Psychedelics or Meditation: Which is More Transformative?

Some people wonder which is the more transformative out of psychedelic sacraments or meditation. The apparent forced choice comes from the proscription against intoxication that can be found in many spiritual traditions. This article suggests that a skilled synergistic approach is better still.

Psychedelics can be transformative in an extremely dramatic way. It’s possible for someone who takes a powerful psychedelic to permanently change into an entirely different person in the space of an hour.

One drawback with the psychedelic experience is that, because the new impressions come so overwhelmingly fast and intensely they are mostly forgotten the next day (a similar but less dramatic phenomenon can be observed with naive cannabis users).

This can lead to a sense that one is forever grasping for a truth that remains, ghost-like, just out of reach. One is haunted by the idea that perhaps everything one knows is wrong, perhaps the world is entirely upside-down, and that, no matter how much sense it seemed to make at any one time, it could potentially be tipped upside-down again at any moment.

Such an experience can be unsettling, to say the least.

Meditation is the opposite in many ways. One cannot count on an immediate, life-shattering breakthough within an hour of sitting down to meditate for the first time, but one can usually count on some kind of permanent insight once one gets it right.

Some people take a long time to feel anything pleasant from meditation at all. Certain people have been lurching from one attachment to another for so long with so little questioning that their habits are far too deeply ingrained to simply quit.

Related to this, often it isn’t the actual meditation itself that brings a change but a secondary insight that comes from meditating upon the meditation. After one has had the experience of sitting down meditating and coming away feeling really good, it is only a small cognitive step to the insight that one doesn’t actually need external stimulation in order to feel at peace.

This insight is the beginning of liberation from identification with the contents of consciousness.

This column will resist the temptation to declare that meditation is somehow more ‘natural’ or ‘wholesome’ than taking a psychedelic. For one thing, much of the pleasure that comes from meditation is because the act facilitates the release of the neurotransmitter 5-hydroxytryptomine, which results in the familiar feelings of peace and serenity that accompany it (the main reason is that the topic has been discussed at length here).

In retrospect, a good way to explore the world within might be this. Take a psychedelic in the correct set and setting and let your thoughts flow freely as they do. Allow your mind to be expanded. Allow yourself to become awestruck by the infinitude of psychic impressions, allow yourself to become terrified, allow yourself to feel like God.

Then, meditate upon it all. Meditate upon the question of why ordinary life is not usually as awesome as it appears to be on psychedelics, and on the question of what is ultimately terrifying about the contents of consciousness, and on the question of what, if anything, is the difference between you and God anyway.

Allowing yourself to be shocked by psychedelic insights and then to take the fear out of them by making sense of why they occur is part of the shamanism of the 21st century. It is how modern shamans travel to the spirit world and wrestle demons for the benefit of their loved ones back in the material world.

The Naturalistic Fallacy and Consciousness-Altering Drugs

A great and famous observation in philosophy is known as Hume’s guillotine, and it can be found “In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with” (Hume’s words). This observation is that people aren’t very good at describing reality as it is, but rather seem to prefer to describe it as it ought to be.

This general confusion of how things are and how they ought to be has led to all manner of incorrect thinking. One assumption, when applied to drugs in general (not just drug law in particular) seems to be that the human mind works most rationally and correctly when not under the influence of any external drugs – which is, as this reasoning glibly assumes, its ‘natural’ state.

An implication of this assumption is that any person under the influence of a psychoactive drug is ‘high’ or ‘intoxicated’ and thus cannot be trusted to do anything at all competently, perhaps not even verbally describe reality or their own will.

As any psychonaut can tell you, this is complete shit.

For one thing, we are almost always under the effects of one psychoactive drug or another. At any one point in time, close to half of us are either somewhat drunk or somewhat hungover, most of us have a least a buzz going from a solid dose of caffeine at some point in the morning or a haze going from a sleeping pill at some point in the evening, about a quarter of us smoke tobacco, and over a third of us are under the effects of psychoactive medicine prescribed by a doctor.

