VJMP Reads: Anders Breivik’s Manifesto XVII (End and Summary)

This reading is the final one in this section, and completes our reading of 2083: A Declaration of European Independence. It carries on from here.

This final section of the document (pages 1414-end) is mostly given over to a diary-style account that Breivik wrote when he was planning his operation. It describes in detail his thoughts leading up to the event and the caution he took in order to go undetected until the final moment.

It reads eerily because of a combination of a few things, especially the ordinariness of the vast majority of Breivik’s thoughts when contrasted with the murderous intent and fanatical devotion with which his deed was planned. Hannah Arendt’s comment about “the banality of evil” comes frequently to mind.

Most of the concerns and anxieties that he describes here are simply everyday concerns. One passage about the tediousness of email farming could have been written by any non-violent person, and another passage about Breivik being forced to overcome his fear of spiders might even be endearing if the reader hadn’t already gone through 1,450 pages of justification for shooting teenagers.

This section is actually capable of being self-consciously dark and comical, such as when Breivik is describing the difficulties he initially encountered trying to buy black market firearms in Prague, when his typically Norwegian frankness brought instant paranoia to the criminals he was trying to do business with.

All in all, it’s things like this that make this document so unsettling. Breivik is clearly capable of sophisticated humour and was apparently able to make friends and socialise without anyone realising what he was planning. With his references to social competition and a great future ambition he seems unbelievably normal – most of the friends he references have serious girlfriends and/or professional jobs.

This is a common sentiment for people who have known serial killers and the like, and were astonished by how normal they seemed. After all, Breivik killed over 70 people, which is more than other infamous killers like Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy. So it’s reasonable that many people would be surprised and astonished when they saw on the news that someone they knew and considered normal did such a thing.

A question about gun control is raised in this section. If Breivik purchased a semi-automatic rifle legally under stringent Norwegian gun control laws, and still managed to kill more people in one incident than has ever been managed by an American terrorist in the entire duration of that country and its long love affair with firearms, then what’s really going on?

At one point, Breivik relates a discussion with a Marxist friend at a party, where Breivik asks: “Don’t you consider yourself to be a hypocrite considering the fact that you support mass Muslims immigration and at the same time refuse to actually live with them?” It’s a question that many young Western people have asked themselves of the middle-class left.

If a person would start to read this manifesto with a certain idea in their head about Breivik being a neo-Nazi and Nazis being simple but emotional people, they would get a completely different idea by the finish. Breivik is genuine when he claims to despise Nazis, for the reason that Nazis would soon get rid of people like him, a “cultural conservative” who considers Israel a brother nation.

Breivik is not a Nazi, and neither is he a thug. There are grammatical errors characteristic of a native Scandinavian speaker throughout the text, but at the same time there are few people who would be capable of compiling a mostly coherent 1,500 page document in a foreign language.

Also striking is the fact that Breivik made over $1 million over the course of five year through a variety of entrepreneurial schemes that would have taken good intelligence and great personal drive and commitment to complete.

This paints a picture of Breivik as a member of the class elite in many ways. He was physically, financially, socially and intellectually (to say he was ‘mentally’ healthy would be pushing it) in excellent shape.

Perhaps here the signs of his downfall can be first observed – in one passage he describes himself as someone with “basically the perfect body”, and at no point in this document does he express an appreciation of or reverence for any other person, apart from vague historical figures.

Also telling is the fact that no romantic engagement with a woman is ever mentioned. Breivik mentions partying with Norwegian friends and their girlfriends, but at no point does he mention a girlfriend himself, a desire for a girlfriend, or getting laid (beyond the need to breed children to counter Muslim rates of breeding). It’s possible that his narcissism made him lonely on account of making him intolerable to women.

When all the signs are put together, Breivik is clearly a monstrous narcissist, which is perhaps from where he got the willpower to reject the socially accepted history and modes of thinking and arrive at an intelligent and accurate conclusion.

It’s perhaps also possible that being one of the few people in his social circles to appreciate the iron-cast logic of Muslims eventually becoming a majority in some European countries if current trends continue, Breivik suffered from a profound sense of alienation and isolation. It’s an extremely difficult experience to be the one person who can see the truth while the masses rip you down for speaking it. This may have caused him to become bitter, resentful and vengeful.

