Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Stand for... Something

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  • Hilary Stace,

    I have been heartened by the public response to the proposed axing of Campbell Live. Thousands of people, for many and varied reasons, have rallied. But probably united in some vague idea that the programme has stood up for ordinary people. This could be our version of patriotism.

    I heard a rumour that its axing is to be announced this week. If so I don't think we will let it go quietly.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3214 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    Does the way the internet allows us to group in communities of interest rather than geography undermine a sense of nationhood, or highlight national differences?

    The internet appears to me at least to permit exaggerated notions of nationhood in the sense that it allows anonymous expression of extreme and sometimes offensive ideas (the polarising problem). In turn these ideas take on the status of truths in the face of contrary evidence on the ground as it were. Sometimes the exploration of these ideas leads to something else. I'm thinking vaguely about the role that the internet had in identifying what has become the SNP in the UK. On the other hand it may also serve to inflate the "gilded homeland" problem that seems to infect ex-pats the world over.

    It may allow you (us) to inhabit multiple identities, which is a rather different issue.

    Not a direct answer but then again I am an ex-pat who chose to come to NZ as an escape from a lost nation.

    Oh and some Billy Bragg

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    To me, part of the character is "I wish you well in doing your thing, but don't try and co-opt me into doing your thing on your terms as I have my thing. And if my thing includes your thing it will be on my terms". I see a few consequences of this:

    1) New Zealander's are good generalists
    2) New Zealander's are rubbish at asking for help
    3) NZer's tend to cringe at campaigns of any sort rather than joining in.

    Of course, that is filtered through my being a well educated liberal. And while my major leisure activity would probably fall into the census category of volunteering, if it was part of a movement or campaign I would probably be uncomfortable.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Patrick Xavier,

    George Bernard Shaw said words to the effect "Patriotism is, fundamentally, a conviction that a particular country is the best in the world because you were born in it" - The World , 15 November 1893. I think that's probably (a) an accurate description of the quality, and (b) not something I can really be bothered with.

    Since Nov 2006 • 49 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    I'm happy to be a New Zealander; but why should I be proud of that, as if it reflected some personal achievement?
    Not for nothing did Samuel Johnson describe patriotism as "the last refuge of the scoundrel".

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1928 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Patrick Xavier,

    I think that’s probably (a) an accurate description of the quality, and (b) not something I can really be bothered with.

    I think it's a good description of that kind of jingoistic patriotism we associate with America, "We're number one!" I think ours is more like, "I think my country's done some good shit." I would in fact argue that the most patriotic thing you can believe is that your country is capable of being better.

    3) NZer’s tend to cringe at campaigns of any sort rather than joining in.

    I do wonder if, were the general thrust of the campaign was in favour of retaining the flag, quite the reverse would have happened with submissions.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    So, basically, we're the Uriah Heep of nations, yeah?

    Which is better than being Metallica, I spose...

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2933 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Patrick Xavier,

    George Bernard Shaw said words to the effect “Patriotism is, fundamentally, a conviction that a particular country is the best in the world because you were born in it” – The World , 15 November 1893.

    He was right. I'd rather us be the best country we can be, than the "best in the world".

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2933 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    basically saying that changing the flag is a fucking stupid idea.

    I would have said "changing the flag is a fucking trivial idea"

    You want us to have a debate about what?
    Really?
    You don't think perhaps there might be other things a bit more important?
    Oh, I see, you want us to ignore the important things and spend our time this trivial flag thing ...
    Well FUCK YOU and the blue painted horse you rode in on

    I kind of think New Zealanders have a pretty good sense of the important things, patriotism isn't important, neither is the flag you wave.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    Patriotism, the old 'fatherland' or patria in 20th century clothing. Its close cousin Jingoism came from a music hall ditty from the time of the Crimean war

    "We don't want to fight but by Jingo if we do.. "

    Jingo being one of those alliterations used to avoid saying Jesus.

    Are we to really to go back to the era when movie theaters began with playing the national anthem, and everyone stood up ?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to nzlemming,

    the Uriah Heep of nations

    Yeh, though even that’s possibly too ambitious (and indicates a level of literacy that we wouldn’t feel comfortable publicly acknowledging) – more, we think of ourselves as bottom of the Heep, eh …

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1928 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    I like patriotism of the quiet kind. I suppose if I had to stick a pin in the map and choose a birthplace, there aren't many nations I'd pick before the one I was lucky enough to get. The grass isn't greener anywhere, not once you look more closely.

    But I do think we're afflicted with an overdose of fake patriotism, and it grates. You can play this game watching TV at any time - the pretty pictures, the warm smiles, the voiceover telling us we're Kiwi and we're special, and then ... guess what they're selling? It's a bank (foreign), it's a casino (foreign), it's an oil company (foreign), it's basically a corporate saying "You're stupid enough to fall for this".

