The Culture of Cynicism, political apathy & not voting in 2014


The power of Russell Brand’s call to apathy in his infamous Newsnight interview had far less hip male columnists spluttering into their thesauruses trying to match his articulation by damning his audacity. What such naked jealousy missed was the genuine pull of Brand’s reasoning.

In a world of gross injustice where mere existence in the West is dependent upon servitude and slavery everywhere else, participating in the fraud of democracy when corporate media exist only to endorse the economic and cultural mythology of the 1% makes one as existentially responsible as the owner of an iPhone suicide sweat shop. Apathy and none participation in such a world is a very reasonable approach in attempting to find some ethical compass, so the pull to not engage in the political process has some merit.

Some merit, just some, because while it is true corporate media lie and manipulate so that this is the political reality…


…to wash ones hands of engagement and sit on the sidelines leads not to moral certainty but to smugness. When one considers how much of the planet are disenfranchised, to not participate because changing narratives is difficult and complex are the excuses of the lame not enlightened.

The Culture of Cynicism that we live in has positives, it distrusts authority and power, but it can also go to extremes. Cameron Slater’s bizarre justification as to why he wallowed in the sewer of Len Brown’s affair was because politicians were all dirty so screw ’em. Such a warped world view is too damaged to take seriously. Cynicism has its place and at times it is justified, but it should never replace the power of hope and the belief that humans are fundamentally good just so one can take an intellectual shit on the effort of trying.

In NZ, we have one of the most representative forms of Democracy on the planet, to pretend that engagement here won’t change things is simply absurd and is the reasoning of the lazy. Brand’s defense of apathy is righteous, but not right, engaging in the democratic process and lending our support to those processes that ensure democracy is as representative as possible is our responsibility and acknowledging that social obligation is far harder than the seduction of just giving up.

Here are the 5 ideas I have to make our democratic engagement better…

TDB Recommends

1: Lower the voting age to 16 alongside civics education classes in School to start the passion for democracy at a younger age. Taxation without representation is that most heinous of high crimes against citizens and taxing 16 and 17 year olds minus their right to say how that tax should be spent is worth expanding the franchise of democracy all on its own minus the wider social good of allowing the young their say.

2: Allow any voter to go onto the unpublished electoral roll and make the process as easy as ticking a box. So many of our citizens are on the run from debt collectors or abusive spouses that they refuse to enroll so as to not be detected. Any NZer can go onto the unpublished roll but the Electoral Commission goes out of its way to demand all sorts of reasons for it to occur. If the end point is to make it as easy as possible for citizens to participate, streaming this process and making it as easy as a box tick is a priority.

3: Make the date of the election a Wednesday and make it a public holiday. We bitch so much in this country about not having a day we can celebrate as NZers because white people feel so guilty about Waitangi Day, why not search for that which binds us and celebrate that? Election Day should be a celebration because we are one of the few privileged nations around the planet that allows political leadership to change minus violence and repression. Our exercising of the right to vote peacefully is celebration in itself and making it a mid week public holiday would do more for participation rates than any single thing the Justice and Electoral Select Committee review could endorse.

4: The National Party as part of their disgustingly unethical redneck tough on crime posturing passed law stripping prisoners of their rights to vote. Removing a prisoner incarcerated for less than 3 years their ability to vote removes any connection a prisoner might have with civil society. The argument is that prisoners who are inside for less than 3 years should be able to vote because the decision of the election will impact them one way or another once they are released within the lifetime of that Government. Nationals redneck worship by stripping prisoners of their right to vote puts us on the opposite side of the European Court of Human Rights who have argued against this type of prisoner flogging. Their argument is that incarceration doesn’t remove your human right to vote, this is a positron far too intellectual for the National Party who seem more comfortable at farmer shed lynchings than the finer details of how the state should treat the incarcerated.

5: Expand the civics course in schools to immigrant communities and make the course a compulsory part of becoming a NZer so that new citizens know their civic rights and responsibilities.We do our new citizens a terrible disservice by not extending any hand of welcome when they become NZers other than a certificate ceremony. How can we expect them to interact in civil society with all the autonomy citizens have if the history and cultural norms haven’t been explained?

…I don’t think political apathy is a solution, I think  it is a symptom.


  1. …to wash ones hands of engagement and sit on the sidelines leads not to moral certainty but to smugness. When one considers how much of the plant are disenfranchised, to not participate because changing narratives is difficult and complex are the excuses of the lame not enlightened

    Indeed, Martyn.

    People like Russell Brand, pre-occupied with his sex addiction, and wallowing in his affluent life-style of the Hollywood Rich & Famous is certainly not one to be troubled by the social, economic, and environmental ills of the world. A bit of nooky and a few laps of his internal swimming pool soon clears the troubled mind of such unpleasantries.

    No wonder he encourages others to follow his hopeless cynicism, and worldview. If others can validate his narcissism and dis-engagement then his conscience is freed of obligation to get his hands dirty and do something positive.

    God help us if his beliefs had been common amongst the human race. We’d still be building pyramids for Pharoah overlords or tilling the soil for feudal barons, from birth to early, miserable death.

    I will not submit.

    I will not lie down.

    I will not be silent…

    And Russell Brand and his well-fed, rich, liquored, ilk can get fucked.

    • Frank you’ve been writing some awesome investigative articles lately but I totally disagree with this attitude to Russell Brand.

      There’s a whole bunch of people out there, who were inspired by his disregard for establishment power and the status quo and these are the exact same people we need to connect with.

      By telling Russell to get fucked you’re basically saying get fucked to them as well. If we keep doing this we’ll never broaden the base we need to turn away from neo-liberalism.

      From what I can see, the group of people he connected with are all young – roughly round the 30 year old mark and what surprised me is that people who I thought would go on to become establishment right wing types were just as inspired.

      This next generation of middle class people coming through is clearly bearing the brunt of the neo liberal reforms and as they start having young families and trying to settle down they’re beginning to see that the previous two generations have pulled the ladder up with them.

      Right now they are ready to become politically active and they’ll go with the people who are able to articulate how they feel.

