While Evils Are Sufferable: What would it take to rouse New Zealanders to revolt?


Rousing RevoltWHAT DOES A GOVERNMENT have to do before it forfeits all legitimacy in the eyes of its people? It’s a question many people have asked down the centuries. In the modern era, no person has set forth the conditions under which all government legitimacy may be considered lost more eloquently than Thomas Jefferson. Author of the American Declaration of Independence (1776) Jefferson set forth in the rolling cadences of the Eighteenth Century exactly why governments are created, and exactly when they may, justifiably, be destroyed:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Were Jefferson, transported through time to Barack Obama’s America, to publicly assert “The Spirit of ‘76”, it is highly likely that he would find himself under investigation by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, or both. For openly proclaiming the right of the American people “to alter or to abolish” their system of government – should it become destructive to their “unalienable rights” – he would, almost certainly, find himself placed on what Edward Snowden calls the “cast-iron watch-list” of the National Security Agency. There he would be subjected to “a long train of abuses and usurpations” considerably more despotic than anything contemplated by the loyal servants of King George III.

We New Zealanders, though lacking entirely the revolutionary tradition of a United States or a France, are able to boast the longest, continuous exercise of fully democratic government on the planet. Governments elected by universal suffrage have ruled New Zealanders since 1893 – much longer than is the case in the United States, the United Kingdom, France or Germany.

This long, unbroken stretch of government with the consent of the governed has instilled in New Zealanders a possibly over-large measure of the “prudence” which Jefferson cites as the explanation for human-beings’ disposition to “suffer, while evils are sufferable”. Rather than secure our rights by abolishing the form of government to which we have become accustomed – and which has, up until the late-1980s, at least, served us extremely well – we have been willing to cut our political masters an awful lot of slack.

Not being natural ideologues, we struggle to make the connections between the neoliberal policies imposed upon this country by successive governments since 1984 (none of which have ever had the courage to seek an explicit electoral mandate for the entirety of the neoliberal programme they intended to pursue) and the appalling social consequences to which those policies have given rise.

Although the cause-and-effect relationship between cuts to mental health services and successful suicide attempts is indisputable, very few New Zealanders would consider it fair or appropriate to lay those deaths at the door of the responsible Cabinet Minister. Similarly, most Kiwis would feel uncomfortable about sheeting home the blame for child abuse and domestic violence to a government’s failure to pursue policies of full-employment and the provision of public housing. Many of us regard such ills as the unavoidable “collateral damage” of responsible public administration.

Where most New Zealanders would draw the line, I suspect, is at the suggestion that their government might be willing to sacrifice the life, or lives, of a New Zealand citizen, or citizens, in the pursuit of purely partisan political objectives.

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The protection of its citizens, both at home and abroad, is the first and most fundamental duty of any government. To abrogate that duty, for whatever reason (other than to ward-off an imminent and deadly threat to the whole population) would not be accepted by the vast majority of New Zealanders.

Were it to be proved that the government had been willing to allow one or more of its citizens to be reduced to a mere pawn and then ruthlessly sacrificed in some partisan political chess game, that might just be enough to see Kiwi “prudence” thrust angrily aside.

Such a government would have forfeited all claim to moral and political legitimacy. Channelling the spirit of Thomas Jefferson, many thousands of New Zealanders might even conclude that, in the face of such insufferable evil, it was their right – and their duty – to throw off such a Government, and provide new guards for their future security.


  1. Vote of no confidence in John Key and Stephen Joyce should see them removed maybe then the country would have peace and democracy.

    • Unfortunately Elle, I think a vote of no confidence would be negative, because it would be out voted, due to National having a majority, albeit a very small one, but enough to break a non confidence vote.

      However, if one or two government MPs or it’s coalition partners decided to cross the floor and vote with the opposition, then we might see a change. But I’m not holding my breath on that one!

      And then msm could do its job as intended … work on behalf of the people, asking the hard questions of Key and the government, exposing some dirty politics, which we all know exist! Can’t see that one becoming a reality in the near future, not while John Key has media in his pocket!

      So any action to remove this odious stench disguised as government, would have to come from people hitting the streets, protesting up a storm.

