The Dim-Post

March 25, 2016

Probably overthinking the flag debate

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 8:31 am

For an issue that I didn’t – and still don’t – care about very much I sure have spent a lot of time thinking about the flag. Or, actually, thinking about what I think about the flag and the debate about the flag.

  • My original position was that I wanted change
  • After the first referendum I decided I would vote to keep the current flag, simply because I didn’t really like the Lockwood design, and sticking with the status quo would make it easier to change to something better a bit further down the line.
  • Would that really happen though? Realistically probably not for a long time; possibly not in my lifetime. So I was basically just voting to keep the flag. Which seemed a bit weird, because getting the Union Jack off our flag seemed like a progressive, left-wing thing to do, albeit only symbolically. Still, I really didn’t like the Lockwood flag.
  • Why didn’t I, though? It was the most popular of the longlist when UMR polled on it. And, in the end, slightly less than half the country (43%) voted for it. Yet basically everyone in the online progressive left hated the Lockwood. ‘It hurts my eyes!’ ‘It’s a beachtowel!’ ‘It violates design principles!’ “We need a real conversation about identity!’ It seemed unlikely to me that all of these people – myself included – came to make an impartial aesthetic judgement that by chance, happened to oppose a politician we all disliked.
  • This worried me a bit. Was I about to do something that was actually contrary to my values and then deluding myself about my motivation? Was I secretly motivated by a simple desire to thwart John Key? Or by the fact that the rest of the left had collectively decided on a position, and I was just going along with it? Or did I just actually not like Lockwood’s flag very much? In the end I let my daughter vote.
  • This still troubles me though. How much of what I think and say about politics is based on my values, and how much of it is based on reactionary judgements and in-group behaviour?
  • A few people have asked me why I recently deleted my twitter account (btw I recently deleted my twitter account), and the general stupidity of the flag debate and other even stupider instances of mass hysteria were partly a motivator (as was the amount of time I was wasting on twitter in general). But the platform itself, I think, encourages homogeneity of thought. The ability to provide (arbitrarily restricted) feedback on everything that everyone else says is a major component of the experience. The prolonged effect of that – at least for me – was that it trains you into expressing opinions that you know the group will approve of, and not expressing – and eventually not even thinking – opinions that will attract censure. Humans are hard-wired to seek the approval of our peers and avoid group ridicule. I do worry that in left-wing political online communities that these traits are becoming a recipe for mass-self delusion.

108 Comments »

  1. Toby Manhire is writing about The Dimpost in The Guardian!

    As the double-referendum process unravelled, diehard supporters of change and diehard supporters of Key, took turns in attacking the “designerati”, the “liberal elites”, the sufferers of “Key derangement syndrome”. Proxy battles ensued. Intelligent people got stuck in unintelligible rows.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 25, 2016 @ 8:51 am

  2. And I worry that greedy right-wing political online communities of wannabes and wannahaves has been the recipe for their mass-self delusion, perpetuating the major reasons that the world is now so far in to the poo.

    Comment by John Allen — March 25, 2016 @ 8:53 am

  3. “I do worry that in left-wing political online communities that these traits are becoming a recipe for mass-self delusion.”

    Bingo. A lot of leftwing people can’t believe that people actually like Key and think anyone who votes for National must be stupid or selfish.

    Comment by RHT — March 25, 2016 @ 9:06 am

  4. I do worry that in left-wing political online communities that these traits are becoming a recipe for mass-self delusion.

    The one consolation is most people don’t engage with politics that much and certainly not on the interent.

    So we’re in this position where the health of our political discourse is undermined by those who claim to be the most concerned about issues and reliant on the broader common sense of the majority to just muddle through.

    Broader common sense has its own problems on occasion and it’s traditionally been the role of the liberal left to set a higher standard, to set an example, which doesn’t happen now and it does appear the internet has played a part in that. Fostering a hectoring righteous tone.

    Comment by NeilM — March 25, 2016 @ 9:08 am

  5. I was initially opposed to change, then thought the idea of change had merits, then discovered sound historical reasons for keeping the existing one, and then I let my daughter vote too. Why, because, the future design of the flag is f**k all do do with me, and I refused to get into bed with some of the hypocrites who frankly did not care enough to get over their puffed up egos.
    Meanwhile, Key has been King Midas in reverse on this one. He should have put out a challenge to every school in New Zealand to get the kids involved, over twelve months, and then whittled it down to five designs from the citizens of tomorrow, then held a referendum. The cost IMO is a bullshit argument, when Auckland Council for example can blow 1.2 billion on ‘IT’ (to deafening silence from ‘the left’ for example).
    This could have been a galvanising, unifying and forward-thinking opportunity for the nation to come together, instead, it just became a circle-jerk with the symbol of our nationhood the cream-cracker in the middle. I think anyone with a scintilla of critical thinking ability should hang their head in shame, but of course not many of those came to the party, did they?.

    Comment by leeharmanclark — March 25, 2016 @ 9:15 am

  6. In the end I let my daughter vote.

    Why did you do that? Because you were about to do something that was contrary to your values? My motivation was simple – I voted for the status quo because the alternative was no better than the current flag. If I’m going to spend $26 million of someone else’s money, I’d want to see an improvement. The alternative was clumsy and cluttered. Any idiot can replace a union jack with a silver fern.

    More people voted for the status quo than voted for the National Party at the last general election (the most popular party ever!). Undoubtedly some of those who voted for the status quo were National voters. Indeed, in John Key’s own electorate there was a huge turnout, with 56.6% supporting the current flag – the same as the overall proportion. It was National supporters that got the status quo over the line.

    Comment by Ross — March 25, 2016 @ 9:16 am

  7. Why did you do that?

    Why not do that? The issue – which of these designs is prettier? – is one that a child can make. And she may well will live with consequences a lot longer than Danyl will. Plus it’s a valuable introduction to civic involvement delivered at an early age.

    At least, that’s why I let my kids decide how I should mark the voting paper.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 25, 2016 @ 9:27 am

  8. Regarding twitter, this is hilarious http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/microsoft-tay-chatbot/

    I doubt any national party strategists are silly enough to believe the cesspit that is kiwiblog comments is a reflection of any sort of widespread feeling, I think Labour actually think the opposite of twitter and the standard.

    Comment by Cliff Clavin — March 25, 2016 @ 9:28 am

  9. she may well will live with consequences a lot longer than Danyl will.

    That applies to other things as well. Should we let young kids vote in general elections as the consequences could affect them for the longest time? Lots of issues a child can decide on…the question is: should they?

    Comment by Ross — March 25, 2016 @ 9:36 am

  10. I didn’t vote because I thought the whole thing was bloody silly and a completely cack handed process on the part of John Key which produced a terrible alternative, and I don’t really care that much about it anyway – the flag isn’t, despite what people say, that important a part of my identity. I also thought that Labour looked pretty silly in oppositional mode and probably wouldn’t have done anything better.

    Danyl says that he also doesn’t care about the issue that much. Perhaps that’s exactly why people are being so silly about the whole thing – because it actually doesn’t matter to them very deeply? And why beat yourself up so much about your stance and motivations on an issue you don’t care about. This seems perverse, or at least slightly odd overanalysis.

