Blog description.

Accentuating the Liberal in Classical Liberal: Advocating Ascendency of the Individual & a Politick & Literature to Fight the Rise & Rise of the Tax Surveillance State. 'Illigitum non carborundum'.

Liberty and freedom are two proud words that have been executed from the political lexicon: they were frog marched and stood before a wall of blank minds, then forcibly blindfolded, and shot, with the whimpering staccato of ‘equality’ and ‘fairness’ resounding over and over. And not only did this atrocity go unreported by journalists in the mainstream media, they were in the firing squad.

The premise of this blog is simple: the Soviets thought they had equality, and welfare from cradle to grave, until the illusory free lunch of redistribution took its inevitable course, and cost them everything they had. First to go was their privacy, after that their freedom, then on being ground down to an equality of poverty only, for many of them their lives as they tried to escape a life behind the Iron Curtain. In the state-enforced common good, was found only slavery to the prison of each other's mind; instead of the caring state, they had imposed the surveillance state to keep them in line. So why are we accumulating a national debt to build the slave state again in the West? Where is the contrarian, uncomfortable literature to put the state experiment finally to rest?

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Recent Posts and Festive Season

Just two posts this month on the issues I’m passionate over: literature and euthanasia.

Long piece that critiques our modern literature, noting how same has been captured by the progressive ethic and turned away from the world – philosophy, politics, economics – to create, in a lineage from Proust to the Bloomsbury Set, a stultified literature of our interiors. Examines consequences of this for readership and culture. Also the beginnings of a suspicion that progressivism dominates contemporary aesthetics.

If you love literature then you’ll hate this post. But you also won’t see another critique like it. Our passive, state-funded, state-affirming literature that has expunged individualism, and therefore the wellspring of creativity, is well on the way to being a dead literature.

I’m gutted that Labour has pulled Maryan Street’s dying with dignity legislation from the ballot. Managing our deaths should flow seamlessly from our life-long self-management of day to day health issues: there are no moral issues other than the basic right to own our bodies and manage our health outcomes. Yet the state denies us this. Majority rule and the gutlessness of our politicians combine to ensure many Kiwis continue to die in conditions which are abhorrent to them.

 This post is a ‘fluff’ piece shorn off Twitter. More important that you read why there is such urgency for euthanasia legislation to be debated given the current New Zealand Chief Coroner’s actions to prosecute doctors who are over prescribing pain medication to the terminally ill.


Happy Christmas and New Year.

 If you are a regular reader, thanks for reading my jottings for another year. If I don’t get to my keyboard through the festive period, then I’ll be back in the New Year.

 Have a great Christmas and New Year; don’t let the wowsers bite.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Andrew Little’s Cowardly Abandonment of Humanity: #Euthanasia #Individualism

New Zealand's Labour Leader, Andrew Little, today forced MP Iain Lees-Galloway to take Maryan Street’s euthanasia bill back from the ballot: given Prime Minister John Key would rather talk to a blogger on the telephone than follow up on the promise he made last year for euthanasia legislation, there will now be no adult debate on euthanasia. Little's reason for his back-down is the usual inhumane, shocking logic of statists:

"There are more people affected by weak labour market regulation and weak economic strategy than they are about the right to make explicit choices about how they die."

The bill would have allowed any adult suffering from a condition likely to cause their death within 12 months to request medical assistance to die.

I initially approached this in two ways with the unthinking, uncaring Leader of Labour - again, this is Twitter, I was very angry, still am, so please forgive the typos:

Mr Little’s cowardice today is no surprise, given the evil of his politick:

And now note closely the nature of the brute who wants to run your life:

And then Little goes to the full anti-individualistic barbarity of the identity politicker, like every tyrant throughout history. Imagine if you were reading this and were dying of a terminal illness from which you desperately wanted a dignified euthanasia option so you could leave the world on your terms, in the embrace of your loved ones: because throughout this exchange, in his need to save the masses in an unrelated matter of law, Little has not thought of that individual at all. Not once. Below is why progressive collectivist societies under the tyranny of majority rule are vicious and cruel because they are built on the forced-sacrifice of individual lives, which means they ultimately extinguish all lives:

As of writing this post, to my knowledge - as no member of parliament will deign to correspond with me over the issue of euthanasia - New Zealand’s Chief Coroner is trying to change the death certification process so that even those merciful releases unofficially occurring in our hospices and hospitals cannot happen without prosecution, with a secondary consequence of more conservative pain regimes likely to leave the dying in greater suffering. Please read my post on why it is urgent we have a civilised euthanasia law, and press our gutless, cruel politicians on it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Literary Ramble IV: A Disquisition on Our Literature & JM Keynes – Standing Upright Here.

'Woe to the nation whose literature is disturbed by the intervention of power.'

(Solzhenitsyn's Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1970.)

‘Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art – the art of words.'

(Ursula Le Guin.)


(Neil Roberts: Punk – A life pondered poetically by Airini Beautrais: recommended buy.)

“A village explainer. Excellent if you were a village, but if you were not, not.”

(Gertrude Stein on Ezra Pound.)

“All raw, uncooked, protesting.”

(Virginia Woolf on Aldous Huxley.)

Aldous Huxley, who [has] to perpetrate thirty bad novels before producing a good one, has a certain natural aptitude for seriousness.

(T.S. Eliot on Aldous Huxley.)


In The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell was able to do away with the world-building necessary of fantasy, and simply tap into the Green Party's Mad Max meme... [Snip] ... Isn't this literature as a social club? 

(Mark Hubbard.)

“... literature has been surrendered to our interiors, oblivious to the world and how it works ... [Snip] ... [consequently] there’s not much in the way of what I would call the world in our literature: philosophy, economics, politics.

(Mark Hubbard.)

Not I, some child born in a marvellous year,
Will learn the trick of standing upright here.’

           (Poem: Allen Curnow.)


If I had put, say, the name Ayn Rand in the title, I reckon such is the view of her by the Literary Establishment, no one I would want to read beyond it, would have. Instead, owing to his popularity, I've put that man who has destroyed creativity along with capitalism; and don’t panic, this is not about Ayn Rand, though she makes an appearance from time to time. Every preceding quotation has relevance: from the loss of a literature which has a capacity to incite resistance, to the two comments on Aldous Huxley, scribbled by two writers whose aesthetics I admire, which remind us what Huxley was trying to do, namely, change society, albeit a dreadful thought for the aesthetes. For the record with the Le Guin quote, and I class her as one of my writing and life heroes, I am aware of the complex level of contradictions and infatuations entailed in that.

This is a long piece, harking back to the pre-Internet age when we all had attention spans, but I promise if you make it through, there’s a reward at the end.

