Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The new and the old

Tony Milne, the former Labour candidate for Rakaia, has started a blog: I See Red. As can be seen from his first post, one of his key themes is what Colin James has called "cultural insecurity" - the growing difference between the old and new New Zealands:

The old New Zealand still has an emotive connection to “Mother England” and old military alliances. The old New Zealand was a country where there was a strong expectation that as soon as you left school women should marry a man, and have children. The old New Zealand was a time when people could (and did) go to prison for being homosexual.

The new New Zealand is different. The new New Zealand is tolerant and respectful of all people. The new New Zealanders are the growing majority of people in our country today who are confident, innovative, and proud of New Zealand and it’s values of diversity, fairness, independence, and tolerance. The new New Zealand recognises we are a multi-cultural Pacific nation with a valued indigenous culture. The new New Zealand recognises the important role of arts, culture, heritage and the environment. The new New Zealand is the emerging majority diversity coalition of C21st New Zealand.

Why are we the emerging coalition of the 21st century? Because (to mangle Kruschev), demographics is on our side. The old New Zealand is old, and despite the best modern medical technology can throw at them, slowly dying off. The new New Zealand will eventually die off too, but in the meantime, we will finally get a chance to make New Zealand into the place we want it to be - without being burdened by the prejudices of our parents and grandparents.


"The new New Zealand is different. The new New Zealand is tolerant and respectful of all people."

Sure. Except for those nasty bigoted "old" New Zealanders.

Posted by Muerk : 10/11/2005 05:04:00 PM

'old' NZ also has a few cultural memories and traits we'll be poorer without:
- the experience of living through wartime and through the great depression
- communities not mobilised and mesmerised by consumer electronics
- the 'number 8 wire' school of innovation

There's more than a little of the hubris of the young in this rosy take on new vs old.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/11/2005 05:43:00 PM

You're going binary again, guys. There is no New NZ, nor is there no Old NZ, there's just a continuum between the two, and many other end points besides, and it's evolving. In the 1970's, my father was regarded by his peers as a red revolutionary hippie; we ground our own flour, loaded our own bullets, hung out with barefoot flower children and listened to stories from Gallipoli veterans. Now he and his peers all vote for Winston together, regardless 0f the fact that thirty years ago, they were at each others throats. Conservatism seems to grow on us with age, responsibility and maturity, (some would say senility) and its only a very careful and solid mentality that does not do so in the face of oncoming mortality.

Posted by Weekend_Viking : 10/11/2005 08:14:00 PM

Since when was voting Winstion Peters a sign of conservatism? Conservatism and bigotry are not one and the same thing.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/11/2005 09:07:00 PM

"Conservatism seems to grow on us with age, responsibility and maturity..."

Yeah, very true. Having kids certainly made me more conservative. Suddenly stability became really important.

That's not to say I voted Winston, I didn't. But I wouldn't say that those who did are all bigots.

Posted by Muerk : 10/11/2005 10:19:00 PM

I don't wish Mr Milne any harm, and it is to his credit that he is prepared to put his views up there for others to agree or disagree with. I do think it is unfortunate that he starts his blogging career by making the same mistake that many do, both left and right. When he refers to "fundamental New Zealand values" he is really referring, in exactly the same way as Don Brash did and was villified by the left for it, "the fundamental values that I believe in". And, to forestall the attack that I/S will surely mount in response, frankly I think the Maori seats should be retained, but not necessarily becase they represent some mythical fundamental value that New Zealanders hold, or should hold, dear.

Mr Milne's basic theme is correct, that New Zealand is a changing society. Not necessarily in the way he describes, nor with the favorable consequences he describes. Perhaps when he is a little older, has seen a little more of the world, and grown increasingly conservative as most of us do, he will see the myth he describes. New Zealand is not a tolerant society. All around us, indeed in this very blog, we see just how much tolerance there is - "if you disagree with me, you're wrong and therefore I have the right to attack you". You're a Maori and regard the seabed and foreshore issue and treaty rights as matters of extreme importance - get lost, brown arse. You're a pakeha and regard these same issues as divisive - up yours, honky. And so it goes on. At heart no different from society anywhere else, actually.

We are all better off for hearing the views of the young, and being influenced by the perspectives they have that are different from those of their elders. But to suggest, as I/S does, that those views are superior and it is only a matter of time until we thankfully can rid ourselves of the inferior views of the "parents and grandparents" is an immature silliness that will moderate with age. In my opinion, of course.

Posted by yingyangyo : 10/12/2005 12:43:00 AM

I'm not sure it's as clear cut as Tony suggests. There are some Old New Zealanders who were New New Zealanders in spirit, such as Keith Locke's sorely missed mother,
peace activist Elsie Locke.

And there are certain ex-CHP youth activists who certainly belong in the Old New Zealand camp due to their ideological allegiances.

Craig Y

Posted by Anonymous : 10/12/2005 09:01:00 AM

Are you serious?? what a queer!!! It's a shame your old man didn't get the shit out of you more often. Or for that fact, at all. Why can't liberal hippies like you ever grow up?? Each person is an individual capable of making his/her own decisions. Those decisions lead to consequences. And those consequences are either reward or punishment (depending on the decision made). Liberal puke, such as yourself, have grasped onto terms like 'diversity', 'tolerance', and 'acceptance' like it actually means something. But I guess I'm the one that hasn't learned from history. An idiot (liberal) will scream something loud enough and often enough until others forget to ignore him.


Posted by Anonymous : 10/14/2005 05:32:00 PM