    Comment by Dr Foster — March 25, 2016 @ 9:38 am

  11. @Ross,

    Different issues require differing levels of mature deliberation. What flag is prettiest is right at the lowest end of that continuum. There’s nothing to make Danyl (or my, or your) view on that question any better than a pre-schooler’s.

    Unless you are a design expert, of course. In which case your objectively formed view of the intrinsic merits of each option should be absolutely definitive.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 25, 2016 @ 9:54 am

  12. And why beat yourself up so much about your stance and motivations on an issue you don’t care about.

    Partly because of the broader issue of how the internet has influenced political discourse more broadly and how it doesn’t bode well for other issues down the track.

    There’s now talk that the flag discussion should take place within a discussion about becoming a republic.

    Given what’s just happened why would anyone think the republic discussion isn’t going to be even more bitter – it’s more complicated, there’s lots of divisions of opinion about Who We Are just waiting to surface, and the ability of the liberal left to provide any sort of leadership isn’t at all certain.

    Comment by NeilM — March 25, 2016 @ 9:58 am

  13. I don’t really get the whole “it cost too much so I’m voting for status quo but I hope that we do it again soon and get a better alternative” argument. Since doing it again would surely cost the same again. Seems to me some people don’t understand the concept of sunk cost.

    Comment by PaulL — March 25, 2016 @ 10:11 am

  14. Danyl says that he also doesn’t care about the issue that much. Perhaps that’s exactly why people are being so silly about the whole thing – because it actually doesn’t matter to them very deeply?

    I guess I also secretly thought that the TPPA debate, and several other more serious issues consuming the online left were also instances of mass delusion, and it was probably only the triviality of the flag debate that made me stop and question what the hell everyone was on about.

    Comment by danylmc — March 25, 2016 @ 10:12 am

  15. Curious to know how not being on twitter changes or doesn’t change your life. Deleting my own account was an embarrassingly huge wrench; for the first couple of weeks I kept instinctively going to check twitter whenever I was (meant to be) working. That faded. Three months on I find I’m noticeably less aware of what people are talking about or reacting to. I also spend zero time each day watching people I admire shout at each other. This is remarkably pleasant.

    Comment by leaflemming — March 25, 2016 @ 10:13 am

  16. Curious to know how not being on twitter changes or doesn’t change your life. Deleting my own account was an embarrassingly huge wrench; for the first couple of weeks I kept instinctively going to check twitter whenever I was (meant to be) working.

    I felt weirdly emotional about it for the first week. It had been quite a big part of my life. I’ve been reading and writing a lot more, and the instant productivity gain would make it very hard to justify going back. I also keep sneaking peeks at what people are saying, but I can’t help compare the debate in the comments of this blog with the level of debate on twitter (‘Get in the sea!’, ‘OMG so much this!’) and realising that I wasted quite a lot of time on something pretty stupid.

    Comment by danylmc — March 25, 2016 @ 10:19 am

  17. Of course the “progressive left” were quite happy to decide they thought that the Lockwood was ugly given that it was backed by Key. But that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t also ugly, of course!

    Comment by Keir Leslie — March 25, 2016 @ 10:21 am

  18. “realising that I wasted quite a lot of time on something pretty stupid.”

    OMG, so much this.

    Comment by leaflemming — March 25, 2016 @ 10:27 am

  19. Since doing it again would surely cost the same again

    Not necessarily. In 2011, there was a referendum about whether we should retain MMP which cost taxpayers about $11 million. It was held at the same time as the general election. Any flag referendum could be held at the same time as a general election.

    Comment by Ross — March 25, 2016 @ 10:28 am

  20. Any flag referendum could be held at the same time as a general election.

    It could but then the election campaigns would then be overlaid with a flag debate. I think that might be recipe for even more bad times.

    Comment by NeilM — March 25, 2016 @ 10:46 am

  21. Miss you guys.

    Comment by Fergus Barrowman (@FergusVUP) — March 25, 2016 @ 10:47 am

  22. “I can’t help compare the debate in the comments of this blog with the level of debate on twitter”

    Given what you’ve said about the level of debate in blog comments here, this is an extremely damning indictment of twitter.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — March 25, 2016 @ 10:51 am

  23. Really the flag change proposal didn’t get off to the best of starts with Key endorsing the Lockwood flag prior to the process even kicking off. He made it about himself and his preference, which was always going to alienate some folk.

    It’s not really much of a surprise that Little + Turei etc. didn’t get on board when it was Key pushing it as his legacy (as he himself said).

    The process was not ideal. Too open initially (many joke designs, and loads of slight variants) then 40 selected by a panel with little or no design experience which the public had no say over before they were whittled down to the 4, of which 2 had identical design. One of which was (unsurprisingly) the flag Key endorsed before the process started. Indeed, Beatrice Faumuina said [regarding the panel] “Key had been vocal about his favourites and that had swayed the direction of some people.”

    Blaming the lack of change on the left is a bit rich after all that.

    After everything, we still don’t have a clear indication for whether NZers even want a flag change. I think they do, but that’s based on my view that the alternate didn’t look any good. We don’t know for sure as it was never asked. I think if the first referendum had been “do you support a change in the NZ flag” then things may well have gone differently.

    Comment by jmarshall — March 25, 2016 @ 10:51 am

  24. Get over the Flag/republic nexus, it just doesnt work that way and has become an invented issue thats discredited by the examples of Canada and South Africa and even Ireland.

    Comment by dukeofurl — March 25, 2016 @ 10:51 am

  25. All of you men who chose to let your children decide which flag looks pretty, did not stop to think that they might cringe at their childish decision some time in the future ?

    Comment by Dorothy B — March 25, 2016 @ 10:55 am

  26. Two things.Firstly a test. Given it was their official policy to change the flag, it is relatively easy to imagine the same design – or one of the other finalists – selected by the same process being put forward by a Labour PM such as Helen Clark and many of the commenters on the Dim Post and members of the design “community” – especially Sammy and Sanctuary – rushing to praise the design and the process as modern, forward looking, a perfect set of symbols for the modern Aotearoa, open, inclusive, professional etc, etc. It is also easy to imagine some but not all National MPs especially Judith Collins channelling Sir Robert Muldoon but probably not John Key fulminating against both the process and the design.If Key was opposition leader I could imagine him taking a much more watchful approach to the process than has Andrew Little. It would be the perfect test of his trader’s temperament.

    Which brings me to my second thing. Andrew Little no doubt thinks that the result is a tremendous victory and this is the first time he has bested the Great Satan, the oppressor of the working class, etc, etc. However, I suspect he has gone for a small tactical victory when he might have gone for a larger strategic one, namely the battle to convince us he is capable of being the Prime Minister and lead the country. If, close to the beginning of the process he had said to his troops this is our policy and we’re taking it back……. And if he had said to the wider electorate, this is an important decision and John Key and I will lead the process to determine if we need new flag or not……. He might look a lot more like a PM than he does today.

