Understanding The State We’re In

33
1825

THE INITIAL REVELATIONS of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care are deeply troubling. For conservative leftists like myself they raise a host of unsettling questions – most particularly about whether the creation of a caring and empowering state is, or has ever been, a realistic objective.

Socialists like to believe that the state will take on the qualities, and take up the causes, of the class that controls it. A workers’ state, therefore, would naturally prioritise those issues neglected or made worse by the bosses’ state. Its institutions would never fall prey to the dark impulses of capitalists driven by selfishness and the desire for power over others. Children in the care of a socialist state would have nothing to fear.

Leaving aside the obvious rejoinders about Romanian orphanages and Soviet mental hospitals, the sunny optimism of socialist state-builders is predicated on an uncomplicated belief in “nurture” over “nature”. Human-beings are held to be infinitely malleable by the social structures in which they are enmeshed. Such innate drives as they do possess are natural, wholesome, and not the least bit problematic. Subject capitalist social structures to socialist change, and their human occupiers will also be changed – but only in a good way!

What else could socialists believe when their lives were dedicated entirely to restructuring, or even overthrowing, the capitalist state? The idea that “human nature” might be something more than a capitalist invention: something more than a fable fabricated to normalise the capitalist “virtues” of greed, selfishness and domination; would inevitably raise doubts about the feasibility of the entire socialist project. If the predatory, cruel and exploitative impulses within the human animal are as deeply ingrained as its capacity for nurturing, empathy and co-operation, then immediately the question arises: Will institutional change be enough?

The answers provided by history are not in the least reassuring. Institutions tend towards hierarchy, and hierarchy rewards certain kinds of behaviours while punishing others. Manipulation and deceit are especially effective means of advancing oneself up the institutional ladder. When augmented by narcissism and a general lack of empathy these self-propelling power-tools work even better. Institutions are far better suited to sociopaths than socialists. Certainly, the bloody history of revolutionary regimes makes that a difficult proposition to refute.

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

Even when launched with the best of intentions, programmes of radical transformation, and the new institutional structures needed to give them effect, are prone to generating truly ghastly – albeit unintended – outcomes. Consider the massive post-war migration of Maori from rural to urban New Zealand. Almost all of the mostly social-democratic policy-makers of the time conceived of this radical demographic shift as a very good thing. Instead of remaining a culturally isolated and economically marginalised people, Maori would be integrated into “modern” New Zealand society.

The social planners knew that such a dramatic social and economic upheaval was bound to cause problems for Maori families. The shift from rural to urban would inevitably be a wrench – especially for the young. Not all Maori parents, it was assumed, would prove equal to the task of managing the transition. To pick up the broken pieces of these new communities and stick them back together again, the Pakeha authorities began to construct a network of “children’s homes”, “special schools” and “mental hospitals” – places where those who were not “fitting-in” could have the rough edges sanded-off them.

Coercion, albeit well-intentioned, lay at the heart of these institutions. Force is not, however, conducive to the sort of positive outcomes socialists are so keen to produce. Violence, even when deemed necessary and unavoidable, tends to be kept hidden for fear of generating public outrage. Sadly, the moment an institution embraces secrecy and refuses to be held accountable for its “unattractive” behaviour, it begins to draw to it those whose predatory, cruel and exploitative impulses flourish under such conditions.

In this way, the institutional willingness to “be cruel to be kind” (in order to facilitate larger and loftier social goals) combines with the sadistic impulses of individuals to create a perfect institutional shit-storm. The resulting criminality makes secrecy even more imperative. It does not take long, however, for sociopaths and psychopaths to find out that in these irredeemably compromised institutions they can do their worst without fear of serious repercussions.

From these corrupted institutions, other, nominally healthy, state institutions cannot help becoming seriously infected. As the crimes pile up, so, too, do the questions: Who was responsible? Why weren’t they stopped? Who decided to cover it up? Somebody must have told someone – why weren’t they believed? What should we do?

Well, that one’s easy. What do bureaucrats always do when danger threatens? They cover their arses. Or, more precisely, Crown Law covers their arses for them.

The role played by Crown Law in this tragic story of good intentions gone wrong, crimes committed, and cover-ups executed, is, arguably, its most disturbing aspect. In defence of the New Zealand state and its errant institutions Crown lawyers behaved abominably. Victims of state abuse, who had come to the courts seeking justice, and some form of compensation for their appalling treatment at the hands of public servants charged with their care, were deliberately, ruthlessly and repeatedly re-traumatised by Crown Law. Briefed to protect the reputation and interests of the state, the Crown’s legal teams showed the plaintiffs no mercy. The unethical nature of these lawyers’ conduct was not considered relevant. Abuse victims were seen, simply, as threats to be neutralised. And they were.

What kind of state requires such service from its servants? And, what kind of state servant supplies it? An even more disturbing question, from the socialist’s point of view: “Is any other kind of state possible?”