We’re never clean – so how do we know it’s better?

Secondly, there are already powerful psychoactives that are natural, and our brains are full of them. Our brains are naturally a store of psychoactive chemicals called neurotransmitters, of which there are over 100 known.

Some of them are well known, such as adrenaline. Yes, the rush you get from fighting or from nearly being killed is literally just a drug rush: adrenaline binds to adrenergic receptors, which causes the blood flow to heart and lungs to increase and the muscles to surge with energy in preparation for possible mortal combat.

Few would argue that this burst of manic energy, which often brings with it cerebral haemorrhages and heart attacks, could possibly be more healthy than smoking some Northern Lights and relaxing for the evening. But some will.

Thirdly, there are many ways of altering consciousness that don’t even involve psychoactive drugs. There is music, meditation, physical exercise, and if one has never altered consciousness from making love one simply hasn’t done it right.

If it’s possible to significantly alter consciousness by ‘natural’ means then it can hardly be argued that sobriety is itself natural. Indeed, the idea that humanity’s natural state is to wallow in mind-rotting tedium is probably a masochistic artifact of Abrahamic influence or a consequence of the brainwashing that was done to condition people to industrial era labour.

A fourth and final point is that in some cases the human mind demonstrably works better when influenced from the outside. When a child is born, the act of nursing and being nursed releases oxytocin in both mother and baby.

Oxytocin is known as the “love drug.” Large doses of it in the brains of females while making love will induce them to favour a monogamous pair bond with their partner. This neurotransmitter appears to play a role in all kinds of emotional bonding and interpersonal solidarity, as it is released by pleasant physical contact like being caressed or stroked and brings with it a reduction in anxiety and fear.

The baby needs this release of oxytocin in order to be healthy, because, without it, they tend to develop to be suspicious and cold, probably because they have internalised a moral value that the world is a place where no-one really cares about each other.

Thus it can be seen that, in some cases, a drug that requires an external influence is a natural part of the human experience as a consequence of humans evolving as a mammalian, and thus social, species.

All of these arguments taken together suggest that the received wisdom of “Drugs bad no drugs good” is not only far from the truth but could be dangerously counterproductive.

There is actually a lot of merit to the counterargument. Looking at the drug intake of most of our greatest cultural icons demonstrates clearly that the unique and original thoughts common to many drug experiences is a powerful facilitator of creative achievement.

The Future of Trans-Tasman Domestic Cricket

It’s perhaps fitting that cricket, the most traditional of all major sports in New Zealand, is the only one yet to jump on the Trans-Tasman bandwagon. League, union, netball and soccer all operate in Australian leagues at the highest domestic level. It seeems inevitable that the same will happen for cricket, so, what will it look like?

The concept of a Trans-Tasman domestic cricket league was a fantasist’s pipedream during the era of 50-over domestic cricket. But the idea has had new life ever since the advent of serious, high-quality, T20 domestic cricket.

Domestic cricket has hitherto had one immense hurdle, and that was the difficulty in getting punters to sit in a stadium for the duration of a cricket match when it wasn’t the top level of skill available. They will do it if the sport has matches of a shorter duration, and they will do it for long duration, top level cricket, but not long duration domestic cricket.

T20 fills both of those gaps. A domestic T20 match offers punters a chance to see a high level of cricket without making a time commitment of an entire day (or longer). The Indian Premier League has muscled into a space on the cricket calendar and it seems like it’s here to stay.

This column has taken the time to get caught up in some of the Big Bash League hype last summer. Frankly, it’s a very high level of cricket. Australia has to fit much more talent into a handful of domestic teams than the New Zealand system, and a consequence of this is a level of cricket somewhere between international level and New Zealand domestic level.

The BBL currently has eight teams, which corresponds to one team per two and a half to three million people. Probably, however, there are plans to expand, as the BBL is still in its infancy. If it is expanded to a similar size to the Trans-Tasman tournaments in other sports there would be room for two or three Kiwi teams in a league of 16 to 18.