    Comment by Tinakori — March 25, 2016 @ 11:41 am

  27. Never used twitter, it always struck me as absurd that people who complain about the level of debate on the internet then get addicted to the one arm flame bandit machine of wittering on twitter.

    As for the flag debate, I vited as a straight political bloody nose to John Key. When the leader of the National party decides to change the flag, hand picks the panel loaded with National party toadies, makes sure the design they pick is in line with what the National party wants then tries to rig the process to get what the leader of the National party wants, then I will always vote against a flag that would simply be a symbol not of NZ, but of a corporate, right wing white guys arrogance. So even if the new flag proposal had have been designed by Jesus Christ himself and heralded by a choir of angels, I still would not have voted for it.

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 25, 2016 @ 11:43 am

  28. Blaming the lack of change on the left is a bit rich after all that.

    Exactly. I really want to change the flag, but not to some bullshit corporate logo which was what Key wanted. Canada had two actual designers refine their flag, we had a bunch of non-designers feel all important and thankful to Key and then they did what he want, no surprise there.

    I voted to keep the existing flag, even though I have wanted to change it since I was a boy – the union jack is a symbol of colonisation – but the only one of the 5 options I would be happy with was Red Peak. So even though I dislike Key, and the mendacious manner in which he conducts himself, I didn’t vote against changing the flag because of him. I voted against changing because the Lockwood flag is shite, that’s all.

    Since we have kept our crappy coloniser’s flag, the issue is not settled and we can change it later, hopefully after an actual grown-up process, not some vain self-serving bullshit process set up to give Key a legacy.

    Comment by Mikaere Curtis — March 25, 2016 @ 11:43 am

  29. Someone who cares, please crunch the numbers.
    Compare 2014 election results by party vote (National : X, Opposition: y) with the fleg outcome.

    I suspect more of the electorate voted in the referendum the 2nd time (less informal votes), but I’m getting over another bout of ‘flu, so can’t be arsed looking it up myself.

    Comment by anarkaytie — March 25, 2016 @ 11:47 am

  30. “I guess I also secretly thought that the TPPA debate, and several other more serious issues consuming the online left were also instances of mass delusion”

    Well, now that you’re off twitter you may be able to do some more reading to unpick your concerns. Talk about a cheap shot- put your money on the table.

    Comment by paritutu — March 25, 2016 @ 11:52 am

  31. Get over the Flag/republic nexus, it just doesnt work that way and has become an invented issue thats discredited by the examples of Canada and South Africa and even Ireland.

    The interim South African flag “was designed by Frederick Brownell for the 27 April elections, the nation’s first fully inclusive elections, and for Nelson Mandela’s 10 May inauguration”. So quite a significant occasion. John Key’s vanity project pales in comparison.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_South_Africa

    Comment by Ross — March 25, 2016 @ 12:03 pm

  32. > How much of what I think and say about politics is based on my values, and how much of it is based on reactionary judgements and in-group behaviour?

    I suppose it’s hard for us to discern how much of what you say is your own views and how much is supporting Green Party causes. You’ve never explicitly said (as far as I’m aware).

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — March 25, 2016 @ 12:18 pm

  33. The way the later process was handled it was pretty clear that Key didn’t want any interference or involvement from other parties other than unquestioning support. I don’t think there was ever an opportunity to work with him on the flag change.

    & yeah, both the Lockwood flags are ugly, I voted for one of them anyway (the winner in the 1st ref) as 4th preference because in the worst case, I preferred the black to the red version. Be careful about reading that as support for the flag!

    Comment by AVR — March 25, 2016 @ 12:22 pm

  34. Andrew Geddis: “At least, that’s why I let my kids decide how I should mark the voting paper.”

    More of a pedantic question in the context, I know, but is/was it legal to actually do that?

    Comment by izogi — March 25, 2016 @ 1:22 pm

  35. Oh look, a community of like minded people who think that people who disagree with them are all just idiots working from the basest motives has formed.

    well played internet, well played.

    Humans, how do they work?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — March 25, 2016 @ 1:43 pm

  36. The way the later process was handled it was pretty clear that Key didn’t want any interference or involvement from other parties other than unquestioning support.

    That’s a pretty standard Key tactic. Demand that the opposition does whatever he wants and, if they refuse, insist that they’re ‘politicising’ it.

    I suppose it’s hard for us to discern how much of what you say is your own views and how much is supporting Green Party causes. You’ve never explicitly said (as far as I’m aware)

    Well I’m a member of the party because they share some of my views. Pretty much nothing that I ever say is co-ordinated with the party or any of the MPs or staff, if that helps?

    Comment by danylmc — March 25, 2016 @ 1:43 pm

  37. All of you men who chose to let your children decide which flag looks pretty, did not stop to think that they might cringe at their childish decision some time in the future ?

    Not just men but a female MP too.

    “National MP Sarah Dowie said that she had voted for the Lockwood flag, not because she particularly liked the design, but because her five-year-old daughter Christabel wanted change.”

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/299841/mps-split-down-party-lines-on-flag-vote

    Comment by Ross — March 25, 2016 @ 2:03 pm

  38. >> I suppose it’s hard for us to discern how much of what you say is your own views and how much is supporting Green Party causes. You’ve never explicitly said (as far as I’m aware)

    > Well I’m a member of the party because they share some of my views. Pretty much nothing that I ever say is co-ordinated with the party or any of the MPs or staff, if that helps?

    It does. Sorry, it was rude of me to ask, but I really was curious and I thought you might answer as you were in a reflective mood🙂

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — March 25, 2016 @ 2:07 pm

  39. > All of you men who chose to let your children decide which flag looks pretty, did not stop to think that they might cringe at their childish decision some time in the future ?

    Nope, That’s how people learn how to make better decisions.

    (I let my kid exercise my vote)

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — March 25, 2016 @ 2:13 pm

  40. “The way the later process was handled it was pretty clear that Key didn’t want any interference or involvement from other parties other than unquestioning support.”

    “That’s a pretty standard Key tactic. Demand that the opposition does whatever he wants and, if they refuse, insist that they’re ‘politicising’ it.”

    No high calibre politician of any party would accept that position for a moment. They would consider it a political challenge to take over or share the process, particularly on this issue where it is a flag for a nation not a political party. Winston could have done, so could have Helen Clark and of course Key would have too had he been in opposition. The last Labour leader with good poll results, David Shearer, could have too. Once again, in relation to the flag, I suspect Little passed the test and failed the exam.

    Comment by Tinakori — March 25, 2016 @ 2:45 pm

  41. Anarkaytie, I’ve done some scatter plots to find out how voting in the flag referendum correlates with voting in the last election. There is a strong correlation between support for the existing flag and support for Labour at the last election (based on an electorate-by-electorate comparison).

    Comment by Can of Worms, Opened — March 25, 2016 @ 3:48 pm

  42. There is a strong correlation between support for the existing flag and support for Labour at the last election.

    The existing flag got 56.6% of the votes while Labour received 27.5%. Apart from that I’m sure you’re correct.🙂

    Comment by Ross — March 25, 2016 @ 3:53 pm

  43. I wonder what would have happened if Little had got his rather forced approach of a vote on whether we wanted to change the flag?
    I suspect he only invented the idea to try and pretend he wasn’t abandoning what had been the Labour Policy at the last election but that is bye-the-bye.
    However let us say the vote was we wanted to change the flag? Then the possibilities for a ballot were chosen. Suppose they were the five in the first Referendum?
    Then the Lockwood option would now be our flag. We obviously wouldn’t have been able to go back and decide “Well I really prefer the old one”, would we?

