- Mayoral Candidate interview – Kiwi Voice 26 minutes
- Labour Political Party Puppets
- ODT ‘reporter’ Grant Miller continues his smear campaign today
- A combative interview that still brings out real DCC issues finally, despite being too long. [1hour 38 minutes]
- UNSUSTAINABLE $1million PER WEEK DCC INTEREST-ONLY ON SKYROCKETING DEBT
Labour Political Party Puppets Pledge on Dunedin City Council?
Ever wondered why Council Candidates boosted on to the DCC by Labour vote as a block with central government policy on major issues like MP Mahuta’s 3 Waters proposed confiscation of Dunedin’s $3 BILLION 3 Waters assets?
The Labour Party Constitution updated 2020 requires all Candidates to sign this pledge.
Note “(f) If elected I will vote on all questions in accordance with the decisions of…a duly constituted meeting of Party representatives on such a body”
falsely claiming that I “publicly highlighted the pensioner’s home address details” referring to a Ms Parsons who has repeatedly interrupted my campaign speeches and pushed my DCC Group Debt graph signage to the floor at a public Mayoralty meeting. Miller previous wrote that rival candidate Mayhem-Bullock “rushed over and asked if Cr. Vandervis was picking on a little old lady.”
It turns out that this claimed little old lady was in fact an accomplice Mayoral nominator for Mayhem-Bullock, evidence for which I have made public on social media as below, without highlighting any part of the public Electoral document.
Had I redacted any of the document details, no doubt I would have been accused of interfering with or withholding public information…
A combative interview that still brings out real DCC issues finally, despite being too long. [1hour 38 minutes]
The ODT don’t want you to know that DCC Group Debt has gone up by $100 million every year under Hawkins and is planned to keep going!, with Dunedin citizens having to pay $1million per week in interest-only to overseas banks.
DCC Companies don’t help, having failed to deliver a dividend since 2015, and interest rates are predicted to rise by another 100 basis points before Christmas.
My proposed solutions are in the ODT Opinion Piece below.
This is the graph the ‘little old woman pushed over’ that our monopoly print media won’t let you see…
From: Lee Vandervis <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Saturday, 3 September 2022 at 6:22 PM
To: EditorODT <email@example.com>
Cc: Grant McKenzie <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Grant Miller <email@example.com>, “Nicholas. Smith” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Julian. Smith” <email@example.com>
Subject: ODT Opinion piece – DCC Council Companies to remain in the too-hard-basket?
I know that we are heading into election run-up, so all the more reason to print this opinion on what to do with major DCC issues.
One opinion under my name will not be unbalanced considering the weekly headline stories ex Mayor Hawkins.
Offer Jules an opinion spot if you think there may be a bias issue…
Anyway, please consider the following opinion for publishing along with the revealing updated graph attached.
DCC Council Companies to remain in the too-hard-basket?
Seven years. It has been seven years since our Dunedin Council-controlled Companies have provided us with a dividend from profits.
Many decades of many millions invested in our Council Companies have given us little but massively increased debt since our last dividend in 2015.
Even those dividends before 2015 were often debt-funded, like the $10 million ‘Special Dividend’ that was needed to push Stadium construction funding over the line, later revealed to have been facilitated by Company borrowing of $13 million.
Transparency, and clearly identifying what our DCC problems are the best ways of beginning to solve those problems in my experience.
The status quo does not like change or solutions that involve loss of jobs-for-the-boys or the derailing of traditional gravy trains, but our current course and annual $100 million increase in debt is unsustainable.
So why is the DCC amassing so much debt despite record rates increases of many times the rate of inflation, and why no DCC Company dividends?
Local Directorships, some exceeding the 3 term limit are part of our Companies’ problems as the recommended use of independent non-local Directors has usually been ignored.
Easy profits from City Forests have been used to subsidise our incompetently run Lines Company Aurora and Infrastructure Company Delta, who for far too long shared the same board of directors that gave fat Aurora maintenance contracts to Delta making both companies top-heavy and inefficient on the backs of Otago electricity users.