      If we’re smart we’ll co-opt that group and bring them along with us. Or if we keep doing what the left has been doing for the last few decades we’ll turn our noses up at them and the right will co-opt their anger – just like they have in the US.

      So we need to say, yes, the system is broken and yes, your single vote won’t achieve much but if you’re interested in changing the world and bringing down the status quo I’ve got a few ideas about how we might do that.

      It’s also our chance to say that with MMP, voting options aren’t quite as dire as in the UK – in fact there’s a guy already in parilament who is absolutely loathed by the establishment – a vote for him is a great way to send a great big fuck you to the people who’ve sold your generation out.

      Also, if you want the next generation to be interested in politics then civics classes are a sure-fire way to make sure it doesn’t happen – doesn’t anyone remember how dull school makes everything?

      • Aaron, I get what you’re saying about connecting with “a whole bunch of people out there, who were inspired by his disregard for establishment power and the status quo and these are the exact same people we need to connect with”.

        I couldn’t agree more on that.

        Those 800,000 who did not vote in 2011 are an example of the ones we need to connect with. Whether they are welfare recipients; low income folks living in State houses; or the middle class who are sick of their elected representatives promising one thing and either failing to deliver (eg; Key’s promise to raise wages); breaking promises (raising gst); or selectively pursuing goals (tax cuts for the rich).

        Where Brand fucked up was advocating non-voting – disengagement from the electoral system. That doesn’t help us one iota in getting people engaged in the system by making them conscious of why they need to be part of the system.

        Standing aside from the system; dis-engaging; not-viting; abstaining – call it what you will – achieves only one thing. It aids and abets those who DO vote, and vote for ideologies that are anathema to ideas of collective good. They will continue to vote for Parties such as National because they understand the power of the vote.

        In effect, Brand is advocating standing aside and permitting the New Right unfettered access to the coridors of power.

        The results of that will be more of what we’ve seen over the last 5 years; asset sales to the rich; tax cuts; de-funding social services; more User Pays; etc, etc, etc.

        It will end up a dog-eat-dog American style society. All because we dared not walk into a ballot booth and, with a tick, say “No, I do not agree to this”.

        We do need to engage non-voters; the young; the dis-spirited.

        Brand does none of that.

        Brand advocates more cynicism; more dis-engaging; and an abstention that is basically surrender.

        And yes, we need to teach Civics in school. A big *Ups* to that.

        We need to politicise people more.

        We need to make them feel a part of Party structures, such as the recent Labour “primaries” to select their leader.

        The Alliance was great at involving grass roots, and the leadership – elected by members – respected that.

        God, let’s not throw away the vote so easily. It’s what the Black majority in South Africa fought (and many died) for.

        • Sixteen year olds the vote? You have to be joking. Of course I can see your agenda. You see a way to let the unionised teachers even more loose to influence the vote. Your only aim is to reap easy votes but you will never admit that.

        • Your assumption here, following Bomber’s, is that voting = engagement. Even a few seconds thought reveals the flaws in this assumption. Is a person who votes for National or ACT every 3 years and is otherwise completely uninvolved in politics engaged? What about an anarchist who lives, breathes, eats, and shits politics 24/7, 365 days a year, but doesn’t vote on principle, are they politically engaged?

          Your strawman caricature of Russel Brand says much more about you than it does about him. What Brand was actually saying is that there are a multitude of things people can do to change the world, all of which are more powerful than voting, all of which can be done all year round, not just every 3 years.

          • @ Danyl Strype

            Good point re the anarchist and political engagement.

            I would have a big problem, however, if that anarchist sent out the message ‘voting is useless’ to the many people whose only political engagement was voting – under the false assumption that everyone was like themselves (the anarchist) and actively worked to change the system 365 days of the year; and that this message had the effect of stopping people engaging at all. The message of not voting needs to go along with one of political engagement at the very least.

            I remain puzzled why anyone would refuse to vote WHILE trying to change the system – it appears to do nothing for their agenda by having right wing governments getting voted in by default (Default being that many people who would vote against them stay at home ‘on principle’ – often, in my direct experience, because there is not a choice that perfectly fits.)

            Fact: There are better or worse governments. We have had so many rights, information sources and opportunities (study assistance) taken off us this term – this wouldn’t have occurred under a left-wing government.

            It is not excellent when one has to vote for the best out of a bad bunch – yet it is horrible to have the worst voted in.

            [It is even worse that there are parties out there that speak strongly for really good policies – so it isn’t a case of being a bad bunch]

            I knew plenty people utterly gutted and some in tears after the result of the last election.

    • If Brand is using his status to attack the established order he should be applauded. Too many on the left are humourless finger waggers who do more to turn people off alternative visions for organising society, we desperately need people like Brand to open that door.
      Sure he is light on detail and analysis, but he is offering the otherwise apathetic a starting point from which they might question their place in society and the manner in which their faith in ‘democratic’ institutions has been cynically abused.

    • I completely agree with Frank on Russell Brand. I cannot see what people find attractive about this narcissistic twerp

      • AndyS, the neo-liberal troll, can’t find a way to refine Brand into snake oil to sell his ideology, which tends to support Aaron’s argument above…

  2. Russell Brand is promoting revolution, not apathy. Although I always vote I appreciate the point Brand is making – It was a Labour party that kicked off the neo-liberal experiment in New Zealand, I’m fairly sure the GCSB was set up under Lange’s watch, it was a Labour party that sided with the Algerian junta to persecute Ahmed Zaoui and Labour oversaw the police paramilitary style assault on Ruatoki.

    Whereas I would agree that a National led government is worse than the alternative, the alternative has too many reflexive authoritarian tendencies to be acceptable as the only alternative. This is the point Brand is making, we are essentially voting for the suit with the blue tie or the suit with the red tie. Sky city is as welcoming of Labour MPs in its corporate box as it is National MPs

    We need more than a few seconds in a polling booth every three years if actual change is going to occur. Allowing 16 year olds the vote, making the unpublished roll more accessible and letting prisoners vote are all reasonable policies, but I seriously doubt any of these suggestions will increase the turn out on polling day.

    We don’t need civics classes, we need civil disobedience classes. I would defer to the point Howard Zinn was making when he wrote/said“Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient allover the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.”

