Should We Sell New Zealand to China on A 99-Year Lease?

Many Kiwis are concerned about the amount of New Zealand land being sold into overseas hands. This concern has been heightened by last week’s sale of Westland Milk to China for $588 milllion. This essay asks an extremely controversial and unpalatable question: should we sell the country to the Chinese on a 99-year lease?

Thomas Porter of the Colonial Defence Force was a famously close ally of Ngati Porou war chief Ropata Wahawaha. When a captain, he served with the Ngati Porou contingent under Wahawaha that hunted down mass murderer Te Kooti in the Uruwera ranges. From the 1870s onwards, he was involved with work as a land purchase officer, a job made easier by his fluent command of Maori and his marriage to the daughter of a chief who had once paid for Wahawaha’s release from slavery.

Porter knew that the settler thirst for land was insatiable. The British Empire was possibly the most rapacious enterprise ever created by humans, and it had its eyes set on New Zealand. The Maoris would have to give up most of their land or be annihilated, as the Aborigines had been in Australia and the Native Americans before that on the other side of the Pacific.

However, Porter had a trick up his sleeve.

He was aware of the Highland Clearances, where the relentless desire for maximum profit had led to the evictions of tens of thousands of people from communal land in Northern Scotland from the middle of the 18th century. Some of the original landholders had survived the clearances by giving up their land on 99-year leases rather than selling it. By the time 99 years were up, the original pressure to sell had gone.

A great friend of the Ngati Porou, Porter did them a great favour. Instead of arranging for the land to be sold outright, he arranged for much of it to be sold on 99-year leases. This meant that the land was returned to Ngati Porou control in the years after World War II. Hindsight would prove this to be a stroke of genius.

A 99-year lease, Porter reasoned, would give the leaseholder all the security they wanted, as well as all the freedom they needed to use the land for whatever purpose. Consequently, there would no longer be any pressure on the Ngati Porou to sell it forever. So at the end of the 99 years, much of the original Ngati Porou holdings were still in their hands – and worth a packet.

This decision is part of the reason why the Ngati Porou are doing so well today compared to many other Maori tribes. Rather than accept a windfall that was inevitably squandered, the land was effectively put into a 99-year investment account. When that account matured, the whole tribe shared in the profits.

The Chinese demand for food products to feed their population of 1,400,000,000 is as difficult to meet as the Western demand for land once was. The Chinese population might not be growing any more, as birthrates have declined sharply since 1980, but Chinese wealth has been growing strongly since then, and their demand for food products has increased commensurately. The pressure to sell our land in the coming few decades will be immense.

This was a similar situation to what the Ngati Porou faced in 1870, and the factors that apply to us were considered by Captain Porter in his decision to arrange 99-year leases. We ought to ask ourselves if we should do the same. Would it not be better, instead of selling it for good bit-by-bit, to lease the whole country to the Chinese on a 99-year contract?

We wouldn’t be the first to have the idea. The Northern Territory Government has leased Darwin Port to the Chinese on a 99-year lease. This move has been criticised severely on account of its strategic implications, but the fact remains that Australia will get the port back after 99 years, the same way that the Chinese got Hong Kong back. So there is precedent, among other places faced with Chinese expansionism, to consider this option.

Some might not like the idea of selling the country into Chinese leaseholdership. They might reason that China is a human rights abuser, a corrupt, totalitarian dictatorship that strangles honest aspirations and which is incompatible with the Western desire for personal freedom.

However, these sentiments have to be balanced with the fact that the whole country is being sold into Chinese ownership anyway. Chinese nationals purchased $1,500,000,000 of New Zealand residential real estate in 2017 alone. Eight-figure sums are not uncommon for land purchases made by Chinese interests, many of which are owned in part by the Chinese Government.

Moreover, the old Western traditions of freedom are gone. Zimbabwe has legal medicinal cannabis, and Malaysia has announced that it will decriminalise it. New Zealanders are, therefore, less free than citizens of either Zimbabwe or Malaysia in important ways. Uruguay, South Africa, Chile, Mexico and even North Korea are further examples of countries with greater cannabis freedom than New Zealand. Our time as a human rights leader is long over.

Perhaps worst of all, New Zealanders are now going to prison for years for sharing videos, or getting harassed by the Police because they might like Donald Trump. There is ample evidence that we are no longer a free people, so there’s nothing to lose on that front.

Maybe it’s time to concede that it’s better to lease the whole country to China on a 99-year term today, get them to build some proper houses and infrastructure, and then to get it back in 2118, than to have it sold piece-by-piece into Chinese hands permanently. We would probably not suffer more under Chinese leadership than we already do under our own.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

Old Colonialism and New Colonialism

‘Colonialism’ is one of the dirtiest of dirty words nowadays, bringing to mind images of Belgian Congolese getting their hands chopped off for failing to meet the day’s rubber quota. The problem with this simple sentiment, as this essay will explore, is that colonialism is still going strong. We used to plunder the world for its natural capital – now we plunder the world for its human capital.

Back in the Age of Discovery, there were great riches to be had from despoiling the world of its reserves of gold and silver. There was the minor problem of the people who lived on top of these gold and silver reserves, but in most cases they could either be driven off the land or enslaved to help mine it.

This didn’t stop once we ran out of gold and silver – we simply switched to Africa and plundered them of diamonds, slaves, rubber, more gold, cocoa, coffee etc. By the end of World War II, and in the aftermath of this great slaughter, we had come to realise that this course of behaviour was wrong, and we were very sorry – or at least pretended to be.

Since about 1960, the economic equation of production had permanently changed. No longer were the fattest profits in raping developing countries of their natural resources. We had moved from manufacturing economies to service economies, and that meant the fattest profits were now in raping developing countries of their human resources. This we do through the immigration system, and it’s the new colonialism.

It costs a lot of money, time and effort to raise a small child to the point where they can make a meaningful economic contribution to society. From kindergarten to the end of a Bachelor’s degree is usually 16 years of education, and for a professional degree even more than this. Every year requires, at a minimum, teachers and school infrastructure. The total cost is inevitably in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

With the new form of colonialism, we don’t send troops to developing countries and force the locals to build mines and collect rubber. As mentioned above, human capital is now more valuable than natural capital. Instead, we just let the developing countries stagnate – or cause them to – making it much harder for them to keep hold of the talented individuals who naturally arise among the population. Then the capital comes to us.