Two might be difficult as the natural division into North and South Islands would leave a Northern team representing over three times the population of the Southern team.

Perhaps the best would be to divide New Zealand into North, Central and South. This would be very simple as it would mean Northern Districts and Auckland were North, Central Districts and Wellington were Central, and Canterbury and Otago were South.

Perhaps in the very long term we might end with a Super Rugby style arrangement of three Kiwi teams, seven Aussie teams for each state and five or six South African ones.

Three Kiwi T20 teams might leave us with something that looked like this. The Northern team isn’t far off international standard in its own right, but the other two are currently a fair bit weaker and might need to draft in overseas players to fill some gaps.

Northern:

1. Martin Guptill
2. Kane Williamson (c)
3. Dean Brownlie
4. BJ Watling (wk)
5. Corey Anderson
6. Colin Munro
7. Mitchell Santner
8. Tim Southee
9. Mitch McClenaghan
10. Lockie Ferguson
11. Trent Boult

Central:

1. Ben Smith
2. Ross Taylor (c)
3. Tom Bruce
4. Will Young
5. Tom Blundell
6. Luke Ronchi (wk)
7. Doug Bracewell
8. Josh Clarkson
9. Adam Milne
10. Ben Wheeler
11. Hamish Bennett

Southern:

1. Peter Fulton
2. Tom Latham (c)
3. Jimmy Neesham
4. Henry Nicholls
5. Derek de Boorder (wk)
6. Andy Ellis
7. Matt Henry
8. Neil Wagner
9. Kyle Jamieson
10. Josh Finnie
11. Ed Nuttall

Our Relationship With Information Has Fundamentally Changed in a Quarter-Century

The greatest selective advantage that the human creature has over its competitors is an unrivalled capacity for intelligence. This manifests as an ability to make use of information. Few are aware of it, but the human relationship to information has undergone a revolution over the past 25 years – and it has implications for our conception of intelligence.

It used to be that there was a shortage of information. Now there is a surplus. In many ways, this has been a good thing. In some ways it’s had strange implications.

Some of the ways it is good are like the way creatures that have adapted to a shortage often find themselves thriving when there is a surplus, such as athletes who have trained at high altitude where there is a shortage of oxygen.

It has meant that researchers and academics now have it easier than ever. Instead of relying on a librarian or punch cards, researchers can put a regular expression into a search engine which has crawled all the papers in their field (or subset thereof).

In fact, most people have in their pockets instant access to more information than physically exists in the largest library in the world. This is fairly straightforward, and not as interesting as the ways in which it is strange.

The strangest implication of our new relationship to information is that it is no longer about finding rare nuggets of truth among fields of irrelevant or easily dismissed information. Now it’s about knowing how to distinguish those nuggets of truth from nuggets that might look or sound very similar but which might really be full of falsehood.

Becoming educated about a subject used to be like finding diamonds among rocks – now it’s more like sorting the wheat from the chaff.

Being correct is now no longer a question of having money to buy books or to hire a learned tutor and having a good enough memory to recall what one has been told. Now it is a question of gullibility.

Take climate change as an everyday example. Determining the truth of this isn’t as simple as just finding out what the foremost expert thinks.

Who are the foremost experts on climate change, and why? And why does one set of supposed experts disagree so fundamentally with another set of supposed experts? If the experts are unified on climate change, how is that different to when they were unified on homosexuality being a mental illness? How much of the consensus is groupthink?

And what is the extent of politics on the science of climate change?

Questions like this once didn’t need to be asked because there was no way of propagating enormous amounts of dis- or misinformation like there is with the Internet of today. Often things were as simple as finding the nearest university professor who had an interest in the subject, and that was as good as one could hope for.

Dealing with this change is difficult because it requires an entirely different set of mental skills. The new paradigm prioritises nuance and probability over revolution and absolutes. Shades of gray instead of brutal black and white.

