Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Browns, reds, and rednecks: the real meaning of Ansell's new ad

I think Chris Trotter is being rather too generous when he presents the new advertisement John Ansell has produced for Act as a work of malevolent genius.

Whilst it was predictable that the left and Maori nationalists would respond to Act's new ads with derision, the reaction from the right has been very interesting. For many National and Act supporters, Ansell's latest work seems to have created not enthusiasm but bewilderment.

Compared with the famous Kiwi/Iwi billboards Ansell created for National's 2005 election campaign, the new advertisement is extraordinarily turgid. The ad opens with the rhetorical question 'Fed up with pandering to Maori Radicals?', but the relationship between this portentous heading and the acres of small print beneath it is rather mysterious.

Ansell wants to convince us that radical Maori are about to destroy New Zealand, but the evidence he offers is underwhelming. It's hard to see how National's failure to abolish the Maori seats or the Geographical Board's decision that Wanganui should be spelt with an 'h' has brought this country to the brink of a race war. It is not surprising that even many Act supporters have suggested that Don Brash and his team would be better off junking the ad and focusing on more substantial issues, like the state of the economy and Labour's proposed Capital Gains Tax.

For his part, Ansell has been unable to understand the indifference of many in the Act Party party, let alone the rest of the country, to the message in his new ad. In a series of contributions to a comments thread at Kiwiblog, Ansell has complained that New Zealand is 'full of white cowards' who refuse to 'fight for civilisation' against 'the Maorification of everything'. Between them, Ansell says, brown fascism and white cowardice have made New Zealand 'a joke' and a 'Third World country'.

What Ansell's ad represents is not some audacious new marketing campaign, but the irruption into the political mainstream of a very involved conspiracy theory which has previously been quarantined in a peculiar cranny of the far right.

For decades now, a relatively small number of right-wingers have been warning that a shadowy and sinister alliance of Maori radicals, Marxists, United Nations technocrats, Wellington civil servants, feminists and 'politically correct' scholars is working to impose a sort of red-brown dictatorship over New Zealand. While the academics falsify the past, repressing a secret alternate version of the Treaty of Waitangi and covering up evidence of the pre-Maori white civilisation which supposedly existed in these islands, the radicals and feminists are busy undermining the patriotic feelings and patriarchal family structures that lie at the heart of Kiwi civilisation, and the technocrats are pushing through legislation which, little by little, makes a Maori-commie dictatorship inevitable. In books like Geoff MacDonald's Shadows Over New Zealand and Stuart Scott's Travesty of Waitangi and on websites like Trevor Loudon's New Zeal and Muriel Newman's NZCPR the conspiracy has been catalogued and denounced at extraordinary length.

If Ansell sees an obvious connection between his ad's apocalyptic heading and its ho-hum small print, it is because he sees the small print through the prism of conspiracy theory. For most Kiwis, even those with right-wing political opinions, the Geographical Board's decision that W(h)anganui ought to be spelt with an 'h' is a fairly trivial matter; for Ansell and other true believers in the brown-red threat, though, the Board is not a group of civil servants delivering an isolated decision on a scholarly matter, but a cabal of enemy agents launching the latest battle in a vicious but undeclared war. In much the same way, National's abandonment of its proposal to abolish the Maori seats was not the product of a pragmatic desire to woo the Maori Party after the 2008 election, but rather evidence that John Key, like so many of his predecessors, had been 'gotten to' by the shadowy forces which threaten the freedom of all white Kiwis.

John Ansell's recent comments on Kiwiblog make it clear how completely he has succumbed to the brand of conspiracy theory developed in recent decades by New Zealand's paranoid right. As well as making predictable complaints about the Maori seats, Ansell found the time to condemn 'feminazism' and the teaching of 'socialism' in New Zealand's schools, and then went on to claim that both the 'true' version of the Treaty of Waitangi and the 'true' story of the white 'tangata whenua' of New Zealand have been covered up by enemies of the white race.

Ansell has clearly been reading or conferring with Martin Doutre, the 'archaeo-astronomer', 9/11 Truther, and Holocaust denier who has emerged in recent years as the favourite pseudo-scholar of redneck conspiracy theorists. Doutre believes that a technologically advanced Celtic civilisation existed on these islands thousands of years ago, and is a champion the so-called 'Littlewood' version of the Treaty of Waitangi, which is actually a scrap of paper no Maori ever saw, let alone signed.