In the final analysis, it’s more than possible to put aside the narcissism and the murders and to consider Breivik’s unusual perspective on its own merits. Dismissing this document on the grounds that a murderous narcissist wanted it read is to fall victim to precisely the kind of logic dismantled in the document itself. It would represent the intellectual cowardice that gives rise to someone like Breivik in the first place.

After all, Breivik’s political complaints are entirely reasonable, even if his conclusions are not. The real danger is that people with entirely reasonable conservative beliefs are radicalised into violence on account of the utter refusal of the left to engage with them civilly in favour of adopting “Punch a Nazi” style thuggery. A refusal to honestly talk will lead to violence, so any leftist with an honest sense of duty to keep peace and good order in society has to at least consider this question.

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This is the end of this segment of VJMP Reads. Now we have put to the readers on our FaceBook page the question of which book to read next.

Are You Trapped At Stage 4 of Kohlberg’s Scale of Moral Reasoning?

The majority of people can’t get past the idea that the law is the law and must be obeyed without question – which makes things hard for people who need medicinal cannabis

American psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg had a lifelong obsession with morality and moral reasoning, and the best-known result of his research was his six-point scale of moral reasoning. A continuation of the child development studies of Jean Piaget, the theory suggests that people develop through discrete stages of moral reasoning, with each stage more sophisticated, effective and enlightened than the previous ones. This article discusses the tremendous number of people trapped at stage 4 of the scale.

Kohlberg’s scale suggests that moral sophistication develops over the course of a person’s life, with entry into each new stage marked by a brand new perspective which is different to the old one but still a derivative of it, in the sense that the individual holding it has “grown up” and become more of a functioning adult.

Essentially, most people start out with a similar level of moral reasoning to that of a wild animal. Kohlberg euphemistically referred to this stage as “Pre-conventional” and it consists of the wretches who do nothing but try to avoid punishment in stage 1, and the narcissists and psychopaths who are only interested in personal advantage in stage 2.

Conventional reasoning is where most people are. In this stage, moral decisions are justified with reference to what other people in society do or believe. Stage 3 of this involves an effort to display good intentions as defined by social approval, and a person here tries to be good and be thought of as good, wanting to earn a pat on the head.

In stage 4, a person comes to appreciate the value of the law. In this stage it becomes possible for a person to reason to themselves the need to follow a law or social convention despite that the people around them are not doing so. Someone here is capable of overcoming being induced by peer pressure into doing something immoral or criminal.

This is not the most sophisticated stage of moral reasoning, but in the same way that most people are intellectually unremarkable they are also morally unremarkable. In other words, most people just follow the herd and are neither vicious nor Buddha-like, and so they develop to here and no further.

It is speculated that most people never reach stages 5 and 6 of moral reasoning – collectively known as “Post-conventional” reasoning – on account of that they have neither the courage to stand out from the herd nor the intelligence to determine when it might be correct to do so. At these stages a person is willing to break the law if doing so would uphold a higher moral principle.

Kohlberg used to test the participants in his studies with something called the Heinz dilemma. This is a thought experiment in which the participants are invited to ask themselves if they might consider it morally permissible to steal a medicine if this was necessary to afford the medical treatment of a loved one.

New Zealanders often find themselves faced with something that we might call the Renton dilemma, after Rose and Alex Renton, who faced it. The Renton dilemma could be described as whether or not to act in order to help a sick person get hold of medicinal cannabis despite that the medicine has been prohibited by whatever local ruling power has claimed the authority to do so.

If a person was stuck at stage 4 of Kohlberg’s scale of moral reasoning, at which point they put the importance of the law above everything else, they would argue that Rose Renton should not have tried to get hold of medicinal cannabis without the relevant government approval, because laws like this must be obeyed for the sake of social cohesion.

The reason why this is dilemma is because a person who follows the law would not help a sick person get hold of medicinal cannabis, ergo they would let a sick person suffer needlessly for the sake of upholding the law.

A person at stage 5 of Kohlberg’s scale might not reason in such a manner, perhaps deciding instead that acting to reduce the sum total of human suffering in the world was more important than mindless obedience to a law that the people never consented to, and which was forced upon them on false pretenses and supported by lies.

Anyone who can’t get their head around the idea that the law can be wrong is likely stuck at stage 4 of Kohlberg’s moral reasoning scale, and it’s on issues at the forefront of cultural change, like cannabis law reform, where they get the most confused. Unfortunately, these people are by far the majority and the herd rules under the laws of democracy.