Following from the shambles of my last literary ramble on our Eleanor's book sales, now much improved on her deserved Booker win - and that post making it to ninth most read on this blog is admirable – to this post rambling across a melting, crevasse riddled ice shelf loosely conceived from my thoughts on public funding of the arts, in light of the newly announced charitable trust structure for the New Zealand Book Awards, and what the current state of literature tells us about our western democracies (or pertinently, what our western democracies tell us about our literature). Be warned this ramble comes with several severe weather advisories, the first being the timid will want to take a wide berth: my views are often to an Eliot-esque Wasteland of content, with my memory cast to a pastiche of the past, and hope dwindling into the future. Or as I'm soon to say:

State funding of the arts is leading to the stultification of western literature under the reactionary establishment of Left-Liberalism, also called Progressivism, which has largely captured the means of production via the agents and publishers, and quietly indoctrinates the authors toward a homogenised literature via creative writing courses in progressive saturated tertiary institutions. Ours is no literature that will seed Le Guin's resistance and change, or that can be ‘disturbed by power’, as Solzhenitsyn feared, because it’s a literature which embraces the ethic of that power, the supremacy of the state over the individual, and incredibly for the arts, a collectivism over individualism, with at its base, the tax take which funds a complacent publishing channel, while eviscerating our private lives, our digital innards disemboweled and served up in the offices of government officials.

No, no. Big breaths, big breaths. Stay with me, please, that’s the simple version ...

And while I’m throwing rocks at sacred taonga, you’re also about to read:

For a time I harboured a notion that it could be in the pages of indigenous writing that the rebellion against a state-endorsing literature might take hold, (given  classical liberal writing has all but folded its cards on the table): after all, a Maori oral literature had the 'trick of standing upright here' long before Mr Curnow sailed in. A literature working through colonialism surely must see the lie and damage of the state enterprise. Unfortunately, name me a Maori writer whose politick is not Left-Liberal, or advocacy for the future of Maori not tied to dependency on the welfare state? I don’t even think Alan Duff qualifies. So there will be no revolution away from a state literature born of Maori writing, for the same reason I have written there will be no Maori self-determination politically - and despite it appears arguable Maori did not cede sovereignty to the Crown via the Treaty (37) – because a progressive Maoridom is the antithesis of own-rule, individual or tribal. Indeed a progressive Maoridom is a culture happy to remain cowered on the leash of state also, accepting alms.

I’m merely scratching the surface with this disquisition (critique too grand a goal), which, thin as it is, while touching on aesthetics in the second part, is not concerned with aesthetics: that would require greater length - this is already over eighteen thousand words - and would be toward conciliation where this is not. This is, I admit, to provoke. Think of it as attack blogging, but not of the pointless petty party political kind, rather something important, attacking nothing less than the state of our contemporary English literature, which is to attack the basis of our culture (whatever that last word means).

In some parts below I may be wrong – it’s happened before– this blog is a hobby, possibly a neurosis, and when working on posts I’m in language as much as meaning; there’s an iambic pentameter tick tocking in my head, and too often cadence, alliteration, onomatopoeia and rhyme can supersede meaning, at times subvert it, as the majority of this blog - not this post - is written to be read aloud. (I have no idea why.) Yet for anything wrong below, I reckon there’ll be things right; the final one half of this piece asks questions I’ve not read asked of our modern literature, and they’re some of the most important, relevant questions to be asked of a literature, because they concern how relevant that literature is.

But enough bluster and build-up, let's get this tantrum over with before I lose the last reader I have; hell, the Marxist feminists have scrolled down to the picture of me and written this off already, ‘attention seeking’ - a shame because they are soon to be mentioned in dispatches. My candid hope is I can argue my premise(s) better than that clueless fraud, Russell Brand, can.

Though while you’re putting your sunscreen and snow boots on, ready to set out, my second advisory: these literary rambles are just that, they meander from place to place as my mind or fancy take me, I don’t care anymore to write with academic rigour, or in straight lines, that’s the freedom of a blog; in my day job I am, I yam, a very bored man, so I’m entertaining myself as much as anything, thus if you lose the sense, or if the odd odour offends, then pinch your nose and keep walking, as rambling aside, the one certainty is I always have a destination, even if in this case it ends up in diffuse places. And if you are a hardy progressive literary lover – you’ll need to be (hardy) - if nothing else, I’ll be giving your mind and temper a good aerobic workout, enough to keep you warm in the cold climes we're heading for. In Part I, the wrong-headed world-view I contend must inform our modern literature by dint of its participants, because even when it’s not mentioned, it’s in the heads of our fictional characters and the worlds built for them:  in Part II, the price to, and of, readership due to not writing the world as it is, nor of – as I’ve mentioned Mr Curnow’s presumptuous hope above - standing upright in this land, but crouching on the leash of state.

If you don’t have the stomach for Part I - I did stumble well off the track toward the thinnest ice at times - then try Part II which deals almost exclusively with ‘the literature’; you’ll lose the point but it may interest you enough to double back, tighten the sphincter, and trek on again. Alternatively, if in any part you’re bored or witless, or bored witless, you can simply progress to the next heading back to the original route. Or don’t read: let the literature rot in the airhead minds of the middlebrows wanting novels to only reflect those neuroses from their childhoods and angstsy marriages in the now, which while not diminishing the importance of themes drawn from these, marginalises the need we have circa our crumbling twenty first century command economies, to wake up, disturb, and subvert a reader's metaphysics.

(Reading back on this, second edit, that all reads more antagonistic than I intended, but that's language, it gets away from you. While on the ramble, please be mindful I wouldn’t write my biggest blog post on any topic here unless I LOVED BOOKS AND LITERATURE.)

If by the end of this I have failed to convince you, then you may want to click over to Creative New Zealand’s request for recommendations on future funding to mould a bigger state literature. I can’t be fairer than that; be warned, however, their (dry, quite boring in comparison) document at forty six pages is bigger than this one – though they do use bigger fonts.

Addendum: this piece, one day from posting, has had two links, most notably a post devoted to it from Tony Camplin's US site Austrian Economics and Literature. Details under Appearances following footnotes at end.


From the heading this post is about literature, however, examples to be cited are mainly from literary fiction, one branch only of our literature. And for ease I also use literary fiction and literature as if the terms were interchangeable: they’re not. But I can’t get bogged down in this: perhaps another post. Throughout this piece I predominantly use – not always – literary fiction as examples of my premise(s) because over my life I have mainly read literary fiction, and currently outside tax updaters that make me want to self-immolate, I am reading only literary fiction.

So, while I suspect the below may stand for our literature - other than the joie de vivre that lives in our cook books (if I include Graham Beattie’s Book Blog content as a definition of our literature, and I’m happy too) - I am chiefly writing about literary fiction. Not the (other) genres, not poetry, not non-fiction, not memoir, not a literary criticism used to smuggle in the class and identity politick wars, and certainly not play writing (I can't stand being swaddled close to sweaty strangers in enclosed spaces; my disinclination enough I built my own cinema room.) So next definition: what is literary fiction?