For reasons that are not entirely clear, Doutre believes that if the reality of 'ancient Celtic New Zealand' and the 'Littlewood Treaty' were ever accepted, then contemporary New Zealand politics would be turned upside down, and organisations like the Waitangi Tribunal would be out of business. Doutre is convinced that a politically motivated cabal of academics and museum curators is working constantly to discredit his views on New Zealand history.

The conspiracy theory I have been describing has enjoyed the odd prominent supporter in the past. In the late 1980s, for example, the police detective turned National MP Ross Meurant regularly warned that sinister Maori forces were preparing to seize power over New Zealand. Muriel Newman, who has enthused over Martin Doutre's strange ideas, was an Act MP between 1996 and 2005 and served for a time as the deputy leader of the party.

But neither the National Party in Meurant's day nor Act in the late '90s and early noughties ever endorsed the anti-Maori conspiracy theory. As the leader of the National Party in 2004-2005, Brash campaigned against Maori nationalism using a lightly revised version of the assimilationist ideology popular in Kiwi politics for most of the twentieth century, but he steered clear of conspiracy-mongering.

Act's recent decision to endorse what was for so long a fairly marginal conspiracy theory has to be understood in terms of the peculiar sociology and history of the party. Act was established by a clique of politicians and businesspeople who had benefitted from the 'reforms' to New Zealand's economy in the late '80s and early '90s. These well-heeled folk had liberal social views and an enthusiasm for the way that capitalism was obliterating the boundaries between national economies and cultures. Their leader and hero Roger Douglas roamed the world, preaching the gospel of the free market and dispensing advice in capital cities as distant as Moscow and Ulan Bator. Douglas expected the newly-formed Act to sweep all before it in New Zealand's first MMP election in 1996, but only a narrow section of the Kiwi population had been enriched by the reordering of the economy of the late '80s and early '90s, and Douglas' party only just struggled over the 5% barrier and into parliament.

In an effort to broaden its base, Act soon began to appeal to the politics of what sociologist Paul Spoonley has called 'the radical petty bourgeoisie'. Insular and socially conservative, suspicious of economic as well as cultural globalisation, and as hostile to bankers as to trade unionists, the small farmers and small business owners of the radical petty bourgeoisie had in the past supported organisations like the kooky Social Credit Party, the anti-semitic League of Rights and the obsessively anti-communist Zenith Applied Philosophy cult.

Act's willingness to make the right noises about bludging beneficiaries, dangerous Maori, and tidal waves of crime drew a layer of angry white folk into the party. In the fora of websites like Muriel Newman's NZCPR, the old anti-semitic and anti-communist conspiracy theories transmogrified into the red-brown conspiracy theory which is so enthusiastically upheld by John Ansell today.

Act has always struggled to balance the views of its radical petty bourgeois grassroots members with those of the Roger Douglas fans who have dominated its leadership and full-time staff. In recent years the radical petty bourgeois wing of the party has grown in influence, largely as a result of the departure of many of the true believers in neo-liberalism. The placement of the disaster-prone David Garrett high on Act's list before the last election symbolised the growing influence of the rednecks.

Now the rednecks seem to have won the ear of Don Brash, who is desperate to get Act's poll ratings out of margin of error territory. For the first time in many decades, an elaborate and bigoted conspiracy theory is being promoted by a mainstream New Zealand political party.

[Posted by Maps]


Anonymous M said...

I don't know how to disagree with you so wont. Just to say well done in your continued analysis of this thread of the far-right.

10:45 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

Nothing is worse than agreement, M, especially on the left! What distinguishes us (or ought to distinguish us) from the right is our continual intellectual infighting (the right only fights about short-term tactics and money and whose God to believe in)! That's what I tell Skyler when she objects to my snide remarks about trade unionists who support Labour and the Greens, anyway...

10:58 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


11:14 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


11:15 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim from neckred.blogspot.com wants a race war. He's in Waitakere.

11:15 pm  
Anonymous RK Meros said...

I wrote in an appendix to the 4th ed of my Helen Clark/Young Lover book a rather simplistic analysis on the basis of the right being competition; the left being co-operaton. This supposedly meant that the right would fracture - they are, in t-party fashion, the party of anti-government - and the left would consolidate. The joke was that the left was inhabited by some subconscious rightwingers who need to be purged before this great leftist cooperative project can work.

p.s. your new book has been formatted very strangely - all of these enters and line breaks, sentences that just leave off on one line and continue on the next. What's that trick called?

