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February, 2012

  1. Lefter 51 ~ The culture of cringe

    February 24, 2012 by emweb

    New Zealand has always fascinated me. I choose to live here (I was not born here). That said, I arrived when I was 5, so I’m pretty inculturated. But I have lived elsewhere, and I can live elsewhere.

    New Zealand has always had the capacity to be a paradise. It has a temperate climate, a surfeit of arable land, ample water (and sea, for that matter), an enviable social history in many ways, a relatively acceptable western education system, reasonably good internal communications considering the large empty tracts we have, and lots more to be happy about.

    You know, like beaches.

    And at least one day of summer a week at this time of year …

    But somehow we never even come near our potential.

    For what we hardly ever have is sophisticated leadership. Our record of sophistication in leadership is far from stellar.

    Am I the only one who was embarrassed by the Kim Dotcom spectacle? The authorities seemed to have let him in simply because he had loads of cash. Going by his record, convictions and activities and probably even his diet, he sure as hell didn’t have anything else going for him.

    But as always, wealth is all it really takes to beguile our leadership.

    The fact that we then let the German national pay for a public fireworks show makes us look like any other garden or basement banana republic. “The authorities can’t afford it, but a dodgy fat German wants to shout one … great!”

    Good lord, that’s so embarrassing.

    To me, though, much more cringeworthy is the fact that our august leader John Key felt he had to go on television to not exactly explain how this guy was let in here – but rather to point out the ‘discrepancies’ that allowed him to move here, spend up large, but then not buy one mansion. But allowed to rent another? Sure, no problem: just show us the money.

    What business is it of our country’s leader to discuss this on TV? Oh yeah, that’s right: Key loves being on TV.

    And it really doesn’t matter what for.

    Sophisticated, huh?

    That Dotcom was ‘captured’ on behalf of the FBI, despite living in plain site, made the vulgar stupidity of our leadership even more embarrassing on the world stage.

    Nice one.

    Just like all this fuss about the Crafar farms being sold to Chinese. I have always thought the issue should be about selling farms to offshore interests, not about who to, specifically. A Sunday Star Times article pointed out that even tiny Lichtenstein – literally a single Alpine valley you can easily cross on foot – has bought more land in New Zealand (ten times more than any Chinese) and the Americans have taken such huge amounts it makes the Chinese purchases look utterly Lilliputian by comparison.

    So why the fuss?

    Racism, actually.

    Who is leading the charge against Chinese ownership? A rich white guy who owns his own island off the Coromandel. Rich from profiteering over ordinary New Zealanders and manipulating those in power to his own ends.

    Anyway, we still have to go forward. Some sterling friends of mine have questioned why I seem so strongly in favour of Labour. I’m not, as it happens. I’m strongly in favour of a left wing government in New Zealand. No matter how nominally left-wing Labour is in actuality, it’s infinitely preferable to me that Labour is in power instead of those cynical, greedy pakeha rich folk who pull the strings in National.

    However, Labour is in crisis. The unions (of which, more in a later Lefter) appear to have too much power inside Labour.

    Well, it’s the only place New Zealand unions do have any real power any more, unfortunately. Misplaced as it is.

    Labour needs to engage with ordinary New Zealanders. For this it needs a new face, a new stance and, most importantly, a new ideology New Zealanders can actually relate to.

    For people like me, who often vote Labour despite powerful reservations, it’s too tainted with entrenched recidivist ideologues who have sucked up too much old fashioned and redundant Communist crap and can’t let it go; by too many union blocs who do nothing for Labour until candidate selection time; and by the ghastly spectacle that the Lange Labour government inexplicably descended into once it was gifted the reins of power.

    Parties like the Greens and Mana are rapidly satisfying the needs of those who want a real left while Labour sits on its hands, too scared to put a head over the parapet.

    For honestly, I think Labour is scared of the real left; in a union hammerlock; and full of dead wood that already resents new boy David Shearer.

    Lots of work needs to be done. Sigh.
    Stay tuned.

    [I actually wrote this weeks ago but the whole blog was down for ages, sorry – something to do with the provider.]