Why chanting “fuck John Key” is a battle cry not profanity and how the Occupy Movement helped shape the Internet Party


There has been major condemnation and controversy over Internet/Mana’s ‘Join the Revolution – Change the Government’ video in which Kim Dotcom is leading students in chanting “fuck John Key” at a concert put on by the Internet Party. Duncan Garner on Thursday condemned the chanting on his Radiolive show and Labour MP Chris Hipkins took to his twitter to express his outrage at the students and Kim Dotcom’s actions, “Getting a bunch of people drunk and getting them to chant abuse isn’t political leadership. It’s thuggery and megalomania intertwined” said Hipkins.

Meanwhile in Gaza and Iraq. Good to see Garner and Hipkins have their priorities in the right place.

Many New Zealand commentators and apparently MP’s are labouring under the idea that students are mindless morons who cannot think for themselves and where obviously just so overcome with ‘fame fever’ when Kim Dotcom took the stage they, without thinking, started screaming the words “fuck John Key” because if Kim does it, it must be cool? I hate to break it to Garner and Hipkins and the many other people who are condemning Kim and the students’ actions but the “fuck John Key” chanting started before Kim Dotcom even took the stage. As this raw footage proves.

Here is a NEWSFLAH for all those people who have been so mortally offended by the profanity spoken by students at a concert: the mantra “fuck John Key” has been around for a while now. Those words were said loudly and proudly at the student protests two years ago. I know because I was there.

The New Zealand media painted us as violent thugs and whingeing stupid students then too. In reality we were protesting John Key’s cuts to education. We protested privatisation, charter schools, league tables and performance pay. We felt axing allowances to post graduate students was not only a callous decision by National but also an attack on our right to higher education. Many students had to walk away from their chosen field of study and their career. At one of the first student rallies on July 21, 22 year old law student, Tessa Baker, said she would be $65,000 in debt after graduating from a five-and-a-half year degree with honours at the end of the year. “I am only able to study because my parents financially support me but I think education is so important it needs to be available to all, but it just isn’t,” Baker said.

Believe it or not, many young people in Aotearoa are fully aware of what John Key has done to this country from gutting the welfare state to selling off New Zealand’s assets – and thousands of young people care deeply about these issues. Internet/Mana is hearing our voices. This is why both these political parties are gaining such passionate responses from young people, responses that conservative right-wing parties like National could only dream of. Instead of passionate applause and fist pumping, National has been meet with their billboards being defaced and torn down. Awkward. What some people call ‘vandalism’ I call ‘art activism’.

Many young people, like me, know exactly what Key and his government represent and it is not young people, those living in poverty or the working poor. John Key has managed to alienate a massive demographic in New Zealand and if he thinks his ‘young Nats’ can bridge the divide he is dreaming.

We are not just blindly saying “fuck John Key” because we think it makes us look cool. That kind of [political] anger comes from the feeling that so many of us have been left behind with no employment or under employment. Many of us are struggling with massive student debt we cannot pay back. As the meme goes:

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So yes, fuck John Key who thinks there is nothing wrong with hassling young, often over-qualified, people into jobs that do not exist or are underpaid and unfulfilling and thinks ‘we should just be happy with our lot’. Fuck John Key whose government’s welfare reforms have further plunged people into poverty in Aotearoa all in the name of saving a buck but is at the expense of New Zealand’s most financially desperate and vulnerable. Fuck John Key who is a snivelling cowardly Israeli apologist and who is complicit in the deaths of over 1,900 Palestinian people since Israel’s genocidal bombardment of Gaza that started a month ago. Fuck John Key and his rape apologist government who thinks the young men in The Roast Busters just need to ‘grow up’ and who made no apologies to Tania Billingsley for his government’s disgusting handling of her complaint that a foreign diplomat had sexually assaulted her. Fuck John Key for saying Kim Dotcom was Laila Harre’s ‘sugar daddy’ insinuating she is a whore – because casual sexism is cool when John Key does it and he does it a lot.

So from the bottom of my heart fuck John Key and his selfish, misogynistic, rape minimising, war mongering government that only cares for the rich, disregards the voices of young people (unless they are rich and mostly white) and has no compassion for the working poor or those suffering under the poverty line. Because hell, they just need to work harder.

