Tuesday, October 13, 2020

What no one's talked about during this election campaign

 In 1992, the American political scientist Francis Fukuyama wrote a celebrated book with the extravagant title The End of History and the Last Man. In it, he argued (I’m quoting from Wikipedia here) that the triumph of Western liberalism marked the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution.

The rationale was that the Soviet Union had collapsed under the weight of its own tyranny and sclerotic inefficiency. The decades-long Cold War that defined the post-war era was over and free-market economics (Reaganomics in the US, Thatcherism in Britain, Rogernomics in New Zealand and similar variants elsewhere, including Australia under Bob Hawke) had prevailed throughout the democratic West.

It seemed at the time that the epochal struggle between Marxism and capitalism had been emphatically resolved. There was a mood of smug triumphalism (guilty, your Honour) among advocates of what came to be termed neoliberalism.

Ha! We (and Fukuyama) could hardly have been more wrong. The supposed “end of history” turned out to be merely a brief, anesthetising lull. Far from the ideological contest between left and right being decided once and for all, the contest broke out anew in an insidious and potentially even more lethal form.  No one saw this coming; or perhaps I should say no one on the right side of politics.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Western civilisation and Western democratic values are under attack as never before in modern history. The breadth, intensity and viciousness of this attack is breathtaking.

Where it will lead is impossible to say. That will largely depend on whether society recognises what’s at stake and has the will to dig in and resist it.

At the moment, there’s little sign of that happening. Tragically, the only world leader putting up any sort of fight, Donald Trump, is a politician whose values are so bereft of any ethical coherence that if anything, his stand gives the woke left an illusion of moral credibility.

As yet there seems to be no settled term for the amorphous ideology driving this attack on Western capitalist values. It’s variously described as cultural Marxism, neo-Marxism, post-modernism, identity politics or, more colloquially, wokeism.  It has its ideological roots in Marxist theories about power structures and the oppression of supposedly disadvantaged minorities – people of colour, women, LGTBQ people, Muslims and immigrants, to name a few – by a privileged white elite. Its adherents see society not as a cohesive body of people with mutual interests but as an agglomeration of marginalised and victimised identity groups struggling to break free of repressive norms.  

Having realised decades ago that that the fight between capitalism and classical Marxist economics was lost, the extreme left opened a new front. They attacked liberal democracy’s soft underbelly: its values, conventions, institutions and philosophical foundations.

Suddenly a whole range of bedrock values, from the right to free speech to belief in fixed biological gender, was under savage attack. The underlying purpose is to destabilise society and therefore render it amenable to radical change.

Our supposedly shameful history and heritage also stand condemned. If we can be persuaded to be ashamed of our past, how much easier it becomes to persuade us that the society that grew out of it is deeply contaminated too.

As I wrote in a column in 2018: [Neo-Marxism]  grows out of the assumption that Western civilisation, and all that goes with it, is fundamentally rotten and therefore must be dismantled and rebuilt from the ground up.

 In the cockeyed illogic of the neo-Marxists, we should feel guilt and shame at having inherited a civilisation that has lifted untold millions of people out of poverty and introduced them to democratic government.

You can see Marx’s influence in neo-Marxism’s hostility to capitalism, its contempt for supposed bourgeois values – the family, for instance – and its emphasis on class and division.

But neo-Marxism takes classical Marxist analysis a whole lot further, examining every issue through the lenses not only of class but also of race, gender, sexual identity and any other potential point of difference that can be leveraged into a grievance.

It marches arm-in-arm with identity politics, seeing society not as a cohesive whole, sharing common interests and aspirations, but as a seething mass of oppressed minorities struggling for liberation – hence the ever-increasing number of aggrieved groups clamouring for special recognition. The result is polarisation and fragmentation.

Neo-Marxism also sets out to create a sense of continuing economic and social crisis, using this as justification for ever more intrusive state intervention and control. And it seeks to undermine our most basic understanding of human nature and society. How we see and interpret the world is dismissed by neo-Marxists as a social and political construct, a product of our conditioning. 

