Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Subtlety Is Not Jordan Williams' Strongpoint...

With regard to the Jordan Williams piece in yesterday's Herald ...

.....it's one of those things wherein I read this, and then I went "if Jordan Williams wants to support Tamihere to oust Goff .. HE WOULD BE WELL ADVISED TO SHUT UP ABOUT HOW HE IS SUPPORTING TAMIHERE TO OUST GOFF"

I mean seriously. Tamihere has/had a reasonable shot at picking up an array of "worker"-ish votes in the West/South areas cited. Sure. He *also* has a reasonable shot at picking up some upper-middle income voters, at least partially on the basis of not being Goff. And their 'reading between the lines' about some of his associates etc.

But in order to turn a 'dog-whistle' into an outright "HERE BOY" as applies them 'right-wing' supporters ... Williams (and, no doubt others) will start spooking those *other* [i.e. 'leftish'] voters who would have been Tamihere's locked and stocked 'base' to expand from.

Because no matter how good-sounding Tamihere's slogans and billboards and Herald columns about housing Aucklanders, sorting out services etc. might be - the residual impression that he's being supported by the sort of hard-neoliberal technocratick torturers responsible for so much misery in the lives of ordinary New Zealanders, is *hardly* going to be a winner when seeking out those self-same Kiwis' votes.

Now, it would be one thing if the linkages between Tamihere and various elements of the National Party were kept , as it were, 'sotto voce'. A sort of "we can work with anyone in favour of good ideas", kinda pitch, as suggested somewhat by the red-and-blue campaign branding. After all, this is local body politics. It's not unheard of and indeed pretty regularly recurrent for exactly this kind of thing to happen - personality, in some instances, matters *far* more than whatever kind of card you may or may not be carrying in your wallet for national-level party membership.

But thanks to Williams' screeching abrasive would-be prognostication ... if it keeps up, there is a very real risk that the only 'entrails' being read, will be those of the Tamihere campaign.

As in .. outside of its body, and splayed through the news media so we can *all* follow along with the exact constituents of feculent matter to be found amidst its corners and curves.

Therein to find, apparently, and going on what Williams has suggested, a few half-digested Taxpayers' Union reports and recommendations, etc.

And honestly, apart from the aforementioned circuits of Nats whor'e even now back-slapping themselves on how clever they are for thinking the whole thing up ... who actually wants to vote for that?

About the only thing that can be feasibly said ... is that the Jordan Williams piece in the Herald ... is not actually a piece of Tamihere promotion.

Rather, it is a piece of Jordan WIlliams promotion.

With occasional "wouldn't it be nice if there was a Nat candidate officiale" characteristics.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Kashmir Convoy Attack - Who Else Is Responsible

So this is a curious thing. The recent attack in Kashmir was carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammed, headed by a figure by the name of Masood Azhar. Understandably, India sought UN assistance in curtailing this ongoing threat; a move which the People's Republic of China has (once again) blocked. Just as it has consistently done for more than ten years now.

China is often talked about as having something of a reputation for taking a dim view of "militant" or even merely "political" Islam. In fact, it's one of the key 'official justifications' for their "re-education" efforts and detention programmes for the Uyghur population in their west. [I maintain that the actual objective of these policies is the disintegration, digestion, and consequent re-assimilation of the Uyghurs from a distinct people into a pliable sub-component of the overarching PRC whole; but I digress]

And yet, evidently when it comes to militants who're animositic against India, the PRC is quite content to not just 'look the other way' - but actively facilitate their defence. Even right there in full view on the world stage and at the highest levels.

Perhaps this helps to explain why we rather often hear of these Sunni extremist groups attacking Shi'ites, Sufis, and others inside the borders of their host nation - yet despite the very large PRC presence within Pakistan, we do not seem to hear of similar attacks against them.

But that is not the only international direction whence the trails of blood associated with JeM lead.

The organization itself is significantly a creation of the Pakistani state's ISI; and has been actively aided and abetted by Pakistan (or, perhaps more accurately, by various powerful official elements *within* Pakistan) throughout the span of its existence.

