It’s been a while.
Today, all being well, Transmission Gully opens to traffic. I look forward to driving along it for the first time this weekend.
I thought it opened yesterday, when I read the headlines on Google News. But then I remembered that we live in the post-truth era. “Officially opened” just means opened to government officials, in particular, opened to the current Prime Minister and her cronies. Plebs like us have to wait until the very early hours of this morning.
The official name of the new road is Te Ara Nui o Te Rangihaeata. Te Rangihaeata was a Ngāti Toa chief and nephew of the Ngāti Toa warlord Te Rauparaha. In August 1846 he led the Ngāti Toa forces at the battle of Battle Hill, which overlooks the new road roughly halfway between Paekakariki and Pauatahanui. Te Rangihaeata is also famous for having been a signatory to the Treaty of Waitangi in June 1840, and for his involvement with his uncle Te Rauparaha in the Wairau Affray in June 1843. During the latter confrontation, which was the first major skirmish of the Land Wars, a stray bullet killed Te Rangihaeata’s wife, Te Rongo. In an act of vengeance, Te Rangihaeata bludgeoned to death the nine special constables of the New Zealand Company who had been taken prisoner. Later, the newly appointed second Governor of New Zealand, Robert Fitzroy (former captain of the HMS Beagle), investigated the incident and exonerated Te Rangihaeata and Te Rauparaha, on the grounds that the New Zealand Company had attempted an illegal land grab.
These days New Zealand is a less bloody interesting place, but still a place blighted by corporate grift, government graft and endemic low-level corruption. Here’s a timeline of the Transmission Gully project’s 103-year history. Have a read of the history of the project, especially since construction commenced in 2014, paying particular attention to the steady stream of delays, build errors, cost overruns, and silt running into the harbour. I think it’s hardly plausible to deny that some of those involved are on the make.
Someone once said, never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence. But why not both?
Stefan Molyneux is a Canadian political pundit and internet celebrity. In 2005, Molyneux began a podcast called Freedomain Radio (FDR) and in 2006 he started a YouTube channel. Today he has a large cult following. As of July 2018 his YouTube channel has 798,445 subscribers and has had 247,260,366 views.
By now many Kiwis will have heard of Stefan Molyneux, thanks to protesters—including Auckland’s mayor Phil Goff, the Auckland Peace Action group, and Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) president Hazim Arafeh—trying to shut down an event at which Molyneux was booked to speak. At this stage it’s unclear whether or not the event will go ahead as scheduled. What is clear is that these days Molyneux is both full of himself and full of the proverbial.
But Molyneux used to be all right.
Molyneux used to be all right. Now he’s alt-right.
Molyneux used to be a fresh and fervid anarchist. Now he’s lapsed back into full-blown statism.
It’s all very sad, but it’s worth remembering that back in 2010 Molyneux published this wee gem.
The Story of Your Enslavement
This is the story of your enslavement—how it came to be—and how you can finally be free.
I’m not your dad or anything, but it’s worth watching the video presentation or reading the transcript. Even though it’s somewhat offensive to many, including creationists and vegans, and riddled with alternative facts and flawed logic. There’s a discussion of its various shortcomings in the comment section here if that’s what you want to focus on.
Here’s the gist of it anyway.
Human society cannot be rationally understood until it is seen for what it is: a series of farms where human farmers own human livestock.
Some people get confused because governments provide healthcare and water and education and roads, and thus imagine that there is some benevolence at work.
Nothing could be further from the reality.
Farmers provide healthcare and irrigation and training to their livestock.
Some people get confused because we are allowed certain liberties, and thus imagine that our governments protect our freedoms.
But farmers plant their crops a certain distance apart to increase their yields—and will allow certain animals larger stalls or fields if it means they will produce more meat and milk.
In your country, your tax farm, your farmer grants you certain freedoms not because he cares about your liberties, but because he wants to increase his profits.
Are you beginning to see the nature of the cage you were born into?
Molyneux then goes on to describe how the illusion of freedom is maintained.
Keeping the tax livestock securely in the compounds of the ruling classes is a three phase process.
The first is to indoctrinate the young through government “education”.
And so on. There’s nothing particularly original in Molyneux’s claims. For example, the idea that we’re slaves who think we’re free was suggested by Aldous Huxley. It’s pretty much a variation on pānem et circēnsēs (“bread and circuses”) which goes back to the satirical Roman poet Juvenal circa 100 AD.