I guess it would have been a mouthful for the students in Christchurch to list all their grievances they have with the National Government at a concert put on by the Internet Party so “fuck John Key” just had to do.

Students and Kim Dotcom chanting at the concert has been likened to Nazism by political marketing specialist Jennifer Lees-Marshment  who said “reminds me of propaganda, chanting-type campaigning more reminiscent of Hitler and fascism [in Nazi Germany] than New Zealand in the 21st century” and  NBR’s Rob Hosking makes this comparison about the ‘mob’ chants:

Firstly, they are being led in the chant by a German who is an enthusiastic collector of Nazi memorabilia and who thinks “nigger jokes” are funny. At this point, a detached observer has to conclude there is a bit of a Nazi-ish aspect to it, and anyone not seeing any Nuremburg-ish echoes is being wilfully obtuse.

Are you kidding me? Given the current situation in Palestine these are a misdirected comparisons to make. John Key has backed the latest assault on Gaza in which Israeli forces, who are armed to the teeth by the Obama administration, have bombed UN Shelters full of innocent civilians and injured thousands – some Palestinian people have lost most of their family to Israel’s bombs and bullets. Why don’t you take your lazy accusations of Nazism, Hosking and Lees-Marshment, and direct them at someone who is complicit in a holocaust being carried out right now? Mr John Key: you and your government have blood on your hands.

One of the reasons why, and there are many, Internet/Mana are so effective at engaging the youth is because they are using the language and strategies of the Occupy Movement. This movement was “born out of 33 years of war” said Noam Chomsky. It was a people powered movement that was mostly led by teenagers and people under 30. In his talks Chomsky regularly pointed out one of the greatest achievements of the Occupy Movement was to put the inequalities of everyday life on the international agenda.  It is now a cliché to say the Occupy Movement changed the conversation, but once again in New Zealand we can see the conversation shifting. “Altering the narrative” wrote Greg Ruggiero of the Occupy Movement, “is a necessary victory toward transforming everything else.”

Internet/Mana has called on New Zealanders to  ‘Join the Revolution – Change the Government’. The idea of revolution and of radical social change and disrupting the power brokers of this world is at the core of what drove the Occupy Movement. And it is what is driving young students to yell “Fuck John Key” – not cheap booze as Duncan Garner reductively claimed on Thursday afternoon on his RadioLive show.

Internet Party are using open forums for people who have joined the party (membership costs $1.29) on their website. New Zealanders can create and shape policies and voice ideas through Loomio, an open source tool for group decision-making.  Anyone over the age of 18 can for a one off payment of $1.29 log on and propose policies and once posted, others can block, agree or disagree with the policies and constructively comment on them; this is democracy in action. At Occupy camps all over the world we used ‘the human mic’ to capture the voices and amplify the ideas of protesters who were part of the movement. It was an effective and powerful way of hearing each other loudly and clearly and for making decisions collectively. The use of Loomio by the Internet Party represents the same opportunity; to address a problem through public forum and discuss ways to fix and solve social issues that New Zealanders’ think are important.

This is what democracy looks like.

When I spoke to Miriam Michal who is a candidate for the Internet Party about my belief that there is a deep connection between what the Occupy movement stands for and what the Internet Party is doing, she responded:

Our policy development relies on the participation of our membership. Our members contribute to the policies and the general direction of the party from the comfort of their own desks, sofas, beds. People have been amazed at this as though it’s revolutionary, but for us it was the most natural and obvious thing to do. Because how can a political party pretend to represent a section of the population if the people aren’t meaningfully involved? The Occupy movement got this, the Occupy movement was also about voicing the concerns of the people. But the Occupy movement was outside the system, and we will be inside it. We have to work to bring change on every level that we can. It’s imperative that we normalise people participating actively, because at the moment it is seen as radical and threatening.

You want to capture the imagination of young people – especially poor and desperate young people? Capture their voices. Let the youth of New Zealand know you hear them.  Many young people want to change New Zealand and many of us want to change the world. We are idealistic and we are dreamers but we are also educated and determined – and we have time on our hands because we cannot work jobs that do not exist. Youth unemployment accounts for more than one third of unemployment in New Zealand. John Key, we can’t work your fucking ghost jobs. The feminist writer Laurie Penny said “The most important political battles are fought on the territory of the imagination. Young and unemployed people need to know: you are more than your inability to find a job.”