    • I totally agree. We cannot wait for governments and business leaders to create the type of society we want to live in. My husband and I are getting off all grids as fast as possible and I suggest that everyone else does this also. Everyone must vote with their wallets. If you want to bring the current system down then don’t support it. Start living, enjoy fishing for your dinner, get an electric car powered by your own solar power, grow a garden and enjoy cooking home grown food. We all need to take personal responsibility and take control of our destinies rather than being dependent on any institution as our saviour. Bureaucracy has failed the planet, civil disobedience needs to be normalised. The world is currently being shaped by such rule breakers as Pete Bethune, Edward Snowden, Lucy Lawless, Julian Assange and those Greenpeace protesters detained recently in Russia…

      • Kate, I think you may find that going “off the grid” is not something that suits everyone. And while I respect your decision, I personally see that as a form of running away.

        Why should I “go off the grid” and walk away from society, just because the One Percenters currently have the upper hand (in some ways – we still outnumber them).

        Society belongs to us, as well. The schools, the roads, the power dams, the hospitals, the DoC estates – these are ours, built by our forebears and left in our stewardship.

        Personally, I think they’re worth fighting for and not letting the John Keys and Rodney Hides of the world sell them to their rich mates.

        • I will vote I always do, but I believe I need to do more than that. The system is being sold and we keep paying relentlessly, not only that, our only life support system and every living thing on this planet is in danger. A polar vortex is over north America doesn’t that sound weirdly like that movie The Day After Tomorrow? What’s next? Looking at all the power cuts due to weather related events around the world recently I think being self sufficient is a possible life saver. N.Z relies on hydro power with looming climate warming what happens when the rivers run dry?

          • Bravo, Kate!!

            And yes, we need to do much more than just vote. As I wrote below, the vote is just one (non violent) weapon we have.

            We need to use everything else; education; organisation; support.

            You’re also 100% correct: it’s not just the New Right assault on our society we’re facing, but the grim prospect of climate change – a lovely little gift from our over-industrialisation; intensified agriculture; and mindless consumerism.

            These are (some of) the challenges we face.

      • The point being that accepting authority because it is there is the problem. Obedience for the sake of perpetuating a destructive social order is just idiotic.
        But don’t worry, I’m sure we won’t be running out of compliant automatons in the short to medium term.

        • Yoza – I completely agree with you in this regard; of course my response is somewhat cheeky

          However, I find completely similar arguments emanating from the so-called “right”, which makes me think that the entire political spectrum and debate need re-framing beyond the left/right paradigm

    • “I’m fairly sure the GCSB was set up under Lange’s watch”

      According to the Wikipedia article, it was set up under Muldoon. The 1980s Government did split it away from the Defence force, and it was the Clark Government which implemented the infamous GCSB Act (2003).

  3. Appalling censorship in the moderation process is not doing you any favours. If Frank cannot take such a mild criticism of his comment he should not be posting in public forums.

    Do you believe censoring people so rigorously is helping your cause in any way? Seriously, this is the only time anything I have posted has been chopped off completely, and I post on blogs that are very antagonistic to my political leanings.

    • What censorship are you referring to? I am sure you will find Frank can take and assert a response to any criticism or critique that is bowled his way.

      If the delay in getting your comment up onsite is what you were referring to, this hasn’t got anything to do with Frank, but rather The Daily Blog comments policy and also publishing comments when we are able to.

      • My apologies, when I clicked on to this site about an hour ago Franks comment was visible but my reply, “If Brand is using his status to attack the established order he should be applauded ..”, was not there, there was no comment with the ‘awaiting moderation’ attachment,.When I returned after writing the complaint my comment was back ‘awaiting moderation’, which is why I asked to cancel the complaint.

        My mistake, once again – please accept my sincere apologies.

  4. @ Martyn ? What do think about making voting compulsory as it is on The West Island ? ( Aka Australia courtesy TDB )

    I liked all your above points but some of our fellow citizens are so brain fucked they need a little discipline applied to force them back into being familiar with the whole voting process . Not just stabbing at the voting paper because their minds are full of Blue , and with a …” really , what’s the point anyway ? ” attitude .
    Not voting impacts on society as a whole and all us good , voting people have to live with the consequences of their foolish , lackadaisical attitude .
    It’s another example of how the collective ‘we’ have to kowtow to laws designed for the lowest common denominator AKA The Fucktard Syndrome .

    Russell Brand had some great ideas , his view of the world was pretty much dead on the money as far as I’m concerned and it’d pay to remember that he’s a celebrity with a political opinion , as is George Clooney and Matt Damon and so we must give them some artistic license when it comes to them expressing themselves because they’re just not normal . Not voting seems like a good idea to Russell Brand but not to me . Not yet anyway . We just can’t be trusted yet . That’s why we must be forced to vote ; to keep ourselves safe and free . Oh the irony huh ?
    As for Russell Brand shagging pretty girls and boozing ? The dirty , rotten , filthy , lucky bastard springs to mind if I have to be honest .
    At least he’s not bruce willis or God help us tom cruise .

    • I totally agree, making voting compulsory will force people to get off their lazy asses and act. The census is compulsory, voting should be too, and voting could be run in a similar fashion as the census.

      It will also mean people will become more engaged in the whole process. Because up to now if you’re not obliged to vote, and you’re lazy, then you don’t have to give a toss about policies/parties or anything else to do with NZ’s only democratic system.

  5. Martyn –

    You are confusing cynicism for the process of parliamentary democracy with political apathy in general, as if it is not possible to critique this process for the sham it is and organise politically for social change.

    More and more people are becoming disillusioned with parliamentary politics for good reason. They can see that the state exists to serve the interests of capital (to use the abysmal and completely misleading current lingo, the 1%) and any concessions to the general welfare of the population that have been granted are quickly evaporating because of the crisis of capitalism, not because some politicians are not very nice people.