Now, the full story of JeM's ongoing relationship with the Pakistani state is lengthy, intricate, fascinating, and sadly well beyond the scope of this piece.

Suffice to say, that when it was announced that Pakistan had taken Masood Azhar into "protective custody", it is probably best to construe that literally - i.e. that they were being *protective* of their prized asset.

Yet JeM did not spring forth from the ground of its own accord and fully formed, at some point in the 1990s.

Rather, it had its origins amidst the general milieu of insurgency forces founded to combat the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan more than a decade prior. Indeed, this is where Masood Azhar first got his start, rising to prominence within the Harkat militant groups then active within that conflict as an orator, organizer, and even something of (perhaps ironically) a diplomat.

It is therefore worth noting that although the ISI itself appears to have played the lead state-actor role in coagulating these forces once again following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and consequent Taliban victory in 1989 and 1992 respectively, this is a post-facto topiary of the terroristic plant.

The actual inception and initial growth-fertilization can be laid squarely and directly at the trowels of the United States - along with the 'usual suspects' such as Saudi Arabia, and of course Pakistan.

By this, I do not simply mean that these powers sought to find friends who would also oppose the Soviet assistance mission in Afghanistan. But rather, that they directly funded, trained, provided armaments, and otherwise supported and directed these groups that would one day coalesce into what is today JeM.

In fact, as an amusing aside, it was the CIA who provided one such predecessor tendency - the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen - with stinger missiles for use against Soviet aircraft. Why is this 'amusing'? Well, following the withdrawal of the Soviets and the subsequent victory of the Taliban in Kabul (events separated by almost three years), the CIA suddenly realized that maybe having extremist militant groups running around with top-of-the-line American anti-air missiles might be a potentially questionable idea.

So they organized a buy-back programme. Which met with little, if any success. The Mujahideen, understandably, feeling that they'd have far more use for munitions than for money (not least since it appears likely that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan never really 'turned off the taps' in these cash regards) in their newfound re-purposement as a set of blades less *specifically* pointed at a single country or combat-zone.

However, to quote the old adage - "The Devil Is Not Mocked", and it appears highly likely that the subsequent round of American cruise-missile strikes upon HuM camps later on in the decade were a direct consequence of this 'insubordination' against their former Washington-(well, Langley-)based masters.

As it turned out, I suppose, the more recent express shipment of American missiles to HuM turned out to be 'bigger'. Albeit still subsonic. [One wonders how long it shall take for a similar such 'delivery' to have to be made to many of the "moderate rebels" the US chose to back in Syria not so long ago - the Marx quip about history occurring twice .. the first time as 'tragedy', the second time as 'farce', rings in my ears]

In any case, the point of all this is that it is not hard to see why Pakistan went down the path of both courting and supporting these militants for the purposes of their ongoing covert aggressions against India. After all, they'd literally seen the significant efficacy of such a strategy directly in play on their own border against a Superpower only a few years before.

Indeed, with many of the groups and individuals already conveniently operating out of Pakistan anyway, you could say that it was something of a no-brainer (or certainly a no-scruples) initiative for them to undertake.

Now having said that, whether Pakistan had a *direct* hand in the most recent outrage in Kashmir, I cannot say. India appears to believe so - and not least given the history, I would be highly surprised if somebody in the ISI *wasn't* at the very least aware of and encouraging, if not actively facilitating the action in question.

However, it is worth noting that JeM has gone 'off the leash' of Pakistan before - and acted rather 'beyond' its intended mandate in ways that have proven embarrassing, complicating, and even downright dangerous for Pakistan before. The 2001 attack on India's Parliament, with its resultant American castigation of Pakistan for its role in harbouring JeM, followed by not only the group's banning within Pakistan but a wave of JeM 'reprisal' attacks against Pakistani state targets, springs instantly to mind.

So where am I going with all of this?

Well, it's simple.

Over the past few months, I've seen a number of voices attempting to lay the blame for the entire security situation in Kashmir upon India. Indeed, one article that I am thinking of - which sought to utilize this as part of a generalized attack upon US Presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard - appeared to be quite pointedly singling out Hindus as the alleged 'guilty party'.

