To all those who have followed this blog in 2021, Happy Christmas and thanks for your support.
New Zealand at the end of the year is a radically different country than it was at the start. I think many of us are slightly stunned by the sheer speed of the transformation.
It has been a year of division and polarisation. I’m not referring to the social tensions brought to the surface by Covid-19, although that hasn’t helped. I’m talking about the relentless promotion of identity politics, by both politicians and the mainstream media, and the deliberate fostering of a sense that New Zealand is no longer a society of diverse people with common interests but one in which aggrieved minorities seek to overturn a supposedly privileged and callously indifferent ruling class.
The year has been an object lesson in how a determined and ideologically driven government, supported by allies in academia, the bureaucracy and the media, can deconstruct one of the world’s most tolerant, liberal democracies. Many of us – perhaps most of us – don’t recognise the new country that’s being created and were never asked whether we wanted it.
Indoctrination of the young and impressionable in schools and universities is a crucial part of the transformation process. Unencumbered by knowledge of their own history, they are ripe for the picking. Karl Marx never saw his revolution of the proletariat realised, but I’m sure he would heartily approve of the disruption generated by 21st century activists who share his view of Western democratic society as rotten and irrevocably divided between oppressed and oppressors.
We are witnessing nothing less than a cultural revolution. It’s not one in which supposed enemies of the people and capitalist running dogs are being dragged from their homes and sent to re-education camps, as in Mao’s China, but there is a similar underlying tone of authoritarianism and denunciation of dissenters. We saw it in the savage reaction to the Listener Seven, who were howled down for their heretical attempt to uphold scientific values.
Jacinda Ardern has cleverly contrived to remain aloof from all the ugly stuff, but as prime minister she has given her implied consent. While smilingly uttering pious bromides about social cohesion, she presides over a government that is busily undermining that same sense of solidarity. The country will have a chance to assess her record in 2023, but by that time, even if a new government engages reverse gear, the damage will be deep and possibly irremediable.
In the circumstances it seems a bit incongruous to be wishing everyone the compliments of the season – but hey, Christmas is one institution they haven’t hijacked. Not yet, anyway.