MUST READ: The Second Coming of National’s Rough Beasts

By   /   February 15, 2018  /   23 Comments

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WHAT ROUGH BEAST SLOUCHES towards Wellington to be born? What sort of National Party are the people who brought down Bill English trying to establish? And will there be enough reasonable men and women in National’s caucus on Tuesday, 27 February to stop them?

WHAT ROUGH BEAST SLOUCHES towards Wellington to be born? What sort of National Party are the people who brought down Bill English trying to establish? And will there be enough reasonable men and women in National’s caucus on Tuesday, 27 February to stop them?

In the movie, Schindler’s List, the hero, Oskar Schindler (played by Liam Neeson) attempts to persuade the SS labour-camp commandant, Amon Goeth (played by Ralph Fiennes) to refrain from picking-off random prisoners with his hunting rifle. For a few days, Schindler’s appeal appears to be working. Eventually, however, the commandant’s murderous impulses get the better of him and he resumes his deadly sport.

For 12 years, Bill English has played the role of Oskar Schindler: cajoling, persuading and, on occasion, outmanoeuvring the far-right of the National Party into running with a moderate, liberal-conservative political agenda. It was by trading on the popular appeal of this agenda that John Key and Steven Joyce were able to give the National Party three general election victories in a row.

Not that English was some sort of bleeding-heart liberal in disguise. On the contrary, his Catholic faith mandated a deeply conservative stance on many of the social issues which Key supported as proof of National’s liberal bona fides. By the same token, however, it was English’s Catholic faith that caused him to reject the swingeing economic austerity measures imposed by right-wing finance ministers in the UK, Canada and Australia.

Not only was English convinced that austerity was economically ineffective, but he also recognized that it was politically counter-productive. Not that the economic and social policies of the Key-English era were entirely benign – far from it. The National Right had to be appeased with anti-worker and anti-beneficiary measures that were intended to – and did – inflict a great deal of unnecessary suffering on tens-of-thousands of New Zealanders. In the hands of a different finance minister, however, matters could have been a great deal worse.

This was the knowledge with which the National Right, like SS Commandant Goeth, found it so difficult to be reconciled. Why be just a little oppressive of the poor and marginalised when you possess the power to grind their faces in the dust? Why restrict oneself to fastening legal leg-irons on the trade unions when you can legislate the evil socialist bullies out of existence altogether?

For the far-right political power only becomes real when it is used. To exercise restraint is to allow those within your power to set the limits of their own persecution. Far from being a manifestation of strength (as Schindler suggested to Goeth) the willingness to exercise restraint is a craven demonstration of weakness.

In his fascinating Newsroom essay on Bill English’s political career, Bernard Hickey describes the occasion upon which his subject was so moved by the recollection of his own and his wife Mary’s family histories that he wept:

“He talked of his admiration for his father-in-law’s family ethos and hard work in raising a big family in Wellington, despite the struggles of arriving with little from Samoa in an unfamiliar city. He also talked about a quiet chat he had with a kaumatua on a marae about the problems of Maori youth, and the need for strong communities with their own resources. His point was that he admired the self-reliance and quiet conservatism of family and community life. He saw his role as helping those communities and pulling Government out of the way to let them get on with it. It wasn’t an ugly or dry form of libertarian scorched-earth politics. It was a deeply humane and thoughtful approach where Government was supposed to treat people with empathy and dignity and as individuals, rather than as just another beneficiary locked into welfare for life. His views on helping to lift people out of poverty were a precursor to his championing of the social investment approach, which he was only just starting to roll out through the Government as Labour returned to power in late October.”

It was during this part of his talk that English was obliged to pause for a few moments:

“The tears rolled down his nose and splashed onto the lectern. You could hear a pin drop. The audience was with him though. English’s story was utterly authentic and thoughtful and showed a depth of humility and humanity that struck a chord that night. He got a standing ovation when he finished.”

English’s moderate conservatism, Hickey seems to be saying, is born out of a love for ordinary people. By contrast, the vicious conservatism of the far-right is born out of the gnawing fear that ordinary people might one day decide to exact retribution from those who have found it expedient to grind their faces in the dust. That fear begets hate which, in turn, is translated into institutional and physical violence. The great paradox of far-right aggression, however, is that by oppressing the poor, the marginalised and the dispossessed it only brings the terrifying day of retribution closer.

Instead of being thankful that New Zealand’s democratic constitution transforms these days of retribution into peaceful transitions of power from one combination of political parties to another, however, the far-right seethes with frustration, and consoles itself with fantasies of imposing a day of retribution of its own. On that day, all those who have deprived them of their rightful power and status will get what’s coming to them.

