Thursday, May 24, 2012

Louis Crimp: the face in our mirrors

In one of the journals he kept during his long battle against alcoholism, depression, and self-hatred, John Cheever described walking into a bar and ordering a whiskey. As he waited for his drink, Cheever noticed a face in the large mirror that hung behind the bartender. A man with scarred, luminously pale skin stared at him with small cold eyes. Cheever stared back at the hideous apparition, and wondered whether he should find another place to get drunk. After a few moments, though, he realised that he was staring at himself.

With his two appearances in the media over the past week, Louis Crimp has allowed Pakeha New Zealanders to look into a mirror. Many of us don't like what see.

The aged Crimp has a cadaverous face and a mouth that seems unnaturally small. He speaks slowly, with a slight lisp, and without the euphemisms and qualifications common to mainstream political discourse in New Zealand. In his interviews with the New Zealand Herald and TV3, Crimp has expressed his hatred of Maoridom, and his disappointment at the failure of the Act Party, to whom he gave one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars last year, to take the fight to 'the savages'.

Crimp's statements have been condemned by all of New Zealand's mainstream political parties, including Act, and by both left and right-leaning political pundits. But the criticisms of Crimp cannot disguise the fact that he expresses, in his acerbic, homespun way, the opinions of many Pakeha. Crimp is not, as some pundits have argued, a senile old fool, or a hopeless eccentric: he is the authentic face of Pakeha chauvinism. We can no more disown him than John Cheever could disown the face he saw in the mirror of that bar.

Talking to the Herald's David Fisher, Crimp denied that Maori were "real New Zealanders", and claimed that their culture consisted entirely of "waving their spears and poking their tongues out".

Crimp's bluntness may have discomfited many Pakeha, but his view that Maori culture is something pre-modern, and consists mostly of dancing and chanting by semi-naked men, is widely shared this country.

In the early nineteenth century New Zealand was used as a name for Maoridom, and Maori were the only people described as New Zealanders. After they had won control of these islands from Maori in the second half of the nineteenth century, though, Pakeha appropriated both 'New Zealand' and 'New Zealanders' for themselves. When Pakeha guidebooks and museums depicted Maori, they were treated as an archaic people, whose culture was alien to the modern New Zealand of dairy farms and railways. Such a view ignored the Maori adaption to modernity in the nineteenth century, which saw them building their own flour mills by the dozen in the Waikato and electrifying the town of Parihaka in the Taranaki, and creating new forms of art, like the painted Ringatu meeting houses of the East Coast, in response to influences from Europe and elsewhere.

In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries Maori have continued to assimilate technological and cultural developments made elsewhere in the world. Writers like Hone Tuwhare, artists like Ralph Hotere, and scientists like Peter Buck have all fused modern ideas with a Maori worldview.

For too many Pakeha, though, Maori culture still consists of men in grass skirts waving taiaha and poking out their tongues. Louis Crimp's brutally reductionist view of Maoritanga is by no means marginal or eccentric.

In his interview with TV 3's Jane Luskin, Crimp attacked the Maori language as useless, and denied that it should receive state recognition or funding. For long decades, the Maori language was nearly competely absent from New Zealand schools, and from New Zealand public life. Asked to study in a second language, many Maori children did badly at school, and entered the workplace without skills. After a long campaign by activists and academics, Maori was made an official language of New Zealand in 1987, and state funding was made available for Maori-language primary and secondary education.

But these developments do not entitle Kiwis to feel smug, because the policies that led to Maori educational failure for much of the twentieth century are being inflicted in the twenty-first century on the speakers of this country's other Polynesian languages. The Leo Bilingual Pacific Language Coalition was founded in 2010 to protest the refusal of successive New Zealand governments to allow youth from the Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau, Samoa, and Tonga to study at school in their own languages. In South and West Auckland, a new generation of Polynesian youth is struggling to learn an alien language. The co-founder of the Language Coalition, Judy McFall, says that Pacific Islanders are tired of having their language skills treated as "learning deficits" rather than "learning advantages". Louis Crimp might as well have authored government policies towards Pacific Islands languages.

