MEDIA WATCH: The Terrifying Radicalism of Matthew Hooton



WHAT DOES IT MEAN to be a radical in the 21st Century? Listening to RNZ’s “Nine To Noon” this morning, I realised it may mean subscribing to the views of Matthew Hooton.

Every Monday morning the host of “Nine To Noon”, Kathryn Ryan, talks to the right-wing PR maven, Matthew Hooton, and what’s become a revolving-door of allegedly “left-wing” spokespeople. This morning (11/7/16) it was Stephen Mills.

I characterise Matthew as “right-wing” only because I’m lazy, and because what he really is doesn’t yet (as far as I know) have a name. Yes, Matthew still believes in the power of the market, and he reacts viscerally against the principles and programmes of the traditional Left, but beyond these touchstones of traditional right-wing politics, he traverses unchartered territory.

Perhaps the most radical aspect of Matthew’s political praxis is his utter rejection of, and disdain for, all forms of historical consciousness. For Matthew, not only is the past “a different country”, it’s one with whom we should sever diplomatic relations. Listening to him pour scorn on poor Stephen Mills’ enthusiastic recitation of the Labour Party’s historical achievements, and laugh at the notion of Andrew Little “talking to a 25-year-old voter about Michael Joseph Savage”, I realised that in Matthew’s Utopia universal historical amnesia would be the norm.

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This attitude goes much further than Orwell’s dystopian formula: “He who controls the past controls the present; he who controls the present controls the future.” Matthew has no desire to control the past, for the very simple reason that he no longer believes the past has anything important to contribute to the present.

Until this morning, the only people I’d ever heard refer to the great thinkers of the past as “Dead White Males” were post-modern radical feminists. Their principal avenues of critique were at once anti-Western and anti-patriarchal. Their purpose, to challenge the canonical thinkers of the traditional university. But one thing Matthew certainly is not, is a radical feminist. So, to hear him dismiss the philosophical foundations of the Labour Party as the ideas of “Dead White Males” was more than a little disconcerting.

What about a post-modernist? Could this be the philosophical direction Matthew has chosen? It would certainly explain his impatience with history and tradition. Post-modernists reject the all-embracing religious and ideological “metanarratives” of the past, in favour of an untrammelled individualistic relativism. No matter what sort of world it may be, if it works for you, then it is the best of all possible worlds.

Except, of course, a post-modernist is as likely to draw inspiration from the past as the present. Matthew will have none of that. No 25-year-old voter is to be troubled by stories about people who lived 80, or, one suspects, even 8 years ago.

My suspicion is that Matthew’s radical ontology rejects both the past and the future in favour of a perpetual present. His is a world in which the individual needs neither memory nor conscience: a world in which one moves according to, and is guided by, complex algorithms that, ultimately, may, or may not, have human authors.

The terrifying thing about Matthew’s radicalism is that its ability to describe our present reality may, already, be superior, to the traditionalism espoused by an old greybeard like me.

The great Roman jurist and legislator, Cicero, wrote that: “To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?”

I would answer Cicero that such a life would have no worth at all.

Matthew, on the other hand, might argue that we are moving rapidly towards a world in which it is no longer necessary to grow up at all. A world in which living in a state of perpetual childhood will be the norm. Already, the solipsism of the child finds less and less in our increasingly virtual reality to contradict its expectations. We may have reached the point where the very idea that there was a world before us, and that there will be a world after us, has become deeply disturbing.

In an age when young people risk fatal injuries in pursuit of Pokemon GO’s virtual creatures, Matthew Hooton’s view of politics: as the entertaining clash of ruthlessly competitive, but essentially trivial, fictional narratives; may already have more going for it than we left-wing conservatives dare to contemplate.


  1. Scary but plausible hypothosis!

    Saying that I imagine half of Gen X and older, that do not believe in ‘trickle down,’ love the past.

    But you could be right about some of the post Gen X youth…. Peter pan syndrome…. Hooton has the boomer version. Key has the Post truth version.

