GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – The Complicator


Every now and again I have a conversation with someone who comes out with an expression I’ve never heard before and which captures one of life’s truth in a nutshell.

That happened a couple of days ago when I was filming in Dunedin when talking off camera with and old friend.

“You know Bryan” he said in his quiet,considered way “a lot of decisions are pretty simple really but people throw them into the complicator and it all gets far more difficult than it needs to be”.

That’s not to say life in 2020 is easy or that life doesn’t not confront us with very difficult decisions. We certainly live in challenging times and a lot of people are struggling to make ends meet.

But it is true that getting caught up in the trivia of life produces a fog of things to worry about that really are unimportant in the great scheme of things.

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Take voting in this election.

You can look at the mass of policies on offer throw them into The Complicator and get thoroughly confused about who you should vote for.

On the other hand, you could get out your Simplificator and ask “Which candidate and which party best reflect my values and aspirations for life in Aotearoa /New Zealand?”

Do I want tax breaks that mostly benefit the rich and unfettered foreign profiteering in our country? Then you’re looking to vote in an ACT/National coalition.

Do you think we should share the nation’s wealth more fairly and protect our environment and do what we can about Climate change? Then you are looking to vote in a Labour/Green coalition.

If you think none of the above represent your views on how to best govern our country then choose from one of the smaller parties.

If you choose not to vote then you are throwing your life choices into the incinerator.

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. @ BB. Your old friend is very wise in my opinion.
    AO/NZ should go back to FPtP then make voting mandatory.
    No matter what ‘party’ gets ‘in’ they must do so while understanding that if they do not represent the wishes of the voting majority they can expect to get their arses kicked.
    Lobbyists and their-all-bought-and-paid-for politicians use a complicator methodology to tangle us up in brainless, pointless gaggles of confusion while they rip us the fuck off.
    Had a power bill lately? How about your broad band bill? Been supermarket shopping? Bought a house? Built a house !? Helping your kids get through phil goof’s user-pays tertiary education rort?
    How about the mindless banalities of local body politics ? How about the fact that four foreign owned banksters take $6 billion dollars in net profits ( That’s AFTER FUCKING TAX ! ) out of our country while we have homelessness and child poverty here. That was a complicatenated logical fallacy dropped on us by crooks who convinced us that the market knows best.
    We still think that, that’s ok. We’ve been rendered immobile against the tyranny of the banksters because someone forgot to switch off the complicator machine’s logical fallacy printing function.
    The complicated lie that is our politics is designed to hide certain realities about our AO/NZ to enable the complicators to manipulate and exploit us cynically and unfettered to make off un challenged with our money and stuff and things.

  2. True that is Bryan, so if they choose not to vote, then they should never blame anyone for the way things turn out against their wishes.

  3. More to the point, those who choose to vote “should never blame anyone for the way things turn out against their wishes.”
    For things surely will turn out against their wishes in the vast majority of cases.

  4. I have agreed with most of what you have written on TDP, but I must disagree on this one, Bryan.

    What does one do when NONE of the parties presents policies that are workable, and ALL parties ‘promise’ to deliver things either they know that cannot deliver or are so incompetent/corrupt they don’t even know how off-the-planet they are?

    That is a serious question.

    Add to that the miserable reality that ALL parties advocate policies that will make our collective predicament WORSE!

    In the past I have written ‘No candidate worthy of my vote’ on a voting paper, and at the last national election voted Green, not because I believe in their policies (all slight tweaking of BUA bullshit, in fact) but because I knew the candidate personally and she acknowledged Green Party leadership was way off the mark; I hoped to help her not lose her deposit.

    If the vast majority of people refused to vote, that would send a very clear message to the political parties that we have had enough of their nonsense. Even better would be that no one votes for any of them, instead of the ridiculous situation we are in EVERY ELECTION of NEGATIVE VOTING, whereby we are encouraged to vote for a particular [bad] party in order to prevent a worse party gaining control of the country. However, in the real world that could never happen because vested interests would gather together their supporters and get a truly obnoxious gang of thieves and liars into power on the basis of ‘no one objected’.

    We are in a terrible ‘Catch-22’ predicament when it comes to voting, and, as usual, those with an emotional attachment to the outcome implore voter to do whatever it takes to keep the other lot out.

    Whilst I acknowledge a Labour government led by Jacinda would be less damaging to the nation and arguably more compassionate than a National/ACT government, there is actually nothing in Labour party policy that does not make our predicament worse. That said, have had dealings with a senior member of the Labour government and found him (Andrew Little) to be unreliable, hypocritical and plain nasty. So I won’t support the Labour party as long as he’s around.

    I have looked at the literature dropped in my mailbox by enthusiasts promoting minor parties and find, though they may have some valid points, their major policies are off-the-planet nonsense.

    To woo me as a voter, a party would have to present policies that actually make sense. None have yet.

    Whoever gets elected will promote policies that will make our predicament worse, either quite quickly or very quickly, that is a given.

    I think back to my parents, who voted Labour every election….and got betrayed over and over again, commencing with the Harold Wilson government. What few improvement they saw came off the back of short-term finance gains acquired via looting and polluting of the North Sea oil, a once-in-geological-history bonanza that was squandered as quickly as possible -the long term renewable resource of fish having been decimated by the 1980s.

    Sadly, it is the nature of NZ politics (and politics in all Anglophile nations and most other nations) for the government to betray the populace. And those governments that have lasted more than one term have done so by lying egregiously as they made everything that matters worse.

    We are clearly at the point when all the mendacity and ineptitude associated with of decades of mismanagement by-governments are generating dire ramifications no politician has a clue how to deal with, since none of their tried and trusted policies of the past work any more.

    I don’t know exactly what we are in for over the coming years but I do know it will be nothing like the recent past, as the entire globalised financial-economic-political system disintegrates and then totally collapses, along with the environment.

    And increasingly pertinent article from July on the topic:

    ‘How We Got Here: the Global Economy’s 75-Year Stumble to the Precipice

    Not only will there not be a recovery, but there can’t be a recovery, as those brittle extremes have been lost for good……

    • Apologies for typing errors, TDB. I’m trying to do too much, and still stay connected with the world (while I still can).

      My questions were serious and if anyone has any serious [political] answers I’d love to hear them.

      The practical answers of powerdown and permaculture are already underway for me personally, but, sadly, not for the misinformed and deluded masses.

      I am reminded of Mark Twain’s aphorism: “I you don’t read a newspaper you are uninformed; if you do read a newspaper you are misinformed.”

      Nowadays it’s the ‘newspapers’ plus the goggle box, of course, with a pinch of talkback radio for some.

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