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Vince McLeod is the author of the Cannabis Activist’s Handbook.

Defending Human Rights Begins At Home

There’s no point in Jacinda Ardern’s Government fighting for the rights of “refugees” in Australia when it is committing human rights abuses against the New Zealand people by denying us medicinal cannabis

Watching Jacinda Ardern virtue signal about the need for New Zealand to take in country-shopping refugees from Manus Island is disgusting when she is representing a Government that is currently committing human rights abuses against its own people. The fact is that if the Sixth Labour Government wants to get a reputation for being on the correct side of human rights issues, it needs to start at home with a repeal of cannabis prohibition.

Putting a sick person in a cage for growing the medicine they need to alleviate their suffering is a human rights abuse. No reasonable person doubts this anymore, despite the 80 years of propaganda seeking to demonise the plant. There is ample evidence that cannabis is medicinal and should never have been made illegal.

Plenty of unreasonable people once argued otherwise, and unfortunately our law still reflects the conclusions drawn by those unreasonable people in the form of the Misuse of Drugs Act. But much like prohibiting women from voting, or to putting gay men in cages like animals, reasonable people have kept the pressure on to get the law changed to something reflecting basic human compassion.

The majority of the New Zealand people now believe that the politicians who criminalised growing medicinal cannabis, and the Police officers, judges and bailiffs that enforce this illegal law are human rights abusers. This is because, if people do not have the right to a medicine that takes their suffering away when they get sick, then they don’t have any rights at all.

A law that forces sick people to endure unnecessary suffering when those sick people could themselves be growing a palliative medicine is obscene. It’s more obscene than anything else currently happening in New Zealand, and this is why Ardern needs to begin with a repeal of cannabis prohibition and not by meddling with Australian “refugee” policy.

It’s clear that it’s important to the Sixth Labour Government that they are seen to be doing the right thing. Much of the argument for voting for them in the first place is moral – that a greater redistribution of wealth would alleviate poverty and that we have a moral obligation to reduce poverty because it causes suffering. So they have an obligation to actually make moral decisions.

It’s also clear that the Fifth Labour Government fell, in part, because the public perception was that it was more interested in being seen to do the right thing than actually doing the right thing. They started to appear hollow and dishonest to a jaded electorate, and the public became cynical.

In order to avoid this, Ardern’s Government ought to deliver a meaningful win to the disenfranchised and dejected masses who voted them in, and quickly. It ought to introduce an immediate moratorium on cannabis arrests, effective today, by giving notice to Police Commissioner Mike Bush that it had intent to repeal cannabis prohibition.

If the intent was to look good from taking correct moral actions, this is one that the Fifth Labour Government should have taken 18 years ago, because there was enough evidence for California to make medicinal cannabis legal in 1996. Ardern would do well to make up for the tardy refusal of the New Zealand Government to stay informed; a pig-headedness that has caused so much suffering.

Of course, if Jacinda Ardern had any real integrity, and wasn’t just another of the virtue-signalling hypocrites that Western voters now expect leftist politicians to be, she would make a public Government apology to those impacted by cannabis prohibition, emphasise that the New Zealand Government never had the right to make The People’s Medicine illegal and open discussions about compensation for past criminal convictions. That would be the result of making an objective, honest appraisal about how to put things right.

This is too much to realistically hope for, but we can still call for an immediate moratorium on cannabis arrests on the basis that prohibition will not survive this term of Government.

VJMP Reads: Anders Breivik’s Manifesto XV

This reading carries on from here.

In this section (pages 1235-1290), Breivik turns to the question of how to consolidate and organise European conservative groups. This is mostly to be achieved through the promulgation of what Breivik calls the “Vienna School” of ideology, so named because it was in Vienna where the last great expression of a European will to not be ruled by Islam took place.

For Anglo readers, some of Breivik’s philosophy will appear very curious. Some of this originality is a consequence of being European, such as his desire to resist “excessive US cultural influence”. He also believes in the idea of partitioning South Africa in two countries, with one for the Europeans. These sentiments he shares with many other European thinkers, not all of whom are right-wing.

Fundamentally, as is repeatedly emphasised, Breivik is looking for space away from what he considers hate ideologies. These hate ideologies are all as bad as each other in Breivik’s mind, and he claims to oppose any such ideology based on hate: “A multiculturalist is just as bad as a Nazi, which again is just as bad as a true Muslim, a communist or a fascist.”

