Bruce Bisset: Our corporate state of fascism

By Bruce Bisset - Left Hook

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You have to wonder just how far down the fascist path this National Government will take us before people realise how many basic freedoms have been stripped away, without apparent qualm.

Think that's overstating it? Let's examine the recent record.

The right to protest at sea: gone.

As the current Greenpeace ad reminds us, we've a proud tradition fighting whaling, nuclear tests, spoil dumping, over-fishing, and lately deep sea oil exploration. How long before there's no right to protest at all?

The right to legislate by referendum: gone.

Denial of the result to tweak our MMP system, after a 4-year referendum and review process backed by a clear majority of voters, put aside on the venal pretext government could not agree (despite they initiated it). How long before even token referenda are not allowed?

The rule of law: gone.

Family carers of people with disabilities now cannot even appeal against unlawful discrimination; the traditional oversight of law by the courts has been expunged. How long before no law can be appealed?

Even national sovereignty: gone.

Binding future governments (and therefore all citizens) to shonky deals like the SkyCity fiasco or, worse, the forthcoming corporate sell-out via the TPPA, for decades if not forever, is a travesty of democratic process. How long before New Zealanders are forbidden to govern themselves?

Not very long, the way things are going. Indeed I'd say we're already there.

Fascism is not a word I throw about lightly, particularly as tens of thousands of our soldiers fought against fascist regimes in World War II.

But given the complicit silence of many older folk regarding National's performance, I'm left wondering how many actually understood what they (or their parents) were fighting, and conversely, fighting for.

See, I don't know what your idea of fascism might be, but this package clearly embraces the classical definition: "any right-wing nationalist ideology with an authoritarian and hierarchical structure that is fundamentally opposed to democracy and liberalism".

Selling your birthright - and that of all your fellows - for a grubby bit of coin while preventing any protest, public or legal, against what you are doing is as "fundamentally opposed to democracy" as you can get.

Look, even if you accept that a bit of greasing palms and oiling wheels and other euphemisms for corruption is pragmatically necessary to run a government, autocratically imposing laws that cannot be appealed is way beyond pragmatism.

Moreover doing it - as they have for family carers of the disabled - specifically to prevent someone already acknowledged as having been wronged from making that wrong right, is surely as low as even a blue shirt can go.

Or perhaps not.

When the Attorney-General, Chris Finlayson, openly mocks those presenting a petition pointing out that the "no right of protest" clause in the amended Crown Minerals Act breaches international law and the Bill of Rights, it's apparent there's room in the barrel to go lower.

But while we might arguably excuse a lack of decency, we must not succumb to the imposition of dictatorship.

To paraphrase a famous anti-fascist quote: "When they came for the cripples and their families, I did not speak up, for I was not disabled ..."

That's the right of it.

Bruce Bisset is a freelance writer and poet.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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