The answer to that last question may very well be “No.” The complex componentry of civilisation, if it is to function effectively, requires a single locus of ultimate authority – along with the human and material resources necessary to enforce its will. What’s more, the state’s coercive powers cannot be shared: everywhere and always, the state must maintain a monopoly on the use of force.

Immortal and irresistible: is it any wonder that the state attract servants with “a very particular set of skills”? Not least, the skill that can keep the violence inherent in all state institutions hidden from public view. A skill which extends, necessarily, to protecting the perpetrators of state violence.

When those involved in meting out violence on behalf of the state are soldiers, police officers and prison guards, most citizens are willing to turn a blind eye. This is less true when the state servants involved are administrators, doctors, nurses, orderlies, teachers, foster-parents and priests. The public expects more of such people. What the state knows, however, is that, given power over others – especially children and young people drawn from the poorest and most powerless sections of society – a certain irreducible percentage of those to whom its authority is entrusted are bound to abuse it.

What matters – especially to the socialist – is the precise size of that percentage. If it’s one in a thousand, then a benign state remains a viable proposition. But, what if its one in a hundred? What is it’s one in ten? What if, as Professor Stanley Milgram’s grim experiment appeared to confirm more than 50 years ago, fewer than one in ten of us will refuse to inflict pain when instructed to do so by a person in authority?

In the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care’s interim report, released on Wednesday, 16 December 2020, the astounding figure of a quarter-of-a-million New Zealanders are estimated to have experienced abuse at the hands of their institutional carers between 1950 and 1999. That’s 5,000 persons per year, across a country which, for most of that time, had between two and four million inhabitants. When Air New Zealand Flight 901 crashed into Mt Erebus in 1979, killing all 257 people on board, it is said that just about every New Zealander had some connection with at least one of the victims. Imagine, then, how many people must have been aware that something very bad was going on in New Zealand’s state and private institutions dedicated to juvenile care.

What socialists need to ask themselves is this: “If that many people suffered, and so many people knew they were suffering, then why wasn’t it stopped?” If the best answer they can get turns out to be: “Because, in the end, citizens do not shape the state. In the end, the state shapes its citizens.” Then, perhaps, it is time, even for conservative leftists, to give anarchism a try.

 

33 COMMENTS

  1. Try putting the word “agrarian” in front of the word anarchism and you will a little closer to the solution to pretty much every problem that currently plagues us.
    There is one problem however that NOTHING will solve except a profound change in the human mind, heart and soul.
    Mr Albert Bartlett will explain that if you don’t yet understand.
    Meanwhile I sit in my warm dry comfy two thousand dollar home, looking out on a REAL GREEN landscape awash with food; and wonder why you’re all so persistently trying to turn it all to hell.
    WAKE THE FUCK UP!

    • Well said.

      You probably already know it, but I’ll say it anyway: people who are in love with Industrial Civilisation and addicted to its meaningless, trivial trappings and fake culture are incapable of waking up. Indeed, their very lifestyles are dependent on NOT becoming informed, NOT waking up..

      I call it Wittingly Ignorant when it applies to politicians and councillors etc. -actually putting considerable effort into blocking out information (such as Albert Bartlett’s magnificent talk on growth and its consequences) that exposes the frail and terminal nature of the systems they depend on when it it is put before them. Because it they accept the validity of the information they would have to DO something. And DOING NOTHING is always the easiest option….in the short term.

      Belief in the benign nature of Industrial Civilisation is a lot like religion; there is no evidence for it, and mountains of evidence against it. The more the evidence piles up against it, the more the ‘true believers’ hold on to their faith. “Don’t worry, God will sort it out.” “We’ll transition to electric cars.” “Nuclear power.” “Solar panels” Blah, blah, blah..

      The harm IC does increases by the day. But to ask those in control to stop abusing us and stop abusing the Earth is heresy of the highest order when the world is run by banks, corporations and opportunists.

      So, yes, “God will sort it out,” -Gaia, by eliminating humans. Unfortunately most of the biosphere will go down with us, as we use the last of the fossil fuels to keep the madness going a little longer.

      November CO2 (CO2.earth)
      Nov. 2020 = 412.89 ppm
      Nov. 2019 = 410.25 ppm

  2. Four years ago I read ‘The Deer People’, written in the late-1940s, which catalogued the relatively recent history of the people who lived in northwest Canada, and their rapid demise.

    What struck the author was that by the age of 8 a child could identify and collect food, find combustible material and start a fire, as that child’s ancestors had done for thousands of years previously.

    Trouble start when European fur traders arrived with gun, and traded guns for furs, demanding that the ‘Deer People’ supply as many furs as possible. They were called the Deer People because their lives were entirely dependent on deer. The deer survived the first onslaught because there were so many -the author recalled as a young man he was on train in the southern part of the region which halted for sever hours as a herd crossed the line.

    What initially caused grief for the deer people was the very collapse of the fur trade in the Great Depression. The fur traders stopped coming and the supply of bullets ended abruptly. The Deer People had become dependent on firearms for hunting, and had lost both the skills of using bows and arrows and the weapons, and quickly began to starve. The Canadian government didn’t even know they were starving, and if the truth be known, didn’t care. Eventually, after much pleading by citizens who did care, the government organised food drops -of entirely the wrong kinds of food, which the Deer People had neither the biological adaption to eat nor the utensils to cook.