Yet clearly, it is not India that has been engaged in setting up Sunni 'pocket insurgencies' to fight against the Soviets and then against India Herself. Nor has it been India seeking desperately to shield these dubiously controllable 'assets' from the scrutiny or the sanction of the global community of nations - at the UN, or otherwise.

Instead, it has been the snake and the scimitar to the north and the west of India respectively, who have each in this situation been the resounding answer to the age-old legal maxim of inquiry: "Cui Bono?" And who have, more importantly, been continually caught out red and/or green handed working to facilitate and protect these very same extremist efforts against the world's largest democracy.

So if you want somebody to blame for this recent atrocity in Kashmir, then yes - by all means - curse the name of Masood Azhar. And most definitely positively anticipate the impending Indian response against Jaish-e-Mohammed.

Yet remember most wardingly - that these horrific actions did not occur in a mere vacuum. And that other, great(er) powers are out there, quietly lucking lips with enthusiasm at the resultant strategic shifts on the geopolitical chessboard (funnily enough, and not at all coincidentally, occurring in the same general area wherein the 'Great Game' of the 1800s was *also* played out, once upon a time - not for nothing is it often said that while history may not exactly repeat ... it sure does often rhyme!).

This also has overarching implications even for those of us who are handily separated from the Subcontinent by at least one and a half oceans, here in New Zealand.

At present, we are having a significant national debate over the alleged "alignment" of our foreign policy - particularly as applies the PRC's energetic strategic expansion into the Pacific, and the corresponding American efforts to counter same.

Both of these purported 'great' powers have had a hand in what has gone on this past week just gone in Kashmir, as well as - through their broader foreign policy and covert,conspiratorial stances - the larger set of events and affairs that that ties into.

Neither can be trusted. Although, to be fair, the Americans' *active* role in such proceedings was rather longer ago (notwithstanding, of course, the apparent fact that their efforts in and around Syria would seem to suggest they've learnt nothing or next to nothing in all of that time).

Over the course of the last two-and-a-bit years, I have repeatedly endeavoured to make the case that New Zealand - and other smaller and/or more principled nations like her - should be actively enthusing the idea that we Stand With India.

Whether in the context of a new 'Non-Aligned Movement' style collaboration fit to contest the emergent competing global 'hegemonies' of this age; or more simply and tightly focused upon the idea of India as the only seriously viable bulwark against the People's Republic of China. And/or, in either case, as a staunch support for the hoped-for paradigm of 'multipolarity'.

I shall not relitigate those arguments in any great detail here.

Suffice to say, what has been unfurled and revealed about the torrid tendencies at play in Kashmir this week has only strengthened that position.

Yet even were this not immediately and materially relevant to us over here and outside the country in question; I should still conclude this article exactly the same way:

For emotional reasons, for compassionate reasons, for principled reasons, for pragmatic reasons -

Now, indeed, is the time to #StandWithIndia

भारत माता की जय
जय हिन्द

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Increasing Absurdity Of "White Supremacy" Allegation-By-Association Attacks In US Politics

So earlier this week I happened across a headline: DAVID DUKE ENDORSES ILHAN OMAR, or words to that effect.

Now, for those unaware, David Duke is a rather well-known figure due to his previous infamy in association with the KKK.

The statement that he's 'endorsing' somebody is supposed to carry with it automagic connotations that whomever it is that's been 'lucky' enough to attract his attention is some sort of White Supremacist and/or 'acceptable face for white supremacy'. (This is directly the implication that has been carried with his 'endorsement' on pretty much every previous occasion it has been foisted upon somebody; to the point that I'm rather seriously wondering if Duke knows the likely effect his words have, and is in the pay and/or thrall of some anti-progressive forces out there to deliberately try and tank candidacies of rivals and opponents)

Ilhan Omar, meanwhile, is part of a rather rare minority - non-white female Muslims elected to the US Congress.

Now, while it is possible to see how Duke's .. particular tastes in politics might have lead him to the idea that Omar's skeptical stance on AIPAC is a Good Thing (which is not to say that it isn't) -

we're currently living in a future wherein FORMER KKK GRAND WIZARD ENDORSES OBVIOUSLY MUSLIM SOMALI WOMAN FOR CONGRESS is a serious article of news. Rather than something The Onion might pitch on an off-day.