The four most prevalent hate ideologies in the modern world, against which all nationalists and patriots much stand, are according to Breivik:

1. National Socialism (anti-Jewish hate ideology, racist in nature).
2. Islam (anti-Kafr hate ideology, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists etc).
3. Communism (anti-individualism, anti-freedom).
4. Multiculturalism (anti-European hate ideology, anti-white racism).

Sometimes Breivik’s argumentation is so reasonable that one is forced to consider whether or not he may have become demented after composing this document. For instance, he correctly points out that it isn’t a good or honourable idea to fight the hate of multiculturalism with the hate of Nazism, and one ought to strive to find an ideology without hate. He also points out that young people should not be considered “lost causes” just because the media labels them racists, a level of tolerance severely at odds with his infamous actions.

Much of this section is taken up with talk about the “seven fronts” of peaceful activism, which involve ways of promoting a cultural conservative message and resisting the hate ideologies of Communism and Multiculturalism while acting within the law at all times, and how people in these fronts must officially deny support for the “eighth front” of armed resistance.

Breivik gives a sense of having left no stone unturned when he writes at length about the reality of time in prison for anyone really interested in being a member of the eighth front. How to conduct oneself in prison in order to undermine Islam is discussed at length.

The most interesting thing to take away from this section is the question Breivik raises when he talks about the need for reasonable cultural conservative movements. He makes the claim that multiculturalists have sown the seeds for their own downfall by making moderate cultural conservatism impossible, because this has driven a large number of impressionable young people into the embrace of hate ideologies like Nazism.

This might be the aspect of Breivik’s philosophy that people will have the most difficulty understanding. He has the historical understanding to foresee a counter-reaction to leftism, and he knows that the greater the excesses of one age, the greater the excesses of the counter-reaction. So he is a voice of moderation in a very real way, somehow managing to be a centrist on the paranoid and aggressive axis.

Interestingly, however, Breivik puts the responsibility of creating this reasonable cultural conservative movement on his readers. He argues that any unwillingness to do so will inevitably result in impressionable youth having their social needs met by more insidious movements.

New Zealand Should Start Accepting White South Africans As Refugees

White South Africans may have become to the blacks what Jews once became to the Germans. Should New Zealand act now in the interests of preventing a genocide?

The race rhetoric in South Africa appears to have reached an unprecedented level of nastiness, and farm murders are increasing. Ever more prominent black South African voices are calling for the removal of white people. With a mind to possibly preventing a genocide, New Zealand ought to consider whether we should start accepting white South Africans as refugees.

There are several major advantages to the idea from a New Zealand perspective.

South Africans regularly find themselves at or near the top of the income tables for the various immigrant groups to New Zealand – in stark contrast to the sort of person who usually comes to the West as a refugee. This suggests that they broadly fall into the categories of immigrant that we’re trying to attract anyway.

The common Marxist argument that Third World refugees are generally beneficial to the nations that let them in has been proven to be a lie, but white South Africans have a similar level of academic achievement to white people in other Western cultures, and this has had a positive effect on employment rates and economic productivity. In this sense they could be considered a First World culture.

This also means that they’re much less likely to do the kind of welfare bludging and petty crime that people from other large refugee sources tend to do, which means that the New Zealand population is less likely to regret the decision to let them in. Many Europeans bitterly regret letting in so many immigrants whose net contributions are negative, and New Zealand has the right and duty to act to avoid the same fate.

Culturally speaking, white South Africans are more like us Kiwis than anyone else in the world is, with the exception of Australians. The first major wave of British colonisation was to the Americas, which is why the Americans and Canadians are similar, and the second major wave was to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, which is why these cultures are similar.

White South Africans speak English, they play cricket and rugby, they have a much better idea of how to conduct themselves in a Parliamentary democracy than most other immigrants, they value education, they have extensive experience (however cynical) of other ethnicities, they have a Northern European Protestant work ethic like most other successful colonial cultures, and, at least for now, they are mostly free of the massive psychological trauma that makes the long-term integration of a foreign person into society truly difficult.

In other words, they’re every bit our cousins as much as the Aussies are.

If white South Africans are not much different to us than Aussies are, their integration will be straight-forward, which is something that cannot be said of most potential refugees. This means that we can accommodate more of them for a given amount of social upheaval.

