GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Inequality and Revolution

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Seven years ago when I discussed a documentary proposal with an executive producer from a well known broadcaster and described how inequality would lie at the the heart of it she said:

“You’re not going to use the word ‘Inequality’ Bryan are you? No one uses that word in real life. They ( meaning my viewers) won’t understand you.”

“Yes they will” I said” our viewers aren’t dumb and besides so many folk are experiencing the reality of it these days, that our audience will instantly recognise the problem as soon as I describe how’ inequality’ refers to the gap between the rich and the poor.

Today inequality is an all too familiar word in our country and the coalition’s handing of the economy isn’t fixing it.

Why? Because it’s the same neoliberal approach the last National government took and the Clarke government before it .. going all the way back to David Lange and Roger Douglas who introduced this economic virus in 1984.

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That’s why you are currently seeing so many strikes. Neoliberalism (letting the marketplace decide what’s best for the economy rather than the government regulating it ) is making a few people very rich while the majority are struggling to make ends meet.

There is growing unease in our country about how unfair our society has become which the interim tax review shows no real willingness to address.

So how and when will things change?

Well, I don’t pretend to know the answer to that seemingly simple question.

What I can tell you is that history shows that inequality – the gap between the haves and have nots – only gets upended after large and violent shocks.

For my parents generation the financial crisis and Great Depression of 1930’s sowed the seeds of social discontent and the Second World War that provided the shock. Workers who had spilled their blood on the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific were in no mood to pander to moneyed elites anymore

Economists are already debating whether Brexit will damage the UK economy so badly it would trigger bad times not just for Britain but for much of the world economy.

Other pundits are predicting a further escalation of wars around the planet.

Me? Well, I think that good people hugely outnumber bad people in our country so I have hope that I might live long enough to see New Zealand evolve into a fairer place to live again through industrial action and a return to a more progressive style of government.

But I am also a realist and I know that as long as capitalism is not made to serve the State but allowed to serve the insatiable greed of financial elites, then history tells us that riot and revolution is only a flashpoint away.

(PS. And yes – it CAN happen in New Zealand. The Photo attached to this post is from 1932 when Wellington Police on horseback charged a demonstration by the unemployed during the Great Depression).

Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Politicians….they all appear to live well, eat well, sit in chauffeur driven cars, have great club memberships and sit in the best boxes, “receive perks over and under the table, dress well, have great smiles courtesy of best dentistry, and are experts at flicking off what they don’t like with supercilious smirks, and the list for some of them could be endless.
    BUT THEY ALL HAVE ONE THING IN COMMON
    They know what’s best for us!
    REVOLUTION … and the new leaders….”
    appear to live well, eat well,sit in chauffeur driven cars, have great club memberships and sit in the best boxes (insert from “….”) above.
    ….
    Time to get off the wheel.

    • Yes @ HELENA. Surgically precise, and that goes for you too @ Bryan Bruce. In my humble opinion.
      Politicians, by their very nature, and by that I mean they’re motivated far more often that not by the… shall we say, less Class orientated parts of the brain/mind. Most politicians are motivated by narcissism and ego. And as the more powerful egotistical narcissists deviously sequester themselves in our government buildings they gather about them lessor, yet like minded, souls to use to bolster themselves against criticism. To deflect blame and to off-load responsibility to ensure longevity, in office specifically, while they enable upper echelon money fetishists to install themselves like woodworm within our political mandates.
      That’s why, focus on our politicians. Make. Them. Do. Their. Fucking. Job!
      What the fuck happened to “Lets Do This? “ Is this [it]? Is [it] done?
      I’m in Queenstown right now. Check this out. $23,500,000.00
      That’d be quite the hourly rate. to pay that off.
      https://www.trademe.co.nz/property/residential-property-for-sale/auction-1582438186.htm?rsqid=4467bb5adb814f7996b30703413fd947
      Now? Queenstown is pointy and watery and a bit tussocky and rocky. That’s all it is.
      The rest? Is madness. Literal madness. It’s where Banks come to feed after they render people stupid with logical fallacies like “ Hey there, you handsome fellow! See that mountain there! Isn’t she a beaut! Why, I can sell you a house that has a view of that mountain for $-millions! Yes sir! I can sell you a window in a box through which you can view a hill for $23,500,000.00 dollars ! And if you ever go to New York? I can sell you a bridge for not much more. Imagine that? A mountain ( view) in one country and a bridge ( public) in another! Just sign right here but you better be quick! There are others queing at my office door! “
      Who enables that? In our fair NZ/AO? Your politicians, that’s who.
      You homeless? This is YOUR country. You can come here to Queenstown and walk the hills and forests. You can roam freely about with the thousands of tourists. You can swim in Lake Wakitipu because it’s yours. You homeless? This is YOUR town. Not theirs. This is YOUR country no theirs.
      “Lets do this” ? Ok. Fuck it. Lets do it! Lets take it fucking back?