Again, time requires I assume a general consensus around what literary fiction is, with acknowledgement such pigeon-holing is not necessarily helpful, and some writers set out to breach the boundaries of definition, or more accurately, have boundless imaginations that will always resist enclosure: for example where to place much of Elizabeth Knox’s (fantastic) work; David Mitchell’s Bone Clocks which this piece sets off from is advertised as cross-genre while being long-listed for the Booker; and is Ian McEwan’s Sweet Tooth an espionage/thriller, yet literary fiction because it was written by McEwan?

Worse, you’ll soon note I had not set my mind tightly as to a debate on our literature, in the parochial, versus a modern English literature. Also unimportant: I am talking of the wider definition always; though find it useful to often concentrate the analysis on the local.

So I'm writing about literature but via literary fiction, one part only of a literature. I'm writing about our literature, though I'm not, I'm writing about western literary fiction per se. None of this has to make sense, only my premise. Importantly (to me), nothing in the following constitutes a personal attack on any author or person in our literary industry; I love you all, but, per my government department disclaimer at bottom of every page, there’s this loon in me who will have his say.

Part I:

Writing and Universal Themes: The Real Fantasy in Dystopia of The Bone Clocks.

Sub-themes: The Anti-Capitalist Metaphysics of Our Fiction. Also, (Jesus!) Climate Change.

I enjoyed reading David Mitchell’s genre busting - as advertised - novel The Bone Clocks, but some aspects of it more than others, especially the fantasy chapters which were clumsy and flawed. This is not a review, so suffice to say it was a book of parts. The opening part, literary fiction, was a joy. Mitchell drew me deftly in through a sympathetic treatment of the main character and the ambience of 1984 Gravesend, England. The quantity of character, story and place, conveyed in a spartan prose, showed that Mitchell at his best is wonderful. Then – I hope I’m not muddling chronology – the bitchy book fair, writers festival scenes were delightfully comedic in their execution, and you could feel the author behind those having a ball. I like that type of writing where I’m immersed in the story, yet can feel the presence of the writer. Indeed all remained well until the middle part (52% in Kindlespeak): The War between the Atemporals was Harry Potteresque written for a readership beyond that.  And as for the tortuous neologisms - psychobullets, psychoduels, psychobarrier – so many, so annoying, so unimaginative; I suspect Mitchell progressed a certain way into the plot, as you do, then boxed himself in and that was the result. Personal opinion and uncharted territory here, but it must be awfully tempting for a full time known writer who is confident of being published, to take the odd easy option just to get a work in the shops, and the royalty cheques flowing in. Something that may not in other circumstances have passed his critical eye, too tough to fix, and much of the book ‘good,’ shame to lose it, so … well, I don’t know, other than it replicates the problem of this post itself. That’s what it felt like to me.  The book somewhat retrieved itself in the closing Endarkment section, set in 2043, though that extrapolation into a real future was more fantastical than the fantasy (more on that soon), but then the closing – trying not to give spoilers – Icelandic navy premise was discordant; it felt too quickly arrived, contrived, in order to finish the book, and the cardinal sin, within the book’s own terms was not believable; showing too much of the story-board foundations of that delicate construct necessary to story, my suspended disbelief.

Although that’s not what caught my interest with this novel for my purpose here: the nature of the Endarkment did.

It has come to light, via confession, Kazuo Ishiguro wrote his Booker Prize winning The Remains of the Day as, quote (1) ‘a secret experiment’. This novel about an English butler was almost identical to his previous novel, An Artist of the Floating World, with only the setting changed to Japan, yet on the earlier book everyone had said ‘Oh, isn’t it fascinating how the Japanese behave.’ Because of this Ishiguro said he ‘… was frustrated because I thought I was writing about universal themes.’ And the nub of it, quoting the Press piece directly:

“I thought, I’m going to write the same thing again, but I’ll change the setting to Britain and see how they like it.’ I thought, it’ll be more English than anything they’ve ever encountered and let’s see if they still think this is an insight into [Japanese thinking].

And so they said: ‘Oh this is profound universal truth.”

This experience has influenced the form of his forthcoming novel:

‘He said that The Buried Giant, out next year, was set in a fantastical world so that readers would realise the story was universal.

“One of the problems of setting is that if you set your story in France in the 1950s then people think that it is a book about France in the 1950s,” he said. “It’s hard to get them to this it’s metaphorical.’

I think Mitchell has over indulged on this premise, as did the Literary Establishment in putting up The Bone Clocks for the Booker longlist. Mitchell’s universal truth in the form of the Endarkment, no offence Mr Mitchell, is fantastical treacle, but more unfortunately, if you look at my Twitter timeline, is fantastically pretty much also the commonly held world view nowadays; that is, Green-Left-liberalism, or as conveniently termed in the US, Progressivism. Though I write this with a growing suspicion of using a Left / Right political divide (I’m neither), preferring Reagan's notions of up versus down, freedom or statehood; between those who insist the mechanism of state can solve the problems they see with mankind despite history, or those tutored in history who understand the state is a Pandora’s box of human misery. That said, I find the modern usage of Progressivism to be satisfactory compared to the Left’s false ownership of liberal. I’m a liberal, certainly a social liberal, and a classical liberal, and I cleave to that dearly because it separates me from the Big Brother state Right wing and Conservatives. It’s damned annoying to have the individualistic tradition of liberalism so sullied by collectivist politics (and it’s a nonsense – how did that happen?) I realise the same argument could be applied to Progressive, but our progressive tax systems have already subverted, as in destroyed, the meaning of that word.

Mitchell’s Endarkment, complete with its movement back to the mysticism of religion, is –rather too tritely – the opposite of the Enlightenment, that movement born of reason which raised the West from the Dark Ages, separated us from religion, taught us to question authority, and suggested the end point of civilisation was to be found in the individualism of classical liberalism and the voluntary transactions of free markets, with the rule of law policed by a minuscule (minarchist) state.

This isn't a history lesson, enough to say that the Progressive Establishment – in which I include this New Zealand National Government – has won the day with its causation-less, no-consequences view of the world where voluminous policy comes not from reason, but emoting. I admit National, in theory stand for greater economic prudence, and for individualism and self-reliance, but that is now more in theory than practice: in the size of the state they have grown, they are centre-left, not centre-right, and worse, with social conservatism thrown in so we are forbid necessary freedom based legislation around issues such as euthanasia and drug legalisation. Consequently in this milieu Mitchell’s Endarkment is constructed on what has become a given for the progressive metaphysics that is modern English literature, and which authors armed with a progressive's social justice can tap into without any premise-setting: the given is a dystopia that is to come from man’s capitalist greed: it runs like the Green’s Party’s election campaign this year, that man has not dealt to climate change so causing climategeddon, and this on top of dwindling resources, particularly fossil fuels, after the supposed ravages of capitalism, which is going to lead to a societal breakdown taking us back to, well, an Endarkment. New Zealand’s second Booker winner states that a novel must not state it values, it must show, not tell – which aesthetically I’m about eighty percent agreeable with, while noting the amount of canon this would mean throwing out, starting with Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, hell, probably all those dour, earnest Russians - but Mitchell rubs our grubby little capitalist faces most tellingly in this post-capitalist, post-oil, post-climategeddon world where Ireland’s infrastructure has broken down: there’s no power other than solar panels (which society is not capable of producing any more), there is fuel rationing, people are reverting back to the barbarism of mysticism, and the only defence from lawless militias is the Chinese sponsored Stability. In this Mitchell has been able to do away with the world-creating necessary of fantasy, simply able to tap into the Green's fantastical Mad Max meme.  