    No, I'm not.

    Which is why the Flag Thing is dying on its arse. Put me in a jury room, shut out the noise from outside, and I'll probably vote for a change of flag. Or at least, for a reasoned discussion thereof.

    But keep Kiwi telling me how Kiwi special I Kiwi am and keep Kiwi manipulating my Kiwi head into Kiwi marshmallow, and I'll reach the Kiwi point where I just want it all to Kiwi go away.

    That's OK. Being unimpressed by smooth slickers is, of course, Kiwi as.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1330 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    I would have said “changing the flag is a fucking trivial idea”

    I loved how quick people were to figure this and the idea that it was a flag not a branding exercise.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Recently, I was Pub-Talking to an acquaintance, an American guy

    I've had this same conversation with many Americans, but also quite a lot of Australians. The Americans are mostly just puzzled and spend the whole conversation trying to talk the country up, as if I were somehow suffering from a lack of national self-esteem. The Australians think NZers are humble because they got humbled by Ozzie, and mostly do "gracious winners" mixed with sledging, until race relations are mentioned at all, at which point they drop silent if they have any sense.

    It's hard to pinpoint a national character in a multicultural society. I think Auckland is very different from Christchurch, for example. To me the country is mostly Auckland, but most of the country is obviously not Auckland. Also, as a middle aged person, most of my life was still in the 20th Century. But hopefully by the time I die, most of it will have been spent in this millenium. It's different, and not just because of demographic shift.

    It's going to be hard to sum up all of that in an iconic picture. Good luck to them.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    One of the things I like best about NZ Twitter, is how often I find myself talking to a public figure about something completely ordinary like kids, or pets, or recipes. I'm not sure if it's a feature of our purported egalitarianism or just that we are a smaller, and therefore, safer-feeling community, but it's quite a lovely thing.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 719 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I would in fact argue that the most patriotic thing you can believe is that your country is capable of being better.

    That is a quintessentially Kiwi thought, IMHO.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    I have been heartened by the public response to the proposed axing of Campbell Live. Thousands of people, for many and varied reasons, have rallied. But probably united in some vague idea that the programme has stood up for ordinary people. This could be our version of patriotism.

    There's a term for it: the reality-based community. A community I'm proud to be part of.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Isabel Hitchings,

    Similarly our politicians have usually been very accessible. Any community group with a gripe used to be able make an appointment with the local MP and often the relevant cabinet minister had an open door. Politicians readily went on radio or TV and they would be 'minister' for the interview but known by their first name behind the scene. No so much now. There are more gate-keepers between the people and the politicians and PR people advise what interviews to do and with whom, and who to let through the door. So Campbell Live or National Radio rarely gets a minister to front (although jokey John will readily do the soft stuff). This accessibility is part of our national identity, and I fear it is under threat.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3214 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to BenWilson,

    The Americans are mostly just puzzled and spend the whole conversation trying to talk the country up, as if I were somehow suffering from a lack of national self-esteem. The Australians think NZers are humble because they got humbled by Ozzie…

    And by way of a small footnote, many Americans have long been puzzled as to why Rupert Murdoch is generally loathed in his country of origin, rather than being a source of pride for his global success.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Beneficiaries 'scared stiff' of Work and Income
    I'm feeling a bit ashamed and embarrassed to be a Kiwi. We sure can do better.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2108 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I would in fact argue that the most patriotic thing you can believe is that your country is capable of being better.

    We should probably stop showing off about fixing everything with number 8 wire. It's nothing to be proud of.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4411 posts Report Reply

  • Paul G. Buchanan,

    A few years back I was interviewed by Rod Vaughan at the NBR about exactly this issue. Although I disagree with some of his conclusions and would modify some of my comments in light of recent events in the US, the thrust of them seems relevant to this discussion: http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/why-americans-embrace-nationhood-kiwis-do-not-rv-132371

    Singapore/NZ • Since Apr 2011 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis, in reply to linger,

    I hear what you are saying linger and 90% agree
    But there are times when I am proud to be an NZer
    Maybe because those who came had made an effort, paddling their canoes (or were they blown, lucky they had some women and food sources on board) and all the rest
    And when they got here had to really work to make a mark
    So when we talk about giving women the vote and allowing same sex marriage and all the good stuff I am proud but remembering that there have plenty of mistakes
    Thing is I don't often try to shove it down others throat

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • JacksonP, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Attachment

    I think ours is more like, "I think my country's done some good shit."

    This reminded me of a post friend Jos did, around the 100% Pure NZ debate, as I recall. Hopefully he won't mind my reposting it here from Capture.

    Chris W suggested we could improve it to 'NEW ZEALAND, NOT BAD EH?'

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2450 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    I'm feeling a bit ashamed and embarrassed to be a Kiwi.

    same

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 540 posts Report Reply

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