    When the author went to the region for a second visit many years after the first visit, he had difficulty finding ANY people. The great herds of deer had disappeared (largely killed-off with fire arms), and the bulk of the population had starved to death.

    When he did eventually find the remnant of the population, the story was told of the disruption to their previously stable society that occurred after the ‘witch-doctor’ visited the trading post (prior to the collapse of eh fur trade) and returned with a sled loaded to the maximum with western-made goods. Fr from sharing the treasure with the rest of the clan, as had always been the tradition in that society, the ‘witch-doctor’ became very possessive and holed up in his own dwelling, having abducted four women to live with him.

    So the answer to the question posed by Martyn (it reads more like a Chris Trotter article) is, there is no answer: a capitalist state, a socialist state, a fascist state, a communist state, a tribe federation….certain kinds of humans will be the way they are whatever the system, and will abuse other humans if they think they can gain advantage from doing so and think they can get away with it.

    It is only within very small groupings, mini-tribes if you will, with no trappings of civilisation that pure cooperation prevails. And in such grouping all other mini-tribes are competition and therefore are the enemy.

    Industrial Civilisation has temporarily removed the need for citizens to go hunting for food on a daily basis. But since Industrial Civilisation is on its last legs as a consequence of the damage it does, we are headed for a completely new way of living that the vast majority of people refuse to accept is coming, despite the overwhelming evidence.

    So, so many people have undying faith in human ingenuity, not recognising that human ingenuity is what got us into this mess of living on a resource-depleted, grossly polluted, overpopulated, overheated planet, on which the last remnants of nature are being exterminated. .

  3. Care for the vulnerable has sadly become about driving down the costs, using lower labour costs…. now that the religious focus is over.

    Sadly paying people who actually don’t care, like the outsourcing of care workers for ACC and aged care, led by agencies in many cases with workers who are not suitable at cheaper rates has become the priority over actual authentic experienced care.

    Oranga Tamariki has most of the board not trained social workers is a good example of where we are going wrong.

    When the lawyers get paid more that the abused settlements that is another type of abuse. What are they saying, that those abused and the abuse they suffered and the years spent fighting for settlement is not worth much compensation?

    There are some sad tales of abuse in NZ and I really hope these people get the help, support and compensation they deserve.

  4. Hi Chris. Interesting stuff.

    Congratulations on your recent stuff on hate speech, that Royal Commission, etc.

    Here. Anarchism isn’t your answer. What if, I’m the limit, some level of violence is necessary to organise anything? Seen this way the monopoly on the use of force is of of the better social technologies ever invented.

    Eric Weinstein and Peter Theil has a very interesting chat on this subject of violence in society in the first episode of The Portal. Probably not your fav guys but food for thought.

    Thanks
    Al

    • You talk about anarchy and I’ll refer to it as violence in response to a background of violence analysed in Chris Trotters blog, and your response is corporate hypocrisy.

      The use of violence is an important reason for the state. It’s the states most used trait. Ordinarily the state is using violence to protect itself from its own citizens. That is a very good reason to show solidarity and mutual aid and maybe creative action.

      Now, why hasn’t anarchy gone further? Well it’s obvious. People like Allan are here to subdue and talked these impulses for the good of the fucken corporate overlords (and don’t even defend your position, will just neg the question. Are you with us, Allan? Or are you just another boss?).

      By force, the bosses must be beaten and bruised with accuracy and voracity. We’ve got an overwhelming amount of force relative to the state and a good reason to show solidarity, now we need accuracy.

      Alongside corporate propoganda and corporate media, people are disciplined and controlled by debt to limit freedom of choice, limit free thought and to limit protest. Because people don’t have time to for themselves while they’re just trying to put food on the table and in many cases unsuccessful, they will turn to people who can provide those freedoms.

  5. There is a wider picture of the sorts of disconnections that started to occur when civilisations built bigger and bigger cities and institutions which disconnected people from the communities who are impacted by their decisions and disconnected people from the natural environment that they are part of. Indigenous cultures generally avoided such disconnections by keeping things local. But as part of that there were social institutions which demanded keeping good relationships with other communities. As a local example, there are many stories of our Rangatira ancestors travelling around the country, living for a time in different communities, making whakapapa where they went. And stories of whakapapa links beyond the pacific e.g. our pacific ancestors and the people of Peru. counter to the dominant white supremacist story of continual war amongst tribes.
    It is almost like it was part of the job description of up and coming Rangatira to go forth and make good relationships. There was no need for a national state as social institutions and tikanga gave guidelines for living and were expressed and maintained locally. Decisions were made in a context in which whanau were connected within hapu and hapu were connected by whakapapa to other hapu. And connected by whakapapa to the natural world. .
    It is hard for me to get on board with socialism because it does not talk about local rangatiratanga. And it pits classes against each other and hence pits us against our own whanau.
    I suspect that a way forward is a re-balancing back to local rangatiratanga, local communities, where the national state is there to provide the infrastructure to enable local rangatiratanga and to enable good relationships to be maintained across local communities. Not there to tell us what is good for us! A focus on maintaining relationship rather than on maintaining the authority of institutions disconnected from the communities they are meant to serve.