One now has to be more streetsmart with research, and accept that politics has a much greater influence on science – especially the soft sciences – than most would dare admit. Today’s climate change debate appeared in the previous generation as the debate over racial intelligence, and in the generation before that as the debate on the medicinal value of various psychoactive drugs – two other subjects where finding the simple truth is impossible.

To some extent it doesn’t matter: the sort of person who didn’t read books nowadays simply doesn’t educate themselves with the Internet instead. You can’t make gold out of shit.

But to a large extent, intelligence is different to what it used to be. It is no longer a simple question of storing, retaining and reproducing information like a biological hard drive, but a question of identifying the most likely claim to correctness out of a number of plausible competitors, like a knight choosing a blade from an armoury before battle.

This may mean that the kind of person we consider to be intelligent now may not be the same kind of person that we will consider intelligent in another quarter-century.

Understanding New Zealand: Cannabis Law Reform Voters

With the news that the Greens have more or less adopted the ALCP policy from the 2014 Election, there is a sudden interest in the sort of person who might be attracted to vote Green on the basis of this policy. In this specific instance, there’s one obvious and decent-sized demographic: actual ALCP voters from 2014, who were 10,961 in number.

So who are they? Well, they’re very clearly not the same sort of person who would vote National. The correlation betwen voting ALCP in 2014 and voting National in 2014 is -0.70. This is not at all surprising as the entire point of the war on drugs was to destroy the enemies of the conservative establishment.

Neither are they likely to vote ACT (-0.45) or Conservative (-0.54). These three correlations are fairly hefty, which tells us that the average cannabis law reform voter has a considerable level of apathy for conservatism and for right-wing politics in general.

Naturally, these correlations are the opposite on the left. Voting for the ALCP in 2014 and voting Labour in 2014 had a correlation of 0.38. For Internet MANA it was 0.76 and for the Maori Party it was 0.85.

Two correlations stand out against this easy narrative of ALCP voters primarily being leftists. They are the correlation between voting ALCP in 2014 and voting Green in 2014 (0.02) and with voting New Zealand First in 2014 (0.57).

The lack of a significant correlation with the Green Party vote might surprise many. It seems to be a natural assumption that, because the ALCP policy in 2014 was always more likely to be picked up in the future by the Greens than any other party, that a strong correlation ought to exist. The reality, however, is that the Greens and the ALCP have hitherto appealed to very different demographics.

The Greens have, since at least a decade ago, deprioritised their cannabis policy in favour of all kinds of trendy issues that appeal mostly to middle-class urban elites. This explains why the correlation between voting Green and Net Personal Income is 0.31, so much more positive than the correlation between voting ALCP and Net Personal Income, which is -0.40.

Not only do ALCP voters come from the other side of the socioeconomic spectrum to Green voters, but they are also much browner. The correlation between voting Green in 2014 and being Maori is (an insignificant) -0.09; for voting ALCP in 2014 and being Maori it is a whopping 0.89, one of the strongest correlations in this entire dataset.

This also explains much of the high correlation betwen voting ALCP and voting New Zealand First. The correlation between voting New Zealand First and being Maori is 0.66. Everyone who has ever met more than a few Maoris will have caught on to the popularity of cannabis within Maori culture, and it’s not surprising given the differential in how hard the law hits them that Maori are much more likely to cast a vote for cannabis law reform.

Few will be suprised that voting ALCP has a very strong negative correlation with turnout rate in 2014: -0.68. This is, however, only slightly worse than Labour’s correlation with voting of -0.67. So it’s less to do with lazy stoners and more to do with the general disenfranchisement of those who the system does not represent.

Cannabis voters have a moderate tendency to not be religious: correlations with voting ALCP in 2014 and being Christian, Buddhist or Hindu were -0.41, -0.52 and -0.40 respectively. Mirroring this was a correlation of 0.34 with having no religion. The odd statistic here was the sizable correlation between voting ALCP and having Spiritualism for a religion: this was 0.36.

