Dissing The Farmers


THERE’S NO DISPUTING that Neale Jones is very good at what he does. As a public relations practitioner working in Jacinda Ardern’s Wellington, he has an instinctive feel for the lines that will be remembered and re-tweeted enthusiastically by the Ardernian establishment. Jones’ tweet of this morning offers an excellent example of the CEO of Capital Government Relations’ craft.

Responding to the self-styled “Mother of All Protests” organised by Groundswell, Jones tweeted:

“Aside from the casual racism and sexism, Groundswell represents a reactionary attempt to cling to a purely extractive economic model: pollute, emit, exploit, and let someone else bear the cost.”

One has to admire the way Jones covers-off all the bases of the current political zeitgeist. Right up front there is the reference to the opponent’s “casual” racism and sexism. The use of the word “casual” is instructive in this context.

That all men are sexists, and all White people racists, are core axioms of the Identity Politics that dominates all aspects of official life in the capital city. No Pakeha male operating in this environment would be so foolish (or career limiting) as to deny either his sexism or his racism. Were he to do so he would be denying the systemic character of these entrenched structures of privilege. Instead, he would offer his assurance that he was “working” on his sexism and racism. Not with any real expectation of becoming a better person, you understand, but in hopes of not becoming a worse one.

That’s why the word “casual” is so important. Jones’ charge is that the farmers behind the Groundswell protests are so antediluvian, so Neanderthalic, that they are either unaware of the gender and ethnic privileges they enjoy – enabling them to engage in sexist and racist behaviour quite unconsciously. Or, that the social milieu in which they operate is so saturated with misogyny, homophobia and racism, that they have grown accustomed to voicing their prejudices “casually” – without the slightest fear of reproof.

Having successfully consigned these moral ingrates to the ninth circle of Woke Hell (in an admirably economical seven words) Jones then moves on to the central charge of his tweet. Groundswell, he asserts, represents “a reactionary attempt to cling to a purely extractive economic model: pollute, emit, exploit, and let someone else bear the cost.”

Let’s unpick this statement forensically.

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The first thing to note is that it is phrased in the language of classical socialism, as well as the rhetoric of classical environmentalism. The importance of this mix will become clear presently.

The first thing to note, however, is that the farmers organising the Groundswell protests aren’t just sexists and racists, they are “reactionaries”. The choice of epithet is important, because “reactionary” grounds the word’s user in the political landscape of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

According to Wikipedia, a Reactionary “is a person who holds political views that favour a return to the status quo ante, the previous political state of society, which that person believes possessed positive characteristics absent from contemporary society.” Synonyms for reactionary include: archconservative, die-hard, hidebound, traditional and unprogressive.

Historically-speaking, “reactionary” described the politics of the dynastic regimes which did all within their power to extirpate the ideas and institutions spawned by the French Revolution, and then spread across Europe by the armies of Napoleon Bonaparte. In the first half of the twentieth century, however, “Reaction” became a catch-all term, applied to those who stood against the forces unleashed by the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.

So, it is a very heavy word to use in an political conversation. To be a “reactionary” is to set your face not only against the future, but also against the present – making you a very dangerous person (or group of people) indeed.

The danger is lessened, however, when Jones describes these farmer reactionaries as “clinging” to the expectations and practices of the past. Now, who “clings”? Frightened children – to their mother’s skirts. Mountain-climbers – for dear life on a vertiginous cliff-face. Lovers – desperate not to lose the object of their affections. All rather pathetic, all rather desperate. Anybody, or anything, that clings is not strong, or, at least, not in a strong position. In this instance the “clingee” is the “purely extractive economic model” which, because the “clingers” are reactionaries, must be a thing of the past.

And, just to make sure that Jones’ readers understand how very bad that past was, the elements of the “purely extractive economic model” are spat out like bullets to remind them: “pollute, emit, exploit, and let someone else bear the cost.”