    A local example of rangatiratanga:
    https://www.facebook.com/TeAoMaoriNews/videos/1701931189978526/

    an international webinar on civilisation as communities of communities:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsDZGkVtMpI&ab_channel=EarthCharterInternational&fbclid=IwAR3cKxQBjvFuiAC6i9uj_y3J2aYNzadWtuNDwXaBfHF-W3zc3XN3I_hUL_A

    • You were perfectly set up then, because anarchy means ‘a state of disorder due to absence or non-recognition of authority or other controlling systems’

    • Never met you, so obviously your not an anarchist. To be an anarchist one needs to be organized, connected and focused. Your lack of ability says more about you…

  6. What kind of state? An authoritarian, eugenicist, colonial, hierarchical, patriarchal state of course. Your analysis missed the colonial and the patriarchal at least, Chris. And both those errr… philosophies were absolutely central to the systemic treatment of lesser humans, rejects, non-parented children. Socialist impulses in teh NZ state have always been subsumed within teh colonial/ patriarchal nexus. Happy Christmas to you, Chris!

  7. Yes that may be true and I don’t have a magic wand to make it right, but here is some consolation: Jacinda’s lot knew that leaving 30,000 Covid State refugees to the hand of the free market would turn the tide against life as we know it. Why else so openly invent an immediate two tier welfare system? Only 30,000 people? Goddamn! The time to act is now! That’s how thin the line is between whatever comes next and now. Not an election, not swing voters, not a revolution. Just the effect of stalling our version of economic whatever it is, for two weeks.

    The second consolation is this: we all know that even just one abused child affects hundreds of people throughout their lifetime, sometimes thousands. Dysfunction is a contagious virus, extremely difficult to treat, and deliberately bred by the millions every day. However the infection effect does work in reverse, too, but with much less noise and violence. We can cross that that thin line of 30,000 people between now and the future revolution, immediately. You won’t even notice it. You don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to label yourself, you don’t have to join a club or wave a flag. You don’t have to do anything but watch yourself for a few minutes, or hours, whatever is necessary for the situation.

    Chances are many here have been wandering back and forth across the line many times. It’s the simplest thing to do. Just stop. Instead of doing what you were going to do, recognise what motivates it, take a deep breath, and just don’t. Congratulations, you just stepped across the line other people won’t until they have the hell kicked out of them by their own values. When the anxiety gets too much, by all means, step back across the line. On another day, spend some more time over here, increase your tolerance of the sensation, until it’s second nature. That’s the only revolution no one can stop, and its always here, right now.

  8. Well said Chris, the state and in particular this monopoly of violence was were Mikhail and Karl would argue like cats and dogs. The consequences of the failure of the first international keep reverberating through history. It is not enough to capture the state – the state itself is a problem. An idea to many on the left are unwilling or unable to comprehend. In the end Karl agreed with Mikhail, and for him the state had to wither. A position I personally disagree with, we must remove parts of the state after we capture it, then create systems for the complete removal of the rest.

    I’m a Christian Anarchist just so people know where I stand.

  9. A good thought provoking read as always Chris. My thinking is that the left are supposed to be celebrating a left or (socialist government) and can’t quite work out whats gone wrong. Where the love gone, where has the kindness gone. and where are the houses that the average citizen can afford. To me (and I’m from the right) the favourite word Neoliberalism, is alive and well and this Government has no stomach to change it. That thought has been discussed on this forum many times. The second in my opinion, is the kindness, fairness and courage needed to change the way we do things has to come from people who have lived on the wrong side of the tracks. If you’ve made it through Varsity and earned some degree or doctorate and then don’t do a lot else that’s meaningful before you end up in Parliament making decisions on our behalf, for the most part you wouldn’t have done it too hard, and more than likely you’re pretty light on life’s experiences . I’m generalising of course but not enough Parliamentarians have the qualities needed to want to make real social change. Of those that might have the right stuff, many will be quickly swallowed up in the political system which inevitably will disconnect them with the real world . How do you fix that, I haven’t a clue but I feel that’s where most of the problem lies. As for this Government, its a covid Government and is quite happy to keep it that way while our economy is chugging along. JA is a kind enough person at heart I’m sure, but actually getting things done as a majority Government, with the cautious conservative attitude it has with everything, can be good but also agonisingly slow to anyone wanting to see some progress. The only socialism in this country is what I read on forums like this. This Government is certainly not socialist.

    • Maaaaate – bloody shame there aren’t a lot more righties like you (in this space, going forward).