    Comment by alwyn — March 25, 2016 @ 4:36 pm

  44. Key’s response to the result sums it up – with unintended irony:

    “You can’t shy away from a debate or a discussion about nationhood”.

    But he did. Hence the failure.

    One of the sadder outcomes is our image overseas. Of course people are not going to be interested in the minutiae of NZ politics. Their headline is “NZ keeps the Union Jack”. It might have been fourth or fifth on the list of people’s reasons to vote No Change, but that’s the takeaway. So now we’re getting (gulp) pitied – or worse, thanked – for our forelock-tugging. Which – irony again – is Key’s default position.

    As for the wider political consequences, the effect on the next election will be zero. So really, nobody wins at all. Except NZ Post, maybe. Mmm, envelopes.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — March 25, 2016 @ 5:26 pm

  45. I wonder what would have happened if Little had got his rather forced approach of a vote on whether we wanted to change the flag?

    It was one of those instant objective truths that popped up out of nowhere to disguise what were just opinions or political sidesteppings.

    I din’t really have any preference over whether or not the first referendum was whether or not to change the flag. There were problems either way and having the decision to change without knowing what the change was going to be to seemed quite problematic.

    However, like with design, it somehow became promoted to objective fact that a Proper process must ask the change question first.

    Given Labour’s fit of pique at the Greens over the inclusion of Red Peak I don’t think Labour was in any mind to play a constructive role whatever Key’s approach was.

    And with Little now saying changing the flag should be part of a discussion on who we are as a nation – comming from the Chinese-sounding names and ethnic chefs party – I really can’t see that being much fun.

    Comment by NeilM — March 25, 2016 @ 5:28 pm

  46. The existing flag got 56.6% of the votes while Labour received 27.5%. Apart from that I’m sure you’re correct

    Sorry, I got my graphs mixed up. The correlation that was particularly strong was actually between people voting National and people voting for the new flag. There is a slightly weaker coeerlation between electorates where lots of people voted Labour and lots of people voted for the existing flag, though as Ross points out, a much higher percentage of the voters supported the existing flag than supported Labour, so it’s going to be way more than just Labour supporters voting for the existing flag.

    Comment by Can of Worms, Opened — March 25, 2016 @ 5:41 pm

  47. @izogi (35),

    More of a pedantic question in the context, I know, but is/was it legal to actually do that?

    Oh! Oh! A pedantic question!! My favourite kind.

    Yes, it is legal so long as I mark the ballot paper myself (don’t let them put in the tick for me). They are too young to be able to commit the offence of interfering with voting under s.58(3) of the N.Z. Flag Referendums Act 2015.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 25, 2016 @ 5:49 pm

  48. It’s quite possible a design as cheesy and vapid as the Lockwood flag could only have passed over hundreds of other decent designs, by way of either an outright stitch-up or just plain philistinism on the part of the cherry-picked judging panel.

    And I’d say most people who voted for the status quo aren’t particularly attached to it. Rather they likely voted for what they saw as the least worst option between a colonial relic and a knock-off of a Weetbix box/American sports logo.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — March 25, 2016 @ 5:50 pm

  49. All of you men who chose to let your children decide which flag looks pretty, did not stop to think that they might cringe at their childish decision some time in the future ?

    Nope. For two reasons:

    (1) Why is it any more likely that in the future they’ll “cringe at” their decision than that they’ll “cringe at” my one? What attribute of adulthood makes me better able to decide whether the Lockwood or existing design is “better”?

    (2) If they come to regret what they chose then they can agitate to change to something else. It’s only a bit of cloth, after all.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 25, 2016 @ 5:55 pm

  50. And for all of Twitter’s issues, I’m not leaving it anytime soon. This XKCD comic neatly sums up why.

    https://xkcd.com/386/

    Comment by Kumara Republic — March 25, 2016 @ 6:37 pm

  51. “Probably overthinking the flag debate”. Almost any thinking about it was overthinking. Even this comment is overcommenting on it. We should move on to the really important issues: What shade of green should the DOC signage be? Should all official communications be in Times New Roman, or Garamond? Should we sharpen the corners on the Give Way signs, or are rounded triangles more in keeping with our values as a nation?

    Comment by Ben Wilson — March 25, 2016 @ 6:44 pm

  52. Getting back to Tinakori’s earlier comment about Andrew Little. He threw his own candidate under the bus in Northland – in the name of ‘good politics’ without a second’s indecision.In this situation he threw his principles about changing the flag under the bus.

    “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.” (Groucho Marx)

    Comment by leeharmanclark — March 25, 2016 @ 6:45 pm

  53. Lee, perhaps he’s been taking lessons?

    You’d need a fleet of buses to keep up with Key’s poll-driven under-chucking since 2005.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — March 25, 2016 @ 7:02 pm

  54. >as was the amount of time I was wasting on twitter in general

    Dress up your justifications for flouncing off Twitter how you like but this one is really the only one that actually makes sense. And it only makes sense in so far as Twitter was some kind of itch you couldn’t stop scratching, or a drug you couldn’t stop taking. I managed to stop wasting time on Twitter just by stopping wasting time on Twitter. All the rest of it, the problems with it being an echo chamber, etc, are problems that won’t go away because you flounced.

    Similar comment on blogs, really. In my case a more addictive drug, but certainly kickable any time I actually feel like it. Hell, I’ve quit hundreds of times🙂

    Comment by Ben Wilson — March 25, 2016 @ 7:08 pm

  55. Ben Wilson: I took up blogging not too long ago, only to put it on permanent hiatus because it takes the attention span of a saint to maintain one. Twitter, FB et al are a lot more accessible for all the 3-second goldfishes out there, which is both a strength and a weakness of said social media sites.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — March 25, 2016 @ 7:21 pm

  56. Yes sammy, you make a good point. Being exposed as double-dealing certainly raises questions about a person’s credentials as an honest or trustworthy politician..

    Comment by leeharmanclark — March 25, 2016 @ 8:08 pm

  57. ” we had a bunch of non-designers feel all important and thankful to Key and then they did what he want, no surprise there… we have kept our crappy coloniser’s flag,”

    Serious question – how many qualified designers do you think are post-colonialists?

    Because the criticisms that the current flag is too colonialist and that it’s bad from a professional design p.o.v. seem entirely separate, and it seems naive to think that if flag design is outsourced to the professional design community that they will duly produce something post-colonial because professional design standards demand it.

    “I want a well designed flag” and “I want a post-colonial flag” are not necessarily contradictory, but they are separate. And it seems contrary to say that you want the new flag to be designed entirely by designers based on design principles, but also that you want it to represent something that isn’t a consideration in professional design circles, e.g. post-colonialism.

