GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – My best to you all for 2021


When I was a small boy I remember my family would sometimes get on the bus and visit my Aunty Jean.

After a cup of tea and some home-made cake she would insist on reading our tea cups.
Her belief was that the pattern of the tea leaves left in the bottom of our tea cups could predict our individual futures.

Sometimes when I listen to economists and other pundits I wonder if they are really any better placed to predict how our lives will be next year than my sadly long -gone Aunty Jean.

I am certainly no better qualified than any of you to predict what next year holds for us.
Yes there is hope that the vaccines being developed will halt Covid 19 in its tracks but the roll-out ,especially in the USA, is much slower than planned and new more infectious mutations of this virus are already loose in the world.

So unless some dramatic development suddenly ends the current pandemic I suspect that 2021 may well be another year where we have to physically self -isolate ourselves as country from the rest of the world.

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This means we are going to have to become even more reliant on each other – our families, friends and neighbours – for our mutual well-being and if this Covid thing goes on long enough our government is going to be forced to tax the wealth of those who are getting rich simply by sitting on the assets to support the many who are struggling to make ends meet.

And all of THAT will be no bad thing.

Take care of yourselves and each other.

My best to you all for 2021

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. ‘This means we are going to have to become even more reliant on each other – our families, friends and neighbours – for our mutual well-being and if this Covid thing goes on long enough our government is going to be forced to tax the wealth of those who are getting rich simply by sitting on the assets to support the many who are struggling to make ends meet.

    Those are nice ideas, Bryan. But in practice NZ society has been morphed -by successive neoliberal governments- into a selfish and greedy rat race, in which for many people being first and not obeying the rules is a matter of pride. And some people are just plain antisocial. The remnant of those who knew different ways of living continually declines, whist the portion that has never known anything other than rampant consumerism increases by the minute.

    An anecdote:

    When I moved to this dwelling I introduced myself to my neighbours; one invited me to have a cup of tea and a chat; we subsequently worked together on replacing a shoddy fence. The other seemed pleasant enough at first, and swapped phone numbers and discussed boundary issues…but soon showed his real character: when I started clearing up the mess on MY side of the boundary he went completely apeshit and made threats. He told me he had plans before the council for construction of an additional building and that nothing could be touched. Thinking this rather odd, I contacted the council: there were no plans in the system. When I tackled a noxious weed on MY side of the boundary that was covering a large area he went apeshit again and told me the existing fence wasn’t on the boundary and that the he had purchased the plant at a local nursery.

    I knew someone who worked there, and he said, “No way would they be propagating and selling plants designated as noxious weeds.”

    The tense situation continued for many weeks until I was again clearing rubbish on MY side of the boundary and he again went apeshit. This time I told him he was a liar and a bully, and that we could resolve it the easy way or the hard way: The easy way was for him to pull his head in and let me get on with what I needed to do; the hard way was for me to contact the police and the council. He chose the hard way!

    Not long after that incident, he suddenly disappeared, along with wife and dogs etc. I turned out he didn’t even own the property and was just renting!

    The house was sold by the actual owner and the new neighbour seemed very friendly at first. However, when I called to ask if he realised a sprinkler had been running for about 36 hours, he was less than friendly. He subsequently came to my home and told me I was not to visit without phoning first.

    I pointed out that I had given him my number but couldn’t ring first because he hadn’t given me his. He said, “That’s because I don’t want you to ring me.”

    I rate the chances of good-neighbourliness on that side as close to zero.

    50% is better than nothing, I suppose.

    I don’t travel much these days, but when I do I see the selfish, inconsiderate arsholes in their planet-fuckers driving at 120kph, overtaking on blind bends and at junctions. Even on the street where I live, designated a 50 zone, a significant portion drive at 60, 70, even 80 km/hr, so they can get to where they want to get a few seconds earlier..

    I have largely disengaged form consumerism but still need to buy a few things. I was told by one of the staff at the Bunnings store I visit to get stuff for my ‘end of the consumer society preparations’ that they were losing $2,000 a day through theft (or was it $5000 a day? Memory not bad but not perfect.) That was why they had upped their security.

    It would be nice to think that we are all going to cooperate to get through the difficult times ahead. But I suspect we are going to witness greatly increased levels of selfishness and criminality as the ‘ship goes down’. Which it surely will, as it has been sinking for quite a while, despite all the happy-days talk of the corporate media, dependent on advertising revenue for [short term] survival. (There is no long term survival of the current corrupt and debauched system.) .