  6. Glad you have written this post, Bomber.

    I think that the following point you made can’t be repeated often enough:

    In NZ, we have one of the most representative forms of Democracy on the planet, to pretend that engagement here won’t change things is simply absurd and is the reasoning of the lazy

    It may be ‘lazy’, it certainly is misinformed. Brand is talking in a country that still has a FPP system – as does America – this is leading to the voters of those countries having very little variety in political approaches available to vote for. (The main parties start becoming very similar as occurred in NZ before we voted in MMP).

    In our system, if National and Labour keep ignoring our interests and don’t address them we can vote for other smaller parties that will [hopefully!] act in our interests – and then they can become the larger parties.

    I’m hoping that voters take the choices we have here seriously and use the power we still do have to send a message to our leaders that they must stop ignoring our interests or we’ll replace them with people who appreciate that our interests are different from big money and our interests MUST be addressed .

    • True, claiming that voting makes no difference in NZ is an outcome of uneducation and neoliberal assumptions. If people understood MMP and how it can be used then they would see their vote is valuable. Also, the idea of one vote not making a difference is a neoliberal view – indivdualism and distrust of government.
      I ain’t a fan of Labour, but can anyone honestly tell me that if Labour were in charge, we in Christchurch would be suffering to the same extent?
      And what if we had a Green govt with Mana as a coalition partner for 3 terms? Would nothing change? – Poverty would pretty much be non-existent!

      • “Also, the idea of one vote not making a difference is a neoliberal view – indivdualism and distrust of government.”

        WTF?!? How were the neo-liberal reforms carried out? By people voting in large numbers for the political parties which carried them out. Usually after promising to do just the opposite, leading to people distrusting governments because they are observably untrustworthy! As for being lecture on “uneducation” by someone who has clearly failed to notice 30 years of neo-liberal reforms carried out regardless of who wins the election…

        • @ Danyl Strype

          This is just the point I (& Fatty) was making – you are basing your responses from drawing false conclusions.

          MMP was brought in by voters presumably to counteract that very problem re the neo-liberal reforms being carried out by the party that would be LEAST expected to do so. (See Korakys point below also)

          What do you think would have happened had everyone who was angry at what had occurred thrown up their hands and not voted; waiting for a revolution to come their way instead?

          We would still have FPP – and things would be EVEN WORSE.

          I’m unclear whether there was a strictly anti-neoliberal party immediately after that change – possibly Alliance that got strong support for a party that had only just begun. I would place Mana as being one now – they are extremely anti-corparations

          Noone is saying what is currently going on at present is not crap nor that there are not good reasons not to trust politicians – Just a view that not voting isn’t doing anything to help things become better.

          And yet it is making it a lot harder for those that are sticking their heads out to make this place a better place from achieving that.

          Every time a party gets more popular – such as the Greens – it is very clear that the main parties respond by taking on some of their types of policies. Look at the insulating houses policy. Look at how Kiwibank came to be. Look at Mana’s feed the kids policy. These creations were initiated by smaller parties. Sure these things haven’t solved major inequities- but far better that they occur than not.

          Think of that when you are sitting at home not voting.

    • It may be ‘lazy’, it certainly is misinformed. Brand is talking in a country that still has a FPP system – as does America – this is leading to the voters of those countries having very little variety in political approaches available to vote for.

      In the context of a FPP system, I can comprehend and sympathise with a growing sentiment of cynicism.

      In which case, the appropriate response is a subversive agenda to replace FPP with a proportional-style electoral system…

      That’s not evading democratic participation – that’s evolving it.

      • MMP was given a referendum mainly because over 20% of the electorate voted for the Social Credit party and they only got two seats. With a similar vote share going to minor parties in the next election (1984), but no-one from them got in.

        If the two major parties that are all the MSM talk about don’t appeal to you then you can look up the other parties on the internet and vote for one of them. Not voting does nothing for change.

        That said I would support being able to vote for an “empty seat” for those that don’t know how to use the internet. Voting for a “blank party” would empty a seat in parliment proportional to the amount of votes it got. It would probably have to be limited to a 50% maximum though.

        Now that would certainly send a message.

  7. I think a public holiday for the election won’t change much. The people I know who do not vote are either unemployed or work 6 days a week, 50+ hours a week. If the election was a holiday, it wouldn’t make a difference to the unemployed, and the overworked would be more likely to go somewhere for a well deserved holiday.
    And as for prisoners not voting, well, tell Labour to give up the tough on crime policies. Yeah, National are punitive, but we expect that.

    Online voting needs to be bought in asap if we want to get the younger voters engaged. Come on, paper and pens, and ticking a box? You got to be joking.

  8. Where is the apathy? I stopped voting when I realised that I was never voting FOR somebody, so much as voting AGAINST somebody else. There is something very wrong when everybody is desperately trying to promote the second-worst option in fear of the worst one.

    It is high time we stopped ignoring no-votes. 50% of the vote might be enough to win an election, but not if only 75% of the the population voted. MMP doesn’t help by making smaller parties (who actually stand for something) abandon their own policies to join coalitions. I will point out that I DO go to the voting booth, but I cross out every candidate on the paper. It might not count, but it is saying something.

    We may well have “one of the most representative forms of Democracy on the planet”, but that’s not saying very much. I fail to see why we continue to abide by such a thing as “representative democracy” in any case – we don’t need representatives any more. I voted at least three times between finishing this article and typing a comment. I “like” a dozen or so things on Facebook each day and if there was a dislike button then I would probably dislike a dozen more. Kids are voting all the time: they’re voting for idols and xfactoids and talent-havers ad nauseum – they even pay to do it! I have heard people phone radio stations to vote for a favourite song for no reason at all. We have the technology to run this country from a website: Vote for or against an issue, comment in a public forum, promote the ones that concern you. I know that if we had a system in which individuals felt that they actually had some power, some control and that their opinions were really heard then they would use it. They would probably even enjoy it.
    We have to stop giving the reins (or should that be reigns?) to people we can’t trust & complaining about their actions.

  9. National’s disenfranchisement of prisoners is part of their long game – another is time based removal of foreign resident kiwis after three years.

    National know that their policies don’t work for most people. Accordingly they will disenfranchise as many unsupportive demographics as they can.

    Their hope is that Left coalitions will not take the time to reverse these incursions, which incrementally hasten the next season of wholesale looting of public wealth.