And, again to be sure, there's been quite a bit of back-and-forth within 'white supremacy' [to use a term incredibly broadly] circles over Israel. Some have taken, not without cause nor purpose, to holding up Israel as a shining example of an 'achievable' "ethno-state"; or as an outpost of American hegemony, and which has been historically unafraid to "control" its minority populations with everything from involuntary sterilization through to active expulsions and targeted killings. So I guess you can see the appeal.

Others have gone down the exactly opposite path, whether for the reasons of opposing "The Jews", or for wanting American foreign and domestic policy priorities to be about America first rather than propping up such a state, or out of an interesting desire to have the 'nationhood' aspirations of many groups respected - and therefore logically reasoning that the exceptionalist-exclusionary default stance of modern Israel's situation within he region, and its contentious web of alliances with rather unsavoury tendencies within the region, renders it "problematic" at best.

But I digress.

The argument implicit to an array of the media attacking Omar for her being supported by Duke, is quite clear.

Namely, that as with Tulsi Gabbard earlier this year, that somehow the most prominent 'women of colour' from 'minority religions' in American politics today ... are "acceptable faces of white supremacy".

Think about that for a minute.

Take all the time that you need.

While not at all denying that there are some active (and stupid) tendencies of 'White Supremacy", "White Ethno-Nationalism" [as if "white" is an ethnic group] active within American politics today (and, of course, the rather recent trope of "White-Enough Nationalism") - it has become plainly apparent, especially of late, that the habitual deployment of the 'scare tactics' of association with such reprehensible retrograde figures and tendencies is nothing more than a callously calculated effort to de-legitimate the insurgent wave of anti-Establishment and actually left-wing efforts presently coming into view.

These aspersions should, therefore, be seen as exactly what they are. And disregarded with (no pun intended) extreme prejudice as a result.

To do anything else, is to buy into the absurdishly supreme irony of attempting to de-legitimate and silence alternative voices, many of which come from these non-white, non-male, and non-religious-majority (which, yes, also includes secularists and atheists) perspectives ... simply because some white American in a relatively privileged position in the media or political establishments has told you to do so, and on grounds of the alleged furtherance of "white supremacy" if you do not comply.

It don't get much more subtly, insidiously "white supremacist" than that.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

On "Facing Up" To The "Whole History" Of NZ Pre-1840

I see Don Brash was quoted in yesterday's Herald calling for broader education about New Zealand history, and in particular history here prior to 1840. This .. was somewhat unexpected, but the next few lines gradually made clear what he was on about:

Quoth Brash:

"My worry is that if we focus only on post 1840 history we'll ignore the fact that there were some awful things done by Māori tribes to other Māori tribes. [...] Let's face the whole history. I'm in favour of doing that."

He said the number of people killed in the Land Wars on both sides was "quite minor compared with pre-1840 inter-tribal war.""

Or, in other words, I suspect the actual idea here is to try and implicitly push a metanarrative of pre-Crown Sovereignty NZ being some kind of absolutely barbarous Dark Ages, followed by the extension of British (and later NZ-Crown) rule making everything .. if not perfect, then at least so inarguably better as to render any subsequent conversation around Crown misdeeds towards Maori effectively moot.

Perhaps I am being unfair to Brash. Maybe he was quoted out of context. And possibly, there is no essentialized connection between what he's advocating, and the implicit motivation I've ascribed to it. Although I somehow doubt it.

However, what I can say with greater certainty is that despite Brash's explicit enthusiasm for adding greater 'context' to New Zealand history, and discussions around the Treaty in particular ...

... adding a list of inter-Iwi atrocities to the New Zealand school-curriculum is not the way to go about this. Indeed, if that's *all* Brash et co are after, then the only thing they'll be accomplishing is, if anything, a further *decontextualization* of these threads of New Zealand's history.


Well, consider these three rather glaring historiographical issues.

