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“You can’t vote that problem away”

Written By: - Date published: 6:03 am, January 15th, 2021 - 111 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, us politics - Tags: , ,

An hour long Instagram video from Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez yesterday in the wake of the insurrection attack on the Capitol in the United States. AOC was on the inside during the attack and along with others feared for her life, generally and in specific instances. Lots of good stuff here about the event, the impeachment, trauma, self care, and what it means for the US going forward, including how personal trauma plays  a role in societal resolutions. We can stop the cycles of harm.

“You can’t vote that problem away” is a quote from near the end where she is answering questions about whether there will be violence after Biden becomes president. AOC talks about the other work that will need to be done in addition to impeachment and holding to account those responsible for the attack.

Speaking of which, I’m mindful of the juxtaposition of this with the protest outside parliament yesterday led by Billy Te Kahika, and noticing my twitter feed is full of lefties alternately ridiculing the protestors or calling them nutters. Remember the point in time that this was how people responded to Trump, not believing that he could gain power? I’m not suggesting here the BTK will become Prime Minister of NZ, but that there are enough problematic dynamics happening in New Zealand politics to be taking it more seriously.

Pandemic stress, poverty, Trumpian politics (here and abroad), Dirty Politics, massive societal change due to Covid and the uncertainty we all live with now, fear (and let’s not mention the climate change). Minister of Finance Grant Robertson’s appeal to mainstream New Zealand trying to have a good summer and patting the oddballs on the head will no doubt land well with the middle classes and the left, but it’s hardly a position of the team of five million when you marginalise people on the steps of parliament.

BTK and co are obviously doing powermongering and manipulation. I have no idea if they will be in any way successful, and I don’t see it as too different from FJK or Winston Peters. It’s all a game to gain power and it’s there that I would concentrate my political critique. But the issue I am raising here isn’t really them, it’s the people who are drawn to that for whatever reason and whether we are missing what is going on.

The left’s main approach at the moment seems to be that if we ridicule or ban the political problems, they will go away. But they don’t. The people I know who have concerns about vaccines or 5G or government control, aren’t full blown conspiracy theorists, they’re ordinary people in the community who think about things just like everyone else. They’re also liberal and I’m still trying to make sense of why they are allying with pro-Trump Kiwis. Making fun of them or ostracising them doesn’t magically make them think the right things. Underneath what we might think of as crazy talk are legitimate concerns about their lives and the direction New Zealand and the world is heading in. To me it looks like there are many people under the radar, and the BTK crowd are just the most visible end of the spectrum.

If it seems a stretch to be comparing NZ to the US at this time, I’m not saying these situations are the same. Obviously there are many ways in which they are not. But the things that I see in commonality are chronic societal stress, the entrenchment of power in the hands of people who don’t care that much for the collective (the temporary reprieve we have with Labour’s majority notwithstanding), the MSM’s fixation with sensationalism, the rise of white supremacist ideology, the increasing problems of misinformation sharing especially on social media, background stress about the rate of changes in technology, and the ways in which people radicalise on all sorts of issues. It’s not that NZ is following the US, it’s that all people respond to chronic stress and we have our own set of issues to attend to.

In New Zealand’s mix we also have the issues of colonisation and Māori disenfranchisement, that we have never recovered from Labour’s betrayal in the 80s and every new term of any government seems to entrench poverty, and a housing crisis with no real political solution from the mainstream in sight. We’ve done exceptionally well in the past year, but it remains to be seen how New Zealand society will hold up as successive local and global crisis compound our stress and impact on resources. We’re better off than many places, but I can’t help but feeling we haven’t yet grasped the kind of community building across difference that will be needed to meet those future challenges.

111 comments on ““You can’t vote that problem away” ”

  1. Kiwis can't be complacent, before all the Covid drama a white supremacist terrorist killed 51 people. Our weak democracy repeatedly serves the interests of powerful banks and the wealthy property class instead of the long suffering voters. When there's no peaceful way forward, and hope in existing power structures is betrayed, people (fairly) assume that there is a conspiracy, and start to become radicalised. If the system is rotten, it is just to destroy it.

    • weka 1.1

      there's an argument being made that because most Trump voters weren't working class, NZ's alt right aren't either. I think this tries to make a really complex situation simplistic and much gets lost.

      There are people who understand the system is rotten from direct experience across class.

  2. Jimmy 2

    Scary watching the news and seeing the Billy TK / Trump supporters protesting in Wellington. I kind of hoped we didn't have any of them in NZ.

    • Forget now 2.1

      I didn't see the TV news Jimmy, but the pic on RNZ didn't seem too scary. Less than 200 hundred people sweltering on a summer's day – good to see many of them wearing hats, as I'd almost expect them to think the ozone hole is a conspiracy too.

      Members of the group wielded banners and placards describing the coronavirus as a scam and decrying vaccines and lockdown measures, echoing online conspiracy theories.

      Others waved pro-Trump flags or signs protesting anything from 1080 pest control to fluoride to the Chinese Communist Party.


      • Graeme 2.1.1

        And I wonder how may of that 200 were SIS / Police the to check out what was going on and who was there. Or otherwise paid to be there.

  3. Castro 3

    Until such time as healthy affordable homes start raining from the sky, No Zealand society is only going to deteriorate further… there are a number of areas in which No Zealand is a worse performer/ outlier than other nations. This is a territory increasingly divided in two… a younger, more local underclass and an older, property-owning and increasingly foreign landed gentry… if you are unable to appreciate these unfolding factors and indeed how serious it is, and you are on the property ladder, I suggest you simply get off it (give it to a deserving family or a homeless person), see how the other half (very soon 50%) lives, and the veil will be lifted…

    • weka 3.1

      it's the elephant in the liberal middle class living room. At some point one's liberal values around wanting to end poverty have to clash with one's desires to retain capital gains. Then denial sets in and some things are just invisible.