Again, looking at my Twitter timeline, looking at every anti-globalisation rally, looking at every Occupy occupation contradicting itself, at celebrities such as Lucy Lawless and Keisa Castle-Hughes, and at New Zealand progressive blogger Martyn Bradbury who now describes himself on Twitter as a post-anarchist Marxist feminist with radical environmental tendencies, such a pitch is no doubt a shrewd marketing move for selling novels - albeit is thought to be a shrewd pitch, although I will contend against that at the end of this paper - but irresponsible because it’s feeding a mass hysteria that has been drilled into our teenagers through the state school system which is not true and is harming us greatly. I’m on my own well-trod track of reading and training when talking about capitalism. Without capitalism we would be living in third world tyrannies (2), and thank humanism, the entrepreneurial spirit and our innate wish to be free, that capitalism is so damned resilient in delivering its benefits even as western tax surveillance states with their command economies approach government spends that occupy half the economic activity in entire economies. Currently in New Zealand, against the narrative of Green-Left-Liberalism, Progressivism, and against the narrative of the mainstream media, we neither have a growing gap in income, nor do we have a growing gap in wealth: absolutely bone fide factual truth. (3) [After posting this piece the OECD - which this year brought us the global surveillance state via GATCA (see later) - have put out a working paper claiming a greater inequality in New Zealand: this paper is based on old data, and on misinterpreting that data out of the Muldoon years: I shall deal with this in the New Year, but it's spurious.] Moreover, developing nations are embracing low taxes and capitalism (4) as the best way to create work and better living standards for all, at the very time our Big Brother tax and welfare states are devolving us back to poverty stricken third world police states which are the true Endarkment. (And as resilient as capitalism might be, the ongoing economic breakdown in Europe and the US warns of the coming step up in the global bust; coming because the cure for the first global bust has been more of what caused it, meaning bigger state sectors and more debt than there was in August 2008. Japan has just conducted the biggest quantitative easing, ever – QE being nothing to do with a capitalist system, but a command one – printing enough money to buy the entire GDP of Australia for a year, yet the Japanese economy just contracted 1.6%) If the evidence that capitalism is raising millions from poverty in developing countries, as it has the West, surprises you, let me quote a second source: (5)

From 1990 to 2011, the percent of the world's population living in extreme poverty fell from 36 percent down to 15 percent. Why? Douglas Irwin, economics professor at Dartmouth College, says the answer is simple: capitalism.

The drop in poverty over the last quarter-century is the greatest drop in poverty in world history, writes Irwin, and it is due to the fact that developing countries implemented business-friendly economic policies.


Capitalism, says Irwin, was given a bad reputation by Marxists who equated capitalism with the exploitation of workers. But Irwin says Adam Smith had the better description of capitalism -- a "commercial society" in which all men could participate in markets. The growth of that commercial society has brought great improvements across the globe -- while 811 million workers earned less than $1.25 per day in 1991, that number had dropped to 375 million in 2013. 

And whereas in these troubled times, socialism has only brought nationwide economic catastrophe and the authoritarian state to troubled nations, De Soto proves (6) the best way to stem terrorism into the peaceful society is to allow the voluntary transactions of capitalism.

If you’re having trouble deciding where I’m going with this, that will be answered in Part II, however if you are a writer, agent, publisher, anyone in the literary industry pull yourself up at this point and answer this: how many of your associates in literature are used to speaking of capitalism with anything other than arrogant (feigned) world-weary cynicism? How many are openly supporters of the laissez faire capitalism that gave us our freedom and more prosperity than any civilisation in human history? (Nil?) My contention is our literature is skewed toward that socialist form of statism (as opposed to the Right’s conservative statism); no, not skewed, owned. And just as the state owns our private lives through the tax surveillance state, so it controls our lives in the state run economies we have because you can’t separate your private life from an economic one:

Worse: little known fact; the corporate tax rate in China is now lower than in New Zealand. Which country is the Free World again?

That said, let’s carry on out onto where the ice becomes treacherously thin.

Just as the Green-Left-Liberal narrative on increasing income and wealth inequality is not supported by the evidence - noting there is nothing necessarily wrong with inequality per se, we are all still better off than our forebears - so there remains growing grounds for scepticism in the climate debate; Mitchell’s Endarkment, and the novel I read before that, Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behaviour, are both based on quick-paced CO2 generated climategeddon which is a childish nonsense. I’m not on a well-trod track in matters climate, I’ve only posted about it once before, and that was on language and those tactics I hate, bullying and silencing, not the science, furthermore I hate bringing it up because I don’t want readers tuning out before they get to Part II, but the closed minds and lack of a healthy scepticism based on the evidence does reinforce my overall contention of tribalism in our literary arts.  

A Rambler Should Always Check the Weather – Short Detour off Main Track.

I’m not saying the climate forecast for this ramble is right, - and it is tangential to my substantive thesis, vis a vis our literature.

No. Let me be much clearer than that. 

My position is I am not taking a position on the climate debate. So while I could cite numerous, rigourous sceptic sites (7) and (well) qualified scientists and climate professionals dismissing major aspects of the science (7a), including those seeming to demonstrate the ice shelf and snow caps aren't diminishing, (8)(8a) or I could point to a scientist who predicted our current 22 year cooling period 20 years ago - the facts meeting with his hypothesis - but instead of being celebrated he had his IPCC funding cut, (9) let’s not mention the 9,000 PhD’s and 31,000 scientists who have signed a petition saying the CO2 global warming theory is a hoax (10) - because I can't find verification of that other than in a video clip - or how that stalwart of global warming, NASA, while unwavering in its climate change mantra, can't figure out why the lower ocean is not warming (11) – mind, NASA isn’t beyond the climate changers data manipulation itself (12) – I could promote minarchical environmentalism against our smothering statist one (13)  – because I love the environment, I am an environmentalist in my individual habitats (as I am, given the Marxists are soon to feature again,  an individualist feminist) – I could point out the moral case for fossil fuels which are keeping so much of the world population alive, (14) or, finally, I could quote (15) one of the world’s leading meteorologists:

John Coleman, who co-founded the Weather Channel, shocked academics by insisting the theory of man-made climate change was no longer scientifically credible. 