    It’s also notable that the groups most harmed by colonialism, e.g. Maori, Pasifika, recent immigrants and poor whites, generally voted to keep the ‘colonial flag’, while the areas that voted to reject it were overwhelmingly white and wealthy (East Coat Bays, Clutha, Ilam).

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — March 25, 2016 @ 8:51 pm

  58. Thought experiment: John Key announces a binding referendum. Yes or no, should we change the country’s official name to Aotearoa. What happens next?

    Comment by Bill Forster — March 25, 2016 @ 10:14 pm

  59. He doesn’t get this through his own caucus, never mind Parliament. Next.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — March 25, 2016 @ 10:29 pm

  60. Danyl; Read this link for a vastly more complex and important example of the same intellectual principle at work. http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/books/198606/the-daoud-affair

    You may believe that your views were objectively held but your suspicions are right, you fell victim to KDS. Your instinct on leaving twitter was also correct. Perhaps you are moving down a path to question many more of the progressive shibboleths. Read Orwell or Hitchens for help

    Comment by Phil Sage — March 25, 2016 @ 11:09 pm

  61. @ Danyl

    Yep, I do agree in general terms with your concerns about echo-chambers and group-think in left-wing political on-line communities. Although, having said that, there are almost always a few courageous critics who speak their own mind and won’t be shouted down (at least on the blogosphere). And often what at face-value looks like all-encompassing group-think in reality turns out to comprise just 4 or 5 individuals making a disproportionate amount of noise (and demands for compliance). But, overall, I do admire your on-going determination to remain honest and self-reflective. For me, being part of the Left inherently means questioning everything, being initially sceptical about all claims until you’ve thought them through according to your own values.

    Particularly irritating to me is the tendency for terms like “racist” and “misogynist” to be sprayed about with wild abandon – a form of intellectual terrorism. I’ve begun to realise that the Identity Politics Left (or, at least, its Uber-Politically Correct extreme) and the Authoritarian Left are largely synonymous. There’s something very unhealthy there. Ironic that those most concerned about Patriarchy are so adept at using the most outrageous Bully-Boy methods.

    Which brings me on to your comment on Twitter: “instances of mass hysteria”.

    I think your referring to the toxic mass pile-on against a woman journalist a few weeks ago and possibly also the nasty and quite bizarre personal attack on Sacha on a thread at Public Address. I tend to see those not so much as examples of “mass hysteria” but rather quite deliberate, planned attacks. I think we’re talking about a small faction of (mainly Wellington-based) younger feminists who seem more than keen to adopt the Trotskyite modus operandi of the 1970s ‘Radical Lesbian Feminist Movement’ – an inherently aggressive approach, divisive Entryist tactics, the use of cult-like techniques for control and exclusion, with a healthy dose of (sometimes pantomime-like) Self-Martyrdom thrown in for good measure. I see it as a kind of New McCarthyism – the methodical character-assassination of anyone not strictly following their dogmatic sensibilities.

    Not to mention the teen-like pettiness (“OMG so much this !” being a good example). As if a very emotionally immature group of 13 year-old girls (all with Boy Band posters on their bedroom walls) suddenly spend a year doing Gender Studies at Uni. What you’d see on twitter as a result would be pretty much what we have at the moment.

    Partly, too, the corollary of a section of the middle class liberal-Left seeing everything in very simple abstract terms (the romanticisation of historically-oppressed demographics and all the self-righteousness that flows from that) and eschewing the complexities, contradictions and ironies of cold, hard concrete reality.

    Comment by swordfish — March 26, 2016 @ 12:10 am

  62. @Phil Sage: That would be George Orwell, revolutionary socialist committed to the overthrow of capitalism, right?

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — March 26, 2016 @ 1:44 am

  63. The flag ‘debate’ is a classic example of what we call ‘bikeshedding’ in the software/tech industry (aka ‘Parkinson’s Law of Triviality’). This happens all the time on large technology and design projects, so the ‘more heat than light’ aspect of it all feels very familiar.

    Comment by Mark Rickerby (@maetl) — March 26, 2016 @ 2:31 am

  64. I disagree with just about all of that, Swordfish. I actually learned a lot about feminist theory and identity politics on twitter, before the people I was following gave up on the platform. And racism and misogyny are, in general, much greater problems than people being called out for same online. Also, I don’t think any of the twitterati (or whatever we’re supposed to call them) stuff is planned, or has an agenda or an endgame. I know some of them, and they’re generally nice, smart people acting in good faith who are, I think, over-invested in a community on a social media platform that incentivises fucked up behaviour. You can block all those people out though (and at this point basically everyone has). The epiphany for me wasn’t about identity politics: more the realisation that many of the left’s ‘intellectuals’ were heavy twitter users and that none of them have said anything perceptive or insightful for, literally years. My theory is that the platform itself trains people into saying what they already know the majority of their followers want to hear.

    Comment by danylmc — March 26, 2016 @ 6:59 am

  65. The flag ‘debate’ is a classic example of what we call ‘bikeshedding’ in the software/tech industry (aka ‘Parkinson’s Law of Triviality’). This happens all the time on large technology and design projects, so the ‘more heat than light’ aspect of it all feels very familiar.

    OMG so much this.

    Comment by danylmc — March 26, 2016 @ 6:59 am

  66. I was seeking someway to express my views about Twitter and the ‘Twitterati’ – as well as the impulse to take up the cudgels for various transitory or momentary causes and I think broadly this by Jacopo BERNARDINI (kinda) says it for me:

    “Being young today is no longer a transitory stage, but rather a choice of life, well established and brutally promoted by the media system. While the classic
    paradigms of adulthood and maturation could interpret such infantile behavior as a symptom of deviance, such behavior has become a model to follow, an ideal of fun and being carefree, present in a wide variety of contexts of society. The contemporary adult follows a sort of thoughtful immaturity, a conscious escape from the responsibilities of an anachronistic model of life. If an ideal of maturity remains, it does not find behavioral compensations in a society where childish attitudes and adolescent life models are constantly promoted by the media and tolerated by institutions.”

    http://postmodernopenings.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/PO_June2014_1_39to55.pdf

    Comment by leeharmanclark — March 26, 2016 @ 7:56 am

  67. >the realisation that many of the left’s ‘intellectuals’ were heavy twitter users and that none of them have said anything perceptive or insightful for, literally years. My theory is that the platform itself trains people into saying what they already know the majority of their followers want to hear.

    So Twitter is like a rest home for the intellect, a place you go to die?

    I do know what you mean on all of this, but I do take care, at least for myself, to avoid overgeneralizing from my personal experience about the trends we see in Twitter. For all the same reasons you give about the platform encouraging groupthink, I’m careful not to think I know very much about “the intellectual Left” on account of my self-selected bias of people I follow on Twitter. I don’t follow any of the intellectual Right, and so have no way of knowing whether or not they groupthink in exactly the same way. First guess, the null hypothesis if you like, is that they do. For sure I see it on the blogosphere. They’re all human too, with all the same properties. If you enjoy the company of someone else (even just in online chat) then you begin to adopt their form. This is as true of *this* forum as anywhere else, that there is a noticeable influence of the group on the way people comment on DimPost. This I can be sure of, because quite a few people write here who write elsewhere, and you can see that they write in a different way.