Nothing is fixed, not even the sex we are born with, and nothing has any objective value. Every belief and every value, no matter how soundly based in human experience and observation, is up for attack.

Paradoxically, while the neo-Marxists assail some belief systems as oppressive – Christianity for example – they make excuses for others, such as Islam, although it’s infinitely more controlling. But don’t go looking for ideological consistency in neo-Marxism; you’d be wasting your time.

Some woke ideas (most notably the belief that sexual identity is a mere societal construct, “assigned at birth” as if by some conscious and arbitrary human intervention) strike most New Zealanders as demonstrably barking mad, but that hasn't stopped them being  embraced by radical zealots and championed by sympathetic polemicists in the news media.

The speed with which all this happened caught what might loosely be termed the right off guard. The neo-Marxists have captured most of our key institutions: universities, schools, the media, the health sector, the churches, the public service, the arts and, to some extent, the courts. Even sport has succumbed (hello, Israel Folau).

Resistance to the woke agenda has been strangely subdued, enabling the activists to characterise those who openly oppose them as an extreme right-wing fringe. Note, for example, how the New Zealand media routinely stigmatises groups such as the New Conservatives as “far right” but never attaches equivalent labels to parties on the far left such as the Greens, preferring to treat them as mainstream. In doing so, the media have succeeded in creating the convenient illusion that the political centre has shifted sharply to the left.

Not only that, but by relentlessly focusing on the grievances of small, disaffected and highly vocal minority groups, the media present a warped and distorted image of society. The playwright Arthur Miller famously observed that a good newspaper is a nation talking to itself, a metaphor that can be extended to all the media. But these days it’s a conversation dominated and largely controlled by left-wing political and ideological elites, and one in which the mainstream of the populace plays little part. The image of New Zealand that’s frequently presented in the media – that of a country sharply divided between a privileged white ruling class and a seething mass of the oppressed – is a gross caricature of one of the world’s most tolerant, liberal democracies.

WE HEAR frequent reference to the "culture wars", but this is a misnomer. “War” implies two opposing sides, but in fact the offensive from the left has encountered little resistance – not because of any compelling force in its arguments (there usually isn’t any), but because the people who should be leading the counter-charge are cowering in their foxholes. Politicians who profess to adhere to conservative values have been missing in action, intimidated into silence by the sheer volume of white noise from the activist media. They apparently forget the old management adage that what you accept, you approve.

Corporate institutions have capitulated even more cravenly, scrambling to demonstrate their woke credentials by re-branding products to appease ideologically driven complainants. (A notable example was the renaming of Australia’s Coon cheese brand, a consumer favourite established in 1935 by Edward William Coon.)  Fear of boycotts is usually the driver.

A key part of the woke left’s strategy is to deny that any of this is happening, or at least that it’s part of any grand plan. On Wikipedia, the idea of cultural Marxism is dismissed as a “far-right anti-Semitic conspiracy theory”. The Wikipedia entry goes on to characterise it as an idea peddled by religious fundamentalists, white nationalists and neo-Nazis.

This is a variant of the line taken in the 1950s and '60s by New Zealand Marxists who scoffed at claims of communist influence by ridiculing fears of “reds under the bed” (to which Catholic trade unionist Tony Neary, who staunchly resisted communist infiltration of the union movement, riposted that the Reds were sitting up in bed and having breakfast brought in).

As I wrote in that 2018 Dominion Post column: And how do the neo-Marxists respond when anyone resists their nihilistic theories? Typically, opposition is howled down as hate speech or met with sneering and ridicule. There’s no room in the neo-Marxist world for dissent or freedom of expression. 

The tragedy is that neo-Marxism is triumphing because the institutions of liberal, democratic government are too weak, too naïve, too complacent or too uncertain of the worth of their own values to put up a fight.

Neo-Marxism has now extended its influence far beyond universities, reaching deep into government, schools, the media, the arts and even the churches. The result is a society that is losing confidence in itself, which is precisely the neo-Marxists’ aim – because a society that has lost confidence in itself is easier to intimidate and control. 