Proof that the new colonialism is no less nasty than the old comes from observing the actions that the West takes to cause those developing countries to stagnate. It’s common for Western countries to offer massive “loans” to developing countries, supposedly out of goodwill. Inevitably, the loan money gets stolen by local elites, and the country remains indebted with no way to pay the loans back. The Western countries who offered the loans then try to bargain this debt for influence.

In other words, developing countries are now enslaved by debts instead of by force of arms. Chains of iron have simply been replaced with chains of silver. One of the men who was employed to do this, a John Perkins, described his occupation as “Economic Hit Man“. This enslavement naturally leads to those with the greatest human capital trying to escape so as to get the best return.

When they do escape (usually to the West), they bring their human capital with them, depriving their home nations of the benefits of it. They also grant the West all the benefits of that human capital, despite that the West paid nothing to produce it.

Of course, it is spun as if we are generously granting rights to these unusually productive people. The propaganda tells a story of draconian immigration restrictions holding these people back from being able to make a real contribution to the world, and that we’re doing a great and moral thing by allowing them to emigrate and to work in the West.

The reality is that the nations of the West are impoverishing the developing world by sucking out its human capital. This means that the developing world now lacks the human capital that it needs to develop its own means of production and become wealthy themselves. This locks them in a vicious cycle of poverty.

Ironically, the West usually ends up getting a two-for-one deal from all this. Because we take in the most productive people from these countries, they are often left without the engineers, physicists and chemists that they need to develop their own natural resources. As a consequence, those resources often sit undeveloped until a Western company comes in to exploit them.

Desmond Morris makes an extremely insightful point in The Human Zoo. He writes that the moral values of any time and in any place are always dictated by the ruling classes to serve their own interests. In every time and place, the people tend to believe that their moral values are an expression of themselves, or the result of some process of moral development, but this is an illusion.

Many of today’s moral values have, likewise, been forced on us to suit the wishes of the ruling class, the new colonialists.

The reason why we are being encouraged to accept diversity is not because we realised that it’s the morally correct thing to do. It’s because accepting diversity makes divesting the developing world of its prime human capital a smoother process. There’s no need for blackbirding when you can induce the labour to voluntarily emigrate to the West instead.

Colonialism never went away – it simply changed form. In the same way that slavery still lives on in the private prison system and in people being paid less than they can live on for a full day’s work, so too does colonialism live on, in the rape of the human resources of the developing world. Much like colonialism was in the 19th century, this new colonialism is spun to us as being the morally correct thing to do. The lie is exposed by the fact that the new colonialists are the same people as the old ones.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

Signs That A New Spiritual Order Is Arising

With every era that passes, old orders fall and new orders rise. Some of these old orders are military, some are technological and some are spiritual. With every Great Month that passes, a pre-existing spiritual order falls and a new spiritual order rises. This essay explains how we find ourselves now in such a time of change.

Some have described the changes upon us as the transition between the Age of Pisces, the old order, and the Age of Aquarius, the order to come. With the human entry into the Age of Pisces some 2,000 years ago, we moved out of the Age of Aries, which had been characterised by brutal militaristic sentiments. The Age of Pisces was, then, a reaction to the excesses of the age before it.

Pisces is the mutable water sign, which means that it has a double feminine energy. Arguably, the dominant spiritual ideology of the Age of Pisces has been Christianity, which also has feminine energies – it can be best understood as an attempt to reform Abrahamism from its brutal and hyper-masculine Arian frequency. Christianity has taken a watery form to counter the fiery nature of its predecessor, and the multiplicity of such forms reflects the mutable quality of Pisces.

In this Age of Pisces, people with this double feminine quality have done fairly well. This is not an age in which the strong conquer and dominate, but rather an age where the kind rule through the consent of the masses. The zeitgeist of the age has been to raise up those low down, and to pull down those up high.

Like everything else, however, it has become corrupted over time, and the form of it we now have is a degraded one. In its pure form, those unfairly cast down were lifted up, and those unfairly raised were pulled down. Now, a person is lifted up even if they were low down for natural reasons, or because of their own moral failings, while people who are high for just reasons are dragged down out of resentment.

It has been too long since the original spiritual revelations that began the Age of Pisces for them still to have power, and now a great counter-reaction against their present degraded forms is under way.

This means that the Age of Aquarius will involve a reaction against Christianity and against the ethos of passivity and agreeableness. Unlike the mutable water, the avatars of the Age of Aquarius will move ever-forwards. However, they will also be sure not to fall back into the patterns of the fiery ram-headed Arian aggression. Therefore, the Age of Aquarius will strike an airy balance between the watery Pisces and the fiery Aries.

Aquarius is the fixed air sign, which suggests a dogmatic and inflexible form of intellectualism. Combining this with the gentle masculinism of the age suggests that a kind of nerdiness might be the characteristic of coming centuries, perhaps an uncompromising kind of autism. This may be an outgrowth of today’s scientific materialism, the current dominant paradigm among the world’s ruling classes.

It might be that some kind of scientific materialism remains the dominant intellectual paradigm for the next 2,000 years, with all talk of the spiritual discouraged. It could also be that scientific materialism becomes the dominant paradigm for the ignorant masses only, while the enlightened and the initiated will be aware of the perennial truths that underpin the true philosophies of all times and places.

Certain phenomena predictably arise every time we near the end of a great age, as we now are. The foremost is a gross and paralysing apathy that drives all talk of the spiritual from public life. This can be seen with our current crop of atheistic rulers. However, this enormous apathy is necessary to wash away the vestiges of the old ways, and at its heart is the seed of a new spiritual order. The Age of Aquarius proper will begin when this new spiritual order begins to impose its will upon the world.

The first harbingers of this new spiritual order are those men and women who are rediscovering the spiritual sacraments that revealed the great wisdom that the ancients possessed. The vanguard of the new age of light returning to our benighted world is in those who have learned that psychedelics such as cannabis and psilocybin are capable of reconnecting a person to God and to the perennial wisdom.

There have always been small, clandestine groups of spiritual seekers who have kept the flame of genuine spiritual knowledge alive, despite the oppression from hate ideologies like Abrahamism, Nazism and Communism. These people have retained knowledge of the use of spiritual sacraments and techniques, even though the governments of recent decades have fought to suppress use of them. Most people now accept that the Governments are fighting a losing battle, so these groups have grown rapidly in number and influence.

However, it’s only now that a mass of people are starting to realise that these sacraments have revealed genuine spiritual knowledge to those brave enough to experiment with them. Bearers of light such as VJM Publishing are now able to publish information about spiritual alchemy without persecution – and we are far from the first or only ones. The spread of this knowledge will not stop until a new spiritual age exists upon the Earth.

