Eleanor Catton – “A Statement.” And, the Rise of Neo-Fascism in New Zealand

Catton

Eleanor Catton

New Zealand author Eleanor Catton recently made some well considered criticism of the New Zealand government (read Eleanor Catton’s Illuminating Take on New Zealand, and It’s Culture of Anti-Intellectualism)

Prime Minister John Key was very quick to rebut Catton’s remarks, even though they weren’t aimed at him specifically. That he chose to criticize Catton, while subtly promoting his position as Prime Minister, simply enforces what she said in other parts of her interview. But some Kiwis were far, far worse in their one-eyed spitefulness.

Ungrateful Whore, Traitor

Listen to what mainstream media journalist,  NZ RadioLive host, Sean Plunkett, had to say about Catton’s remarks: AUDIO.

But Catton got off lightly with just a tongue lashing for expressing her opinion.

NZ journalist Nicky Hager who criticized the same government, and blew the whistle on his country’s Dirty Politics campaigns, was subjected to a 10 hour long police raid and confiscation of electronic materials, including phones and computers.

Read The Intercept: New Zealand Cops Raided Home of Reporter Working on Snowden Documents. The Freedom of the Press Foundation has announced a global campaign to raise funds for Hager’s legal defence. It was money well spent, the crown found in Mr Hager’s favour calling the search unlawful, saying police did not meet their duty of candour when they asked a District Court judge to issue the search warrant.

Eleanor has responded elegantly to her public flogging in New Zealand by writing in her own blog, here’s an excerpt from it

A Statement

“…The New Zealand mainstream media, though quick to flare up over a condensed record of remarks made last week in Jaipur, are in general altogether behind the ball: I’ve been speaking freely to foreign journalists ever since I was first published overseas, and have criticised the Key government, neo-liberal values, and our culture of anti-intellectualism many times. One reason why my remarks have not have been noticed in New Zealand until now may be that in most modern democracies a writer expressing an opinion is not considered, in itself, shocking. The truly shocking thing would be the writer who only spoke in praise of her country; who was unequivocal in gratitude and platitude; who swore fealty to her government, rather than to deep-felt values or ideals; who regarded arts funding as hush money and a part-time teaching position as an intellectual gag. I hope that that author does not exist today; but if she does, she is the one who should make the news.

In future interviews with foreign media, I will of course discuss the inflammatory, vicious, and patronising things that have been broadcast and published in New Zealand this week. I will of course discuss the frightening swiftness with which the powerful Right move to discredit and silence those who question them, and the culture of fear and hysteria that prevails. But I will hope for better, and demand it.

New Zealand is a small Pacific Island country, at the end of the earth with no overseeing authority to moderate behaviour, or to sanction the people behind Dirty Politics.

We all hope for the better, demanding it is impossible. As the families of tourists killed in the NZ adventure tourism industry know, exposure and attracting international condemnation is the only way to bring about change. It won’t come from within, not in New Zealand. The question is – will that happen before New Zealand’s ‘Neo-Liberalism’ is seen for what it really is? Neo-Fascism.

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