    I guess it has come down to divided ideologies and whose version will control the future, Key and Hooton’s from iron control in the last few years, is slipping away…

  2. ” Matthew Hooton’s view of politics: as the entertaining clash of ruthlessly competitive, but essentially trivial, fictional narratives; may already have more going for it than we left-wing conservatives dare to contemplate.”
    Ahhhh no

    “To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?”

    Mathew doesn’t understand that to the Pokemon chases he is already, not dead yet, but certainly one ‘old white male’.

  3. By his own definition Matthew Hooton on the radio before today was just a “Dead White Male,” what he said irrelevant.

    Except that shit on the carpet proves he was here, the smell remains, and those who follow are to be affected.

  4. The great irony of his ignoring the past is that the moment he’s gone, the landscape will show no reflection of his ever having been here. He is the mosquito that is forgotten the second we no longer have to hear it’s buzzing.

  5. That may all be correct Chris, but he can still be cooked and eaten…

    …as can all our fascist leaders.

  6. Sure is going to be entertaining. Better than the coliseum. I’m pretty fit and not on any medication so might even be able to join in. Talk about living the dream one day after the other. Sounds real positive.

    • When the elite take away the underclass’ hope for any kind of half decent future and start arrogantly pissing on them from above just to rub it in, then brutal violence and murder is pretty much the dream. You could sell your house and arm some people, perhaps?

  7. I would call Matthew Hooton a right wing liberal “chameleon”, as he changes his views and angles to argue like a chameleon changes its colours and appearance.

    And re ‘Nine to Noon’ and Kathryn Ryan, her show has become so boring for most the time, it seems to rather focus on petty topics, on lifestyle and what else is of “interest” to the now well cushioned, matured middle class chatters over at least 40 to 50 years of age.

    I know few other people, who bother listening to that show now, and the good interviews she used to present at times years ago, they are now so rare, it is like striking a lotto win, to get one broadcast.

    Also is she increasingly opinionated, she interferes in the discussion with her “political commentators”, trying to bring her personal view and interpretation of matters into it.

    Mike Williams is not all that “left” anymore, I think, as he has often enough commented that certain things Key did were “smart” and “right”, and Mr Wills is also not much of a revolutionary minded person, a seasoned pollster and member of the better educated middle class establishment, who RNZ seem to cater for.

    Once upon a time the commentators had some serious discussions, now they seem to make it rather easy for Matthew Hooton to throw all kinds of silly ideas and comments around, like a naughty kid throwing around its toys, just to challenge and annoy other kids and its parents.

    These days where truth is simply nothing more than a “convenient truth”, it pays to act like a chameleon, and that is what Matthew is doing, he will always be “right” doing this.

    • I’m finding Kathryn ‘ s interviews hard to listen to – I know more about her opinions than the thoughts and opinions than those of her guests.

      • Maybe RNZ should rename her show the “Kathryn Ryan Show”, stepping into the footsteps of American talk stars like Oprah and others?

  8. What is Matthew Hooton?

    He is an Individualist for whom Consumerism is King and notions of community and Citizenship are obsolete.

    It is the dead hand of the free market encapsulated in each and every single human being who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.

  9. I am not so bemused by Matthew. He suffers from the same affliction that any believer in faith based ideologies has. Marxists believed in the historic dialectic that proscribes any alternate version of history and ones position or stage in the process. Matthew is not unlike them as he has absorbed post modernist constructs such as the ideas of Ayn Rand or Milton Freidman. These attempt to be total systems for the relationship of the individual to his world; real world systems dont intervene, especially the real world feedback mechanism that all empirical evidence is in the past. So Matthew creates only his own nihilistic version of reality with its own very specific feedback mechanisms from a past encapsulating only recent data. He is in effect the zeitgeist. Unfortunately one thing history teaches is that the spirit of the age usually gets shipwrecked on its own hubris, and hubris is not in short supply for Matthew. Reality bats last, and Matthews created reality is not genuine reality.

