Beware the Zombie Apolitics

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Metaphorically, the church bells rang and we danced in the streets. We felt celebratory and smug. We were the “Team of Five Million”. We were world leaders, with our world class leader, our ‘go hard and go early’, brave-out-of-the-blocks intolerance for Coronavirus. We were the plucky little country. Like David and Goliath, we beat the disease.

When lockdown (V1) lifted, we could show physical affection in greeting friends. We abandoned social distancing. We shared kai, rode packed like sardines in a lift, we could go to parties, gigs, on holiday – and we did. We could cautiously visit the elderly, we could collectively mourn our dead.  The backlog of delayed cancer diagnostics and treatment began to clear. We had political campaign launches where the spit was flying as thousands of cheering supporters celebrated Labour Party success, our national success, at eliminating the disease. We watched as the social distancing stickers on the floor of local shops grew faded. The Perspex screens looked anachronistic. News readers became the news again. Even though new world records were reached in the spread of the disease – twenty million infected, 700,000 dead. That was happening far away, we were untouchable. We were safe. But from returning Kiwi’s infection rates, it was clear the disease was still alive and well, at the gates. We watched Melbourne, Victoria and especially its aged care sector under siege as the disease spread like – well, Australian bush fire. But we were complacent. So much success. So much hubris.

Until the virus came back again. So here we are back in lockdown. In Auckland “we’re taking it for the team”. That means the streets are quiet again except for speedsters using the roads like racetracks; there are families out walking and cycling. We thronged to the beach on a sunny day. Those who used lockdown V1 to plant their vege patches, now have time to weed around and harvest the maturing plants. Sometimes resilience takes time. The sourdough recipes and breadmakers are dusted off. We remember what we lost when we left lockdown the first time. We can hear the birdsong again. Families are walking around with their faces covered, and home-made masks have become a cottage industry. We are more or less adapting to the new normal. Coronavirus – the second wave, V2. It looks post-apocalyptic, but with takeaways.

But now that Coronavirus is back, hopefully confined, so is the uncertainty. What does this mean for the election? What does this mean for the businesses and workers hanging on by virtue of the wage subsidy? How can the National Party gain any foothold on the slippery slope into irrelevance, when every straw they grasp undermines their credibility even more? Wouldn’t you choose kindness over Cruella?

Our success at eliminating the disease first time round, (among other things) has led to polls which show a high level of confidence, consensus and support for Jacinda Ardern and her management of Coronavirus. Even a majority of surveyed small to medium sized businesses now support Labour.  Conservatives are pleased that Jacinda is so conservative. It means there’s money to spare for an extended wage subsidy, and some jobs, are kept back from the brink in the meantime at least. But is there only so long we can play whack-a-mole with Coronavirus, closing down regions whenever it pops up? Is there only so much breath we can breathe into the corpse of the tourism industry in the hope it’s not a zombie economy, more dead than alive, but just in suspended animation? Is the best that Judith Collins can hope for is that National is not dead, – a zombie party would be a currently optimistic diagnosis, and they’ll be hoping there are some tangible failures that undermine confidence in the Government whenever an election occurs. National want a delayed election – of course they do, in the hope if they wait long enough, Labour will trip and fall. For the public so far, it doesn’t seem like this latest breach counts. Meanwhile, the Government has capital and confidence to burn.

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We’ve been warned not to expect an election based on Labour’s policy platform, so it will be too much to hope for a post-Covid strategy. Will the world even ever be ‘post-Covid’? In the absence of a contest of ideas, a relatively blank policy platform, the security of inertia; we have a political caution that only obliquely references interventionist/ideology- it’s just essential business support in a crisis.

There are logistical challenges and political risks with going ahead with the election, and in a delay. The public seem happy to have a caretaker government, one that’s kind, if not visionary, even though we were promised both. It’s not the election itself we should be worried about though, it’s zombie politics, where a single set of conservative ideas dominates by default, and we don’t have the courage, time or inclination to fundamentally question those ideas are or what they mean for society. Democracy doesn’t have quite the spirit befitting the electoral body politik if there’s no credible debate on the future of state and society, especially in response to a system-crisis of this scale. Caution of Jacinda Ardern’s calibre supports hegemony but may be as dangerous to our future as wrong ideological belief altogether. What a response so far though – compelling, clearly communicated, competent, much more credible than many abroad, but not as strategically visionary or coherent as it could have been -or could be yet.