    For instance, this is not a place where people are likely to begin speaking on the understanding that others will be accept, or even grasp, many of the mores of “feminist theory and identity politics” as you put it above. This might explain the fairly extreme gender bias of the commentariat here. Quite the opposite, it’s a place where a solitary voice coming from such a space could expect a pile-on, Dimpost Commenter style, which has its own unique flavour, an attack coming most from men, but in this case men who identify as being from both the Left and the Right, rather than just the Right, which more like what would happen on, say, Kiwiblog.

    Now these kind of observations are hard to make from within the group, not just because of fears that they will be treated as hostile, but also because from within the group it’s far harder to notice what’s weird about the group. Which makes one an unreliable witness when comparing a group one dislikes to one that one likes.

    So yeah, Twitter encourages groupthink, but I’m less than convinced that this is a problem specifically for the large group that could be considered the “Intellectual Left”. It’s more of a problem with Twitter, built into the way that it trivializes and essentializes every discussion by virtue of every comment being forced into greeting card slogan length, and the subscription model being quite literally “People whose opinion I like to hear”.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — March 26, 2016 @ 1:17 pm

  68. In my opinion Key raised and pursued the issue of a change of flag for himself, not the country. I would never rank a flag as more important that providing for children in poverty, well funded mental health services (and physical health services) to name but three priorities. Compared to these issues, spending money on a new flag came about 10000th down the list. I don’t particularly like the look of the old flag, but I think it symbolized something at the time it became our flag. We can’t change our history……..
    When the four possible designs came out, I thought they were all very poor. I voted for the koru, because that was the only one the in any way represented Maori. I found it insulting that the other three flags were more or less the same (very poor) design…I felt it was a form of manipulation a claytons’ choice. I think it was an insult to the countries’ flag designers, that they were not sought out to submit designs and be on the flag panel. I thought it was extremely dodgy that Julie Christie was on the flag panel, when I understand that she is on a board whose job it was to promote the silver fern. And I think that the PM and then a host of rugby players kept promoting the new flag was sickening.
    I think Andrew Little behaved well and this trying to blame the opposition parties, particularly Labour, is just a strategy that is week.

    John Key started this. It was a shambles. Now lets get on with focussing on the real issues.

    Comment by anker — March 26, 2016 @ 5:57 pm

  69. I think that the PM and then a host of rugby players kept promoting the new flag was sickening.

    Certainly, the pro-change lobby threw the kitchen sink at the issue, from the PM to Richie McCaw and others. There seemed to be a lack of balance in the debate, yet despite that the pros were well beaten.

    Comment by Ross — March 26, 2016 @ 6:21 pm

  70. Just to be clear, I fully support the major feminist campaigns currently in action. But have pretty close to zero tolerance for (1) Bully-Boy tactics (2) All forms of Intellectual Terrorism and (3) Mass Hysteria (whether organised or spontaneous). Some people need to be given a few ethical / behavioural boundaries.

    Comment by swordfish — March 26, 2016 @ 6:24 pm

  71. My draft artistic take on the matter. With any luck it won’t get me sued.

    http://publicaddress.net/system/cafe/legal-beagle-the-flag-referendum-complicating/?p=358340#post358340

    Comment by Kumara Republic — March 26, 2016 @ 6:37 pm

  72. “Humans, how do they work?”

    Verily.

    Comment by Sacha — March 26, 2016 @ 7:13 pm

  73. Ortvin, correct but the same Orwell who saw and spoke out against the horrors of Stalinist communism rather than being an apologist like Hobsbawm

    Comment by Phil Sage — March 26, 2016 @ 10:37 pm

  74. @Phil: So you’re saying that Twitter is analogous to the horrors of Stalinist communism?

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — March 27, 2016 @ 12:47 am

  75. > Humans are hard-wired to seek the approval of our peers and avoid group ridicule. I do worry that in left-wing political online communities that these traits are becoming a recipe for mass-self delusion.

    The best antidote to mass self-delusion is satire. If only there was a satirist somewhere around here…🙂

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — March 27, 2016 @ 4:51 am

  76. Antoine: I’ve made a visual attempt in my previous post above.😉 So far WordPress doesn’t do image embedding last time I checked, though I might be wrong.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — March 27, 2016 @ 5:01 am

  77. So Twitter is like a rest home for the intellect, a place you go to die?

    I don’t want to overstate my case here. There’s a lot of interesting people saying interesting things on twitter. Just, not really many left-wing people saying interesting thought-provoking things about New Zealand politics. They say things I agree with, and think are funny, but that’s really not the same thing, is it?

    I don’t follow any of the intellectual Right, and so have no way of knowing whether or not they groupthink in exactly the same way. First guess, the null hypothesis if you like, is that they do.

    I think that two of the most interesting commentators on New Zealand politics at the moment are right-wing: Rob Hosking and Matthew Hooton. I disagree with most of what they say but they say perceptive things and, sometimes, things I didn’t know, or that challenge my assumptions. So for whatever reason they’re not subject to the same groupthink.

    It’s more of a problem with Twitter, built into the way that it trivializes and essentializes every discussion by virtue of every comment being forced into greeting card slogan length, and the subscription model being quite literally “People whose opinion I like to hear”.

    People always respond to criticism about twitter with ‘you choose who you follow’. But the point I’m making is that you don’t choose who follows you, and engages with you, and that over time you end up saying and thinking mostly what those people want to hear. You have to be pretty invested in the platform for that to really kick in, but lots of intellectual lefties who are interested in politics are heavily invested in the platform.

    Comment by danylmc — March 27, 2016 @ 8:29 am

  78. Hooters = sometimes incisive and perceptive, but quite often just plain dodgy – with a view to carefully misleading the punters (not unlike Young Master Farrar). The arguments they weave around poll data, for instance, are, more often than not, de-contextualised. A lot of cherry-picking, a lot of crucial background and detail going unsaid.

    Comment by swordfish — March 27, 2016 @ 8:55 am

  79. Hooton is such a hopelessly compromised hired liar and duplicitous asshole that anyone who takes the slightest bit of notice anything he says simply sticks a label on their forehead that says “provincial”.

    That nominally urban intelligent people actually are that provincial in 21st century NZ says a lot about how brain dead the NZ media-cultural environment is these days. Seriously, get you and your family out of the country for a year Danyl. You will marvel at how claustrophobically awful the intellectual landscape of the place you love has become in the age of Key.

    I love NZ so much it hurts, but I left because it had become just so awful intellectually that I couldn’t stand it anymore. Now I get homesick, and spend far too much time following NZ blogs, but I also feel like I have escaped a prison. A prison that is so horrible that smart people think Matthew Hooton ever has something interesting to say.

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 27, 2016 @ 9:11 am

  80. Danyl: “But the point I’m making is that you don’t choose who follows you, and engages with you, and that over time you end up saying and thinking mostly what those people want to hear.”

    I’ll digress but do you think social media more generally, maybe Facebook given its reach with the populace, is having a significant effect on NZ political opinion and reaction?

