du Fresne on the new cabal

Karl du Fresne writes:

The cabal I’m talking about reaches across politics, the bureaucracy, academia, arts, the media, the churches and even sport and business. It dominates the public conversation to the extent that dissenting voices are largely excluded, at least from traditional mainstream platforms.

The common ideology that unites this cabal is not easily summarised, since it’s multi-faceted. Some would call it “woke” – an unsatisfactory term because (a) it’s too easily resorted to and has therefore been diminished by over-use and (b) its meaning is so diffuse that it can be hard to pin down.

If forced to define the groupthink that binds the members of this cabal, I would suggest it’s an adherence to the ideology of identity politics – the idea that disadvantaged minority groups (more of which seem to emerge with every passing month) have needs, grievances and interests that, when push comes to shove, supersede those of the majority.

Identity politics involves a relentless focus not on what unites us – in other words, the interests and values that all New Zealanders have in common (such as freedom, prosperity, peace and respect for the rule of law) – but on grievance and division. Proponents of identity politics see society as an aggregation of disadvantaged groups that must compete for power and influence against a privileged and hostile majority that’s indifferent to their needs. …

But what sets the 2021-style cabal apart is the sheer scale of its influence. A homogeneity of thinking extends across virtually all the public institutions that influence New Zealand life. What debate there is mainly takes place on the margins – for example, on talkback radio (which the media elite regards with contempt), in social media and on blogs like this one, where dissenting opinion can be quarantined as if it were a contagious disease.

The dangers hardly need spelling out. A country where government policies largely go unchallenged by the institutions that normally hold politicians to account is a country that risks acquiescing in the face of an authoritarian state.

Two obvious examples are academia and the media. In liberal democracies, both institutions typically subject governments to close, and often harsh, critical scrutiny. But in New Zealand in 2021, academics and the media sing from the same song sheet as the people in power. Media outlets publish just enough dissenting opinion to avoid the accusation that they function as compliant government mouthpieces. Academics, apart from a tiny minority of courageous dissenters, serve as cheerleaders.

This is spot on. Its not that most of the media see themselves as biased, let alone partisan. It is that their worldview is totally in sync with the Government, so they never challenge it.

There are two broad views on the Treaty of Waitangi – one is it promised equality for everyone, and one is that it promised a partnership and co-governance. 95% of those in the media not only seem to be in the second camp, but believe anyone in the other camp is a lunatic racist fringe.

The same comes with equality of opportunity vs opportunity of outcome. 95% of media reporting is about unequal outcomes, with an implicit belief that Governments must keep interfering to produce the same outcomes for all groups, rather than ensure all groups have the same opportunities. The difference is huge, but almost never debated in the media.

And if different outcomes go against the prevailing identify politics, they are ignored. There are 100 times more stories on women getting paid less than men on average, than there are on boys and men massively under-achieving in the education system.

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