Millions of us around the world are devastated by the state of our own backyards and global communities and we are desperate to change them – the Occupy Movement was epic proof of this. Internet/Mana is offering young people in New Zealand a new political platform to stand on, just as Occupy did. And this is unnerving the establishment. As PR professional Mark Beckham said in defence of Internet/Mana’s video,

The alarmed reaction from the commentariat and twitterati reveals the extent to which the ruling elite are simply not comfortable with real people being political. And here lies the problem at the heart of the professional era of politics; the failure to understand or connect with the untidiness of real people.

As young people we have inherited a world were wars are being fought in our name, of debt and horrific violence and oppression and so many of us are determined to change and disrupt these inequities and brutalities; we can imagine better. We can imagine a country where 285,000 children do not live in poverty. Where the poor and disenfranchised are not marginalised and shamed when they need help, but instead supported and offered opportunities to lift themselves above the poverty line.  We can imagine a world that is free from inequality, racism and sexism. All of this sounds like an impossible dream but this does not mean we stop trying to achieve it. For many of us giving up is simply not an option.

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic.” Wrote Howard Zinn “It is based on the fact human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice and kindness.”






























  1. Thanks Chloe. Re Kim Dot Com “” Laila Harre’s sugar daddy” , guess that makes Kohn Key Warner Bros rent boy. And his cabinet Rio Tinto’s Pet Shop Boys.

  2. I am per se “middle class” by most “definitions”. I am also “middle aged” by the same criteria. In short I am a perfect fit for the mythical “centre” of “aspirational” voters so beloved of National (and Labour). When I talk to my peers they are invariably socially liberal and fair minded, but putting it bluntly they don’t have a clue as to the real situation of NZ youth, the unemployed or child poverty. Quite frankly I often think that they just don’t want to know, its a bloody great elephant in the room of their reality and they are just hoping it wont move and damage the real estate.

    Most of my peers have children who have more degrees (and less education) than me, along with the regulation huge student debt. They are either in narrow career based employment at a base rate, or out of work altogether. I watch with open eyes as regular employment becomes a thing of the past, the future very uncertain for these young people. And they are the advantaged ones, they did not grow up in poverty. What a mess.

    I accuse my peers and our focus on us, us as “rational” individuals, us as selfish actors who voted for lower taxes, more “economic freedoms” etc yet refused to either see the end result or to actually make the link. We collectively have dropped our own children in the proverbial whilst blithely assuming that if you lived in a poor area, well you were being looked after by the state or more likely you deserved your fate for being a slack arse dummie.

    I am going to vote for Dotcom just to piss off my generation, and on behalf of the next generations. Fuck you John Key!

    • Ennui , yes…you’re observant as to the young with degrees and no jobs available for their expensive degrees to be paid off. It has been the same here since the 2008 big wall street bank meltdown here in the US. Precisely why the Occupy movement was started here, and spread like wildfire all over the globe. Your friends had better wake up to as you put it, “the elephant ” , as it will ruin the real estate. I’ll say this , read and think about my observations …the US along with the Brits- Aussies- Canadians and NZ are the 5EYES. There are far too many similarities of events going on between them, as though they are in lockstep. Key is an insider of the big banks…no secret that he worked for them. So he’s connected. Here we have a State Dept./CIA playbook that creates coups , and this has been going on for over 50 years. Look to the Ukraine …we did that mess , and are demonizing the Russians to deflect blame. We are a failing country… the 2 political parties are pretty much different only in name here. You’re lucky that there are at the least 4 choices the electorate has in NZ.

    • Good on you. Too many victims of the Cultural Revolution of the 60’s are voting for the destruction of their own people.

  3. Wow! Awesome! And, I will add, you have some of us “oldies” on your side also.

    Some of us have been watching with disgust the rise of Shonkey’s brand of neoliberalist globalist war-mongering capitalism, and, like you, we are disgusted, and, like you, we are ready to also say, repeatedly, “Fuck John Key”, and everything that he stands for…. the whole disgusting, greedy, misogynist disgusting garbage bucket full of it!