This is the classic formula of old-school environmentalism. Of the Values Party – forerunner of the Greens. Of the many activist conservation movements of the 1970s and 80s, which condemned the “rip-in, rip-out, rip-off” mentality of miners, loggers, fishing companies and, yes, farmers. You’ve got to hand it to Jones, this is a truly masterful evocation. These sexist, racist, cockies aren’t just the backward-looking enemies of social progress, they are, Jones implies, the foes of Mother Earth herself.

If you were commissioned to lay the groundwork for a full-scale assault upon the New Zealand farming sector, launched in the name of Aotearoa “meeting its responsibilities” in the global effort against Climate Change, you could hardly have made a better start. Small wonder that the people organising the Groundswell protests are driving Federated Farmers and Dairy NZ to distraction. With “friends” like these blokes, the farming industry doesn’t really need enemies!

The genuinely inspired quality of Jones’ tweet is, of course, the way it appears to banish the “purely extractive economic model” to the dark recesses of history. Like the Divine Right of Kings, the ideas of these “reactionary” farmers are relics of a bygone era. The forces of social and economic progress are moving onwards and upwards. Those who refuse to join them in their heroic ascent towards the light, must resign themselves to living in the shadows.

Except, of course, it is all misdirection and disinformation. The “purely extractive economic model”, far from being a relic of the past, is still the driving force behind the entire capitalist system. “[P]ollute, emit, exploit, and let someone else bear the cost.” That isn’t just the disgraceful formula of colonial-era farmers who cleared-felled the forests and drained the wetlands, it is the purest contemporary essence of actually existing capitalism the world over.

New Zealand’s farmers are not reactionary throwbacks, yearning for a world that has gone forever, they are stressed-out twenty-first century capitalists, some of whom came to town last Sunday (21/11/21) to remind the very capitalist government of this very capitalist country, that if it intends to go on monetizing her golden eggs, then it should remove its choking regulatory fingers from around the neck of the Golden Rural Goose.




  1. I get the feeling that both the Farmers and the AV mob have much in common. Farmer protest to show the Govt we have had enough of your rules and regulations, we want our freedom to loot and pollute. The AV mob protest for personal choice, fuck the Govt and it’s mandates, who cares not about the collective good.
    Both camps are displaying classic neo liberal mantra and remain glued to the status quo. They are reactionaries and both camps are semi dangerous, with the Farmers giving the Govt. every reason not to adopt Climate change policies and the AV mob hell bent on causing trouble with law and order. Fucking great. Bloody idiots the lot of them.

    • yup another round of neo liberal betrayal and the numpty vote will grow and y’know I don’t blame them, I abhor their choice but they’ve been lied to by successive govts of both stripes and are at the end of their tether. the answer isn’t more, better PR it’s extract the digit and do something for the actual people rather than responding to every focus group carefully drawn from your own target demographic

    • Absolute dross. As somebody that participated in the Groundswell protest in Hamilton I can advise that there was 1 car with anti-vax grafitti scrawled all over it and a Maori soveriegnty protestor who turned up uninvited and was asked to leave. Another anti vax car joined the protest from a side street. There is little the organisers can do (apart from resort to physical violence) to get rid of these ‘hitch-hiker activists’ who seek every opportunity to peddle their malware. 99.9% of the people involved in the Groundswell protest were farmers concerned about excessive and ignorant regulations or (heaven forbid) regular town folk who turned out to support us farmers. During the convoy drive we had one young lady who ‘flipped the bird’ at us, vs hundreds of Hamiltonians on the footpaths telling us to “keep going” and to “keep up the good work” Now that may not be the picture that Minister Nash or the Prime Minister’s spin doctor’s seek to portray but it is the truth nonetheless.

  2. Don’t overcook the chicken. It is a clumsy and divisive tweet. He has thrown the kitchen sink of insults at the protestors and has thus shown himself to be partisan and irrational. I would not use his services.
    What about this: “The Groundswell protests cannot be ignored. Trying to reduce livestock CO2 emissions is going to be difficult but is the right thing to do for our children. We want to understand the issues and work with the farmer because we value our food producers.”