    As for the world at large, there are things we can be certain about and things we can be less certain about.


    Industrial humans will continue extract and burn fossil fuels at a rate that completely overwhelms the capacity of natural systems to process CO2. Atmospheric CO2 will peak in late May [due to Northern Hemisphere photosynthesis] at around 420 ppm, about 2.7 ppm higher than in 2020, vaccines of no vaccines. That will put us about 190 ppm above the 800,000-year average.

    Various locations around the world will be hit by unprecedented flooding, as overheated seas and ocean shed heat and moisture into the atmosphere.

    Ice will continue to melt at both ends of the Earth, and on mountain tops.

    Industrial agriculture will continue to ravage the natural world, and to pollute it.

    The human population overshoot will continue…unless a more virulent pandemic wipes out tens of millions.

    Governments will continue to prop up dysfunctional economic arrangements via poor taxation policies and bailouts.

    There will be no general improvement in the level of awareness of the dire state of the world (until after the crash).

    Everything that matters will be made worse by governments around the world.

    Less Certain

    The ability of central banks to prop up markets and equities will come to an end. Just when, nobody knows. Many, especially in the US, say it will be 2021.

    The need for politicians to distract the populace form thinking abut the real issues and obscure their failures may well result in additional wars.

    The efficacy of vaccines may well have been overstated, and unpredictable side effects may well emerge.

    Add to the list as desired…

  2. All the best to you too Bryan. Thanks for the words of encouragement. And keep up the insightful comments. Yes, very honest to acknowledge the limits to our understandings … and yes again, predicting the future all seems like guesswork, even for those who lay claim to knowledge. There are of course signs of all sorts, which many choose to ignore or at best play down. History is a testament to that.

  3. ” In reality, the world is still very much locked into zealous worship of the great god known as capitalism. And it is choking the world to death.

    We live on a finite planet of finite resources with a finite ecosystem that has a finite capacity to absorb punishment without becoming uninhabitable. Science tells us we are fast approaching the breaking point at a debatable rate of acceleration. Depending on what scientists you believe we could get there in several decades, or it could be a whole lot sooner.

    Capitalism, the predominant driving force of human behavior in our world right now, offers exactly two potential solutions to this dilemma. The first is to pretend the dilemma doesn’t exist, which is why a Venn diagram of climate denialism and support for capitalism is always going to be a near-perfect circle. The second is the entirely faith-based hope that some kind of sustainable technological innovation is going to save the day before our behavior drives us off the cliff of extinction. ”
    The Unspoken Premise Of Modern Capitalism Is That The World Will Be Saved By Greedy Tech Oligarchs

    ” We’re never going to compete and consume our way out of the existential crisis we’ve competed and consumed our way into. Capitalism will never make it more profitable to leave a tree standing than to cut it down, to leave fuel sources in the ground rather than dig them up. Money has no wisdom, no matter how inflation-proof and gold-backed you might want to make it. Markets cannot navigate us through this crisis, no matter how “free” you might try to make them. Capitalism is the problem. Not the wrong kind of capitalism. Just capitalism. ”

  4. Thank you @ BB and to you too. And to all of you fabulous others who come here to partake as part of The Daily Blog community.
    Happy New year and remember?
    ” Life is far too important to take seriously. “

  5. Bryan you are a true Kiwi patriot and you encompass what is truly a great New Zealander and you will always have my respect.
    Thank you for reminding us about the country that we love to call home and our proud egalitarian history that we took for granted and made us stand out before it was legislated , and voted away after the biggest con job since Jesus promised he could to turn water into wine and John Key was an honest man who cared about the downtrodden.
    You are the kiwi who won’t be recognized with an honour but i don’t think you would mind.

  6. Well fair enough. If someone approaches me in good faith i won’t spit in their face, though I am often percieved as “cold” by people who live a certain economic culture. There will be no insta-pissups, I won’t be doing anything for you or paying for your new fence on our first meeting, don’t be trying to sell me your snakeoil, or be over familiar, and most of all don’t yell to me from your side of the fence. I aint your dog. Jesus christ i sound like my grandad! Maybe he knew something about life. Take it slow and we’ll either part on good terms, or live together peacefully.

    As for what government “must do”, I really hope you’re right, but don’t hold your breath. Best Wishes to you.

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