Crimp displayed another venerable feature of Pakeha ideology when he complained, during his chat with Luskin, that the Maori language is unknown "out of New Zealand". Crimp seems unaware that languages closely related to Maori are spoken in more than a dozen Polynesian nations, and that more distantly related members of the same Austronesian language family are used everywhere from Vanuatu to central Vietnam.

Crimp's ignorance of the many relatives of Maori in the Pacific and in Southeast Asia is related to the geographical delusion which has been common amongst Pakeha since the nineteenth century. New Zealand sits deep in the South Pacific, at the other end of the world from Europe, but Pakeha have often tried to believe that we live on an island anchored comfortably off the coast of Britain. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century Pakeha talked of Britain as "home"; today we still act as though we live in the northern hemisphere, consuming British and American television programmes and movies, and taking our holidays in London and Disneyland rather than Nuku'alofa and Apia.

One of the more torturous responses to Crimp's statements has come from Chris Trotter, who has long struggled to reconcile his left-wing politics with his loyalty to North Otago, one of this country's whitest and most conservative regions. In a column for The Press called 'Telling the Majority "Where to Get Off", Trotter conceded that Crimp was 'a redneck', but argued that his views were shared by many New Zealanders, and suggested that this gave them a certain legitimacy.

Trotter noted that, in a recent referendum, the citizens of the Waikato District voted heavily against the creation of Maori seats on their local council. Trotter seems to consider this vote a triumph for democracy and universalism, and a setback for 'separatism'.

I've spent the last couple of days in the Waikato District, on a property close to Hukanui, one of the most ancient and important marae of the Tainui people. In the 1860s Hukanui was the home of  a man named Hakopa Te Waharoa. In 1864, after a Pakeha army had invaded the Waikato and pushed King Tawhiao and most of his supporters south into the sanctuary of the area known today as the King Country, Waharoa was asked by his countrymen to stay behind, and given an unenviable task. Over the next few years he exhumed scores of bodies from the slopes of Te Kopu Mania O Kirikiriroa, the sacred hill in the centre of the place known today as Hamilton, and reburied them semi-secretly in the country around Hukanui.
After capturing Hamilton, Pakeha knocked down the altar on the summit of Te Koopu Mania, tore up the taro plantation at the base of the hill, and let their sheep graze over an ancient Tainui graveyard. Eventually they would use shovels, picks and wheelbarrows to demolish the hill itself. The desecration and destruction of Te Koopu Mania offers one example of the ferocity with which the conquerors of the Waikato worked to erase the traces of their predecessors from the landscapes they had won by war.

Tawhiao led his people out of exile in 1881, after the signing of a peace deal, but they had to suffer a new type of isolation, as confiscations and discriminatory laws and practices made them into second-class citizens in their old homeland. Parliament banned Maori from practicing their own religion and from sitting as jurors on cases involving Pakeha, and many businesses in the Waikato refused to take customers with brown skins. As late as 1955 the lower Waikato town of Pukekohe was branded the 'Little Rock of New Zealand' by the Auckland Star, after the revelation that Maori were refused access to its pubs and its barber shops. In 1960 the American sociologist David Ausubel enraged Pakeha by publishing a book which compared regions like the Waikato to the segregationist southern states of his homeland.

 Maori responded to their exclusion from the mainstream of Waikato life by creating their own institutions. After his return from exile Tawhiao had founded a Maori parliament, a Maori bank, Maori police, and Maori courts. The King Movement persisted through the twentieth century, and in 1994 was given some measure of Pakeha recognition by the signing of the Tainui Treaty settlement.

In the recent referendum, Waikato voters rejected the notion of Maori seats on their local council by a margin of about four to one. A fifth of residents in the Waikato are Maori, and the overwhelming majority of them choose to vote on the Maori roll at general elections. It seems likely, then, that the recent referendum split the Waikato along ethnic lines, with Pakeha voters rejecting Maori seats and Maori voters favouring them.
Such a result is hardly surprising, when we remember that no Maori candidate has been able to get elected to the Waikato District Council for the last twenty years. A form of de facto political segreation exists in the Waikato, as the council caters to Pakeha interests, and the King Movement represents Maori. The King Movement's parliament and the District Council's offices stand close to one another in the central Waikato town of Ngaruawahia, but they might as well exist on different planets.

