It’s been a bad news week so far.
The Ferguson Grand Jury has decided that Darren Wilson, the US policeman who shot an unarmed black youth, Michael Brown, will not stand trial for that shooting. This has led to two nights of community protests that have been caricatured as ‘riots’ and ‘looting’ by mainstream media, who have willfully ignored the hyper-violence of the police to the community.
The inquiry into allegations that the SIS was used for political gain by the National Party has found “incomplete, inaccurate and misleading information in response to an Official Information Act request by blogger Cameron Slater.” That information was, of course, used to slander Phil Goff during the 2011 election campaign. At the very least it is clear that despite the hamstrung Terms of Reference, the report found evidence that implies there is a slander machine in the PM’s office and was an unsavory relationship between Dr Warren Tucker, John Key’s office and Cameron Slater.
On the same day, Key’s government passed the Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill under urgency through its first reading, after Key’s strawman argument that Islamic State is somehow a threat to Aotearoa New Zealand because he has seen a list with 80 names that sound a bit foreign. Amongst other things, the Bill will allow SIS to spy on you for 48 hours without a warrant, allow your passport to be cancelled whilst you are overseas (a violation of international law), and allow for you to be banned from getting a passport for three years, rather than the current one year. Every party except the Greens supported the first reading.
Further revelations of misspending at the Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust and Te Pātaka Ōhanga have emerged, that includes purchasing a new car, overseas trips to China and Australia, a golf cart gifted to a director, a $20,000 loan to a former CEO for purchase and production of videos, a $3,000 koha and on it goes. The Charities Commission found loans for personal travel and purchase of personal vehicles were outside of the scope of their stated charitable purposes. The Charities Commission concluded there had been ‘gross mismanagement’ and ‘serious wrong-doing’ under the Act.
Individually they are interesting news items. A headline for two, three, maybe even five days. Significant to the actors we read about as it decides their rise, their fall, their life, their death. But as for us, these news headlines have little impact on our safe, affluent lives. Each news item is an anomaly. That is, until you start to think of them as a pattern.
Each of these news items is a statement about the functionality of the society we live. The picture that is being revealed, if you have eyes to see, is of widening cracks in the facade of benign capitalist democratic societies. The players in each instance are leadership in communities, cities, and countries trying and failing to quash tensions and maintain the status quo. In fact, it is more accurate to say we no longer have leaders; we have rulers.
Our rulers are part of the One Percent we’ve all heard so much about. The One Percent refers to the social and economic inequality in the world in which one percent owns the vast majority of the resources and income. The top one percent, world wide, are people who earn over US$798,000 a year. The top eight percent earn over US$100,000. Twenty percent of the world’s population hog 94.5 percent of the world’s resources. The One Percent and their sycophants, the ten percent, are obsessed with maintaining their position of affluence, and are doing so against stronger and stronger opposition from the rest of the world. The news items above demonstrate the hard time they are having in maintaining their place.
Ferguson is not just about the shooting of an unarmed black man, bad as that is.
For the record, one unarmed black man is shot by US police every 28 hours. Ferguson is about the disconnect between minority and poor communities and the rulers of the US state. The state have no longer any interest in providing opportunity to all members; it has been twisted for the benefit of the very few. The only way to maintain that inequality is with extreme violence, hence the militarization of the US police.
The SIS report does not just reveal a grubby relationship between the PM, his office and attack bloggers and the way public servants are dragged into that, bad as that is.
The SIS report, Dirty Politics and the Chisholm Report, despite the spin, demonstrate that our rulers are more concerned with the maintenance of power than democratic transparency. The only way to maintain that power is to reduce the involvement and interest of the majority of voters through manipulative spin.
The Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill is not just about removing civil rights to be seen to be a good friend to the US’ escalating campaign in Iraq and Syria, bad as that is.
That Bill is part of a campaign of inspiring fear in the New Zealand population; fear of Muslims, fear of sedition, fear of each other. Fear of each other makes it easier to control our thinking and our actions. Fear allows rulers to be seen as benign and reliable, standing against a threat that actually is nonexistent.
The further revelations of misspending at the National Trust is not just about an out-of-touch and money-drunk board who have no connection to local, hard working kōhanga reo, bad as that is.
The revelations are a demonstration of Antonio Gramsci’s analysis of how to blunt the revolutionary zeal amongst the oppressed leadership; give them every bauble, every opportunity, every resource and their loyalty will shift to the oppressor. Ultimately they will do the work of oppression for you. Our Māori rulers are Māori by ethnicity, but capitalist by sympathy, and firmly ensconced in the one percent, who prop up compromised and impotent client rulers.
Our society is cracking. The systems of control and power are fraying, near breaking. In panicked response, our rulers are using every tool at their disposal: extreme state violence; increasing voter cynicism and decreasing avenues for involvement; spreading fear; propping up compromised and impotent ethnic, minority and community leadership. No more lies; this is coming to an end. It may be ten or 20 years, but it is coming to an end.
Your choice is not who you will vote for, if you should write that submission or if you should run for office. You are not safe here in a benign backwater country. At best, you are just hiding in the wardrobe as the house burns. You will not be left alone, they are coming for you. So your choice is simple: are you one of the One Percent; or are you one of the 99 Percent who are coming to tear down these temples, edifices and facades?
Today, as the storm clouds roll in, gigantic and implacable, harbinger of revolution; dance with me in the first showers of rain, for anger is a gift.