AS I WRITE this, we are in the last days of an election campaign. If the opinion polls are accurate, and I have no reason to doubt them, Jacinda Ardern will be New Zealand’s prime minister for the next three years. The only real uncertainty is whether Labour will govern alone or in coalition with the Greens.

Either way, there will be nothing to stand in the way of a re-energised neo-Marxist agenda. New Zealand First has served as a restraint on the government since 2017 but the brakes will be off after Saturday if, as the polls predict, the Peters party fails to win a seat. (Disclosure: I held my nose and voted for Peters in the last election precisely because I reasoned – rightly, as it turned out – that NZ First could curb the ideological excesses of Labour and the Greens, but I can’t bring myself to vote the same way again. No one has done more to bring politics into disrepute in my lifetime than Peters, and even my fear of a left-wing juggernaut in government isn’t enough to justify supporting him a second time. I’ll be voting ACT, though not with whole-hearted enthusiasm.)

What might a Labour or Labour-Green government deliver? We have already had a foretaste in the form of one of the world’s most permissive abortion regimes and the proposal to legalise cannabis. Expect much more under a re-invigorated and unrestrained Ardern government, starting with laws to curb so-called “hate speech”. The putative justification – that the Human Rights Act doesn’t protect people from attacks on the basis of their religion (for which read Islam) – can be easily fixed by a simple amendment adding religion to the existing protections against discrimination on the grounds of colour, race, nationality and ethnicity. But don’t expect the government to stop there. Using the Christchurch mosque massacres as a pretext (a false one, since the absence of restrictive speech laws didn’t cause the shootings and the introduction of tough new ones wouldn’t prevent a similar occurrence), the government is likely to crack down on any speech regarded as offensive by members of supposedly vulnerable minority groups. Egged on by provocateurs in the media, an Ardern government might decide not only to lower the threshold at which speech is considered harmful, but to extend protection to other groups demanding special treatment – for example, trans-gender people.

We hear a lot from such groups about the need to embrace diversity, but the one diversity they don’t tolerate is diversity of opinion. Yet free speech is the currency of liberal democracy. Once we accept curbs on our right to engage in free and robust discussion of contentious issues (but stopping short of advocating active discrimination or incitements to violence, which present law rightly prohibits anyway), we risk becoming what might be called an illiberal democracy: one in which we may still be free to vote for the politicians of our choice, but without our votes being informed by full and open debate. Putin-style democracy, in other words.  

But it’s not just transformational legislative change that advocates of liberal democracy should worry about under a new leftist government. Even where it doesn’t take the initiative itself by passing radical or oppressive new laws, a Labour or Labour-Greens government will provide a political environment highly conducive to the advance of the woke agenda. Expect more agitation for separate institutional arrangements for Maori (including non-elected positions on councils), more unilateral adoption of Maori place names (fine, but let’s do it by referendum), more condemnation of supposed white privilege and white supremacy, more hysteria over so-called cultural appropriation, more humiliating, Salem-style public denunciations (accompanied by mandatory attendance at “cultural competency” courses) of people who refuse to toe approved  ideological lines, more pressure on companies to pander to exaggerated minority sensitivities (and grovelling apologies when they are perceived to have fallen short), more politicisation of the police, more judicial activism by courts incorporating tikanga (Maori custom) in common law, more virtue-signalling by academics and writers who proclaim themselves as socialists (and therefore unashamedly align themselves with a sorry history of tyranny, repression and economic ruin), more arrogant interference with people's freedoms by activist groups such as Extinction Rebellion, more social media bullying of dissenters and more instances of “cancel culture”, where organisations are intimidated into abandoning legitimate speaking engagements for fear of disruption.

All of this is happening already, of course, but it’s likely to acquire far greater momentum with the encouragement, tacit or otherwise, of a government that doesn’t have to worry about humouring a socially conservative coalition partner.