The history of the Waikato shows the absurdity of Chris Trotter's attempt to present the recent referendum as a contest between universalism and Maori 'separatism'. For a century and a half, the Maori of the Waikato have created their own institutions in response to the tyranny of the Pakeha majority which conquered and occupied their territory. The Pakeha of the Waikato do not vote against Maori seats on their council out of a commitment to universal human rights and democracy, but out of the same prejudices and obsessions which made their ancestors desecrate and destroy Te Koopu Mania o Kirikiriroa.

Like Louis Crimp, the recent referendum in the Waikato shows us the real face of Pakeha chauvinism. As John Cheever knew, a mirror doesn't lie.

[Posted by Maps/Scott]

45 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

ugggggghhhhhhhh
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pompeya_er%C3%B3tica6.jpg

3:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

isn't segregation a strong word to use?

9:40 am  
Anonymous che tibby said...

"isn't segregation a strong word to use"

not when it describes reality.

the same attitude was common in C19th taranaki, and continues today in places like whanganui.

10:24 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PEOPLE LIKE U WIND UP IN THE 'TOILET' OF LIFE

11:20 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good on Chris for sticking up for white New Zealand. We are the decent and silent majority.

11:25 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks-ist comments aint PC, but this guy looks like a stereotypical bigot, gurning his pathetic emotionalism like pus rising in a head-sized boil.

12:38 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crimp is not a redneck, he's a bigot. This lunatic has made his money through casinos and other dodgy "entertainment" venues. What evidence do you have that Crimp has worked hard in the outdoors, like real rednecks do?

2:53 pm  
Anonymous E P Thompson said...

http://www.isj.org.uk/index.php4?id=812&issue=134

3:55 pm  
Blogger Karla Akuhata said...

Just wanted to say I seriously dig this post. Ka pai to mahi.

9:33 am  
Anonymous Chris Miller said...

If ONLY more white people were silent, Anonymous. Seems to me (as a white person!) that you racists make far, far too much noise.

10:36 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It says a lot about the white left in NZ that somebody like Chris Trotter can find a place in it. It must be difficult to attempt entryism on the Polynesian race with people like him around eh?

11:03 am  
Anonymous Lew said...

It says a lot about the white left in NZ that somebody like Chris Trotter can find a place in it.

Col. Trotter has not so much "found a place" in the contemporary NZ white left as been grandfathered through on the basis of (increasingly distant) historical achievements.

L

11:12 am  
Anonymous Miss_Whanau said...

What an excellent post. Filthy comments in reponse to this only highlight the prejudice that still exists today.

2:12 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts. As Louis Crimp has said, there are few Maori in Invercargill. Therefore the crime rate in Invercargill should be an order of magnitude lower than that of (for instance) Counties-Manukau. Not so. Confounding the fact that over 50% of the incarcerated population of New Zealand is Maori with the unfounded proposition that 50% of the crime is committed by Maori is a gross distortion of the facts. Our young Maori have to deal with this canard on a daily basis.
The difference in crime rates between Counties-Manukau can easily be explained by the differences in age distribution and relative deprivation.
No academic study has yet backed the proposition that Maori per se have a higher than average crime rate. That they have a hugely excessive incarceration rate should worry us all.

9:01 pm  
Blogger Jaz said...

Scott, when you look in the mirror do you really see Louis Crimp? I shouldn’t think so! And I really don’t think this demented man is in any real way expressing the opinions of most pakeha in NZ. Now, that is not to say that many pakeha, and non-pakeha, in Aotearoa don’t hold some racist views. But it is just plain wrong to say that most pakeha have a hatred for Maori, that they believe that the indigenous population of Aotearoa are all savages, and that the idea that ‘Maori aren’t real New Zealanders’ is a commonly held view.