That’s where we are now. English’s moderation is deemed, by his colleagues, to have failed the National Party. New, and much more aggressive leadership is required. Those panderers to, and enablers of, the poor and marginalised – Labour and the Greens – must be driven from the Treasury Benches as quickly as possible. And Winston Peters, that conservative turncoat and traitor, must be cast into the ninth circle of political hell – and his worthless party with him.

William Butler Yeats, the Irish poet, saw it all happening nearly a century ago, in the fretful aftermath of the First World War. “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity”, he wrote in his most famous poem, The Second Coming.

The final lines of that poem can still send a chill down the spine:

… but now I know

That twenty centuries of stony sleep

Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

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23 Comments

  1. Pete says:

    “Why be just a little oppressive of the poor and marginalised when you possess the power to grind their faces in the dust? Why restrict oneself to fastening legal leg-irons on the trade unions when you can legislate the evil socialist bullies out of existence altogether?”

    And why feign upset by saying that victims ground into the dust are failing in schools and something needs to be done about it? Oh, I see, so you can deal the double whammy by selling schools off which will ensure more to be ground into the dust by the favoured ones.

    • Sam Sam says:

      Nope. Not even a little bit close to reality. Educational funding is capped so earning a profit over and above that is delusional.

  2. countryboy says:

    ” And Winston Peters, that conservative turncoat and traitor, must be cast into the ninth circle of political hell – and his worthless party with him…”

    That, Mr Trotter, deserves a hug from me. So be prepared!

    When asked once what the ordinary working man ( Person ) should do when faced with seasonal unemployment ( From the freezing works, grain fields, dairying, fruits, etc) my farming father said ” Lets pay them well in their down-time. Why not? Our country can afford to. ”

    What great and wise words.

    My father tried very hard to convince farmers, and by farmers, I mean holistic farmers in tune with their land and beasties, to join their city fellows ( Persons ) to protect themselves from the Beasts in bankster offices and their minions from their Gin fuelled lunatic ravages. Their insatiable greed, deviant machinations, gleeful cruelties in knowing, full well, the suffering and depravation and confusion they caused for their fat bellies and fine lifestyles. You’ll not find a speck of beastie shit on any lawyers boot. Worthless accountants can be seen driving past the homeless in cars worth more than a state house.

    bill english knew this. He knew. He too must swing for his self indulgent indifference

    While I’m no accountant; the bottom line reads a simple truth.
    It’s all about the money. Everything is about the money.
    NZ/ Aotearoa’s economy is agrarian. Fifty two thousand people comprise our agrarian economy. ( Source Dept’ Stat’s. )
    NZ/ Aotearoa has a total population of some 4.7 million.
    That’s like Melbourne AU having a 268,021 km² vegetable garden surrounded by fish rich oceans and all under sweet, clean air.
    What questions for your politicians are rising in your mind at this point?
    And what rope and which pole?

    • Sam Sam says:

      Finally the traditional owners of New Zealand democracy gather to harkari up the maverick spirit of 2002 national party leader Donald brash campaign slogan Iwi vs kiwi. To have two self professed Māori as deputy leaders of the too largest political parties is a great achievement. And in a broader sense baby bump Jacinda and Robertson our openly gay finance minister is perhaps a remarkable achievement, which was unthinkable in Clarkson time just 9 years ago. So what’s happened in the last 9 years that brought about this change in attitude? There was extensive and very constructive activism which has had a civilising effect on Aotearoa-New Zealand so we had a lot of Māori activism and feminists came out leading to Ngati Whatua and Proffesor Jane Kelsey leading the largest march against the TPPA-11 since no nukes, that was never supposed to be mentioned in the media. And the activism has civilised the country and its a great achievement. The counties a lot more civilised than it was 9 years ago and it’s a great achievement. It’s also a lesson for what’s next. And what’s next depends on if the same things happen.

      There has been high immigration, but great change and progress very rarely gifts from above they come out of struggles from below and the answers come from people like you in places like The Daily Blog. No other people can answer what comes next because it’s not predictable.