The striking thing about the current election campaign is that barely any of this has been mentioned. It’s only slightly melodramatic to say there’s a battle going on for the heart and soul of the country, but there has been little hint of this other than in New Conservatives campaign billboards calling for free speech. National, the party that supposedly represents mainstream conservative values and therefore should be manning the barricades against the neo-Marxist takeover, is timidly tip-toeing around it and pretending not to see it, possibly because it’s terrified of incurring media antagonism. Covid-19, the government response to it and the likely economic consequences have so dominated people's attention that the woke agenda has been allowed to proceed virtually unchallenged.  New Zealand in three years’ time could feel like a very different place, and not in a good way.


Andy Espersen said...

Bravo - Bravo - Bravissimo

Phil said...

Karl, this is brilliant journalism. I am not sure how widely distributed your content is but would be great if the whole country saw this article.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

I can only echo Andy. Your comment about Trump exactly captures what I have been unable to pinpoint.

Phil said...

An interesting fact about Wikipedia. Jimmy Wales the founder is a director of the Guardian newspaper. Tony Blair was a guest at Jimmy Wales's wedding. It does make me question the impartiality of Wikipedia.

David George said...

Thank you Karl, well said.
The inherent vulnerability of liberalism is exposed, shorn of it's roots in Christianity and enlightenment rationality, any idea or culture is as good as the next one.
I hope everyone has read https://quillette.com/2020/08/16/the-challenge-of-marxism/
Yoram Hazony's compelling essay exposes the fracturing fault line in our societies and the bottomless pit that lies on either side Excerpt:

"But the Marxists will not be appeased because what they’re after is the conquest of liberalism itself—already happening as they persuade liberals to abandon their traditional two-party conception of political legitimacy, and with it their commitment to a democratic regime. The collapse of the bonds of mutual legitimacy that have tied liberals to conservatives in a democratic system of government will not make the liberals in question Marxists quite yet. But it will make them the supine lackeys of these Marxists, without the power to resist anything that “Progressives” and “Anti-Racists” designate as being important. And it will get them accustomed to the coming one-party regime, in which liberals will have a splendid role to play—if they are willing to give up their liberalism.

I know that many liberals are confused, and that they still suppose there are various alternatives before them. But it isn’t true. At this point, most of the alternatives that existed a few years ago are gone. Liberals will have to choose between two alternatives: either they will submit to the Marxists, and help them bring democracy in America to an end. Or they will assemble a pro-democracy alliance with conservatives. There aren’t any other choices."

Trev1 said...

Absolutely brilliant. Your column captures the deep despair I feel for the country. Yes we are on the verge of becoming a Marxist state, with severe limitations being imposed on our freedoms and the relentless purging of Enlightenment values. I hold the media and the universities in deep contempt, they have been in the vanguard of this putsch against democracy. The only thing that might save us is the utter incompetence of the Far Left which will be ruthlessly exposed by the deepening financial crisis. Of course the economic and social disarray that follows will likely prompt them to try to crack down even harder on dissent. We are on a one-way trip to 1970s Eastern Europe.

MarkJ said...

Yet another reason for my daily visit here. This is exactly what is missing from the MSM today - a dissenting point of view. Thanks for continuing to post Karl.

Brendan McNeill said...


Thank you for clearly enunciating the deeper issues we face as a nation, not just here in New Zealand, but sadly the entire western world. And to think I recently suggested you were a ‘Labour supporter’. ;-)

Trump for all his many failings has pushed back against the progressive Marxist agenda by:

 Banning the teaching of Critical Race Theory in Government institutions.
 Investigating Princeton University for ‘systemic racism’ after it was admitted by their President in a recent ‘woke’ speech. (This is playing them at their own game)
 Investigating Microsoft for racist hiring policies (as a government contractor) given it’s expressed intention of disproportionately promoting people of colour into management positions. Another woke initiative.
 Ditto with Wells Fargo Bank.
 The appointment of conservatives to the Supreme Court.