    • cha Peter! I know there are plenty of people over 30 who give a shit and care about us young people have to say just so much of the MSM is dominated by voices that silence young people, poor people, indigenous voices… so yeah we mainly have white men shaping public opinion. FFS

  4. As usual, you’ve nailed it, Chloe.

    Key’s remarks regarding Ms Billngsley and Laila Harre show him up to be a the chauvinist that he is.

    A person can only keep up a veneer of decency for so long before he slips…

    As for the “Fuck John Key” chanting? It staggers me that the msm profess only now to have discovered the anger out there in the community.

    But no, they knew it existed, and simply made use of the video to generate headlines. Even Guyon Espiner got on his ‘high horse’ at Laila when he interviewed her on 8 August on RNZ’s “Morning Report”;

    “I’ll decide the questions I ask!”


    • I guess the MSM thinks protest movements hold no weight and change nothing, which effectively means they have ignore massive parts of history that counter this belief. I think alot of people in NZ did not realize just the massive impact Occupy had, unless you where part of it, like me.

    • Thanks for the link, Frank – maybe we should be asking what side was Guyon in ’81? Or can’t he remember either?

      On a side note my husband is now – on the back of that ‘moaning report’, heard live- no longer listening to National (Party) radio. We cancelled out papers – dropping news sales/audiences?: maybe time to look at themselves!

  5. Thanks for a great piece. The task at hand is huge, but I far prefer doing all I can to just mindless BS, depression or giving up.

  6. What’s the problem ? We say it EVERY day in our household .

    Seems Tories are more offended by the F word than by child poverty and massive debt .

  7. Would it be a profanity if people started chanting F*** Hone Harawira?

    The Daily Blog would be full of articles claiming it was white privileged people full of racism.

  8. soooooo good……reminds me of when i was 23 not 53…..but like some…. internet mana may get my vote cos labour just aint doin it for me anymore …….greens????hmmmmm not sure but one thing i do know……FUCK YOU JOHN KEY!!!!

  9. Given the outstanding success of the Occupy Movement, I predict big things for IM.

      • well not sure if the above person is being sarcastic or not but if not, then I have little to say to them. Most people of that opinion have done zero research into the ONGOING social positive impacts the Occupy Movement has had. In other words coughing up what the MSM media such as fox news has said about Occupy not looking at why it happened and the fact it was a domino effect from the Arab Spring.

  10. They say governments can no longer act because everything’s inevitable. They can’t exist anymore because everything is inevitable, you can’t come to power and think about what you’re going to do, you have to come to power and administrate the details. Governments of ideas are finished. What matters is efficiency. 
In other words democracy no longer matters. And what’s worse is in saying all of this they’re saying that government equals bureaucracy in the negative sense of the word.

    When in reality government can and should equal the expression, the practical expression of the common good.

    FJK and his team of bureaucrats

  11. This can’t go unchallenged. Rallying cries heard by Dotcom, his minions and acolytes and effigy burning have no place in a democratic country where a very fair and accessible proportional voting system is well entrenched.

    It saddens me deeply that the left who have always proudly lead the call to halt hate speech are at the fore encouraging what I consider out and out thuggery.

  12. I’m hoping someone takes that chant and mixes it with some good beats. They could start of with John key talking then have him get drowned out by the FJK chant… I’m no musician but I know a lot of fun could be had with this like people did with George Bush quotes a few years back.

  13. Bravo…excellent commentary, Chloe! With young people like you coming forward and expressing yourself so eloquently I know the world will be a much better place for my children than what they are being offered now…something I am very concerned about. Thank you!

  14. In 1966 we chanted Hey, Hey, LBJ
    How many kids did you kill today?
    We’ve waited so long for young people to find their voice.
    I’ll be at tomorrow’s meeting in Dunedin and I’ll be the little
    old woman shouting Fuck John Key.

  15. Refering to a group of people chanting – spontainiously mind – FJK at an event with a german new zealander being refered to as ‘nazi’ is not rascist but a Labour candidate of jewish origin refering to John Key as ‘Shylock’ is antisemetic (note the JEWISH origin of the referee! – though probably a bit of a dumb idea)? Could we please get some mirrors up so people can see themselves.

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