After all, a given number of immigrants will cause a level of social disruption that is a function of how different those immigrants are to the host population, so if one of the limits to taking refugees is how willing the host population is to accept them, then taking refugees that are more like us will allow us to help more people.

This means that if we are to take refugees at all, and many are arguing that we should, then we should take white South Africans first.

One negative that people might argue is that South Africa, as a developing country, needs the brainpower of its most highly-educated demographic much more than New Zealand does, as we already have a large class of highly-educated professionals whereas South Africa is still fairly poor and educational standards are very low.

But against that it could be argued that these white South Africans are going to end up moving out of the country one way or the other, and in short order in either case. Because they are educated, white and English-speaking it’s also fairly easy for Australia, Canada, Britain or America to take them in, so we might as well grab them now.

Another potential negative to consider is that offering blanket asylum to white South Africans might jeopardise a potentially more orderly withdrawal process. Measured emigration might turn into a panic.

But against this it would be argued that if a Zimbabwe-style ethnic cleansing in South Africa appears probable – and it’s looking ever more likely – then moving as quickly as possible is the best move to minimise human suffering in the long term.

New Zealand should take measures to accommodate considerable numbers of white South African refugees because the safety of those cultures in the African continent can no longer be guaranteed, and letting them into New Zealand is both easier than them going anywhere else and better for New Zealand than letting any other group of refugees in.

Why Kiwis Hate the Police II

Many forget that the warrant of a New Zealand Police officer is not to enforce the law but to keep the peace

Consider this thought experiment. You’re driving down a state highway at 100km/h, with some cannabis in your car. Going around a bend, you see a Police car upside-down in a river with no person in sight. Obviously the driver failed to take the corner, and is almost certainly in dire need of immediate medical help. The question is: do you stop and help, or do you just drive on past?

Most Kiwis would argue that the correct answer is clearly to stop and help. After all, it’s a medical emergency, and the Police couldn’t possibly be so unreasonable as to charge a person with a cannabis offence if someone’s life was on the line. Surely discretion would be used in such an instance.

These Kiwis would have more faith in the Police than Caleb Smith, of Greymouth. His story, which hit the news yesterday, has appalled New Zealanders. Smith made a suicide attempt, and part of the Police response was to search his house, discover some cannabis plants, and charge him with a criminal offense. He now has three criminal convictions.

This incident is very enlightening when considered in the context of broader relations between the public and the Police. The reaction of most New Zealand citizens when reading about the conduct of the officers in the Caleb Smith story is horror, disgust and outrage, but that isn’t the worst thing.

The worst thing is the effect stories like this have on public perceptions of New Zealand Police officers.

Stories like Caleb Smith’s tell the reader that the sort of person who becomes a New Zealand Police officer is the sort of person who is willing to go up to another Kiwi at their lowest point – in the midst of a suicide attempt – and kick him in the guts, making his life far more difficult for no benefit to the public good, and without the consent of the New Zealand people. It’s a person willing to be cruel simply for the sake of it, using their uniform as a shield to evade responsibility.

Like a dog, they just do what they’re told without consideration. At least, this is how the Police naturally start to appear in the eyes of the population they are supposed to be keeping safe when that population read about such incidents.

Cries of “They’re just doing their jobs!” don’t change the sentiments that stories like Smith’s make Kiwis start to have towards Police officers. In fact, mindlessly following orders is as contemptible as anything else – and people know this.

At the end of the day, every Police officer has the free will to refuse to enforce laws that are unjust, and if they choose not to exercise that free will they cannot complain of the consequences.

It is the duty of every sentient being to consider whether their actions cause suffering to leave the world, or whether their actions bring suffering into the world. That Police officers enforce a law on the Kiwi people that causes great suffering, and that they do so without the consent of those people – who do not approve of that law – is worthy of contempt.

If Police officers choose to enforce a law, even when doing so requires them to willfully add more suffering to the life of one of their fellows who is already suffering severely, then it’s only natural that the people come to hate them.

Not Kiwi Enough? If You Don’t Have Roots Here You’re Not a Kiwi At All

Very few New Zealanders would have the arrogance to move to another country and then lecture those people about who they are, and we shouldn’t accept it when it’s done to us

Three years as an immigrant in Europe taught me a lot about the concept of roots. This is a familiar concept to Maori people, who for a couple of centuries have had to tell the difference between Pakeha who were loyal to New Zealand and Pakeha who weren’t. The short of it is that one’s degree of belonging to a nation is a function of the roots that you have there.