If cannabis voters are poor, Maori and non-religious, it’s probably not surprising that they’re also young. Voting ALCP in 2014 had a hefty correlation of -0.55 with Median Age, which suggests that most of the people voting on the basis of this policy are young.

Perhaps the most interesting idea from all of these statistics is that the Greens might be winning votes with their new cannabis policy at the expense of New Zealand First voters. It’s apparent that many young Maori vote ALCP out of levity in their first election and then, as they age and become less radical, come to see the merit in voting New Zealand First. The Greens would be chiefly targeting these voters with their new cannabis policy.

If the Greens are making a serious push for cannabis voters again they may find that the demographics have changed since the last time they tried it, in 1999.

*

This article is an excerpt from Understanding New Zealand, by Dan McGlashan, published by VJM Publishing in the winter of 2017.

Estimating the Electoral Impact of the Greens’ New Cannabis Policy

The Greens have taken their sweet time in updating their cannabis policy to something reasonable, and this newspaper has not shied from criticising them for dragging their heels. But today they did update it – and this update has electoral ramifications worth considering.

The updated drug law policy seems to be the responsibility of Julie Anne Genter (whose sponsored FaceBook posts you may have seen recently if you were in enough cannabis-related groups). This is her first major effort since assuming the role of Greens Health Spokesperson from Kevin Hague.

Most encouragingly, in an interview about the new policy Genter made a reference to Canada and the USA, in particular the Western seaboard closest to New Zealand. It’s in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and California that cannabis prohibition was repealed by referendum and in Canada that it is in the process of being repealed by a party that ran explicitly on the issue in a General Election.

She also used a couple of arguments straight out of the Cannabis Activist’s Handbook: that cannabis law reform was a similar sort of deal to gay marriage in that the herd was against until until it had had a few decades to think about it and that legalisation would make it harder – not easier, as it is considered by some – for young people to get hold of it because of the current lack of ID checks on the black market.

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party has made a point of using the example of Colorado to suggest what a sane cannabis policy ought to look like. So if the Greens are signalling that this is also their long-term vision, then they ought to count on collecting votes from people who think along similar lines.

The ALCP scored 0.46% of the vote in the 2014 General Election. This isn’t much but it’s a lower limit on what the Greens might expect to gain from this policy.

All of these people were willing to drag themselves to the polls to vote for a party who had no realistic chance of making a difference but who did intend to make noise about the cannabis law, so it’s likely that the vast majority of people willing to vote for the non-Parliamentary ALCP would be willing to vote Green now that the Greens have a similar cannabis policy.

This newspaper estimated last year that the true amount of support for the ALCP was probably closer to 1%, based on the increase in support for reform to New Zealand’s drug laws since 2014 (change has been very rapid on this front). The Greens can count on most of those.

On top of that, one has to factor in all the people who would have voted for such a policy in 2014 had a major party supported it, as one now does.

These people are probably as least three times as numerous as those who voted ALCP in 2014 or were intending to do in 2017.

It’s interesting to note that voting Green in 2014 and voting ALCP in 2014 has a correlation of only 0.02. This is because Green voters tend to be white and wealthy whereas ALCP voters tend to be poor and Maori.

Voting ALCP in 2014 had a correlation of -0.40 with Net Personal Income, which suggests that cannabis voters are poorer than all but Labour, Maori Party and New Zealand First voters. Voting Green in 2014 had a correlation of 0.31 with Net Personal Income, which means Green voters are almost wealthier than average by as much as the average cannabis voter is poorer than average.

Implicit in these statistics is the potential for the Greens to attract a large number of new voters, especially those who didn’t vote in 2014, as the anti-cannabis brainwashing has been least effective on those who are already disenfranchised, such as Maori, young people and the mentally ill, and these traditionally low-voting groups now have a reason to reconsider.