  3. What the Government tends to forget sometimes is that Farmers have Family, and Friends that live in Labour electorates in the cities, and if you attack the Farmers, they (Family and Friends) will protest vote another party (not Labour) to show their feelings…

    • The farmers want to lower environmental standards to those of India and Somalia. Quite frankly these regulations need to be imposed at all costs.

      • So did you just invent this little scenario ? That is not what farmers want to do!
        Farmers want consultation, Farmers need consultation, not regulation seemingly made up with little factual input from the labour govts paid consultants!

        • No, they want to poison our waterways to make money. This is the end game. Rivers so chocked with shit that we cannot drink out of it,.

          • @ millsy.
            “No, they want to poison our waterways to make money. ”
            Do they?
            ” Rivers so chocked with shit that we cannot drink out of it,.”
            Are they?
            I see.
            Clearly, you know a great deal about agriculture, farming and farmers. And rivers. And shit.
            The biggest problem for farmers is that they fail to comprehend just how powerful they are.
            And that failure is their abuser’s greatest tactical weapon in their arsenal to make sure farmers remain down trodden in order to be exploited on an on-going basis.
            While I don’t necessarily agree with the type of tactics used, i.e. driving tractors around town causing disruption I am proud, as a farmer, that other farmers are warming up to direct action. I’m very excited about that.
            I’m a ‘strike’ kind of person. All farmers have to do is stop producing and supplying their hard won produce.
            The problem I have with driving about town in tractors sporting witty slogans is that farmers alienate themselves from the urban public and that’s not fair on the urban public. It’s not the fault of city people that we farmers are getting fucked without the kissing.
            The fault lies directly at the feet of the dug-in exploitative few, many of whom are, or were, farmers. The Good ol Boys. The National Party Gin slingers. Aye boys?
            Check out The Canterbury Club? Read The History of Wool?
            They’re rich as fuck and they’re socially and politically influential. [They’ve] customised political ( and social ) systems within which they operate and it’s from there, that they force actual farmers into diversifying. From the farmer’s perspective, into what ever pays the rates, mortgages, costs, and taxes but most importantly from the abusers perspective, whatever lines their pockets.
            Chamber of Commerce springs to mind and it was while I was researching a similar subject that I can upon this little gem.
            Check out these fuckers?
            The wool board, the meat board, the apple and pear marketing board and the dairy board ( Who have I missed ? ) are where you will find the enemy. That’s where you need to drive your fucking tractors!
            Not the city person. They’re just as vulnerable to being cynically manipulated as farmers. City people are NOT the enemy. They’re our brothers and sisters and they will stand with us.
            Farmers! You’re on the right track.

        • Farmers need to have enforced, natural, stocking rates on the land – and palm kernel, which allows overstocking and factory farming of both cows ans sheep, must be banned.

      • A very poorly informed comment. For those of you who are really interested (as opposed to those keyboard warriors who just want to slag off farmers, or accept all that is profferred by our government’s spin doctors) one of the main Groundswell organisers Bryce McKenzie has made a huge positive contribution to his local environment over many years through his work initiating and organising the Pomahaka catchment Water Care group. Bryce is very pro-environment but is equally concerned about unworkable ‘top-down’ regulations. He ‘walks his talk’ on the environment – rather than just slagging off people with ignorant commentry.

        • The only way to protect the environment is with regulations. Look at India and Somalia. They have no regulations to speak of, and their rivers are chocked with shit and toxic waste. Do you want toxic waste in our rivers Jason?

          • millsy: “Look at India and Somalia.”

            It would be really useful if you were to supply links, with information supporting what you say here.

