GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – I ran out of words this week.


Every time I wrote a sentence to describe the slow motion collision of social, economic and political forces that are simultaneously destroying and reshaping societies around the world, I would erase it .

Not “writer’s block” so much as “writer’s inadequacy” – feeling torn between using ‘revolution’ or ‘evolution’ to describe the events on my news feeds over the last few days.

I tried writing a list.
(An old trick I have when trying to find a pattern in an apparent chaos)

•America has an absentee President

•The murder of George Floyd. Black lives matter.

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•Stock Markets are on the rise.

•Peaceful Whitehouse protest attacked by police so Trump can hold up a Bible for a photo op..

•Houses are selling again some below CV some ridiculously above.

•Worldwide Covid 19 is still killing thousands of people everyday .

•A second Virus wave is a real fear so our borders are closed….except, entertainment is suddenly deemed an essential industry and Hollywood moguls get a free pass.

•Essential workers who helped keep us alive during the lockdown still receive the lowest pay.

•China is back to a 90% economy.

•America has the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression.

•Locally there are a lot of empty shops, a sudden rash of ‘for lease signs’ on office and warehouse properties, and evidence of a hotel industry in trouble.

The list doesn’t help.

For every positive sign I find suggesting a new more egalitarian post-Covid19 world will emerge, contra- indicators reveal the vested interests in the old order are still very much alive and kicking.

So I try another old trick. The History review.

I ask myself – is this moment unique? Have we been here before?

Answer? Yes and no.

Yes -in some societies there have been moments of very rapid social change when the existing social order has been suddenly overthrown. The French, American and Russian revolutions being three obvious examples.

No – because, this time, whatever is happening is a global phenomenon made possible by the invention of the internet and global air travel – two technologies that have transformed our mental and physical world so that Queen Street is now just around our mental corner from Wall Street and a virus born in Wuhan today can fly to Washington or Wellington and be living in us tomorrow.

So where are the words to describe what is happening ?

I turn to some old friends for help.

Charles Dickens…

“It was the best times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period.” (A Tale of Two Cities)

W.B. Yeats writing after the chaos of WW1

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.” (The Second Coming)

Pandemics are not new.

Social chaos is not new.

The battle between Good and Evil is as old as human conscience.

Somehow, despite all our short comings as a species, we are still here.

Perhaps, in that, there is some hope.

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.


  1. Brian, you forgot the planet is dying which could wipe out the concerns for the others:)

    Victories for social good are now tiny.

    EPA loses bid to get cash from Greenpeace over oil case

    BTW OMV are listed as being big carbon polluters…

    Just 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions, study says

    And ERP have become a joke organisation, that appear to do nothing to protect the environment and are instead a front, helping profiteering companies destroy it.

    Environment watchdog has never brought a prosecution

    EPA’s ‘inappropriate’ reaction to student’s speech

  2. Tena Koe Brian
    Thank you for your post and list.
    I too have been so stirred up this week and part of my response on one sleepless night was to design a new political party in my head. A bit nuts.
    The next day I even started writing about it. More nuts.
    But I would like to let you know where I found some signs of hope during that process.
    In the emergence of publications from economists who are offering the possibility of real change to economic systems and real alternatives to neoliberal economic ideologies. Such changes that will flow onto disolving social issues.
    Im now excited by what is emerging.
    But I am noticing that what I find is coming from overseas economists and wondering where our own economists are who do or can support such proposals.
    And wondering who are our leaders who can put such possibilities into the public discussion leading up to this years election.
    To counter the usual economic ideas such as that the govt must reduce spending to reduce the deficit. Because it turns out that they don’t!
    Heres an intro to some of it.
    Or if you want to be stirred up, heres a raw truth telling version (mind the expletives):
    And there is so much more out there.
    Lets keep stirring.

  3. •Essential workers who helped keep us alive during the lockdown still receive the lowest pay.
    Yes this hurts. Come on Labour start some rises perhaps 5% x 3 – six months apart, for these wonderful people, and some handouts from government like vouchers for the school holidays that need to be redeemed from supermarkets (except for liquor) or child care or children’s entertainment or transport – within a month particularly for the essential services. Few will be able to buy luxuries with them, but the relief that they give where there is financial stress would be a huge plus.