These are only temporary setbacks in the progressive agenda. 20th century American sociologist Philip Rieff describes our present epoch as the first attempt in history to build a social order that is not predicated upon a religious order. He describes our culture as an ‘anti-culture’ defined by what it is against (the Judeo/Christian order) rather than what it is for.

However, I believe this is now changing. Critical Race theory, along with the Marxist dogma of power and powerlessness has become deeply imbedded in universities and large corporations. People are embracing this ideology with the enthusiasm of religious zealots, and purging all dissenters.

Rod Dreher, columnist and author has recently written a book “Live not by lies” which describes the suffering of dissidents under 20th century communism, and how we might learn from them to navigate those days that are upon us. He is coming from a Christian perspective, but his advice is applicable to people of faith and no faith. It was a best seller on Amazon when recently released.

His thesis is that we are unlikely to face the gulags, but instead a form of ‘soft’ totalitarianism that is not necessarily imposed by governments, but by universities, corporations, and the wider culture.


I appreciate your willingness to address these issues locally. You have correctly identified the cowardice of so called 'conservative' politicians in failing to speak out on these issues.

Roger Smith said...

the best distillation and summary of the current challenges facing NZ and other western democracies that I have seen. Definitely needs a wider circulation.

Who is the actual enemy here though? It strikes me that most people pushing angles of this Marxist agenda have no idea of its wider scope and long term objectives, and no idea of who is conducting the orchestra and pushing their buttons. Indeed they would probably rubbish the idea that they were being manipulated at all.

It would be a lot easier to fight this if we could identify the enemy.

Zoroforever said...

I always enjoy your articles Karl, and sometimes I dont agree but to me this is the best ever. As a 66 year old white male I feel a great sense of sorrow for the path this country is taking. I talk to people about the issues you have raised and they look at me like I've arrived from Mars. My forebares all arrived here with a suit case and made the best of what they turned their hand to. My father left high school in the 4th form, went into the war when he was 18. Came out and did an adult appretiship and for the next 40 odd years got up every week day 5.30am, jumped on a train to Wellington and worked his buns off. We never had much, not that I really noticed but today I'm classed as some kind of white oppressor and somehow I'm privileged. My privilege is that I had two parents who cared and were diligent both of whom were lifetime Labour Party members. I just wish this article could be broadcast across the nation but alas I dont think it would make any difference to braim washed generation. Thanks again, love to have a coffee with you sometime when I pass through Masterton.

Odysseus said...

What is now happening now before our very eyes in New Zealand is the stuff of any Marxist revolutionary's textbook. First control the media. It is no accident that would-be revolutionaries always head for the government TV and radio stations first, while cutting other communications to deny real-time information to the public. COVID has been the great enabler. Ardern was in our homes for almost every day since March, hectoring us and proclaiming the latest edicts as we passed through the four circles of Lockdown. $50 million of taxpayers money for the media, including relieving the TV stations of transmission fees of $21 million (this runs out a few days after the election), also seems to have been a good investment. In addition Ardern's calls for greater censorship of social media seem to be bearing fruit, directly or indirectly, with the likes of Facebook and Twitter where posts that challenge the official line on COVID or Climate Change are taken down and their authors banned. This is but a foretaste of what is to come after the election when the assault on free speech will get underway in earnest.

Scott said...

Karl, I couldn't agree more with your comments. A very insightful analysis.
The difficulty is that what undergirds Western civilisation, what makes Western civilisation possible, is the Christian faith. Without the Christian faith Western civilisation is just not possible. I saw that at a funeral recently of my neighbour. Nice people, nice funeral, he was a nice bloke, we will remember him fondly, rest in peace. That was it. No prayer, no hymns, no sense of an afterlife or an eternal destination of the soul.

So the basic questions remain unanswered. Where did he go? Is this just the end or does life have any eternal destination?
These questions are not peripheral. They provide meaning and purpose and a sense of our place in the universe. We are created by God and for God. This gives our life meaning and purpose and enables us to sacrifice for the good of others knowing that we will get our eternal reward in heaven.