Worse, Aurora indulged in the public ownership disease of short-termism, failing for decades to maintain its electricity distribution network resulting in failures of everything from power-poles to transformers and cables that should have been replaced decades ago. On-going electrical supply and safety failures, some fatal, have resulted in the Commerce Commission fining Aurora $5 million, but both the Cull and Hawkins Councils have looked the other way, instead spending on pet planet-saving cycleway projects while DCC Group debt has increased by nearly $100 million every one of the last 3 years.
DCC spin has allowed our $1.2 BILLION combined Company and DCC Debt to look less by only highlighting DCC book debt of around $400 million, having bounced our Stadium debt into the Companies’ books to keep up appearances.
The DCC has also found many ways of subsidising the loss-making Stadium to make things look less worrying in Annual reports.
These annual subsidies include: Event attraction funding, local event discount funding, a special Stadium rates differential, and an annual purchase of $2.55 million of Stadium shares by the DCC despite DCC already owning 100% of Stadium shares – and this is described in DCC accounts as “Investment”!
The annual total of this accounting duplicity is close to $9 million every year for a Stadium that struggles to get a major event for many months at a time and won’t even do that once Christchurch Stadium is available.
What to do?
1 – Admit and clearly identify the problems:
The DCC has failed to control or get returns on our massive investment in our Council Controlled Organisations. Like the Cull Council, the Hawkins Council has left our companies in the too-hard-basket, preferring to borrow instead.
The Stadium has ludicrously high $9 million+ annual DCC subsidies to keep it inflated with few events and fewer forecast.
Council Companies still fail to deliver dividends or proper rates of return after 7 years of massive injections of borrowed capital that were supposed to make them profitable.
The DCC has lumbered Council Companies with $2.5 million annual losses just to delay inevitable decisions on Taieri Gorge Railway and keep it mothballed for each of the last 3 years.
City Forests has been conjuring profits from revaluations and carbon credits rather than just efficiently harvesting timber.
The Hawkins’ Council itself has gone on an unprecedented spending spree on transport changes and cycleways including George st that will amount to more than $150 million of unsustainable spending on unproductive investments.
2 – Obvious solutions include: stopping or deferring cycleway and transport changes saving $150 million.
Prevent City Forests from buying further farms for forestry carbon credit speculation and get them selling more trees more efficiently.
Accept that the Taieri Gorge Railway line to Middlemarch with its 37 bridges is beyond anybody’s ability to maintain safely and let a limited main-trunk line service be run locally or by an outside company if a local service cannot break even.
Get new independent outside directors for Aurora and Delta and explore partial sell-off of the Central Otago lines area for which there is competitive interest.
Spend $1 million on a low-maintenance tough artificial turf for the Stadium so that it can be used daily, cut staff overheads and allow the main ground to get used constantly by local sports/events groups. It will still lose millions but at least we will get good community use out of it.
With rapidly rising interest rates, world tensions, and cost of food, Dunedin Council must make hard decisions and make them now. We must prevent further decision delay on DCC Company restructuring, Taieri Gorge Railway, Sammy’s, Mayfair, Athenium and Fortune Theatres, groynes, the One-Way system, and a Unitary Council.
A lot of talk about Dunedin’s potential will only be realised by decisive informed course-corrections over the next 7 years.
Cr. Lee Vandervis
Rival Mayoral candidate Mandy Mayhem and 80 year old ‘woman’ turns out to be Ms Parsons, Mayhem’s Mayoral nominator.
who have long refused to print my revealing DCC Debt graph.
Rival Mayoral Candidate Mandy Mahem asked “if Cr. Vandervis was picking on a little old lady?” The answer is that I simply told this seated serial interrupter in the crowded room at the end of the meeting that if she continued to troll and interrupt my campaign speeches as she did twice that night and again in a previous campaign meeting, I would public out her continuous trolling.’ Her rude and interrupting behaviour and pushing my DCC Group Debt graph signage to the floor warranted this response after the meeting ended in my view.
I note that “almost spitting” actually means not spitting at all, and that “in her face” is not possible when she was siting and I was standing…
The Debt graph that our local monopoly print media have long refused to print.