But is Molyneux right or are we living in a free world? In an important sense it’s a matter of perspective, and a matter of personal preference. Even in an ideal state of affairs—Molyneux’s “truly free and peaceful” society, a society “without political rulers, without human ownership, without the violence of taxation and statism”—people would voluntarily trade some of their absolute freedoms for security, and call the residual freedoms “liberty”. The nature of “the cage you were born into” is one that suits some people, who are relatively more free in virtue of the fact that they have no desire to leave.
What does Molyneux in 2010 tell us about Molyneux’s predicament now?
Molyneux is a free-range slave, the property of Canada’s ruling class. But he seems to have forgotten this. He’s bought back into the illusion that the government is the servant of the people.
Ask not what your slave-owner can do for you—ask what you can do for your slave owner.
Molyneux has reversed this paraphrase of JFK’s dictum.
Ask not what you can do for your slave owner—ask what your slave-owner can do for you.
And what is Molyneux asking? He’s asking his owners’ friends (NZ’s ruling class) to let him cross into and speak in their slave pen, and at the same time asking his owners (Canada’s ruling class) and their friends (Western governments) to keep Muslims out! The irony is rich. Molyneux requires permission to leave Canada and permission to enter New Zealand, and he’s only been given permission at the last minute and he’s only allowed to be here in Aotearoa for 10 days.
Stefan Molyneux will be allowed into the country for 10 days, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway announced on Friday morning.
Today’s Molyneux is an immigration alarmist. I predict he’ll have about as much success stopping Muslim immigration as climate change alarmists will have stopping anthropogenic global warming. None at all. And this is for the simple reason that setting immigration policies is not up to Molyneux or to any of his fan base. Immigration policies are set, not by human cattle, but by human farmers. And they stand to profit from mass immigration just as much as they do from burning fossil fuels.
It’s been over seven long months since the last time I just dropped in here to try to explain my absence from my own blog. In a word, depression.
I must preface the following remarks in this paragraph by saying that I regard psychiatry as a pseudoscience. I regard psychiatrists in general with contempt. Nonetheless, depression is classified as a psychiatric illness. I suffer from it myself (see link above). Regardless of the true nature of the beast, it truly is a beast. It is a life-threatening condition. Up to 10% of people who are diagnosed with clinical depression (aka major depressive disorder) take their own lives, sooner or later. Over 50% of all people who die by suicide suffer from clinical depression. In fact, 90% of all people who die by suicide suffer from depression, alcoholism, or some other diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their deaths. Suicide claims more lives than war, murder, and natural disasters combined.
Of course, all of the above has just been brought home to me yet again after I read yesterday’s blog post by my co-blogger Tim on the tragic death of his friend Bruce Davies. May he rest in peace.
I’d now like to turn to something more positive.
The whole truth is that my prolonged break from blogging has been due to more than just my mental malaise. Several other factors have also contributed to the decline in my blogging output over the last couple of years. And one of them is that over the past year and a bit I’ve been spending rather too much of my spare time learning to play the bass guitar! It’s become my obsession. In fact, I’ve gotten good enough at it that I’m now in a punk rock three-piece called Headcase. I’m on bass, Bill the drummer’s on drums, and Simon’s on guitar and vocals.
Sure, so far we’ve had only one actual band practice, but it’s early days yet. We’re going to attempt a few covers to begin with, starting with a song called Submission by the Sex Pistols, and then we’ll take it from there. Watch this space.
But as well as becoming a rock star in my spare time I really want to get back into blogging on a regular basis. I’ve missed it. I’m out of practice. And I have writer’s block. So I thought I’d warm up with an album review. And a controversial opinion, viz., that The Endless River is Pink Floyd’s best album since Wish You Were Here.
But it’s been a hell of a day, it’s getting late, so my review will have to wait. There are only so many spoons in a day.
Meanwhile, I’m very much still alive, still here, and, furthermore, I’m back. 🙂
I just dropped in to proffer an explanation of my absence from this blog for the past 18 months or so.