  4. vto 4

    some random musings;

    the alt-right has grievances which are often legit (ex-the hatred and bigotry) and which are typical left grievances.. no idea why they identify as right (proly the hatred and bigotry)

    'social' solutions used to be both right wing and left wing points… for example, Hitlers party was the National Socialist Party, Muldoon was more labour than labour… not sure why 'socialist' solutions have migrated away from the right (proly the divide and rule capitalists who need to vilify their competition).

    but AOC is completely correct that the troubles reflect deep issues, which must not be ignored… just a shame that Trump types have grabbed at them for power's sake…


  5. Stuart Munro 5

    Ultimately I think the problem lies with monetising education. Education is somewhat fluid within society – or used to be. Now it no longer circulates, and necrotic areas develop, festering masses like postmodernism, neoliberal economics, and gunnutjobbery. Restore our academic institutions to their proper role and these pathologies will gradually diminish – leave them as they are and our society will fail as surely as America is failing.

  6. mango 6

    Weka is raising a really important point here. There is a real need to try and extract peoples' real concerns from the toxic stew that has developed incorporating elements from a range of hard right belief systems. Some of them really are nuts and beyond reasoning with but it is dangerous to assume that all or even most of them are.

    • RedBaronCV 6.1

      I do agree – sorting out the real concerns from the grievance stew and addressing them is super important. Reform and reset of the economic system to share the gains and remove some of the external controls on the economy would be good first steps.

      I'd start with empowering labour union groups to provide alternate paths to leadership, a level of electorate reform to make it transparent where the money is coming from and also to extract any foreign based funds from the system, and removing the international business favouring that at times looks like little more than economic colonisation by foreign business- things like the TPPA ageement

    • weka 6.2

      thanks for getting it mango yes

    • bwaghorn 6.3

      The main problem with most of them will be a touch of depression, mixed in with at some point clicking on something that caught their eye on FB then descending into the echo chamber fb can become.

      Add a charismatic fuckwit like btk and here we are.

      • gsays 6.3.1

        I know a couple of folk who would be pigeon holed into conspiracy theorists/nut-job/add your own ad hominen. Both have unresolved grief and a bit of contrarian streak in them.

        The grief in one of them has come from death of a parent and being chewed up and spat out by a nasty family break-up. Denied access to children, feeling unheard/not valued by the system.

        I figure when life's circumstances lower your opinion of yourself and others, these out-there attitudes can provide a comfortable space to be. With folk of a similar bent.

        Talk-hate radio does it's bit to keep the non helpful thinking patterns going too.

  7. Anne 7

    We’re better off than many places, but I can’t help but feeling we haven’t yet grasped the kind of community building across difference that will be needed to meet those future challenges.

    Even in a world where communication is instant, and our curiosity or desires can be gratified by the click of a button, we are geographically isolated so the worst of the 'traumas' besetting other countries have blessedly not reached our shores. Hopefully they never will.

    Thanks for an excellent post weka – full of substance and points worthy of expansion.

    However I do take some issue with the following:

    Minister of Finance Grant Robertson’s appeal to mainstream New Zealand trying to have a good summer and patting the oddballs on the head will no doubt land well with the middle classes and the left, but it’s hardly a position of the team of five million when you marginalise people on the steps of parliament.

    Setting aside GR's appeal to middle NZ which I agree with… I do think that these individuals who have obsessed over false conspiracy theories and 'alternate truths' do need to be marginalised. We have seen the consequences of their obsessions overseas and they are extremely dangerous. They came perilously close to bringing down the US Federal government. I regret the technical and digital giants did not remove their obnoxious outpourings on the Internet – whatever their shape or form – a long time ago.

    How you re-programme these people to recognise truth from fiction and become rational citizens I don't know. A top priority should be to invest in strong, broad-based education systems which we know are sadly lacking in the US. The 'dumbing down' of America has been going on for many decades and the results played out in the proliferation of the current madness there and the election of an unstable and despotic president.

    There's been an element of that dumbing down process in NZ too and in recent times it is National who was responsible. Despite the tendency to prioritise the middle ground for electoral purposes, I believe this Labour/Green government will be able to ensure the excessive aspects of this ‘market force’ style of governance will be reduced and ultimately curtailed for the betterment of everyone.

    But it is not easy and it will take a long time to achieve.

    • Rosemary McDonald 7.1

      How you re-programme these people to recognise truth from fiction ?

      Easy! Scrub their memory banks of all the instances where governments and their agents have acted reprehensibly.

      Delete the records of instances where statutory authorities…charged with upholding the Law…have failed to exercise their power evenly and fairly across all 'stakeholders'.

      "Re-programme" these people so the lies they know they have been told by governments and their agents miraculously appear to be truth.

      "Until it happened to me…" I thought the police and the regional councils and lawyers and other authorities we rely on to protect us usually acted fairly and honestly and without fear or favour. I was wrong, and attempts (upon instruction of a Judge) to rectify the situation failed. None of these authorities, and especially the police, would admit their failings and commit to putting things right.

      Same with our disability issues. These bureaucrats will lie Anne..right to one's face…and you can prove their lies, kanohi ki kanohi, and they will just stare at you. Safe they are in the knowledge that The System will protect them.

      The rest of us are just nothing.

      With the police corruption/incompetence/stupidity thing…my whanau's biggest shock was how ignorant we were. An enormous majority of the people we have recounted our tale to over the years are surprised that we expected the police to behave honestly and professionally in the first place.

      And in that large number of folk who have no faith in The System are the extremely vulnerable few who will be drawn to a smooth talker like Billy TK. They need a Hero, a Leader, and he speaks to all of their collective fears.

