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David Round

The showdown begins

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New Year! It is a time for celebration ~ if only the celebration of having survived a twelvemonth longer. It is a time for new beginnings, for reflection. We review our lives; what we have done, and not done; what we ought to have done, and not done. We think of the future ~ what it will hold, and how we might prepare for it. Myself, I see stormy weather ahead, on practically every front. The Middle East continues to heat up, the global economy continues to melt down. Both these trends will continue, and both have dire consequences for our own country’s prosperity and peace.

And then we have our own special local issues. I worry sometimes, gentle reader, that you may think me some depressive old crank, the way I go on about the dire threat which increasing racial confrontation poses to our country’s prosperity and peace. Please, honestly, do not think so. In my own life I am extremely cheerful, and in any case it is quite easy to derive a great deal of grim enjoyment from watching foolish people regularly ignore warnings and march blithely on to calamity. Poor fools. Schadenfreude is a very real pleasure, even if it also involves our own destruction. Readers of Cold Comfort Farm will recall the lively interest and satisfaction with which the Quivering Brethren listened to Cousin Amos’s sermon telling them that they were all damned. Although each of them, perhaps, privately nurtured a deep conviction of his or her own unique exemption.

The latest round of full and final settlements was supposed to put an end to racial issues and let us get on with the serious business of living together and surviving as one people, planning for the future. At the very least, the settlements should surely have given us a breathing space of a few years, before our local Mafiosi turned up again for the next instalment of the protection money. But no. No sooner have we paid out on the full and final settlements than they are back with a few more things they’d like. They are ramping up the pressure. They have got us on the run. They’re thinking to themselves right now, how much more are these stupid pakeha going to give away before they really realise what’s up? That this is a takeover. Soon we will have the pistol at our temples, and we’ll be emptying out our pockets before being thrown out of the shop. In our own country just as much as in the anguished Middle East, as much as in the indebted nations of Europe , our very own distinctive day of reckoning is coming.

Isn’t this the clear trend? Now it’s water, air, consulting rights on everything, 50:50 representation on everything, the bureaucracy following their instructions, and a racist constitution formalising privilege and, in fact, superiority  for ever? This is a takeover, and a recipe for national disaster. And yet, somehow, our leaders seem simply oblivious, either to the process itself or to any doubts about the benefits of our future destination.

Why? The only explanation is the same, on a national scale, as the belief of each of the Quivering Brethren. Here we are, you and I, Cousin Amos, warning the nation that

if we’re not careful we’ll all be damned, and our leaders, if they don’t automatically dismiss us as some sort of weird ‘right-winger’ (racial equality now somehow being considered to be a policy of racist extremists) ~ even if they don’t do that, they certainly don’t believe us. With very few exceptions our political class is short-sighted, ignorant, almost criminally complacent, and with an entirely unjustified faith in their own abilities. They’ll give us a nice cup of tea, listen very sympathetically, utter a few words of sympathy, ‘agree with much of what you say’, and give a few vague assurances. And that’s as far as it goes.

Alas, it will go further. History is indeed, as a wise man said, little more than the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind. The racial confrontation which threatens us was entirely avoidable. It has been manufactured by the stupidity of our leaders and, I regret to say, by the apathy of too many of our fellow-citizens. But it is here now, and we have to face it. We New Zealanders thought that ancestor worship was something we had left behind, if not in the Bronze Age, at least in the ancient halls and monuments of the Old Country. We hoped that we would all belong to a community based on equality of race and common citizenship. We thought our ‘tribe’ was our nation. But in an age of disintegrating empires and our own loss of confidence in the whole project of civilisation, an angry narrow racial tribalism is rearing its ugly head.

Dreadful though it will be in its consequences, however, to watch this slow tragic convulsion of a nation unfold, is, as another wise and often underestimated man, Charles II, said, ‘as good as a play’. We cannot save fools from themselves. As a shrewd lady said, you can take a horticulture but you can’t make her think. So we will just have to watch, then. It will certainly be interesting. We should try to do it from a safe distance, but that may not be possible. Sauve qui peut.

The appalling stacked ‘constitutional review’ which we are fighting at present is a fundamental part of this process of destruction. The review’s objective is to subject us to a Treaty tyranny forever, and it must be resisted at all costs. That is not to say, though, that the shape of our government may not need some alteration in the near future. The world changes; if one thing is certain, it is that good times never last. World events will press upon us even here in little New Zealand . I have my general ideas, as doubtless do you, about what those events might be, and about what changes we might genuinely need and desire as a nation in order to cope with our new situation.  I do not write about them here, much as I would like to, because to do so would distract us from the most pressing task at hand. We might well disagree among ourselves as to the details of what we would like to see. But if we are to have a ‘conversation’ as a nation, it should surely be about the actual shape of possible futures, and how we should be readying ourselves.

Such a readying, though, would not require a new written constitution. Sir Karl Popper reminds us of the difference between what he called ‘piecemeal’ and ‘utopian’ social engineering. Piecemeal reform occurs when needful in actual situations, in response to actual perils and needs. It is gradual, therefore; it respects the past, and present customs and institutions, while accommodating the future. Utopian social engineering, on the other hand, has, as its name implies, a different and radical agenda. It aims to create a perfect society, a Utopia ~ and that is impossible, as the very word, coined from the Greek by Sir Thomas More, implies, for it means ‘nowhere’. Utopian social engineering sweeps away all the past and present, all existing culture and institutions, and plans to begin again with a completely clean sheet. It is the dream and promise of revolutionaries, of Robespierre and Marat, of Lenin, Pol Pot and Mao Tse Tung. It always fails, because it misunderstands imperfect human nature, and the necessity of institutions to deal with those imperfections. But before it fails it can do immense harm.

The attempt to put Treaty ‘principles’ into a new written constitution is of the utopian social engineering sort. It shows no respect for what our nation actually is, let alone how it might survive in future. It is a tragedy that instead of a ‘conversation’ about important things, our complacent and criminally short-sighted government merely feeds greedy irredentist Maori fantasies of a racist state and Maori ruling class. It is more than a tragedy; it is a betrayal.

It is not quite too late to save ourselves, but it almost is. There is no time to be lost. The next couple of years are absolutely crucial. Perhaps the momentum is already irresistible. We are facing the slowly and carefully cultivated discontent, real or feigned, of an increasingly coherent alliance of traditional tribal Maori, radical malcontents and a very large proportion of a rapidly developing underclass. They are now moving in for the kill. We are showing bewilderment and craven stupidity. The showdown is beginning.