Iceland is quickly becoming my favourite country. The national football team captured the attention of the world when it made a remarkable run into the quarter finals of Euro 2016, Miss Iceland quit a Las Vegas beauty pageant last week after the owner told her she should lose weight and now The Pirate Party is being tipped to win the country's national elections, despite not even existing four years ago.
The Pirate Party has been described as a collection of anarchists, hackers, libertarians and web geeks and has campaigned on a platform of privacy rights. It's such a rapid rise it made me wonder whether such a party work here in New Zealand? Let's examine...
Anarchists; there's not a great history of anarchy in New Zealand, although that's not to say it hasn't played a role in trying to create a society without publicly enforced government. Given some of the rabble we've had over the years it probably wouldn't have gone amiss from time to time.
Perhaps we could have anarchy at local government level while still retaining a Parliament, a kind of pseudo-anarchy? I'll give anything a go to get rid of the egomaniacal gobshites that populate local body politics.
The most well-known pocket of anarchist resistance in New Zealand, The Freedom Group, popped up just over a hundred years ago and reputedly had a crack at Massey's Cossacks during the Great Strike of 1913. There have been slim pickings since.
Hackers and web geeks; I'm hopeless on a computer and don't understand anything of technology in general which makes me a rather useless entity in today's world. But I'm not entirely stupid - one of my best mates is a web geek and comes in handy when I need to download things off the internet or live stream Joseph Parker fights (just kidding Duco!). I aIso keep on the good side of the IT crowd at work, one of the smartest things anyone can do.
'Techs', as they're known, are notorious for lauding their computer skills over the rest of the workforce as they know that without them they're largely ineffective. They explain things to you in language they know you don't understand and do so in a manner so condescending it can only be borne of decades of abuse at the hands of those who thought computers were a fad. Flattery gets you nowhere with them, it only strengthens their resolve - but I find bribery via a nice bottle of wine and they will do your bidding.
Libertarians; this is where I fit in the best, although I'm certainly not tied to any sort of doctrine. Maximising autonomy and freedom of choice is the basic tenet of the libertarian. However, this can sometimes be construed as ultra-right-wing and while there's conservatism inherent in the Kiwi psyche, there's also a sense of social responsibility and helping out our fellow New Zealanders. Noble stuff.
Which brings us to privacy rights. As I write there's another story doing the rounds regarding covert filming of calf abuse on dairy farms. On the one hand you have the alleged poor treatment of calves by some untoward characters which can make for sickening viewing; on the other hand there is the issue of covert filming on private property.
MPI is investigating the latest allegations after introducing new regulations to improve the treatment of calves. Most would agree this is a prudent measure and well overdue, but the danger in covert filming lies with context around exactly what is being filmed, not to mention basic rights of privacy. It's a vexed philosophical debate that I'll attempt to delve into in the coming weeks, but rest assured it's a fiercely emotional issue for many.
So calling all anarchists, hackers, libertarians and web geeks - take a leaf out of the mighty Icelandic book and form a party to take on the establishment in 2020. You never know, I might even vote for you...