Some of the arguments you make do point to some truths on the colonisation of Aotearoa/NZ. However, because you frame this discussion within an identity politics/post-colonialism paradigm, this does lead to you giving a rather skewed view on the history of pakeha and Maori relations. For example, you seem to be saying that the colonisation of this country was a process of all pakeha winning ‘control of these islands from Maori’. So, if pakeha have always been some collective and united unit, then that hardly explains the periods of intense class war at certain points during New Zealand’s history.

I do think we need to challenge racist and backward views amongst pakeha. But if we start from a position that most white New Zealanders are carbon copies of Louis Crimp, then we have immediately lost the battle to shift pakeha working class consciousness.

1:40 am  
Anonymous Scott said...

You make some fair points Jaz. I've always tried to argue that Pakeha-Maori relations shouldn't be seen in moralistic terms, with Pakeha as evil and Maori as the righteous victims. I think history shows us that no people is intrinsically good and bad, and that it is forces like economics, demographics, and environment which determine whether one group dominates another. I think it's notable that many of the Pakeha who came to these islands and took land off the Maori had themselves been dispossessed in places like Highland Scotland during the Enclosures.

Having said that, the sheer hostility to Maori amongst Pakeha in many parts of the country, including the Waikato, has to be experienced to be believed. And the history of segregation in places like the Waikato is very real. Maori know these things, as the comments on this post show, but many members of the Pakeha intelligentsia don't.

To be fair, there are parts of New Zealand - usually places where Maori have the demographic advantage, and there isn't a history of war over land - where Pakeha have much better relations with Maori. Hokianga, Kawhia, the eastern BOP, and the Limestone Country north of Raglan come to mind. In those areas we have sometimes seen joint Maori-Pakeha campaigns over issues like seabed mining. That is a hopeful sign...

7:33 am  
Anonymous Lew said...

I think it's notable that many of the Pakeha who came to these islands and took land off the Maori had themselves been dispossessed in places like Highland Scotland during the Enclosures.

This forms a crucial part of my (Pākehā) family relationship to Māori -- my Otago grandfather was a Scottish immigrant. Although quite unreconstructed in many ways, he brought his kids up to side with the Māori on the grounds that they were being oppressed by the English, just like his ancestors were.

L

10:31 am  
Anonymous Keri Hulme said...

Crimp doesnt know 'his' Invercargill very well - Kai Tahu arnt neccessarily *obvious* to his rheumy eyes, but we are around - and have been co-habiting intermarrying with
Second Settlers since the 1820s.
The Scots empathy - especially in the south - is wellknown. Many Kai Tahu have Scots as well as Maori forebears (in my own family, 2 Orkney sisters married 2 Kai Tahu brothers.)
But - the larger picture that Scott has given is regrettably accurate for other places in our archipelago.
How do we change it?
With difficulty BUT - there is generational change. What drives shrivelled characters like Crimp has changed over the generations since I was born -and that doesnt only apply to Pakeha perceptions: in the 1960 tobacco fields of Motueka, we used to cheerfully sing "I'm not a coconut, I'm a Maori" (ignoring the fact that several of our workmates came from Rarotonga...)

3:33 pm  
Blogger Daniel Francesc Benson-Guiu said...

Kudos to this post Maps, down here at the University of Otago we have a landmark example of Pakeha racism. The Uni was built through Maori hard labour, and the Maori were political prisoners from the King Country and Parihaka.

Our education system has a lot of questions to answer. When I got to New Zealand from Catalonia a couple of years ago, I was not given the chance to do Maori at school- subsequently all I have learnt has been online. It is a sad reality.

3:45 pm  
Anonymous Keri Hulme said...

Daniel - roads were certainly built with the illegally-imprisoned people from Parihaka: I have never encountered evidence that such labour was used for building the U of O.
I wasnt given any option to learn Maori at secondary school ( AHS, 1960-1965) let alone at Canterbury University (law student, failed, for 2 years, 2 years later on.)
*You* have excellent opportunities to learn Maori - on-line is an excellent way to begin (lucky bastard!) No reira - kia kaha, kia tonu ki te tika- n/n Keri

4:13 pm  
Anonymous Keri Hulme said...