In Sweden, like almost everywhere in the Old World, there is little question about who counts as a Swede. If you are Swedish then you have Swedish ancestors going back to the dawn of time, like all other Swedes. This is the common bond that gives rise to the Swedish nation.

If you do not have these roots you are not Swedish. This is a very simple and near-universally accepted belief. You can get a Swedish passport and become a ‘paper Swede’, and if you also speak Swedish this will entitle you to be treated with full dignity and as if your presence has as much value as anyone else – but you still won’t be Swedish.

Maoris in New Zealand have a similar concept. The depth of your roots tell you whether or not you can be trusted to stick around, or if you’re the sort of person who just wants to make a quick buck and then disappear (for obvious historical reasons, Maoris tend to be exceptionally wary of the latter sort of person).

The only real way to determine if a person is a Kiwi or not is whether or not they would stick by other Kiwis should a calamity befall the nation. This is a measure of the amount of solidarity that person has with other Kiwis. Would they stay to defend the country if it was attacked by foreign military forces? Or would they run away and leave Kiwis to their fate?

Fundamentally this is a question of solidarity. People with roots in New Zealand have cousins here, they have family friends in other cities, they have stories of how their great-great-grandparents or earlier descendants tamed the land, and this naturally leads to solidarity with other people who have similar roots and similar stories.

Golriz Ghahraman, who made the headlines today for lecturing Kiwis about our “internalised self-hate”, has no roots in New Zealand in any case, which is part of the explanation for the lack of solidarity she feels that she has received. Everything suggests that if the Kiwi people were ever truly in danger, she would rather move to another country than to stay and help out. If things got tough here, she would rather abandon us than face personal disadvantage by remaining here.

After all, she and her family have already done this once, so they have a track record of it.

She has no moral right to turn up in New Zealand as a migrant and then start lecturing us about what a Kiwi is or isn’t. The thought of a Kiwi moving to Iran and then presuming to tell the Iranians what’s what about who they are is ludicrous – so why do we accept the same in reverse? For someone with no roots in the country to act as if their verdict about our true nature has any weight represents an incredible arrogance and sense of entitlement.

Moreover, her implication that a refusal to allow New Zealand to become a dumping ground for the world’s human refuse is “race supremacy” is disgusting in light of the strong bonds of solidarity that exist between the descendants of British colonists and Maoris. These two groups get along as well as they do because they have shared roots in the country – it has nothing to do with race.

Obviously Ghahraman has spoken to very few Maoris in her lifetime, for if she had she would be aware that the strongest nationalist and anti-refugee sentiments in the country are harboured by them.

None of this is to argue that the National Front are correct or that they represent an appealing face of New Zealand. A New Zealand identity must not be based on a hatred of the other.

But for a Kiwi identity to exist, a certain degree of exclusivity is necessary. There is no other way of achieving this but to declare that people without roots in New Zealand are not Kiwis.

To make the argument that Kiwis with hundreds of years of roots in New Zealand are in the same category as people who just stepped off a plane and got a passport is preposterous. For one thing, it presumes to decide for those long-established New Zealanders who they are permitted to feel solidarity with. For another, it ignores the fact that almost every other culture in the world does the opposite.

Kiwis who are either Maoris or descended from colonists have a couple of centuries of family lore that relates to New Zealand that newcomers simply cannot have. They can tell you stories about how their great-grandmother cut her thumb off with an axe here, or how their grandmother broke her arm falling off a bicycle here, or how their grandfather used to go pig hunting here. Newcomers do not and cannot represent this culture.

At the end of the day, if people with deep roots in New Zealand want to exclude those who don’t, that’s their prerogative, and Iranian social justice warriors admonishing us to hate ourselves for it won’t make a mouseshit of difference.

Everything is a Matter of “Muh Feels”

It’s common for one side of an argument to demand from the other side a cold, logical, rational reason to justify their position, while at the same time decrying all appeals to emotion as fallacious. The problem with this line of reasoning is that there are no truly objective reasons to make moral judgments about anything. As this essay will investigate, all political motivations are based on emotion.

