Island tameness is a concept within behavioural ecology that explains some of the behavioural phenomena observed in animals who live on islands separate from any mainland. As the name suggests, it refers to a form of docility that regularly afflicts animals who adapt to island environments. This essay makes a frightening suggestion: that New Zealand culture might itself be afflicted by island tameness.
The most famous example of island tameness might have been the Dodo birds of Mauritius, hunted to extinction less than a century after their discovery by European sailors. This is only the most famous case of what is a widespread phenomenon.
New Zealand itself offers many excellent examples of island tameness. When Maori explorers discovered the archipelago some 800 years ago, they were astonished to find that they could simply walk up to the giant birds that lived there and club them on the head. Having been separate from the Australian mainland for tens of millions of years, the megafauna of New Zealand had developed extreme island tameness.
Much like the moas and other giant birds of ancient days, modern New Zealanders have also forgotten how to recognise predators. This has been a feature of the New Zealand psyche ever since people started being born on these islands.
People old enough to remember World War II can remember how completely unprepared New Zealand was to deal with the Japanese threat, and the utter disbelief that was felt at the Fall of Singapore in 1942. They tell stories of a Home Guard that trained with broomsticks because no firearms were available, and coastal batteries that were outranged by Japanese naval vessels. So green were we that the vast majority of our troops were sent to Europe.
This naivety is a fundamental part of our culture. In other words, it’s impossible to understand New Zealand culture without understanding how island tameness has influenced our attitudes and behaviour. Perhaps the best place to look for examples of this is the lamb-like docility with which Kiwis treat their politicians.
Although less naive nations overseas have fought horrific, bloody wars to keep international bankers from controlling them, New Zealanders voted one into power. Then, when that banker opened the borders at the same time as slashing the welfare safety net, leading to hundreds of extra deaths from the despair he created, Kiwis voted him back into power – twice.
He’d still be the Prime Minister now if he wanted to be, because the mainstream media is owned by international banking and finance interests, and these interests simply directed their media lackeys to tell Kiwis that they lived in a “rockstar economy” and were wealthier than ever. Those interests were the same ones that benefitted the most from mass immigration and slashing welfare, and they gleefully did the cheerleading for Key and for the Fifth National Government.
Likewise, less naive nations overseas have fought horrific, bloody wars to keep Communists from controlling them. But Jacinda Ardern can get elected to Parliament while sitting as President of the International Union of Socialist Youth (credit to those calling Ardern a Communist in that linked article from 2008). Despite having once given a speech in which she addressed the assembled Marxists as “Comrades”, she was elected as Prime Minister.
Imagine voting for a Prime Minister who addressed a hall full of Nazis as “Comrades”!
Nek minnit, our rights to free speech, free assembly and firearms are gone. Even though a blind man could have foreseen that voting for an unrepentant Communist was going to lead to our human rights disappearing, New Zealanders did it anyway. Island tameness has meant that New Zealanders are incapable of recognising the danger of psychopathic individuals or groups in their midst.
Island tameness has also meant that New Zealanders are incapable of recognising the danger of the mainstream media. Just as the Dodo birds naively approached the Portuguese sailors, New Zealanders sit naively before the television, entirely trusting. This explains why a predatory class of rulers can control the minds of the New Zealand populace with the ease of a puppet-master pulling the strings of his mannequin.
The New Zealand ruling class can say anything it wants to the New Zealand people through the television, and the people will believe it. Island tameness has led to a total inability to detect untruths, even when someone is blatantly lying to our faces. We’re so tame that people like John Key and Jacinda Ardern can come to power, destroy the nation for the sake of the profit of their fellows, and we vote them back in because we’re told to.
Unfortunately, the future for New Zealanders seems like it will be similar to that of the Dodo birds.
Island tameness has left us completely incapable of recognising the threats of the new century. Not only do we sheepishly follow the fashions in other nations, but we’re willing to follow them to our own destruction.
We adopted wholesale the neoliberal experiment conducted by our fellow Anglo nations, forever wrecking the societies that our ancestors had built. We exchanged most of our rights and freedoms for a vapid, plastic, McDisney world that we only interact with through screens. Meanwhile, our ruling classes engorged themselves on profit from importing cheap labour.
In Europe, mass Muslim and African immigration has caused sufficient misery to cause the rise of far-right populist parties who promise to bring even more misery. But instead of learning from the grim example of Europe, we’re doing everything we can to replicate it here. Our ruling classes want more cheap labour, and we will sit idly by and watch as they open the gates.
Not only is it impossible to understand New Zealand ecology without reference to the phenomenon of island tameness, it’s impossible to understand our culture either. Island tameness is so deeply ingrained into our psyche that, much like at the Battle of Passchendale a century ago, we will happily throw ourselves into slaughter if commanded to do so. Only by understanding this phenomenon can we begin to be free.
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