Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The stone age man cometh

You really need to look at the rather odd pronouncements of the leader of her majesty’s opposition, Donald Brash, and scratch your head and wonder. Where on earth does this strange man come from? A man who allegedly washes his own socks on hotel basins to save money. What on earth is going through his head as he makes his bizarre and lordly pronouncements from the pulpit every year. Does he truly believe this complete nonsense or is he just saying these things because, like Winston Peters, the ultimate political tart with no personal convictions at all, he thinks they might get him a vote or ten.

I guess I’ve thought about this a little bit on and off over the past year, since last year’s Orewa speech (“state of the nation”?..sorry but it makes you sound like a pompous wanker Don..I think you're both of those but far more dangerous than that implies), which really could be summed up in those two overused words “cheekie darkies”, playing on the good old fashioned political truism of joseph average thinking “who the hell do they think they are”, “they” being anyone perceived as getting something for nothing. A little bit of hateful envy always gets a few votes. This year’s speech plays on more of the same, being “bloody bludgers”, but more especially “bloody cheeky darky bludgers”, a good old traditional National Party policy platform since the days of Holyoake and before. Positive, forward looking, policy has never been a strong point for the Nats. And like the earlier lecture, the essense of it is scaremongering with a purpose and little substance.

Which brings me back to Brash. Does he really believe all this negative crap or does he do it to get votes? Don Brash, for all his faults (and if he ever becomes prime minister of our nation, those, god help us all will quickly become evident for all) is simply a good old fashioned conservative ideologue, like Ruth Richardson- cold, determined, driven and unable to see the wood for the ideological trees (and those on the hard left suffer exactly that too). Far more dangerous than the likes of Winston. Conservativism by its nature is a reaction against change, a longing for the good old days when things were better..the good old days which more often than not never actually existed.

Hitler offered this to the German people in the thirties. For Bush et al, it’s a longing for the days where America was great, had done its bit to free the world from the threat of Nazis (most Americans still seem to believe they did it single handedly) and those other “funny looking” (remember when they couldn’t really be a threat because they had bad eyesight) people from the east, was a bastion of decency against the evil empire and TV was good with Mr Ed and other words before they were humiliated by a third world nation in the making in the sixties. That was part of what Gulf War One was about…look we are still great..look..look.

And that is a substantial part of the appeal of Bush, with his grotesque inauguration parade, to the Fox generation now.

Brash too, truly believes there were better days, the days when pregnant daughters were sent up north and their unspoken offspring were adopted out to decent families, when Maori knew their place and paid their dog taxes with pleasure and handed their land over for public works without compensation and white middle class know, good Christian working men, quietly ran a solid crime free nation and kept a close benevolent eye on the natives who weren’t quite up to looking after themselves.

A soulless but righteous society.

But as most of us know, this world never really existed but the myth is enough for the conservative ideologue like Brash, never one to let a little human decency get in the way of an ideological position. And history is often little more conservatives pulling backwards with a dream of a return to their mythical better world, grasping at the past while, hopefully, the rest of the conscious planet is trying to work out how to create some kind of better world, even if we stumble now and again .

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