      The rest of us justifiably bitter cynics do our research and do our homework and try to sort the wheat from the chaff. I blame telly and the mindless drivel dished up for the diminishing ability for folks to sense when the shit being dished up by our governments simply does not make sense.

      And for the record…deleting, deplatforming, censoring merely feeds the cynicism in many and the paranoia in the vulnerable few.

      • weka 7.1.1

        Spot on. That last sentence nails it. Shunning should be reserved for rare instances where nothing else works. I'm ok with Trump being shunned at this point, he's a danger to society and has refused to change. But shunning our friends/neighbours/workmates/relatives is so agin community building, it worries me more that liberals want this than what BTK is doing.

    • Phillip ure 7.2

      @weka ..

      they didn't come within a bulls' roar of 'taking down the federal government'…

      how can you seriously claim that…?

      more a bunch of fashion-tragics..acting out…

  8. Graeme 8

    I think you're giving BTK jnr a bit much in saying it's about power and a desire to build a political movement. Think it's more a gig he's stumbled upon to extract cash from easy marks. That's his background as a not that successful entertainer, then lay preacher, and now 'politician'. It's quite a similar career path to Donald Trump, but at a lower scale.

    I know a couple of people who've fallen down the BTK rabbit hole. One is so paranoid that having to give your name to someone at the polling booth was a gross invasion of his privacy that he couldn't vote. And another who's otherwise a level headed person but marginalised but competitive society and sees answers in BTK's rambling. Strangely he's got no time for 'religion'. Both have made contributions to the cause they can not really afford.

  9. Incognito 9

    Demagogues such as Trump, Key, and Billy TK have many things in common, of course. The way they cut through and gain trust is through their personal appeal on a gut rather than cerebral level. They appeal to emotions and feelings with simple ‘answers & solutions’. They come across as ‘one of us’ although they almost never truly mix & mingle with their target audience AKA followers. There are definitely similarities with cult leaders too. That said, I believe much of Ardern’s popularity also stems from the same level of appeal. However, she, at least, relies on science & facts and is not afraid to say that they don’t have/know all the answers. That’s Life, that’s Reality. Accept it and be the best you can be; Life is what it is.

    • Phillip ure 9.1

      I think j.ardern is aware she is riding that same wave clark and key rode before her..

      my concern is that she uses that personal rating to blunt the many (justified) criticisms of her incrementalism in her approaches to what so ails us..

      year four of the ardern era..

      (and yes..I am so glad it wasn't those (owned by special interests) bloody tories that were in charge when the pandemic broke..

      we dodged a certain epidemic there..

      but aside from that..?

      what to show for four years of being in power..?

      and really..re really 'transforming' – and much needed – change..

      if not now..when exactly..?

      • Tiger Mountain 9.1.1

        “When exactly…”–How about never? that seems the neo liberal way. With little personal institutional memory of pre Roger’n’Ruth times, current politicians actually seem to believe this is as good as it gets!, and that the resulting penetration of public infrastructure by private capital in the 80s/90s can never be rolled back.

        But, perhaps also, they are just good old fashioned class collaborationists like the overwhelming majority of their predecessors always were.

        This mess can be turned around, but it will take direct community action by a united front of working class New Zealanders to achieve.

        [Removed “s” from user name]

  10. WeTheBleeple 10

    There is the trauma event, and then some reaction to that. Some reactions manifest in 'Trumpism', being, rage in a bottle.

    Trauma caused by government/council/leadership/corporate skulduggery will engender a sense of mistrust in narratives from authority. It's easy to think you're being plotted against when in many instances you are. Society is based around economy and that based on competition so that those who just want to go about their business have to defend themselves from the machinations of greedy opportunists at every turn. It is a cesspool.

    Surely then, government's role is to regulate and control said opportunism allowing people to live in peace. Where is the peace for average Joe today – oblivion and distraction seem very attractive, or just grinding it out for your chance to be trotted out in NZ Herald as the proud owners mortgage holders of an overpriced shack? It seems ridiculous as it largely is.

    It doesn't surprise me to see these people being idiots, many have rejected mainstream thinking a long time ago. These are the mob who attack DOC staff over 1080, the crystal healers, the anti-vax and anti-science (big pharma, big oil, big ag) brigades. In many instances, they have a point, or several. They also find others who share their seething distrust of the power brokers. They meet kindred spirits, they find an outlet.

    Sure, it's largely nonsensical, but many others seek oblivion in their own way. It's nonsensical and understandable.

    Someone asked me what could Biden do to begin healing America.

    Stimulus payments. Jobs. Housing. Protections from predatory entities. Laws regarding bullshit.

    When we remove the opportunism and political machinations from this phenomenon, we're left with people with genuine grievances, deep distrust (a history of trauma), and no voice (as no one wants to hear it as the mask is silly).

    • Stuart Munro 10.1

      These are the mob who attack DOC staff over 1080,

      Plenty of folk despise the 1080 policy – but do DoC listen? No, they believe they are ineffable.

      • opium 10.1.1

        No DOC believe the anti 1080 crowd are uninformed idiots & they are correct.

        • Incognito

          Essentially, what you’re saying is that all people who are against 1080 are “idiots” and “attack DOC staff” and that all people working in/for DOC believe this to be the case.

          Comments such as these only reinforce stereotypes and help widen the divide further.

          • Phillip ure

            we do all know that the reason we use so much 1080 is because we have no native large mammals..which 1080 would kill..

            and that other countries would..if they could..

            • Incognito

              I am blissfully ignorant 🙂

              BTW, this thread is about how people treat others with opposing views & ideas, not about 1080 per se. Can you stay on-topic or would you like to bring irrelevant stuff into it again?

        • Stuart Munro

          Pardon me if a "predator free by 2050" policy attracts a certain scepticism about DoC's biological credentials.