      “I’m generalising of course but not enough Parliamentarians have the qualities needed to want to make real social change.”
      I think it runs a little deeper than that. I was chatting to one of those ‘movers and shakers’ this morning about something to do with WINZ/MSD and was told I should let Grant the grunt know because apparently it was something he’d be really pissed off about if he knew. No doubt he would. So too the Queen of transformation and kindness. They don’t know, primarily because they have utmost faith in their officials and the Gods they worship.
      I won’t get in touch with him however until such time as most of our elected representatives – even the Ministerial ‘heavy lifters’ come to realise (or rather even consider the fact) that most of the problems reside in the cistern itself that they buy into – almost in a TINA sort of way.
      I feel quite sad for a lot of them in a way – especially those in Labour who’ll probably still be wondering why people (globally) are losing “faith” in institutions and democracy when the inevitable happens and why they aren’t making much of a difference.
      The sad thing is that they have the means to change it for the better.
      I reckon we’re probably going to let it all play out. I’m hoping the MP are going to stir much shit over the next term (because its obvious they’re going to have to), although I do worry that they may fall prey to the cargo cult treats and trinkets the cistern brings. Some Maori – including member of my own family – seem to be happy being bought off with a fancy job title

    • ‘the favourite word Neoliberalism, is alive and well and this Government has no stomach to change it.’

      You are correct in saying the Adern government has no stomach to change it, and Neoliberalism may be alive and well in the minds of parliamentarians and bureaucrats, but the fact is, Neoliberalism is not only destroying society and destroying the environment but it has also reached the point destroying itself.

      Neoliberalism gobbled up all the real assets long ago and is now predicated on central banks creating money out of thin air to prop up markets.

      This is seen most vividly in the US, where the Fed pours fictional money into the markets, to prop up share values, to enrich insiders, and now to keep the general economy from imploding: thus the daily discourse amongst the ‘elites’ is about stimulus to prevent the whole economy collapsing immediately, i.e. millions of previous workers, now unemployed, who are not paying rent or mortgages; hotels, restaurants, cinemas, shopping malls that have had their customer base decimated and are rapidly going broke; energy companies that cannot make a profit when energy prices are low, and look for further short-term financing in the vain hope that energy prices will double -which cannot happen because a doubling of energy prices would be the final blow that would demolish the economy!

      Charles Hugh Smith, my favourite commentator on American affairs at the moment, does another magnificent job of exposing the racket that high finance has been morphed into, and justifiably points out that the whole house-of-cards inflated-bubble system is close to the point of collapse:

      ‘What Would Happen If the Fed Ceased to Exist?

      December 18, 2020

      Extremes get more extreme until risk breaks out; then the reversal will be as extreme as the bubble expansion.

      What would happen if the Federal Reserve ceased to exist? We all know the answer: global markets would instantly collapse and the global financial system, now entirely dependent on Fed stimulus, intervention, manipulation, free money for financiers and endless printing of trillions of dollars out of thin air, would crash, leaving nothing but a steaming, fetid pile of corruption infested by the cockroaches scurrying around gobbling up the few crumbs left.

      What would happen if the Federal Reserve ceased to exist? The Treasury would sell its bonds on the open market, where buyers and sellers would set the yield on the bonds. Private banks would take deposits and lend money at rates set by supply and demand.

      We all know what would happen: yields and interest rates would explode higher in response to risk having to be priced in and every flimsy, worm-eaten enterprise that depended on zero-interest rates would collapse in a heap and every putrid, staggering zombie corporation would crumble to dust, and its phantom assets, illusions generated solely by the artificial spew of the Fed, would fall to their real value, i.e. near zero.

      Let’s modify the question slightly: what would happen if the Fed’s policies stopped working? In other words, what if the Fed’s spew no longer created the illusion of risk-free gambling in bubble-valuation assets? What if risk raised its Gorgon-like head despite every intervention, every manipulation, and every foul burp of propaganda from the Fed?

      Please glance at this chart of the delusional faith in incremental change. The faith in the Fed’s omnipotence that magically reduces the perception of risk to zero is ultimately a faith in incremental change: the Fed tweaks the dials of bond purchases and its spew of free money for financiers, and voila, risk is banished and risk assets get another rocket booster.

      Alas, risk cannot be banished, it can only be transferred to others. The Fed’s endless spew and its constant tinkering with incremental adjustments have created a delusional faith that these tweaks will work forever and ever.

      All that’s actually happened is the Fed’s spew has transferred the skyrocketing risks generated by its policies to the entire economy. The economy has been capacious enough to absorb the astronomical risks generated by Fed policies, but the economy has been stuffed to the gills with Fed-generated risk, and now the bursting of the risk bubble is upon us.

      Put another way, there’s no closets left to hide the risk in. Now the risk will escape the Fed’s rusting, hubris-soaked chains and decimate the financial sector, which is now the dominant force in the economy. Once the delusions of no-risk gambling and phantom valuations implode, the real economy with undergo a devastating cold turkey withdrawal from the Fed’s malevolent spew of free money for financiers masquerading as “stimulus.”