    It may be that we need as a country someone even more cynical than Brand: When have well-funded corporate shills ever acted in the people’s interests without an implicit threat to their lives and properties? Mandela’s opponents did not cede until the reigning regime was on the brink of perishing by violence.

  10. For the first time I totally disagree with you.

    VOTING is USELESS if the underlying System is corrupt & dysfunctional, and if this is not even a) recognised
    & thus b) never addressed.

    RUSSELL BRAND, by taking his stand was trying to drawing attention to this fact, – that no matter who gets in, things just keep getting worse.(what a pity people want to shoot the messenger, without understanding the message)

    To examine the truth in his message, and get a proper perspective you need to stand right back and look at the OVERALL TRENDS over past 4 decades:

    RE NZ: Has life changed for the better, for average family?

    Look at Facts:

    1) Whereas 1 breadwinner per family used to sufffice, now BOTH parents working isn’t enough to make ends meet
    ( -and consider the inevitable impact on quality of parenting, and thus Society, as kids whose parents are too busy to give them proper guidance & attention grow up?)
    2)People are working LONGER hours and less pay, overall, at the same time that the cost of living has hugely increased .

    THUS- Has life for the Average family improved? NO. It has deterriorated.
    – AND Society alongside with it (since Society is comprised of Families) : undeniable huge no of social problems today, that did not exist prior 1980’s..

    **Russell Brand ALSO made the important observation that Corporations are now running the world**

    – Hasn’t it become a popular complaint that politicians “seem” to be serving business interests ..but not the people?
    That’s because it’s FACT! And this is a very bad thing!
    Russell Brand is correct.

    So, since Corporations/Banks ARE running the world, and our politicians have to answer to THEM, ( & TPPA is a further reinforcement of this Bind!), …
    – HOW can voting be seen as anything more than a PRETENCE?
    If Voting PRETENDS to give power to the population, but the true status quo of life in NZ today shows it has done the opposite!!!
    (but the corporate owned Media will continually work on public deception about this reality. Note how the existence of mass poverty is still being questioned/denied)

    As long as people believe that mere VOTING will improve life, reality will demonstrate the opposite, and things are going to get far worse.
    WHAT is the SOLUTION???
    (A complete Overhaul of the System, obviously. But how, especially when Those in Power like things the way they are)

    As for your idea of lowering the voting age to 16!!!!!!????
    Don’t you recognise that the biggest problem today is PUBLIC IGNORANCE ?
    A young chap I know in his early 20’s, lamented to me that every young person he’d asked , knew zilch about individual party policies.
    Yet lots of them will no doubt vote, based on “surface appearances.”

    In these days of shallow values, glossy marketing & deception, it’s the best marketing/ presentation that will win..(and the whole sham just continues)

    Most ADULTS no longer have the discernment/ critical thinking ability to see through shallow surface appearances, double-speak, propoganda and lies, – let alone 18yr olds…
    As for increasing the pool of ignorant voters by letting 16yr old kids vote…that’s just nutty.

    • VOTING is USELESS if the underlying System is corrupt & dysfunctional, and if this is not even a) recognised
      & thus b) never addressed.
      RUSSELL BRAND, by taking his stand was trying to drawing attention to this fact, – that no matter who gets in, things just keep getting worse.(what a pity people want to shoot the messenger, without understanding the message)

      Spot on Cassie, well said.

    • @ Cassie Blake

      At least with voting there is a chance to effect positive change.

      The problem with not voting is that while this system is intact you are impacting the system whatever you choose – whether that be choosing to vote or to not vote – it is unavoidable that the effect of not voting is that of agreeing with the status quo – it means you are not making any attempt at having a better set of politicians in power.

      The people most likely to not vote due to reasons such as Brand articulates are the ones most disadvantaged by this system – and there are a fair few these days – this leads to them having even less impact on our system and it degenerates furrther (the system does). If those people, instead of not voting chose to vote for the parties that speak the loudest against this system – there might actually be a shift in what this system prioritises.

      You can’t avoid this effect of not voting until you have a completely different system. And how is not voting creating a completely different system? It is not – more chance to change the system to vote than not to vote.

      Before you decide not to vote, please remember that Brand is critiquing the system that he lives in and it is a system that has far less choices of what to vote for.

      • “… it means you are not making any attempt at having a better set of politicians in power.”

        You’re assuming it’s possible to have a “better set of politicians” in power. The evidence suggests otherwise. Rather than pointless arguments about voting vs. not voting, perhaps we need to be asking why it’s so hard to elect people who want to deliver radical change (eg something other than neo-liberal and neo-conservative business-as-usual), and so hard for them to do so on the rare occasions when they are elected?

        • “You’re assuming it’s possible to have a “better set of politicians” in power.”

          No I’m not, I can see there are! You think that the Greens aren’t any better than ACT? Or John Minto, for example, isn’t any better than John Key??

          “The evidence suggests otherwise.”

          Bullshit it does – some of the smaller parties aren’t getting politicians in, (which would provide evidence one way or the other) solely due to the people, who would agree more with their policies than the lamestream parties’, viewing it as far more advantageous or hip to stay at home and wait for a revolution to come trundling along, than it is to join the ‘commoners’ in attempting to get someone better in power.

    • And Russell Brand isn’t part of the system that supports the One Percenters? I’d say his wealth gives him plenty of motivation to dissuade us ‘peasant’s from voting and possibly disturbing the status quo…

      • @ Frank Macskasy

        Yeah, I can’t say the thought hasn’t crossed my mind re Russell Brand and his current place in society, however having viewed his interview with that guy (lol can’t remember the name of him sorry), it seemed to me that he is speaking from his experience and from the heart – what he shared was valuable and what he said re voting was probably true for his country, particularly for the time that he grew up in – voting in his country would not have made any difference to the socioeconomic group he grew up in – because they fairly well have very little choice. (I believe their might be more choice for them now than when he was growing up – there is more chance for a smaller party to have some impact here in New Zealand though)

        It may be that he is being sincere yet could be being used by those who benefit from low voter turnouts though.

        I like your idea in one of your other comments that in Britain people speaking out against the system should be aiming at getting FPP out rather than sending out the message not to vote.