Instead, what 'little evidence' there is for rising global temperatures points to a 'natural phenomenon' within a developing eco-system.

In an open letter attacking the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, he wrote: "The ocean is not rising significantly.

"The polar ice is increasing, not melting away. Polar Bears are increasing in number.

"Heat waves have actually diminished, not increased. There is not an uptick in the number or strength of storms (in fact storms are diminishing).

"I have studied this topic seriously for years. It has become a political and environment agenda item, but the science is not valid."

While on storms, regarding that severe one in Buffalo, US, right now:

… So while I could summarise the alternate forecast in the counter-factuals and the rebuffs on those sites, I won’t. I will remain dressed for all weathers, slightly concerned at the thawing ice beneath my feet – though admitting this is summer - while yet noting there is room for scepticism regarding the claims being made for CO2 and most especially the speed of any climate change, this in part because of how the original data was manipulated (a phenomenon which has not stopped). Instead I will compromise by consoling the climategeddonists with this sane advice from  Matt Ridley DL, FRSL, FMedSci, journalist, businessman, from his book The Rational Optimist on why the Endarkment will not be happening, and there is little reason to be glum (hattip Café Hayek):  (16)

Remember I am not here attempting to resolve the climate debate, nor saying that catastrophe is impossible.  I am testing my optimism against the facts, and what I find is that the probability of rapid and severe climate change is small; the probability of net harm from the most likely climate change is small; the probability that no adaptation will occur is small; and the probability of no new low-carbon energy technologies emerging in the long run is small.  Multiply those small probabilities together and the probability of a prosperous twenty-first century is therefore by definition large.  You can argue about just how large, and therefore about how much needs to be spent on precaution; but you cannot on the IPCC’s figures make it anything other than very probable that the world will be a better place in 2100 than it is today.

On revising this piece, Monday morning, 3 November, 2014, I note the IPCC at it again – alarming us: (17)

The world's top scientists have given their clearest warning yet of the severe and irreversible effects of climate change unless emissions of greenhouse gases are virtually eliminated by the end of the century.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released a major summary of its last three reports


It said earth is now on a trajectory for at least 4 degrees Celcius warming by 2100 over pre-industrial times - a recipe for worsening drought, flood, rising seas and species extinctions.

Most of the world's electricity can, and must, be produced from low-carbon sources by 2050 of the world faces "severe, pervasive and irreversible" damage, it said.

More prognostications of climategeddon and threats of Endarkment. And thanks for that, because now the New Zealand insurance council has the fraudulent excuse they need to skyrocket the insurance premiums for my beach holiday house. (18) To wit, the sane view of the IPCC insider: (19)

Celebrate! The UN has granted Earth a 100 year reprieve from global warming.

In 1989, the UN said we had until the end of the 20th century to save the planet from global warming – but now they say we have until the end of the 21st century.


And really, this latest IPCC forecast appears aberrant against reality, (as with the progressive social, philosophical and economic world-view. [See what I did there: morphing from science to ideology as unfortunately this debate does.]) Decide for yourself: (20)

A further example of how our progressive media, in this case Slate, not a scientific magazine, never desist from tampering with the data and outright lying, from Sunday, 16 November:

Check out my link if you want to verify that. And please understand the true sceptics position not the bogus one: (21)

The greenhouse effect is basic, fundamental science – like gravity.

The sun strikes the Earth’s surface, and warms it. This causes the Earth to radiate longwave radiation up through the atmosphere. Some of this radiation is captured by molecules of greenhouse gas, which causes the air to warm. Warm greenhouse gases in turn radiate more longwave radiation, half of which radiates downwards towards Earth and warms the Earth’s surface further.

This does not change the energy flux in the atmosphere. The energy flux moving upwards (via reflection, radiation, convection, evaporation, condensation, etc.) is always going to average out to be equal to the amount of incoming solar radiation. The greenhouse effect simply elevates temperatures above what they would be without greenhouse gases. It behaves like an insulator. It is not a heat source and does not violate the laws of thermodynamics. People who make that argument are completely clueless.

The vast majority of this warming is near the Earth’s surface, and is due to H2O molecules, rather than CO2. Forecasts of large amounts of CO2 warming, are not based on any legitimate science.

One thing further.  Continuing to declaim no side on this debate, pernicious doltory nevertheless needs exposure to sunlight, because there is great harm being done by the language of climategeddon, especially when our teachers and literary culture feeds on it: from the  inception of the climate debate when those who were to become the instigators of IPCC politics felt they had to manipulate their data to achieve the statistics they desired, they did the unforgivable: they politicised the debate which was to politicise science, and a politicised science denies all of us Truth. With the damage from this continued by an a consensus - collectivist - silencing machine that works on shaming, or at least marginalising as conspiracy kooks, those who would debate alternate hypotheses, rather than including them, for example:

Referring to the recent Rosetti comet probe mission, a clever spin - and I love a clever spin - on the theme by Left-Liberal blogger Danyl Mclauchlan – whom I’ll come back to later (he runs a pretty good blog).  One way to sideline this disquisition will be to badmouth it as nonsense by concentrating on this one section, when that topic is not my premise at all; I’m simply saying there is another valid point of view in this debate, but it doesn’t matter where I stand on that, only that silencing is always harmful. I’ve written on that here; an(other) IPCC insider has written more ably on it, pointing out the harm done by science-with-agenda: (22)

In short, there seems to be no stomach amongst the ‘mainstream’ climate establishment to do anything very much to counter the incredibly pernicious effect of our Cooks, Manns, Lewandowskys and Hansens. You don’t seem to realise that the public already lumps all of you together and some of us who know better are at the end of their tether in trying to maintain that distinction.  The effort is a law of diminishing returns – why should we attempt to lift you out of a hole you continue to keep digging deeper? History won’t care what your inscrutable paywalled article actually said. Neither will the general public. They’ll care that you didn’t speak out when you should have. That you allowed everyone who raised objections be painted as part of some shady conspiracy funded by billions in filthy lucre.  That you allowed their children to be terrified by a vision of monstrous and hopeless futures. The anger is going to continue to grow until a significant portion of the climate mainstream steps up to the plate, and would be well advised to do so before the leash well and truly snaps.

