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March 20, 2017 | by  | in From Within the Fallout Zone | [ssba]

From within the fallout zone

Popular political discourse has recently become a language for extroverts. Created by extroverts, it is best consumed and regurgitated by them too. Shouted from on-high, the difference between *the* Truth and a half-truth is blurred. With this blurring, the importance of truth in political discourse is displaced. Suddenly we find ourselves in a world where a postmodern definition of truth — a concept meant for theorising and philosophising — is applied in all the wrong places. Places where it should be steadfast: the press, international diplomacy, and human rights.

This scenario is generated by new political unknowns. Much of the world is in uncharted territory, where Brexit, the Trump administration, and the rise of European populism have led to politicians seeking quick fixes to complex legal and governmental problems. As a result of Brexit, Britain is likely to cut and paste governing laws straight from Europe’s law books. Nobody really knows how it will work. As a result of the Trump administration, Twitter is a new tool of diplomacy — nobody really knows how that will work either. These are rudimentary examples. The point is, new political unknowns have created a vacuum in which the loudest, most extroverted, and often most divisive voices win out. This, after middle-liberals assumed both the Remain vote, and another Clinton presidency, were in by a nose…


Once truth becomes obsolete, the comparisons to *1984* will stop and we will be truly living the life of Winston Smith. However, the failures of the liberal project up until this point should give us the impetus and urgency to move beyond them, and not to accept an Orwellian fate.  In the current scenario, the introvert cannot simply let walled borders, immigration, and terrorism take away from supporting those displaced by war, or meeting climate change targets.

While attending the London Women’s March against Trump, the comment of many there was that it was very white, and very middle class. Some of our group seemed dejected by this. Like they wanted to protest with the traditionally politically disenfranchised, the traditionally angry, the traditionally shot-at-by-cops-on-the-news. What was missed in these comments is positive: we now realise the state of political disenfranchisement we have been in, and oblivious to, for so long. It is not wrong if a white mum in a Patagonia jacket is protesting an uncertain future. It is a good thing this class is out on the streets, many for the first time. At least they are not sitting in front of the telly, thinking “good for them” as a black man gets arrested.

For me, making these sorts of grand statements is odd. Not least because five months ago we lived in a very different world (a veiled world, perhaps?). Am I validating hot-headed politicking, should I just ignore it all? Keep peddling the middle liberal line — it will eventually fall back into place. Are we truly in more troubled times than the other two decades of my life?

It’s hard to gain a perspective from Wellington and, as your resident expat, it is just as hard from the middle of London. The point, I suppose, is that New Zealand’s political engagement can be limp due to its isolation and its John Key proliferate smile and wave politics, the kind that gets walked over by the extroverted populist rhetoric. I hope New Zealand society can stay attuned in seeking out the division between half truths and *reality* among these new political unknowns. I want the worst case scenario to be me leaving London, back to Kiwi paradise, the day before the bomb goes off.


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