O Daniel? Another word to the wise?
Nobody from the South who is Maori says 'down here'-why?
Because south is actually the top of this sphere we call Papatuanuku, and north is the underneath...

4:48 pm  
Blogger Chris Trotter said...

I must say, Scott, I'm disappointed. You are generally a very fair writer, but your selective quotation from my column is anything but fair.

You focused on the Waikato District, but said nothing about the vote in Nelson, or the unequivocal findings of the Colmar-Brunton poll on Maori representation.

Nor did you acknowledge that the core of the column's argument was actually with Joris de Bres, who argued that the decision to reshape local representation should actually be taken out of local hands.

My response to Crimp was exactly the same as yours - we may not like his views, but they are real and it is dangerous to ignore them.

I expect to be made a whipping-boy by people like Lew Stoddart, but I was saddened to encounter the same sort of petty name-calling and liberal-left bigotry on your blog.

10:44 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Chris, Chrimp here. When were you coming around for tea again? Let your misses tell my misses.

Great minds, like minds!

your friend, 'ol Crimp.

2:23 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

Hi Chris,

I agree that the question of Maori wards should be on local hands - but it ought to be in local Maori hands. Letting the Pakeha majority vote on whether it wants reserved seats for the Maori minority is an absurdity of Pythonesque proportions, considering that Maori seek these seats precisely because they feel marginalised (to put it politely) by the majority.

If your position is that you don't oppose Maori seats, but that you believe that such seats should be supported by the general population, then I think you're equivocating. Quite clearly the call for general support for the seats is the same as opposition to the seats.

12:11 pm  
Blogger Chris Trotter said...

There are a host of democratic objections to what you propose, Scott, not the least of which is the deviation it represents from the principle that every vote should be of equal value. But, I'm sure you realise this.

What separates us (and always has) at the most fundamental level, is the way we choose to define the New Zealand polity.

I see New Zealand as a collectivity of human equals who, though divided by class, gender and ethnicity, nevertheless hold to the view that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and that participation in the identity "New Zealander" is something to be both valued and defended.

You appear to see New Zealand as an historical fiction: a group of disputed islands inhabited by radically mismatched human cultures, which must, eventually, settle Humpty Dumpty's brutal political question: "Who is to be Master, that's all."

I suspect you see your country this way because your understanding of its history and the profound injustices it encompasses makes it almost impossible for you to lay the past aside. And I suspect this will remain the case until you, if I may be permitted to quote scripture, are prepared to "let the dead bury their dead".

3:06 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

The irony of your position, though, Chris, is that, in the Waikato District and similar areas at least, it reinforces political segregation and Maori 'separatism'.
If you got your wish - and in the Waikato you certainly have - then the ethnic polarisation and confrontation you fear would become more likely.

Because Maori can't get elected to the Waikato District Council, and because they're used to this sort of problem, they use Maori institutions, most notably the various aspects of Kingitanga, to push their political barrows. They see the Kingitanga parliament in Ngaruawahia as their voice, rather than the District Offices in the same town. At the moment, then, the Waikato District has two parallel political systems, and the Kingitanga remains a sort of shadow state, just as it was in the 1880s, after the return from exile.

If Maori wards were introduced in the Waikato District then we'd quite possibly see, over the medium if not the short term, a weakening of the divisions between the Maori and Pakeha political worlds in the region, as Maori became more integrated into its 'official' political system. The Kingitanga's prestige might even decline as a result.

It's notable that a number of the civil servants who work for the Waikato and also the Hamilton Councils appear to favour the creation of Maori wards. I don't think they hold such views because they're followers of Tame Iti, but because they realise that the business of government would be made much easier if Maori were incorporated into the mainstream political system.

I remember you writing some time ago about the way that workers who are denied the right to form and run effective unions have a tendency to embrace underground forms of organisation and illegal forms of action. The history of these islands shows that the same tendency has long existed amongst Maori.

Given the risk that unlawful action presents to them, capitalists are often wise to tolerate legal unions. In the same way, wouldn't anyone interested in preserving the stability of the New Zealand state be sensible to support the creation of Maori wards in local government, and similar institutions elsewhere?