First up, while it is definitely true that the Musket Wars of the early 1800s [which, for the record, I definitely seem to recall having learned a bit about at school, so I'm not quite sure why Brash seems to think it's not taught?] featured significant inter-tribal conflict, and some luminous examples of that much-vaunted phrase: "Man's Inhumanity to Man" ... it's not like Maori had a monopoly upon armed conflict in the first few decades of the 19th century.

At about the same time that the Musket Wars were getting going in earnest here in New Zealand, much of the Continent of Europe was busy tearing itself apart at the height of the Napoleonic Wars. This might seem of questionable relevancy to New Zealand history itself - but a) it helps establish that no, no there isn't something uniquely barbarous about the inhabitants of New Zealand pre-Treaty, simply because they, too, engaged in acts of conquest and enslavement; and b) the ongoing geopolitical developments back in Europe which the Napoleonic Wars formed a particularly bloody manifestation of, would have considerable effects upon the actual processes by which New Zealand came into existence in the first place [viz. British reactions to the French, and putative desires to head the latter off from colonial acquisition].

I'd also append here that while Brash *is* technically correct about the Musket Wars having a far higher death-toll associated with them than the later Land Wars/New Zealand Wars - this is only to be expected. After all, the Musket Wars stretched over a period of nearly forty years, covered almost the entirety of the country [and the Chatham Islands, rather infamously], and featured a pretty huge degree of technological and therefore military disruption to pre-existing norms.

It is therefore entirely unsurprising that the relatively shorter Land Wars/New Zealand Wars, which featured a vastly smaller number of combatants on all sides and which raged over significantly smaller areas of the country and spans of time, would produce a much reduced death-toll in comparison.

The second point to be raised, of course, is that the enhanced bellicosity that characterizes the period of the Musket Wars, was only made possible in the first place via the introduction of technological improvements (most prominently, the eponymous weapon of the conflict) brought by Europeans.

This might sound something of a glaringly obvious self-evidency; yet it matters in the context of Hobson's Pledge's preferred metanarrative - as far and away from "proving" that European colonization was what made all the magical(thinking) difference between pre-Treaty "barbarism" and post-Treaty "civilization" , it instead shows that the European contribution to peace and prosperity here in these lands is, at best, *decidedly* more mixed.

To attempt to insist otherwise - that large-scale losses of life numbering in the tens of thousands (admittedly, again, over a period of nearly forty years) amidst Maori in the early 1800s, is something that is *only* the result *of* Maori, as if in a vacuum ... is again, to endeavour to decontextualize an important series of threads of New Zealand history, in service of an overarching yet fundamentally a-historical pro-colonial meta-narrative. t

Yet it is the third point, that I am about to make, which is arguably the most significant.

As I have stated above, it came as quite some surprise to me that Brash appeared to believe that New Zealand history teaching doesn't entail anybody learning anything about the conflicts which dominated much of the pre-1840s landscape here. I well remember reasonable tracts of classroom time spent upon it; and a pretty common currency for these in broader life.

When a law-lecturer of mine made a joke about the ... difficulties of introducing herself at various Maraes in certain parts of the country, due to her being Ngapuhi, and muttered occasionally only somewhat-joking comments about the alleged aggressions an outrages committed against her hosts' ancestors, by the folk of her forebears ... I don't think much of the room required this being explained as if it were entirely new information we were coming into contact with?

But I digress.

Maybe there have been some seismic shifts in the NZ education system over the past few years (and, as a side-note, it has ever been an endemic problem when it comes to commentary upon education matters - we all just blithely presume, unless we're teachers, that things are still fundamentally the same as "when we went through"); but unless this has been the case, I do not think that there is a total lack of teaching or of broader awareness about the Musket Wars et al.

I *do* however think that there is quite a chronic *under-teaching* and more than infrequent *lack of awareness* about the *other side* of proceedings.

Insofar as, while we *might* learn about some of the broad trends inherent in the Musket Wars; and some of the pretty impressive leadership figures like Hongi Hika ... pretty much everything else that's non-military related seems to fly under the radar. A QED proof of which can be found in Brash's own words pertaining to his own view that 'lifting the lid' on NZ history pre-1840 simply means confronting "the fact that there were some awful things done by Māori tribes to other Māori tribes".

