of society into units whose democratic power is more or less controllable. I agree that it’s pretty bad, but I’d take it over the likely alternatives — nationalistic or communist totalitarianism, for instance — any day of the week. And so should you, because unlike those systems, this one gives you a chance — however slight — to change it.

    I suggest, if your major contribution to leftist political action is reading its eulogy, that you cede the podium to those of us who still think the game is worth winning.

    L

    • RedLogix 3.1

      I these derive from a somewhat rose-tinted view of the olden days which doesn’t really hold.

      I’d agree Lew, the old days were different, not better. The strident old game has been with us a long time, but interwoven with it was always another theme written for instruments of a mellow timbre.

      A cursory glance at all the major historic religions reveals one thread of the theme, (Acts 30:35 [Paul] In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”).

      An examination of many pre-Industrial societies, or even simply the love, devotion and sheer sacrifice many women have given to those around them all through history… all play quite a different melody to “Greed is Good” anthem of the capitalist circus.

  4. Hilary 4

    Get a copy of Raj Patel’s new book ‘The value of nothing: How to reshape market society and redefine democracy’. It is a stinging critique of capitalism, greed, the Chicago school etc, but is also positive and empowering, and talks about things like altruism – so it might cheer you up. He’s a former World Bank and WTO man so knows his economics. http://www.rajpatel.com

    • pollywog 4.1

      http://0books.blogspot.com/

      ‘cold world’ on militant dysphoria’ and ‘capitalist realism’. 2 books available by prominent left culture critical bloggers/continental theorists but still offering no “real ” alternatives…

      the catchcry being “it is easier to envision the end of the world than it is to envision the end of capitalism.”

      no matter what system of governance we have, the banks will still hold the balance of power.

      http://dissensus.com/showthread.php?10019-Lets-revolt-!!!

      • RedLogix 4.1.1

        “it is easier to envision the end of the world than it is to envision the end of capitalism.’

        LOL… oh so true.

        @Lew. Of course we will still have to play ‘the power game’ for the immediate future. But it’s a bit like working your way along a clagged-in Tararua ridgeline; while your attention is mostly on the worrisome drop-off and your next handful of steps… every now and then you have get out the map and GPS to check you haven’t veered off onto some dead-end spur.

        • Robert Winter 4.1.1.1

          GPS? Eeeeh, luxury. In my day, we just fell off, broke both legs, climbed back up and fell off again.

          • RedLogix 4.1.1.1.1

            To be honest it was foisted on me by my daughter in a rare act of filial devotion, and while initially sceptical, I confess to becoming very fond of it very fast.

            (I have to add that said daughter expressed more concern about the safe return of her ‘baby’ than aged parent.)

        • Lew 4.1.1.2

          RL, the trouble with this metaphor is that, as I read the OP, you’re not so much concerned about keeping to the true ridgeline as you are pissed off and disappointed that you’re in the Tararuas and not on Pandora.

          Perhaps, if that’s not what you mean, you could elaborate on what you see as the way forward. Then, at least, I can mock something concrete : )

          L

          • RedLogix 4.1.1.2.1

            Well of course Pandora is wonderfully mockable; as are all stories. But stories are nontheless the repositories of our myths, fables, hopes and mysteries. Are you sure you want me to abstain, just in case you feel the urge to take the piss?

            Any society based wholly on a culture of giving, on theeros alone, would likely burn itself out. Our logical minds can think of any number of rational objections. But looking about us it seems evident to me at least, that an economy reduced wholly to markets is equally flawed.

            • Lew 4.1.1.2.1.1

              The point I’m trying to make, RL, is that I see little but nostalgic fantasia in what you’re arguing. A prime example is ‘looking about us’ and finding ‘nothing but markets’ when, as any genuine market fundamentalist will tell you, there are almost no purely free markets anywhere, and markets such as they are don’t control anywhere near as much as they should. Maybe there are more markets than you’d like, but that wasn’t the premise, and that’s the problem: the premises are illusory.

              There’s no sense that, for all its flaws, the actual world and its systems and realities are the only ones we have, and we need to work within them, rather than hoping for a world which doesn’t exist and never has, in spite of rose-tinted history, religious doggerel and naïve allusions to primitive times when all was peaceful and just.

              Myths and stories are important, but only if you understand that they’re myths and stories.

              L

              • RedLogix

                Maybe there are more markets than you’d like, but that wasn’t the premise

                Well that was the premise, that we know the price of everything, the value of nothing. The ‘purity of free markets’ argument never entered my mind; so where you conjoured that prize strawman from eludes me.

                There’s no sense that, for all its flaws, the actual world and its systems and realities are the only ones we have,

                Who made that rule? The world we have is the one we made. Therefore we can remake it according to what we value, what we believe in. Of course we must live in this world as it is now. Tommorrow I get up and go to work as usual. But without a vision, a sense of what is possible, there isn’t any hope of change.

                rather than hoping for a world which doesn’t exist and never has, in spite of rose-tinted history,

                In several places above I’ve said exactly the opposite and that has to be the feeblest argument I’ve seen from you in ages, but it’s late on a Sunday evening and whose keeping score?

                religious doggerel and naïve allusions to primitive times when all was peaceful and just

                It’s Sunday Lew; its’ the day I do doggerel for your sniggering amusement.

                Maybe I wasn’t paying attention, but somewhere I missed what is is you believe in. What do you want Lew? Do you believe we can do better, that human nature is a mutable, improveable thing, that the system we have is not the only possible version of reality?

                Or are you really only interested in gaming the existing one?

              • Lew

                RL,

                The ‘purity of free markets’ argument never entered my mind; so where you conjoured that prize strawman from eludes me.

                I conjured it from the bit where you said “But looking about us it seems evident to me at least, that an economy reduced wholly to markets is equally flawed.” Well, yes. But that’s not what we have; not anything like it. So it’s continued-strawman, if you like.

                Who made that rule? The world we have is the one we made. Therefore we can remake it according to what we value, what we believe in.

                We can, but we haven’t remade it yet. And I’m highly dubious about any suggestion which involves discarding or abandoning centuries of gradual progress for a utopian fantasy, although …

                In several places above I’ve said exactly the opposite

                … I’ll accept this at face value. If you could elaborate on how your idea of realigning systems of value to better encompass generosity, charity, altruism, etc would work in real-live actuality, I would be most obliged.

                It’s Sunday Lew; its’ the day I do doggerel for your sniggering amusement.

                Perhaps you have misapprehended slightly incredulous scorn for sniggering amusement. I’m not amused, nor am I sniggering. I’m just slightly incredulous and a little scornful.

                Maybe I wasn’t paying attention, but somewhere I missed what is is you believe in. What do you want Lew?

                This is a bigger question than can be answered in a blog comment, but in sketchy political terms, I believe in civil society; the ability of individuals and groups within civil society to pursue their own agendas; and the role of the state in facilitating and safeguarding that via broadly liberal democratic institutions. What we have is far from perfect, but it’s pretty good; it works. For me, liberal democracy (the political dimension) is the non-negotiable part of the system, and whatever economic system comes from this is largely a matter of debatable preference (though it they are not disconnected). So if you want to strike out into the great unknown, I exhort you to do so, and take as many with you as will follow — but where I get off the bus is when you start doing so at the cost or detriment of the system which permits this sort of fancy, such as the socialists who advocated a “more just” economic system at the cost of political justice. This was my original objection: that if you’ve lost faith in the liberal democratic project, you should leave it to those of us who haven’t. But you’ve disclaimed that loss of faith and I accept your disclaimer. I admit I’m very sensitive to and critical of utopian delusions, and perhaps I’m also just dense: I just don’t see how this is any more than dreamland. You want an economic system based on generosity. I want a pony.