    Especially with Facebook’s especially tendancy to show people stuff it thinks they want to see. Not just from followed friends and self-selected pages and groups, but also introducing cherry-picked places on the internet based on various algorithms about what a person already spends so much time looking at.

    To me the potential for confirmation bias seems consistent with how polarised and hateful NZ politics has apparently become in the last while. I’m wary of blaming people for what they think, but it also doesn’t seem as if (m)any current political groups, even globally, have much of a successful strategy for getting their messages through without it being extremely easy for everyone with a slight tendency to disagree to rapidly come across excuses to dismiss any dissenting views they see out of hand.

    Maybe that’s also a red herring and the effect is still minor, because there have been other instances in the past when things probably got like that without much help from the internet.

    Comment by izogi — March 27, 2016 @ 9:30 am

  81. Maybe that’s also a red herring and the effect is still minor, because there have been other instances in the past when things probably got like that without much help from the internet.

    I’ve puzzled over this for a while without comming to any sensible conclusion.

    Technology has lead to the development of a sort of new form of commentariat – it’s not the traditional media, it’s not ordinary people arguing politics in person, it’s not political meetings in town halls, it’s not lengthy articles in journals.

    All if these old fashioned forms of political engagement created in groups and out groups with bitter factional fighting.

    But there is something about the political process being broken down into small particles that can be exchanged very fast and very publicly that sets up a dynamic that’s new and not very pleasant.

    There’s also an addictive aspect to it and everytime I think about it I think of the dancing chicken in Stroszec.

    Comment by NeilM — March 27, 2016 @ 9:57 am

  82. …everytime I think about it I think of the dancing chicken in Stroszec.

    “Can’t stop the dancing chicken”? I dunno, didn’t Pete George got blocked from here?

    Comment by Joe W — March 27, 2016 @ 10:16 am

  83. I think it’s created a new form of display behaviour.

    I’m looking at you you looking at me us looking at them. There’s a perceived immediate audience for everything one says. It’s not so much an echo chamber but a series of mirrors.

    Comment by Neilm — March 27, 2016 @ 10:24 am

  84. “I think it’s created a new form of display behaviour.

    I’m looking at you you looking at me us looking at them. There’s a perceived immediate audience for everything one says. It’s not so much an echo chamber but a series of mirrors.”

    I have about five hundred followers on my twitter account so it would be easy to think I have a big audience. But only five or ten of them ever favourite or reply to what I say and when I looked most of the rest of the accounts looked inactive or like spam accounts. Not sure if that’s the same for everyone else. But I wonder if people misbehave because they think they have an audience that isn’t there.

    Comment by Donna — March 27, 2016 @ 10:44 am

  85. I disagree with most of what they say but they say perceptive things and, sometimes, things I didn’t know, or that challenge my assumptions

    This would be the same Matthew Hooton who said the Maori electorates decided the outcome of the flag referendum, notwithstanding the Maori electorates had the lowest turnout of any electorates and that their combined vote for no change was about 100,000 votes. The no change vote was almost 300,000 votes ahead of the vote for change so a quick perusal of the voting makes it clear that the Maori electorates didn’t decide the outcome.

    Comment by Ross — March 27, 2016 @ 11:08 am

  86. Like I say: the artful dodger. Just a little bit tasty with the old stats, Govnr.

    Comment by swordfish — March 27, 2016 @ 11:17 am

  87. In fact the Maori vote for no change was about 86,000.

    Comment by Ross — March 27, 2016 @ 11:19 am

  88. A few weeks ago in the NBR, for instance, the artful dodger pulled a bit of an old swifty by suggesting that: “Alarm has been raised after Labour’s private polling showed it was down to just 30% in February, from 35% before Christmas.” Cue: various colourful rhetorical strategies woven around the idea of deep Caucus discontent, Labour in free-fall and so on.

    Working as a bit of an old double act, Farrar then blogs approvingly, liberally quoting Hoots, while adding (as is his custom) one or two de-contextualised and carefully-misleading comments and poll stats.

    Problem is: the 35% figure in UMR’s December Poll was very much an outlier. Most of UMR’s monthly polls through 2015 (including the 4 immediately preceding the December one) had Labour sitting on 31% (and 32% in most of the remaining minority). So, this implied notion of some sort of dramatic fall was little more than – how can I put this ? – unmitigated crap.

    Comment by swordfish — March 27, 2016 @ 11:37 am

  89. But I wonder if people misbehave because they think they have an audience that isn’t there.

    I’ve been trying to think of how it might play out as telephone conversations to sort of model the dynamic.

    Consider having a gossipy phone conversation with a friend – but 5 other people can listen in. They in turn can talk with someone and 5 other people can listen into to their conversation. And at some point there’s various people connected in various strands.

    So there’s an audience but also many audiences and just as one would inevitably change aspects of a phone conversation if one knew the conversation was overheard so with Twitter I think.

    Twitter is not as immediate, there’s a slight delay in the conversation but that sort of just compounds the problem.

    Comment by Neilm — March 27, 2016 @ 11:38 am

  90. But, anyway, the thing is that, much like (occassionally waspish) Blairite-types on Labour’s Right (eg Phil Quin), Hoots (and even Farrar) can serve a useful function as a kind of Devil’s Advocate. Even if they’re sometimes (or, indeed, often) arguing in bad faith – they still force you to re-examine your own easy assumptions and interogate yourself for any traces of intellectual laziness or wishful thinking. So, y’know, much like Google, let the intrigues of Quin, Hoots and Farrar be your friend.

    Comment by swordfish — March 27, 2016 @ 11:57 am

  91. “I love NZ so much it hurts, but I left because it had become just so awful intellectually that I couldn’t stand it anymore. Now I get homesick, and spend far too much time following NZ blogs, but I also feel like I have escaped a prison”

    You clearly have no idea what a left wing cliche those statements represent and they show how little self awareness you have. Which is a pity because you are a competent writer and are in danger of ending up in the Trotter/Hitchens bucket, all fluency and no content.

    Comment by Tinakori — March 27, 2016 @ 2:54 pm

  92. >People always respond to criticism about twitter with ‘you choose who you follow’.

    Of course they do, it’s the obvious comeback because it is 100% true.

    >But the point I’m making is that you don’t choose who follows you, and engages with you

    Well you can block people. I have, for anyone who was getting on my tits.

    >and that over time you end up saying and thinking mostly what those people want to hear

    Only if you choose to engage back, at all. Feeding the trolls, and all….

    >You have to be pretty invested in the platform for that to really kick in

    That’s what I’m really getting here. You got overinvested, a bit like what happened with me and World of Warcraft once. In the end cold turkey was actually the only way to purge my life of its influence. I get that this can happen to people, but I don’t overgeneralize from my own experience about that. Most people play it for a bit, enjoy it, then get bored and stop. Or play it in controlled bursts.

    >but lots of intellectual lefties who are interested in politics are heavily invested in the platform.

    This is no doubt true, without really telling us much about “intellectual lefties” in general, of whom there are a very large number. It can be a bit sad, to see smart people who are obsessed. But then again, maybe they just love it, so whatever.