  10. Thanks Chris for the chain of word clearing I had to do…sheez . I still think Matthew is one of those in the know types who know the ‘REAL’ rules of survival, eg if you wanna keep the mega bucks rolling in to your bank account you must do anything to maintain the status quo… lie, deflect, obfuscate, manipulate, embezzle, ruin, murder; anything goes! Truth morals ethics, justice, nothing is of any consequence as long as the establishment goals are advanced.

  11. When Master Hooton eventually grows up he would like to be a libertarianist. He might possibly be a minarchist (spelling correct).

    He has been known to speak slightingly of National. They Intervene.

    The only person known to get him to be civil on air is Sue Bradford. (Thanks, Sue.) He simply gets to be over-excited by anyone else and wants to show he’s Clever.





  13. I listened to that show, Hooton sounded like a pissed off brat, at a loss why anyone should give a shit, why anyone would or should care why any loser can’t afford a house, why this loser subject should harm his National Party, why lying isn’t enough to placate the stupid masses. Probably pissed off at Joyce’s hamfisted tweeting, probably pissed off at the internal polling.

    He’s a man whose professional reason for being is to create an illusion, to bend the truth out of any recognisable shape but a terrifying radical he is not. Rather a run of the mill bore who is part of the lying dirty National Party who you just cease listening to because he’s full of shit and there is nothing particularly remarkable about that.

  14. i love it when he gets all outraged and his little lips whiten even more…and quiver..

    ..hooton is to little lips what trump is to little hands..

  15. He’s a little fly, remember that. He’s a little fly that buzzes around the stink of money. He is ,in fact, all bought and paid for.

    The question is; who owns him ? To whos tune does the little fly dance to ? And why ? What, about NZ / Aotearoa, is in its past that needs to be forgotten?

  16. The past has a valuable lesson: our grandparents’ generation built infrastructure, established the welfare state, and defeated fascism.

    They did all that with a fraction of the technology we have today

    Amazing what can be done if a nation puts it’s collective minds to it, eh?

    • my favourite ayn rand story is how she spent her life spitting on ‘welfare-bludgers’..and then went in boots and all..but under her husbands’ name…

      ..(that one is good for stopping shiny-eyed libertarians/randites in their tracks..)

      • she was also a terrible tweaker, took speed most of her adult life

        hence the psychosis posing as as prose that is Atlas Shrugged etc…

  17. This pretty much sums up the global media.
    “I think Clinton’s understanding of her problems and the political system’s problems are tied together. She sees the loss of public trust in her as caused by the same force that has led to the loss of public trust in everything else: a press corps obsessed with controversy, uninterested in substance, and incapable of or uninterested in policing the boundaries of decency and truthfulness.” Ezra Klein,

  18. Hooton is fuelling the discontent his agenda needs the discontent. Everything is so corrupt, the informed are frustrated, the disenfranchised who are too busy just surviving have less and less to loose. When you are already deemed to be a plague on society, become the plague. All over the globe people are fed up, they are marching protesting against the neo-liberal fiasco, where net profit above all else reigns supreme. If only integrity could be injected into a small part of our mainstream media I would have hope. Hooton, Ryan, Hosking, Henry, Gower, and the rest are just doing their jobs, who pays the piper calls the tune. Anyone who has bought into the housing market doesn’t want change. Paying the poor to move out of Auckland will make the bourgeoisie happier as their french bulldogs don’t have to struggle over homeless sleeping rough. Maybe affordable housing, especially affordable rentals will come into being when baristas can’t afford to live in Auckland.

  19. Hooton’s is an extreme Right winger. Full stop. A fascist. He believes that got should be controlled by a corporate elite. He believes any challenge to this power structure should be suppressed. He believes the young should be taught that their it’s every person for themselves, that they have nothing to Kearney except survival and that failure in this world is the result of personal weakness.. And he’s a propagandist. He tells lies for a living.

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