If Marxism and cultural Marxism and woke ideology do anything, it is that they give purpose and meaning to someone's life. Climate change is a good example. It gives purpose and meaning to someone's life. I am saving the world.
Every human being needs purpose and meaning. They need something greater than themselves. Without God they will look for another religion, a deeper way of seeing the world. Cultural Marxism provides that. It has the goal of utopia through upending everything.

Modern liberalism just doesn't cut it I am afraid. The modern liberal is addicted to change and is powerless to resist the demands of the left-wing radical. Modern liberalism does not provide a transcendent sense of purpose greater than an individual desire to live a prosperous life.

So I believe the only solution to the woes that you elucidate is a religious revival. Western civilisation depends on Christianity for its moral and transcendent understanding of the world. The alternatives are socialism and/or communism or the other alternative today would be Islam. Our destinations will be determined by which religion we choose – Christianity, socialism or Islam. We will end up either in Jerusalem, Venezuela or Saudia Arabia.

Andrew Morison said...

Fantastic writing, thank you

Shaughan said...

Please tell me this took longer than a week to write - it's so well thought out and structured. Kinda envious. :)

Steve said...

Fantastic narrative Karl. This should be re-printed in every major NZ media so that every person gets to see it. The tragedy being that will never happen for reasons you so eloquently outline in your article. Keep up the great work.

Bogo Mipps said...

Thank you, Karl. Without doubt, a seminal piece.

I have sent the link to Spiked-Online's Brendan O'Neill. It deserves wide circulation, and Spiked is just the platform ...


griffen the sea dog said...

my lot came here in the plymouth party & fought for a free nz thru 2 w.wars. i take my hat off to trump as whereas i have- like so many- given up, trump is a patriot. not many like him prepared to stand firm against the shrieking socialist left like our- choke- pm- whose only goal is control & destruction. i feel so sorry for my children & my grandchildren- they will never experience the joys our forebears fought to bring us, in what was godzone.

Crosbie Walsh said...

I'm left speechless that so many of my fellow New Zealanders should think like this.

Virus said...

Hit the nail on the head. Brilliant article.

Hilary Taylor said...

Yes, yes YES! WHat those above said.
As a small 'l' lib I've already aligned with conservatives, I now realise. My political & social instincts are affronted daily by the media & the institutions and I have sought out bloggers whose content gives me faith & hope that it's the world that's gone mad, not moi. The new puritans are prevailing, good on any person who wants to put themselves forward for local & national bodies in this brutal climate, and I am ready to man the barricades when the time comes...'my place is here, I fight with you'!

Johno said...

Along with Greg Sheridan's destruction of the Jacinda sainthood myth, Karl's article made my day.


Kimbo said...

@ Crosbie Walsh

I am left speechless that so many of my fellow New Zealanders should think like this.

And yet, Crosbie Walsh, for the New Zealanders and others of the West who see “Woke” as a Trojan horse, we are not left speechless that people think differently from us. Indeed, in the main we understand very well what the soft-adherent majority who are promoting or approving of “social justice”, “tolerance” and “diversity” mean. We do not think that makes them bad people. Indeed, we understand well that their intentions are good, indeed very noble.

However, we think that, as important and valuable as tolerance and diversity are, on their own they make very poor foundations for a nation...especially when other virtues and values are also required. Including, as Karl has said, the quest for truth, real diversity of thought, expression and life. And liberty especially for those with whom the state or the neo-priesthood of “experts” disagree.

So what does it say that one side of this ideological divide, while also engaging at times in caricatures and the straw man fallacies that are common to the weaknesses of human discourse, nonetheless understand what their ideological opponents believe and what makes them tick, while those on other side of the divide consider that those who vote for, say, Brexit, Trump, ScoMo or anything other than the Labour-Green option due to the sort of misgivings Karl has outlined

...can just be dismissed out-of-hand with the shallow cliched epithets, “racist/misogynist/homophobe/transphobe/deplorable/red-neck”?