These statistics suggest that there are many New Zealanders who have only just now started to hear the Green Party tune as the party seeks to expand outside of their traditional wealthy, white urban strongholds.

It’s easily possible that this new policy will result in 2% extra votes for the Greens on Election night 2017, because of the immense degree of disenfranchisement suffered by cannabis users before today. This alone would result in two extra seats once they were all dealt out.

After all, there are 400,000 cannabis users in New Zealand and our options, until today, were terrible.

How the Actions of the John Key Government Contributed to NZ’s Record Suicide Rate

earlydeath

This year has been our generation’s equivalent of 1968 – changes on all fronts, and many records broken. Apart from breaking records at rugby, New Zealanders have also had recent success in breaking records at suicide.

Broadly speaking, we have some idea why people commit suicide. Although the biochemical reasons vary, the essential reason is a sustained abuse and/or neglect that convinces them it would be better to be dead than continue to live in a place where such things happen.

There is already evidence suggesting up to 90% of suicides occur in people with a mental health diagnosis or potential diagnosis, and an American study found that high rates of childhood abuse and neglect were correlated with a 12-fold increase in the frequency of suicide attempts as an adult.

Thus, it’s fair to say that – if it wasn’t already obvious to the reader – of those who attempt suicide as an adult, most will have a story of childhood abuse or neglect to tell.

What causes childhood abuse and neglect? Tragically, the answer to this is usually more childhood abuse and neglect; the child learns from its own parents that human life isn’t worth very much and naturally they treat their own children the same way. Monkey see, monkey do. Lack of empathy cascades down the generations.

Apart from this simplistic response, the strongest correlate with abuse and neglect of children is poverty. Poverty tends to lead to abuse and neglect for two reasons. The first is stress in the family unit, the second is that it causes mental illness in the mother.

Stress leads to abuse and neglect because a parent who is continually under high levels of stress will have greater difficulty maintaining the correct attitude towards their offspring. They are more likely to lash out from suppressed frustration and rage, and they are more likely to abandon consciousness through the bottle or other recreational drugs.

It might be obvious that mental illness in the mother contributes to an increased suicide rate among the offspring, but in case it isn’t obvious the science makes clear that such a causal relationship exists.

One of the most reliable factors predicting a future maltreatment report for any given child is known to be maternal depression.

It’s well known that poverty is one of the major causes of depression in women, usually because it imposes considerable psychological stress at the same time as removing women from accessing useful avenues of social support.

In fact the association between poverty and mental health is considered one of the most well-established in all of psychiatry.

For women it is especially acute because women tend to make much greater use of social networks to pre-empt mental health conditions. This means that poverty, in addition to the stress it already causes, makes it more difficult for women to maintain their social networks, and so an unfortunate feedback loop with poverty and decreased mental health outcomes can be observed.

Considering that the vast majority of people who are both poor and with dependent children are women, this pattern is especially impactful.

After reading all this, it is perhaps predictable that there is a relationship between childhood poverty and antisocial behaviour. Not only are children more likely to exhibit antisocial behaviour if they are from a home in poverty, but they are also more likely to show persistent patterns of antisocial behaviour into adulthood the more years that they spend in poverty.

All of this ultimately reflects an area where politics and health cross.

For, if poverty creates mental illness, then there’s a clear moral imperative to reduce poverty in the same way that there is a clear moral imperative to provide sanitation to people so as to prevent cholera outbreaks, typhus, plagues etc.

After all, in the same way that someone chucking a bucket of shit out into the street might impact you by creating a disease, childhood neglect and abuse is going to create the sort of adult that will rob, rape, burgle and murder you when you’re old.

However, a vote for the National Government of the past eight years was to vote for tax cuts in exchange for defunding rape crisis centres, slashing mental health funding, cutting benefits to sick people and perpetuating the war on drugs.

