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Why is it wrong to want a better world?

Written By: - Date published: 11:30 am, October 25th, 2011 - 37 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war - Tags:

“If you are under an illusion that class warfare is non-existent in our society, then look no further. Today an incredulous Deborah Hill Cone took aim at the Occupy Movement. She cunningly opens her piece with a suggestion that “I’d have thought Aotea Square was more an embodiment of what is wrong with socialist-type centralised planning.” From this opening position she descends into a one-eyed rant that can really sum up everything that is wrong in Modern New Zealand society.

Her first line of attack blindly follows the wider mainstream media reaction to the movement around the world,

I don’t have much of an inkling of what the Occupy This and That movement is really wanting. Do they have a clue? As some wag quipped at a few hundred ragtaggle people with signs saying “We are the 99 per cent”, it seems they are rather bad at maths.


After pointing out no facts, offering no logical reasoning, she goes on ask “why is it that I find myself thinking the protesters seem not inspirational but a bit brattish? Anyway, I suspect many of the Occupy protesters are not so much against capitalism per se, as feeling miffed that they personally are not rich capitalists.” 

But she reveals the ‘truth’ later in her rant,

Back in 1994 when The Bell Curve was published, Murray sounded a warning, arguing that those with high intelligence (the “cognitive elite”) are becoming separated from the general population of those with average and below-average intelligence, and this was a dangerous social trend. He was right, but it is probably not a conclusion the protesters in Aotea Square would like to hear. As T.S. Eliot said, humankind cannot bear much reality.

Can you believe this? Fortunate as I am to enjoy the luxury of conscious thought and a reasonably rational mind, I was skeptical. Then I remembered, just yesterday I’d read comments from one of New Zealand’s top academics, Dr Campbell Jones of Auckland University. The article is entitled ‘Occupy Wall St has a message for Kiwis’. In it, Dr Jones says,

“So what is this movement about? In part, the answer is quite simple. The Occupy Wall Street movement targeted the centre of financial power in the United States and indeed the world. In this sense “Wall Street” symbolises finance, the banking and financial services sector. So let there be no mistake – these occupations are opposed to the economic power of finance capital.”

 Dr Jones goes on to offer insight based on research, reason and facts,

“MANY people in New Zealand value equality, and think of this country as being egalitarian. The blunt reality, however, is that New Zealand has become one of the most unequal societies in the world, and is in the process of becoming increasingly so. Last week, Dame Anne Salmond called for a change of heart in our country, racked as it is with social and economic inequality.

A change of heart would, however, require changing the ways that we think. It would involve changing how we think about the 151 individuals in this country whose wealth expanded by $7 billion this year, while at the same time real incomes fell for almost everyone else. It would involve changing how we think about rising poverty and social deprivation. Such a change of thinking would enable us to see how 1 per cent can do very well indeed, while austerity and crisis are the fate of 99 per cent.”

So after a few moments pondering Deborah Hill Cone’s suggestion that the ‘cognitive elite’ are becoming separated from the general population, I asked myself; who does Hill Cone actually believe the cognitive elite to be? Obviously I assumed that, being the sharp and informed journalist she believes herself to be, and applying her superior cognitive abilities, she took it upon herself to research the issues behind the movement, and consider opinions of experts in related areas. If so, it would appear she has come to the conclusion that to be ‘cognitively superior’, you must have money and power. She appears to have concluded the reasoning presented by Dr Jones as misguided and ill-informed, which allowed her to affirm her belief in just who the superior ‘cognitive elite’ really are. Then I thought, well I’ll consider another view as well, since these two appear to be quite at odds.

Dame Anna Salmond is a great New Zealand writer and academic, she has excelled in her career and deservedly gained recognition. Last week she wrote ‘We could do with a change of heart

The problem, it seems, is a loss of balance. In the pursuit of profit, everything in the world – the earth itself, other species, knowledge and indeed, other people – has been turned into a “resource” to be exploited, often without care or conscience.

In the process, ideas of justice, truth and the common good have been undermined. Without these bulwarks, democracy falters, capitalism fails to share wealth and the distribution of income shifts dangerously out of kilter.