I agree with this writer that the climate change debate risks what radical Marxist feminism has done to itself: become so obsessed with their tome ‘it’s not about you’, they don’t read ‘you’ anymore, or any other point of view, so precluding itself from the intellectual debate, fated forever to achieving its statist ends by bullying, cajoling and a new low of children swearing through the pop culture (23). [Warning! Massive ice shift and crevasse sighting.] The shaming tactic of climate change has the same intent as identity bound feminism had in it's bullying of Rosetti scientist Matt Taylor into the public stocks for their vilification because of the SHIRT he was wearing, despite he had just achieved one of the most stunning feats in human knowledge and science in our history. That intent to ban, to boycott, to bully .... to silence and shut down. Related, I’ve written previously how a dead-end Marxist Feminist deconstruction has destroyed the study of literature and the humanities in our progressive saturated tertiary institutions:

Another of my ‘societal narratives’ was dropping out, after one month, from a Master of Arts in English Literature at Canterbury: I had to leave because I came up against the minds of Derrida, Foucault, et al, who had set themselves the task of destroying those things I love, language and literature: it is unsurprising to me that their work was picked up with such enthusiasm by that same branch of Marxist feminism described above. To those under-privileged non-academic types reading this and wondering what I mean, it’s called variously postmodernism, deconstruction, whatever, and in simple terms is like the French Revolution visiting literature, in that it started out in something good, the enquiring mind of the Enlightenment, then added in envy and vendetta – now as then called ‘social justice’ – took out reason and ended in the atrocity of the guillotine, the same guillotine Marxists and F (capitalised?) Feminists have taken to the language.

Perhaps sledging segueing from mad weather to mad Marxist feminists was quite a crevasse to jump, but it makes a good paragraph, and I am increasingly saddened by the monochrome, vicious and intolerant progressive society we have become, where language is policed routinely and ruthlessly, even of the affection two consenting adults have for each other, alas:

Even - per her bio, 'progressive politics' - Di had to admit to brilliance from which there could be no come-back with that one:

Nah, pretty run-of-the-mill stuff for this blog Di :) 

Sorry ... back to my topic proper.

Anyway, the ice is melting quickly, so to end this piece with wisdom from one of the wisest proponents of our freedom, Professor of Economics, Donald J. Boudreaux, summing up the truth regarding capitalism, climate change, and morality (24):

David Ignatius proposes that climate change be treated “as a moral issue – a matter like civil rights” (“The moral issue of climate change,” Nov. 19).

This comparison fails.  The core concern that sparked the civil-rights movement was simple: government-mandated racial segregation and discrimination wrongly prevented each African-American from pursuing his or her life’s goals on equal footing with white Americans.  Neither the existence nor the baleful effects of such barriers was ever in doubt.  In addition, destroying those barriers was both a relatively straightforward procedure and, by any remotely acceptable ethical standards, unambiguously the right thing to do.

Climate change is completely different.  Legitimate debate continues over the magnitude of impending temperature change and – despite the predictions of the novel that inspired Mr. Ignatius’s call for a moral crusade against climate change – debate continues over the likely consequences of any such change.  Legitimate debate also rages over the effects of government efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Ending Jim Crow simply got government out of the way of peaceful and productive human interactions.  In contrast, empowering government to address climate change complicatedly puts government in the way of market interactions – interactions that have generated what Nobel economist  Edmund Phelps calls “mass flourishing”* on a scale unprecedented in history.  Given governments’ dubious record of intervening into economies – and given free markets’ impressive record of raising the living standards of ordinary people and of adapting to change – to fuel with moral fervor government efforts  to intervene on the climate front would be a grave and dangerous error.

Retracing the Main Route Again: The Content of Our Novels  - John Maynard Keynes.

It’s important to place a qualification in at this point. I am here explicating for the logic of the second part, the Progressive world view I contend informs our literature. Nothing in this piece references my aesthetic reaction to an individual novel or work. A novel is also read on its own terms and if written well will draw me in so I want to live with its characters through every reading stint, even care for them. And there can be the joy of what Ezra Pound called logopœia; the dance of intellect among words – (great name for a literary blog were it not for Mr Pound’s political afflictions.) This in the same manner the most sublime music composed adulates the fairy tale of Christ yet I can be moved and entertained by it, and that is no comment on my humanism or atheism; included on such a list is every rendition of Ave Maria, every Christmas carol – other than Snoopy’s Christmas - choral music – all of it - Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, Handel’s Messiah, Faure’s Requiem Op.48: IV. Pie Jesu, and on and on. And even Shostakovich’s ode to Lenin, Symphony No 12 in D minor Op 112, The Year 1917, composed the year after he was forced to subscribe to the Communist Party, ‘or else’, outside of the clangy and annoying bangy bits, is rather good. So the fact the writing of Maurice Gee is better than Ayn Rand – sorry Objectivists – does not invalidate my thesis in this piece, nor does it necessarily comment on my intellectual view of Rand (or Gee). Aesthetics and my thesis on the assumed, unthinking progressive metaphysics of our modern literature - before getting to why that is and the price of it - are not separate topics, though they can be separated. In this section, and more importantly the next, I’m generalising about the state of literature. I am not referencing and certainly not traducing individual publishers or authors, I am not diminishing any author’s journey and I enjoy a great variety of New Zealand writers, and we have some fine, rightly proud publishing houses. My point is on reviewing my reading log over, say, the last fifty literary fiction novels, then there is truth in what I have said as applied generally to the oeuvre of the end product, the books being published currently.

I have written on a previous post that progressive politics has a profound need to emote social and hence economic policy, not reason over it, and the emoting always ends in throwing taxpayer money at perceived problems, thus our growing redistributive welfare states which have brought the Eurozone to a near bankruptcy that will be visited on all western democracies. Progressivism always leads to rampant statism. Welfare states that create dependence and breed the poverty they were about fixing and require a comprehensive tax surveillance state with all the legal (immoral) privacy overriding powers of the Stasi and KGB (minus the violence). It is not insignificant that IRD does not in any way have to observe the provisions of our Privacy Act: it operates above that legislation and in important ways, such as raid without warrant, has always had more powers than GCSB or SIS. Regarding the literature, this emoting is symptomatic of life turned inward and refusing to understand or reason over cause and effect. In a progressive bound literature, this seems to have resulted in a concomitant narrowing inward of content. I’m even starting to think progressivism is setting the aesthetics, including show don’t tell. There are exceptions and outliers, but turning my premise slightly and viewing it from another angle, the form it creates within the literature, the primary concern thematically of which would seem to be about relationships, particularly marital, and what Colm Toibin would call ‘affairs of the heart’, love and loss, which is all he’s interested in writing (and has all but done away with plot to write on), and all, I proffer, what modern literary fiction is interested in publishing. These themes are vital to the experience of living human lives, but, don’t represent the whole of that experience. Or as I have recently seen actress Rachel Weisz (in character) say to Bill Nighy (in character), in an espionage thriller called Page Eight on UKTV, talking about art, ‘feelings are interesting, but the world is interesting also.’ In a lineage that can be traced back to Proust through to the Bloomsbury Group, literature has been surrendered to our interiors, and become oblivious of the world and how it works.  Possibly I’m being harsh, but there’s not much in the way of what I would call the world in our literature: philosophy, economics, politics. Scottish novelist Jennie Erdal wrote The Missing Shade of Blue partly as an experiment to see if a philosophical novel was still possible: she proved it was, but unfortunately that novel was about Hume, confirming my world-view thesis (per my review of it, noting though I don’t agree with the premise of the novel I immensely enjoyed it, and recommend a read). The only novel I’ve found to read that could be said to have political content is John Sinclair’s The Phoenix Song, though even that not in the way I mean of trying to change anything.