It’s already possible to see magic mushrooms becoming legalised in places such as Denver. When magic mushrooms become legal more widely, it will become common for intelligent men and women to get together and use them sacramentally, to reconnect with God. When they do this, genuine spiritual knowledge will come to return to the Earth.

Although public sacramental use along the lines of the Eleusinian Mysteries are still some way off, in this general atmosphere of intellectual and spiritual exploration, it won’t be too long before there are some quasi-public rituals involving mass consumption of psychedelics. When this occurs, an entirely new consciousness will arise upon the Earth, involving new ways of relating to and identifying with each other.

If the Age of Aquarius means that scientific materialism completely destroys Abrahamism and the other superstitious cultures, this should clear the way for a return of those schools of thought that had been superstitiously attacked. This could very well lead to genuine spiritual revelation, and this could lead to a new spiritual era of human history and a new Golden Age.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

The Case For Cannabis: Prohibition Doesn’t Work

Although this book is full of arguments for cannabis law reform, all of them are technically forms of one great metaargument. All of the arguments for cannabis law reform, as the reader will discover, explore different facets of the failure of cannabis prohibition. This essay examines the fundamental argument at the core of the case for cannabis law reform – that prohibition doesn’t work.

Although there are a plethora of different kinds of cannabis law reform, all of them are based on the recognition that cannabis prohibition has a number of costs that could be saved. Although it’s denied by many, prohibition does have costs – the cost of law enforcement, the cost of prisons, the cost of faith in the Government, the Police and the medical establishment, among others.

Therefore, in order for this cost to be justified, cannabis prohibition has to do something good. There have to be profits somewhere to make up for all the costs. If there aren’t, then cannabis prohibition is a failed experiment and must be ended.

So let us ask: what is the objective of cannabis prohibition?

If the objective was to prevent people from using cannabis, that has failed. In 2008, 14.6 percent of the New Zealand population had used cannabis within the past 12 months, which is comparable to the prevalence rate of tobacco use. A decade later, cannabis is even more popular than before, and tobacco even less.

No intelligent person seriously believes that the law can override the people’s will to use cannabis. Exactly like alcohol prohibition, which failed to stop people from using alcohol, cannabis prohibition won’t stop people from using cannabis. Not only do people have a will to use it, but they feel that they have the right to do so. They’re going to keep using it forever.

If the objective was to protect people’s mental health, that too has failed. Not only is there no correlation between rates of cannabis use and prevalence of mental illness on the national level, but there is ample scientific evidence that cannabis does not cause psychosis or schizophrenia. The cannabis-psychosis link is best explained by the fact that cannabis is medicinal for many mentally ill people, and so they seek it out.

Instead of protecting people’s mental health, cannabis prohibition leads to the further social isolation of cannabis users by making them unwilling to speak candidly to mental health professionals, or to their friends or workmates. If cannabis is illegal, then confessing to using it is tantamount to confessing to criminal activity, so many mentally ill people who need help would rather just sit in silence.

If the objective was to protect children from psychoactive drugs while their brains are still developing, that too has failed. Because cannabis is on the black market, and therefore sold by criminals, there is nothing in the way of age checks between young people and the cannabis supply. Gang members will happily sell bags of cannabis to 12-year olds if they have the cash.

People often make the “think of the children!” argument when it comes to cannabis law reform, but the simple fact is that prohibition makes it easier for minors to get hold of cannabis. Proof for this is as simple as asking a minor if it’s easier to get hold of alcohol or cannabis. They’ll tell you that it’s harder to get hold of booze because those selling it are serious about keeping their liquor license.

If the objective was to instill respect for authority, that’s completely backfired. Cannabis prohibition is so stupid an idea that the people at large have lost respect for those pushing at and those enforcing it. Although the idea that one’s politicians are stupid and evil is far from new, these sentiments become problematic when they’re applied to other segments of society. Prohibition, however, makes this all but inevitable.

Many New Zealanders have now come to feel that the Police are their enemy, because Police officers have shown themselves willing to confiscate people’s medicine and to imprison them for using it. Far from being the trusted community servants that they are seen as in places like Holland, they’re seen as enemy soldiers waging an immoral war against an innocent people. To a great extent, this is the fault of cannabis prohibition.

All of these arguments (among others) are discussed at length in the various chapters of this book, but they all support the central thesis – that cannabis prohibition doesn’t work. It doesn’t achieve its stated aim of reducing the sum total of human suffering, and if it doesn’t achieve its stated aims, then it isn’t justified to continue with it any longer.

The men who pushed cannabis prohibition on a naive and unsuspecting public almost a century ago are now dead. Whether they knew they were speaking falsehoods or whether they were genuinely misled is no longer material. The right thing for us to do is to assess reality accurately, so that we can move forward in the correct direction.

If we look around the world honestly, it’s obvious that prohibition has failed. Not only is cannabis culture thriving, even in the most unlikely places, but support for cannabis law reform is rising almost universally, across all nations and demographics. The most striking sign is the ever-increasing number of states, territories or countries that have recently liberalised their cannabis laws.

The cynic might say that this is an example of the bandwagon fallacy, but that is not an accurate criticism. The reason why so many countries are changing their cannabis laws is because the evidence against cannabis prohibition has now mounted so high that it can no longer be ignored. There are now many countries liberalising their cannabis laws for the simple reason that the evidence suggests that it’s a better approach.

Cannabis prohibition simply doesn’t work. There is nowhere in the world that has prohibited cannabis and observed any result other than more poverty, distrust, misery and hatred. It’s fundamentally for this reason that the cannabis laws ought to be reformed.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Black Caps ODI Bowling and Batting in 2019 Compares Well To Great Players of the Past

The 2019 Black Caps are arguably the best ODI side that New Zealand has ever produced. But how good are they in comparison to their historical peers of other nations? Numbers man Dan McGlashan, author of Understanding New Zealand, looks at how our bowling and batting compares to some great lineups of the past.

Some people call Trent Boult the ‘White Akram’ for his relentlessly accurate line and mastery of seam and swing at 140km/h. If you compare Boult’s numbers to Akram’s, Boult comes out looking very well indeed.

Wasim Akram’s ODI career stretched from 1984 to 2003. Over these two decades, he racked up a truly phenomenal 502 wickets at an average of 23.52. Compared to the bowlers of his era, Akram had a bowling average 24% lower that the average of all bowlers from those same years (the overall bowling average between 1984 and 2003 was 29.19).