          It certainly suggests an ignorance of recent history.

          But no doubt you can show us a country of comparable size to NZ that has eradicated Rattus Norvegicus. No? I wonder why not.

          • barry

            "But no doubt you can show us a country of comparable size to NZ that has eradicated Rattus Norvegicus. No? I wonder why not."

            Nobody has tried before. Nobody else has eliminated M. Bovis. We have successfully kept out and suppressed lots of pests that are endemic elsewhere. It is a matter of will and balancing the costs of elimination against the costs of allowing the pest to do its stuff.

            Like Covid, the rats will get in from time to time, and like on pest-free islands we will need to catch any incursions early and squash them.

            There is no reason for believing it is impossible.

            • weka

              afaik even the people that believe in predator free believe we will only achieve this if we develop tech that doesn't currently exist and no-one knows if that is possible. It's a hope.

            • Stuart Munro

              Nobody has tried before.

              If you'd read the link, you'd know China tried it under Mao. It was not successful – though less pernicious than the policy of eradicating sparrows.

            • Stuart Munro

              I think too that your analogy, of predator eradication, to mycoplasma bovis, is a poor one. We have a number of quite different predators, and they are independently mobile, and not confined to a closely human managed population like cattle. Mycoplasma is similar to other livestock disease outbreak containments, like anthrax or the prion protein diseases like mad cow.

              Nor is the objection of ineffectiveness of predator eradication casual or needlessly negative. The goal is considered a sufficient good to render the mortality 1080 drops produce in protected species, and non-targeted recreational species, acceptable. This can be true for strong breeders like tits and robins. For the kea, not so much. But if the goal is not achievable, the dubious arcturial calcultions that accept protected species morbidity must be viewed in a very different light.

    • RedLogix 10.2

      We've crossed swords a few times, but let me say it's a pleasure to read this comment WTB.

      I totally agree that people know they're being screwed and yet the answer is not obvious. In such an oppressive, dislocated world it's not surprising we're all prone to going a little crazy.

    • Phillip ure 10.3


      everything u speak of is an outcome from these past decades of neoliberalism..

      ..,(which is attempting to rebrand as centreism..methinks..)

      and all of those current bad outcomes can be fixed/turned around..

      the solutions are to hand..

  11. Siobhan 11

    That AOC has an interesting relationship with the power (or otherwise) of voting though…

    "A few reasons: Sometimes it’s to get members on the record, so ppl can’t make excuses later. Sometimes these votes create real political pressure that forces developments. Sometimes we vote for the historical record – to let future generations know we did everything we could." AOC Reasons to vote, a reply on twitter Jan 13

    or, in the case of Medicare for all, the power of not voting….


  12. Incognito 12

    If we’re going to bridge the divide, we need to listen to each other to understand – not listen in order to craft a cutting 160-character response.

    Excellent piece by London-based reporter Laura Walters.


    Kia kaha Laura.

    • Sacha 12.1

      But people who talk about the experience of coming home, or the current situation overseas, are inundated with vitriol.

      Not seen that at all – but then I do not use Facecloth.

      • Sabine 12.1.1

        I am on Facebook and i have not once seen anything of what the writer talks about. Maybe its not us that are at fault, but maybe its their entitlement?

        Like the government granting exemptions again for people to not go into quarantine, and some of them 'rich listers'? Maybe that is what those of us that live and work here are objecting too? Entitlement?

      • Incognito 12.1.2

        I don’t recall any social media platform being mentioned or singled out in the article. Based on the quote I’d guess she was referring to Twitter.

        • Sacha

          Given the relative uptake in NZ circles, way more likely to be Facecloth. Not seen any ‘vitriol’ on Twitter about the matter.

          • Incognito

            If you’re really interested, see Laura Walters on Twitter, given that you’re on Twitter and I am not. There’s a similar convo going on there, it appears. It seems it is indeed mostly FB.

            I find it moderately ironic how this thread has taken shape under this particular OP surprise

    • Sabine 12.2

      “Not travelling home is a small sacrifice to make. But for me, my life abroad is chosen with the contingency that these pit stops home exist, to refuel, to mend, to pump up and polish my idea of who I am.” – Annie Mac

      lol, this is the same for every migrant here (not expats, but migrants). Non of us considers even travelling 'home' because of Covid – we are not going home for funerals, weddings, baptisms or to polish my idea of who i am, and if she does not know who she is now, coming here for four weeks ain't gonna change that.

      We have all told our respective families (or what is left of them) that it will maybe be in three to four years or even longer.

      The first thing a migrant learns is homesickness, and then we adjust to living here now and that goes away. Going home are pitstops that are not cheap, take a lot of time saving up for, and generally happen ones ever few years for a few weeks if we can afford this.

      So am i to feel sad for someone who took a decision to not stay and live here, to not work and pay taxes here, who now wants to come 'home' cause the going is getting tough? Sorry. Nope. That is one thing everyone who migrates nows. You won't be going home for a while. Heck, i was told by Migration NZ when i got my permanent resident permit many years ago that it was best to not travel back for at a min 2 years best even 5 years. That is the time that one needs to get properly settled, find a community and become a Kiwi in the making.

      So i am sorry but at the moment traveling home means either come and stay or stay away. I have friends in the UK that would equally like to come back to NZ, but they don't a. because they have jobs and rent to pay, b. they don't want to bring hte virus here, and c. they would like to leave the spots for home comers that need to come home. Essentially they are part of the team of 5 millions.

      But i don't feel sorry for the 60.000 Kiwis that live in London and that now realise that here is better then there, and expect the community here to just yell Welcome irrespective e of the hardship it might cause to those that never left in the first place.

      Maybe the entitled of NZ need to think about that a bit more. But then i am not an expat, i am a migrant.