          • Mary A,

            You have just hit on it right there.

            When we all understand that both the Left and Right
            are controlled by the same Global Elite,then it becomes more clear and less stressful to make sense
            out of what goes on.

            “THEY” control thru the institutions set up after WW2,
            via the mandates of UN,IMF,WTO,WHO etc.

            They own the major Corporations with their lobby

            They own the major Corporate Media.

            They control the Narrative of any major events and
            the Dominant Social Themes / memes that are spread far and wide by Hollywood,TV soaps and
            sitcoms,newspapers and magazines etc.

            The good news is the MSM is collapsing world wide.

            The Internet Reformation is our only hope.

            AND they want to control that as well.


        • I think the governor should be able to intervene in constitutional matters such as the implementation of the electoral commission’s recommendations for MMP. Members of parliament can’t be trusted to make disinterested decisions in such matters.

  2. I don’t know – the asset thefts are enough for me – if you’re an asset thief you should be in jail. Let’s say a year for every billion stolen – Key’d be due out sometime in 2600. Mind, Goff and the rest of Labour’s rogergnomic rump would also have a few centuries in durance vile – couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people. Oh, and we must have the assets back – you don’t get to keep stolen goods.

  3. Getting new Zealander’s to revolt is easy. Firstly stop broadcasting rugby and Coronation street, stop producing Marmite, and decrease the fishing quota for the average Joe Bloggs. That ought to do it

    • No, disconnect the internet and sabotage EFTPOS for a few days, that will do it. Shopping addiction turning into withdrawal and a resulting “delirium tremens” may send a tremor through this society.

      • Putting up the price of petrol will cause a revolt.

        Interest rates going up will see a change of government.

        Both those things are going down. That is also why many NZ’s think National is doing great on the economy.

        The MSM are not exactly reporting the truth of the massive debt the government is racking up.

        Nationals weakest points at present is sending troops to war in Iraq and selling off assets like state houses and surveillance bill.

        They are even sending out trolls with fake FB pics to go on about these issues and ‘flood’ the opinion polls. Check out Greens FB page.

        Dirty Politics need to be stamped on now, because imagine how it will be closer to next election. Labour is peaking too soon, and it will all go back downhill with dirty politics closer to the election. But are they too arrogant to work it out?

        History says yes.

    • @ IAN.

      Interestingly, you’re dead right .

      Television’s still the greatest tool to reach most people and contrary to Gil Scott-Heron’s misgivings ( http://youtu.be/qGaoXAwl9kw ) the revolution MUST be televised .
      Therefore, does it not make sense for the likes of The Daily Blog and it’s loyal members to ( re )-gain control of at least one TV channel ? Because NZ broadcasting was ours, remember ? And [They] just took control of it in a bloodless coup . Just like they’re parasitising RNZ with the viral likes of Kathryn Ryan .

      Perhaps ten thousand New Zealanders could go down ( Up ) to amy adams’ office and firmly suggest she get off her fat arse and do her fucking job, for us . Not for them . That is why we pay her, a fact that she seems to over look .

      The first act of a revolutionary movement must be to create at least one free to air TV station . Then televise that movement .

  4. In regard to “sacrifice the life, or lives, of a New Zealand citizen, or citizens, in the pursuit of purely partisan political objectives” I think the incredible indecision and delays to send troops to fight (forget the bullshit training reason) is because their polling results were telling them it’s not popular and this must be scary shit for Key’s National. We have been fed different catch phrases and explanations, I assume from Curia focus groups, but really none of it has worked.

    They may have been forced to follow the US in here owing to Key’s toadying, forced as in they don’t give a shit about the people going there but more as in forced against their polling and that must be an awfully uncomfortable feeling for this lot of manipulators.

  5. Chris, you asked;
    What will it take to rouse New Zealanders to revolt?

    Perhaps once this Ed Snowdon Oscar nominated Documentary “Citizenfour” clearly showing the US were lying to the world like our compulsive liar John Key was about whether we are actually been already spied apon should do it.