Compared to the bowlers of his era, however, Boult’s bowling average of 24.80 is 28% lower (the overall bowling average between 2012 and 2019 is 31.92). This is extremely impressive if one considers that it means that Boult is even more of an outlier in comparison to his international ODI fast-bowling peers than Wasim Akram was.

Despite the memories of him as an outstandingly destructive bowler, Akram’s strike rate is not as impressive as his economy rate. Akram’s strike rate of 36.2 is only 6% better than the average strike rate of his era (38.5). His economy rate of 3.89, however, is a full 16% better than the average economy rate between 1984 and 2003.

This is not so much true of Boult. The Kiwi paceman’s strike rate of 29.3 is 23% better than the average strike rate during his career, and his economy rate of 5.06 is 5% better than the global economy rate of 5.31 during this time. He is like Akram in that his accuracy allows for both economy and strikepower, only Boult has more of the latter and Akram more of the former.

If Boult is the White Akram, then Matt Henry is the White Waqar Younis. As Younis was to Akram, Henry is more expensive than Boult but also more destructive with the ball.

Compared to the bowlers of his era, Younis had a bowling average 23% lower than the average of all bowlers from those same years (the overall bowling average between 1989 and 2003 was 29.40). This is roughly similar to Akram, but where Younis was really impressive was his strike rate of a wicket every 30.5 balls. This was 26% better than the 38.4 average global strike rate during Younis’s career.

Compared to the bowlers of his era, Henry has a bowling average 29% lower than his peers (the overall bowling average between 2014 and 2019 is 32.27). Incredibly, his strike rate of 27.2 is 32% better than the global average of 35.9 during his career. This means that, statistically, Henry is an even more destructive bowler than Waqar Younis was – even after you account for the fact that strike rates are lower nowadays.

Some of Henry’s detractors claim that he is hittable, but this is no more true of Henry than it was of Younis. Younis was 1.8% more expensive than the average of his era; Henry is 1.7% more expensive. These are very slim margins compared to the average bowler, and more than compensated for by the vastly superior strike rate.

If you’re surprised that the Black Caps’ ODI opening bowling duo has stats that back up well when compared to arguably the best new-ball pair of all time, get ready for another surprise. Their top-order batting trio of Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor have stats that back up well when compared to those of Mathew Hayden, Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn.

Guptill and Hayden have almost identical batting averages: 43.87 vs. 43.80. For Guptill, this represents being 40% above the average cost of a wicket over the years of his career (31.28). For Hayden, it represents being 48% above the average cost of a wicket over the years of his (29.66).

When it comes to strike rate, Hayden’s 78.96 was right on the average strike rate of his time (79.28), despite his reputation as a massive hitter. Guptill is worth an extra couple of runs per 100 balls, with a strike rate of 87.99 compared to the global average of 86.96 during his career.

For Guptill to have roughly equal stats to those of the Australian opener from their greatest ever batting era is amazing enough, but there are two others in the Black Caps lineup who compare just as favourably to their counterparts in that great Aussie side.

At No. 3, Williamson’s numbers come out looking very good compared to Ponting’s. The Kiwi captain’s average of 45.85 is 45% above the average wicket during his career. The former Australian captain’s average of 42.03 is slightly behind this benchmark, at 40% above the average.

Ponting’s strike rate was relatively better, however: his 80.39 is right on the era strike rate of 80.66. Williamson’s 82.32, by contrast, is 6% slower than the average batsman of his time. In Williamson’s favour, though, he is still only 29, and therefore only just now entering the peak of his career. His numbers might well be even more impressive in six years’ time.

At No. 4, Taylor has fashioned a record that compares well to players in any time and era. His average of 48.55 is 56% higher than the average batting average throughout his career (31.05). Martyn’s average of 40.80, while much higher than the 29.66 global average during his career, was only 38% higher.

That means that, as much as Martyn was a rock at 4 for Australia, Taylor is even more so for New Zealand.

Overall, when one compares the statistics of some of our current crop of Black Caps to their contemporaries, the distance they are ahead of the average compares well to some of the great players of days past. Not only is this a highly underrated Black Caps side, but they have an entirely realistic chance of winning the World Cup this year.

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Understanding New Zealand, by Dan McGlashan and published by VJM Publishing, is the comprehensive guide to the demographics and voting patterns of the New Zealand people. It is available on TradeMe (for Kiwis) and on Amazon (for international readers).

Ardern Is Only In Power Because National Was Shit

Numerous voices are bitching about the things that the Sixth Labour Government has done since seizing power. Persecution mania has ramped up to the point where many people feel personally aggrieved and targeted by the actions of Jacinda Ardern and her supporters. As this essay will show, the abuses of the Sixth Labour Government are a direct result of the neglect of the Fifth National Government.

People like to complain. Seldom do they like to consider that they themselves may have played a role in what has transpired. Even more seldom to people like to consider that they are part of an interdependent system with, and no more important that, all of the things they hate, compared to which they are like yin to yang.

When John Key’s Fifth National Government came to power, they inherited a number of social issues that had festered for a long time. There were large numbers of Kiwis who were desperate for a change to the housing situation, or the mental health system, or to the medicinal cannabis laws. Many of them had reason to believe that a change in Government from Helen Clark’s autocratic style to a more classical liberal style would bring relief.

All of these people were flat out ignored for nine years.

In this act of ignoring people with legitimate grievances, National sowed the seed for their own failure. All National had to do was to acknowledge that spending $400,000,000 per year on enforcing cannabis prohibition was poor fiscal management – a perfectly reasonable argument. That there was no good case to force taxpayers to stump up for the immense cost of enforcing a law that most of them didn’t want, especially when health and infrastructure were underfunded and could have used the money.

But they couldn’t even do this!

If the National Party wasn’t capable of understanding something as simple as the need for cannabis law reform – something that Third World countries like Uruguay understood years ago – then it’s a fair conclusion that they simply aren’t competent. So why not vote them out?

The situation with the mental health system is equally as jarring an example. The Fifth Labour Government didn’t do much to help those who had lost out from neoliberalism, but the attitude of the National Party towards the mentally ill was “just let ’em die.” Key ended his term with the highest suicide rate since records began.

National’s refusal to respect the will of the people wasn’t just a matter of degree. Sometimes it was categorical, as in the case for asset sales, where they were told explicitly that the nation didn’t want them sold, but did it anyway. This is the sort of arrogance that leads thinking supporters to switch allegiances.

So no-one who supported the Fifth National Government ought to grizzle about socialism or communism now. If you’re willing to sit on your arse while your fellows are needlessly suffering, even in cases where they’re not asking you for money but simply an end to the misery, then you’re also willing to accept the consequences of this neglect.