Usually the person dismissing an argument as emotional is the sort of person who is a bit autistic, perhaps themselves not really in touch with their own emotions. This sort of person has a tendency to dismiss the genuine outrage, horror or disgust of other people as illegitimate motivators. They also have a striking tendency to not realise how emotional their own arguments are.

For instance, on the question of taxation for the sake of paying for social services, many people on the left make the argument that the right are without emotion when it comes to child poverty, mental health services, rape crisis centres and the like. The usual rightist counter to this is to claim that them keeping the maximum amount of their own income is a moral imperative to oppose communism or the likes, and that left-wing “feels” about starving children etc. do not and cannot ever justify the government levying taxation upon people.

What these rightists usually miss when it comes to this line of reasoning are their own emotions that are tied up in the issue.

The government levying taxation upon people is not wrong by dint of some decree from God. It is usually only opposed by those who believe that their personal net return of government services received from this taxation is negative. For these people, a sense of anger arises from feelings of having one’s energy parasitised; a similar sort of anger arises in cases of property theft or gross disrespect.

It can thus be seen that the right wing opposes taxation for emotional reasons. In other words, “muh feels”.

Political questions, when it comes down to it, are all a matter of “muh feels”. Feelings of injustice motivate most of them, and for many people such feelings are unavoidable. After all, the feelings of the population about what is the optimum level of taxation fall along a bell curve with no taxation at one end and full communism at the other, but the actual overall level of taxation must fall on a point on that curve, meaning that many above it will be outraged that it isn’t higher and many below it will be outraged that it isn’t lower.

Even murder fulfills this criteria. After all, what’s wrong with murder other than that it makes us feel bad? If it wasn’t for the fact that a person likely feels terrified when they’re being murdered, or the fact that the people left behind feel bereaved when someone they love is murdered, or the fact that the people in the neighbourhood feel afraid by murders in case they are next, or the fact that other citizens feel disgusted by murder because they consider it a bestial act of brutality, then there would be no reason to even make murder illegal, much less anything else.

Indeed, it could even be argued that, without feels, none of us would be capable of feeling motivated to do anything, and we would simply lie about until we died of metabolic failure.

Although it’s often true that a person does not examine their own emotional impulses and makes political decisions by just lurching from one burst of neurotransmitters to the next, this does not by itself mean that emotional input into decision making is necessarily undesirable, or that a line of reasoning appealing to an emotion is necessarily fallacious.

It could even be that, for a social species, correct decisions cannot be made without some accounting for how people will emotionally react to them. If one drills deep enough, there may not be much more to life than “muh feels”.

We Don’t Need a Cannabis Referendum – Just Legalise It

Conducting a referendum about a liberty that should already be guaranteed by human rights legislation has proven to be highly divisive in Australia

Kiwi cannabis users have been buoyed by the demise of the Fifth National Government. It is already clear from the change in rhetoric that the incoming Sixth Labour Government will approach the issue with honesty, in contrast to the John Key/Bill English/Peter Dunne approach. However, honesty doesn’t prevent one from making errors – and the decision to hold a referendum about legalising the personal use of cannabis is one such error.

It’s widely accepted that the actions of the New Zealand Parliament in passing gay marriage legislation was a wiser, less divisive move than the actions of the Australian Parliament in holding a referendum on the subject. The Australian experience of having a referendum on such an emotive subject was that the country tore itself in two, with many people eventually choosing to vote against gay marriage out of sheer bitterness and resentment.

The New Zealand experience of making it legal by Parliamentary decree gave the country an opportunity to come together in mutual desire to right the wrongs of the past. Even conservatives like Maurice Williamson saw the need to give a passionate speech in favour of a law change, and the Parliament itself went as far as singing a song out of a will to demonstrate that the old days of hate were over.

It’s also widely acknowledged – by the New Zealand people, if not by the New Zealand ruling classes – that withholding cannabis medicine from sick people who need it is an extremely cruel thing to do, and something only done because of hate. Certainly it’s much crueler than withholding marriage rights from people, which, while inconvenient, are hardly a matter of life and death or daily suffering and misery.

Moreover, it’s obvious from the experience of the half a dozen American states that have already legalised the recreational use of cannabis that the downsides of doing so have been massively overstated for decades. The predicted crime explosion and spates of suicides never eventuated – indeed, some research suggests that suicide rates can drop by almost 5% in the wake of legalising medicinal cannabis, and this rises to almost 10% in the cases of young males.