      • Incognito 12.2.1

        You do realise that Annie Mac is not a Kiwi, don’t you, but was quoted for truth in the article?

        Just as well that nobody is asking for you to feel sad or sorry for them. The key message of the article failed to reach you and sink in, obviously.

  13. Bryan 13

    If y'all take the time to watch Billy Te K's clever facebook homilies – the lies, distortion and sheer audacity of some of the nonsense that he spouts are fascinating.Whether this is alluring to a spectrum of marginalised, disaffected, anti-establishment, anti-vax, end-time believers, global conspiracy resistance fighters and others including genuine pieces of nut toffee doesn't worry me at all. These persons are not ill-educated untermentsch, not the products of some kind failure due to neo-liberalism, they are fellow kiwis some sad, some bad, some hurt, some genuine, some sincere, some ignorant, some alienated et cetera ..

    The 80%+ wearing masks on my train this evening, the crowds enjoying a great summer and the busyness and efficiency of our hospital treating the sick in the the absence of COVID19 and the national economic reward that we see [just as 1919 those that went hard and were successful had the strongest bounceback] are the kind of daylight disinfection that is the best counter to the BS that Billy is actually failing to achieve traction with.

  14. Pat 14

    My understanding of democracy is that we have a social contract that does indeed allow us to vote problems away….aka the tyranny of the majority

    • Sabine 14.1

      And that only works if the government that is voted in actually starts working on eliminating the problems that society suffers, such as high food costs, high housing costs, high childcare, unaffordable or unavailable health care, racism – latent and systemic, three tier school system- which the lowest tier gets nothing but a stern talking too about success, and welfare that leaves people without food and electricity cause it can't pay everything else and kids leaving school to earn money cause the parents don't have jobs.

      Obama to many that voted for him was the greatest disapointment – and if Jacinda Ardern and her dull knights don't pay attention or don't care we can easily end up in the same situation.

      Surely one day soon now she will wake up from her Snow White slumber and get to work to help those that need help and thus avert a situation like that. Btw, before i get told of re Jacinda. She is the PM for the next four years. She is responsible for all that gets done, and she is equally responsible for all that gets not done. And currently nothing much is getting done.

      • Pat 14.1.1

        Perhaps it cannot work…Plato apparently thought so.

        • Sabine

          Well lucky us then that we currently have a government that is not even trying. Thus Plato is correct and anyone not in the 1% is fucked. Easy as, why vote, install a strong man/women …….. and be done with it. Maybe a King or a Queen….you know ordained by god….cause who wants to argue with god?

          • Pat

            Maybe thats where we will end up….certainly a fair number have disengaged, and theres certainly been a few demagogues elected in recent times, reason is taking a back seat to the pursuit of pleasures….so perhaps Plato is right after all.

            Tyranny is our future.

            • Sabine

              And to an extend we can lay the blame at the feet of those that choose kind and gentle rethoric over work.

              Like why not lay the blame were it belongs? Labour – the do nothing Party, National – the do nothing Party.

              If absence of a better narrative people will go and listen to others. And frankly i can't listen to J.A anymore, her face appears and the i mute her. She had nigh on 4 years now, and did fuck all. But she will write a nice book about Covid and hope to make a few millions here and there…….the poor are just the bodies that she used to climb the latter.

              Maybe we deserve some Tyrant, we vote for nice faces and nice words and care naught about substance.

              • Phillip ure

                I also am having problems seeing/hearing j.ardern…

                especially if she is being platitudinous…

                I feel like yelling @ the screen/speaker: 'what about all the other bloody promises you made..? ..how about sorting that out..?'

                I am surprised at the strength of that visceral reaction..

                that feeling of yet again being betrayed by a labour politician is strong in this one..

                over three decades of it have not yet conditioned me to it being the norm..clearly..

                • The Al1en

                  that feeling of yet again being betrayed by a labour politician is strong in this one..

                  Funny, the politically astute amongst us knew what were getting from another Prime Minister Ardern government – A hint was the soft left manifesto and campaign, never once veering into hard left policy promises or claims of day one easy fixes to complex problems.

      • Incognito 14.1.2

        She is the PM for the next four years.


        She is responsible for all that gets done, and she is equally responsible for all that gets not done.

        Bizarre assertion. https://teara.govt.nz/en/photograph/35882/collective-cabinet-responsibility

        And currently nothing much is getting done.

        What nonsense!

    • weka 14.2

      depends on what you mean by 'us'. Marjority rules is a lower form of democracy and in NZ's case 'we' haven't been able to say vote out neoliberalism, or vote in cannabis reform.

      • Pat 14.2.1

        A lower form?…democracy IS the rule of the majority, how that majority exercises its rule is the 'form'.

        'We' havnt voted out neoliberalism nor voted in cannabis reform (recently) because 'we' chose not to, that is not to say neither are unchanged (recently)….is the fact that some are dissatisfied with those results an argument to reframe the social contract?

        If so, to what?

        • Sacha

          democracy IS the rule of the majority

          That is the understanding of Don Brash and his ilk. I believe we can all do better than that.

          Our system of democracy includes factors intended to moderate mob rule. However, like 'the court of public opinion' it does tend to skew towards those with structural power and influence. And houses.

          • Pat

            No..it is the definition of democracy.

            How the majority use their power is the mitigating factor (or form) that may or may not moderate or prevent that defined as 'mob rule'

            If you dont wish majority rule what is your alternative?

            • weka

              there are different forms of democracy, some are better than others.


              • Pat

                and all are based on majority rule and all have drawbacks….as does our own.

                Within our own democracy there is a constant evaluation by all parties involved as to the trade offs required to function, for functionality is the best that can be achieved.