Looked at like this, it’s hard to deny that a vote for a National Government is a vote to decrease the mental health of everyone in the bottom half of society (or perhaps even bottom three-quarters, considering that many people vastly overestimate how wealthy they will be in ten years’ time), because it is a vote to redistribute wealth upwards from the already poor to the rich, thus increasing poverty and therefore the consequences of poverty, such as mental illness.

This might explain why so many old people vote National (the correlation between voting National in the 2014 General Election and Age is 0.81): they won’t be around to see the full extent of the damage that National policies do to the collective health of the nation, but they can cash in their tax cuts straight away.

Probably if John Key were to be presented with the information in this article he’d say that all mental health problems are caused by drug abuse. So there is little value in trying to talk sense to the current political establishment about the subject.

Perhaps the best thing to do is to educate the younger generations with the truth about how the bulk of psychological problems arose in our society, so that they’ll be in a position to do something about it when the grip of the Baby Boomers on the brass ring of power is relinquished in death.

How Low Does Turnout Have to Get Before Voting Loses Legitimacy?

illusionofdemocracy

The obvious smartarse answer is “It never had legitimacy”, but this merely ducks the question. The question of when a democracy can lose enough of the perception of legitimacy that it stops working, not by being usurped by authoritarians but from the populace simply not caring about it enough, is worth exploring.

The logic goes something like this. It’s reasonable to assume that if no-one voted at all, not even the politicians themselves, then no-one would care about democracy. So there is a clear limit case as votes approach zero.

If everyone votes (or at least everyone eligible), then it stands to reason that democracy has the biggest possible buy-in. Probably in a culture where 100% of the population votes there would have to be an exceptionally unusual degree of philodemos – a degree never seen in practice.

If a hypothetical democracy starts with 100% participation and this falls over time towards 0%, at some point along the line representing that descent the democracy will fail.

But where exactly?

The most recent American presidential election does not have an official turnout rate yet, but BetFair appears to be sure that it will be somewhere around 58%. This is low by the standards of Western democracies – but there appears to be no way to tell how much of this is due to disenfranchisement and how much is due to people seeing through the system and protesting by not voting.

This already highlights a problem with democracy – bombs dropped by American forces do not do 58% damage, and sentences for non-violent drug offences are not 58% as long as they would otherwise be. No matter how much the population wants democracy, they will get it good and hard.

Not even 58% buy-in is necessary in any case. Adolf Hitler’s NSDAP won the 1933 German Federal Election with under 44% of the vote, and this was enough to get rid of the Communists and pass the Enabling Act which paved the way to total fascism.

You could even argue that – if you take the example of the United States in its infancy, where only white male landowners could vote – even with support for democracy in single digits, it can still function as long as all other possible organisational approaches are prevented from taking form.

The tricky thing is that this line of reasoning exposes the truth at the bottom of the political system: the plebs were never in charge and any impression given to that end is simply a useful illusion.

Ultimately it’s whoever controls the loyalty of the Police that is in charge, because then anyone who disagrees that they’re in charge can be taken by the Police and put in a cage (replace Police with Army in many non-Western countries). This was all that Hitler needed to ensure to take power in Germany.

One has to then ask, if the ruling classes just took all the ballots and dumped them in the ocean, invented some election results that both sounded plausible and ensured the interests of said classes were protected, and then divvied up the remaining jobs among themselves, how much wiser would we all be?

Because the ruling classes doing so wouldn’t even be much different from the way the con is already played.

We can take heart that not all New Zealanders have fallen for the ruse – 63% of the electorate did not vote for a politician in last week’s Mt. Roskill by-election, which means that 63% of potential suckers did not give their power away to a shyster by consenting to the democratic charade.

Indeed, Dr. Richard Goode of Not A Party successfully claimed victory in attracting the non-vote, declaring himself Not A Member of Parliament for Mt. Roskill. This obligates him to not attend Parliament, which means that he is not responsible for levying taxes to spend on flag referendums, and nor is he responsible for putting non-violent drug users in cages by setting the Police on them.

I think we can all agree that this is a better deal than what we are getting from our current crop of MPs.