                If this focus on actual, achievable political goals and above all, the maintenance of a system which permits the same is “gaming the existing system” to you, then I suppose I’m guilty as charged.

                L

    • Hilary 4.2

      Sorry wrong website. Of course .org not a .com. Spam word moral – apt.

      http://rajpatel.org/2009/10/27/the-value-of-nothing/

  5. that you cede the podium to those of us who still think the game is still worth winning.

    whats the strategy for winning and whats the prize ?

    re: peak oil…another distraction to keep the masses firmly under corporate control. if needs be we could convert to alternative energy easier than the powers that be would have us believe. it’s just they’re banking way too much profit for them to do so at the mo.

    • Lew 5.1

      whats the strategy for winning and whats the prize ?

      Winning; the present-progressive. It’s happening now. It might come as a shock to you, if you haven’t studied world history very much, that for the first time liberal, democratic, multicultural, tolerant, secular, environmental humanism is the political and cultural orthodoxy of the world in which we live.

      Unfortunately (you might say), capitalism in one form or another comes as part of this deal. This isn’t a down-side for me; it’s an opportunity to use human nature to humanity’s advantage, for a change. Yes; things are bad in many ways, but in many other ways things have never been better. The worst of all possible courses of action is to abandon what progress we have made.

      L

      • BLiP 5.1.1

        Progress may have been all right once, but it went on too long.

        Ogden Nash

      • pollywog 5.1.2

        the only progress worth keeping is the technology. such a pity we, as yet, havent evolved enough to use it wisely.

        so forgive me if i choose not to put my trust in human nature. it’s just not worthy.

        • Lew 5.1.2.1

          Why on earth would you think I’m suggesting the only progress worth keeping is technology?

          The most important progress worth keeping is cultural.

          L

          • pollywog 5.1.2.1.1

            nah…i’m suggesting technology is the only thing worth keeping and perservering with as our saviour.

            forget cultural evolution. i cant see we’ve made any progress if we still act like cavemen. if anything, we’ve culturally de evolved as our values have eroded.

            • Lew 5.1.2.1.1.1

              But we don’t still act like cave men. We don’t even act like medieval folk; or colonial imperialists, or cold war paranoiacs, or pre-AGW naifs. There have been monumental changes in culture, and they are almost all for the better. Not to say that it’s all bad, but my goodness, you can’t possibly be suggesting we go back to recognising slavery, white landowners only voting, international aggression in the name of religion, and medicine based on belief in the vital humours as the orthodox bases of society.

              Aside from which, you don’t get technological change without keeping cultural change, since technology derives from culture (or rather, is a manifestation of culture).

              L

              • SPC

                Technology change arises out of national direction of resources (“socialism”) and or ownership of copyright (private property). Is this the cultural order you mean?

                Or are you inferring that technology change does not require anything of the culture which created it – how did nuclear weaponry influence our culture for example or the earlier increased destructiveness of urban civilian areas by conventional weapons (Geneva Convention etc) or our ability to exploit carbon and hence pollute the environment.

              • pollywog

                you can’t possibly be suggesting we go back to recognising slavery, white landowners only voting, international aggression in the name of religion, and medicine based on belief in the vital humours as the orthodox bases of society.

                but we as humans still do all those things. that they exist in the world means they still exist for all of us. we havent eradicated any of it and when we get right down to it, WE as a majority still think and act like cavemen albeit with bombs and laptops.

                cultural worth is defined by its values. we value death over life, war over peace and money over love.

              • Lew

                PW, so as long as one person does something, we might as well all do it, because we’ve (collectively) failed just as badly?

                What a perverse worldview.

                SPC,

                I’m saying that technology is culture — that we created nuclear weapons, MRI, the ballpoint pen, the the iPad, the hanging-chad voting machine, the internal combustion engine, the php blog CMS we’re now using describes to a very large extent our culture, who we are and what we value.

                This wasn’t an ideological or political statement, just pointing out that if you ditch “cultural evolution” then you ditch “technological evolution” right along with it, and neither of those is at all desirable.

                L

              • pollywog

                as long as one person does something, we might as well all do it, because we’ve (collectively) failed just as badly?

                not at all, but lets not pretend the world is a rosier place than it actually is and that we’ve succeeded in evolving beyond our carnal nature.

                simple fact is, cultural evolution hasnt kept pace with technology.

                the world is a perverse place and perverse as my worldview might be, i’m betting i’m the future and that more will/do think like me than you 🙂

              • Lew

                PW,

                lets not pretend the world is a rosier place than it actually is and that we’ve succeeded in evolving beyond our carnal nature.

                Begs the question of human nature, but that’s by the by. I’m not saying we’ve “evolved beyond” nature; I’m saying that culture has provided a degree of social, political and material comfort and stability in much of the world that things are better than they were before. That’s not a very bold statement, if you think about it.

                simple fact is, cultural evolution hasnt kept pace with technology.

                Since technology is part of culture, this is logically impossible. Or if you’d like to argue technology isn’t cultural, then be my guest (though you’re up against some fairly big philosophical/anthropological guns).

                L

            • pollywog 5.1.2.1.1.2

              The trouble with philosophical/anthropological big guns is it’s culture specific and biased. They no more apply to some cultures than continental philosophy applies to southern hemispherians or that IQ tests are reflective of intelligence.

              big guns dont mean shit in the jungle unless you can kill your prey with it.

              theres countless examples of technology destroying native culture but as long as your culture is enhanced then fuck the rest eh ?

              lets just talk about how evolved kiwi culture is with it’s buzzy bees and summer barbies at the bach and pretend like the rest of the world doesnt matter.

              • Lew

                PW,

                Maybe we could employ a modern (say, 20th century) definition of culture — one which isn’t all about baches and bizzy bees and barbecues, or piupiu and poi and powhiri for that matter; and one which doesn’t talk so glibly about “native cultures” getting “destroyed” by technology. Then perhaps we could start talking about “culture” in some way other than linear evolution, movement from a worse state to a better state, or from a better state to a worse state. Evolution, as you’ll know, isn’t about “better” or “worse”. Cultural and technological change is too. Cuts both ways.

                There are just as many examples of technology giving “native culture” (whatever the hell that is, outside of the eighteenth century) what it needed to reinvent and perpetuate itself. The “native culture” of Aotearoa is one such example: steel tools and new crops brought by the early sealers and whalers facilitated phenomenal population and prosperity growth, to the point where NZ was supplying significant quantities of wheat to the colony in Australia. The same steel tools (and gunpowder weapons) also resulted in the Musket Wars, wiping out a lot of this new population and prosperity. Cuts both ways. But to pretend this constituted “destruction” of indigenous culture is idiotic: the Māori largely did it to (and for) themselves.

                But, hell, if you want to persist with your utopian primitivist ideas, don’t let me stand in your way. But, having some experience of actually living that sort of lifestyle, I’ll just let you know it’s a bit more complicated than you seem to think. But like I said: good luck. I really mean it.

                L

  6. Bill 6

    The space we inhabit is the one created at the juncture between our culture and the market.

    And it’s a pretty screwed up space.

    The old left wanted ( and it’s remnants still want!) to control that space through capturing the state and having the state supplant the market and construct a ‘station’ on the way to some other destination.

    And that created a pretty screwed up space when they were successful. (The ‘station’ became a terminus as it were.)

    Anyway, the question is: “Why do people want to control or modify the space we inhabit if the space is rank?”

    Surely an intelligent response would involve simply vacating the space…which presents us with a simple question of what vehicle we might employ to facilitate our escape.

    Obviously the many aspects of the political, cultural and economic vehicles that led us to where we are today can’t be a part of any journey to anywhere better than, or substantially different to, what we have right now.