      If the 2008 American crises had of been induced by 1 month I suspect we wouldn’t be having these civilised conversations by the usually criteria, you’d expect in election17 for Jacinda to have won in a landslide but that didn’t happen because no one was allowed to mention John Key or Donald Brash’s record in stopping the civilising movement of Aotearoa-New Zealand and opposing there policy, they presided over the worst human rights record in post war history in terms of real wage growth and so on. Just about everything John Keys administration touched has turned into a disaster. The country has reached the lowest level of standing in the world it’s ever had and the economy is tanking… Several rescissions are going on not just in diary, in manufacturing, the convention is a strong kiwi dollar is bad for manufacturing, bad for workers and bad for our financial sector and people know it. About 60% of the people think the government doesn’t represent the will of the people they represent a tiny fraction who make all the money so is it any wonder why Jacindas Labour didn’t win in a landslide.

      Under conditions like that you’d expect a landslide for the opposition who ever they are and there wasn’t one and that raises some questions so y’all might ask why there wasn’t a landslide? And then we all go off to interesting minor parties. In some respects the National party outspent every one else and that helped secure the largest vote count for an opposition party ever. Both Jacinda and Bill received largely the same amount of finance from the financial sector but Jacinda got hers mostly from law firms who are essentially lobbyists which was about a third of her campaign contributions. It’s all on the electoral commissions website. But the predictor of funding has pretty much been a predictor of what policy will be like and if any one is interested in this there’s what’s called ‘The Investment Theory of Politics’ you can look up on the Google which argue the there are moments in elections when groups of individuals get together to buy elections and invests to control the state ands it’s a pretty good predictor of what policy might be. So that part is familiar but what the future holds depends on people like you.

    • Nitrium Nitrium says:

      ” And Winston Peters, that conservative turncoat and traitor, must be cast into the ninth circle of political hell – and his worthless party with him…”
      That, Mr Trotter, deserves a hug from me.

      I’m not sure you understood Trotter’s context there. That is what the Nationa Party think of him after Winston formed an alliance with Labour instead of them. It is probably not what Chris thinks of him. Essentially, you are on the same page as National when it comes to Winston Peters. Well I guess every party has its pros and cons, so no disrespect from me on this.

  3. Matt Downing says:

    Comparing National with Nazis? I look forward to your commentary on Labour being a modern day Soviet Government, with Ardern, Robertson,Twyford, Peters as the tsars of knowledge.

    • Matt Doluke Scottwning says:

      No shit. Trotter losing his marbles.

    • Jonathan Roe says:

      Parts of National Matt, not all. Despite Bomber’s portrayal in an earlier piece on this blog of English as a cold, hard bully to the have-nots, Trotter paints English as social conservative but an economic moderate. What’s to follow in the leadership contenders is a flurry of die-hard neo-libs who believe the poor are useless and the wealthy shouldn’t pay taxes to help them. I think Trotter is using more figurative speech to make his comparison with Nazis. But having said that, spend a day on Kiwiblog and it feels like you’re in the land of fascists. And that’s a cheer-leading site for the National Party.

    • Sam Sam says:

      What failed the Soviet Union was the quota system that allocated resources even if there want any fish left in the ocean. Today we have the treaty quota systems who’s greatest ideological champion and most economically illiterate person in parliament national party MP Mr Finlayson.

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      English lost many votes around NZ when he backed Steven Joyce wrecking kiwi rail and cutting services to many regions.

      Austerity was used by English,Joyce and bridges so even though austerity was not stated as a goal of national they did use the blunt instrument of it in their regulatory economics plans so when Bill English said to us all in 2009 “that NZ cannot afford a road and rail system he single handedly killed off ‘Bill English’ from many votes in the regions.

      Be warned national candidates give the kiwi-rail back to the provinces or stay on the backbench, it’s your choice to join Bill or join Government.

    • patricia bremner says:

      This is about the actions and failures of the past National government.

      They treated unions and workers as the enemy.

      They did not govern for all. Mostly the top 28% grew wealthier.

      Workers went backwards. The poor needed food parcels in unprecedented numbers. The disabled are cared for by unpaid/poorly paid family.

      Community and kindness got lost, underfunded and overwhelmed.

    • Winifred Kiddle says:

      What’s wrong with modern day Russia? You need to do some research on this issue, rather than reading AND believing mainstream media lies.

    • simonm says:

      I reckon Judith would quite like being compared to a Nazi. She probably admires Hitler for the firm hand he kept over the Third Reich.

    • bert says:

      Mikes wrong. Judas Collins has already started telling porkies regarding the leadership race, She believes Amy Adams has broken caucus rules by having 4 ministers endorse Adams in public, however, there are no such rules. But then again, lies around Oravida and now these lies, it’s hardly surprising Hosking is endorsing Collins, he never puts much thought into things and just shoots from the hip. Hosking is Whailoils twin.