    My point is that I think you’ve fallen prey to exactly what you describe as your reason for leaving – that it warped your perception of what was going on. Stepping back, and outside on the bubble you created for yourself with your followers, the people you followed, and the dialogue you engaged in, it might not seem like there’s anything unusual going on with the “intellectual left” at all.

    Not that I’m exhorting you to get your arse back on Twitter. I barely use it myself, and your reasons are similar to mind. My only real point here is to beware of overthinking what you learned about the world from that bubble. None of it’s data. It’s all anecdata. Here’s some anecdata: Many of my “intellectual Left” friends don’t use Twitter at all. How does that stack against your anecdata? Clearly, not at all. That’s what anecdotal reasoning is like – not very robust.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — March 27, 2016 @ 3:25 pm

  93. >You clearly have no idea what a left wing cliche those statements represent and they show how little self awareness you have

    Oh, come on, what he said is almost exactly the same thing Redbaiter has said so many times. The cliche it represents is not a left wing one, but a function of sending bitter rhetoric from behind anonymity. Of course it leads to impotent rage, and making enemies from friends, and is addictive since no real direct punishment can come of it, just endless very minor rewards of attention from others that slowly becomes less and less sweet as it becomes clear how little can possibly be achieved down this path.

    In which case a self-imposed time-out is a very good idea. Which, as far as I can tell is what both of those guys have ended up doing. Neither of them is stupid. Just cursed. Self-cursed, in a way that only self-exorcism can help.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — March 27, 2016 @ 3:43 pm

  94. I might have said it before, but ‘Lefty Twitterati pile-ons’ are but an underlying symptom of a rentier-ised media landscape and the collective cynicism it breeds. And as others like NeilM point out, technology is slowly cutting out the middleman, for better or worse. As for Hooton, he’s simultaneously a party maverick and a party hack, kind of like Boris Johnson in the UK.

    And I’ll have another crack at embedding my draft satirical take on the flag debate. Feel free to suggest additions.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — March 27, 2016 @ 5:12 pm

  95. sheesh so much angsty anguish… I’m a lefty and have been living abroad for the last six months and working long (85-90 hour) weeks. So I have had little exposure to blogs/ social media and Mainstream media. I voted red peak in the first ref, and then for the current flag in the second. Red peak was one of many that I liked, but the only in the longlist 40. The Lockwood flags I just didn’t like. So when one of them won, I went with the current. Not to get the approval of online progressives, not to spite Key: both of those would have been incredibly short-term in their scope. The reason I voted the way I did was because I didn’t want to end up living under a flag I didn’t like. Simple as that…

    Comment by mutyala — March 27, 2016 @ 6:19 pm

  96. >I love NZ so much it hurts, but I left because it had become just so awful intellectually that I couldn’t stand it anymore. Now I get homesick, and spend far too much time following NZ blogs, but I also feel like I have escaped a prison. A prison that is so horrible that smart people think Matthew Hooton ever has something interesting to say.

    This made me think. I did the opposite, moving back to NZ after many years of grad school and work overseas. I find that the internet has dissolved most of the complaints I used to have about living in NZ. That said, I now realise that virtually all of my sources for intellectual and political material are all ones I started using when I was away or were discovered via those sources. I just don’t consume NZ sources at all, aside from a few blogs. I now think that if I’d stayed here all of my adult life, I might feel the way you do. NZ is pretty awesome if you don’t watch the TV, read the papers or worry about the politics.

    As for Twitter, well, it makes for an excellent news feed. I never argue on it (because you can’t to any great effect) and I’ve blocked most of the “Twitterati” (not that they’re bad people: I just have no interest in reading their stuff).

    Comment by L — March 27, 2016 @ 6:53 pm

  97. “The cliche it represents is not a left wing one, but a function of sending bitter rhetoric from behind anonymity.”

    I don’t think you know NZ history very well, particularly the literary and political branches. Try some back issues of Landfall or the NZ Monthly Review if you want to get a good sense of the disdain the left held for their fellow citizens. More recent examples are Bruce Jesson and Brian Easton. It’s a combination of self pity and self hatred, neither of which are attractive to others. I always find it amusing how UK Labour Party ideas end up being mindlessly recycled by NZ Labour without the slightest variation. A minor example is the use of the “leafy” to refer to expensive suburbs. A major example is the rather delayed focus on the tax paid by large international companies.

    Comment by Tinakori — March 27, 2016 @ 7:04 pm

  98. …so in summary, you should change your title from “Probably…” to “Irredeemably…”

    Comment by mutyala — March 27, 2016 @ 7:05 pm

  99. “I love NZ so much it hurts, but I left because it had become just so awful intellectually that I couldn’t stand it anymore.” Don’t beat yourself up, sanc, I’m sure Voltaire felt just the same.

    Comment by leeharmanclark — March 27, 2016 @ 7:09 pm

  100. … and yes, they will turn out in equal numbers to see you hanged..

    Comment by leeharmanclark — March 27, 2016 @ 7:14 pm

  101. A minor example is the use of the “leafy” to refer to expensive suburbs.

    Hardly a preserve of the left. “Leafy suburbs” was a favourite dogwhistle among senior ministers in John Howard’s government when deriding urban liberals on immigration issues while playing to the “battler” constituency

    Comment by Joe W — March 27, 2016 @ 7:46 pm

  102. 1) “mindless recycling” 2) “derangement syndrome”.

    Yes, really.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — March 27, 2016 @ 7:53 pm

  103. Apropos of not much, but I’m not convinced ‘reactionary’ means what you think it does.

    Comment by prgcnt — March 27, 2016 @ 8:56 pm

  104. Well the knives came out.

    From what I’ve seen of Danyl’s engagement with others is he has a genuine interest in the ideas of others he disagrees with whether they be on the left or right. Much greater than I have, I couldn’t be bothered mostly.

    This is the only site I comment on only because he writes posts on topics I’ve been thinking about – and then I mostly disagree with him.

    The whole thing has been a bit of an eye opener. But the penny dropped a little while ago when I noticed a pattern amongst some on Twitter of attention seeking combined with a huge need to feel righteously aggrieved with no ability to take responsibility for ones own actions.

    Comment by NeilM — March 28, 2016 @ 12:09 am

  105. Two terms for it I have seen a “friendly fire” and “eating the young”.

    The friendly fire one kind of stuck with me the most, why, of all the people out there with shitty, sexist, racist etc views, would you choose to eviscerate someone who >=90% of the time is on your side, when they have said something stupid or used a wrong word. There’s hundreds of worse people out there who are far far more deserving of criticism, ultimately the battles for ideological and spoken purity just make me mentally switch off.

    Comment by Mike — March 29, 2016 @ 6:48 am

  106. The Lockwood designs got so much more media publicity than most of the other choices, so it wasn’t really right for the choice to be between those two flags. Just saying.

    Comment by Daniel Lang — March 30, 2016 @ 1:26 pm

  107. Hooton is a professional troll and it’s frankly terrifying Danyl gives him the time of day, let alone respects his opinions.

    Comment by James — March 30, 2016 @ 10:25 pm


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