The Labour Party gets consent for the abuses it commits from the neglect shown by the National Party before it. Because one half of the population looked the other way when Kiwis were put into cages for growing medicinal plants, so does the other half of the population look the other way when the right to free speech is violated. The fact that we have the right to both grow medicinal plants and to speak freely is lost.

The great problem, from the perspective of a member of the Kiwi nation, is that this cycle of one bunch of incompetents getting revenge on the previous bunch of incompetents by punishing their supporters – almost all of who are Kiwis – is not helpful.

Labour and National are effectively a one-party dictatorship that has agreed to a power-sharing arrangement between the left and right wing factions. Perversely, the worse one wing of the Establishment Party does, the worse the other wing also gets to do, as there is no alternative to the National/Labour duoligarchy. Thus, anyone complaining about how crap Ardern is must also give some thought to the system that put her in power.

It might be true that Ardern and her Government panicked in response to the Christchurch mosque shootings, and overreacted by working to ban semi-automatic rifles. It might also be true that their actions to violate our right to free speech are obscene and bordering on tyrannical. It might even be true that none of this would have happened if National had still been in power – but National would still be in power if they hadn’t been so shit in the first place.

If we don’t like this arrangement, then the onus is on us to organise ourselves in ways that leave the Establishment no place to step in and take control. One way to do this might be to mutually agree on the sevenfold conception of inherent human rights. If all Kiwis mutually agreed that each other possessed those rights inherently, then we would have the solidarity necessary to enforce them.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

The Case For Cannabis: Cannabis Is A Medicine

Of all the ways that cannabis prohibition causes harm to people, maybe the worst is how it denies many people an effective medicine. The problem is not just limited to the effect that prohibition has on accessing the substance – prohibition also makes it harder to research it and to learn how to best use it. As this article will examine, this has the effect of causing a lot of needless suffering.

Cannabis has been used as a medicine for thousands of years. In fact, as Professor David Nutt wrote this year in the British Medical Journal, it’s probably the oldest medicine known to humanity. Its medicinal effects for treating conditions like depression were known to the scientific literature as far back as 1890.

The fact that cannabis is known to be a medicine today can be demonstrated by going to Google Scholar and typing in “medicinal cannabis”. This returns (at time of writing) 44,000 results, which means that there are over 40,000 medical journal articles and papers investigating medicinal cannabis.

Frustratingly, it’s possible to go back as far as 2008 and see that there are already 14,100 results for a Google Scholar search for “medicinal cannabis”. If one considers that medicinal cannabis was made legal in many American states when even less was known than this, it strikes one how glacial the pace of change has been in New Zealand.

The medical conditions for which cannabis has shown promise include eating difficulties, sleeping problems, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, nausea and vomiting, pain and wasting syndrome (cachexia) and even mental health conditions like anxiety, schizophrenia, depression, social anxiety disorder and psychosis. In chronic pain situations it can lead to less opiate use.

The problem is the law.

Because of the long-standing prohibitions on cannabis, it’s difficult to properly research the substance. For a university research program to conduct a proper study, they need to test the effects of cannabis on a large number of people, in a controlled and replicable environment. This requires getting hold of a large amount of cannabis – very difficult when cannabis is illegal.

Without being able to conduct large trials, it’s difficult to collect a sufficient amount of data to pass certain levels of proof. Because of the ever-present threat of charlatanism in the pharmaceutical industry, it has become necessary to demand rigourous testing before a prospective medicine gets governmental approval to be sold. Prohibition makes it harder to cannabis to get that approval.

Despite this, there is still a fair bit known about the medicinal effects of cannabis.

It’s acknowledged by honest researchers today that “therapeutic benefits of medicinal cannabis are well documented in the treatment of a variety of medical conditions”. The problem is that, because of prohibition, it’s impossible to arrive at standardised models of production, distribution and prescription.

This is more of a problem than it might first appear to be.

Without a standardised model of production, it’s difficult for doctors to have any confidence in what they’re prescribing. Because many medicines have dosage-dependent adverse side-effects, it’s important to know exactly what proportions of effective medicine are found in each pill that’s being dished out. Impurities are to be avoided. Absent this, it’s impossible for a doctor to know what to prescribe.

Without standardised prescription guidelines, it’s impossible to know how much to prescribe. It’s not just a matter of getting as much cannabis into the patient as possible. Responsible medical practice means being aware of potential side-effects and interactions with other medicines, and how these work with factors like age and body weight. If this knowledge is not present, it might seem wise to err on the side of prudence and ignore cannabis.

After all, even if cannabis prohibition was repealed tomorrow and doctors had access to all the cannabis in the world, they would still need to know how to use it safely before they could feel comfortable prescribing it.

Despite the presence of these hurdles, the fact remains that knowledge of the medicinal applications of cannabis are becoming ever-more widespread. Indeed, even Zimbabwe is aware that cannabis is medicinal. Not only has the impoverished Southern African state had medicinal cannabis since 2017, but their Health Minister is getting praise from other Southern African nations for their relatively forward-thinking stance on the issue.

Some might argue that the New Zealand medical establishment has shown itself to be more interested in toeing the legal and bureaucratic line than actually helping their patients, and that their reluctance to deal with what was clearly an important issue for many of their patients was cowardly. This might be true for many doctors. The point, however, is not to apportion blame, but to determine the correct path forward.

The major problem with unlocking the medicinal potential of cannabis is the law. It’s the law that keeps researchers and scientists from finding out which applications of cannabis make medicinal sense and which ones don’t. Since people are going to use cannabis anyway, it makes sense from a harm reduction perspective to expand our knowledge of the plant. This would make it possible to make better-informed decisions about its use.

Legalising cannabis would restore sanity to the situation. It would allow companies and universities to conduct full-scale trials of medicinal cannabis products. This would allow those medical professionals who are interested in learning about the therapeutic effects of cannabis to have more accurate data upon which to base their prescription decisions.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

Are the Black Caps of 2019 Better Than The 2015 Cricket World Cup Team?

The last Cricket World Cup is considered by many Black Caps fans to be their team’s finest moment, having made it as far as the final for the first time ever. Numbers man Dan McGlashan, author of Understanding New Zealand, thinks that this 2019 team might be an even better side than that one. This article compares the Black Caps side that will contest the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England with the side that played in the 2015 edition of the tournament.

