Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Still not all that Super?

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  • giovanni tiso,

    When people hear the word Fascism (with a capital F) they often think of Hitler's Fascism. Mussolini's Fascism was less focused on 'racial hygiene', and more on the merger of state and corporate interests.

    You guys are nuts and need to stop it right away. And quite frankly, the European Commission and lots of left leaning governments are also enthusiastic about running local services through corporate models. This doesn't mean they are freaking Fascists.

    (Under Fascism, boy and girls, there were no elections, no freedom of speech or of the press, you could be jailed for being against the government, the schoolbooks were rewritten so that all of Italian history could be taught as a prologue to Fascism, groups of fun-loving black-shirt-wearing people would organise punitive expeditions against unlike-minded fellows (or gay people), opposition MPs - before opposition was made illegal altogether - were being beaten to death... oh, and we invaded a couple of African countries who could barely defend themselves and proceeded to gas their citizens. Just like life under John Key, ay!)

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    If this was really as serious as the talk of fascism above, we'd be out on the streets, right?

    Otherwise perhaps a little simmering down until he (they) start actually running a single party state, espousing Darwinian Elitism or enrolling Rangitoto College students for rallies down Queen Street in jack boots.

    Mind you, cancelling school balls and banning after parties does seem a bit dictatorial, now you mention it.

    And what Gio said.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    what Gio said...

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Just FYI, these are the "policy detail" bullet points from Act's local government policy at the last election:

    - Local government will be required to shed its commercial activity, thereby eliminating the need to separate regulatory and commercial functions between local and regional councils.

    - Roads and piped water will be supplied on a fully commercial basis.

    - Abolish the local government power of general competency.

    - Require councils to focus on their core functions.

    - Ensure there is much greater scrutiny of regulations that undermine property rights.

    - Promote contracting out of many council services.

    - Lower the cost of complying with the Resource Management Act and other regulatory regimes.

    - Review the two-tier structure of local government.

    Core activities are defined thus:

    - Commercial activities are best performed by the private sector because they have more incentive to innovate and deliver better services. Local government should progressively shed ownership of its commercial activities.

    - Local government should be confined to the core activities that produce general public benefits, such as regulation, flood control and roads.

    And everything else should be speedily divested to the private sector.

    It doesn't seem like much of a stretch to think that Hide's bill would have been written with his party's principles in mind.

    An article in Local Government New Zealand magazine considered the issues early last year:

    While it’s true that the Act party’s local government policy contains substantial reform (and would, if implemented, have a considerable impact on local democracy as we know it today), these policies are not echoed in National’s manifesto and there is no mention of them in the joint agreement between these two parties for this next parliamentary term.

    The reality is that when any minister (from a small political party in a confidence and supply arrangement with a larger party) holds a government portfolio (and in this case it is the local government portfolio), he effectively holds it as a Government minister.

    Therefore he does not have free range to implement his own party’s policies but must work within the conventions of collective responsibility regardless of whether he is in Cabinet or not. So any programme of reform within that portfolio area must have the full backing of the whole Government.

    I think Hide got his way in writing the bill and thanks to the clamour of protest has been marched back a few squares by National (whose local government manifesto policy was, it must be said, vague).

    Humorous end-note: the Act document complains about "Dictatorial powers that remove freedom and choice."

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    So the alternative is? What word exactly covers the general actions of National?

    If I might be allowed a whole phrase, I'd say "not big on process." A string of studies, commissions, reports and negotiations have been canned or ignored, while the PM indulges a tendency to make policy by press conference.

    It does annoy me.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Otherwise perhaps a little simmering down until he (they) start actually running a single party state, espousing Darwinian Elitism or enrolling Rangitoto College students for rallies down Queen Street in jack boots.

    Danielle, finally our time in the sun!

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    "Dictatorial powers that remove freedom and choice."

    LOL. Removing freedom and choice is kinda core to dictatorial powers so that's a nice tautology.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    Thanks for the Act manifesto Russell...

    Did you notice the contradictions?

    - Local government will be required to shed its commercial activity,

    - Roads and piped water will be supplied on a fully commercial basis.

    - Local government should be confined to the core activities that produce general public benefits, such as regulation, flood control and roads.


