Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Flipping heck

John Ralston Saul’s book The Collapse of Globalism, which
I’ve just finished reading, is a bit of a worry. He says a lot
of wonderful things but when he writes about New Zealand
he’s so glib and superficial that it makes you doubt the
merit of the rest of the book. The chapter entitled ‘New
Zealand flips again’ purports to show that under the Clark
Labour government the globalization trend was reversed
and New Zealand got back on track. True, the book was
published in 2005, but it was clear even by then that, for
all the progressive moves they’d made, Clark and Cullen
had left untouched the core legacy of Rogernomics and
kept the country wide open to foreign investors, currency
speculators and the volatile variables of the global money
markets that determine so much of our economic health.
Saul says the change has been ‘only partially about
economics’ but I detect no deeper change: the ease and
swiftness with which the Key National government is
rolling back Labour’s policies in many areas testifies to
that. Perhaps only the generally critical reaction to Key’s
reintroduction of knighthoods etc indicates a genuine
shift in cultural attitudes over the past nine years. New
Zealand never ‘flipped again’: the Rogernomical
paradigm remains essentially intact. For all their good
intentions, and indeed their many admirable
achievements, Clark and Cullen were not up to
de-rogering New Zealand; the country’s economy is now
so globalised that it’s arguable whether we even qualify as
an independent nation-state any more.

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