I am getting thIs request regularly now, so below is the list of those I have met and been impressed by:
Jules Radich is still my favourite Councillor [despite going soft on stopping 3 Waters Government/Iwi confiscation], also Jim O’Malley, Sophie Barker, Andrew Whiley, Carmen Houlahan, and newbies Cherry Lukas, Lynette Scott, Cheryl Neil, Brent Weatherall and Kevin Gilbert.
For ORC: Michael Laws, – the others seem ineffectual or invisible to me.
I have seen too little of Community Board candidates to be able to suggest them with confidence – hopefully you will know them better in your local areas.
Strange that the big numbers in Dunedin’s $300 million annual DCC spend of our money don’t seem to register with most candidates.
A largely left-leaning audience at Opoho Church last night were lapping up Mayor Hawkins’ claims to have been instrumental in getting our new $1.5 Billion Hospital centrally sited [sited on Dunedin’s most expensive not big enough swampy land without checking to see if could take the weight of a 12 story building or have underground carparking] but they were uninterested or uncomprehending of my summary of the unsustainable $100 million of new debt the Hawkins Council has added each year on top of unprecedented rates rises of 9.8% and 5.6%.
Tonight’s Opoho meeting was similarly left-leaning with many Labour/Green candidates singing Hawkins’ praises, but also many in favour of Mayoral aspirant Sophie Barker.
The ‘progressive Dunedin and $1.5 Billion new hospital asset’ Hawkins’ mantra was echoed again, but nobody mentioned any percentages or interest costs or the $3 Billion proposed government/Iwi confiscation of our 3 Waters assets, or other big numbers like the $15+ million deferred line maintenance or $7.5 million cost of moth-balling Taieri Gorge Railway so far, which all candidates wanted retained at some level.
What do you do when you’re branded?
Losing the Supreme Court attempt to clear my name, or being upfront about my personal views was always going to weaken my Mayoral chances, but I believe it had to be done and I have no regrets for trying or for my choice of Len Andersen as my lawyer. We did what we could and the Law failed us.
Personal financial costs of as yet unknown tens of thousands of dollars are painful but it would also have been painful just to roll over and accept the gross injustice of being anonymously cancelled by DCC Bureaucracy.
of the mood of the full Burns Hall Ratepayer’s Mayoralty meeting last night gelled with my impressions as seen from the stage.
I am proud to have debated against so much wasteful debt-funded spending by the Hawkins’ Council, and against the erosion of Democracy with creeping co-governance, even if I was often the only one daring to vote against.
The ODT reporter’s ‘personal assessment’ as below did not surprise me given his coverage of DCC meetings.
Below is the DCC Group Debt graph that the ODT has refused to print.
“Lee Vandervis 5
A contrarian. Cr Vandervis is in his comfort zone when the council is headed for another 14-1 vote. Where other councillors tread warily, tiptoeing around such territory as scepticism of the merits of co-governance, Cr Vandervis jumps in. He often defends his corner pugnaciously, particularly if the interests of motorists are threatened. His effectiveness may have waned in a political environment where he looks at risk of becoming outmoded. If his opponent in a debate is Aaron Hawkins, Cr Vandervis can be beaten to the punch. He is also exposed if there is a councillor gang-up. Still, his presence or absence makes a significant difference to the atmosphere of a meeting. He can be relied upon to rail against Three Waters reform, debatable council spending and the council’s ballooning debt, as well as group debt, which includes debt of council-owned companies. Any mention of “Maori” by him sets much of the room on edge. He was at one stage trespassed from the council building after he resisted Covid-19 vaccine passes. A confrontation with the deputy mayor led to a censure for conduct deemed to be intimidating. He has continued this term to pursue vindication through the courts after a censure for his behaviour relating to an objection about parking meter signage. He has at least dabbled in the realm of conspiracy and some voters may judge he has been distracted.”
I am adding ‘in Dunedin Ownership’ to accessible posters to make my opposition to the government/Iwi attempted theft of Dunedin’s 3Waters [$3 BILLION drinking, drainage and waste-water] assets clear.
• Campaign signage for Dunedin candidate Lee Vandervis includes a nod to Hollywood and a photo of the South Seas Exhibition, which Dunedin hosted in 1925-26.