    Which is where imagination, intelligent analysis and bloody good fun comes in…or not.

    • pollywog 6.1

      i’ve gone bush with a view to one day living off the grid.

      not a viable option for most but fuck it. it’s all about planning to survive the worst

      • Bill 6.1.1

        heh – going bush wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.

        I was angling more at identifying the negative cultural, political and economic factors or dynamics that tend to determine, assert or reassert our present state of affairs.

        Hierarchy is an obvious component to many of our modes of organisation and reinforced through many of our institutions that has negative implications…. the power differentials; the inherent aggression and tendency to stagnation and inertia; the way that hierarchical structures are used to gain and maintain graduated elitist structures that assume an imperative that somehow rightfully subsumes and subordinates broader community or cultural needs.

        By rooting out expressions of hierarchical ( and other negative) components present in our organisational structures and habits and developing efficient and desirable alternative means to obtain the positive ends we desire we wind up being else where by default

        Or cop out, go bush and…..enjoy?

      • Lew 6.1.2

        You’ve “gone bush” but you still have the internet. I think that’s all that needs to be said.

        Well, a bit more, maybe. “Preparing for the worst”, etc, gives you a Montana Militia air you might be less than happy with. But all that having been said, I do agree with the sentiment: I grew up in the bush as a kid, in what sociologists call an “intentional community”, and still have intentions to buy a block of land and get somewhat back to basics. Good luck with that.

        L

      • RedLogix 6.1.3

        Aww Lew… plenty of rural places where someone ‘off the grid’ can still get a cellular connection. ‘Going bush’ doesn’t have to mean buried up the end of deep valley.

    • Lew 6.2

      Surely an intelligent response would involve simply vacating the space

      To where? Perhaps you’re a seasteader. That would surprise me, though.

      Or perhaps you mean metaphorical, ideological space. If so, the question is: how to do so without leaving a vacuum to be filled by those who would oppress you?

      L

      • Bill 6.2.1

        how to do so without leaving a vacuum to be filled by those who would oppress you?

        You don’t.
        Do you miss the point Lew?
        They, the would be oppressors, can fill the vacuum. We don’t do things the way they would wish us to do any more. They are welcome to the vacuum ( we’re not there).

        They are anachronistic nothings with no leverage at that point.

        Think of shamans and their power…. and our how our vacating the belief system they dominated left them powerless.

        The next depth or step of departure is to refuse to participate in the dynamics of hierarchy which gave them and present day shamans their power base.

        • Lew 6.2.1.1

          Ok. So your hearts and minds vacate. What about your bodies?

          L

          • Bill 6.2.1.1.1

            “That’s the heart of my question about bodies, above: what wopuld happen if everyone (or even 1/10th of everyone) started along this road? I’ll tell you what: before the crash land prices would go through the roof, the back-blocks of paradise would become crowded beyond belief, and there wouldn’t be enough horse shit to fertilise all the organic self-sufficient gardens. And who would win? Yeah: the capitalists, who have all the money and can outbid you for the land. And supplies you’ll inevitably need. And can afford to employ armies to defend their interests and business models.”

            Your making some assumptions here Lew. You seem to have some predetermined notion of a ‘road map’ as it were. If your road leads to hell, then you have to lay out exactly why that would be the case. Then you have the ability to alter the path the road would take ( heh – hate language sometimes) so that the outcomes would be different…pit falls and pot holes avoided and all that.

            Question I have is this. Just because people refuse to engage with hierarchical structures of organisation preferring instead to commit time, energy and imagination developing more equitable and democratic ways to organise life; why would that necessitate a mass physical migration?

            And if 1/10th becomes 2/10ths becomes 3/10ths, at what point do you reckon it dawns on some wannabe alpha hierarchical ape that the platform or structure he needs to employ to organise his army of oppression cannot be constructed due to lack of willing participants?

            Or put another way. What %age of a population engaged with developing, practising and refining truly democratic alternatives to the various oppressions we see expressed through the politics of race,class and gender politics would be required for that to become the new orthodoxy?

            • Lew 6.2.1.1.1.1

              Bill, it was a somewhat offhand example. But the bigger question is: at what point does the new society degenerate as the old society (supposedly) has?

              L

              • Bill

                Why would it degenerate at all?

                That can surely only happen in an environment of inertia…of no change or where change is largely discouraged. Like what we have now…where values and various examples of correctedness are set and crystallised.

                Degeneration is the falling apart of old certainties that held (or hold) everything in it’s ‘proper’ place.

                But a process of constant revolution (or social evolution if you prefer the term) cannot degenerate because it is always fluid and never set. There is no ‘proper’ place for people or thoughts, beliefs or whatever….just movement and change.

              • Lew

                Why did the society we have now degenerate? (and if you say “capitalism” I’ll point and laugh).

                I take a different view of what constitutes degeneration. To me, anarchism is a form of degeneracy, and this, I think, is probably a fundamental point of disagreement between us.

                The thing about small societies is that they’re more prone to individual pathologies than large ones; that is, large societies (especially democracies) tend to have many many checks and balanced to prevent pathological individuals holding power (or more specifically, to ensure that those holding substantial power have a well-known and understood set of pathologies which can be mitigated against). Small societies, for this reason, tend to be much more prone to degeneracy.

                L

              • Bill

                This society is tied to numerous set values and conceptions. As such society revolves around these and is unable to progress or evolve. And orbits eventually de-generate.

                To take a different example, the Russian Revolution degenerated at the point of state capture by the Bolsheviks. The Party became the point around which everything else had to revolve.

                I’d suggest that with just a little historical knowledge, a point where revolution stops and degeneration or stagnation sets in alongside a process of consolidation of power by the new elites could be identified for all ‘succesful’ revolutions to date. Because not one has turned away from this central notion of building organisation within hierarchies.

                What about anarchy is degenerate? Highly participatory and fluid methods of organisation are magnitudes of order beyond what we have now. Surely.

                As for small societies and large societies and your concept of democracy…

                I didn’t make any call on large or small societies. I can think of terrible examples of both large and small societies and I can think of not one society either large or small that has had a centre(s) or a pinnacle(s) of power(s) that has persisted. And I can not think of a single one that has not had to use various forms of oppression and coercion to maintain it’s power structures and its elite privileges. And I cannot see how any reasonable definition of democracy can fit with what are always oppressive structures of power….vaguely democratic practices as we have do nothing to disempower elites or empower us unwashed masses. Just look to the US at present as an example of that if you are tempted to think otherwise.

        • pollywog 6.2.1.2

          You cant lose if you don’t play. i chose/choose not to play the capitalist way.

          my idea of going bush is, fully self sufficient in food/water, heating, power and transport in some forgotten back block paradise replete with wireless broadband and fuck the cellphone. as it stands i have no reception now and love it. funnily enough my last job was building cell phone sites for 2 degrees and before that telecom.

          i’m already in the back block paradise of what could (when the shit really hits the fan) become a closed off self sufficient community.

          so when, not if, the financial system collapses, when money isnt worth the plastic it’s printed on, and the economic shamans lose their power, dont come crying to me 🙂

          • Lew 6.2.1.2.1

            Good luck, as I said above. I hope you have plenty of guns and ammo, because if it all turns out the way you think, you’ll need to test the “can’t lost if you don’t play” maxim, and it would be wise to have a fallback position. If you think it’ll come to that. I don’t, really, but hey – your guess is as good as mine.