First opener: Martin Guptill vs. Martin Guptill

The 2019 Martin Guptill has averaged a cracking 50.01 since the last CWC, at a strike rate of 94.70. He’s scored nine centuries in those 61 games, more than in the previous 108 games of his career. This is good enough to see him ranked 8th in the world. What’s more, he appears to be getting better and better.

Before the 2015 CWC, Guptill had a career average of 37.11. He was known as a very good player, with five one-day hundreds, but was not considered excellent. Having played 99 matches, this was about one century per 20 innings, compared to one century per seven innings since then. His century in the last pool match of the 2015 CWC was the start of this hot streak.

It’s the same player, only the 2019 version is more professional, making much better decisions, and making them with more authority. Because the pitches are expected to be flat during this World Cup, there is a good chance that Guptill will play another innings of 180+. He remains the most likely Black Cap to win the match with the bat.

2019 Black Caps 1, 2015 Black Caps 0

Second opener: Henry Nicholls vs. Brendon McCullum

Henry Nicholls has been outstanding recently in Tests, but opening an ODI is different to batting No. 5 in the white clothing. It’s not easy to tell how well he will do as opener, other than to guess based on well he has gone so far, mostly batting in the middle order: 41 matches since the 2015 CWC, averaging 35.48.

Brendon McCullum was on an outstanding run of form leading up to the 2015 tournament. Across 20 matches in the 2014/15 season, he scored 636 runs at an average of 33.47 and an astonishing strike rate of 140.70. This strike rate was so high it meant he scored his runs in fewer than four overs on average, leaving plenty for the other teammates.

Nicholls might have a better average than McCullum, but his role in the team is different, and he will not get the Black Caps off to the same starts as McCullum. However, he is less likely to put Williamson in early either. Perhaps it could also be said that Nicholls was more likely to score a century, but a strike rate of 140 cannot be fully compensated for.

2019 Black Caps 0, 2015 Black Caps 1

No. 3: Kane Williamson vs. Kane Williamson

Williamson averages 47.01 since the last CWC, which is good enough to see him ranked equal 11th in the world. Although he hasn’t been as spectacular as Guptill and Taylor, he has still been extremely solid, scoring five centuries in that time. One feels that it has only been the bounce of the ball and good bowling that has prevented him from scoring bigger.

The 2015 Williamson did not perform well in the knockout stages of the 2015 tournament, his highest score in the three matches being 33 against the West Indies. Although he averaged 45 at the time of the tournament, and had definitely come of age, he was not able to play many truly dominant innings in 2015.

The 2019 edition of the Black Caps captain is even calmer and more professional than the 2015 one. Also, thanks to his IPL experience, he is much better at hitting, and no longer simply relies on being hard to get out. He is, therefore, a more complete player, despite his numbers not showing a significant difference.

2019 Black Caps 1, 2015 Black Caps 0

No. 4: Ross Taylor vs. Ross Taylor

The 2015 Ross Taylor already had a claim to being New Zealand’s finest one-day batsman. At the start of the CWC that year, Taylor had 12 ODI centuries at an average of 41.75. This was a better record than anyone except for Nathan Astle. He had carried the batting for some years before McCullum, Guptill and Williamson came along and was by now the senior pro in the side.

Post eye-surgery Taylor has been something else. Since the 2015 CWC, Taylor has averaged a phenomenal 68.85, with eight centuries. His position as the greatest Kiwi one-day batsman ever is now certain, with Williamson the only possible challenger. His career average is now over 48, and if he continues in anything like the same form it will soon be 50.

One gets the feeling that, with Latham injured for some matches and replaced by the inexperienced Tom Blundell, Taylor might play the last line of real defence before the hitters come in. If that is so, his cool and professional approach will make his efforts at 4 crucial to the success of this campaign.

2019 Black Caps 1, 2015 Black Caps 0

Keeper-batsman: Tom Latham vs. Luke Ronchi

At time of writing, it still isn’t clear how many matches Latham will miss on account of his finger fracture, however it’s assumed that he will be back for the later pool games and any eventual knockouts. Although Latham is still a junior player in the side, he has averaged 37.86 since the last CWC and has cemented his spot at 5. He has shown that he can both rebuild and hit from the middle order.

Since hitting 170 against Sri Lanka just before the 2015 CWC, Ronchi was poor, averaging only 15.13 for the remainder of his career. Although this came at a strike rate of just over 100, it wasn’t enough runs to make an impact. His duck in the 2015 CWC final underlined this.

Latham might lack the big hitting ability of Ronchi, but is much more likely to score runs. Latham’s strike rate of 86 since the last World Cup is perfectly fine anyway. This is another clear win for the 2019 side, whose batting is significantly stronger overall.

2019 Black Caps 1, 2015 Black Caps 0

All-rounder: Jimmy Neesham vs. Corey Anderson

Jimmy Neesham has been in and out of the team in recent years, but his latest performances suggest that he has found a good vein of form. In the eight matches he has played since his comeback to the side, he has averaged 68 with the bat and 22.90 with the ball. Incredibly clean hitting has been a feature of his presence in the middle order.

Corey Anderson has had rotten luck with injuries, but at the time of the 2015 CWC he was putting up some good numbers with both bat and ball. He played a number of good hands in the 2015 tournament, most notably scoring a half-century and taking three wickets in the semifinal. Although a dynamic player, he was a loose one.

On balance, Anderson wins this because Neesham has not played many games recently. But chances are high that we see at least one spectacular innings from Neesham this World Cup, on account of that his hitting ability will find good use on the flat English decks. Whether Neesham can achieve Anderson’s consistency remains to be seen.

2019 Black Caps 0, 2015 Black Caps 1

Batting all-rounder: Colin de Grandhomme vs. Grant Elliott

Colin de Grandhomme is still a bit of an enigma in this Black Caps side. Although capable of massive hitting and incisive bowling, he remains a distinctly hit and miss player, especially with the ball. He has only spent three seasons in the team, but has scored over 400 runs at an average of 29 and strike rate of 110.

Elliott is known for playing the starring role in the greatest game in Black Caps history, the semifinal of the 2015 CWC. His inclusion in the Black Caps side was patchy up until the season of the tournament, but after the start of 2015 he averaged over 40 with the bat at a strike rate of almost 100. He made a reputation for himself as a batsman who could play any role.

It’s not certain that de Grandhomme has the skills to cope with a truly top-level attack, whereas Elliott scored 80s in both a World Cup semifinal and final. Moreover, de Grandhomme averages 46.33 with the ball and is unlikely to play much of role in that discipline in England. De Grandhomme could play some good innings in England, but he won’t be expected to star.