  4. I expect that having all but eradicated Mycoplasma Bovis and secured a free-trade agreement with the UK to eradicate the cheese/butter mountain (not withstanding the amount of diary product going to landfill), farmers are secretly grateful to the government, they just aren’t saying so

    • That’s an interesting one as Borrie Johnson had another motive and that was ‘expanding and promoting allies in the Pacific region’,…well, so be it. If it means trade opportunity’s that’s all well and good. Now, if we can just get the Americans to get over their pouting about nuclear warships in NZ, whilst pulling out of the 5 eyes we would be well on our way to trading with whoever at will. And that includes the Russians. That would, of course, mean that we would have to stop being tardy and beef up our Navy in particular as well as a viable military for defensive roles only. What a novel idea that would be to most of us!

  5. More an more we find ourselves living in a dystopian world of double speak, division and slogans. It’s been a steep decline into a very dark place since Ardern took the reins. In other regimes where this happened it ended in mayhem and bloody violence. I do hope the voters wake up and remove her before it gets really, physically nasty.

    • …”It’s been a steep decline into a very dark place since Ardern took the reins”…

      No, its been a steep decline into a very dark place ever since the 4th Labour govt and Roger Douglas. The rot started at that point and has been exacerbated by every neo liberal govt ever since. If this country had avoided that era it would have been remained prosperous and the current high levels of poverty malaise and social disorders would not have existed.

      • Yes, Jacinda has just accelerated the decline.

        Of course, the decline has manifested most notably throughout the western world, but especially in the English-speaking sectors.

        ‘Every institution that was once trustworthy has been debauched to maximize private gain: higher education, science, medicine, national defense–the list includes virtually every sector and industry in America. Nothing can be trusted because somebody behind the scenes is spinning the story and data to mask their self-interest, their immense gains and the carefully contrived structure of diverting investigation and eliminating transparency, competition and accountability.’


    • “remove her before it gets really, physically nasty”

      Hey Andrew, from one vermin to another your fascism is showing. 😉

  6. People like Neale Jones use their artistic license to embellish whatever points they are making. I’m sure Chris and Martyn won’t be offended if I suggest they use the same tactic. The difference would seem to be the generalising and disinformation that’s in this article that I haven’t read. Anybody with half a brain would know that farmers in general have made massive changes over the last decade. More than most other sectors I’m guessing. There’s a long way to go but to say farmers are stuck in the past and are some relic soon to be gone is nonsense. Those who follow NJ and obviously dislike farmers will cheer him on but most won’t. Does Neale Jones’s drink milk or consume other dairy products. Does he enjoy a lamb chop or a rash of bacon. Does he recycle well and not flush his old pills down the toilet, who knows. I suspect NJ isn’t perfect himself but is happy to point the finger. I didn’t like the groundswell protest and I’m a retired farmer. I feel his criticism of it his fair enough but to classify the protesters as lesser beings stuck in history is just wrong. Chris says well chosen words are remembered but I doubt that in this case. The horrendous amount of garbage on social media is here today and mostly gone tomorrow. Our farmers are progressive. They know they have to do things differently. Their argument is with the suited bureaucrats in Wellington who are dictating the changes from their offices and won’t discuss the workability of these changes with the farmers that have to live with them. If this government wants to sell three waters and other big changes they plan to make they need to up their own game. They don’t need Neale Jones.

    • Yes New View the changes in farming have been huge.
      They have made more changes environmentally than all of their critics lumped together
      Suggesting farmers want to lower their standards to India and Somalia is ridiculous.
      Trade agreements with the UK would’ve taken place no matter who was in power.
      After leaving the EU the UK is proactive in seeking new trading partners.
      Hats off to the lifeblood of New Zealand, the farming community.

    • Notwithstanding that he’s a pale male, so his pathetic attempt to link racism and misogyny identity politics due to simple demographics, means he completely missed the irony.

  7. ..”That all men are sexists, and all White people racists, are core axioms of the Identity Politics that dominates all aspects of official life in the capital city. No Pakeha male operating in this environment would be so foolish (or career limiting) as to deny either his sexism or his racism”…

    Eeech! Glad I don’t live there and I’m glad I’m not urbane either.