    So, local government should be confined to core stuff including roads, roads should be supplied on a fully commercial basis, and then it should get rid of all its commercial operations (like roads)?

    Local councils should only do the stuff they should get rid of?

    Did I get that right?

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 893 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    You guys are nuts and need to stop it right away. And quite frankly, the European Commission and lots of left leaning governments are also enthusiastic about running local services through corporate models. This doesn't mean they are freaking Fascists.

    I hope you don't mean me, but I suppose you do. I twice spelled out that life under John Key is not fascism. One can say that a mouse slightly resembles an elephant in some respects without claiming that they are the same thing, you know.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    Hyperbole, much?

    No.

    If I might be allowed a whole phrase, I'd say "not big on process."

    Not big on legitimate process?

    I think this is one of the occasions where English fails us. We need a made up word (the German language makes up compound words to reflect new things) that 'reflects reality' (as Craig suggests).

    So the National government is does-not-believe-in-legitimate-process?

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    One can say that a mouse slightly resembles an elephant in some respects without claiming that they are the same thing, you know.

    It's obviously not how the word Fascism was introduced in the conversation. And, more to the point, the mouse (National) resembles an elephant (Fascism) as much as a cat (Labour) does. So what's the point of making the comparison? And then of course there's the far more serious issue that if we devalue the word, if we call anything we don't like Fascist, then should politics in NZ really take a totalitarian turn we'd be out of words to describe it.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    Hey you one-tenth-of-the-way-to-being-kinda-but-also-kinda-not-necessarily fascist!

    Not a very good protest chant is it.

    Two! Four! Six! Eight! Rodney's crimes are very great!

    Great meaning large or immense! We mean it in the pejorative sense!

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Calling Rodney Hide a fascist might make people uncomfortable, but his behaviour and decision making has been the central and most disturbing aspect of the supercity fiasco. It should by now be clear to everyone that Rodney Hide considers democracy to be an impediment to "efficient" governance and, if given the opportunity, he always prefers corporatist, authoritarian and technocratic solutions to democratic ones. To my mind, this makes him at least fascist in tendency, and I have no doubt on his performance so far that when push comes to shove, his fascist inclinations run a whole lot deeper than his democratic ones. As far as I am concerned, Rodney Hide is "new era" fascist in the Berlusconi mode and he does not believe in the primacy of democracy. He is an utterly unsuitable man to sit in our parliament. One only hopes the voters of Epsom will finally rid us of him next election.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    And then there's the interesting image that accompanied Rod Oram's opinion piece (in last month's SST) about the Auckland governance changes; looking out over Auckland (viewed from North Head), was a superimposed Hide with his arm outstretched in a 'heil hitler' salute. That's not to say that Rodney had actually done that salute; but a photo of him stretching out his hand to make a point had been slightly skewed so that the hand went up, instead of out. The intention of the image maker was pretty clear and no-one without a shred of history could not mistake the image.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Two! Four! Six! Eight! Rodney's crimes are very great!

    Great meaning large or immense! We mean it in the pejorative sense!

    Where were you in the mid-90s when I was trying to make up protest chants for students?

    (My favourite: "One, two, three and a bit! Lockwood Smith is full of..." It's what you don't say that counts).

    To my mind, this makes him at least fascist in tendency

    "Rodney Hide is tending towards being a Fascist! Down with people who are a bit like Berlusconi!" Nope, still not doing it for me.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    As far as I am concerned, Rodney Hide is "new era" fascist in the Berlusconi mode and he does not believe in the primacy of democracy.

    Ye gawds. You mentioned two politicians who couldn't be more different. And what you insist in calling Hide's Fascism is in fact is avowed neoliberalism: a current of thought with precise orientations and history and aims, which is entirely worthy of your contempt and strenuous opposition, except you won't be able to do a thing until you learn to recognise it and call it by its proper name.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    Evil neo-liberalism?

    Poverty-inducing-neoliberalism?

    Community-destroying-neoliberalism?

    Bad-for-everyone-and-the-environment neo-liberalism?

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    To those crying about the use of the F word to describe Rodney, do I have to remind you that he was the prime engineer of the abrogation of democratic process in Canterbury?