            One other thing: this is all well and good for you, and perhaps your immediate family. But you needed capitalism to buy that land, right? And establish your self-sufficient community on it. And how is this scalable to a larger movement? That’s the heart of my question about bodies, above: what wopuld happen if everyone (or even 1/10th of everyone) started along this road? I’ll tell you what: before the crash land prices would go through the roof, the back-blocks of paradise would become crowded beyond belief, and there wouldn’t be enough horse shit to fertilise all the organic self-sufficient gardens. And who would win? Yeah: the capitalists, who have all the money and can outbid you for the land. And supplies you’ll inevitably need. And can afford to employ armies to defend their interests and business models.

            This is why political action — not inaction — is the only solution. The ball is already rolling. Try to stop it by obdurate will, and it’ll crush you.

            L

            • pollywog 6.2.1.2.1.1

              nah…no guns, no ammo but the neighbouring cockies would have, i suppose, and thats who i’m talking of becoming a closed community with, if needs be.

              and the land was inherited but if 1/10 of everybody started down this road it’d be like old time polynesia, which in my view is infinitely preferable to how polynesians live under capitalism now

              but just what sort of political action do you see as being the solution ? it’s like only the names change but the game remains the same. and what if everyone decided not to play ?

  7. Olwyn 7

    What you have said was well worth saying Redlogix, because such thoughts put forward an alternative standard, which, even if it gains just a little traction, might at least serve to modify people’s thinking about these matters. In fact there are probably not many periods of history when greed and desperation have been let to reign with so few modifying factors. Values like don’t be sexist, racist, etc, do not prevent people from being crushed by the powerful, they just remove certain justifications for crushing them. Values like eating properly and going to the gym are put forward as virtues, but they are all about the self and not the other. Christianity did not stop colonisation or the nineteenth century hounding of the poor in Britain, but it did give people such as Dickens an indirect platform from which to call them to account, since they were still nominal Christians then. At the moment, to hear someone speak of human goodness as if it might even be a candidate for mattering is like a breath of fresh air entering a humid, airless room.

  8. Lindsey 8

    Don’t forget the modern version of the opiate of the people. Not the old “pie in the sky when you die” variety with its encouragement of passive acceptance of the status quo, albeit with a few mutterings about camels and eyes of needles. The new christofascism encourages active participation in the class war on the side of the boss class. “Jesus wants you to be rich” they say and tell people that the reason they are not rich is because they are not “right with Jesus’. Getting “right with Jesus” generally involves active participation in a right wing agenda including voting for and working for selected right wing political movements.

    • RedLogix 8.1

      Indeed ‘prosperity doctrine’ is an appealing but false teaching, mostly used by the fundamentalist churches to market their product.

      But equally it is unfair to characterise the modern Christian world quite so narrowly.

    • BLiP 8.2

      If we were to consider the example of Christ, one would see that He threw the money changers from the temple – what did dopey ole New Zealand do? We elected a money changer Prime Minister.

  9. Jeremiah indeed. I haven’t done this in years but here goes:

    “Men (sic) make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like an Alp on the brains of the living….” 18th Brumaire.

    Be angry, be thoroughly angry, but, please, this is our mess; we have to fix it. Miserable navel-gazing won’t help

    • RedLogix 9.1

      this is our mess; we have to fix it.

      Oh yes, as I indicated above this post did start out as ‘miserable navel-gazing’, but to stretch the metaphor a little, I’m mostly interested in getting off this bluffed out spur we are on. Given that carrying down into this increasingly dire looking murk that we are heading into is so unpromising, it’s not wholly unreasonably to check the [insert generationally appropriate navigational tool here] for where we went wrong.

      At some point in our past we blindly made the turn from gift-based economies to barter and market based ones. The question I’m posing is, “was that the right choice?”.

      It’s not such a pollyannaish question. Perhaps the most astounding developments of the modern era has been the lasting success of the ‘open software’ movement… an economy fundamentally based on the idea of ‘giving away’ your product. Absolutely nuts in terms of conventional market thinking, yet it works!

  10. ropata 10

    Morpheus “The truth is that you are a slave’

    Tyler Durden “Our great war is a spiritual war’

    In his essay “The Pleasures of Eating”, Wendell Berry argues that eating is an agrarian act and that something valuable is lost when we subscribe to the industrialized, consumerist view of sustenance. Although his essay is about food, his words could be applied to another method of fulfilling a physical need — sex. In fact, he draws a similar parallel in “Feminism, the Body, and the Machine’:

    It is odd that simply because of its ‘sexual freedom’ our time should be considered extraordinarily physical. In fact, our ‘sexual revolution’ is mostly an industrial phenomenon, in which the body is used as a idea of pleasure or a pleasure machine with the aim of ‘freeing’ natural pleasure from natural consequence.

    Like any other industrial enterprise, industrial sexuality seeks to conquer nature by exploiting it and ignoring the consequences, by denying any connection between nature and spirit or body and soul, and by evading social responsibility. The spiritual, physical, and economic costs of this ‘freedom’ are immense, and are characteristically belittled or ignored. The diseases of sexual irresponsibility are regarded as a technological problem and an affront to liberty.

    CAPTCHA: want

    • RedLogix 10.1

      Nice… it’s a wet Sunday here and perfect for this. Thanks.

      Something else I would like to read:

      The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property – Lewis Hyde.

      Reviewed here -JoAnn Schwartz

      Above all, Hyde is interested in examining the effect our current immersion in the market economy and the myth of the free market has both on our view of gifts and on our ability to give and receive them. The market economy is deliberately impersonal, but the whole purpose of the ‘gift economy’ is to establish and strengthen the relationships between us, to connect us one to the other. “It is this element of relationship which leads [Hyde] to speak of gift exchange as ‘erotic’ commerce, opposing eros (the principle of attraction, union, involvement which binds together) to logos (reason and logic in general, the principle of differentiation in particular). A market economy is an emanation of logos.”

      In a market economy, one can hoard one’s goods without losing wealth. Indeed, wealth is increased by hoarding— although we generally call it ‘saving’. In contrast, in a gift economy, wealth is decreased by hoarding, for it is the circulation of the gift(s) within the community that leads to increase— increase in connections, increase in relationship strength. Through this book, Hyde helps us focus on the importance of gifts, their flow and movement and the impact that the modern market place has had on the circulation of gifts.

  11. Good column RL

    The classic example that is happening before our eyes, Auckland Super City, where overworked and underrepresentative Councillors are already having their power ceded to faceless boards of directors who will make all the significant decisions.

    Even worse, Hide will select the first directors. Auckland local democracy is stuffed …

    • RedLogix 11.1

      At one level the amalgamation of Water Care Services into single unitary entity makes a lot of good engineering and operational sense that I fully support.

      The downside is that the motives behind this move are murky. Given the known agenda of ACT and Hide that Roads and piped water will be supplied on a fully commercial basis., the underlying suspicion must remain that Auckland’s water system is being packaged up for sale.

      And while we might argue the strictly economic merits of this, (and Keen refutes the neoliberal argument here) there is a deeper sense in which water supply being nothing more that another tradeable market commodity is essentially repugnant.

      There remains within us perhaps, a lingering sense that water is a fundamental gift.

      • Armchair Critic 11.1.1

        Don’t doubt it, Auckland’s water system is being re-arranged and the democratic element removed to facilitate the sale and privatisation process.

      • mickysavage 11.1.2

        I am sure there are sound engineering and organisational reasons for a unitary organisation. I have always preferred the chaos of multiple entities and owners because the confusion should prevent privatisation. We now have an alignment of the planets where organisationally and politically water could be privatised in the next 12 to 18 months.

        Time to man the barricades?

        • Armchair Critic 11.1.2.1

          “Time to man the barricades?”
          Yes.
          Though in theory there should be a whole lot of small water retailers to promote competition and efficiency and an open market and that sort of thing.
          I wouldn’t mind seeing the government do with electricity what they are planning to do with water in Auckland.