    Traditional Cree Music

    Compared to these guys , sometimes I think modern society and its wacko attitudes can go jump in the lake!

  8. I like Chris Trotters piece from yesterday better than this one…

    I am no Neale Jones fan but he is not wrong about the sheep shaggers and industrial farmers of this country.

    More modern thinkers seem to get paraded on Country Calendar these days, and I know quite a few organic/perma culture small holding farmers in the Far North. Nice people mostly, apart from some that have recently gone rogue on vaccination!

    But giant dairy farms can bugger off. Farmers do not set out to feed the errant, ungrateful townies–they set out to run a business and make a handsome profit, and rake in what ever subsidies, producer board support and bad weather relief funds they can hoover up. Vegetables and meat are a by product of their activities.

    If farmers really are virtuous valuable people, they are doing themselves few favours by being associated with the motley crew involved on the weekend with groundswell.

      • Yes lets not forget farmers too have to live under neoliberalism with no producer board support and many run their farms at the whim of a banker.

      • You are a pack of wankers…heard of Fonterra, Pork marketing, and all those horticultural organisations from Kiwifruit, Avocados, Potatoes, citrus, virtually down to Wasabi and truffles?

        Fuck you and the tractors you rode in on.

        • Oh, you mean the farmer unions that represent their interests when they are up against huge supermarket chains in China, Europe, USA.

  9. The world produces way to much food.

    30% is chucked out even when still good [I know as I have been a dumpster diver], and most homes could survive with better health by purchasing 50% less when they shop.

    So that equates to a national food need of around 35% of current production levels. And that figure is further reduced to less than 20% of current production levels, when you add in vege gardens at home and chickens.

    Take away wasteful and unnecessary sport and gyms etc, and you are probably closer to 10%.

    Many pastures should be retired.

  10. Chris
    It’s a good thing we have folks like Neale Jones driving the economy. Ever so productive. Ever so industrious. Ever so profitable. No, he’s leeching off Jacinda’s state, sucking as much money out of it as he can. Getting fat on taxpayer money. Like most of his Wellington ilk. It is the Neale Joneses of the world that are fucking up the New Zealand spirit wholesale – by pitting people against each other. He needs to work in the fields for a change, getting himself dirty, being useful.

  11. Thanks Chris, so how are we going to get rid of capitalism?
    Put some thought to how we can change the system to include farmers who are reacting fearfully to change they think is targeting them unfairly.
    What about throwing out the economic system that ignores the fact that labour creates wealth.
    Let’s recognise that family farmers labour to live and are being exploited by the banks.
    So workers and farmers have a common enemy. The banks.
    We can act in solidarity by recognising that workers and working farmers are both producers of wealth.
    Of course farmers who are in business to extract monopoly rent will choose to stay in bed with the banks.
    Against the 20th century condemnation of socialism, lets make the Central Bank the agent of socialism bringing all those who produce the wealth together to get rid of the capitalist parasites and solve all our problems in one go.
    A state bank could buy out farmers debt to the banks at a heavy discount for future ‘uncertainty’ given that they are always talking about leaving anyway.
    A state bank could make loans to farmers at no interest rate to help the transition to zero carbon and zero methane.
    This would become good business practice rather than ‘stage regulations’.
    If you take away from productive workers the fear of bankruptcy you take away the emotion that is currently driving the divisions between working farmers and other working people.
    Instead of aiming at the mythical golden age of the past, lets build a golden age that gives us a future.

    • Very good post! – And while we are at it lets get rid of the Reserve Bank Act and get that body firmly back under govt control so it is no longer at the whims of global circumstances, and can then be commanded to release funds for some massive housing builds and much needed infrastructure! As that’s what happened under Savage.