Kimbo said...

@ Scott

So I believe that the only solution to the woes that you elucidate is a religious revival

Yet I doubt that most of the Christian conservative demographic would be quite so enthusiastic if that religious revival was Islamic. Even though on many matters such as issues of “Creationism”, abortion or LGBTQI there is sometimes significant overlap with conservative Christianity.

But fair enough, Scott. Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer pick, and that’s an interesting one you’ve got there, especially in the context of a discussion about national political, cultural and social institutions being hijacked by a small but determined ideological sect.

Either way, I’d suggest that just when it should be overwhelmingly clear that Karl’s diagnosis has validity and that there is little if any threat of a religious fundamentalist roll-back, including decriminalising of homosexuality, wholesale denying of access to abortions, or adding “Creationism/Intelligent Design” alongside Evolution in the public school curriculum,

...voices pop up in the public conversation that suggest the radical-left “right-wing fascist/bogeyman” is not entirely without some foundation. And fair enough too. After all, if the radical left are a fringe-group seeking to achieve power out of all proportion to its numbers by infiltrating political and other institutions like termites

...they are likely very good in recognising the same modus operandi in others.

Doug Longmire said...

Thanks Karl for an excellent article. Unfortunately you have diagnosed the situation very accurately, and like many others above, I am really concerned at just what Marxist/state of fear world our grandchildren are going to be inflicted with.
I have already seen the false propaganda that the education authorities have dressed up as "climate change facts" to be indoctrinated into their minds.
Also - along with Zoro above, I find I am being labelled as a pale male with a privileged position.

Mark Wahlberg said...

Karl, I enjoyed your article, but found your words chilling. They remind me of the 1980's when the Australian League Of Rights produced covert publications warning about the perils of Fabian Socialism. If I thought their views alarmist then, I dont now. 35 years later, I suspect we are being swamped by gradualism on steroids.

Marc said...

As usual we have the familiar TDS commentary by otherwise non-socialist, non-Marxist posters. Perhaps instead of the usual critique of his hair or his praise of his family members, or of being a "not very nice person" they should read his released plan for the future four years should he be returned to the White House next month if they haven't already.


Seems to me we are all to ready to idolise Ardern because she "is nice", yet dismiss Trump because he's "not nice". So what is wrong with his agenda? And which is the more important consideration?

Unknown said...

"Tragically, the only world leader putting up any sort of fight, Donald Trump, is a politician whose values are so bereft of any ethical coherence that if anything, his stand gives the woke left an illusion of moral credibility."

Tragically? This is why the left is winning. Trump is the only politician with the gumption to give the left as good as he gets, yet conservatives are too scared to follow his take-no-prisoners example because they've been cowed by the left's meme that "Orange Man Bad", and to defend him or even be associated with him risks their cancellation.

The left fights dirty, and the culture war isn't going to be won by nice conservatives who are too fastidious to get down in the mud and scrap for what they believe. Instead of allowing the left to make a pariah of Trump and leaving him to fight on alone, the world could do with 100 more leaders like him. The left has nothing in its armory but lies and dirty tricks. The facts of life, as Maggie famously said, are conservative. It's well beyond time for so-called conservatives to stand up for their values and take the fight to the neo-marxists. They might be surprised at how quickly they fold.

Karl du Fresne said...

People who don't identify themselves don't merit a response, but I'll say this: I refuse to like Trump simply because he's taken a stand against people I disapprove of. Nothing Trump has said or done persuades me that he's motivated by coherent moral principles, and the implication that we should all get in behind him strikes me as simplistic and tiresome. Trump panders to the wrong people for the wrong reasons, and in doing so he's driving good Americans into the arms of the Democrats.
By the way, Marc, can you explain what TDS stands for? I'm not au fait with fashionable social media shorthand.

mike250 said...