3:36 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

North Otago certainly is a pretty White area but that has changed a bit in the last 5 or so years, with migrant labour for the dairy industry.

It is pretty common now, in rural areas with high concentrations of dairy farms, to encounter Filipino or Indian immigrants in numbers that were unknown 5 years ago. Now I guess one could say something similar was true in Oamaru proper, in the 1970s when there was a large PI community working in local industry.

I don't believe that this necessarily makes Oamaru or North Otago any more conservative than any other rural area though.

2:34 am  
Blogger Chris Trotter said...

I would be interested to know, Scott, how the campaign for Maori wards on the Waikato District Council was run.

I do not believe it is beyond the power of Maori and sympathetic Pakeha in the area to come up with an appeal persuasive enough to enlist the support of a majority of electors.

Such a campaign might even employ non-violent direct action to sharpen the focus of the decision-makers and sting the conscience of the locals. The historical knowledge of people like yourself would be invaluable here.

As New York Governor, Al Smith, said in 1923: "The cure for the ills of democracy is more democracy."

If the Maori people of the Waikato, working with sympathetic Pakeha, demonstrate a passionate desire to become part of the district's democratic processes, I am confident that they will succeed.

In the words of the Black abolitionist, Frederick Douglass: "Power concedes nothing without a demand - it never has and it never will."

10:52 am  
Anonymous Scott said...

I think that a majority of Waikato Pakeha will support Maori wards at about the time that Ulster's Orangemen stop parading through Catholic districts and Australians sign a Treaty with their Aboriginal peoples, Chris.

But the point is that Maori have a right to their own electoral wards regardless of Pakeha opinion.

Your view that majority opinion in local areas ought to determine the rights of minorities is untenable.
You allude to the American Civil Rights movement, but if it had been left to popular opinion in the South then African Americans would still be sitting at the backs of buses and still be excluded from ballot boxes. In the same way, the Dalit and tribal peoples of India would still be denied jobs in the civil service and spots in parliament if majority opinion had been respected by the Indian state.

In the US and in India, central governments repeatedly acted, under pressure from grassroots protesters, against the democratically expressed wishes of local majorities to uphold the rights of minorities. Sometimes cops and troops had to be brought in, and brute force had to be used to over-ride the democratic will of the racist majority.

I doubt whether you're opposed to Dalit and tribal electoral wards in India, and desegregation in the American South, and yet the logic of your arguments against Maori electoral wards would commit you to such stances.

5:26 pm  
Anonymous Keri Hulme said...

Re Oamaru & Otago being whitewhitewhite - quite apart from the earlier -and still prevalent- first settlers (Maori) continuing to dwell in the area (and quietly influence matters) - there has been been, from quite early times insofar as the second settlers are concerned, a considerable Chinese presence (as in people who came to ANZ and still identify as Chinese in origin.)
Chris Trotter, who isnt an Otago resident, but is a racist, ignores both groups as irrelevant.

Sad, really. He's right up there with gimpy catsarseholed-mouth rheumy-eyed nasty wee Crimpy-

6:22 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To position ourselves aright, so far as God's final "suddenly's" are concerned, is to locate ourselves aptly and appropriately alongside and in the Spirit of the Lord. Such an alignment is accurately and vividly prophesied by exiled Ezekiel, in his vision of a river flowing from the altar of the Temple. (Ch. 47)

Here we see, with the prophet, the whole historical, New Testament flow of the Holy Spirit. From Calvary through the desert (of this world), and on into the Dead Sea which it heals...i.e. ultimate worldwide revival, culminating in "the resurrection at the last day" and "life from the dead".

Therefore, it now behoves us to join the prophet (not as observers, commentators and critics on the banks), but in the River which is swollen with the final purposes of God, and which is "deep enough to swim in - a river that no one could cross"!

10:45 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalitstan.org

10:51 pm  
Blogger Chris Trotter said...

The one great difference between the struggles of the Southern Blacks, the South Africans and the Dalits, and what you are advocating for Maori, Scott, is that the former were seeking full admittance to the rights of citizenship in their native land.