The Otago Daily Times asked Cr Vandervis what this imagery signified.
The Hollywood-style font is a reference to musician Frank Zappa and his line about politics being the entertainment branch of industry, and for Cr Vandervis it denotes some suspicion of old-boys’ networks.
And the exhibition?
“A little less than 100 years ago Dunedin had the talented people and vision to create the extraordinary South Seas Exhibition on the back of high productivity, close to where our underused stadium now sits,” Cr Vandervis said.
The council of the day put a small surcharge on the tram ride to the exhibition, “which paid for our main town hall to be built without going into large debt to build it”.
Dunedin still had a remarkable range of talented people, but a vision for progressive, innovative industry had lately been lacking, he said.
The colours of Otago and Ukraine appear — “a warning that the world economy is under threat and that we need to look to our own resources to maintain our quality of life in Dunedin”.
Now you know.”
In yesterday’s public Council meeting, Cr. Laufiso [who has admitted being a Communist in previous meetings] claimed during item 15 Dunedin Housing Plan “This is Maori land”.
She went on say that we need to recognise 182 years of occupation of Maori land that needs to be addressed.
Today’s ODT reports Ngai Tahu’s “spirited defense” of co-governance on 3 Waters reforms falsely claiming that Councils will still own their 3 Waters infrastructure.
Ownership is defined as ‘having control over an asset’.
The weasel words from Maori elites keep coming as below:
FREEDOMS and SPEECH. 17/08/22
My Name is Lee Vandervis, one of 14 elected Dunedin City Councillors.
Today I am not speaking on behalf of the City or the DCC, but giving my personal view of freedoms in New Zealand, and how they have changed in recent years.
I have long been concerned about the erosion of freedoms by our Central Government, but in the past have kept my focus on local issues to help protect Dunedin citizens.
Central governments, both National and Labour have long ignored Dunedin and invested elsewhere because there are no marginal seats here, not enough swinging voters to change from the solid Labour vote.
Much has been changing in Central Government that is now beginning to have major effects for Dunedin, with increasing bureaucracy, constant increases in compliance legislation, and now serious erosion of our personal rights and freedoms.
For me Prime Minister Ardern’s self-crowning as the ‘single source of Truth’ with regards to Covid science was the last straw.
Mandela “No single person, no body of opinion, no political doctrine, no religious doctrine, can claim a monopoly on Truth”.
And yet here we are in NZ, with what we long believed was a Democratic and open society with a free press, succumbing to censorship, hate-speech legislation, and increasing suppression of free speech.
I am indebted to MP Michael Woodhouse for highlighting in the House, our own Prof Flynn’s book ‘A Book Too Risky To Publish’ : Free Speech And Universities.
“The good society designates the university, above all, as its primary institution to pursue truth, with the added role of graduating students who have full autonomy and can seek the truth throughout their lives.
The good university offsets whatever harm it may do as a censor in four ways. First, accustoming students and staff to tolerate free debate however disturbing. Second, forcing them to face objections to their own beliefs that they would not normally hear (outside the university). Third, making them realize that you can have knowledge rather than mere opinion only if you can defend your beliefs against all plausible objections that can be put to them. Fourth, giving students the kind of knowledge and intellectual skills they need to be intelligently critical, not only of their own views but also the conventional views they are bombarded with by politicians and the media.
Flynn gives a detailed history of the suppression of free speech, and the importance of free speech in the development of science [Galileo], and human quality of life generally.
He details how suppression of free speech in the West used to be largely suppression by conservative forces, but that since around 1955 suppression has been largely coming from the far-left of the political spectrum, till today, as we see here currently, Freedom of Speech has become a centre right cause.
As Erich Fromm says, the powerless man’s only weapon is the truth. No matter who is in power, the best road to truth is to allow your critics to speak and try to refute what they say (or adjust your views if they are correct).
What does FREEDOM mean to you?
Is it to be ‘as free as a bird’, able to fly anywhere and chirp all it likes?
Many countries now have Constitutions that guarantee rights and freedoms, but here in New Zealand we have a less ironclad protection of freedoms called the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. The chirping is Right #14, Freedom of expression, and the flying is Right #18 Freedom of movement.