Labour came into office talking about transformation. Since then, the whole country has indeed been transformed. Coalition parties who started the term questioning neo-liberal capitalism have now capitulated to it. The coalition are doing an (in)credible job nursing the zombie economy through the apocalypse so far.  But if we do get the chance to vote on September 19 this year, we should be reflecting not just on political parties, but on how to avoid zombie apolitics too.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Christine, well articulated.We are a bunch of zombies, and for me personally, much of my thought is underscored by our dreadful underbelly of violence, especially towards our beautiful children, and women.

    I am not in love with the PM but will definitely vote Labour ; the ChCh massacre aftermath with its message of togetherness and kindness, was, l think, genuine. It resonated loudly globally – except with the Green co-leader regrettably behaving like a typical vacuous Nat, and completely failing to see the bigger picture.

    Bereft therefore of my former political party, l needed to do a rethink. Then came the virus and lockdown and more thinking , but, by and large most folk pulling together in the common good, and that’s the crux, and where the Nats are falling over just as the idiotic Green women did at that previous tragic crisis.

    That discussion of a value like kindness now being part of our national dialogue is a giant step forward in a country burdened by genetically damaged Celtic immigrants, and the implosion of the Nats may be what happens when we lose sight of our common humanity as they did in their years of damaging misrule. They appear here, and some are ok, but others only interest is to clobber others just for the sake of it, because they are dumbo bullies and now shunned as such.

    In a period working charity fundraising, the most kindly and generous contributors were NZ Maori, Dutch, and the Indian community, all actually interested in what’s happening to others out here and happy to chat about it – we’ve got some rather nice people.

  2. Right…?
    Re business?
    We wouldn’t have non agrarian ‘businesses’ if it were not for the state sponsored safety nets for them. ( I.e. Or tax money paid by us in good faith for our government to spend with our best interests in mind. )
    Auckland is a good example. Auckland isn’t a city so much as a business and its business is laundering money that’s sped through its digestive tract once having been fed to it from our agrarian primary industry via a corrupt financial system so complex and ingrained we can’t see it for the size of it.
    ‘Person wealth creation/public responsibility when greed overcomes common sense’ should be sown onto our sad little colonial flag.
    Re c-19?
    As far as I can see, much less as far as I can understand, the best approach to c-19 is to keep the fuck away from it.
    So, keep our borders closed. I mean really, really, really closed. No one in, and sure, you can go out. Just don’t expect to be able to get back in again.
    Of course, there are those who must come and go for what ever reason so lets put them in quarantine on say Mercury Island. I’m sure tricky little micky fay wouldn’t mind scooching over to let potentially sick people wait it out?
    hooten? You’ll remember micky fay? bnz fay? The bnz the tax payers of AO/NZ had to bale out because it was argued by bolger and his sketchy scum mates that [it] was too big to fail? The Cook Islands tax scam bnz? One of the four now foreign owned banksters that suck out $6 billion a year in net profits from us?
    You’ll remember those guys? You should, you had your hand on their balls while puffing out your toxic gasses in support of them on an all bought and paid for rnz?
    The reality is, the simple truth is, that we really have nothing to worry about so long as we keep well away from c-19. We have quite literally everything we need here at home on AO/NZ.
    Of course, the trickle downers will suffer when we stop trickling up to them. They’ll bleed out and down from billions to millions as the easy money they’ve become accustomed to being given them via our tax systems and hand outs will be diverted back to our populace but I’m sure they’ll get by on last years Ferrari until a vaccine’s found.
    Our politics?
    Prior to a mass murder and c-19 I remember wading knee deep through the wretched homeless in down town Auckland and Wellington while Ms Princes of Hugs was lets doing fuck all.
    Now? It’s her team of 5 million.
    Fuck off…
    Our politics is nothing more than two mafia families fighting over our pockets.
    I’m voting labour only because my stomach and me can’t bare to look at collins and brownlee for the next three years.

    • Remember that in an MMP election, voting Labour isn’t the only way to vote against the NatACTs, and the more voters swing back and forth between the two, the more like each other they tend to become. Remember also that you can split your vote, using your electorate vote to support your least loathed legacy party, and your party vote to indicate what kind of policy you want that legacy party to follow in government.

  3. They aint polls sista. Theyre surveys masquerading as polls and are hardly accurate. Why? Because Act are at 5.9%!!
    But if you were to believe that they are accurate, then labour are in trouble. Why? Because within the short period of time between the 4 polls, labour has lost, conceded a massive lead of 36pts reduced to a 21pt lead. As long as this trend continues … if the election gets pushed out as well.
    Labour will be dog tucker and looking for a partner or two to form a government, or not? They wont have the gweens to bail them out this time neither, theyre on wharepaku duty after this election.

    This handling of C19 by labour is turning into another labour clusterf$^k. Something that they have plenty of history in over the years.

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