                • McFlock

                  Well, there are models based on consensus, both in the election of representatives (e.g. STV) and the implementation of policy. Especially at a smaller community level.

                  But social contract theories have always struck me as a bit of a truism, anyway – people consent to leadership or a system of social order (from dictatorship to more distributed systems), until they don't.

                  I'm much more interested in why people consent to be led, e.g. some of Max Weber's work.

                  • Pat

                    There are models based on consensus that are unworkable at scale…and ultimately they are still majority rule….STV is not a consensus model.

                    Id suggest that Wekas concern given her post is that some do not consent to be led i.e. they reject the social contract. It appears to me that the size and make up of that group varies in size and intensity dependent on topic but that the serial dissenters are few and cannot expect disproportionate consideration.

                    Or they can revolt….if they believe it serves them well.

                    • McFlock

                      STV is essentially a compromise – ok, we can't agree that A should be elected, but my next choice is B, do they get anywhere?

                      Social Contract theory is pretty brutal – essentially, if someone does not consent to a country's leadership but can't get rid of it, they either emigrate or die. Even going to prison is a consent to go to prison (compared to the alternatives).

                      SCT was initially developed in a time when absolute monarchies and autocrats were mainstream.

                      In regards to the current fringe conspiracists, sure we need to keep an eye on our local fools to make sure they're not stockpiling weapons or holding covid parties.

                      But we can't treat every weirdo as if they need to be listened to for fear that they'll get violent. There are far too many weirdos for that, and the vast majority of them can believe whatever they want about 5G without harming anyone else.

                    • Pat

                      you forget banishment /exile….though is contrary to H/R agreements….currently.

                      I've often wondered how much historical human settlement was a direct result of exile, be it voluntary or imposed…but now there is no unoccupied space

      • Phillip ure 14.2.2

        we also didn't vote for neoliberalism..

        labour did an ideology-ambush on the nation..

        and national happily played along..

        and the rich got richer etc etc..

        they sneaked it in…they can sneak it back out again..

        and pivot back to being a labour party again…

        consider this unfortunate experiment done and dusted..

        it clearly has not worked..

        except in making the rich richer etc etc..

        to continue to do the same thing..and to expect different outcomes..

        ..is a form of madness..

        after all..

  15. Sacha 15

    On appeasement. https://lyz.substack.com/p/sometimes-bridges-need-to-be-burned

    Some bridges need to be burned.

    After our nation’s Capitol was invaded by violent insurrectionists and our members of Congress impeached the president again, dissenting voices called on us not to “further divide” America. They ask us to bridge the divide.

    If bridges are built, whose bodies are broken in their construction?

    The idea of the poor overlooked poor is a myth. The violent mob were cops, CEOs, and bankers. This wasn’t a lack of education or opportunity. This was a choice made without thought of consequences because in their privilege, they thought there would be no consequences. And to be fair, there hadn’t been thus far. This wasn’t “the other side,” this was every side. You cannot build a bridge to something already in your midst.

    You don’t cure a cancer by reasoning with it, or letting it edit the Politico Playbook, you eradicate it with a medicine so powerful it radiates through your entire body.

    There is no compromise with an ideology that is rooted in white supremacy. You can’t go halfsies on whether we should let democracy or an autocrat rule our nation. When we compromise with violence, violence wins. When we deign to debate lies, the lies are given credence. When we decide that a person’s humanity is a topic of polite discussion, we concede that their humanity is in question and in the process lose ours.

    No, there are no bridges to be built. These bridges are for burning.

    • Sabine 15.1

      Pelosi has tapped retired LT. General Honore to review the Capitol Security, cops etc.


      Last week, we suffered a devastating attack on the Capitol that threatened the lives of and traumatized Members of Congress, staff and support workers.

      “To protect our Democracy, we must now subject the security of the U.S. Capitol Complex to rigorous scrutiny. To that end, I have asked Lt. General Russel Honoré (Ret.), a respected leader with experience dealing with crises, to lead an immediate review of the Capitol’s security infrastructure, interagency processes and procedures, and command and control.

      “As former Vice Director for Operations, J-3, with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, his focus was military support to civil authorities, and he has strong experience with the security of the National Capital Region. Members of the House Leadership worked with General Honoré during Katrina and saw firsthand his strategic and patriotic leadership. The General will be calling upon other subject matter experts as to how we go forward.

      “Members of Congress are moving forward inside the Congress with strong oversight from their committees, and there is strong support for an outside commission to conduct an after action review. In the meantime, I am grateful that General Honoré has agreed to address our immediate security concerns.”

      He was called in after the fiasco in New Orleans during and after Katarina under Bush the younger.


      I don't think this guy is known for building bridges. But it might be to little to late.

    • weka 15.2

      I'm not arguing any of that in the post. There's the risk of really unhelpful binaries here. What's happening in the US now where the GOP are blaming liberals for the attack and the solution is to be kind to right wing fascists, is straight out self interested bullshit. Of course boundaries should be set. I made it clear in the post that BTK is a bullshit merchant imo, and doing damage. He should be treated as such, in the same way as FJK and Peters.

      What I'm saying is, when those bridges get burned (I think there's a better way personally), then what happens to all the people standing on the other side. In the US, burn the bridges, sure, now what happens to all the people that voted Trump. It's a massive mistake the think that a term or two of Biden will somehow magically heal the great divide in the US.

      In NZ, I'm pointing not to BTK or the 50 people on the lawn at parliament, I'm talking about all the people spread out through out NZ who cover a really wide range of classes and lifestyles and belief systems who are coalescing around a set of general feeling based beliefs. And across normal political lines. That's a dynamic worth paying attention to, especially given that we've been unable to burn bridges with the political right in NZ and we know that Nact are still actively doing Trumpian politics, and their response to the bit of push back on Dirty Politics was to adapt around that. They will keep sowing the seeds of destruction because it's the only way they can get power in the short/medium term.