    Yes it's a far cry from fascism in the historical sense, but the parallels are there: suspending elections; governance by corporate interests; imposition from on-high of structures for local administration against the will of the administered; legislation to deny recourse to the courts in favour of commercially-expedient outcomes...

    Gio, I didn't realise the liberalism, even of the neo variety, extended to deeming democracy and its processes to be an inconvenience that must be subverted, denied, or ignored whenever possible. ie: at all times outside the electoral cycle. Because that's what we're seeing from Rodney.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Gio, I didn't realise the liberalism, even of the neo variety, extended to deeming democracy and its processes to be an inconvenience that must be subverted, denied, or ignored whenever possible. ie: at all times outside the electoral cycle. Because that's what we're seeing from Rodney.

    Liberalism, no. Neoliberalism, yes.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Ye gawds. You mentioned two politicians who couldn't be more different. And what you insist in calling Hide's Fascism is in fact is avowed neoliberalism

    Hah! Why I should I listen to you? Because you come from Italy and you clearly fancy yourself the world expert on the subject? The trouble is the track record of your countrymen would indicate very poor judgement when it comes to spotting fascists until it is to late.

    If both fascism and Hide's neo-liberalism are incompatible with democracy, and both favour authoritarian governance, what's the difference?


    Neo-liberalism is just fascism in a business suit.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Joshua Arbury,

    While it's usually not particularly constructive to throw heavy words like fascism around, it is worthwhile having a look at what making the CCOs exempt from sections 59,60, 64 and 74 of the Local Government Act, as originally proposed by this bill, would have meant.

    In short, council would have had almost no control over the CCOs, the CCOs would not have had to be responsible employers and would have been able to ignore their statement of intents (thats what section 59,60 and 64 do) while Auckland Transport would have been completely exempt from the local govt OIA equivalent.

    Auckland • Since May 2009 • 237 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    Hah! Why I should I listen to you?

    Well, Tom, the reason I'm listening to him is because he's doing whatever the internet equivalent of talking calmly and reasonably is.

    As opposed to barking and frothing at the mouth while chewing the carpet.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Gio, in the parlance of wikipedia, [citation needed].

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    Gio (and correct me if I am wrong here) is talking about European experiences of fascism, particularly in Italy, which gives rise to a particular meaning associated with the word.

    That meaning seems to be very particular, definite and ahistorical. The meaning seems not to be able to be applied within recent NZ history, for obvious reasons.

    However, we have no experience of fascism as meant by Gio; rather our historical and present political experience has been one of a string of small minded men (and odd woman) making executive decisions in the belief that those decisions are best for the country (Rodney's behaviour has historical roots; think of Birch's Think Big projects, Douglas's use of the TINA doctrine, Richardson's Mother of all. Present day examples are clear; Rodney's SuperCity, Smith and Carter's ECAN'T debacle)

    This political behavioural pattern is what is being described here, by many. This behaviour in today's context is over-reaching itself (as it did in past years), leading many to frantically cast around for some word to describe it - leading to an easy and clearly mis-appropriated use of the word fascist.

    Should we adopt and lift fascist out of its European meaning for use here in Aotearoa, or should we make the effort to find another word?

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Because you come from Italy and you clearly fancy yourself the world expert on the subject?

    Not a world expert, no. Knowing more than you, by a long shot. And not because I'm Italian either, simply because you don't know shit.

    If both fascism and Hide's neo-liberalism are incompatible with democracy, and both favour authoritarian governance, what's the difference?

    Why not call it Nazism then? Why not Stalinism? Not everything that is anti-democratic is Fascist. Friedman in fact had dealings with Pinochet, who was a Fascist, so it's not as if there haven't been collusions between the two - a fact that should certainly continue to give us plenty of pause. But Friedman wasn't Pinochet. Neither was Douglas. Neither is Hide. And the ideas of Friedman - do I even need to say it? - were introduced in this country by Labour (was Lange a Fascist?) and still enjoy far more credit than they should amongst so-called moderate economists. Amongst Obama's experts, for instance. We need to fight those ideas, point out they don't work, point out they're anti-democratic. Saying that the people who espouse them are Fascists doesn't do that, it just make you look silly.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

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