We live in critical times. The unequal distribution of wealth and privilege (and the resulting unequal distribution of social suffering) continues to impact upon the stability of the world order. Arguably there is, at least, an increasing awareness of the social, economic, and environmental challenges which we are faced with collectively: as a planetary species. However, understandings of causes and solutions are, as always, contested. It is useful, I think, to attempt to unpack some of this complexity. Bear with me – I will return to what this unpacking may mean for progressive social work.
The recent ‘convoy’ protest encampment of people outside Parliament and the chaotic confrontation with Police which eventually dispersed the camp has generated some disturbing questions in relation to the social and political landscape of Aotearoa New Zealand. A variety of commentators have attempted to explore the roots of this event and many of us are struggling to develop a coherent analysis. What is it that has made people susceptible to the confused strands of ideology that we saw running riot? It seems clear that an eclectic mix of disaffected individuals and influences coalesced. I have been trying to make sense of all of this myself. I am not there yet, but some of the following is true.
Radical Reform of Child Protection?
We have protesters camped around Parliament. They say they want freedom. They are not the only ones. But freedom to please yourself regardless of the interests of others in a society structured by privilege and money isn’t any kind of freedom at all: it is merely a recipe for intolerance and injustice. Freedom for Māori to exercise their collective sovereignty and freedom for workers to organise and protect themselves from exploitation are the freedoms we should be focused on as a society. Sadly, I don’t expect to win any arguments with the freedom mob here. However, this post invites readers to think about progressive social change in Aotearoa through a wider lens.
The beauty of (and the trouble with) ideas, particularly dissenting ideas, is that they call for action. I am not referring to the manipulative propaganda of the alternative right when I think of dissenting ideas. Notions of individual sovereign freedom that have no room for the common good or racist propaganda which blames migrants or other minority groups for the social and economic suffering aren’t a form of genuine dissent. Such ideas are merely fuel for reaction – anger or discontent that ultimately reinforces current relations of privilege and which undermines progressive politics as seen in the illusions / delusions of the Trump presidency in the U.S.
A guest post from David Kenkel
What I am aiming to do in this piece is to connect some threads that I don’t see commonly linked and raise some questions about who benefits from the anti-mandate movement and the potential position of social work in managing our current situation.