2019 Black Caps 0, 2015 Black Caps 1

First seamer: Trent Boult vs. Trent Boult

Boult was an unknown in the Black Caps one-day setup until shortly before the 2015 CWC. He had only played 16 ODIs for New Zealand before the tournament began, and was regarded by most as a Test specialist a year beforehand. Many pundits thought that his nagging medium-fast bowling would prove easily hittable.

By 2019, he is solidly established as New Zealand’s premiere new ball bowler. He is rightly ranked 2nd in the world, behind only Jasprit Bumrah. Since the end of the last CWC he has taken 107 wickets at an average of 24.59, which, if one considers the high-scoring nature of this era, is almost as good as the best years of Hadlee and Bond.

The 2019 Boult is getting some of his deliveries up to 145km/h, without losing any of the accuracy that he is known for. This makes him even more dangerous than before. As with Guptill, Williamson and Taylor, Boult is simply a more skilled and more professional version of the player he was at the time of the 2015 CWC.

2019 Black Caps 1, 2015 Black Caps 0

Second seamer: Matt Henry vs. Tim Southee

Since the 2015 Cricket World Cup, the conditions of the game environment have changed. Pitches are much flatter, especially in England. Naturally, bowling averages have gone up. This means that it has been much harder than before to take wickets cheaply.

Nevertheless, Henry has taken 55 wickets since the last CWC, at an average of 29.72. Southee has taken 54 wickets, despite playing 12 more matches than Henry, at an average of 41.46. Many will be surprised to hear that Henry has taken more wickets since the final against Australia, on account of that he has played so many fewer games, but that only underlines how effective he has been.

Henry is currently ranked 14th in the world in ODIs, notably ahead of Dale Steyn (16th) and Mitchell Starc (22nd), and was in the top 10 last time he had an extended run in the side. Southee is languishing at 40th. At the start of the 2015 CWC, Southee was ranked 21st, but it’s doubtful that he was as good as Henry is now.

2019 Black Caps 1, 2015 Black Caps 0

Third seamer: Lockie Ferguson vs. Adam Milne

Ferguson is the latest addition to the Black Caps seam battery. Over the past two years, he has been impressive, taking 38 wickets at an average of 23.76. Those are good enough numbers to have seen him climb to 21st in the world rankings, higher than even Mitchell Starc. Although he is still raw, some of the deliveries he puts down would have made Shane Bond proud.

Milne has been bedevilled by injuries, since even before the 2015 CWC. Because of this, he has never been able to get a good run of form going, and as such has only taken 41 wickets in 40 matches, at a career average of 38.56. Despite being economical, Milne has struggled to do real damage with the ball, and at the time of the 2015 tournament was not considered a major strike threat.

Although Milne was just as fast, Ferguson is a much more incisive bowler. Without much precision in either line or length, Milne’s raw pace was hittable. Ferguson has both of those qualities as well as a greater ability to swing the ball. He makes an excellent change of pace for the times when Boult and Henry cannot break through.

2019 Black Caps 1, 2015 Black Caps 0

Spinner: Mitchell Santner vs. Dan Vettori

Santner has cemented a place in the Black Caps ODI side thanks to frugal spin bowling and big hitting from the lower order. Early last year he had an ODI bowling ranking of 7th, thanks to a truly miserly economy rate of 4.68 over his last 50 games. He also averages a handy 27.53 with the bat, and a more than handy 32.30 over the past two seasons. At his favoured position of 8 he averages 37.73.

Vettori, however, was rated as one of the world’s best ODI bowlers before his 2015 swansong. Although he was only 14th in the rankings at the time, he had been ranked as high as 1st, on account of his fiendishly tight fingerspin bowling. By 2015, it was accepted worldwide that the way to deal with Vettori was to just play him out. Hitting him out of the attack was all but impossible.

Santner might well be as good as Vettori at the 2023 CWC, but this is probably one tournament too early for the peak of his career. He certainly has potential to play some decisive roles with both bat and ball this season, but Vettori was a proven performer who was once ranked No. 1 at his chosen discipline.

2019 Black Caps 0, 2015 Black Caps 1

Total – 2019 Black Caps 7, 2015 Black Caps 4

For all the hype around the 2015 Black Caps, and for all the hype around England and India in 2019, few appear to realise quite how strong the 2019 Black Caps side is. Not only will it field three batsmen with higher career averages than Ricky Ponting, but it will also have three seamers with averages below 29, which are fine numbers in this era.

This means that the 2019 side has three of the Black Caps’ best ever batsmen, all in career-best form, as well as a guaranteed 40 overs of world-class bowling, compared to 25-30 at the last tournament. In all, they should be at least as strong a contender as at the 2015 CWC, and must be considered one of the favourites for the title.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

Did The World End on December 21st, 2012?

Many people thought that the end of the calendar year 2012 would mark the end of the world. Not only had it apparently been predicted by ancient Mayan astronomers that the world would end then, but Terence McKenna’s Timewave Zero program supported those predictions. This essay examines a terrifying possibility: that the world actually did end on December 21st, 2012 – we just haven’t realised it yet.

People have been conditioned to believe that if an end of world scenario arose, it would look a particular way. Nuclear war, comet strike, zombie virus or mass tsunami are the most popular examples, but we have been made to think that it would be spectacular and cinematic. Chest-rattling explosions and flashes of light and fire come to mind.

Therefore, when December 21st 2012 came and went, and no-one got engulfed in a firestorm, most people assumed that the world did not end, and that it was business as usual. However, there are other, much subtler ways for the world to end.

Leading up to the end of 2011, televangelist Harold Camping ran an extensive fear campaign about an upcoming apocalyptic event called the Rapture. This event would involve all of God’s chosen being “raptured” up into heaven, leaving us sinners behind.

Could something like this really have happened?

Since the end of 2012, many people have been struck with a sense that something is going wrong. It seems like something took a dark turn at some point in the recent past. Since then, there has been less kindness in the world – less light, love and laughter. Things seem to have become unusually grim and serious.

This is reflected in the rising suicide rates. The suicide rate in America has increased by 33% since 1999, and the rate in New Zealand is the highest since records began. Not only suicide, but phenomena correlated to suicide have also increased. There is more depression, more opiate addiction, more loneliness throughout all levels of society.

Some commentators have chalked it up to the lingering financial effects of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, something which bankrupted many businesses and created mass unemployment. The problem is, of course, that the unemployment rate has since recovered: in America it’s an almost nonexistent 3.6%, and in New Zealand it is 4.2%. The malaise has not.