Since 1990 these Fundamental Rights and Freedoms have been taken for granted, and warnings that we must constantly be vigilant about their maintenance have been ignored.
In discussions of new Government Covid legislation I was surprised how few people knew that New Zealand has a Bill of Rights, and even fewer knew what was in it.
When I posted two topical Rights on my FaceBook page I was even more surprised at the 376 comments, most of them critical and some nasty.
FB an important safety valve where people can vent without serious consequences, in some cases under false names with immunity allowing the unpleasant habit of trolling.
Right #14 says “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form.”
I am exercising right 14 now, imparting information and some of my opinions.
It seems that many people feel so threatened that they do not want the right to freedom of speech, especially if it somebody else saying something they find offensive.
There is a strange social symptom of anxious or fearful people that makes them afraid of choice – To quote the DEVO chorus “Freedom of choice – is what we’ve got. Freedom from choice, is what we want.”
Freedom from our having choice is what our Government wants because it makes us more easily controllable, and the Government Elite less vulnerable.
People also don’t want to hear opinions that make them feel uncomfortable, and our Government of Elites has fanned such fears in order to pass laws that limit the our Rights and make us easier to control. ‘Freedom of speech’ has been reduced by new Hate Speech laws justified by the appalling Christchurch Mosque massacre with the dubious claim that Hate Speech radicalises potential murders. Benjamin Franklin said that “Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”
He also said that “If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking.”
Check the meanings of ‘Groupthink’ and ‘Codependence’.
Our Government which claims to promote equality and a classless society has first set up Elite classes of their own that have Freedoms which we are being denied.
The Ardern Government has used unprecedented billions to undermine our Bill of Rights and buy media compliance to convince us of the necessity of reducing our Freedoms ‘for the greater good’.
All Freedoms come with limits and the responsibility not to harm others.
Freedom is not the right to do as we please, but is the opportunity to do what is right. Our Government is not always doing what is right, but what increases Government power over us.
Is it right that we are losing the right to Freedom of Expression?
My mother’s reassurance of ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me’ no longer applies, and if I have said something today that someone here finds hateful I can be now be charged with a criminal offense that attracts serious penalties.
Beware also politicians twittering on that what they are doing is for “the people, the people, the people”, when it is usually for ‘the money, the money, the money’ to be controlled by their Elites.
Governments everywhere are driven to expand their power and control over us economically, and use our money to further their expansion aims.
Our Bill of Rights is sometimes all that stands against Government’s wider-control, so we need to know our Rights and work to maintain them.
So what can we do to try and regain the full Freedoms and Rights we had only a few years ago?
If you are not Free then you are a Slave…
As Ezra Pound said “A Slave is one who waits for someone to free him.”
We must not wait.
We can begin with ourselves, to decide that we really want Freedom of Speech, and that this and our other Freedoms are worth fighting for.
We need to act, often in many small ways, to resist unnecessary impositions, to question new compliance rules, to debate with others personally, and on social media if you can bear the insults.
Read the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and decide what are acceptable limits on Freedoms which prevent your Rights imposing on the Rights of others.
Search both mainstream and less-Government-subsidised media to learn what changes are being made to our Freedoms, find out who is making those changes and who is resisting them, take notes and vote accordingly.
Look up the term Sovereign Citizen, and decide if you believe that people are born free with rights — but that these natural rights are being constrained by corporations and governments who are artificial corporations.
How much do you really need Big Brother protection and intrusions of the State?
Recognise that extreme cynicism gets you nearest the Truth, and that there is no ‘single source of Truth’.
Know that ordinary people are often afraid to speak out and often have similar concerns to you.
Listen openly to others, avoid pre-packaged views, don’t just accept the Party Line or running with the crowd.
To be free as a bird we need to be centred in our own nature, to be confident in expressing ourselves and to let our spirits fly…
Thank you for this opportunity of letting me exercise Right #14 of the NZ Bill of Rights.
‘Altering’ Democracy is a necessary step in reverting to Tribalism and Minority Rule.