Since the 1990s, income inequality in New Zealand has soared.

She goes on to make a poignant observation, that I suppose Deborah Hill Cone dismissed as misguided and ill-informed,

The philosophies that persuaded many Kiwis to betray their own best values are bankrupt, and our future is at risk. A nation that does not care for its children has a death wish. A society that destroys the environment that sustains it will fail.

This, then, is the puzzle. Why do people support policies that are not in their own interests, let alone those of future generations?

Some suggest this is because the middle 40 per cent of income earners aspires to join the top 10 per cent and does not want the bottom 50 per cent to displace them. This may help to explain the rise in consumerism and household debt, but it is only part of the story.

People also have to be persuaded that there is no alternative to the policies that beset them, or that external factors are to blame, or the likely impacts on their lives are misrepresented.

Here, the freedom of the press is vital. If the independence of the media is compromised, the flow of information is in danger and independent voices are silenced. The press becomes a tool in the politics of diversion, with stories about celebrities and scandals displacing reporting on serious issues.

I’ll leave the final words to Deborah Hill Cone, she appears to be the authority,

The truth is, the world cannot be made perfect: the protesters are like toddlers having a tanty. “It’s not fair!” Why should some people be born into money while others are born into poverty? Why should some people be healthier or prettier or more charismatic than others?

I know how they feel, but let us try to face this reality together, like adults, rather than running away from home and setting up a tent at the bottom of the garden like sulky children.

New Zealand is an egalitarian society with no class divisions? Yeah, right. 


37 comments on “Why is it wrong to want a better world?”

  1. deemac 1

    there certainly is something wrong with the world when a nitwit like DHC is paid big bucks to write her inane column!

  2. uke 2

    Could this be her Marie Antoinette moment?

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    Oh, for full public ownership and operation of a nationwide newspaper and a nationwide TV network.

    • TightyRighty 3.1

      so you can distribute government propaganda against everyone’s will? even if you don’t like what the herald publishes, at least recognize the fact that is allowed to have an editorial slant, seeing as it is privately owned and all that. thestandard owns this website and is not subject to external editorial control, why should the herald? twat

      • KJT 3.1.1

        There should at least be a requirement that they do not lie.

        Having to reference News paper articles would be a good start.
        So we can see for ourselves how much they have slanted things from the source.

        • TightyRighty

          lies? i see no lies by dhc? just because mr smith belives that she is lying or mis-informed, does not make it so, even if you agree with him. or are you referring to david parkers guest post over on kiwiblog?

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.2

        so you can distribute government propaganda against everyone’s will?

        What’s the difference to distributing corporatist and bankster propaganda against everyone’s will?

        • TightyRighty

          Doofus. You don’t pay to produce the herald or the dom post whether you read it or not. If you don’t like whats written, don’t read it. if you have a real problem, don’t buy from those who advertise in it in protest. Just please don’t try and pull the wool over the eyes of intelligent people with your demands for a fully government owned newspaper network. we know it will just be a mouthpiece for the government of the day if it is set up under a left wing government. you already have a nationwide public tv broadcaster, as if you weren’t obviously stupid enough.

          • Colonial Viper


            Rupert Murdoch’s getting fucked for his little game of political control by MSM.

            Don’t pretend that isn’t happening my friend.

            Public broadcasting all the way mate, push big money out of the MSM and out of politics.

            You don’t pay to produce the herald or the dom post whether you read it or not. If you don’t like whats written, don’t read it. if you have a real problem, don’t buy from those who advertise in it in protest.

            My protest is to fuck the corporate MSM. Do you have a problem with that? I’ll do a lot more than withold my $2 from the Dom Post lol

            • Gosman

              Yeah sure you are going to fuck the corporate MSM. I think you might be having a little attack of delusion of grandure Colonial Viper.

              How are you going to achieve this fucking exactly, by posting left wing comments on a left wing blog perchance?

              It would be sad if it wasn’t so damn funny.

  4. AndrewK 4

    “Oh, for full public ownership and operation of a nationwide newspaper and a nationwide TV network.”