        It just really is dumb not to vote – I am guessing that Mitt Romney would have gotten in had Americans taken that view – imagine how many gritted their teeth and voted for Obama despite knowing he wasn’t excellent or even much better. Yes, this particular case doesn’t change the system – however things would have been even worse (for the whole world) had Romney gotten in. I am so grateful that people in America did that.

        Not voting is simply defeatism – Might I suggest to those of you who don’t want to vote because the system doesn’t work to instead vote AND get (or continue to be) active in raising awareness to change how things are. Awareness and collecting together and speaking out at every opportunity is what will change the system. Not voting will simply keep things moving on the same sorry trajectory.

        • Blue Leopard – yep, I can’t deny Brand’s anger and passion in all this. I can recall a few similar instances similar to that when I’ve let rip at a few National voters who talk garbage and don’t expect to be challenged on their prejudices… (One guy recently told me to my face that our indebtedness was caused by Labour canning “Muldoon’s super scheme” in 1975!!! I couldn’t believe my ears and his cockeyed view of history – and he was about my age!! I set him straight on that score. I think. Maybe not?)

          Where Brand’s passion is wasted is that he offers no alternative; nothing for young folk to take on board; just some vague, nebulous “revolution”.

          Well, that ain’t much help.

          And yet, I think he could be a potentially fine leader for an alternative movement…?

          I concur with your analysis. *thumbs up*

          • @ Frank Macskasy

            Yep I agree. It may be that there is a nebulous, slow moving revolution occurring – yet to stop voting while this isn’t taking full effect – is not the way to go

            Your comments on this thread are a great relief to me, thank you

        • Yes, a wee bit unfair – ‘wee bit’ being the operative words because it is a worthy line of questioning.

          I have been noticing a ‘not any point in voting’ message becoming more common – and this is disturbing – because the only people that silencing people serves are those running and benefitting from things staying as they are.

          It used to be that we were given a message of concern about people not voting and how important it is to engage, now The Herald comes out with ‘oh most will not bother voting in this [latest] referendum’

          It is not simply cynicism – it is defeatism to disengage – vote AND try and change things in other ways. Don’t give up speaking out at any opportunity – including the general elections.

  11. Let me paint you a picture here.

    You go into a restaurant with Russel Brand, and discover that every item on the menu is human shit.

    Russel Brand says “I’m not going to order human shit” and then asks the waiter if it would be possible for him to order some steak and chips instead, because he feels that steak and chips makes a better meal than human shit.

    You, on the other hand, have spent your time deciding which style of human waste is least offensive to you, ordered that, called Russel a pussy for not ordering anything, and started a heated argument with another patron in the restaurant who ordered a slightly different shit to yours.
    Then, you went home and created a website where you try to eloquently justify your choice in human shit as being the only acceptable one, getting all excited about small victories over supporters of other styles of shit, all the while missing the point that you are in fact eating shit.

    • I thought your post funny…now we know Russell Brandt is probably one of the few people around to actually be able to get away with identifying the human shit, and we have to ask why? I’d say, he’s the male equivalent of Miley… it’s okay to look like they’re pushing the boundaries, being ‘edgy’ (despicable overused adjective), branding themselves with clever associations, but, would Che Guevara appreciate this buffoon morphing into his neo-facsimile? What about Jesus? (he has a big picture of him on the other side of the stage) How much money lending arse is Brandt actually moving out of the temple? I’d say: none, he’s just a funny, pretty boy legitimising yobbish, insouciant, laissez faire stances; just what the nice neocon doctor ordered to distract the punters at election time. Look how may people googled twerking when they should have read the news about Syria. Join the dots.

      • That’s such a dumb comment Jane .
        1) Russell Brand is concerned with the corrupt political systems today, and is provoking people to think!
        2) Miley Cyrus is a corrupting influence in her own right.Corrupting youth via popular culture = Sleaze & promiscuity..and gaining $$$$$$$$$ by it.

        HOW could you possibly try to draw a parallel??????

        • Cassie – Brand may well be concerned with the problems that beset our civilisation and the damage we are causing this planet.

          I don’t think anyone doubts that. Not for a moment.

          God knows I’ve read enough in the last two years, writing my blog, to have a fair idea what’s going on – and where our species may be headed.

          But for Brand to dismiss voting instead of offering a viable alternative to vote for; and mobilising public support for his alternative – is a cop out.

          He was asked by Paxton what the alternative to voting was, and Brand had no response.

          That’s not a solution in my view. That’s cynicism and surrender because it doesn’t give people an alternative.

    • ..Exactly. Because Shit is still SHIT. Even when presented in a different form, under a different name.

      Time to get rid of it..( But how do you clean it up?)

      so that you can get back to the Drawing Board ?

    • @ Climber

      There are a few problems with the picture you paint as far as accuracy for an analogy goes.

      The restaurant is your only source of food and you can’t leave it. What is served is what the most people order.

      Russell Brand, quite rightly requests for something more nourishing. Many people however are believing the message from the owners of the restaurant (who want to keep the steak & chips for themselves) that we need to order the worst shit out of an ‘eat your medicine’ theory – that if we keep ordering the worst crap somewhere along the line it is going to magically transform into something nourishing.

      Brand thinks that telling us not to order anything is the way to go and sadly this means we are served up the worst shit because there are plenty of people believing what we are being propagandised.

      YES! to being part of a movement to get our steak and chips (…and veges!) …..however in the meantime I’d prefer to have the least obnoxious shit being dished up – so NO! to not ordering anything!

  12. I always think of people in countries like Afghanistan putting their lives on the line to vote when people come up with reasons they don’t vote in NZ.

    • “I always think of people in countries like Afghanistan putting their lives on the line to vote when people come up with reasons they don’t vote in NZ.”

      That’s funny. I always think of people in that same country putting their lives on the lines by bombing and shooting at the troops who have invaded their country to “bring them democracy” (and take their oil, and murder thousands of their people in the process).

  13. Here’s a thought…

    If Rodney Hide were to tell people, “don’t bother voting, it is futile to resist the neo-liberal revolution” – would we bow to his will?