      Extremes get more extreme until risk breaks out; then the reversal will be as extreme as the bubble expansion. Delusions, illusions, phantoms of value: these are not real. Want to know what’s real? Risk.’

      https://www.oftwominds.com/blogdec20/Fed-fails12-20.html

      Whilst NZ does not have quite the degree of financial and energetic overshoot that characerises the US (now very much disunited), NZ nevertheless is caught in the same ‘progress’ trap as every other western nation, and is dependent on the central bank (RBNZ) propping up everything at highly-distorting, record-low interest rates.

      And when the US-dollar-based system collapses -as it surely will soon- we are going to see a lot of ‘headless chickens’ running round not knowing what to do, Jacinda Adern and Grant Robertson amongst them.

      It’s now only a matter of time. And roll-out of whatever Covid-19 vaccine is found to be the most effective (or in NZ’s case, the cheapest won’t make one iota of difference. The system is fucked.

      The only question is [on this topic], how much MORE damage will Neoliberalism inflict on society and the environment before it collapses completely?

      My guess is that Neoliberalism will inflict a lot more damage on society and the environment before it finally collapses -rather like a drunkard who drives home, crushing hedgehogs and possums on the road, knocking over pedestrians without even noticing, until he/she collides with a large tree that puts an end to the madness.

      In the meantime, one of the few things that actually matters long term continues to be made worse faster:

      Daily CO2 (CO2.earth)
      Dec. 17, 2020 = 414.22 ppm
      Dec. 17, 2019 = 411.8 ppm

      (more on that at an appropriate time).

  10. What is not told is the fact that the vast majority of abuse in care is at the hands of whanau caregivers NOT non-kin caregivers. Children are removed from a whanau and extended whanau are sought to care for the children so the parents or original whanau caregivers can have as natural contact as possible.

    Another conveniently forgotten issue is that the children are not taken into care for no reason. This in no way exonerates the State for there lack of management of the safety of these children, but why does nobody point the finger at the original ‘offenders’?

    Nuff sed.

  11. What is not told is the fact that the vast majority of abuse in care is at the hands of whanau caregivers NOT non-kin caregivers. Children are removed from a whanau and extended whanau are sought to care for the children so the parents or original whanau caregivers can have as natural contact as possible.

    Another conveniently forgotten issue is that the children are not taken into care for no reason. This in no way exonerates the State for there lack of management of the safety of these children, but why does nobody point the finger at the original ‘offenders’?

    Nuff sed.

  12. The state we are in is a bourgeois state that reproduces capitalist social relations. The original citizens that constituted the bourgeois state were property owning individuals who had successfully driven working people of the land and forced them into wage labour or face starvation.

    The extension of the vote to landless workers and to women much later, by included them as buyers and sellers of commodities equal to property owners, was necessary to suppress rising class and gender consciousness.

    So the bourgeoisie bought workers commodity labour power which they had to sell or starve in order to exploit their surplus labour. Women won their vote at the expense of their unpaid domestic labour for capital.

    Therefore whatever bullshit is sprayed about the state we are in, eg the possibility of parliamentary socialism, the bourgeois state is derived from capitalist property relations inimical to socialist social relations.

    Marx and Bakunin did not agree on the nature of the state. Bakunin rejected state rule in any circumstances. Marx argued that the workers as the new ruling class needed a state to rule. Marx’s theory was that the withering of the state would have to wait upon the ending of proletarian class rule under communism.

    To claim that any socialist or communist state since has validated Bakunin against Marx, fails to recognise that no such proletarian state has existed since they were quickly surrounded and subverted by the alliances of bourgeois states in alliance with self-professed anarchists.

    Thus Marxists critique anarchists as hypocrites, rejecting the state in principle, but then joining the bourgeois state, as in Spain in 1937.

    There are two grounds as to why we have to fight for a workers state. First, it is necessary that the class that produces the value, takes control of the economy to defend it from counter-revolution, and to plan production for necessities in harmony with nature.

    Second, for those who would rather face human extinction than run the risk of communist tyranny, both the 1871 Commune and the 1917 Revolution showed that even under military invasion and occupation by capitalist states, the working people created democratic institutions in which the majority ruled in the interests of socialism until succumbing to the counter-revolution.

    Socialism or Extinction? I know which option I would go for.

    • ‘Socialism or Extinction? I know which option I would go for.’

      The vital and clever -but also exceedingly stupid- aspect of the Neoliberal narrative is to NEVER allow the terminal nature of the Neoliberal system to be discussed in official circles, i.e. parliament and its various agencies, and hence the proles are kept permanently uninformed/misinformed as we march towards extinction.

      As little as ten years ago organisations such as Radio NZ were giving prime air time to denialists -people like David Bellamy, Augie Auer, Chris Laidlaw etc., people who were not climate scientists but were prepared to spout a load of nonsense about CO2 and its effect on the temperature of the Earth. Most famous was ‘Lord’ Monkton, who made up stuff as he went along, but was believed because he told people what they wanted to hear: that there was no environmental crisis and we (as a society) could carry on looting ad polluting the commons ad infinitum. Because, all told, that is what capitalism is all about: looting and polluting the environment -along with exploiting the masses.