8:35 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God will punish you for this.

11:54 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ansell’s comments insulting to women
Monday, 11 July 2011, 2:44 pm
Press Release: National Council of Women
11 July 2011

“Comments made about women by the mastermind of the ACT party’s ad campaign are derogatory, discriminatory, insulting and completely wide of the mark,” National Council of Women NZ (NCWNZ) President Elizabeth Bang said today.

NCWNZ is a long established not for profit organisation whose objective is to improve the status, quality of life and well-being of women, their families and the community.

Elizabeth Bang was commenting on John Ansell’s remarks that women don’t use their brains when making hard decisions and are less focussed on improving society than they are on keeping their relationships intact.

“Mr Ansell’s comments are in the same vein as those of disgraced former Employers and Manufacturers CEO Alasdair Thompson. They are unsupported by evidence and imply that women’s contribution to society is of less value than men’s,” Elizabeth Bang said.

“The National Council of Women has been working for over 100 years to improve the status and quality of life not only of New Zealand women, but of their families and their communities.

“Our endeavours have made a very significant contribution to the social and economic fabric of this country. For example, our success in getting women the vote and subsequently getting women into Parliament has enabled New Zealand to benefit from the leadership of two outstanding women Prime Ministers.”

Elizabeth Bang said another example is NCWNZ's ‘Reclaim the Night’ Campaign, which contributed to ACC overhauling its clinical pathway process to better support the needs of victims of sexual assault.

“To someone who thinks women don’t talk bluntly, NCWNZ has some blunt words for John Ansell - haul yourself out of the 19th century and enlighten yourself.”


12:25 pm  
Anonymous Terry said...

Ansell's enthusiasm and lapsing into the completely unacceptable but is standard fare in political campaign rooms - left and right. David Fisher always does very good work at he is to be commended. A cohesive left is impossible, suffering from the incoherence akin to the notions of what is 'green'. If we perhaps pursue a goal focused process as opposed to messianic and ideological visions, (and that concept is not exclusive to notions of the L or R), the sin of agreement may be tolerated.

1:36 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know that scientists have shown that conservatives have a larger fear centre in the brain, but what you've described here flies past paranoia into outright mental illness category. Good lord.

2:17 pm  
Blogger Dave Brown said...

The trouble with the argument about ideological extremes is that it tends to treat ideas as separated from historical and material reality.

ACTs history represents attempts to impose radical capitalist solutions to falling profits in the period since Douglas and co hijacked the 4th Labour Govt and National took over the mantle under Ruth Richardson. Its project is to complete the so-called neo-liberal revolution.

ACT has been more successful as part of the NACT regime making big gains for its class, but falling short of what is required to solve the crisis facing NZ as a weak and declining semi-colony.

To do that they need an all out attack on workers, gutting welfare, driving down wages, eliminating rights and preparing for the inevitable working class uprising. But these attacks mean an major economic defeat which workers will not take lying down as the uprisings in MENA and Europe show.

So the NACT regime cannot win majority support for these attacks. The CGT is a no brainer, asset sales to mums and dad has been sprung etc. there is growing hostility to cabinet dictatorship eg. in ChCh and in attacks of basic freedoms.

Hence the NACT bloc (Key has not disowned Brash's outbursts) has to break up the working class majority (as has been done repeatedly in NZ history) by more extreme attacks on Maori, women, youth, migrants in the name of the 'nation'.

The 'underclass', 'Maori radicals', unruly youth, 'criminals' and 'boat people' are all targets which are designed to divide petty bourgeois and redneck sections of the working class against the most militant and advanced sections.

Drawing on whacko theories or fake science (e.g. biological arguments misused to rationalise patriarchy etc) to prove that these categories of people are more backward, stupid, dangerous, inferior (or just conveniently different) etc provides the populist rationalisations for attack on the working class. Brash showed in 2003 that he was part of this with his 'one law for all' which blames Maori, women, youth etc for their 'failure' to compete as equals so that 'special treatment' is a threat to national unity.