  4. you havent mention how much influence news media worldwide has on the populations
    who owns the main media outlets worldwide and what connections they have with each other .
    when our media seems to follow and spew out the same rubbish day after day sourced from the same main stream media (bbc, NY times, cnn, nbc etc) that has misled the world and branded fake news, but we seem to get their crap blasting our poor kiwi livingroom day, night and morning.
    i know why dont you do some doco about the msm and how people are brainwashed by media echoing the same story word by word every day and lacking independant journalism.
    Plez grow a pair and show nz the truth about the media.
    for example covid 19, daily news of thousands of death projected to be millions of deaths told to us every day for 3 months.
    did that happen. well not here. 22 was our last count
    covid19 has the same percentage death world wide
    as the common flu
    the media does not mention that
    and never will
    media spreads fear for their masters to controls the
    populations worldwide
    we cant be controlled by the matrix
    take the red pill and escape the matrix
    p.s “WARNING”
    once taken you cant go back.
    (research the info is out there)

  5. Dear @ BB.
    This is what I do.
    I rise above it.
    I rise above it all and look down. And if it means that I must look again at that phenomenal image of our Earth through the rings of Saturn sent loyally to us by Voyager then so be it.
    Rise above it all Bryan Bruce. And what do you see?

    I asked lianne dalziel that question once. I asked her where our money was and she said she didn’t know.
    But I did. It’d been swindled.

    When I rise above the earth I see a change in everything. ‘Everything’ is in a state of flux. Therefore, I assume change is in the offing.
    What’s changing, one might ask?
    Well, everything, would be a reasonable answer to my own questionable question.
    Global heating, a funny little virus and an end to a lengthy run of greed driven by an uncivilised and simplistic sociopathic narcissism sees in a new dawn of irreversible change and here it comes…!

    A fair and reasonable view of a future for humanity, all things considered, should be quite promising.
    The majority of us want peace, love and harmony with a little drinking, the smoking of the Pots and the taking of the LS and D’ees with many creative endevours being undertaken without being fucked by quasi fascist thugs and the building of beautiful things interspersed with much kissing and hugging would transpire. Surely?

    If that were not to be the case, then it’d be reasonable to suspect that the collective ‘we’ have had our values and ideals hijacked by scum fucks who might need a good spanking then sent to bed without the cup of tea and the ginger nut.

    Lets look at the figures…
    Those of us who want awesomeness ? A lot of people.
    Those who want to control, lord over us, create a subservience in us for their ends, and generally be Scunthorpes? Not that many. To prove my point? How many trumps? Answer. One. How many bolsanaro’s? One, thank fuck.
    How many duterte’s ? One.
    All it takes is one nut with the power of conviction to dominate and suddenly we have a war and starvation and pollution and misery and the end.
    So I say fuck that. Let the we, the majority of us be the judge of us all. And the interwebbery of awesomeness can show the way.

  6. I see anarchy mentioned above somewhere. Anarchy seems to be a word that is badmouthed from what I read on the summary of a paperback I have tied together in a rubber band. It contains all I don’t know about anarchy

    The book ‘shows us the true face of anarchism as a political philosophy. He [Woodcock] presents it as a system of social thought which aims at fundamental changes in the structure of society and particularly at the replacement of authoritarian states by co-operation between free individuals. As such anarchism has a respectable pedigree.’

    I suppose those guys objecting to being forced to take part in the lockdown and obey the state, wanting me to sign their protest, would be anarchists then. I freely told them they were mistaken and irresponsible and wrote that down as my opinion on one of their forms. I think anarchism could be a good idea in the long run, but in the short run when it is important to take immediate action, I will allow for a rational and kindly authority to tell me what to do (though I might gripe a bit).

    And when I was in a group looking at the idea of co-housing and thinking forward to the sorts of things that residents would have to agree about having or limiting, when a zealot for community decisions refused to have any prior rules leaving everything to be hashed over later on, she would have been an anarchist. We parted company as I knew she was bound to cause disagreement everywhere she went. And there are people who will argue over everything for the sheer joy and duty of it, it being more important to argufy freedom and rights to some, than to get a decision that matches the desires of most involved and takes measures to fit the dissenters’ wishes, and let’s all get on with their lives.

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