      Now that the environmental crisis has become so obvious it cannot be denied -its rather difficult to cover up unprecedented fires that wipe out entire communities, or inundations that trigger mass civil defence emergencies and devastate large numbers of homes- the state moves at the slowest possible pace on environmental issues whilst at the same time promoting population growth, economic growth and increased levels of consumption (and therefore waste generation), all of which destroy the environment faster.

      I began to understand the profoundly corrupt and counter-productive nature of Neoliberal politics 20 years ago, and by 10 years it was blatantly obvious to me what was going on. I also discovered the hopelessness of attempting to wake others to what was going on.

      Adam Curtis* produced some excellent documentaries on how the state uses sophisticated mind-control systems to keep the masses under control and believing in the benign nature of the state, even as the state wrecks everything it touches.

      I have just read a ‘must-read’ article on the phony history of America, by John Davis: ‘What Shall We Call It’.

      ‘There was no coup. American democracy worked as designed: it took the progressive energies unleashed in opposition to the Trump administration and entirely neutered them with the orderly election of the avuncular Joseph Biden, protector of the Empire, the military industrial complex, banking and finance, insurance, biotech, Silicon Valley, the revolving door bureaucracies of the Washington swamplands and the wheedling parasites of K Street.

      The whole rotten armature of the Republic will be put back together by Biden and his crew despite the overwhelming evidence of its, never mind his, decrepitude. Under Trump, the nation has absorbed extraordinary episodes of domestic chaos – closing in on 300,000 citizens killed in a disastrously mismanaged pandemic, four years of deliberately divisive, white supremacist rule by the Republicans, witch-hunts by the Democrats, an impeachment of the president, and, this year, the most remarkable series of iconoclastic demonstrations against the country’s historically rooted values of oppression, exploitation, enslavement, and the annihilation of indigenous peoples, during the Black Lives Matter uprising.

      Yet the recent Federal election is an affirmation of business-as-usual, a celebration of a return to normality – despite the startling indications of the system’s bodily corruption. Faith in the restorative power of our democracy remains high, faith in the power of voting remains undiminished and, for a little over half of the electorate, a sense of victory hangs in the air…..

      Every two years, members of the two parties compete for the approbation of the voting public who, regardless of their choice, give unwitting political legitimacy to the brute force of the market. This process, which Thomas Carlyle, the nineteenth century historian and philosopher, called the cash nexus, remains at the heart of American democracy – in which a vote for either party ensures the continuation of their danse macabre. It is this legacy to which Biden, as the country’s next president, is now heir – rightfully so, it may be argued since he has been partially responsible for the last fifty years of its most reactionary manifestations.

      In order to heal racial injustice, economic injustice, environmental injustice and to fill the voids of mind, body and spirit that exist in the American commonweal, vast sums of public treasure need to be expended. That intention is currently blocked both by a philosophy of governance that privileges the free market and by the impregnable massif that is the military establishment – the mastodon in the room of a profoundly unquiet American society. Such socially targeted expenditures might prevent America from sinking further into a quagmire of pathological dependencies – the gloss of its over-consumption since WWII having long since been made pallid by the endemic inadequacies of health care, education, infrastructure, nutrition, housing, income distribution and the historically charged racial injustices that haunt the nation. These represent profound failures of state in terms of both remediation and restitution. Such failures demand a revolutionary re-focusing of the purposes of government; a redefinition of democracy; and a relinquishment of the grand myths that have sustained them – myths that have weaponized the base economic impulses of freedom loving conservatives over the life of the Republic. That re-focus will come with a price-tag, but one that is almost certainly less that the inordinate sums channeled to the military industrial complex, now justified by the maintenance of a superannuated Empire……’

      https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/12/18/what-shall-we-call-it/

      Whilst NZ does not indulge in the gross excesses of the US, the tone of the governance is almost exactly the same as in the US: fake to the core and rotten to the core.

      As I have said before, the state simply manages the populace and ensures that sufficient ‘breadcrumbs’ fall off the table to prevent revolt.

      Clearly, as the supply of ‘breadcrumbs’ diminishes, the state (currently managed by Jacinda and co.) will find it increasingly difficult to allocated and distribute ‘breadcrumbs’.

      * The Power of Nightmares

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Power_of_Nightmares#:~:text=The%20Power%20of%20Nightmares%3A%20The%20Rise%20of%20the,originally%20broadcast%20in%20the%20United%20Kingdom%20in%202004.

  13. AFKTT. The sad thing is that all of this was predicted by Marx 150 years ago in The General Law of Capital Accumulation (Capital Vol 1, 1867) https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch25.htm
    That prediction proved accurate, the outcome would be decided by class struggle but subject to the laws of motion of capital as described in the General Law.
    And Marx predicted that Capitalism would not end until it had exhausted its potential to develop the forces of production based on the plunder of nature including human labour power.
    At that point the working masses would rise up and become the gravediggers of capital on behalf of nature.
    Of course for that to happen workers had to understand Marxism as the science of the capitalist mode of production, the role of class struggle, and the proletariat as the revolutionary class capable of replacing capitalism and resolving the contradiction between capital and nature.
    Understanding the state we are in means understanding Marxism as a science and putting it into action.