     Trouble is the government of the day can control content by stacking the top management with running dog lackeys -National Radio and the appointment of Richard Griffin springs to mind. (I still listen to National Radio in spite of its banning of Martyn Bradbury, but I stopped reading the Listener after the great leap to the right- about the same time they got rid of Gordon Campbell.)

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      If you can protect the independence of the fraking Reserve Bank and of Stats NZ you can sure as hell protect the public news service.

    • Gosman 4.2

      What you want is to ensure those that work for a Government controlled media organisation thinks ‘correctly’. A few years in a re-education camp on the Chathams chanting the Communist manifesto should sort them out.

    • seeker 5.1

      Thanks for the link JS- have just copied this quote from its editorial:

      “We are not just a handful of dreamers – we are realists. We are not stupid – we know something is very, very wrong with the world. We are not cowards – we are stepping up and putting ourselves forward to take part in this movement. We are not naïve – we know the problem is not a few greedy people ruining the system, the problem is a system based on greed that ruins people.”

      I would love for Thatcher to read this just before she leaves this earth for good. So she can see what evil the system she set up has wrought on the society she said, for her own convenience, never existed.
      It was so much easier for profit to economically quantify everyone and say we did not exist,only as individuals or units. So much easier to reckon with. (Paula Rabstock uses this method.) What a waste of Thatcher’s life to have brought so much misery to so many people and all in the name of money!
      Well she will be going somewhere pretty soon where she will have to deal with an account she won’t be used to; an account of herself and her ghastly policies and actions.She will have to give this account to someone far more powerful than herself and it will have to be the truth whether she likes it or not.
      I hope Douglas, Richardson, Brash, Ashcroft, Key and his Blues band, PhilO’Reilly and the business roundtable, the Koch Brothers, not to maention the US republicans and Tea Partiesetc. note all this. Accounts will be required from them and they will be judged -pretty harshly I would imagine.-Because they have forgotten their neighbour ie.their fellow man and have worshipped money instead.Yuck!

      *My dad would not have been happy with what Thatcher and her ilk have done with the world over the last 30 odd years, especially as he nearly lost his life fighting for it in Europe from 1939-1946. He died just before she fully emerged from the woodwork in 1979. A great father and human being.

      NB I hope DHC reads this post -she might gain some insight and wisdom and thereby mature. If she gets a new hairstyle I will see this as a small sign of salvation occuring. At the moment her photo appears to reflect her thinking- lopsided and certainly outdated.

      • Gosman 5.1.1

        Do you mean read your comment or the post that this thread is about?

        Both are just typical left wing ranting at anybody who dares have an opinion contrary to the leftist world view.

        I’m pretty sure Thatcher and Hill-Cone woouldn’t be influenced at all by this biased nonsense.

        • seeker

          I was talking initially about Thatcher reading the quote I had extracted from the editorial of the first edition of the Occupied Dominion Post that JS 1.09pm comment5 had thoughtfully linked to and which I read
          My “rant” was more supernatural than left wing – although the two do generally go together as my supernatural leaning tells us to treat our neighbours as kindly as we would treat oureselves which is more left wing and it is obvious that rightwing ideologies tend to put the individual first and are more akin to a nastier supernatural leaning which says “do what thou wilt.”

          My “rant” was about Thatcher and co’s ruinous legacy and her need to see it for what it was. This may help her, ‘cos even for Thatcher it is not too late to see how wrong her ideology had been and that she might, even at the last minute turn and say sorry.
          The others – and you Gosman- have a bit longer. However y’all still need to turn from the horrible errors of your ‘way’ and find a new one.Hopefully this Occupy Movement and articles like Dame Anne Salmond just might ignite a little spark of insight and remorse in your vain, hardened and almost, metaphorically speaking, dead hearts.

          NB DHC ‘s cynical article instigated parts of my diatribe Gosman , in case you thought I was off thread. And finally, I hope you are over what appeared to be early morning grumps today 🙂

  5. JS 6

    It is funny and sad how those at the top of the wealth and privilege pile like DHC just don’t have any insight into how the world is outside their little bubble.

  6. Uturn 7

    You’ve nailed it, Rijab.