In a word, depression. I have been beset with mental health problems my entire adult life. I have at least four diagnosed DSM-5 disorders. Of these, depression is the worst. It is, quite literally, a life-threatening illness. Fortunately, amongst other things, my life is not mine to take. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
Things took a turn for the worse about 18 months ago. Amongst other things, the full implications of having recently been belatedly diagnosed with adult ADHD were sinking in, winter was coming, and my usual coping strategies of injudicious drug use and abnegation of personal responsibility were failing me. But what really got me in a tailspin was when the state started bankruptcy proceedings against me, for alleged failure to pay taxes. I saw my GP about my predicament and he had no hesitation in giving me a medical certificate for WINZ. The upshot is that, since last autumn, I’ve been on the sickness benefit. Yes, that’s right. I’m a ward of the welfare state. So you can see what condition my condition is in.
But that’s enough about me, I don’t want to make this post all about my personal woes. In time-honoured fashion, I want to make it about this country’s political woes. This post will be about the government’s role in providing mental health services and, in particular, it’s role in NZ’s high rates of depression and suicide.
Straightaway, let’s get one thing straight. The government doesn’t actually care. The present National government doesn’t even want to know. Why else would it re-brand what was formerly the sickness benefit as “job seeker support”? A sickness beneficiary already has a job, and they know it! Their job is to get well. Well enough to seek, find, and then hold down a permanent paid position. All of which is easier said than done for the chronically mentally ill. Some of whom should, and do, end up on the invalid’s benefit.
The government doesn’t actually care. Certainly, the neoliberal government we’ve had in this country since 1984 doesn’t give a damn. To begin with, take the fact that the suicide rate for New Zealand males aged 15-19 doubled in the course of three years from 16 per 100,000 in 1985 to 32 per 100,000 in 1988. While trustworthy statistics aren’t easy to find, it would appear that this alarming increase in NZ’s youth suicide rate has held up. I see no reason to dispute the claim that NZ now has the highest rate of teen suicide in the developed world.
Former Children’s Commissioner Ian Hassall makes a couple of especially pertinent points (notwithstanding his dubious analogy to climate change).
The critical fact is that New Zealand has the highest rate of youth suicide in the OECD. This excess of young people’s deaths in New Zealand when compared with other OECD countries must be a result of local factors.
The statistics show that whatever these factors were, they began to operate from 1985 to 1988. That was a time of social turmoil in New Zealand. The economic restructuring that was sweeping the world was imposed faster and deeper in New Zealand than elsewhere.
“No pain, no gain” was the catchphrase of Rogernomics. What it meant was that it was expected that the structural changes would be painful but they would be worth it in creating a more robust economy.
For young people, the changes were rapid and painful indeed. Suddenly, finding a job was not guaranteed and bright future prospects dimmed for many. A reduced welfare safety net meant that many were not sufficiently helped and inequality widened.
I don’t think that we can say for sure what aspect of neoliberalism is to blame, or even that we can definitively blame neoliberalism in the first place for the sustained rise in youth suicides. But it’s certainly a prime suspect.
As ever: what is to be done?
Officially New Zealand has focussed on mental health and mental health services as a means of dealing with the problem. Mental ill-health and lack of mental health services cannot explain the sudden doubling of youth suicide from 1985 to 1988.
Not surprisingly, then, this approach has failed. Mental ill-health undoubtedly has a part to play in many youth suicides, but there is no reason that this should be more of a problem in New Zealand than in other countries.
It is comforting to believe that young people will be safer if our mental health services are improved but it is largely a false hope. Saying so will, no doubt make me unpopular, but so be it.
So be it, and I agree.
Sadly, throwing more money at the problem isn’t going to help much, if at all. In fact, I submit that a big part of NZ’s current mental health crisis is down to excessive reliance on the state to fix the problem. A bigger part is due to state intervention in the first place. It is completely wrong, for example, that the state treats the simple administration of a proven cure for depression as a greater crime than rape or armed robbery, and instead busies itself funding a lolly scramble of often worse than useless placebos.
Whereas I don’t think more government money is going to fix the problem, I do think it’s downright criminal to cut funding to mental health services in a time of mental health crisis. And that’s what this National government has done. My point is that where the state has taken on responsibility for the provision of mental health services, it must honour that commitment in the meantime. Until such time as we can successfully devolve this responsibility to families, friends and support at the local community level. Faceless bureaucracy never made anyone happy.