The ruling class attacks on the working class threat to its class rule at a time of crisis, by demonising sections of the working class to divide and defeat it, and which proceeds means of a coup against democracy, has a name - its called fascism.

ACT is not a throwback to the 20th century or a 'dinosaur' out of its time in the 21st century in the sphere of ideas that can be defeated by liberal ideas. That fails to understand its real material base and its potential threat which can only be defeated by cutting its material roots.

ACT is a proto-fascist party that is consciously adopting fascist type appeals in an attempt to build popular support. It has clear material roots in the ruling class confronting a crisis to its class rule. Its object is to create a social movement capable of smashing the working class.

NZ historically is a heavily class divided society in which the petty bourgeois have been rallied to smash militant workers. Those lessons need to be revived today. In recognising fascism as a growing threat the working class can organise itself confront it and smash it before it becomes a decisive force.

2:32 pm  
Anonymous Meros said...

Is that you, Dave?

3:24 pm  
Blogger Chris Trotter said...

I think it only fair, Scott, to acknowledge that the ad' which ended up being published in the NZ Herald was not the ad' that John Ansell submitted to Brash and Boscawen.

I would also take issue with your assumption that the ideas espoused by Ansell on Kiwiblog are restricted to an insignificant minority of the population.

Academic surveys (such as the NZ Study of Values) have shown consistently high levels of opposition to the Treaty of Waitangi.

I suspect this opposition is merely the most salient manifestation of a more general hostility to the phenomenon Ansell calls "The Maorification of New Zealand".

It was this generalised hostility to all things Maori - not nostalgia for the old policies of assimilation - which fueled Brash's 17-point lift in the opinion polls after Orewa.

That hostility has not disappeared because National has allied itself with the Maori Party, it has merely found alternative means of expression.

The vicious attitudes which emerge in any discussion of child abuse, or welfare cheating, are proof that anti-Maori feeling hasn't gone, it's merely acquired a new disguise so as not to embarrass Key and his government.

Ansell's intention was to persuade that part of New Zealand that has bitten its tongue for two-and-a-half years in the interests of right-wing unity, to start shouting its disapproval - before Chris Finlayson and his ilk decide to give away the whole farm.

Brash and Boscawen remain to be convinced that this course of action is acceptable.

They remind me of the leaders of aristocratically supported nationalist parties of the Weimar Republic when confronted by the "revolutionary" columns of the Nazi Party.

They were tempted, but they were also worried about "going too far".

Ansell has been trying to convince his own "aristos" that it is only by "going to far" that the monolithic right-wing bloc which Brash himself created between 2004 and 2006 can be broken down into its constituent parts.

He argues, probably correctly, that there is at least 20 percent (the share of the popular vote won by those "kooky" social-creditors in 1981 BTW) of the right-wing vote available to a party of unabashed radical conservatism.

Remember, Scott, it's not your vote that he's after.

4:19 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

heh heh nice bit of satire on Act and the Celtic NZ crowd here

6:21 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Chris Trotter still alllowing his work to appear on the website of Muriel Newman/the Coastal Coalition? If so he is part of the John Ansell propaganda machine.

6:23 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL from that Kiwipolitico link

ACT’s announcement of the second ‘Don’ in the ‘Don and John’ lineup today was well-received, and if I may be so bold as to say so, I think the author of this letter also has a lot to bring to their table. I quote it in full:

Taniwha real
In reply to Dusty Miller (letters, July 1), I’m not one of those experts, but I do believe the taniwha to be real, not imagined, and I’ll tell you why.

Perhaps the ancient Celts of New Zealand may never have known war or possessed weapons, as prior to Maori being brought here by Zheng He New Zealand had never been threatened internally nor externally and there was no need.

However, New Zealand was visited by Viking ships and Scottish birlinns (a birlinn is similar to a Viking ship) which used to trade with resident Celts. The sailors of these vessels were fierce, battle-hardened warriors with far superior weaponry and military discipline compared with Maori.

As the bow and stern design of these ships is similar to the head and tail of the taniwha, I could well imagine that the sight of them would strike paralysing fear into the heart of any Maori confronted by them, and for this reason I believe the taniwha represents these ships.

Believing this to be the truth of the taniwha, I would not think these ships could be found in a small creek or marshland because of their size.

Taniwha artwork is yet another example of Maori following the culture of those who came here before them, the Celts.