          • RedLogix 11.1.2.1.1

            The link to one of Keen’s paper above discounts that ‘in theory’. It’s a tad mathematical unless you have some background with differential equations, but the conclusion is eloquent enough:

            Contrary to the beliefs of the vast majority of economists, equating marginal revenue and marginal cost is
            not profit-maximizing behavior, the number of firms in an industry has no discernible impact on the quantity
            produced, price exceeds marginal cost in ‘‘competitive” industries, the ‘‘deadweight loss of welfare” exists
            regardless of how many firms there are in the industry, and instrumentally rational profit-maximizers do not
            play CournotNash games. Moving from Hollywood to The Bard, it appears that the dominant neoclassical
            theory of the firm is ‘‘Much Ado About Nothing”.

            • Armchair Critic 11.1.2.1.1.1

              “The link to one of Keen’s paper above discounts that ‘in theory'”
              Yes, I know. I should have made it abundantly clear that I don’t agree with the theory about promoting competition, efficiency etc. for water supply. Just pointing out the inconsistency in NACT’s approach.

  12. prism 12

    It seems that the right wing shift that is occurring generally around the world is hard to counter-act. The left wing however can be dogmatic and airily idealistic and even to them not all people are equal.
    It is noticeable how many countries are increasing their surveillance powers and their armaments. Belligerence from the USA, now supplying Taiwan with arms and so tweaking China their main financial support, Israel backed by the USA in action if not word in punitive attacks on the Palestinian ghetto, Fiji looking like Zimbabwe having learned the art of military control while overseas in the UN forces, Britain on terror alert understandably nervous about the ‘spiritual’ killers and the right to move freely without stop and search is going in a pseudo war climate.
    These countries with huge defence budgets can manufacture reasons for attacks easily as we saw in Iraq. I was reading again how the First World War started, and the story of Douamont Fort outside Verdun in France where they fought for a year lost 700,000 men just to hold their territory. We are populating too fast, so will provide good numbers for the armed forces as jobs and land can’t be found for all.
    I heard today on Nat Radio about fiji water. Most interesting – ever wondered where wealthy arms dealers invest their money, ie Khoshaggi spelling? also rich, right wing Bush’s – they get into selling water. Our politicians will probably sell ours from under our noses if we let them as the Fijians did. Apparently fw pay no tax in Fiji, and elsewhere they have offices in the Cayman Islands, the Bermudas, Luxembourg, those sort of places known as tax havens.

  13. Bored 13

    Good post Red, you appear to have atleast got them thinking…..perhaps they might want to ponder another thing for the ultimate party poop…..try compounding a 7% growth rate (thats what oil demand increased by per annum for most of the century…..do the maths and see how long it lasts if we are past peak…given we have used 50% already….LOL

  14. BLiP 14

    Great post.

    So long as our politics can be gamed by the elite, so long as we are kept frightened while our material needs are met, we will continue living inside this counter factual world of illusion. As the resources run dry, and when we become hungry and angry, then we will hunt them down and eat the rich.

    Until then – would you like fries with that?

  15. Outofbed 15

    Until then maybe
    Do you want lies with that?

  16. George D 16

    In this awful world where the efforts of caring people often pale in comparison to what is done by those who have power, how do I manage to stay involved and seemingly happy?

    I am totally confident not that the world will get better, but that we should not give up the game before all the cards have been played. The metaphor is deliberate; life is a gamble. Not to play is to foreclose any chance of winning. To play, to act, is to create at least a possibility of changing the world.

    There is a tendency to think that what we see in the present moment will continue. We forget how often we have been astonished by the sudden crumbling of institutions, by extraordinary changes in people’s thoughts, by unexpected eruptions of rebellion against tyrannies, by the quick collapse of systems of power that seemed invincible.

    Howard Zinn’s short essay The Optimism of Uncertainty on this matter is worth reading. I think he’s right – we tend to think that the rules of the game remain the same – they can change in a whirlwind.

    An optimist isn’t necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the dark of our time. To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something

    And that too….

  17. ropata 17

    Psalm 73 is the antidote to “prosperity” preaching charlatans, the Religious Right and their corporate compadres:

    For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
    They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.
    Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence.
    From their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits.
    They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression.
    Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth.
    They say, “How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?’
    This is what the wicked are like— always carefree, they increase in wealth.
    Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.
    When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me
    till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.
    Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin.
    How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors!
    As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.
    When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered,
    I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
    Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
    You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
    Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
    My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

    • RedLogix 17.1

      A very apposite quote.

      From their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits.
      They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression.
      Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth.

      So Goldman Sach’s directors collectively pocketing bonus’s greater than the GDP of a small country were around in the time of the Psalmist too?

      • Bored 17.1.1

        Nothing new about human nature, a mere two and a half thousand more years of greed since this was penned….maybe a digital archiologist will find our posts and say much the same about the giant intergallactic megabanks somewhere in the future…more likely at the current rate there wont be any digital people.

  18. Thank you RL,

    It is posts and comments like this that make me love our species and keep me going.
    Party poop all you like just so long as it comes out like this. 😉

  19. ak 19

    Wonderful post and discussion (arrived at late as usual). Yes, optimism is the very essence of the Left – that elusive light at the end of the tunnel that has inspired all the struggles, long marches and cross-burdened climbs to the current Labour-lite/gay-black-femme-emancipation milestone of progression.

    Easy to forget how far we’ve come from the satanic mills and beyond – and the pace has quickened exponentially: the ideological impediments of the iron curtain and neolib experiments are fading fast – and most promising of all, thanks to technology the above discussion and sentiments will be gathering unstoppable momentum in myriad, far-flung peoples and places honed sharp and fierce by centuries of repression and injustice.

    Reminds me of an old TV saw: “anything can happen in the next half hour”. Relaxed to appalled at a single poll, angst to anger at the speed of a twitter.

    Nice post Red, but cheer up for heaven’s sake: the thought of a blogging Bluelogix really is depressing!

  20. Come on kiwi wastelanders what about some practicalities and intellectual grunt?
    http://newleftreview.org/?page=article&view=2818

  21. SPC 21

    “What if instead we measured a man’s worth, not by how much he had, but by how much he gave away?”

    Nice words – prepared to support a Capital Gains Tax on rental property investments? It’s only tax on unearned income.