At a time like this, it is utterly appalling that the government saw fit to cut funding to Lifeline, one of NZs biggest and long-established suicide counselling lines. And instead, allocate that funding to a “new, preferred supplier” called LaVey. All very well, perhaps, except for the six-month hiatus between Lifeline’s funding being cut and the new provider stepping in. Oh, and the fact that Bill English’s wife is on the board of LaVey! Nepotism doesn’t get much uglier. (LeVa, LaVey. Whatever.)
Now, a closing few words about the efforts of the government-funded agency Like Minds and their take the load off campaign. When I first saw their video featuring Daniel from Taihape I was immediately reminded of the disturbingly dark comicbook art of the Spanish artist Joan Cornellà.
Wait just a moment! Take another look at take the load off. What on earth is that woman friend using to get her mate Dan out of his pit of depression? That’s right, it’s a hangman’s noose.
Sure, it’s supposed to be a lasso. But seriously, what sort of subliminal message are they sending to the suicidal? The people at the agency that created this plagiaristic monstrosity sure have a sick sense of humour. (It wouldn’t surprise me if they were the same outfit responsible for Colin Craig’s election campaign material last election.)
I’m glad that I also have a sick sense of humour and can appreciate it. I hope you do too. To all my depressed friends out there, I say, life is very much worth living, no matter if it seems like a sack of shit right now. Hang on in there!
Not A Party
1 February 2017
Hello New Zealand.
My name is Simon Smythe. I put the myth in blacksmith. And the sigh in the unquestioned acceptance of a centralised government. Putting myself forward as the NAP (Not A Party) candidate in the upcoming Mt. Albert by-election happened last Thursday about 4:20 pm in the convivial atmosphere of the Manners Mall Electoral Commission Office.
My motivation for hurling myself into the bi-elecectory stoplight comes from my humbly magnanimous sense of community spirit when it comes to reminding people of their democratic right to not vote if they don’t want to.
We hear whisperings on the winds that enough is enough. Which is true in itself because enough is neither too little nor too much. But let’s not go crazy and fool ourselves into thinking that voting will have any effect on this phenomenon of enough being enough. The sentiment leads to other sentiments like… “somebody should do something!” and… “who let this happen?”
When we vote we let this happen.
The platform I’m campaigning on is all about representing the accused and maligned among us who are so often dismissed, called apathetic, and snidely looked down upon because we actively decline that most generous of invitations to vote.
As a dedicated and responsible non-voter I stand, with the rest of the NAP squad, at the vanguard of a serious and compassionate movement to illuminate and eliminate the irrational attacks of sanctimonious guilt and shame so often aimed at today’s forward thinking non-voter. The youth of today are just slackers. Somebody should make them do something.
Seriously though. The truth is, if you do vote you have no business complaining after the fact when your team lost. That’s just bad sportsmanship.
So basically our message is this: DON’T VOTE 2017. Voting is NOT A victimless crime. And have an A1 day.
Your representative and incoming Not A MP for Mt. Albert: Simon Colin Smythe.
Not A Party
7 November 2016
Not A Party (NAP) announced today that it is entering the Mt Roskill by-election race.
Richard Goode will represent the party, in its first foray into electoral politics.
Goode said he was “chuffed” to be chosen to stand for Not A Party (NAP) in the seat made vacant by Phil Goff.
“Let’s keep the seat vacant,” says Goode. “Let’s make Mt. Roskill a politician-free zone, with the rest of New Zealand’s electoral map to follow suit at next year’s general election.”
Not A Party (NAP) is the forerunner of a new breed of post-democratic political party. The party advocates a peaceful transition to a free, peaceful and prosperous society based on voluntary cooperation. “Don’t look to politicians for answers, they don’t have any.”
“Individuals and local communities know best what’s best for themselves.” Not A Party (NAP) believes in the efficacy of the man in the street. It is at a grassroots level that people understand what they need to achieve peace and prosperity.
Goode strongly supports people’s right to self-determination. So much so, in fact, that the candidate says he hopes to get no votes. “If you simply must vote, vote NAP. But why not stay home on election day and NAP instead?” He goes on to point out the benefits, “You’ll feel better for it, and be more productive.”
“DIY. Be the change you want to see. Don’t pander to the corporate oligarchs in the Beehive.” This is Goode’s challenge to the electors of Mt. Roskill.
The by-election, which was triggered when Phil Goff switched troughs, will be held on Saturday 3 December.
Eternal Vigilance is 5 years old. 🙂
According to the meaning of numbers in the Bible, the number 5 symbolises God’s grace, goodness and favour toward mankind.