    If a supposed “cool” dude with a rep for cynical rebelliousness suggests that we “oughtn’t vote ‘cos it’s fucken hopeless man” – then some will to listen to that?

    So, we say “fuck off” to Rodney – but Russell is ok.

    Anyone see something weird in this scenario?

  14. Another thought occurs to me… (Plenty of them, at this hour of the morning…)

    If dis-engagement and non-voting are the Order Of The Day, then why bother with anything?

    I mean, really. Why do these blogs?

    Why do I (and Bomber, and Selwyn, and Jackal, and QoT, and Burnt Out Teacher, and Marama, and Latifa, and Chris, and Lprent, etc, etc) bother to spend hours writing all this shit?

    Fuck it, I might as well not bother. I might as well go read a book or watch re-runs of “I Love Lucy”. Or even join the damned New Right and make a few bucks and exploit some young kids eager for a job, in the process. Why the fuck not?!

    Funny thing, and this kinda pisses me of.

    I can front up to National politicians and take on the rightwing bloggers, no probs.

    But when I read comments from some on the Left who want to endorse dis-engagement and non-voting – all in the name of “stepping out of the system” – now that’s discouraging.

    It’s not the new right and it’s acolytes and sleepy little hobbits that get to me in the end. It’s the ones who should be fighting the good fight and using every non-violent weapon we have.

    And yes, one of those weapons happens to be the vote.

    Y’know, people, the vote. The same vote that Nelson Mandela waited 27 years for in a shitty little prison, whilst the rest of us here in New Zealand were enjoying what he and his fellow black South Africans were fighting and dying for.

    All because some smarmy dude, a “hip” comedian who puts out that he’s such a fucking rebel, with a truckload of cash; tells us that voting is “not cool”?

    Jeez… I wish I’d known that earlier.

    I could’ve made a gazillion bucks by now; had my own fleet of yachts; partied my life away; etc.

    And Russell and I, we’d be laughing it up with the champers. All while everyone else had surrendered.

    Fuck me, I’m off to sleep.

    • “not cool”?? at what point did “cool” enter the equation?

      Anyway, I thought that I would point out that there is a poll on the home page of this website which asks which party we intend to vote for. Not only does this poll only include 7 parties (non of which are particularly left-wing), it also omits an option for ‘other’ or – dare I say it – ‘none’. Why does a left-wing blog ignore the SPA for instance? There are plenty of smaller parties being ignored and every poll & article that does not include them makes them even smaller. The simple inclusion of an ‘OTHER’ option & the opportunity to name the party might see some real left-wing groups get some recognition and perhaps even band together for once. Then we might have something to vote FOR.

      As for Nelson Mandela and his fellow black South Africans, well I think they were doing just fine before they were invaded, labeled as “South Africans” and had this system imposed upon them.

      • Sam, if you think not voting will send a “message” to the Establishment, think again.

        800,000 people didn’t vote in 2011.

        The Nats not only ignored those numbers – but welcomed them.

        Really, do you think that the likes of Key and Hide worry if those on the left disengage?!

        Not likely.

        By the way – “SPA”?

        And by the way again, apologies if I sounded intemperate last night.

        I’d just been watching an incredible Chinese movie, “Curse of the Golden Flower” – the story of the Tang dynasty; palace intriques; incestuous love; attempted coups; and more blood than a Peter Jackson epic.

        Toward the end, there is an attempted coup led by one of the emporer’s sons, who leads 10,000 soldiers into a doomed assault on the Imperial Palace. The emporer, being forewarned, lays a trap and a blood-bath occurs.

        10,000 men, slaughtered.

        And it got me thinking, in real life, those 10,000 men laid down their lives, leaving behind grieving families to slowly perish in poverty (no welfare back in those days) or face retribution by the emporer.

        Those 10,000 men fought for unelected kings and princes, and were killed so one overlord could replace another overlord.

        Ok, some might say things haven’t changed that much (rememembering World War One, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, etc).

        But peasants and soldiers back then had no power to replace one leader with another. They suffered with what they got.

        So yeah, things have improved.

        We just have to work harder to improve it even further.

        So apologies to all. No offence intended.

        I hope we can all work together to make our fantastic country a better place than ever.

        So get out and vote. And do stuff for Labour or the Greens or Mana or the Alliance or whoever. Because you can bet that the Tories and their supporters will be.

  15. Oh please. Will you political types stop grasping at straws. We’re not going to start voting again, and there is nothing that you or any politician can do about it. There’s just no point in voting anymore.

    It’s not the politicians – they’re just doing what their voters elected them to do in most cases.

    It’s not the media – who are just trying to attract an audience.

    It’s the other voters.

    But you will never admit this, because every fibre of your being is dedicated to not thinking about the essential truth that the voters are responsible for poor governments – not the media, not the electoral system, not Rupert Murdoch, but the majority of the plonkers who cast a ballot. The politicians are just trying to appeal to them.

    Before the internet, it was possible to maintain some belief in public rationality, but it’s been obvious for years now to anyone online that a majority of people have pretty ill thought out and in some cases deranged beliefs. For example, a large percentage of Americans don’t believe in evolution and a large percentage think that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. It’s not Fox News’s fault: anyone who has argued with such people online knows that such folk are inherently mental and have been so long before the media tacked hard right.

    Once you add up the outright loons to the duffers and dolts, the people who actually have some semblance of rational thought and understanding of the way modern economies work are badly outnumbered. Our elections are moronic because the only way to get elected is to pander to morons. H.L Mencken was right all along.

    The reason we have had this endless slide into authoritarian populism is that a sufficient number of people are to some degree authoritarian populists and will vote for bullying politicians like Muldoon or Collins.

    You politicals are like religious fundamentalists waiting for the apocalypse that will never happen. You lack the maturity to understand that the bulk of people aren’t going to change and politicians aren’t going to either because they just follow the polls and focus groups because it’s the only way to get elected.

    It really isn’t so bad giving up on politics. If you are careful and thoughtful it’s pretty easy to live a happy life despite what your fellow citizens inflict on you at the ballot box. Just look away. It’s like choosing not to watch X-Factor or any of the other dreck that passes for television these days.