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    Westminster voting intention:CON: 44% (+3)LAB: 28% (-1)LDEM: 14% (-1)BREX: 6% (-)via @OpiniumResearch, surveyed this weekChgs. w/ 08 Nov— Britain Elects (@britainelects) 16 November 2019 This, of course, doesn't look good.  Labour have been chucking big, headline grabbing policies left, right and centre ... Well, maybe not right.  Left, left ...
    5 days ago
  • A coward’s ploy.
    Some readers may remember that I mentioned last year that I was applying for NZ citizenship. I filled out the paperwork and had my original citizenship interview in February. Everything went well until they discovered that, because I had spent five months in the US in 2017, I had not ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    5 days ago
  • Left censorship and exclusion against gender-critical women: a Marxist critique
    by Deirdre O’Neill It is becoming quite acceptable for certain sections of the left to declare that people like me – women who are ‘gender critical’ – should not be allowed in leftist or anarchist spaces. Leaving aside the arrogance and implicit authoritarianism of this claim, its lack of critical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    5 days ago
  • “Uncertainty” can be better solved with a better grasp of life’s inherent complexities…
    There is an article in The Conversation, written by Jeremy P. Shapiro (Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychological Sciences, Case Western Reserve University), about what he sees as the psychologically-based underpinnings of three main matters that seem to vex people all around the planet. The article is titled “The Thinking ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    6 days ago
  • Citizens vs the Rogue Deep State
    . .   Blogger Martyn Bradbury has won his case against unreasonable search and surveillance against the NZ Police; and subsequent Police attempts to produce evidence in secrecy, in a closed Court. His case highlights a disturbing growing trend in Aotearoa New Zealand for State power to be used against ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    6 days ago
  • Massey University’s free speech policy double-plus-good
    The Committee of Disobedient Women has intercepted an email from Dr Emma Eejut, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Massey University to the university’s Vice-Chancellor, Jan Thomas. Dear Jan, Thank you for your courageous move.  I think 10 pages of blether** should tie any of the students game enough to try holding ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    7 days ago
  • Unacceptable
    That's the only response to the findings of the Ombudsman's investigation into LGOIMA practices at the Christchurch City Council:My investigation identified serious concerns about the Council’s leadership and culture, and its commitment to openness and transparency. In particular, Council staff raised concerns with me about various methods employed by some ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • There is what corruption looks like
    NZ First seems to be nakedly trying to enrich itself from public office:A powerful New Zealand First figure helped establish a forestry company that then pushed for money from two key funding streams controlled by a New Zealand First Minister. An RNZ investigation has found Brian Henry, lawyer for Winston ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Escape from Manus Island
    Behrouz Boochani is an award winning author and journalist. He is also a refugee, who for the past six years has been detained in Australia's offshore gulag on Manus Island, and in Papua New Guinea. But last night, with the cooperation of the WORD Christchurch festival and Amnesty International, he ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • When World’s Collide.
    Different Strokes: If a multicultural immigration policy imposes no obligation on immigrant communities to acknowledge and ultimately embrace their host nation’s most cherished traditions and values, then how is that nation to prevent itself from being reduced to a collection of inward-looking and self-replicating ethnic and cultural enclaves?THE COALITION GOVERNMENT’S ...
    1 week ago
  • Could There Be Method In Massey University’s Madness?
    Protective Zone: Reading the rules and guidelines released by Massey University, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that its governing body considers the whole concept of free speech a disruptive threat to the orderly imparting of orthodox academic knowledge.IN TRUE ORWELLIAN fashion, Massey University has announced its commitment to ...
    1 week ago
  • How does poor air quality from bushfire smoke affect our health?
    Brian Oliver, University of Technology Sydney New South Wales and Queensland are in the grip of a devastating bushfire emergency, which has tragically resulted in the loss of homes and lives. But the smoke produced can affect many more people not immediately impacted by the fires – even people many ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: We need more trees, not less
    Farmers held a hate-march on Parliament today, complete with MAGA hats, gun-nut signs, and gendered insults. While supposedly about a grab-bag of issues - including, weirdly, mental health - it was clear that the protest was about one thing, and one thing only: climate change. And specifically, forestry "destroying" rural ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Holy bin chickens: ancient Egyptians tamed wild ibis for sacrifice
    Sally Wasef, Griffith University and David Lambert, Griffith University These days, not many Aussies consider the ibis a particularly admirable creature. But these birds, now colloquially referred to as “bin chickens” due to their notorious scavenging antics, have a grandiose and important place in history – ancient Egyptian history, to ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • The IGIS annual report: Dead letters and secret law
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security released their annual report today, and I've been busy reading through it. In amongst the usual review of what they've been doing all year, there's a few interesting bits. For example, a discussion on "agency retention and disposal of information", which points out that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A referendum on bigotry
    The End of Life Choice Bill passed its third reading last night, 69 - 51. Thanks to a compromise with NZ First - which looks to have been necessary on the final numbers - the commencement of the bill will be subject to a referendum. Given the ugliness of the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Why municipal waste-to-energy incineration is not the answer to NZ’s plastic waste crisis
    Trisia Farrelly, Massey University New Zealand is ranked the third-most-wasteful country in the OECD. New Zealanders produce five times the global daily average of waste per person – and they are getting more wasteful, producing 35% more than a decade ago. These statistics are likely to get worse following China’s ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Political parties and GMOs: we all need to move on
    Recently more than 150 post-graduate students and young scientists presented an open letter to the Green Party via The Spinoff, encouraging them to reconsider their position on genetic modification. Their target is tackling climate change issues.[1] Can any party continue to be dismissive about genetic modification (GM) contributing to ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    1 week ago
  • Class, Identity Politics and Transgender Ideology
    by Deirdre O’Neill Under Thatcher and then Blair and continuing up until our contemporary moment, the working class has seen its culture slowly and progressively destroyed. The change from an industrial society to a service society produced a marked shift in focus from the working class as the backbone of ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Irony
    Since 2013, the Australian government has detained refugees without trial in Pacific gulags, where they are abused, tortured, and driven to suicide. The policy is not just an abuse of human rights and possible crime against humanity; it has also had a corrosive effect on the states Australia uses as ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • An age of protest.
    It seems fair to say that we currently live in a problematic political moment in world history. Democracies are in decline and dictatorships are on the rise. Primordial, sectarian and post-modern divisions have re-emerged, are on the rise or have been accentuated by political evolutions of the moment such as ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Another captured agency
    Last month, Greenpeace head Russel Norman surrendered his speaking slot at an EPA conference to student climate activist Sorcha Carr, who told the EPA exactly what she thought of them. It was a bold move, which confronted both regulators and polluters (or, as the EPA calls them, "stakeholders") with the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • NZ First’s dodgy loans
    The core principle supposedly underlying New Zealand's electoral finance regime is transparency: parties can accept large donations from rich people wanting to buy policy, but only if they tell the public they've been bought. Most parties abide by this, so we know that TOP was wholly-owned by Gareth Morgan, and ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Member’s Day: The choice on End of Life Choice
    Today is a Member's Day, probably the second-to-last one of the year, and its a big one, with the Third Reading of David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill. last Member's Day it was reported back from committee, after MPs voted narrowly to make it subject to a (rules TBA) ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • How growth in population and consumption drives planetary change
    Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz The growth of the human population over the last 70 ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • The disappearing Women …
    by The Council of Disobedient Women In her excellent oral submission to the Abortion reform select committee on 31st October on behalf of Otago University’s Department of Public Health, historian and public health researcher Hera Cook stated: “We would ask that the committee not use the term ‘pregnant persons’ and ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • “A Passage to India”: enduring art in changing times
    by Don Franks In 1957, E M Forster wrote, of his greatest work: “The India described in ‘A Passage to India’ no longer exists either politically or socially. Change had begun even at the time the book was published ( 1924) and during the following quarter of a century it ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Contemptuous
    The Referendums Framework Bill was due back from select committee today. But there's no report on it. Instead, the bill has been bounced back to the House under Standing order 29593) because the Committee didn't bother to produce one. They probably tried. But given the membership of the committee (which ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Zero Carbon: It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law
    Two years into New Zealand’s Labour-led government, the long-delayed Zero Carbon Bill became law on 7 November. Passed essentially unanimously, the lengthy public debates and political manoeuvring faded away until the final passage was even anticlimactic: Flipping through the @nzstuff @DomPost I was starting to wonder if I’d dreamt ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert McLachlan
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: What happens next?
    Now the Zero Carbon Bill is law, what's next? Obviously, the ETS changes currently before select committee are going to be the next battleground. But we're also going to get a good idea of where we're going, and if the progress the Zero Carbon Act promises is good enough, during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Climate change will fuel bush fires
    Grant Pearce The effects of the current Australian bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland (and also again in California) are devastating and far-reaching. To date, the fires have resulted in several lives being lost and many homes and properties destroyed. Here in New Zealand, the impacts have been only ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Participation rates
    A passing comment in a post the other day about the labour force participation rates of older people prompted me to pull down the fuller data and see what we could see about various participation rates over the decades since the HLFS began in 1986.   As it happens, the ...
    SciBlogsBy Michael Reddell
    1 week ago
  • Not So Much “OK Boomer” As “OK Ruling Class”.
    Distract And Divert: The rise of what we have come to call “Identity Politics” represents the ideological manifestation of the ruling class’s objective need to destroy class politics, and of the middle-class’s subjective need to justify their participation in the process.THE RELIEF of the ruling class can only be imagined. ...
    1 week ago
  • Asking for it …
    "I saw a newspaper picture,From the political campaignA woman was kissing a child,Who was obviously in pain.She spills with compassion,As that young child'sFace in her hands she gripsCan you imagine all that greed and avariceComing down on that child's lips?" ...
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand’s Poor Pandemic Preparedness According to the Global Health Security Index
    Dr Matt Boyd, Prof Michael Baker, Prof Nick Wilson The Global Health Security Index which considers pandemic threats has just been published. Unfortunately, NZ scores approximately half marks (54/100), coming in 35th in the world rankings – far behind Australia. This poor result suggests that the NZ Government needs to ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Thank Winston
    The Zero Carbon Act is inadequate, with a weak methane target designed to give farmers a free ride. But it turns out it could have been worse: Climate Change Minister James Shaw was so desperate to get National on board, he wanted to gut that target, and leave it in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Illicit markets and Bali Booze
    The Herald reprints an Australian story on a couple of tragic deaths in Bali from drinking cocktails that had methanol in them.  The story argues that methanol is likely the result of home distillation. But what the young tourists were experiencing was far from a hangover. They’d consumed a toxic cocktail ...
    SciBlogsBy Eric Crampton
    2 weeks ago
  • This is not what armed police are for
    Last month, the police announced a trial of specialist roaming armed units, which would drive round (poor, brown) areas in armoured SUVs, armed to the teeth. When they announced the trial, they told us it was about having armed police "ready to attend major incidents at any time if needed". ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Spain’s failed electoral gamble
    Spain went to the polls today in the second elections this year, after the Socialists (who had come to power in a confidence vote, then gone to the polls in April) rejected the offer of a coalition with the left-wing PoDemos, and instead decided to gamble n a better outcome ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The astroturf party
    National has finally rolled out its "BlueGreen" astroturf party, fronted by an array of former nats and people who were dumped by the Greens for not being Green enough. Its initial pitch is described by Stuff as "very business-friendly", and its priorities are what you'd expect: conservation, predator-free funding, a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • How to cheat at university
    A couple of days ago I attended (and spoke at) the University of Waikato’s “LearnFest” event. There were lots of talks and sessions on very diverse aspects of teaching, mostly at tertiary level. One was by Myra Williamson from Te Piringa Faculty of Law here at Waikato, on Contract Cheating ...
    SciBlogsBy Marcus Wilson
    2 weeks ago
  • How NZ was put on world maps using a transit of Mercury
    There will be a transit of Mercury – the planet Mercury will pass across the face of the Sun – taking place at sunrise in New Zealand on Tuesday, 12th November. It was by observing such an event 250 years ago that James Cook and his scientist colleagues were able ...
    SciBlogsBy Duncan Steel
    2 weeks ago
  • Georgina Beyer: We need to be able to talk without being offended
    Since becoming the world’s first openly transexual mayor and member of parliament, Georgina Beyer has been recognised as a trailblazer for trans rights. Daphna Whitmore talks with her about where she sees the current trans movement We start out talking about legislation the government put on hold that would have ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • The anti-fluoride brigade won’t be erecting billboards about this study
    If FFNZ really put their faith in “Top Medical Journals” they would now be amending their billboards to recognise new research results. Image from FFNZ but updated to agree with the latest research. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Chosen To Rule? What Sort Of Christian Is Chris Luxon?
    National Messiah? Chris Luxon identifies himself as an evangelical Christian. If he is genuine in this self-characterisation, then he will take every opportunity his public office provides to proselytise on behalf of his faith. He will also feel obliged to bear witness against beliefs and practices he believes to be ...
    2 weeks ago
  • War of the worms
    I'm going to make a Reckless Prediction™ that the Tories have 'topped out' in the 'poll of polls' / Britain Elects multipoll tracker at about 38%, and in the next week we will start to see Labour creep up on them.In fact, we might just be seeing the start of ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Marvelly shows us how to be a feminist without feminism
    by The Council of Disobedient Women Lizzie Marvelly: “I may have missed this… has @afterellen gone all terf-y? Or am I reading something incorrectly? “ https://twitter.com/LizzieMarvelly/status/1191840059105742849 After Ellen is a lesbian website that is unashamedly pro-lesbian, as you’d expect. So why is Ms Marvelly so bothered about lesbians having their ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Out of the past – Tories to revive racist laws from the 16th century
    Did you know there once was a time when it was illegal to be a gypsy (aka Romani) in Britain?That was between 1530, when the Egyptians Act was passed, and 1856, when it was repealed.Amongst other things, the act forbade the entry of 'Egyptians' into England, ordered those already there ...
    2 weeks ago