The name of this blog is from a speech by John Philpot Curran, given in Dublin in 1790.
The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance
said Curran. The shorter form of the original quote is variously attributed to the likes of Wendell Phillips and Thomas Jefferson, but no one really knows who first came up with the exact phrase. Here it is in the Virginia Free Press and Farmers’ Repository, May 2, 1833.
Sadly, the sentinels on the watch-tower slumbered long ago. We’re still not free, we never have been, and likely never will be. Eternal vigilance is a big ask.
Just as well we’re not commies and we never had a first five-year plan!
So what’s the good news?
One issue close to the hearts of libertarians in general and at least two Eternal Vigilance bloggers is cannabis law reform. I’d like to take this opportunity to review the dramatic progress made towards sane, sensible and just cannabis laws in the last 5 years. Not here in New Zealand (not yet), but in the original land of the free, the United States of America.
That’s 4 states plus the District of Columbia since 5 years ago, 46 more states to go. And an unprecedented number of states will vote on marijuana this fall.
But it’s not all good news.
For example, in Colorado, fatalities and injuries on the road attributed to DUI dropped after legalisation but are trending up again. And, although arrests are down, the racial disparity in marijuana-related arrests hasn’t changed.
These things have occurred. And it is a true adage that, “what has happened once, may happen again.”
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.” (NIV)
I wonder and worry about what frightful bureaucracies may supplant cannabis prohibition in New Zealand once it is finally driven out.
Larken Rose, author of The Most Dangerous Superstition, is my favourite anarchist thinker.
The world is really damn big, and there are a lot of people on it. No kidding, right? But the near incomprehensible number of humans on the planet allows for massive manipulation and deception. To wit, if I could merely choose which events and stories you hear about—even if everything I tell you is completely true and accurate—I would have massive control over your perceptions, control over your thoughts and fears, and therefore a lot of control even over your actions. If, for example, I made sure you were told about it—and saw the gruesome images—every single time someone was injured by a chainsaw (which happens about 80 times a day), you would think it was an intolerable, shocking epidemic… a crisis! If you weren’t very good at statistics and critical thought, you might even be joining the call to have chainsaws banned, or at least licensed and heavily regulated.
As another example, if I made sure you heard about it, in lurid detail, every time someone with red hair mistreated an animal, and you were exposed to that day after day, over time you would—whether consciously, subconsciously, or both—start to think that redheads are all sadistic animal torturers. Just due to the sheer numbers of people on the planet, there could be a news channel that reported only redheads mistreating animals, without repeating the same story twice, and without ever running out of stories (provided they had a way to find all those stories). For those who want to check the math, there are estimated to be somewhere around 100,000,000 redheads in the world. If even one out of every 100,000 of those was nasty to an animal at some point, that would give our “Redheads Being Mean to Animals Network” around three unique stories a day, for a year, never mentioning the same individual twice. (After a year you could probably start over with the list of people without the viewers noticing.)
The point is, if YOUR perception of any group—any race, religion, nationality, fans of a particular band, people who wear a certain fashion, people born in a certain month, etc.—is based on what you see on a screen, or hear on the radio, keep in mind that you are allowing someone else to mold your opinions for you. And if your view of that group doesn’t match your own direct, firsthand experiences, then you are probably being lied to, and someone is probably intentionally instilling fear or hatred in you in order to serve their own agenda.
Take it from an anarchist, living in a world of people who are being taught to fear anarchists.
A quick question for the reader. What is YOUR perception of anarchists?
Allow me to mold your opinions for you.
Yeah nah. You can mold your own opinions.
Meanwhile, I pick my fights, and defending the preferred labels of the political tribes with which I’m affiliated from what I and other tribe members deem to be misuse isn’t my battle.
There’s an insuperable problem with the terms ‘anarchy’, ‘anarchism’, ‘anarchist’ that isn’t going to go away. Simply put, the trouble is that the term ‘anarchist’ (e.g.) is an auto-antonym. Check out the Collins English Dictionary definition.
1. a person who advocates the abolition of government and a social system based on voluntary cooperation
2. a person who causes disorder or upheaval
I’m a person who advocates a social system based on voluntary cooperation and the abolition of government, but I’m not a person who causes disorder or upheaval. So, am I an anarchist or not?
What do you say I am?
I say I’m a voluntaryist.