• What Else Do We Know About Luxon?

    What do we know so far about Christopher (or is it to be “Chris”?) Luxon?

    We have so far been allowed to know only that he was chief executive of Air New Zealand, that he is an evangelical Christian (that is, a proselytising, and not just your everyday,) Christian, and that he is a friend and political protege of John Key.

    What do those sparingly released items of information add up to? The first two, taken together, present a somewhat unattractive picture – of a business leader who believes that his view of how society should be run is not only endorsed but also demanded by the God he worships.

    Such a belief is well encapsulated in the words of the old hymn –

    The rich man in his castle,
    The poor man at his gate,
    God made them, high or lowly,
    And ordered their estate.

    The picture they paint is of a socially conservative man who believes that everyone “has his place” and that this is ordained by God. This seems hardly the stance of a political leader who can lead us through the manifold and rapidly changing challenges of the modern world – with all the varying needs and demands of a society that is increasingly heterogeneous, in terms of its ethnicity and sexual preference and religious belief and need for social mobility.

    The “reset” he promises seems likely to mean a return to a past era, not just for the National party, but also for a country that should be preparing for a post-Covid future.

    This image of someone whose concept of society is rooted in the past is somewhat borne out by his apparent links to his mentor, John Key. Luxon as Key, Mark II, may appeal to some dyed-in-the-wool National supporters, but is unlikely to make many converts to the Luxon cause.

    We are now sufficiently distanced from Key to recognise that he was an old-fashioned con-man – a skilled one, perhaps, but a con-man nevertheless.

    Key was, in reality, a right-wing ideologue who managed to persuade the electorate that he was hardly a politician at all. It seems unlikely that Luxon has the John Key lightness of touch and sunny disposition to enable him to pull the same trick again.

    So, what are we left with? There may in fact be little more to know. Luxon may well be what you see – no more, no less – a middle-aged white male who succeeded in business, and who is burdened by most of the inflexible prejudices and ingrained beliefs that most such people typically acquire.

    His one claim to suitability as leader of the country seems to be that he is not Judith Collins.

2 Comments

  1. Jeremy Callaghan says: December 1, 2021 at 9:28 pmReply

    Luxon is reported in the Guardian as saying “What I can tell you is that my faith is actually something that has grounded me. It’s given me context and put me into [the] context [of] something bigger than myself – but I want to be very clear, we have separation between politics and faith.”.

    Actively religious politicians (as opposed to those who affect to have religious beliefs so they don’t offend voters) are a real worry in politics. It’s all well and good to point to the separation between politics and faith at a formal level but a person’s entire value system is shaped by their religious beliefs and it seems to me that it is impossible to keep them apart from engagement in political life. They will colour views, approaches, relationships, strategies, oratory and so on. How could they not?

    You might say that everybody has some kind of metaphysics that helps to navigate them through their lives but thank goodness it does not have to come from an unproven deity and crackpot self-contradicting traditions accreted over the last few millennia of human existence. No person, and especially no politician, needs a magic friend whispering in their ear what the best thing to do is. As Steven Pinker shows in his new book, Rationality is a far better option.

    I think it is impressive that the last three leaders in NZ (cf Australia) have not been shy to acknowledge their agnosticism. Just as the way in which the Covid crisis has been managed, that is something from which the world can learn. .

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

    Totally agree Jeremy. Kind regards, Bryan