"Separate but equal" was the slogan of the segregationists, and "Bantustans" the creation of Apartheid.

And, Keri. Those sort of self-righteous denunciations might have worked in the 1980s, but they don't work now. Go tend to your whitebait nets.

11:25 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Maybe a bit hard on old Chris but it is great stuff!! He sits somewhere in the middle like a great King of the Left! But I have to have to say I often sit on the fence a bit...but I think Scott is right in principle on this one as "democracy" {in fact can be and often is one of the worst (words, ideas?) of our society. The US use the word and then bomb the crap out of any one who disagrees with them. The other dangerous word is "freedom".

When I hear "fair" or "freedom" or "democracy " I reach for my (toy) machine gun (or a big old Cynical Dictionary to throw at someone)...

It's a pity Tama iti is in jail by the way... The cops and the "fair" and "democratic" and "free" "justice" Labour-National-Green-Act-etc Party system pulled a real racist one there...

Take Trotter back to Shadbolt's "Syphilization" for civilisation...

12:26 am  
Blogger Richard said...

I meant to quote this!

12:28 am  
Blogger Richard said...

The System expunged my requote of keri hulme, so please just imagine it's up there!

Big Brother is on Chris's side!

12:31 am  
Blogger skalusanini said...

Really interesting blog! hey, could you please include a little link I can click on to subscribe to it.
Greetings from a Kiwi-Croatian living in France...

12:43 am  
Anonymous Scott said...

I'm not so sure about the distinction you make between the demands of the Dalits and the demands of Maori, Chris.

The Dalits and the tribal peoples of India have fought for electoral wards of their own, of the sort that Maori have been demanding in places like the Waikato District. Considering that the Dalit demand is, like the Maori demand, extremely unpopular with a majority of voters, would you want to see the Dalit electoral wards which now exist in a number of Indian states abolished?

Such a position would seem to be consistent with your claim that the demands of a marginalised minority must be endorsed by an oppressive majority before they are granted by the state.

8:29 am  
Blogger Chris Trotter said...

At the risk of taking this thread well off topic, Scott, it is possible to argue that the creation of special Dalit wards represents a retreat from the strongly egalitarian thrust of the original Congress programme.

Indeed, the campaign actually concedes the struggle for full equality by acknowledging that, like your Ulster Orangemen, Hell will freeze over before higher caste Indians vote for a Dalit.

You can go that way, of course, arguing that even a flawed system of representation is better than no representation at all. But, surely, it is more consistent, ethically, to fight against inequality and prejudice than to give it a victory by default in the form of special representation.

Liberal America relied upon non-representative avenues - particularly the courts - to steal an end-run around local prejudice. The result, predictably, was that the Right successfully manoeuvred to take control of the judiciary.

Winning hearts and minds takes longer, but is ultimately a surer foundation than reliance on top-down solutions.

Anyway, have fun at the Workers' Party conference. (I wondered what or who had stoked your sectarian fires.) I hope the comrades enjoy your presentation.

10:16 am  
Blogger avaiki nius agency said...

...

Maybe if those black kids who got blasted with high pressure hoses and bitten by police dogs were given lessons in ethical consistency the US wouldn't be in such a sad state today, ay Chris?

Hey, might even help Maori get over their whole thing about Pakeha-society-stole-our-entire-resource-base-now-we're-dependent-on-Pakeha-society - because New Zealand is sooo strong on ethical consistency.

...

11:03 am  
Blogger Chris Trotter said...

Try reading Dr Martin Luther King's "I have a Dream" speech, ANA, especially the part that talks about judging people not by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.

That's what those black kids risked fire hoses, police dogs - and worse - to achieve.

At the cost of a devastating civil war, Black Americans had won the right to be treated as free and equal human-beings, been granted US citizenship and seen their new status enshrined in the US Constitution.

One hundred years later, the fight in the states of the old Confederacy was to make Black citizenship meaningful; to ensure that the US Constitution was enforced in all the states of the Union.

The world does not contain any better examples of ethical consistency - or courage.

11:27 am  
Blogger Richard said...