But even though names like Ruatara are somewhat known today (a very forward-thinking Ngapuhi chieftain - who, amongst other things, sought to introduce European agricultural elements to his people, with a view to improving both their own self-provision of sustenance and the economic trading facility which greater output would bring - tellingly, stating his interest in wheat-cultivation due to a significant shortage in a neighbouring offshore market), you have to do a bit of digging to find mention of the remarkably active and intentional role which Maori were carving out for themselves in the flax, timber, sealskin, potato, and other industries.

Admittedly, as a side-note, pretty much all of these *do* directly relate to the military-history angle of things - insofar as the agricultural advancements of the period enabled far greater military actions due to freeing up manpower, and all these economic windfalls facilitating the additional purchase of armaments.

But that's just the thing. The "the pre-Treaty era was just barbarous atrocities carried out in the name of inter-tribal conquest" perspective doesn't even acknowledge the sheer ingenuity and societal effort which went into making those three thousand plus raids and battles which make up the Musket Wars *possible*. Even though the same sorts of people pushing that line probably still quietly pat their own forebears on the back for "the advancements of Industrial society" which eventually produced the technological capabilities of World War One, or the Second World War, or the Nazi-derived rocketry which both took Man to the Moon and furnished endless rows of atomic missile-silos at the height of the Cold War.

I suppose that's the metaphor I'm going for here, come to think of it - the notion that attempting to characterize or teach pre-1840s NZ history as a series of inter-tribal aggressive outrages ... makes about exactly as much sense as attempting to reduce everything that happened during the span of the Cold War down to escalating tallies of missiles pointed at each other, and Vietnam in there somewhere as well.

Anyway, again I digress.

Part of the reason why I find the economic developments which characterized New Zealand prior to the Treaty so worthy of reiteration here, is because contrary to the rather popular subconscious view of Maori trading activity with the wider world basically being exchanging a few minimally-above-subsistence surplus primary industry gleanings with whalers or sealers ... the actual truth of the matter is that ferrying the *literally thousands of tonnes* of flax, or the *literally thousands of pounds* [in the currency of the day] worth of other exports to Australia or elsewhere ... weren't just European trading ships. But Maori-owned vessels as well.

I shall phrase this again more succinctly: Maori prior to 1840 included within their number, quite some perspicacious and enterprising figures who saw fit to operate within the European-dominated international economic system of the day ... and compete very successfully on an equal footing.

Indeed, the success of Maori-owned and run international shipping operations is a key part of the story of how New Zealand acquired arguably 'our' first flag - that of the United Tribes, promulgated officially in 1835. This being necessitated due to the requirement of ships trading in British controlled ports overseas having a flag of nationality to register under.

There's another intriguing story to be written on how things "went wrong" economically over the course of the subsequent decades; but we shall, I think, leave that for another time - as this piece has already marched on far further I had initially intended.

The last point I'd raise (for now) about the pre-1840 'New Zealand' story, which is not raised in the 'litany of atrocity' metanarrative, is that the actual genesis of 'New Zealand' identity can very much be said to properly lie in those times.

In the occasionally confusing, sometimes deadly, but *always* interesting not just 'encounters' - but 'engagements', 'assimilations' (going both ways, to be sure), and 'enjoinments' of individuals and communities which took place well before the 'overwriting' of much of this by successive waves of "we're British" that took place with subsequent, post-Treaty migration and cultural-legal enshrinements here.

In the course of researching this piece, I happened across some several accountings of the prominent Missionary personage - Thomas Kendall. Now apart from the fact that the notion of missionary-linguist-teacher-arms dealers is a pretty ... almost 'pulp' level of interesting characterization, or the direct role which Kendall played in the international diplomacy of the day by facilitating Hongi Hika and Waikato's trip to England (the net outcome of which being hundreds of muskets and one suit of armour for Ngapuhi), it is the story of his eventual booting out of the Church Missionary Society that particularly interests me.

The 'official' reason, of course, was his affair with the daughter of a prominent Maori Tohunga [Priest]. Not due to any great opposition to the idea of interracial relations - but rather because Kendall was already a married man, thus making him an adulterer. Evidently, in those days, 'conduct unbecoming of the Clergy' was supposed to mean something.