  • New measures for wood processing boost
    Hon Shane Jones, Minister of Forestry The Government will further strengthen New Zealand’s wood processing sector as part of our focus on ‘value over volume’ in our forestry industry, Forestry Minister Shane Jones says. Minister Jones will today meet with forestry representatives in Northland to signal new measures to help the ...
    1 hour ago
  • New high tech traps will reduce the need for 1080 poison
    New Zealand First are celebrating the announcement of an investment of $3.5 million into five new trapping devices. These are a range of bait and trap devices, all designed to be left unattended for long periods of time. NZ First conservation spokesperson Jenny Marcroft says that this latest development will ...
    1 day ago
  • Cowboy clampers will be stymied
    Clayton Mitchell, Spokesperson for Consumer Affairs The ‘wheel clamping’ Bill that will cap clamper fees to $100 passed its third reading in Parliament today. New Zealand First welcomes The Land Transport (Wheel Clamping) Amendment Bill to combat predatory wheel clamping behaviour in what is currently a largely unregulated business. Cowboy clampers are: gouging ...
    2 days ago
  • Mental Health Commission back on track
    Jenny Marcroft, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First welcomes the passage of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill through its first reading in Parliament. “Today’s progress takes serious action on the mental health and addiction crisis the country is facing,” says New Zealand First Health Spokesperson Jenny Marcroft. “The re-establishment ...
    2 days ago
  • New Zealand’s key assets are not for sale: national interest test delivered
    Mark Patterson, Spokesperson for Primary Industries Today the Government announced the delivery of the promise to protect New Zealand interests by applying a new National Interest Test to the sales of our most sensitive and high risk assets to overseas buyers. This further strengthening of the Overseas Investment Act will ...
    3 days ago
  • National interest test added to protect New Zealanders’ interests
    The Coalition Government is delivering on its promise to protect New Zealanders’ interests by applying a new national interest test to the sales of our most sensitive and high-risk assets to overseas buyers. Under current Overseas Investment Act (OIA) rules, assets such as ports and airports, telecommunications infrastructure, electricity and ...
    3 days ago
  • Electoral law breach allegations
    Rt Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First Allegations raised this morning by Stuff Limited / Fairfax concern a party matter but I am confident that New Zealand First has operated within electoral laws, now and for the last 27 years. Declarable donations were declared to the Electoral Commission. Our ...
    3 days ago
  • Wayne Brown hits back at critics: Ports of Auckland has to move
    The chairman of the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy (UNISCS) working group, Wayne Brown, has hit back at critics of his group’s recommendations to relocate the Ports of Auckland cargo operations to Whangarei’s deepwater port of Northport. The working group's recommendation to close Auckland waterfront to all but cruise ...
    4 days ago
  • Week That Was: Supporting our schools
    We're setting our young people up for success, investing in education around the country.  ...
    4 days ago
  • Kiwis to have their say on End of Life Choice
    Jenny Marcroft MP, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First backs the public to decide on the End of Life Choice Bill via a referendum at the 2020 General Election. The Bill, with New Zealand First’s referendum provision incorporated, passed its final reading in Parliament this evening. New Zealand First Spokesperson for ...
    1 week ago
  • Addressing miscarriages of justice
    Darroch Ball, Spokesperson for Justice New Zealand First is proud that a key Coalition Agreement commitment which will provide for a more transparent and effective criminal justice system has been realised. Legislation to establish the Criminal Cases Review Commission, an independent body focused on identifying and responding to possible miscarriages of ...
    1 week ago
  • Week That Was: Historic action on climate change
    "Today we have made a choice that will leave a legacy... I hope that means that future generations will see that we, in New Zealand, were on the right side of history." - Jacinda Ardern, Third Reading of the Zero Carbon Bill ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Tax-free deployments for Kiwi troops
    Darroch Ball, New Zealand First List MP A Member’s bill has been proposed that would provide income tax exemptions for all New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel while on operational deployment overseas. The Income Tax (Exemption for Salary or Wages of NZDF Members on Active Deployment) Amendment Bill proposed by New Zealand First ...
    2 weeks ago
  • A balanced Zero Carbon Bill passed
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, New Zealand First Leader New Zealand First is proud to have brought common sense to the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill, which passed its final reading in Parliament today. Party Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters says months of hard work went into negotiating a balanced ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Paramedics’ status to be recognised
    Jenny Marcroft MP, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First has listened to calls to recognise paramedics as registered health professionals under the Health Practitioners’ Competence Assurance Act (the Act). Today, the Coalition Government announced plans for paramedics to be registered as health practitioners under the Act, and the establishment of a ...
    2 weeks ago