I believe Mr Brougham’s Qualifications for Candidacy are Strongly Evident in this Letter. It provides a striking yet unconventional Insight into New Zealand history, weaving back together the varied strands of the rich Tapestry of our origins which Revisonist Historians who hate their own Culture have spent hundreds of years unpicking. In particular, he illustrates comprehensively how Maori, far from being Indigenous, were simply the first wave of Hostile Asian Immigrants to these fair shores. He shows due respect for our Noble Celtic Elders, who were clearly Men who thought like Men, and he recognises their manifest superiority over the Maori, in Warfare, Navigation, Art, and undoubtedly in other Fields as well. Despite his modest claim to not being an Expert, he is clearly Learned, but this does not prevent him Sharing his bountiful wisdom with others, as Readers can see by his patient Explanation of what a ‘birlinn’ is.

6:25 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and there's more...

To the people of Wanganui.

When Maori arrived in the greet fleet under the command of Admiral Zheng He,the chinese pirate/trader, their slave master who abandoned them near the shore, they were abandoned as male only. Their offspring were taught the language and customs of their mothers, the Ancient Celts, from Scotland, who are commonly known as Moreore [ Gaelic name Ruairdh Mhor, sounds "Rory More"].
To preserve the myths of Tasman and Cook the Gaelic Language had to be extinguished, or the truth would be known. Unfortunately for Tasman and Cook the Ancient Celtic culture was left untampered, which is the culture still practiced by maori today.
When the missionaries rewrote the language they deleted many consonants and added a vowel ending, but it was done phonetically. if they had allowed an "F" sound it would have been written as "F," not "WH."
The coastal areas of Wanganui and Taranaki did not use the "WH" sound, only the "W" was pronouced. Hence, the city is called Wanganui.
The news media are partly to blame for the problems that we are having now, they are hell bend on protecting Maori. They refuse to print anything that goes against maori belief. As one editor of a local Wanganui paper said [ We try to avoid controversy where possible] It is the media's responsibility to tell the people the truth, this is not happening,the truth has been witheld.

Ian Brougham

6:39 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ansell has been repeating his bs about the Littlewood document to Maori TV

7:13 pm  
Anonymous Time to fight said...

When are the hand wringers ever going to learn? For every second this continues our nation and our economy is risked, not to mention lives endangered and property damaged. Containment is not the answer, massive force is.

11:02 pm  
Anonymous Lew said...

"Containment is not the answer, massive force is."

'Time to fight', that's an awful thing to suggest. Even about the ACT party.


11:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I don't know how to disagree with you so wont. Just to say well done in your continued analysis of this thread of the far-right."

Hmmm... looks like I'm gonna have to get off my ass and get a real Id, otherwise I may end up being confused for this other "M" character!


4:46 am  
Anonymous Meros said...

Just switch it upsidedown and you can be dubya, ideologically speaking.

8:52 am  
Anonymous jh said...

It seems to be a typical tactic of Scott Hamilton to appear right by shooting down a red herring such as "Lennon didn't say" or "Celtic New Zealand" and therefore I'm a clever boy and I'm right about the evilness of the settler state and goodness of pre European Maori society.

10:45 pm  
Anonymous jh said...

I gotta say, concentrating on extremist views is disingenuous unless they have got themselves in influencial positions. I don't believe this argument about maorification has anything to do with Celtic NZ. It has to do with real changes such as giving Maori ownership of the foreshore and seabed etc under the guise of a number of questionable ideas such as: Maori culture dictates that they have a sacred duty to look after the atua for the next generation (Maori aren't just like the rest of us they have a culture you might find only in a work of fiction). The treaty has a wide interpretation but translates at one end as a blank cheque. In addition the evils of colonisation live on; Maori are a tribal society closely related to the land and we inhibit that through our presence (otherwise known as competition for resources).

11:37 am  
Anonymous Keri H said...


"Maori culture dictates that they have a sacred duty to look after the atua for the next generation..."

what on earth are you imbibing?

That is nonsensical bullshit.

8:55 pm  
Anonymous jh said...

"Maori culture dictates that they have a sacred duty to look after the atua for the next generation..."
apologies to the atua (pass it on thanks). I meant the whenua.

I think it is everyones duty to look after the whenua and that Maori shouldn't pull rank just because they have ancestors who were here before non Maori.

6:42 pm  

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