Mayor Hawkins confirms he is anti-Democracy claiming that “the interests of minorities will never be served by a popular vote” and his running mate Cr. Laufiso is an avowed communist.
IN DEFENCE OF DEMOCRACY
Professor Elizabeth Rata
University of Auckland
Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me to speak today. My talk ‘In Defence of Democracy’ is for those of all political persuasions who are deeply worried about New Zealand’s descent from democracy into a tribal form of ethno-nationalism.
I want to talk about democracy– about what it is we are in danger of losing and what we need to do to retain our nation’s remarkable 170 year legacy of democratic governance.
Nearly forty years ago the 1985 Treaty of Waitangi Amendment Act set in motion a radical constitutional agenda. The aim – to shift the country from democracy to tribalism. In that time a corporate tribal elite has privatised public resources, acquired political power, and attained governance entitlements. Activist judges have created treatyism – a new interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi as a ‘governance partnership’. Intellectuals have supplied the supporting racialised ‘two world views’ ideology.
The question we must ask is this: How has a small group of individuals, both Maori and non-Maori, managed to install a racialised ideology into our democracy?
In his book The Open Society, philosopher Karl Popper identifies those who would take us back to the past, to that closed tribal society from which we are all descended. He describes how throughout history those who ‘could only make themselves leaders of the perennial revolt against freedom’, those ‘incapable of leading a new way’ will return us to what he called ‘cultivated tribalism’.
It is this colossal failure of vision for a democratic future that has taken New Zealand to the crossroads. Democracy is one path ahead; ethno-nationalism is the other.
Treatyism’ success can be seen in how comprehensively ‘partnership’, ‘decolonisation’, ‘co-governance’ – whatever term is used – is inserted into all our government institutions, into the universities, and into the law. It is an ideology that tells how we are to understand our country’s history and how we are to envisage its future.
The 1840 Treaty of Waitangi was, like all human products, of its time and place. One aim – shared by British and Maori signatories alike – was to establish the rule of law by imposing British sovereignty through British governance. Sovereignty and governance go together as two sides of the same coin – with intertwined meaning. In the decades which followed, the treaty lost relevance in the new colonial society. This is the case with all historical treaties.
Revived in the 1970s as the symbol of a cultural renaissance, the treaty was captured by retribalists in the 1980s to serve as the ideological manifesto for the envisaged order – a reconstituted New Zealand. It was given a ‘spirit’ to take it above and beyond its historical location so that it could mean whatever retribalists say it means.
This treatyist ideology successfully promotes the false claim of partnership between the government and the tribes. However there is a deeper more insidious strategy propelling us to tribal ethno-nationalism. It is the collapse of the separation between the economic and political spheres.
The separation of the economic from the political is absolutely essential for democracy. When economic interests and political ambitions are merged there is no accountability to the people – consider all those totalitarian leaders whose power gives wealth and whose wealth gives power – a merger broken only when (and if) the people revolt.
When the combination of reactionary politics and wealth accumulation is justified by ‘myths of past perfection’, we have what I call the neotribal capitalist version of the wealth-power merger.
The corporate tribes have already acquired considerable governance entitlements – the next and final step is tribal sovereignty. It’s a coup d’etat in all but name, accomplished not by force but by ideology – enabled by a compliant media.
Given the enormous success of retribalism is it too late to reclaim New Zealand from the relentless march to blood and soil ethno-nationalism?
That depends upon our willingness to understand, value, and restore democracy.
To do this we need to be clear what democracy is.
First, it is the remarkable and still uncommon form of government described in Abraham Lincoln’s famous words as ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’.
Second, democracy has three pillars. Remove or even tweak these pillars and it collapses.
Third, democracy requires the ‘partially loyal’ universal individual.
I want to talk about these three pillars and that partially loyal individual. If we are to understand democracy this is where we start.
The pillars are:
- The citizen – the individual who bears political and legal rights – not the racialised group member.
- The state –– the governing infrastructure of parliament, systems of law, education, health and so on, regulator of public resources such as water, foreshore and seabed, flora and fauna, radio waves . . ..
- The nation – at once a geographic entity and a symbol of a unified though historically diverse people who muddle along together in liberal civil society.
