• Opposition For Its Own Sake

    The saddest aspect of the current public debate about the response to the delta pandemic is the extent to which politics has imposed itself on the public policy issues. For many people, it seems, the issue is not a public health one but a political one – and, to the extent that the politics and public health issues are at odds with each other, they have no difficulty in giving priority to the politics.

    Even worse, some of them have decided that they do not have to engage with the politics of the situation by conventional means or at all. Fearful that they might lose the political argument, they have decided that they do not have to get into it – they do not have to develop a rational argument or string two thoughts together but have seen that they can take on the government through their actions, rather than through words or discussion.

    Rather than offer any rational ground for opposing the government’s pandemic strategy, they have decided that they can make their opposition clear and effective through what they do, rather than what they say.

    Accordingly, they have resorted to public demonstrations in the name of “freedom”, and in defiance of lockdown rules. They have encouraged and made common cause with “anti-vaxxers”, they have refused to wear masks or to scan, they have breached boundaries that would limit the spread the virus, and they have – when possible – ignored MIQ or self-isolation requirements. They equate defeating the virus with surrendering to a view of society and of how it might function that they reject.

    All of these tactics and behaviours serve a dual purpose – first, to recruit new sympathisers to a far-right, so-called “libertarian” – that is, individual first – view of how society should operate, and secondly, to undermine the government’s strategy for dealing with the pandemic and to damage the chances that it might succeed.

    Both the immediate and long-term consequences of these activities and attitudes are damaging to our social fabric. Unless they are resisted, we will become like so many other societies worldwide – unable to work together for a common cause, and always jostling to “get ahead” and putting self first. What is perhaps the most fundamental characteristic of “the New Zealand way” will have been lost.

    Bryan Gould
    1 November 2021


  1. Jeremy Callaghan says: November 1, 2021 at 9:24 pmReply

    Great analysis! Of course similar comments apply to sections of society in many countries but it is a real shame that they can now be made in New Zealand which has shown the way for so long during the pandemic.

  2. Bryan Gould says: November 2, 2021 at 7:32 amReply

    Thanks Jeremy. Sadly, you are right of course. Bryan

  3. Fern says: November 3, 2021 at 2:34 pmReply

    May I just quietly whisper that the letter ‘l’ is missing from the word ‘public’ in the first and fourth paras.

  4. Bryan Gould says: November 3, 2021 at 3:04 pmReply

    Thank you Fern – now fixed. Bryan

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