No Minister

And Now For Something Completely Different

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That old line from Monty Python is entirely appropriate to this Op because the Python’s used it to mock the culture of Britain as a bunch of conformist old farts, or even conformist young farts, such as the announcers on the British kid’s show Blue Peter.

In this case it’s an Old Fart, Chris Trotter, complaining about yet another dying aspect of New Zealand culture, Radio New Zealand (or RNZ as the young marketing gurus have it). Chris unloads with his piece, Integrating Seamlessly With The Lowest Common Denominator, and starts with the  recent in-house marketing presentation of how RNZ sees its audiences – The Ten New Zealanders – which they rather foolishly decided to make public.

To be fair this is what marketing is all about and always has been; the professional, semi-rational, semi-mathematical slicing and dicing of humans into groups for the purposes of selling them products and services. Something we all do every day instinctively, as explained by George Clooney’s character Ryan Bingham in Up In The Air:

Ryan: Never get behind old people. Their bodies are littered with hidden metal and they never seem to appreciate how little time they have left…

Bingo, Asians. They pack light, travel efficiently, and they have a thing for slip-on shoes. God love ’em.

Natalie: That’s racist.

Ryan: I’m like my mother, I stereotype. It’s faster.

Anyway, Chris goes on of his by-now-familiar riffs about our changing nation, particularly when it comes to changing our government institutions, like RNZ:

Professionalism is not highly valued in these presentations. Rather, it is not-so-subtly suggested that such considerations might actually be part of the problem with RNZ. Certainly, there is a fairly obvious prejudice against the high-culture featured on RNZ Concert. Such programming seems to be regarded as evidence of Pakeha elitism at work. In the material presented to the board, this is framed as being, if not a “bad thing”, then most certainly as “something to be avoided”.

High Culture“? Dude, that be a trigger word. Of course it’s to be avoided in RNZ’s brave new world.

… the rolling-out of its “Music Strategy” was something between an old-fashioned Soviet purge and an old-fashioned Bolshevik coup. The quiet and deeply knowledgeable professionals at RNZ Concert headquarters in Wellington were to receive the career equivalent of a bullet in the back of the head, while the Auckland studios of RNZ were to be taken over by the woke graduates of the nation’s “communication studies” courses…

I actually feel a little sorry to be laughing at Chris a on this matter, because I quite agree with him.

But so what?

The reason I’m laughing is that this is such a classic example of how future socialism fails Old Socialists. The problem he refuses to see is that this is always what happens to their beloved Government Institutions over time.

For a start, they’re supposed to be “public” and serve everybody, but they fail to do so because such a utopian thing is as impossible to achieve as 100% energy conversion.

Second, they always get captured by a sub-set of the population. In the case of RNZ’s Concert Program that sub-set was the 200,000 or so people in this country who love Classical music and they’ve had a pretty good run over several decades. Now they’re about to be replaced by another sub-set, a larger and younger one, who are going to take it over and replace it with “their” music and people. Yet another subset of the problem all democracies wrestle with: reflecting the will of the majority.

Third, the new group, or perhaps the generation just ahead of them – Gen X’rs – are going to also use the platform to push all the social themes they approve of, in this case probably all the “woke” themes that already provide such a rich diet of daily insanity for our amusement.

All three things are what happens to government institutions, especially ones focused not on basic matters like defence, law enforcement and even health but “social goods”. Chris’s definition of such a good – “high culture” – is not accepted as such by the younger voters, tax payers, and listeners, and they’ve already made that clear for decades in the private sector world.

I’m also sorry to go all Libertarian on Chris – especally since I have some fundamental disagreements with them – but in this case and many others their criticisms of Big Government are right on target. The bigger, more powerful and more dominant the government institution the more important it becomes to control it “politically” in ways and meanings far beyond a mere matter of the partisanship of who controls the Treasury benches.

If you don’t want to get “a bullet in the back of the head”, don’t give said government institutions so much power, even if you start off thinking that you’re doing it for the good of everyone. That’s how this goes on matters large (USSR) and small (RNZ), deadly (NKVD) and obscure (Classical Music).

In the case of RNZ it’s time to privatise it and place it beyond the control of such groups of we-know-best technocrats working “for the public good“. You may not like the resulting production out of the free enterprise interplay of music producers, distributors and consumers – God knows the average Classical listener has made it clear over the last fifty years that they really don’t – but clearly you’re going to like what you’ll soon be getting from RNZ even less than what you’re getting now.

And you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that your tax dollars are not going to support the likes of rapper Tom Scott singing about raping Key’s daughter.

Welcome to my world.

This is an argument that Chris and company have dismissed because it’s very much a Right-Wing idea, and the sneering claims about the qualitative superiority of RNZ National have always been accompanied by the sly dig that the Left have the numbers and there’s nothing the Right can do about it. Also Lefties are forced to support the NZ military so “suck it up Righties” is the message: you want to change RNZ, get the votes (MUHAHAHAHAHA).

But of course what we’re seeing here is the classic case of one’s own ox being gored, with at least one group of Leftists unhappy that one of “their” institutions is being taken over by people of whom they do not approve but who have the votes. And who are on the right side of history no less, as the “Youf” always are.

Chris and others voted to create this institution and support it with tax payer money. Did they really think that other voters would not one day appear, grow in numbers and political power, slide into the grooves of power controlling such institutions and use them to their own ends while waving goodbye to the past preferences of the likes of Chris as the older generation slips beneath the earth?
It would seem so. He mentions Stalin but never thinks of the obvious parallels.

Written by Tom Hunter

March 14, 2020 at 5:11 am

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