Good points - but one small point you mean "one hundred years earlier"...?

I think there is that general slowish progress but there are still injustices. In relative terms there is a kind of legal and ethical process.

But there are still contradictions andrpbems as there always be. We cant sit back and think that some Tory farmers voting Maori out of a place in the system in the Waikato is progress... Read Luther King but don't forget the way the Hamiltonians and Waikato Ruggers reacted so violently at the Spring Bok Tour game in 81 (And not much has changed don't give me that one...)

The degenerate behaviour they exhibited there - there words included commos, bungas, niggers, jews and much else as they beat up people already injured including women - it shows to me that we have even in the last 20 or more years made so much much ethical progress I am afraid. (But in relative ways, yes, the US is "better" than they were slaughtering the Indians or the Aussies trying to exterminate the Aboringals and in NZ the whites were hoping that Maori would die out, and I think many still are...so I can understand that some Maori might even want to take violent action..

The NZ Wars aren't over. Tama Iti is in jail.

11:55 am  
Anonymous Scott said...

Thanks, Chris, but I was under the impression that the Workers Party tended to agree with you about Maori nationalism! Have the comrades changed their line?

Richard, I agree with you when you say that the New Zealand Wars are not over. Walter Benjamin said in the 1930s that the nineteenth century was a nightmare from which his contemporaries had not been able to awake: we might almost say the same thing, today, when we look at the state of Maori-Pakeha relations in places like the Waikato.

As you know, the idea that the Waikato War is in some peculiar but profound sense a contemporary event is one of the premises of the doco Paul and I are trying to make about the Great South Road. I'd like to make the Waikato War and the twenty-first century merge in our film, in the way that Geoffrey Hill made King Offa's reign and postwar Midlands history merge in The Mercian Hymns.

1:59 am  
Blogger Richard said...

Good project - important to NZ. The "Great Wars" we hear about almost ad nauseam, and they were important, but we neglect our own history right here..

And it's good to see Keri speaking up for her Maori people. I can understand her anger.

And yes, the comparison to Geoffrey Hill's project is good. Also David Jones of (for em) "In Parenthesis" I used some lines from that in my IP...he (and Hill) connects history in way that makes it seem simultaneous everywhere..in this technique many writers have learnt from Pound's Cantos. Zukofsky also and Williams C Williams grounded large works in their own and general history...Zukofsky dealt subjects ranging through and with Bach, music, and Marxism and the personal...etc

Who (part from Dee Brown of "Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee" has dealt with or made literature and art from or through the plight of the American Indians? I am sure there are some examples. Patrick White is one who works with Australian history and also the Australian aborigines etc and I once read Frank Hardy's book...

You have done some great poems on related subjects parallel to Smithyman's...there are others and some good novels etc

And indeed the NZ Wars still affect us.

2:18 am  
Anonymous Lew said...

Winning hearts and minds takes longer, but is ultimately a surer foundation than reliance on top-down solutions.

I agree with this, but how many generations are the oppressed expected to wait for the bigoted majority to come to their senses?

There's a chicken-egg problem with this. While a group remains shut out of civic life and the exercise of social and political power, they have little hope of winning hearts and minds. Minimal access to those avenues, even if artificially provided, yields much greater opportunities for longer-term, organic change.

Of course there's a balance between the "pure" revolutionary, holistic, bottom-up approach and the more incremental -- perhaps more ethically conflicted, but also more immediately effective -- strategy of using whatever liberal mechanisms exist to overcome majority inertia.

But in the NZ context, who are a bunch of white folks -- who benefit from and are at least tacitly complicit in the business of oppression -- to dictate to Māori how they should run their strategy? Who are we to tell this generation that they must maintain a pure and principled strategy that didn't work, as opposed to less-pure strategy that does work? Is the object ethical purity, or actual progress?

If you want to support Māori, support Māori initiatives, rather than trying to impose your own upon them. Let them live with the consequences of their decisions. That's tino rangatiratanga. Where Pākehā support is conditional on Pākehā approving the purity of Māori strategy, it's just another, softer sort of oppression.

L

9:51 am  

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