    • the other thing the pollies have in common is being landlords.

      housing affordability contributes to inequality.

      i can’t see the pollies changing the rules to deny themselves passive income and tax breaks.

  2. It’s obviously true that “good people hugely outnumber bad people in our country” but irrelevant. If you ask if the bad, who are very motivated, outnumber the good who actually care about anything, you will get a very different answer.

  3. Viva la revolution wait we are already revolting, except no one showed up cause it was on at the same time as shorty, oh well next year, billyclubs and crash helmets for all 5th of November
    WWG1WGA

  4. On the 3rd of November, 2011, the Declaration of the Occupation of Auckland was ratified in Aotea Square. Written in the very teeth of the uprising, this document makes a poignant case for Revolution, though the word is never used. It’s well worth re-printing here in full;

    “TO THE PEOPLE OF AUCKLAND AND NEW ZEALAND; we the Citizens and Residents in Occupation in Aotea Square wish to communicate a few of our grievances, space being limited, so that you may judge for yourselves whether we are right in our cause.

    There is much that is excellent and good about our country. But we are not Subjects who must go quietly and obey. We are free and proud New Zealanders and people of Aotearoa. It is required that our government answer to our Collective Voice. Not when it suits them, once every three years, but whenever the General Will of the People is made known, no matter how that may occur.

    We wish you to hear those concerns which have driven us to make this Occupation. We do not do this lightly. For we live with the risk of arrest. We have put our reputations, our persons, our careers, our property and our relationships in jeopardy. We wish to impress upon you the depths of our determination and our sincerity.

    Consequently, in Solidarity with all other peaceful Occupiers around the world, we declare;

    It is unacceptable to us that 1% of the population should own and control a disproportionate amount of the wealth of our country. We find such greed and injustice abhorrent, as is the suffering it causes our people.

    We resent that we, the 99% should pay for the greed and the folly of this 1%. We reject out of hand the austerity measures our politicians are preparing to saddle us with.

    We can have no sympathy for the rich while more than 200,000 of our children live every day in hopeless poverty. There can be no peace for the 1% while our children suffer and go to bed hungry.

    We also decry the shameless exploitation and manipulation of our young people for profit by companies selling them unhealthy foods and debilitating products. It must stop. As parents, we are aggrieved that our children’s health and well-being is threatened by these outside influences beyond our ability to control.

    Nor will we accept that our elderly parents, who worked and paid taxes all of their lives, should now live in fear that their pensions and their access to quality medical care should be threatened.

    We repudiate the policy whereby all young New Zealanders must now pay for a University education which past generations received for free; the quality of our democracy is dependent upon the universal education of its citizenry.

    We denounce the practice whereby young people are expected to work for nothing as Interns, or languish in dead-end jobs because companies refuse to pay for vocational training.

    It is a scandal that our young families cannot afford to buy a home, and that devious lenders are allowed to trap them in a lifetime of debt slavery.

    We refuse to accept the artificially high levels of unemployment and reduced working conditions which have been forced upon us by the Architects of Globalisation.

    We also denounce the destructive, systemic undermining of our economic self-sufficiency, the flooding of our local markets with cheap goods from overseas at the expense of local producers, the irrevocable sale to faceless foreign corporations of our precious lands and resources, and the shameless lack of social conscience exhibited by some of our companies.

    Finally, and most grievously, we abhor the disproportionate control of our political institutions and our media by the 1%. For from this one malignant tendency, a multitude of injustices proceed. We therefore state as a governing principle that as companies and corporations are not natural persons, they shall not be entitled to protection under our Bill of Rights, and they may not act to influence our political processes for their own ends.

    We, the Citizens and Residents occupying Aotea Square call on you to consider our grievances and respond in whatever way your Reason and your Conscience dictates.

    If it is to join us, then join us. If it is to support us, support us. But if it is to fight us, then come not with ignorant insults, or force of arms to do violence on account of petty regulations. Come instead to right the injustices we protest, and we will gladly welcome you.

    Come reason with us. Come add your voice to ours. Come help us find a better way.

    The old ideas, the old systems, the old ways of thinking have set our society on an unsustainable path. We need to set a new course that insures us and our children a future.

    We are here, and here we stay, till we have finally roused the 99% from its long and troubled slumber.

    In Solidarity, The General Assembly of the Occupation of Auckland.”

  5. Thank you NOBODY. The people hold ALL the power.

    Money is the key to the 1%’s door.

    What if many, if not all, Auckland rate payers put the rates money into an escrow account to be released slowly for approved payments?

    Unfortunately for too long the “goyim” have been convinced that it is their duty to march into the valley of death despite knowing they are outnumbered and outgunned because that’s what their forebears did in order to keep the 1% in the positions to which the 1% say they are entitled.

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