Many feel like we have been forsaken by God. It’s possible that the world really did end in this manner: God’s presence may well have withdrawn from the material world.

It’s possible that the world ended in the sense that the forces that constrained the evil and chaos of the world are no longer present.

Something like Camping’s Rapture may really have happened at the end of 2012. It may be, however, that instead of being pulled into the sky in rapture, those of us who had pleased God enough simply disappeared, their consciousness returning to God’s embrace while the rest of us continued our lives.

After all, we don’t know which of our fellows are conscious and which are not. So it’s entirely possible the consciousness of many people, perhaps a large percentage of people, withdrew from the material world and reunited with God, leaving the rest of us here.

The effect that this would have on the remainder of the world would be subtle, but over time it would become clear.

Absent a divine spark, people will come to make decisions based on the raw programming of their bodies. This means instincts and conditioning, with no higher functions. Apart from sheer intelligence, such people have no tools with which to moderate their behaviour. Not being conscious, they are incapable of using empathy. Metaphysical gold is absent.

Consciousness is essential for empathy because, without it, it’s impossible to truly imagine that another person is conscious, and therefore it’s impossible to realise that causing harm to that person causes suffering to their consciousness.

This means that raw animal lusts, particularly for wealth, status and women, start to reign. When they take over, concern for suffering caused to other people is thrown by the wayside, and the world becomes a much nastier place.

It could be that, on December 21st 2012, a significant amount of consciousness was withdrawn from the world, leaving the rest of us here in a place that had essentially ended.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

Civilization VI: Gathering Storm Explains How Humanity Is Doomed

God simulator fans have been busy for the past three months, thanks to the release of the second expansion to Sid Meier’s Civilization VI. Titled Gathering Storm, the expansion offers a number of new mechanics relating to climate. Unfortunately for us is the fact that, insofar as the Civilization games are history simulators, this one suggests that humanity is all but guaranteed to destroy the planet.

The fact that humanity is all but guaranteed to destroy the planet becomes clear if one considers the game theory logic of Gathering Storm.

A game of Civilization normally starts in 4000 B.C. At this point your empire will consist of one small village, a rudimentary knowledge of agriculture, and a gigantic, unknown map full of rivals to be explored. From here, you will be presented with a near-infinitude of different decisions. If you make the correct ones, your civilisation will survive against the military and economic threats posed by the others.

As the scientific knowledge of your civilisation progresses, it will advance through the Classical Era to the Medieval Era, and then to the Renaissance Era. Through each era, your empire’s military power increases, but nothing you do affects the global environment until you discover industrialisation. Once you get to the Industrial Era, your scientists are beginning to grapple with the uses of coal.

This means three major things. The first is that it makes naval vessels like ironclads and battleships possible. The second is that it makes coal power plants possible. The third is that the world atmosphere starts to become polluted as these units and buildings consume fossil fuels.

Let’s say you’re at war with someone (and, let’s face it, you probably are). The inexorable logic of war in the industrial age is that victory mostly comes down to getting the most and the biggest guns onto the field. This means that war is mostly a matter of production. Whoever has the most factories can produce the most guns, whoever has the most shipyards can produce the biggest navy, whoever has the best railway network can get the most nitre to the ammunition factories etc.

In Gathering Storm, it’s possible to harness the power of coal to not only create a more powerful range of naval vessels, but also to fuel power plants that greatly increase the productivity of the empire’s workshops, factories and arsenals. This also has the effect of spewing pollution into the atmosphere, measured in-game by CO2 levels.

In the Civilization series, technological advancement tends to proceed at roughly the same speed for everyone. This means that any technological and military advantages are usually slim and sometimes short-lived. So it’s very possible that, when the player discovers industrialisation, they are in a war that they are losing or which has stalemated. The increased power that comes from harnessing coal, then, is often enough to break the deadlock.

So the imperatives to burn coal and oil at the expense of the global environment are inescapable. If you don’t do it, your enemy will, and then they will destroy you. He who rapes the planet the fastest gets the edge on his enemies – and stays alive. As above so below: the kill-or-be-killed logic of the animal world applies at all levels of human organisation.

This is not just a matter of game-world logic either.

By 1903, British Admiral John Fisher had realised the strategic imperative to switch the British Navy from coal to oil. A navy that was fueled by oil was many times more efficient than one fueled by coal. Its ships, compared to coal-powered ships, had greater range, greater speed, lighter weight, required a smaller crew – and could carry more guns.

Fisher encountered some difficulty in persuading his higher-ups to agree to the change. Eventually, however, the iron logic prevailed, and the Royal Navy switched to oil just in time for World War One. The British strategic victory at the Battle of Jutland underlined the degree to which the switch to oil had created a distinct naval advantage. A failure to have done so would have meant defeat.

Of course, this profound naval advantage had to be maintained – which meant that military control over Middle Eastern oil fields had to be maintained, which meant that a massive navy had to be maintained. In other words, the Empire became irrevocably committed to the logic of maintaining a perpetual advantage on their enemy by controlling more energy.

At this point, the extreme difficulty of taking measures to preserve the Earth’s environment by way of not burning too many fossil fuels becomes apparent. If the Royal Navy had remained on coal, it’s possible that the Germans would have switched to oil and then won a military advantage. This could have led to the destruction of Britain itself, for that is the nature of military advantages.

Why would one side sit back and allow their enemies to obtain a strategic advantage over them? They wouldn’t. In the same way that no Civilization player will refuse to build battleships and power plants and allow the other players to destroy him, no real-life leader would refuse a military advantage that kept their people safe.

What emerges, from a game theory perspective, is a global tragedy of the commons-style scenario. The payoff to the people burning the fossil fuel is that they keep all the benefits of harnessing the energy. The drawback is the environmental damage done by burning the fossil fuels, which are mostly spread out across the entire world.

We do have one great factor in our favour. On our planet, technological advancement occurred in an extremely unequal manner, unlike in a game of Civilization. The Industrial Revolution began in Britain, and by the time the rest of the world had caught up, the British had built a global empire.

This made it possible for a minority of nations to develop so far economically that they were able to produce scientists who could foresee the danger of burning too many fossil fuels, and before we had burned so many that the planet was on an unavoidable path to disaster. And here we are today, but at a crossroads.

It’s not clear what the path away from this situation is. However, as this newspaper has mentioned before, the average person will eventually have to cut their consumption to a level roughly equal to that of a New Zealand beneficiary. This is not optional, as the planet simply cannot support more than this. The only thing certain is that a turn away from materialist consumption is necessary.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.