Friday, October 10, 2008

Something to go to in Auckland

I've said before that elections are about choices - but what are we choosing between? The most obvious choice is between faces and personalities - who gets to occupy the Beehive. More important IMHO are choices between policies - between competing ideas of what to do about society's problems (and indeed, what is a problem). But underlying policy are values - liberty, equality, the environment, traditionalism - which colour and drive a politician or party's entire approach. So another thing we're choosing between is which values we want to drive policy for the next three years.

Which values are we choosing between this election? Conveniently, Dr Grant Duncan of Massey Albany is giving a lecture on exactly that topic on Tuesday night, looking at the values driving our political culture, and how they have evolved:

One of the key areas he will explore is the contemporary clash between our historic socialist ideals dating back to the 1930s versus market-led deregulation and individualism hatched in 1984 and prevalent today.

Other issues covered in the lecture reflecting the diverse ideas and dreams of 21st century New Zealand which he says “have abiding influences on the way we steer our society politically” include Maori self-determination, environmentalism and liberty, individualism and property.

New Zealanders’ “cosmopolitan aspirations” represent an area rife with philosophical contradictions. On one hand people seek a cohesive, independent society “through a jingoistic desire to identify with symbols of national culture,” and on the other, “we want to be recognised on the world stage, to enjoy the benefits of imported goods and the dismantling of protectionist policies,” he says.

Dr Duncan says he will not dwell on parties and their policies, political personalities and predicting winners in the lecture. Rather, he wants to emphasise that “New Zealanders do not share a single vision for a better future, but our disagreements are interesting and healthy in themselves.”

When: 19:00, Tuesday, October 14
Where: Neil Waters Lecture Theatres Building, Rm 200, Massey Albany, Albany Highway, Auckland
How much: Free. That whole "conscience and critic of society" thing, y'know?