Faith in democracy will, however, have to get much lower before philosopher-kings such as Dr. Goode can be returned to their true position in society.

Understanding New Zealand: Voting New Zealand First

winston

The New Zealand First Party has been around for over 20 years and has carved a reputation as a nationalist socialist party that caters especially to the old. Although this is somewhat true it is a simplicity that comes nowhere close to giving the full picture of what is arguably New Zealand’s third largest political movement.

The statistic that will surprise many is that there is no correlation at all between voting New Zealand First in 2014 and being of European descent. This value is an even 0.00, which gives the lie to the commonly-held belief that New Zealand First appeals heavily to white nationalist sentiments. In fact, the correlation between being Maori and voting New Zealand First is a strong 0.66, which tells us that Winston Peters’s party has a much stronger appeal to the tangata whenua than it does to the culture of the settlers.

This correlation can be easily observed without any complicated analysis: one need simply note the high percentage of New Zealand First support in the Maori electorates.

Although the statistics downplay the idea that New Zealand First appeals to racist sentiments, they certainly do not have much support among Asians – the correlation between voting New Zealand First and being Asian is -0.60. For being a Pacific Islander the correlation is -0.08, which suggests that Islanders are generally indifferent to Peters’s message.

Another surprising statistic is that there is no significant correlation between Median Age and voting New Zealand First (-0.08). So the idea that New Zealand First is a pensioners’ party also is a banal simplification. Indeed, the average New Zealand First voter is not much older than the average Green voter (for whom the correlation with Median Age is -0.17). Certainly much younger than the average National voter, for whom the correlation with Median Age was a very strong 0.81.

New Zealand First voters are the poorest of the supporters of any major party: voting for them has a correlation of -0.59 with Net Personal Income. They are also the most poorly educated. There is a correlation of 0.79 with voting New Zealand First and having no qualifications, which suggests a surprising working-class sentiment among their voters.

Indeed, as the New Zealand working class, especially those with no qualifications, are the primary losers from mass immigration, which sees their niche in the job market swamped with competition at the same time their rents skyrocket, it is not surprising they vote New Zealand First in great numbers.

Voting New Zealand First had a correlation of -0.41 with voting to change the flag in the second flag referendum, which might reflect monarchist sentiments, or perhaps a working class conservative streak. It could also reflect a distaste among New Zealand First supporters for the flagship project of an international banker who sold assets and opened the borders.

Supporting the idea that New Zealand First has a strong working class base, voting for them has a correlation of 0.40 with not voting at all, suggesting a significant degree of disenfranchisement. This is, however, not as strong as the correlation between voting Labour and not voting (0.67). Perhaps this is evidence of a higher level of political engagement among New Zealand First supporters compared to people in similar sociodemographics. This might reflect a higher level of political sophistication among New Zealand First supporters in comparison to those who support Labour.

Of interest to potential post-2017 coalition options, voting New Zealand First had a correlation of -0.34 with voting National, -0.39 with voting Green and 0.11 with voting Labour. The strongest correlations were 0.44 with voting Internet MANA and 0.46 with voting for the Maori Party.

On the face of it, this suggests that a Labour-New Zealand First-Maori coalition might be the left’s best best after 2017. As the correlation between voting Labour and voting Maori Party is 0.41 this arrangement might well be most amenable to all sides. That New Zealand First voters have an apparent dislike for Green voters that is even stronger than their enmity for National voters suggests the current cozy assumption of a Labour-Greens-New Zealand First coalition post 2017 might be miscalculated.

Interestingly, voting New Zealand First had a correlation of 0.57 with voting for the Cannabis Party. Although this can be mostly explained by the common factor of Maori support, it probably also reflects a shared rejection of the mainstream media message (cannabis users and New Zealand First supporters tend to share an extreme skepticism of the mainstream media).

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This article is an excerpt from Understanding New Zealand, by Dan McGlashan, published by VJM Publishing in the winter of 2017.