      Maybe all the swing voters will stick with Labour for the next 100 years. I doubt it.

      • Sacha 15.2.1

        Of course boundaries should be set.

        So who on our local left seems to be doing a good job of articulating those at the moment?

        • weka

          it's a good question. Mostly on twitter I'm seeing people calling them nutters. We can do way better than this. I'm not following the BTK stuff though, so I'm guessing there are people doing solid analysis and putting out strategies. I'm also guessing Spinoff, Newsroom etc are doing useful analysis based coverage. Might be useful to do a post on that, covering what some of the options are for the left.

          There was a really good twitter thread a while back where a sciency/medicaly person was laying out how to engage with vaccine hesitant people. My take is that rather than calling them anti-vaxxers (they're often not), meet them on the shared values (eg concern for one's kids) and work through those concerns in ways that meets the hesitant person. For example, if the fear is about ingredients in vaccines, gather the evidence and present it in a way that the person can take in and understand.

          Not suggesting everyone has to do that, but that jumping straight to name calling and ostracisation is not a workable strategy long term and it will probably backlash.

          Where the boundaries need to be set are around information sharing that is misinformation or lies (this is distinct from the people). That's a big societal problem with social media in particular, and trying to shout down or ridicule individuals who are sharing poor info seems a cul de sac, as understandable as the reaction is. I think the left should be focussing on regulation of social media and how that might work in a liberal society. Also on developing forms of social media that aren't controlled by people like Jack and Zuckerberg (clueless about society wellbeing, inherently conflicted between making money/having power and the pressures to do good).

          • Sacha

            Social media regulation is about where to draw the boundaries. Different models would need to offer ways of resourcing beyond monetising our attention. Maybe some public funding?

            Deplatforming does stop lies and incitement spreading further. Removes the megaphone. Leaving that decision to US corporates is not sustainable, however. Governments need to step up if that is to change.

            • weka

              I'm not completely against deplatforming, I just think it's become a reactive response from liberals who feel powerless to do the other things needed (or perhaps don't want to because it would upset the neoliberal apple cart).

              Trump should have been moderated on twitter and FB a long time ago.

              Equally, it's pretty obvious in the gender/sex wars that there are engagement strategies for how to get people banned on twitter. Both sides doing bullshit.

              Meanwhile Rome is burning. We have a closing window with climate change, and I suspect we have a closing window on community building before the shit really hits the fan. In the West, the US are leading the collapse stakes and we can easily see just how hard it is for them to manage let alone resolve the deep divides. It would be crazy stupid for NZ to let ourselves get to that point.

            • Rosemary McDonald

              Deplatforming does stop lies …

              Is there a term for when someone is shut down for telling the truth?

              Because I notice this is happening with increasing frequency these days. And when you've been shut out…you have no way to prove/verify your claims.

              • Andre

                Who, where and when has anyone been shut down for telling the truth?

                Links please.

              • UncookedSelachimorpha

                " Is there a term for when someone is shut down for telling the truth "

                er…'censorship' ?

          • Sacha

            I'm guessing there are people doing solid analysis and putting out strategies.

            But who is leading and shaping the public conversation?

          • Rosemary McDonald

            ….and it will probably backlash …

            That horse has very possibly bolted.

            Having been called both anti -vaxxer and pro-plague on these pages for simply pointing out facts that are counter to the official narrative on vaccines and some of the diseases they are aimed at I despair at there being any chance of actual respectful dialogue on this issue.

            I point out (and verify with published data) inconsistencies in the official information on measles and what was actually the case prior to the roll out of the measles only vaccine in 1963, and I cop the abuse. Ho hum. SSDD.

            Could it be that the abusers have not actually read the information I have carefully supplied because of idleness…or is it fear that their confidence in the 'experts' might be undone? Then what? Who can we trust if not the official experts?

            I don't trust some of the official experts on vaccines because I know (from personal experience and research) that they both exaggerate and omit in order to scare parents into vaccinating. They contemptuously deny, dismiss and minimise instances where children(and some adults) have been negatively impacted by vaccines. They call the vaccine hesitant nutters and anti-vaxxers and pro-plague, and go so far as to blame a killer epidemic in Samoa on 'these people'.

            Safe in the knowledge that most folks will fail to detect the odour of falsehood in the official narrative and will neglect to do their own research. Or read some of the medical journal articles that question the official narrative that all vaccines approved for use are "safe and effective".

            Or ask Mum or Grandma how many of their friends died of measles.

            So folks like myself accept that the margins are where we live, and have gone way past the point where abuse and derision from those who have blindly accepted the official line distress us. We are human…we get that it is an automatic reaction for most to close their ears and eyes and cling to the words of the government experts. It is very unsettling when one is forced to face the fact that governments and their agents do not always act with honesty and integrity. Sometimes they lie. And use their lies to coerce and control.

            Oh how I wish that our Kiwi vaccine experts had the integrity and the guts to acknowledge the recorded harm from vaccines that has happened within the lifetimes of many New Zealanders. Showed some respect for those whose family members have been harmed by the early whooping cough and DTP vaccines as well as the early MMR that unfortunately used the Urabe strain of mumps. I'd like our experts to admit that in 1963 there were 2 deaths per 10,000 confirmed cases of measles, and then justify their claim in 2019 that 1 in 1000 will die of measles. Perhaps explain that healthy children with good nutrition and sound living conditions will, in the main, recover completely from measles.

            Those kids living in deprivation who are vulnerable to all disease need to be brought up to a standard of living that supports good health and fosters a healthy immune system.

            But that would require true global commitment to ending inequality.

            And we can't have that can we?

            The vaccine issue is just one area where we, the people, are routinely lied to by our governments and their agents. And it is the lies that have killed trust.