    That’s why many non voters don’t vote: not because our elections aren’t truly democratic, but because they are.

    • @ Tom

      I agree with a lot of your points, yet I disagree on your conclusions.

      All you are doing is being defeatist.

      Things take a long time to change when it comes to large numbers of people. The status quo takes a long time to change. I have seen this through direct experience. The discussions going on now re wealth disparity and economics not addressing the needs of people were things being observed in certain circles 30 years ago – this is the length of time it took to get these issues on the main agenda.

      Having a whole lot of people giving up – will simply add a major complication to what is actually being achieved. Be patient, yet keep going is what I’ve learned about this slowness.

      “But you will never admit this, because every fibre of your being is dedicated to not thinking about the essential truth that the voters are responsible for poor governments – “

      Nah, this is simply untrue – I, for one, am well aware that our government reflects ‘the people’ – sadly, those of you not voting out a belief that everyone else are morons are helping these dumb governments to get in.

      Alienation is one of the tactics I believe those in powers wish to have amongst those of us who don’t agree with what is going on. Seems to be working on you.

      In my circles I meet many people who don’t vote due to reasons aligned to what you express. It may be that there are not enough to shift who gets voted in – however it may be that there are – I will never know because you and others appear to want to be on the winning side so much so that you refuse to take time to find out a party that might affect the status quo in your or a ‘non-moronic’ persons’ favour.

      p.s. What is all this about ‘political types’? You are commenting on a political website – I therefore take you to be one at heart!

  16. Only real way to remove apathy is by removing the invested interest from politics that the apathetic citizen is fed up with. By removing the representative from Representative democracy, what are you left with?

    • It is so easy to confuse “apathy” for “cynicism” – I for one don’t trust Labour as I remember the bastards who introduced neo-liberal economics and philosophy into this country whilst sitting proudly under the Labour banner… And some of those bastards are still sitting in Parliament sitting proudly under the Labour banner.

      The thing is, Martyn wants to make me more of a democrat (and make sure I vote) by FORCING me to vote… in much the same way Labour made us all happy neo-liberals by FORCING us to accept their policies and viewpoints.

      The cynicism I have for New Zealand politicians is pretty much characterised by Martyn’s little blog above… HE knows best and he and his mates will MAKE US do whatever it is in our so-called best interests.

      What many of the Left cannot do is accept that New Zealanders are capable of thought and of action… and the Left, typified by people like Martyn, don’t get that some of us are sick of the bullshit. Many of us who don’t sometimes vote see many politicians, whether Left, Right, Maori or non-Maori, chirping to the same song… ever ready to TELL US WHAT THE FUCK NEEDS TO HAPPEN TO US.

      All the Left offers and all the Right offers is the same all assumption that changing legislation, making new laws, ‘explaining’ the ideas… is what bringing about change in society is all about. “Hey hey,” the little politicians inside Parliament and out in the bloggasphere cry, “let’s FORCE everyone to be better participants in their society because democracy needs it!”

      Martyn, we are already expressing our views… New Zealand politics doesn’t require our vote because politicians of whatever hue don’t trust us, like us or want to hear us… Labour is still a neo-liberal economic party. And when it comes to social issues don’t ever forget that the real stars of the Gay marriage law change were two RIGHT-wing politicians who for all intensive purposes are also neo-liberal.

      What is needed to get participation in democracy is to have politicians who have integrity and a commitment to listen and be involved with their constituents… last time I looked the one of the most powerful members of the Labour Party in Auckland refused to have any integrity… any politician such as Mayor Brown who takes freebees from an interested party desperate to have Council support to improve its profitability (such as SkyCity) doesn’t have integrity. He only wants what’s best for himself. And little Labour lackeys of the Left pant that its all a right wing gutter scandal, so the powerful Labour party member can show us what he really thinks of us the voters… something less that a few tugs on his willy in the Mayor’s Office.

      You wonder why we don’t vote? You don’t trust the New Zealander voter, you don’t respect the New Zealander voter and you really don’t give a fuck what we might expect of our politicians.

      You know best.

      • Hi Frankly,

        I don’t ‘get’ why you are saying that Bradbury wants to ‘FORCE us’ to vote?

        I didn’t read anything of the kind in his article.

        There were a couple of comments after his article by others putting forward compulsory voting, however Bradbury’s article was suggesting changes to make it easier to vote – and give some the opportunity to vote who don’t have it (prisoners), not that of FORCING people to vote.

        From having read other threads elsewhere re compulsory voting – it appears to be a dumb idea – people can and do simply tick the first name on the page or invalidate their vote (by ticking too many names) when forced to vote!

        I agree with some of the things you said re integrity of politicians, however you frame the argument around waiting for them to improve – the thing that I’ve noticed is that when certain challenging persons and types of policies get voted to be represented in parliament – it is this that keeps pollies on their toes. i.e. vote for politicians and parties that challenge the status quo. Greens have been doing this since Nat have been in government – Mana have not so much in parliament – yet they very much do with what they support and say and push for (if you watch TV, note how much time has been taken up denigrating Hone and his family – he is a real threat to the establishment in my view)

        My opinion, from reading Bradbury and having watched some of his programmes (when I could get them on TV) – is that of viewing Bradbury, also, as very fed up with what is going on. I believe this was why he set up this blogsite – to try and get leftwing ideas and other ideas that don’t get a sounding on lamestream information sources out there in the hope that things start shifting in a better direction. If you disagree with his attitudes, fine, (plenty of people seem to!), and debate is good anyway, however I think you are ‘putting some things on him’ that he simply didn’t write here.

  17. At the end of the day,
    EVEN IF last time, the 800,000 or so HAD voted, and (maybe “Labour” had got in instead of “National”) this would have only slowed down & postponed the inevitable:
    THE INEVITABLE DOWNHILL TREND OVERALL ie life keep getting harder & harder for average worker/families. (already pointed out earlier) – Which WILL continue!

    I don’t advocate “non voting”…BUT people MUST wake up to the fact that in the long run it is NOT going to reverse this trend.
    Do you even understand WHY?????
    (Ask me if you want to know)

Comments are closed.