Sorry, in that last paragraph I've jumped to future themes already, and I can't be bothered to fix it.

I'll phrase the point I'm trying to raise as a question, a re-wording of my same question given already: can anyone name a contemporary Western novel that challenges and wants to change the status quo of big government and welfare states, or any part of the progressive world view? (That is, not merely demanding more government and more welfare state? Or that understands the crony systems typifying the West are not capitalist systems?) There is nothing on my reading list going back over 614 novels (the stage at which I left written lists, which are in another house, and over to spreadsheet) which would tick that box.

I’ve just written, twice, about a novel ‘as trying to change’ a status quo. I had the avant-garde in my mind, but am yet alarmed at that myself. Am I saying a novel should be a political platform? Categorically no. That would be pamphleteering. But all (Western) literature exists in a political-philosophical-economic habitat, which is at the same time local and global; I am saying there is an overwhelming buy-in to a particular metaphysics which informs the literary fiction novel-world circa the latter part of the twentieth century (say from 1980’s) and to this stage of the twenty first century, in which characters and plots act out narrative. What I’ve referred to as ‘the given’ world which such writers can assume, knowing their readers will understand as it bears on personality and motivation, such as Mitchell does so overtly in The Bone Clocks – capitalism bad; capitalists greedy; Green environmentalism good; the standard background of dystopia being quick acting, cataclysmic even, climategeddon as indisputable scientific fact, etc. This is not literature as a conversation; it's a monologue performed at a reading in a social club. The problem is deeply rooted within the progressive ethic which for many generations has been instilled by osmosis through the state school system, with its curriculum taught by Left-Liberal teachers 95% signed up to one of our most coercive unions, and based on that bloodied alter of the common good - those words written into New Zealand’s curriculum document - and worse; with literacy levels falling due to our state mandated use of the Look-Say method (25), with  the take up of new math – I witnessed a 15 or16 year old man-child at Geraldine Farmers Market this morning who couldn’t figure out what two half dozen eggs at $2.50 each came to – and relinquishing handwriting for computers in classrooms – which I believe is harmful to a brain’s development in ways we don’t understand at this early stage – all are crippling state schools as institutions of education and learning, leaving their role as state indoctrination in the ways of the state. Indeed, an author writing a novel outside this world-view has a problem: they would need to create by pastiche, as connoted by Eliot, a complete foundation of literary reference, by necessity almost wholly historical, which exposes that Wasteland of the assumed progressivism of the literary fiction audience, and then world-build as fantasy writers have to, a metaphysics that characters and plots could evolve in a way that would be understood, or at least interpreted. Remarkably that world being the world as it actually is. Despite to do so would lead to some interesting copyright issues.

Sorry, side-tracked to myself.

There’s a perfunctory question which arises from this: how did the Left-Liberal Progressive sensibility, and the Left economic world view, complete with Green politics and climategeddon, as flawed as they are, and based on unthinking subservience to the nation-state, no questioning of its reson d’état, become the view of the Literary Establishment, when literature previously was the protest and the fight, sometimes where all was risked, against autocratic power welded by the state? Or at least the questioning of it. Coming soon is the concomitant question of what has happened to the avant-garde in literature, but first, to state the truth another way, not looking at the product of our literature but the participants, how come near all of the authors we call English literature are Progressives? Outside Martin Amis, a Tweeter has proffered CK Stead (I’m unsure), or perhaps Alan Duff, also, Ian McEwan’s Sweet Tooth is giving me pause for thought, but name for me in the comments section of this post authors of literary fiction, commentators on literary fiction, media mouthpieces for literary fiction, who do not publicly align themselves as Left-liberal, or if they have kept their cards closer to their chests – that is, they’re not on Twitter - do not have that sensibility in their writing on a thematic level as the metaphysics of their fictional world? Returning to our current Booker Prize winner, good on her wearing her politics openly, she’s a great writer, but she campaigned for the Green Party, and I can’t think of a single literary Twitter account that is not broadly progressive. There are some few that simply don’t tweet politics, so I don’t know, however, there is not a single account that would be against the Progressive position. The wholesale buy-in of the Literary Fiction Establishment to Progressive Big-Statism with it's necessary domestic and global tax surveillance state,  seems indisputable, from the Guardian, that Left centric publication that I would judge is the MSM’s better canvasser of all things literary, to … hell, look at a common-garden-type Tweet that has just shown up on my Twitter timeline:

Leaving aside the fashion designer who I see has just opined people who cannot afford organic food should ‘eat less’ (26), the man posting that tweet, Dusty Miller, is the Communications Director of PanMacMillan Books. Such an overt attack against the economics that has given us freedom and prosperity makes me angry. Without capitalism does Dusty think PanMacMillan or Picador Books would exist outside a politburo? If you were to read my entire blog, as it relates to politics and the welfare state, I’ve answered the question of why Left-Liberalism has become the status quo, the Establishment of the Politick and Humanities,  and I’m at pains to point out this was not the logical end point of the Enlightenment, which was classical liberalism, however, narrowing it down to literature and the arts, surprisingly unsurprisingly, the reason for a Big State buy-in of the Literary Establishment can also be in big part put at the feet of that economist who was so enamoured with the state, he devised an incorrect economics that put the state as chief lever puller, front and centre in our economic lives. I’m writing of the man who has done more to destroy the Free West, more to destroy classical liberalism, and thus deliver our lives to the tyranny of each other, than Karl Marx did … yes, I’m writing of economist Mr John Maynard Keynes, responsible for the institution of state funding of the arts via his setting up the British Arts Council (27):

Thus credit is given for a new model of arts funding that originated in Great Britain during the Second World War, was adopted in the United States during the 1960s, and became a broad-based multinational movement by the close of the twentieth century. This method of making grants of public funds, through semi-autonomous government bodies to private individuals and privately operated arts institutions, became a standard form of public funding for the arts by the end of the last century. This model was in sharp contrast to ministries of culture or the arts popular on the Continent. Who conceived of this new model of funding the arts that has been adopted around the world? It was largely John Maynard Keynes, who took an organization established during the Second World War to employ artists and organize morale-boosting tours of the performing and visual arts, and oversaw its development into the Arts Council of Great Britain. Explaining “The Concept of the Arts Council,” Mary Glasgow, first Secretary-General of the Arts Council, writes:

Keynes took office as Chairman of C.E.M.A. (Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts) on 1 April 1942. He died on Easter Sunday 1946. In the course of those four years he fashioned the Arts Council-to-be and laid the foundations of permanent State patron-age of the arts in Great Britain. He did not found C.E.M.A. and he did not live to see the Arts Council incorporated under Charter; but it was he who turned the one into the other.