  • PGF approves wind turbines funding for Stewart Island
    Stewart Island/Rakiura has been granted $3.16 million from the Provincial Growth Fund to help build two wind turbines, putting the island on a path to sustainable electricity generation, Environment Minister David Parker announced today. “Stewart Island is our third largest island, after the North and South Islands, and it is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 hours ago
  • NZ economy in good shape amid global headwinds
    A major new report on the global economy shows New Zealand is in good shape amid increased global headwinds. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has just released its latest Economic Outlook. It shows the OECD group of economies is forecast to grow between 1.6% and 1.7% across ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    9 hours ago
  • Milestone of 1800 new Police officers
    The Coalition commitment to add 1800 new Police officers to frontline policing has been achieved with the graduation of 59 constables from the Royal New Zealand Police College today. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters say today’s graduation means 1825 new Police have been deployed all ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    21 hours ago
  • PM appoints business leaders to APEC Business Advisory Council
    Ensuring APEC work gets input from diverse New Zealand business and trade interests is behind three new appointments to the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says. Rachel Taulelei, Malcolm Johns and Toni Moyes have been appointed to represent New Zealand on the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    24 hours ago
  • PM speech notes for Trans-Tasman Business Circle
    Nau mai, haere mai. Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tatou katoa. Thank you for having me to speak today. To start, I’d like to acknowledge Sharron Lloyd, the General Manager of the Trans–Tasman Business Circle, the partners for this event Westpac’s  David McLean, and Derek McCormack from  AUT, and, of course ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    24 hours ago
  • Otago Regional Council given deadline for freshwater management plan
    A four-month investigation by former Environment Court judge Professor Peter Skelton found that Otago’s freshwater planning system is not fit for purpose to manage the region’s rivers, lakes and aquifers and that the Council has inadequate rules for the taking of water and the discharge of nutrients.   “Existing planning provisions ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • LGNZ Rural and Provincial Sector Speech
      Introduction Thank you for the invitation to speak to you today. This is the first opportunity I’ve had to speak to an LGNZ meeting since the local elections, and I’m delighted to see the fresh faces of newly elected mayors. To returning mayors here today, as well as chief ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • New Zealand to attend G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Japan
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters departs New Zealand today to attend the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Nagoya at the invitation of this year’s G20 President, Japan. “This is the first time New Zealand will attend a G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and we are deeply honoured that it is at ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Ambassador to the European Union announced
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today announced the appointment of diplomat Carl Reaich as New Zealand’s next Ambassador to the European Union. “The Ambassador to the EU is one of the most important and senior roles in New Zealand’s foreign service, advocating for New Zealand’s interests with the EU institutions,” Mr ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • New inventions boost Predator Free 2050 effort
        Innovation and technology are behind five new tools to give nature a helping hand by helping eliminate predators, funded through the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), Minister for Conservation Eugenie Sage and Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau announced today. “The new tools will be trialled in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • APEC 2021 Bill passes first reading
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has welcomed the first reading of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation 2021 (APEC 2021) Bill in Parliament today. The temporary bill supports New Zealand’s security preparations for hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum in 2021. “APEC is the leading economic and trade forum ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Making progress for our kids
    The Government is making progress on improving the wellbeing of the one million New Zealanders under the age of 18,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on World Children’s Day. The Government has today recommitted to the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history – the United Nation’s Convention on ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Māori women in business contribute to our economy, whānau and communities
    Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter has released a new report celebrating the contribution of Māori women in business across Aotearoa New Zealand. “Māori women are leaders in our communities, they employ many people and support our economy and our communities,” Julie Anne Genter said. The report, Ngā wāhine kaipakihi: ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Two schools on the way for Omokoroa
    Four parcels of land have been bought in Omokoroa, in the Western Bay of Plenty District, for an education facility that will accommodate both a primary and secondary school on a campus-like facility, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. Two parcels were acquired from private land owners and two were ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Families Package helps over 1 million New Zealanders in first year
    1 million New Zealanders warmed by the Winter Energy Payment 36,000 families bank the Best Start Payment in first year 6,000 more families received the Family Tax Credit, 220,600 in total   They receive an increase too – from an average of $117 to $157 a week for Inland Revenue clients, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Clamp down on wheel clamping passes third reading
    New rules to clamp down on overzealous wheel clamping and extortionate fees charged in order to release a vehicle have passed their final stage in Parliament today. The Land Transport (Wheel Clamping) Amendment Bill has now passed its third reading. “These changes mean $100 will be the maximum wheel clamping ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill passes first hurdle
    An independent Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission is a step closer after it unanimously passed its first vote in Parliament today.  The Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill lays the groundwork for establishing the Commission as a fully independent crown entity – delivering on a key recommendation of He Ara ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Boosting border security with electronic travel authority – now over 500,000 issued
    We’ve improved border security with the NZeTA, New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority, which helps us to screen travellers for border and immigration risks off-shore before they travel to New Zealand. It was launched in August and became mandatory on 1 October 2019. More than 500,000 NZeTAs have been issued since ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Plan of action to protect seabirds
    A proposed national plan of action to reduce the number of seabirds caught in fisheries is being circulated for public feedback. Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage say New Zealand is a global centre of seabird diversity with about 145 species in our waters. It has more ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • National interest test added to overseas investment rules
    The Government is delivering on its promise to protect New Zealanders’ interests by applying a new national interest test to the sales of our most sensitive and high risk assets to overseas buyers. Associate Finance Minister David Parker said under current Overseas Investment Act rules, assets such as ports and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New housing part of support for Kaumātua
    The Government is building special housing to accommodate one of Aotearoa’s greatest taonga- our kaumātua, says the Minister for Māori Development, Hon Nanaia Mahuta.  Speaking at a National Kaumātua Service Providers Conference in Rotorua today, the Minister reinforced the importance kaumātua play in maintaining and passing on mātauranga Māori, knowledge, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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