Yet I don't think that's the actual motivation for his expulsion. Not entirely, anyway.

Instead, you look at Kendall's correspondence and other such sources - and it rapidly becomes abundantly clear that he'd effectively almost stopped thinking like, or for that matter thinking of *himself* as , a good English Christian man.

To quote his own words on the subject : due to the "apparent sublimity of [Maori] ideas" - "I have been almost completely turned from a Christian to a Heathen".

Where am I going with this? With a few notable and largely self-declared exceptions, we are not, truthfully speaking, simply "South Seas British", over here in the "New Zealand European" census-category. (Not least because of all the decidedly *non*-British Europeans who've migrated here over the centuries - my French and Swedish ancestry proudly wave their respective flags, and Dannevirke has its big Viking sign)

Instead, the 'encounter' with what has been here before (or what is coming here after), and the adjusting, the adaptation to these 'new' circumstances and *without* the comforting double-buttressing of cultural, political, and economic hegemony ... is something which has characterized both the pre-1840s span of New Zealand history, as well as the post-1970s [particularly the 1967 British entry into the European Economic Community] space of our seeking to define our *own* National Identity here in this little country of ours, upon our *own* terms rather than meekly blithely accepting the imposed identi-forms of others (whether British then, or McWorld today).

But again, I have digressed - albeit for rather important and significant reasons, given the customary introspection upon New Zealand National Identity which has come to characterize Waitangi Days year in and year out.

The point I have been making, is that I completely agree with *some* of the words uttered by Brash earlier at Waitangi.

"Let's face the whole history. I'm in favour of doing that. [...] but I don't want our history to be taught in a biased way."

It's just that this means *so* much more than simply rattling off a list of death-tolls from Musket-raids. And, in point of fact, will probably go quite some way to *disproving* the sorts of insistent cognitive terrain that the Hobson's Pledge types often like to propagate around the place.

There's so much to celebrate and to be impressed by with pre-1840s NZ history. And so much 'additional context' to some of the more grisly or negative parts.

The discussion and accompanying explorations around these areas is far too important, to reference me some Clemenceau, to be left simply to the sorts of people who pronounce the "ch" in "Racist".

Monday, February 4, 2019

On Venezuela And Judith Collins' Sudden Inexplicable Enthusiasm for Democracy

There are a few things to be said about this attack-line from the National Party's Judith Collins. One of which, is that Collins either doesn't know, or more likely simply doesn't care about the facts of the situation. Juan Guaido did not contest the 2018 Venezuelan Presidential Election. It is therefore impossible to truthfully call him the "rightful winner" of said Election.

But, you know, it isn't nearly as neat of a soundbite to talk about the installation of an "Interim President" with a view toward organizing pending new elections, so a simplistic "TRUE WINNER" vs "CORRUPT FAKE" narrative is what she's gone for here.

Another, is the curious contradiction entailed in Collins' statement that the European Union supports Guaido over Maduro. Leaving aside for the moment the fact that it's not actually true (the actual E.U. stance is only to recognize Guaido if Maduro continues to refuse to hold fresh elections; with the additional corollary that the Bloc's individual member-countries will issue a range of statements which *avoid* explicit 'recognition'), it completely erases the stances of a number of E.U. member-countries, such as Italy and Greece, which have pointedly refused to recognize Guaido as President, interim or otherwise.

The attempted monolithicization of the moral force of the entirety of Europe behind Guaido on show here, is also a very handy illustration of the way in which the supranational institutions that underpin neoliberal-globalism directly undercut the actual ability of any country to have its own say, its own views, its own voice. And actively distort realty in the process. But we shall perhaps leave that exploration for another time.

In any case, for all their faults, I'm not sure that it would be particularly tenable to try and argue that either Italy or Greece are not currently "democratic". Or, for that matter, that the world's largest democracy, a longstanding friend of ours with whom our interests increasingly align, the Republic of India, is not to be counted amidst "The World's [sic] democracies" simply because India has also refused to bend the Boltonian knee and recognize Guaido.