  12. The bests thing about Neale Jones tweets on Twitter:
    A) Most farmers doing the actual farm thing will never see or hear what he has to say about them, and I imagine they will never care either, too busy working.
    Clearly the tweet is for an in crowd he likes to impress/lobby for his next paycheck. A rundown of Neale Jones corporate (capitalist) interests are long and varied.
    B) Those that do read it instantly categorise themselves as those that consume and comment on media. Like me hah!
    A very necessary profession in society but far, far away from producing things that end up on our plate which believe it or not, farmers do. I assume Neale eats and sips Chardonnay there in Woke Welly?
    C) He chooses the right platform to disseminate his views. What a twit…

  13. And who fucken cares if they vote for another useless political party Nathan cause really who is there to vote for. As many NZers are sick and tired of the farmers racist, sexist, selfish and ill informed rants its high time this lot got of their high horse and were pulled into line for the greater good. Its not all about them its about all of us.

  14. And who fucken cares if they vote for another useless political party Nathan cause really who is there to vote for. As many NZers are sick and tired of the farmers racist, sexist, selfish and ill informed rants its high time this lot got of their high horse and were pulled into line for the greater good. Its not all about them its about all of us.

  15. The entire system is loot-and-pollute. And is maintained via egregious lying.

    And the consequences are now dire.

    But that won’t stop the promoters of looting-and-polluting that infest parliament and the bureaucracy from promoting yet more looting and polluting….until the system collapses.

    • The system collapse is already happening. Its called climate catastrophe.
      I don’t want to sit around while everything falls on our heads.
      Big ups for XR taking on the groundswell yesterday.
      There you see the class struggle between those who want to plan for out survival, and those trapped by the banks into a form of serfdom.
      We need to see that the peasantry are an anachronism trapped in the past and give them a sure pass to transition.
      That way we win the majority of working people able to bring an end to the rotten capitalist system.

  16. I’d say the woke are the biggest capitalists and worst environmentalists and worst hypocrites. They put the farmers to shame.

    Lets take NZ’s environmental and social slide down the world leaderboard with their woke policies.

    For a start apparently they are rushing through ‘the mother of all’ intensification inspire of destroying housing in NZ with a similar approach over the last 25 years. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/simon-wilson-whats-up-with-labour-and-nationals-slum-enabling-act/DALHBIEXDTCOR4XJYZOAB6SFTQ/

    No wonder NZ is only worse than Turkey for our increase in carbon emissions and NZ is increasingly running out of water and power as we just don’t like to think too far ahead! Keep borrowing until we are broke and have to sell off even more of NZ!

    (Note government is not going to change their ways on emissions, their plan seems to be borrow debt to buy carbon credits and keep polluting here with the future generations paying for the polluters to keep going under government policy)

    Also who can trust them on 3 waters, when you look at their housing debacles! Even the councils have more credibility because some of their staff tried to stop the appalling housing decisions on zoning (like the public) but were shut down!

  17. At some point Neal Jones and his ilk are going to have to evaluate his relationship with this regime.

    The “Team of $55 million” tag might be hard to lose.

  18. This is a really strange column. It’s almost entirely a forensic examination of a tweet, but is there anything to take away about Chris’s position on the farmer protests….or anything else? I suppose the closing paragraph is the closest we’ll get to a point from the whole exercise, and yet stating farmers are capitalists who are stressed is neither here nor there as far as providing an opinion on their protest. I’m sure stressed capitalists are a dime a dozen across society currently with the lockdown hurting business.

    If you don’t want the government regulating to clean up pollution and bad environmental practices associated with farming, then don’t let the waterways and the environment get into that state in the first place. Honestly, if you reap all the profits from farming a bit of land, but ignore the environment up until the point the government has to step in to do something about it, you can’t really complain when they are forced to do something about it.

  19. Critical discourse analysis is a forte Chris. It’s left me wondering though that intensification has changed the game. Clear-felling the forests and draining wetlands didn’t do the environment any favours but we’ve now reached a new level of exploitation. You’re perfectly correct though: duplicity has a hollow sound.

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