    I find it unusual that the elite educated mind of DHC hasn’t learned that no matter what a person writes, their attitudes and perspective are revealed.

    As we so often see with the mindset of entitlement from the middle classes, “the world’s not perfect” does not apply to them. When their taxes increase, when super gets pushed out, when they have to abide by property laws, when they’re asked to consider those less fortunate, suddenly “world’s not perfect” just doesn’t cut it. Oh the squealing that ensues. They’ve worked hard, they own a business – why should they pay tax or abide by drink drive/speed laws – they’re owed a reward… aren’t they? World’s not perfect, don’t try to change it, don’t complain, take it on the nose… unless you’re one of us.

    The poor know it’s not perfect and they know the middle class upwards don’t give a damn.

    • KJT 7.1

      Actually a lot of people in the middle class do give a damn.

      Many of us support left wing parties.

      Samuel Parnell was a small businessman.

      Personally, my business/employment does a lot better when customers have decent wages and/or benefits are above subsistence..

      Apart from that. I benefited from cheap education, health care and infrastructure supplied by past tax payers. I do not think I have the right to pull the ladder up behind me.

      I believe a decent society looks after their children, elderly, sick and those who cannot find work.

      I have worked hard. but, I know that I would not have been able to achieve what I have in the USA or Somalia.

      DBH is typical of many wannabees I have met.

  7. The truth is, the world cannot be made perfect: the protesters are like toddlers having a tanty. “It’s not fair!

    That is the truth to an extent. The world obviously cannot be made perfect, far from it (but we can strive to make it better).

    To a degree there is some naieve “it’s not fair” among the protesters. When they get older they will learn that often life isn’t fair, and there’s sometimes nothing you can do about it.

    Occupy is making some valid points and raising issues that need to be addressed, but from what I’ve seen there’s an abundance of wide eyed innocence of youth idealism. I’m starting to see more realism emerge from some Occupy supporters, if there is some pragmatism and thought about possible consequences of major changes to business and politics then Occupy may gather some useful momentum.

    We can’t fix the world, but we can make it better if we are forceful but realistic.

    • Colonial Viper 8.1

      To a degree there is some naieve “it’s not fair” among the protesters. When they get older they will learn that often life isn’t fair, and there’s sometimes nothing you can do about it.

      In a past century, guillotines have usually started things rolling. As it were.

    • what a defeatist giver-upper – “we can’t fix the world, life isn’t fair, nothing you can do about it…” talk about a downer – no wonder they didn’t go for your plan, and thank goodness they didn’t.

  8. KJT 9

    What happens when the requirements, to be given crumbs from the wealthy table, is to suspend thought, ethics and concern for the results of your action

    The problem, as shown graphically by Coddington, is the, real, cognitive elite, who think deeply enough to care for the future, are being displaced in power and wealth by dimwitted puppets like Coddington, Brash and Key.

  9. Awesome post rijab and thanks for those links.

  10. Bill 11

    The second last line of her piece (also quoted in the post) is a kind of dead give-away.

    Why should some people be born into money while others are born into poverty? Why should some people be healthier or prettier or more charismatic than others?

    is basically equating an economic system to natural attributes or deficits that cannot be affected.

    She might as well have equated capitalism to ageing.

    So there is why it is ‘wrong to want a better world’. Our economy is a natural phenomena. And natural phenomena are…well, they just are.

  11. randal 12

    The problem is that we have constructed the wittgensteinian staircase but we haven’t climbed it yet.
    It was karl marx who first coined the term “false consciousness” and so far there are no signs that the proletariat let alone the born to rulers have any idea of what is in store when the shit hits the fan.
    We humans have an insatiable desire to acquire stuff for no bettter reason than to outdo the neighbours in petty vainglorious displays of gimcracks and gew gaws.
    then the whole dialectic goes out the widow when the struggle to survive becomes more insistent than ever.

  12. DeValera 13

    She is not worth the Oxygen of Publicity
    Resolution: ignore idiots, anything else only encourages them.

  13. DeValera 14

    Resolution No 2: Don’t argue with idiots: observers might not tell the difference between you.

  14. DeValera 15

    Resolution No 3:
    Never argue with an idiot: they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

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