The Nats, faced with a bad press because of the housing crisis, dreamed up a slogan: Predator Free New Zealand by 2050. It goes along with Smoke Free New Zealand by 2025 and so on. But I have concerns about sloganizing of this nature – the historic examples don’t bode well. Mao tried to get rid of flies with disastrous consequences. As for Stalin, there were numerous pests he eradicated.
The model is rather too close to ethnic cleansing to be comfortable, and of course, the arguments are similar: these possums etc are taking our resources and despoiling the nation’s moral health. Clean Green goes along with Nordic purity and tramping trips. As a German from the period remembered, ‘In the songs that we sang, in the poems that we recited, everything was bright, shiny and clear, the sun and earth were ours, and tomorrow so, too, would be the whole world.
And the means of ethnic cleansing are usually unpleasant, from machete wielding mobs to gas chambers. There was always a façade to the gas chamber, a normal railway station and doctors in white coats. The 1080 drop is preceded by the more benign carrot.
I don’t want to push the metaphor too far (and am probably already in trouble from the pro-Israeli lobby), and there is the other side of the coin, Hitler got the trains to run on time and possums are great breeders and have to be controlled. But eradicated? It’s not our fault some settler clown brought us here (the Fijian Indians were imported by settler clowns as well).
But you can see how the anti-1080 cargo cult has arisen in response, rather like the cabaret under Hitler. Peter Slater’s possum pies were disallowed on food safety grounds. I ate one and experienced no ill effects. It does seem ridiculous to have to import possum fur. Whenever a 1080 drop occurs locally, there is a strange feeling of living alongside a death camp.
And these sloganised campaigns are always firmly attached to nationalism: TB free, smoke-free, predator free, nuclear free (the last one’s beginning to be inconvenient).
Yes, our flag in triumph nobly flies!
Yes, our flag is reaching toward the sky!
To the ends of the Earth, and the last of our breath…
If only we were free trade free, late capitalism free, climate change free, income inequality free, child poverty free…
On a different note, we had a great Labour weekend with a history seminar on the Labour Party in Runanga on Sunday and on Monday, an event to christen the new town square in Greymouth as a political gathering place.