Each of these pillars is riven by a necessary tension – a tension arising from their inherent contradictions – contradictions which make democracy future-oriented, progressive – and vulnerable.
The contradictions are:
- As citizens, we have a duty to society but, at the same time, we have personal interests arising from kin, cultural, and other social loyalties.
- The state is simultaneously the capitalist state – generating economic wealth and inequality – and the secular democratic state – guaranteeing political equality and regulating wealth distribution.
- The nation is unified in facing the future, yet diverse in its past.
Democracy is peaceful battle within and between each of these three pillars. This bloodless conflict is only possible when individuals are partially loyal.
So what is ‘partial loyalty’?
I first came across the term in anthropologist, Alan Macfarlane’s The Making of the Modern World. It intrigued me and I have developed the idea further in the following way.
‘Partial loyalty’ can explain what it is about the modern individual who has contradictory loyalties simultaneously – identifying as a family member, a member of an ancestral group, a cultural group, a tribe, a religion, an identity group defined by leisure interests, sexuality, and so on.
This is civil society. From different, even conflicting interests how do we decide where our loyalty lies – is it to New Zealand? To an identity group? An ancestral group? To those ‘who look like us’?
The idea of ‘partial loyalty’ is a way into thinking about this question.
It is a question that someone in a tribal society, an autocratic society, a religious society would not have to ask, or be permitted to ask, because the answer is already provided.
Most societies demand total loyalty.
- Traditional tribal societies allowed one identity – fixed by birth status and and kinship ties – not open to individual choice. Loyalty was non-negotiable because total loyalty ensured the group’s survival.
- Autocratic regimes, both past and present, impose total loyalty – not for the survival of all, but for the elite – imposed by might and by ideological indoctrination.
Democracies are different in a fundamental way. They not only allow partial loyalty but require it.
In a democracy we hold many loyalties simultaneously – family and social groups where the loyalty is personal – creating a deeply held sense of identity and belonging – perhaps to a tribe, culture, religion, sport or other type of association.
And at the same time we are loyal to a diverse society and to its governing system that is not personal. Indeed loyalty to the democratic nation is loyalty to a vision – the idea of ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’.
These two different loyalties – one a deeply personal identity – the other a rational commitment to an idea – is why democracy is so difficult. It is much easier to fall back into loyalties of emotion, not reason.
The ease and attraction of total loyalty favours ethno-nationalism – it is profoundly anti-modern and anti-democratic – yet profoundly seductive.
I want to turn now to how we have been seduced. This means talking about ideology.
Retribalism has attacked the three pillars of democracy through the covert use of ideology. I want to talk specifically about how this is occurring in language, education, and the media.
Retribalist ideology and language
Ideologies control not just speech but thought itself. The most successful have a manifesto, a ‘sacred text’ or covenant[x]. Mao’s Little Red Book, the Communist Manifesto, the sacred texts of religions, the US Constitution’s Second Amendment – these are used to symbolise a spiritual, ‘beyond this world’ authority, disguising the real-life ambitions of those controlling the ideology.
Since the 1980s the Treaty of Waitangi has been developed as such a manifesto – using two highly effective tactics.
I call the first the transubstantiation tactic.
Here the treaty is transformed from an historical document to a sacred text. This mystical transubstantiation takes the treaty into the realm of the spiritual from where it acquires a doctrinal authority – one to be interpreted for we common folk by a new priesthood – treatyist intellectuals.
Once the treaty’s unchallengable spiritual authority is established the second tactic comes into play. It is the diversion tactic. This ‘how many angels on a pinhead’ tactic operates by diverting us into echo-chamber squabbles – about the 1840 meaning of this word, that word, this intention, that intention. This is all interesting and important material for historians but our concern should be, not what the treaty said in 1840 – those days are gone – it served the purpose of the time – but what it is being used to say today – and for what purpose.
What about retribalist ideology and education?
Our education system is indoctrinating children into retribalism. The so-called ‘decolonisation’ and ‘indigenisation’ of the curriculum is the method. This is a disaster. Decolonisation will destroy the very means by which each generation acquires reasoned knowledge, and in so doing, the ability to reason.
