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.
No one in their right mind wld believe him. But there are those that do & do so blindly. This worries me. Voltaire said, "those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." We need to keep an eye on him & his followers. Look at what's happening in the USA
— SharqGirl⁷ – my mom was going to name me Hydrangea (@LillianPak) January 14, 2021
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.