    In the Documentary evidence showed that at least over 1.2 million citizens are already on an NSA “watch list” and NSA can deny it all, hits the NZ screens after it opens in a premier in three US centre’s this next week?


    In October, “Citizenfour” director Laura Poitras appeared on Democracy Now! to discuss the film that offers an inside look at what transpired in a Hong Kong hotel room over eight days in June 2013 when Edward Snowden first met with Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald and Guardian reporter Ewen MacAskill. Snowden selected the journalists to receive a trove of secret documents about how the United States had built a massive surveillance apparatus to spy on Americans and people across the globe.

  6. In all honesty, in the present day scenario, I can only realistically imagine large numbers of New Zealanders to “revolt”, if EFTPOS or the internet go down for more than two days, without the prospect of it being brought back running in a day or two.

    6 and a half years of Nat Attack have done little, and even Labour is doing Little now.

    I can only see a grim future, a long journey for people to be waking up at the end of a long, long dark tunnel trip. It may take many years and a major catastrophe to shake enough up, to take action and reverse the madness we have.

    • The problem is that we dont have “many years”. Think of all the ways that this world can self-destruct; overpopulation, starvation, no potable water, a super virus, global warming, WW3. Any one of these things could happen within a decade. Having removed the Government we would then have to withstand an onslaught from the financial world determined to punish us for our temerity. It would take at least a decade to shake them off. They estimate that it might take thirty years for Greece to recover.
      We really need action now, but all the preceding comments make clear that nothing will move Kiwis in a short time. So sit back and enjoy the ride.

  7. Be blimmin’ scary if (or when) a crazy Republican is elected as president of the good old USofA. Everyone disses the crap out of Obama but if the yanks go all reactionary as they have a mind to do from time to time, then really do we want to have our hat in the same ring as them?
    I would prefer if we dealt with this via the UN

  8. when there is a critical mass of population who can no longer afford to eat or house or support there families or if unemployment reached 25 percent leading to a break down of society like California or Greece and don’t think it couldn’t happen here NZ house holds are the third most indebted in the oecd.

    • Not to mention Diabetics and the likes who aren’t getting subsidised meds and paying through the nose for overpriced american drugs.

  9. Are you alluding in some way to Daryl Jones, the NZer killed in a drone strike in Yemen? If there’s something you know that we don’t.. please, go on…

  10. No revolt.

    Because there’s no guarantee that we’d end up with the changes in mindset and governance practice that we need to add.

    Recall elections. Impeachment.

    Three years is too long to wait to maybe, perhaps, might, get rid of gerrymandering, asset-thieving, social-engineering uppity nebbishes.

    We, the people, having largely come from the working and lower middle classes, have been far too lazy on the matter of politics and citizen responsibilities since the 1890s. ‘Leave that to the betters and bosses. She’ll be right. The wharfies will see us through and strike for a pay rise.’

    So – no revolt. No Second Amendment.

    But we’d better put some frighteners in place to keep our Elected Masters humble and honest. Soon.

    Anyone in the Greens willing to raise the Ghost of Rod Donald and continue with the hard work of electoral and government reform? Or Geoffrey Palmer – to atone for past deeds…

    • Yes, we should indeed have Recall elections.

      Then we could get rid of Len Brown, hopefully before he bankrupts Auckland.

      • @ ONETRACK . But Auckland IS bankrupt . Has been so for years and is dragging the rest of NZ down the gurlger . No disrespect Auckland . It’s not your fault I hasten to add . I like Auckland, don’t get me wrong, It’s just that you’ve ben duped, just like the rest of us .

  11. Kiwis have good at taking it and looking the other way. Many have been made more cautious by the Arab Spring where open revolt means years of increased suffrage. Besides, any revolt would be twisted by the UK and US leaving us even more under the thumb.

  12. Cognitive Dissonance answers a lot of what we are seeing

    In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.

  13. Good article. But I agree with one or two comments above. The policy of sending troops or cannon fodder might be massively wrong headed and designed to curry favour with Washington. However, the “partisan ” thing, I’m not quite sure of, except to the extent that everything might possibly be given some partisan colouring with a following wind. Could you elaborate, please, Chris?

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