So why not just do the obvious thing, acknowledge the evident truth, stop lying and just make the personal use of cannabis legal by Parliamentary decree, as the Labour Government intends to do with medicinal cannabis?

This way we can avoid giving a platform to moronic bigots like Bob McCroskie to further divide our society with fearmongering and lies. The Australian equivalents to McCroskie have polluted media space with hysterical predictions of doom, further alienating gay people from the mainstream, and the same will happen in New Zealand if we also put a question of basic human rights to referendum.

Ultimately, no-one has the right to prevent anyone else from using cannabis. No-one has the right to take this freedom away from other people, any more than they have the right to prevent them from watching cricket or eating parmesan. Therefore, there is no good reason to have a referendum about whether it should be legal or not, because there’s ultimately no good reason to obey any law prohibiting the use of cannabis.

Our law should simply reflect this reality and make it legal.

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Vince McLeod is a former Membership Secretary of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party and author of the Cannabis Activist’s Handbook.

Cannabis Law Reform Appears Imminent Under The New “Afghanistan” Government

The Afghanistan flag is black, red and green, like the alliance supporting the Sixth Labour Government

A black-red-green “Afghanistan” coalition has replaced National in the halls of New Zealand power, and so the absolute, mindless refusal of the outgoing National Government to countenance any kind of cannabis law reform is now no longer relevant. This means that the wasted decade might be at an end. This article looks at the prospects for cannabis law reform over the next three years.

Labour had already pledged to introduce medicinal cannabis within the first 100 days of taking power, at least to “people with terminal illnesses or in chronic pain”, but questions remain.

It isn’t yet clear what definition of medicinal cannabis Labour intends to use when they change the law. What constitutes “medicinal” use of cannabis is a subject of considerable debate, not least among medical and mental health professionals. That it could be prescribed to people with terminal illnesses seems straightforward enough, but what qualifies as “chronic pain” could vary from a small number of acute conditions on the one hand, to a California-style wide range of ailments on the other (California has had legal medicinal cannabis since 1996).

The best outcome for cannabis users would be that the Labour Party adopts the same definition of cannabis, and treats cannabis the same way, as in Julie Anne Genter’s medicinal cannabis bill, currently before Parliament. This bill contains a very broad conception of medicinal cannabis and provides for users to grow their own medicine at home if they have approval from a doctor who believes that cannabis would prevent suffering.

A jackpot outcome for medicinal cannabis users would be for the home grow provisions of Julie Anne Genter’s bill to be made legal within the first hundred days of the Sixth Labour Government. Although we can be sure that all of the Green MPs and most of the Labour MPs would support this, Winston Peters and New Zealand First might prefer a narrower definition of medicinal cannabis in the first hundred days with a broader definition put to referendum as part of the deal with the Greens.

Recently it was learned that the Green Party had successfully negotiated to hold a referendum on personal use of cannabis at or before the 2020 General Election. Although it isn’t clear at this stage whether this will be similar to the referendum that successfully legalised recreational cannabis in Colorado in 2012, or if it will be some watered-down offer of decriminalisation, the very fact that a referendum is happening is excellent news for New Zealand cannabis users.

Although James Shaw is maintaining the lie that the Greens have supported legalising cannabis for 20 years, rather than tell the truth that they abandoned cannabis users for many years in an effort to appeal to the middle class, the fact that he feels the desire to take credit for the change in public perception regarding cannabis is a sign that he is sure that the wind has changed.

This column pointed out some years ago that it would be possible to tell when the public perception of cannabis had definitively shifted because politicians would start publicly claiming to have always supported a law change. Shaw is lying when he says that the Greens have had cannabis law reform as part of their policy for the past 20 years, because cannabis law reform activists have been challenging the Greens that whole time to update their cannabis policy to something similar to that of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, and they have only done so in the past year.

But that doesn’t matter any more. The important thing is that a lot of cannabis law reform should be happening in the next three years, under a governing alliance that does not suffer from the fear-based myopia of the National Party around the substance. It appears that the efforts of cannabis law reform activists to persuade the centre-left parties of the merits of reform have been broadly successful, and that the ruling powers are now of a mind to make change to the laws.

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Vince McLeod is a former Membership Secretary of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party and author of the Cannabis Activist’s Handbook.