Still working.

It seems that despite a noticeable drop off in compliant behaviour by the general public a couple of weeks after each community scare, the system implemented by the coalition government and continued under the current one (which for overseas readers is different despite the coalition being Labour led, the former partners really did have a lot of say) is working and working well. Sure like any system, gaps and flaws get identified, but then they’re identified and rectified.

And enough people are wearing masks on public transport, and using track and trace that it works even if there isn’t universal compliance.

It’s tough for the National Party and the real runners up in the last election in terms of actual victory – ACT, find any real grounds to challenge on. The economy is healthy, people are satisfied with the government, and the vaccine is rolling out in a decent time frame.

It’s tough when there is one such overarching issue dominating the public discourse, but while the right is regrouping it, it feels like there have been some opportunities for those to the left of Labour, including the Greens to really push on the one crisis in our society that the government doesn’t have a grip on. Housing. It feels like as more people come home to Aotearoa from overseas, there is a real opportunity to create a supportive conversation around state housing, the provision of it, and the construction of it.

Well that’s over then. But what was it?

Joe Biden is the 46th president of the US, and everything is back to normal…

Seriously though – it does mark the end of an era. But what era was it? There has, as usual been a lot of noise around exactly what Trump and his regime represented. Is he a fascist? Was his government a fascist government?

This mini series from the brilliant Behind the Bastards podcast, looking at the first successful fascist leader Benito Mussolini and the March on Rome, helps us draw some useful parallels and I would recommend it to anyone trying to make sense of what just happened.

Behind the Insurrections – Mussolini’s March on Rome

The host Robert Evans of Bellingcat fame, and already referred to on this blog; takes us through a compelling narrative on the build up of the fascist movement in Italy from a few hundred people to nearly half a million in just a few years, covering the open consent of the ruling and middle classes, the failure of anti fascism, and decent strategy and leadership from Mussolini and his fellow fascist leaders.

Now for me the only difference I can see between Trump and Mussolini is that Trump didn’t actually have a plan to establish what we might classically describe as a fascist state (at least not from what we currently know), but that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t spent the last four and more years slowly trying to establish at the very least a deeply authoritarian, racist state, that fascists would feel very comfortable in.

A post a day?

Wait could I actually get away with making a new post every day? No – what would be the point? I would end up becoming ‘Phil Space the Content Writer’, and that would not do at all.

One a completely different note –

Today I discovered that lots more Kiwis are worried about a return to lockdown than I predicted, this has the positive effect of encouraging people to use the QR code, and observe good hygiene, but the negative impact of introducing a sense of fatalism and doom, when people should be feeling a bit more optimistic given how well we have done so far.

Remaining vigilant and optimistic is a tough balancing act as we enter the pandemic’s second year, and I wonder how we can do both.

One idea that comes to mind is using social media to have a genuine guided conversation between experts, policy makers and the public. Maybe this would take the form of a daily Facebook Live in the early evening, with people responding directly to questions in the chat. Of course it would need to be firmly moderated to keep the Billy TK types out – or you would have to have a dedicated team responding to their nonsense in side conversations.

Community leaders with effective Whatsapp and Vibr chats could also be identified and used to spread the message – that the plan is working, we just need to stick at it, and be proud of ourselves.

A final role could be for people who can share real human success stories, examples of mutual aid, of family and friend reunification, and of Kiwis rediscovering the benefits of in country tourism.

Tweet without distractions…

If I return to using Twitter regularly (and I might), I will be using this helpful little app – Typefully. You can stick it on your phone or use it on your desktop.

You can write an entire thread without any distractions, and post it when you want… Ideal for those late night thoughts or funny little stories. It’s by the team behind Mailbrew, which is also a fine time saving service.

making sense of it all…

Like many people I have spent the last few days glued to the news from the US. The fascinating Trump Train has finally come off the rails.

I will admit freely to feeling a sense of schadenfreude watching what has happened in the US since 2015 or so, partly as a distraction from the pain that my own home country has gone through since 2010 and at the advent of the Cameron Coalition (no; I don’t blame everything on Boris and Brexit, and why might be explained in a future post).

But the US. What is the nature of the Trump Movement? Does it in fact exist as a single movement or have several opportunistically come together to take advantage of the space created by his election?

Well I’m still processing it all, but to be clear – I am very skeptical of anyone who claims that a Biden / Harris presidency will do anything to really address the underlying reasons for the mass growth of conspiratorial anti system thinking – and I am just as reluctant to believe that the vanguard at least of Trumpism represent the downtrodden and oppressed who have long been neglected by the liberal elite – and thirdly, I remain to be convinced that Bernie Sanders would have done much better as a Democratic presidential candidate than Sleepy Joe.

Some of the material I am reading / listening to in order to make sense is below (in no particular order).

Richard Seymour – is it still fascism if it’s incompetent?

Three Way Fight – blog on insurgent fascism

Numerous articles linked to by Matthew N Lyons

Mueller She Wrote & Daily Beans podcasts.

Hard Crackers – The Big Takeover which also cites Mike Davis from here.

Bellingcat on the Journey of Ashli Babbit

There’s loads more out there, plenty of signal and noise; but I would argue that the above represents much more of the former, and less of the latter.

I’ll revisit the subject later when I’ve fully marshalled myself. In my defence I was reading about events in Washington live from areas of spectacular natural beauty and poor cell phone coverage in the South Island…

a note on the name of the blog

As the quote in the side bar shows the name comes from a Helen Keller quote. You can read more about her here and here.

The reason I chose it is because even now – even with COVID, catastrophic climate change, mass extinction, the rise of the alt right, leaderless terrorism, and everything else that’s happening – if we don’t approach things from an optimistic point of view than we might as well give up on the idea of a better society.

it’s 2021!

It’s a new year and you know what that means right? Yep – I start a new blog and manage about two to three posts before being overwhelmed by other things and abandoning my genuine plan to conquer the world of blogging…

Well – no more, this blog will capture all of my thoughts no matter how undeserving of publication.

No seriously though, if I’m going to call myself a writer, then I need to knuckle down and write, and blogs have been the tool that have helped me in the past.

Which means this brand new self hosted baby will do the trick. Right? Right.