      • Sabine 15.2.2

        given the current trajectory i doubt that anyone will find a reason to vote for Labour in a long time tbh.

        In fact i doubt that any of the centrist parties will get much of a traction, as there really is no need to vote for any of them as they will do nothing to change the status quo that got them elected.

        As for those that stand around while the bridges burn, they are called collateral damage. They should not have stood around but rather taken a side. A bit of what you see now with Congress in hte US that finally have gotten a bit of their own medicine. Active shooter drills is not only for schools anymore, no its now for them too. The chicken come home to roost, and it can happen here too. See Christchurch, while this boy was not home grown, he was/is exactly the same as the ones that have been storming Congress. And we don't want to talk abut white supremacist domestic terrorists, cause that would cause the white ruling class a bit of acid reflux and they rather not.

    • Anne 15.3

      From Sacha @ 15

      Quote from link;

      There is no compromise with an ideology that is rooted in white supremacy. You can't go halfsies on whether we should let democracy or an autocrat rule our nation. When we compromise with violence, violence wins. When we deign to debate lies, the lies are given credence. When we decide that a person's humanity is a topic of polite discussion, we concede that their humanity is in question and in the process lose ours.

      No, there are no bridges to be built. These bridges are for burning.

      Worthy of repeat, repeat, repeat.

      • joe90 15.3.1

        These bridges are for burning.

        Berner busy saying be nice to fascists because they might wreck more shit if you're not.

        • Anne

          Good Lord. 😮

          Ok. So we'll beat up whoever we want. We'll take hostages. We'll kill a few police officers. We'll destroy, vandalise the House of Representatives, we'll go on rampages anywhere and everywhere and noooobody can stop us cos we'll just say the Dems are using us for political gain.

          Btw, neither look like they’ve been long out of nappies.

        • arkie

          To be somewhat fair to BJG/Bernie? that's a quote of Glenn Greenwald. The Majority Report have a good analysis of his 'analysis' of this issue:

    • mac1 15.4

      Cancer is also cured by wholesale excision of the offending tissue and/or by irradiating it with 6 million volts of photons. That's a hell of a lot of light to shed upon a problem………

  16. Adrian Thornton 16

    What exactly has Alexandria Oacasio-Cortez and the "squad" done for poor working and disenfranchised Americans (apart from some tough tweets) or for that matter Ardern for that same demographic in NZ?….nothing much that I have seen (correct me if I am wrong), therein lays at least some of the answer to your question to why so many smart people go in for conspiracy theories…and remember plenty of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories and misinformation have been touted around these parts by smart regulars more than once in the last couple of years…Russiagate, Syria gas attack in Douma, Endemic Anti-Semitism in the UK Labour Party etc

    • Sacha 16.1

      What have AOC et al done under a Repug-controlled Senate and Presidency? About as much as you'd expect.

    • Phillip ure 16.2


      unsure about that equivalence..

      aoc is a member of an incoming govt..going into their first term..

      ardern is in her 4th year as prime minister..

      I think you are being a bit hard on aoc..

    • Ad 16.3

      Any influence AOC has will be in the upcoming climate policies, which is what she put her effort into with the Biden transition team.

      Most Biden-administration policies have been well laid out in the election campaign and in his releases since then, and you will see the full program sketched out at the inauguration – just as Ardern did in December 2017 and in November 2020.

  17. ken 17

    I think that ridicule is the best way to deal with them.

    • Pierre 17.1

      I think one of the problems of the US Liberals is exactly this, that they too often resort to ridicule and they fail to take their enemies seriously.

      The 'orange man bad' stuff often misses the point entirely. There's this line of argument that Trump is only a crony businessman, an idiot supported by idiots, which is true, but in what way is that critique useful? Beyond that, they dig into conspiracies, that Trump is somehow beholden to foreign powers, insufficiently respectful of NATO, a mere puppet of international bolshevism (if only Russia was a socialist country eh?).

      I was too young to care about it at the time but I remember people saying the same things about Bush – that he was stupid, ugly, a fool, a madman… And did that do anything to address popular concerns? Was it in any way useful to the labour movement? At worst this stuff displaces a rigorous socialist critique, which would raise the question of corporate power front and centre. You can call the president all you like, but that doesn't do anything to address the daily reality of exploitation and hardship in the capitalist heartland.

      For example, it's fashionable to call Trump a fascist. Okay, but if Trump does well and truly represent a fascist element, the liberals see it as nothing more than an insult. They use the word as if it had no meaning. There is no attempt to articulate an antifascist strategy, no Popular Front and no critical analysis of what a fascist project looks like. The same thing goes for a suspected coup, it's one thing to denounce a Trump autogolpe on the news, and it's another thing to stand up and explain (with fiery rhetoric if need be) what the popular masses should do about it.

  18. Ad 18

    Alexandria Ocazio-Cortez sure sounds like a good person who is using her powerful social media platforms to to a lot of good.

    Her discussion in the last 20 minutes there of deradicalising racists and using conversations for good is just awesome.

    I'm sure she's encouraging more people to be brave in their conversations and to form a broader movement for good. I find her really encouraging.

    • weka 18.1

      I'm glad I listened all the way through. The US is a great democracy stuff was a bit much, but that she is talking seriously about what to do next at the community and everyday level was heartening.

    • Peter 18.2

      Many find her really encouraging. It doesn't take much reading to find many want her dead. It is Trump's America and after he's got out of the bed the stains on the sheets remain.

  19. Peter 19

    Have we built a society where we all need alcohol and drugs to feel happy? A country where there is widespread chronic stress, mental health problems, rising suicides and feelings of disenfranchisement?

    Is someone going to look at the Master Plan and say, "Well that didn't f'en work did it"?

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