In fact, there are quite a number of democratic countries which aren't against Maduro. but once again, because this would be inconvenient for Collins' "Good Democracies vs Evil Socialists" moral duality, this is completely ignored. I must also confess myself abjectly surprised at The Economist suddenly being a champion of democracy, given some of its previous positions *against* democratically-attained outcomes it feels to be "problematic" from the perspective of neoliberal-technocracy; as is the curiousness of Collins' sudden apparent allergy to being cordial with the People's Republic of China, given her very specific history in this area - but, again, another series of stories for another time.

Collins' comments around New Zealand being offside with "all of our traditional allies" on this issue, further ring perplexing.

After all, you take a look at a number of the countries we're now apparently off-side with, and it almost seems like the opposite is true. I mean, as applies the United States, France, and Israel ... this therefore means that we are not joining, respectively, a country that broke *off* military relations with us and turfed us out of a defence pact over the NZ-nuclear-free issue, a country which carried out an act of international terrorism against us (a situation in which, I note, we did not have the United States' or United Kingdom's support, due to it being contrary to their interests to do so), and a country whose extensive array of strikes against us includes the ongoing theft of our passports for espionage purposes, an attempted hacking of our police computer-systems, and an implicit declaration of war against us at the United Nations only a few months ago.

The "BUT ALL OUR FRIENDS ARE DOING IT!" school of international diplomacy theory has also been trotted out previously by the National Party, most prominently with regard to its vitriolic opposition to the Clark Government keeping New Zealand out of the Americans' illegal 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The New Zealand refusal to proceed in the absence of a clear U.N. mandate for THAT Bolton-approved Neocon brouhaha, has since been vindicated on any number of levels. Although no doubt, there are still holdouts within National who yet believe we made the wrong call on Iraq, and want to 'make it up' to the Americans with subsequent silliness at their behest.

Oh, and speaking of the U.N. - it's probably worth noting that that august body has thus far refused to ordain Guaido as a legitimate leader of Venezuela. Maybe Collins doesn't think the United Nations are a "traditional ally" of New Zealand, either.

Collins often likes to play the populist - hence her quip about "Even the E.U." choosing to recognize Guaido. The implication being clear that "even" the horrifically anti-democratic and anti-popular European Union has chosen to do the 'right thing', and is in this instance - in Collins' heavily skewed view - on the side of the ordinary Venezuelan people and some measure of "democracy".

It is therefore considerably ironic that the confederation of forces which she has allied herself with, and which she seeks to drag New Zealand kicking and screaming into greater alignment with ... are the anti-populist ones, more generally speaking.

Meanwhile, many of those who are castigated or characterized as being "populist", concerned with national sovereignty against intergovernmental interference, with the upholding of the democratically expressed will of the people *against* transnational neoliberal (or, for that matter, neocon - as in this instance) elites ... they are not on the side of Guaido.

I state this, because it illustrates the clear dysjunction between the anti-elitist, and somewhat 'popular' in style rhetoric which we have increasingly heard from the National Party over the past few years ... and what they actually believe, and actually support, when they think they can get away with it.

A similar instance can be observed with the National Party's recent declaration of opposition to the UN Migration Pact - despite its own immediately previous tenure presiding over historically high levels of immigration to New Zealand, and its earlier championing of the anti-sovereignty Trans-Pacific Partnership trade/investment agreement.

In any case, it is probable that another thought percolates at the back of Judith Collins' mind, motivating her and her colleagues/cronies to take such vociferous stands on the politics of a small nation on the other side of the globe.

Namely, that in situations wherein elections do not produce the "right" outcomes for some reason [whether due to alleged improper governmental actions in the Venezuelan election; or due to NZ First opting for Labour, over the notionally more popular National Party here in the NZ General Election in 2017], that the Guaido recognition suggests you can shift governing arrangements more toward the neoliberal right via 'top-down' ('diplomatic') interventions - no "elections" required.

It is no wonder that Collins is contemplating such a concept.

After all, it is pretty much the only way that she would possibly be able to become Leader of the National Party , and/or Prime Minister of New Zealand.