So when I first heard yesterday's Speech from the Throne given at the State Opening of Parliament I simply cringed. The god of Number 8 Wire was invoked, 'KiwiSaver' and 'Buy Kiwi' were evident, and the usual platitudes and bromides were in evidence, but on top of all that the phrase , 'The New Zealand Way' (capitals mine) was intoned no less than seven times. Seven! In that sense it is this year's 'Closing the Gaps'TM -- and we all know what happened to that. This though is not simply cringe-worthy, it is a statement of intent. The Speech from the Throne is no hastily-thrown-together thing -- this is a carefully calculated statement of intent, one for which, make no mistake, Government Power and the Government's many cronies and community-workers are already being mustered.
What then, acccording to Her Majesty's Government is The New Zealand WayTM, and what has it got to do with this Government's programme for the next three years? Here are all seven descriptions for you, in order of their use, with my own comments in italics.
- "[The New Zealand WayTM] is an approach founded on New Zealanders' creativity and innovation, on valuing both inspiration and aspiration, and on seeing our size and place in the world not as a limitation, but as offering opportunities to succeed."
That is, we value those who produce and make things happen: ie., we -- the Government -- need you.
- "The New Zealand WayTM is much more than the clichés of 'number eight wire' or 'punching above our weight'. It is based on the belief that as a confident, diverse, inclusive Pacific nation, we can work together to find new opportunities and market our best ideas profitably to the world."
That is, you -- the productive -- need us -- the Government -- in order to prosper in the harsh world beyond our shores. Lone wolves need not apply.
- "...an approach founded on a distinctly New Zealand WayTM of working. This approach aims to be inclusive, forward looking, and focused on lifting the aspirations and developing the abilities of all New Zealanders."
Blah, blah, platitude, platitude... Working for Families... bromide, bromide.
- "...one of the most distinctive features of the emerging New Zealand WayTM is our sense of national identity, confidence, and creativity."
Look for more Government-driven 'debates' about our 'national identitity' -- followed, as Colin James observed, by the New Zealand WayTM coming to be defined oddly enough as 'The Labour Way.'
- "The New Zealand WayTM has always been to move forward together, recognising the independence of individuals, while pooling our collective talent for the good of our economy and society."
That is, you -- the productive -- WILL work with us -- the Government -- in order to prosper. Get the message!? 'You will do what you are told, for the "collective good" of the country. If you do, you'll get a biscuit.'
- "Pride in the achievements of all New Zealand communities and peoples must be seen as a cornerstone of The New Zealand WayTM ."
Note that pride in individual acheivement (Galt forbid!) is not mentioned. 'Out damned spot!'
And here's the pay-off, they hope:
- "The election result has given my government the opportunity to build on The New Zealand WayTM of working that has emerged over the last six years."
That is, 'if this works out, we'll have made New Zealanders ready to accept any Government-mandated silliness, and the New Zealand way really will have become The Labour Way.'
But who is going to sling it there?
The received wisdom from the Ninth Floor of the Beehive may be that we are all collectivists -- or can all be persuaded to be so -- and while that may well be The New Zealand WayTM that has been uppermost in Helengrad these last six years, I would hope that Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition and many loud voices around New Zealand will be raised against it. It may be that this Parliament may be slow in the sense of little legislation being passed, but with this speech the Clark Government is signalling its intention to use the platform of Government and all its resources as a 'bully pulpit' to change the culture to one that overwhelmingly endorses collectivism. No wonder the shenanigans at TVNZ have been going on. They've been using the schools for years to that end; now they're just preparing to be more open about it.
It remains to be seen whether anyone in Her Majesty's Opposition knows or understands the antidote to this poison: the philosophy of individualism. Rest assured, they will be able find ammunition to that end right here.