      • CLEANGREEN says:

        I wonder when this Government are going to change the right wing agenda of Radio NZ that has been ’embedded’ by the previous National Government so we can finally see our voice being heard and our issues aired in public????

        Minister of Broadcasting Clare Currant appears not to care and may think there is no issue within Radio NZ at all even with it being still run by a National Party chosen CEO.???

    • Sam Sam says:

      Hhmph. We’ll know by the 27th

    • Wensleydale says:

      No surprises there. If Mike had to choose between a live hand grenade, a rusty meat hook or a bucket full of used syringes smeared in anthrax, he’d pick the latter every time. He’ll always select the very worst of the available awful options… because he’s Mike Hosking.

      In other news, New Zealand’s worst news rag is now twice as crap due to the Hosking/Hawkesby double-act drizzling vitriol throughout its already irredeemably soiled pages. Just when you think you’ve hit rock bottom, Granny digs a little deeper.

  4. WILD KATIPO says:

    This pretty much says what these far right wing neo liberal creeps are all about :

    ——————————

    Instead of being thankful that New Zealand’s democratic constitution transforms these days of retribution into peaceful transitions of power from one combination of political parties to another, however, the far-right seethes with frustration, and consoles itself with fantasies of imposing a day of retribution of its own. On that day, all those who have deprived them of their rightful power and status will get what’s coming to them.

    ——————————

    NEVER FORGET what these odious people are all about and their collective end game. And to understand who they REALLY are and what they REALLY believe in , READ THIS :

    New Right Fight – Who are the New Right?
    http://www.newrightfight.co.nz/pageA.html

  5. Andrewo says:

    Chris, just like all the others from the left, you don’t understand conservative thinking.

    Rather than being “born out of the gnawing fear that ordinary people might one day decide to exact retribution” as you claim, we too wish to uplift ordinary people, just like you!

    The only difference is in the methods the two groups chose.

    The Left has chosen to steal money from the middle class via taxes and hand it out to the poor, thereby creating an intergenerational dependency on charity. The evidence is there for all to see right across the western world.

    The Right recognises that real and sustainable upliftment is only gained through personal effort and hard work. So whilst we’re happy to assist people in getting out of a hole for a limited period, the recipient of welfare must do their share and eventually learn to stand on their own two feet, where they’re able.

    • WILD KATIPO says:

      Bullshit.

      The ‘Left’,.. as you so call them , seek to impose taxes on the multicorporates and multinationals who deliberately avoid paying their fair share by extensive use of loopholes and accountants. They shove finances round the globe at midnight like the poor might move the meager crumbs around their dishes having breakfast in the morning.

      Don’t come here with that sort of diversion. The middle class are not listening to your crap. That’s partly why there’s a NEW GOVERNMENT.

      Haven’t you noticed?

      And as for trying to imply that those of the far right are the only ones indulging in ‘ hard work ‘ and ‘personal effort’ , – shut your bloody trap.

      Have you even spared a thought for all those guys working out in this heat with their nylon hi vis vests that cut into their skin when they sweat? And how many would be feeling the effects of dehydration ? On their feet all day in these temperatures?

      All for the sake of making a road so slick pricks like you can glide along from one air conditioned office to the bloody next ? In a low fucking wage economy which is the legacy of the Double Dipper from Dipton?

      Piss the hell off !

      You wouldn’t even know a decent days work if your nuts depended on it.

      And even if you did create a business which involved manual labour – those people you employ are not your bloody slaves!

      Are YOU paying them LIVABLE WAGE?

      Go on , you miserable weasel – READ THIS :

      New Right Fight – Who are the New Right?
      http://www.newrightfight.co.nz/pageA.html

      Then hang your head in shame.

      • Kat says:

        Ah, yes Wild Katipo and the stock reply from those on “The Right” with regards the corporates and multinationals is don’t bite the hand that feeds you. The brainwashing that has resulted in the collective ignorance and arrogance of these starboard dwellers is astounding.

  6. Cassie says:

    I’m not going to get caught up in all the minuate- dissecting/analysing..

    No need when you see the big picture.

    My prediction is Simon Bridges will take Bill English’s place. I’ll bet it’s already been planned in advance.

    In any case all the available options are odious

    This is how it works-

    Narrowed down choices = Odious options vs ONE (“Fresh “newcomer, with no odious reputation /record.

    VOILA! >>>>”fresh Young Newcomer” gets in! (as planned)

    Shoot me if I’m wrong.

    ***********

    Bill English departure has been orchestrated (in whatever way) but it’s strategic.

    Anyway, we’ll see…