    • Marx predicted spontaneous uprisings by the proletariat against capitalism but it never happened. Instead the middle class grew in both size and wealth and gained a quality of life that was unimaginable in the 19th century. To the extent that the typical middle class existence today better in many ways than that of the richest person in the world when Marx was writing – Queen Victoria.
      The revolution is postponed

      • I don’t think the current middle class has a life better than Queen Victoria, who had; after all she could go almost wherever she wanted when she wanted, and had an army of servants to satisfy her every whim. And she lived in an age of certainty; certainty that England was by far the greatest nation on Earth and certainty that British technology could conquer the world.

        However, you are absolutely right insofar as mass production of goods lowered their price and increased their availability…commencing with crockery and kitchen utensils and moving on to pianos, electric lighting and vacuum cleaners, and then personally-owned motorised vehicles and televisions etc.

        What Max failed to highlight -indeed it was hardly recognised at the time he wrote- is that all of the stuff that has delayed the revolution is predicated on extracting and burning fossil fuels and looting and polluting the environment.

        And so the ‘infinite growth on a finite planet’ meme comes unstuck and then disintegrates completely.

        • Marx talked about the ‘metabolic break’ in relation to the depletion of soils. Meaning capitalism was extracting value by exhausting nature which could not be replaced.
          So there is nothing in Marx that says that capitalist growth is sustainable, quite the opposite.
          We have to conceive of ‘growth’ as the conversion of energy to reproduce biological life.
          Socialism has to aim at synergy and homeostasis as defined by necessary labour to reproduce life, not un-necessary labour that destroys life.

          • We are in basic agreement regarding what we need.

            The problem for all of us is how do we get system change when the looters, polluters and operators of Ponzi schemes have more-or-less complete control of politics and the mainstream media.

            Sadly, it seems we will get revolution by default when the system breaks down as a consequence of its inherent flaws and contradictions, rather than as a consequence of action by individuals or groups opposed to the madness.

            A decade or so ago Robert Atack said we don’t have to do anything to bring the system down because the system will destroy itself.

            In other words, the system is its own worst enemy.

            It’s just a question of how much damage the system will orchestrate in the time that remains, and how far out of kilter it will push geochemical systems before it collapses.

            We are not alone in our criticism of the system, nor in predicting its imminent demise. Charles Hugh Smith points out that the dominos are already toppling. Even interst.co -a very much business-as-usual website- is reporting collapse, though always suggesting recovery is possible (when it isn’t.).

  14. Chris’ post gives good analysis of wrongdoing by or at the behest of the state, that’s gone on since colonial times, but doesn’t hint at solutions. Can anyone offer solutions?
    It’s like civil service collective amnesia or a bureaucratic hive mind of cognitive dissonance, favoring the option of covering up abominable behavior, instead of what you might think they would want to do, the right thing to do, that any decent person would know, which would be to investigate, and put an end to bad goings on, asap. Could the game the smiling bureaucrats have been playing be called, how do we stifle justice yet again?

    Over the many years covered by the abuse in care inquiry, where were the police, where was the ombudsman, where was the dept of health or the dept of youth services, where was the director general of health, where were the commissioners, where was the oversight? No oversight, and no repercussion for no oversight. Those people who were then at the top, the pre eminent baby boomers in senior civil service positions, who may have built up substantial property portfolios, and healthy pensions – where would they expect compensation to come from, to pay to those who were wronged, while they turned a blind eye. I wonder.

    Maybe the abuse in care inquiry could identify all those in positions that were responsible for taking action, but didn’t do so, and getting some funding from them. I’m sure the state can make sure they pay up, just as the state would certainly make sure any of those wronged payed up, if they got a parking ticket for instance. Because parking can be a serious matter, and never something to be brushed aside or swept under the carpet, as any decent person would know.
    Perhaps the solicitor general can start it off with a contribution, but wait a minute, the solicitor general and crown law are not on the side of justice here, not on the side that is correct and right and proper, but have sought to cover up. Being accessories to abuse, is the wrong side of history. Who is the arbiter of proper behavior in the civil service? Is it the state services commissioner? Does their oversight need oversight? Why should any ordinary person bother to obey the law, when this is how the state behaves?

    • I was told that in the public service, if a high officer is found to be incompet4ent and causing problems for the organisation, the solution was to suggest the person apply for a higher position elsewhere, and to write a glowing testimonial in the hope that the next organisation would employ the said person.

      In the next organisation it takes a while for the incompetence to become apparent, upon which that organisation suggests the said person apply for a higher position elsewhere, and writes a glowing testimonial, ad infinitum.

      Add to that the Dunning-Kruger effect…

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.