I have described how this ability creates the disposition of partial loyalty that is required to be a citizen. Reasoning provides the rationalism to counter the irrationalism of total loyalty. By undermining the secular academic curriculum – that which creates the reasoning mind – we are destroying the partially loyal individual. Our fate – to be left with those capable only of mindless total loyalty.
And retribalist ideology and the media?
An ideology becomes omnipotent when it is not challenged. In a democracy the media should inform us of all competing interests and in all their complexity. We, the people, need to know everything, because it is us who will decide what should happen. Mainstream media has failed to do this – indeed is culpable in embedding treatyism.
Is it too late to save New Zealand’s democracy? Have we already passed the crossroads? A pessimist, realist perhaps, might say ‘yes’. As a reluctant optimist I would say there is still time if we do the following:
- Remove the treaty and its principles from all legislation. People (not a sacred deity) put these into legislation. People can remove them.
- Remove retribalism’s ideology from all public institutions, including the universities.
- Encourage those in civil society who value and desire Maori culture to participate in – for example – Maori media, Maori language, kaupapa Maori schools, Maori literature, arts, music, fashion, film, festivities . . . all the activities of a vibrant culture.
- Teach a complete and unvarnished NZ history developed according to sound scientific methods.
- Allow New Zealand English to evolve organically through incorporating Maori words, not by government decree.
- Re-build the education system to teach academic subjects – the source of the partially loyal individual – not ideological dogma.
And finally, hold a national discussion – possibly over several decades – about a symbol for New Zealand’s foundation. I have four suggestions:
- The 1840 Treaty of Waitangi – for its historical value only – not as a legal and constitutional document. Recent attempts to trace democracy to the treaty are nonsensical and will further embed treatyism.
- The 1852 Constitution Act. This Act, with all its limitations, did establish New Zealand democracy. It set up Parliament and the beginnings of the workable state that continues today. It recognised the citizen to whom Parliament is accountable – even though only certain Maori and settler men were able to vote – it is that crucial principle of accountability to the people that was put in place.
- The 1893 Electoral Act – women’s suffrage.
- Don’t have a founding document. Do we need one?
On a personal note – I confess an emotional pull to the 1893 Electoral Act – for kinship reasons – one of my great-grandmothers was a signatory to the Suffrage Petition. However as a ‘partially loyal’ citizen I must give full and rational consideration to the other contenders – even to argue against my own various loyalties in coming to a decision. There is no doubt that the 1852 Constitution Act is the strongest contender because we can trace our liberal democracy to this legislation. Surely it worth celebrating?
But we may never decide on an official founding document – and that’s fine. It is the continuous peaceful battle of democracy in action that matters. But that ongoing battle is democracy’s inherent source of instability – an unsettleness that is both its strength and its vulnerability.
When citizens abdicate their democratic duty, when the media abandons its responsibilities, when judges become political activists, when academics are intolerant of open inquiry, and when governments are subverted by an ideology – that is when a corporate tribal elite emerges to encircle the commons, that is to privatise what belongs to the public, to us the people, and to govern not in our interests but for themselves. In this way wealth and power are merged.
Before moving to my conclusion I want to make one thing absolutely clear – especially to those who will seek to distort my words – I support the activities of those in civil society who value and engage in Maori language and culture. A liberal civil society is where we meet in all our differences – indeed society is at its most creative when diversity is practised and enjoyed by all.
Politics arises from civil society – from the various conflicting interests of people. That political-civil interaction is what democracy looks like. But, and this is the crux of my argument, no interest group has the right of governance unless the people agree. Elections are that act of agreement – always temporary with the winner always on trial.
New Zealanders, both Maori and non-Maori, have not been asked to agree to tribalist governance. If we had been asked would we have agreed?
Tribalism and democracy are incompatible. We can’t have both. If we wish to keep New Zealand as a liberal democratic nation then, as we derive our citizen rights from the nation-state, so we have a duty to ensure that the nation-state which awards those rights, remains democratic and able to do so.
For our country to remain a liberal democracy, we need to know what democracy is, its true value, and what we must do to restore it.