"Trump panders to the wrong people for the wrong reasons, and in doing so he's driving good Americans into the arms of the Democrats."

let's not forget that those same people elected Obama in 2016. Good Americans can disagree with Trump's policies however we have seen that a lot of people are simply unhinged if they don't get their way. Plus the summer of riots I think will drive people into Trump's arms duel to the failure of democrats

mike250 said...

"his stand gives the woke left an illusion of moral credibility."

Trump is nothing but a scapegoat. The reason the woke are winning and have this moral credibility was explained wittily by Bertrand Russell in 1937 in his essay Superior virtue of the oppressed. Women and minorities are considered the "oppressed"--- possessing special virtue. This implies that everything must be subservient to sentimental moralism. That is why woke always wins and always will win. In my view, it's extreme anti-Marxism. It's a kind of Victorian or Puritan sentimentalism & gynocentrism. It appeals, primarily, to the rich.

Andy Espersen said...

Have just read again your seminal article, Karl - and again I was struck by its immense depth and clarity. I can understand that commentator Mark Wahlberg “found your words chilling”. Yet, I also found the article uplifting - the “amorphous ideology driving the attack on Western capitalistic values” will surely lose out in the end. You describe the Counter Enlightenment movement so well : “Western civilisation ad Western democratic values are under attack as never before in modern history. The breadth, intensity and viciousness of this attack is breath taking” (chilling words indeed.

As you expected, the Ardern government has now been re-elected for a further 3 years - and with Labour being able to govern on its own. This, by the way, is of some comfort : the Greens will now have no power. But, nevertheless, the “amorphous woke” is ruling us now – full of kindness and well meaning - and with the overbearing certainty that their take on every human, medical, societal, scientific and political issue is the correct and only one. And with an unbridled dictatorship for 3 years they now have a God-given duty to write legislation to force us all to dance to their pipe, to pay taxes as they demand and to work where, and doing what, they want.

But 3 years go fast – another election coming then. Very many of the issues that the “amorphous woke” are now so cock-sure about will have resolved themselves and will have become clearer in peoples’ minds : the immense cruelty and inhumaneness (and futility) of New Zealand’s lockdown legislation (where you will be jailed to prevent you from going to visit a dying relative or friend); the absurd re-interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi; the complete stupidity of insisting that, for example, I, being a man, will become a woman just by declaration - and much, much worse : that a boy child can become a girl child (and helped by modern medication and surgery for that purpose), by just saying he wants to; that if somebody feels offended by my publishing my opinion on one issue or another, I can be punished as a criminal; etc., etc.

European enlightenment took place two or three hundred years ago in a society that was in a state of “self-incurred immaturity” - and ruled by “dogmas and formulae” (as per Emmanuel Kant).

Isn’t our society, and many other Western societies, in that same category now??

mike250 said...

"By the way, Marc, can you explain what TDS stands for? I'm not au fait with fashionable social media shorthand."

Trump Derangement Syndrome. I don't think it applies to your analysis Karl as there are other problems with it (but it's still great overall). It's more aimed at those who compare Trump to Hitler

Odysseus said...

So COVID and the media worked their magic for Ardern. The government will likely move to impose further restrictions on free speech early in its term, probably taking advantage of the much-delayed Royal Commission's report on the mosque shootings, even though that tragedy would never have been prevented by depriving New Zealanders of free speech. The only cheering note from Saturday night's result is that Act, who have committed themselves to defending free speech, now are likely to have ten MPs. And perhaps also that Labour no longer has to depend on the extremist Greens. If National are looking for a cause on which they could rebuild some credibility for the future, the defense of personal freedom would be one. It used to be part of their mission statement.

Andy Espersen said...

Odysseus - you spotted the two really cheering results in the election :1. Labour can govern on their own and 2. ACT is now there with their freedom rallying cry. Their momentum can only increase - and I am absolutely sure they will keep a watchful eye on this woke government with its irresponsible, economic ideology. Jacinde was the "Darling of Davos" last year - I hope realistic Labour caucus members will give her a few instructions before she heads off to the next meeting of the World Economic Forum (not at Davos this time, I believe).