I have over my last book-reading become endeared to Saul Bellow’s fictional Abe Ravelstein who first nosed me towards Mr Keyne’s connection to the arts and how he captured it for the state and away from a necessarily precarious, vibrant life lived in capitalism:

Ravelstein rated Hayek higher than Keynes as an economist … [Snip.] … He was pleased with my Keynes sketch. He remembered that Churchill had called Keynes a man of clairvoyant intelligence – Abe loved Churchill. As an economist, Milton Friedman had it over most others, but Friedman was a free-market fanatic and had no use for culture, whereas Keynes had a cultivated intelligence.

(Ravelstein. Saul Bellow.)

I’m going to glance over the comment made on culture, a word that is used to justify such a lot of state-nonsense, that’s for another post, sooth to say for now, I know this next bit will hurt, and I’m going to annoy some people I respect. It will hurt as much as society telling me I can’t legally choose the manner of my death and who is present; it will hurt as much as when society tells me I must have my privacy and volition destroyed, and be taxed by a surveillance state until my pips squeak; it will hurt as much as working in a tiresome job until my middle age, foolishly putting off what was important to me, because I believe a society is not free unless I am self-reliant.

I apologise. But this is where my rambling leads: the price paid of a progressive literature reliant on the state and the taxpayer.

Part II:

State Funding of the Arts & the Death of Western Literature.

State funding of the arts is leading to the stultification of western literature under the reactionary establishment of Left-Liberalism, also called Progressivism, which has largely captured the means of production via the agents and publishers, and quietly indoctrinates the authors toward a homogenised literature via creative writing courses in progressive saturated tertiary institutions. Ours is no literature that will seed Le Guin's resistance and change, or that can be ‘disturbed by power’, as Solzhenitsyn feared, because it’s a literature which embraces the ethic of that power, the supremacy of the state over the individual, and incredibly for the arts, a collectivism over individualism, with at its base, the tax take which funds a complacent publishing channel, while eviscerating our private lives, our digital innards disemboweled and served up in the offices of government officials. I wrote in a previous post, forget anonymous aggregated metadata, give me your financial transactions for the last four years, and I’ll describe your life down to the details, including what’s happening in the bedroom, and under the newly signed OECD information sharing agreement putatively known as the Global Account Tax Compliance Act, that information is set to be shared, not just at will, but automatically, between every Western government, just as happens now under FATCA for the Americans.

No, no. Big breaths, big breaths. Stay with me, please.

Am I saying New Zealand writers are able to ply their keyboards full-time because of government grants? No, they’re not. Unless successful they still must rely on a paying job, just as it should be. What I’m getting at is more nuanced. We still have a Creative NZ, we still have a funding mechanism for the Arts, and artists, publishers, Book Awards devote some of their time to the grants process. And even that’s still oblique to my point, which is the devotion to funding, wholly or in part, being symptomatic of the acceptance by the arts of a state and statist model for itself despite the lessons of history. I suspect the New Zealand writing community believes a more comprehensive state patronage is required over what we have at present. Much more. It’s that continual turning away of our societies from the knowledge that freedom is the only goal, and seeking succour instead in an authoritarian state with a command economy. It’s a literature on its knees with its face always upon politicians and bureaucrats, not the turning away from them to self-reliance and adult private lives.

It’s philosophy and metaphysics. It’s always philosophy and metaphysics. My blog masthead in mind – where is the contrarian literature to finally put the state experiment to rest - we have gone from writers yearning for free lives from the state, and risking everything in pursuit of same, such as Fyodor Dostoevsky, on the left of the picture below, sentenced to death for his anti-government activities:

As far as he knew when that photo was taken his life was soon to be ended by the state, however, there’s a hilarious twist to his tale; they never executed old Fyodor. The state performed a mock execution for him and three cohorts to scare the bejesus out of them, right through to raised rifles, only lowered on the very last breath after the roll of the drums; although ultimately the joke was still on him in the form of the yoke of government which sent him for four years hard labour in Siberia, then compulsory service in the Russian army another six. And from that he learned: on his return to society he wrote a novel, Demons, published in 1872, which foretold the totalitarianism to be forced on Russia in another fifty years. (44)

… However we’ve gone from Fyodor’s resistance of the abusive state and writing to change the status quo, to writers demanding the funding of a welfare state and a social justice ethic that is state staid, anti-individual, anti-prosperity in the outcomes of its economics, and ironically the death of art and creativity. Orwell, that contradictory socialist who understood the importance of individualism, and independence from the machinery of state knew this; the scary thing is in his Literature and Totalitarianism he is also, again, writing of the world as it exists at this point:

... Modern literature is essentially an individual thing. It is either the truthful expression of what one man thinks and feels, or it is nothing.

As I say, we take this notion for granted, and yet as soon as one puts it into words one realizes how literature is menaced. For this is the age of the totalitarian state, which does not and probably cannot allow the individual any freedom whatever. When one mentions totalitarianism one thinks immediately of Germany, Russia, Italy, but I think one must face the risk that this phenomenon is going to be world-wide. It is obvious that the period of free capitalism is coming to an end and that one country after another is adopting a centralized economy that one can call Socialism or state capitalism according as one prefers. With that the economic liberty of the individual, and to a great extent his liberty to do what he likes, to choose his own work, to move to and fro across the surface of the earth, comes to an end. Now, till recently the implications of this were not foreseen. It was never fully realized that the disappearance of economic liberty would have any effect on intellectual liberty. Socialism was usually thought of as a sort of moralized liberalism. The state would take charge of your economic life and set you free from the fear of poverty, unemployment and so forth, but it would have no need to interfere with your private intellectual life. Art could flourish just as it had done in the liberal-capitalist age, only a little more so, because the artist would not any longer be under economic compulsions. Now, on the existing evidence, one must admit that these ideas have been falsified.

Will there be in the literature of a Free West anymore, a rebellious voice against the state-centric status quo, when the state is the central funder of our arts, and the literary industries worship at a theocratic tyranny of collective decision making over individual lives? When once it was the writer who was the individualist standing outside societal norms – or is that some hopeless romantic notion I have? Has Orwell’s condemnation of children ‘nowadays’ in1984 become symptomatic of what’s wrong with our literature?

"Nearly all children nowadays were horrible. What was worst of all was that by means of such organizations as the Spies they were systematically turned into ungovernable little savages, and yet this produced in them no tendency whatever to rebel against the discipline of the Party. On the contrary, they adored the Party and everything connected with it… All their ferocity was turned outwards, against the enemies of the State, against foreigners, traitors, saboteurs, thought-criminals. It was almost normal for people over thirty to be frightened of their own children."

Since my Thorny days I like to constantly remind myself that life is not all about me; I know this because the Marxist Feminists, they seem to keep featuring here (we can all thank Thorny for that), who’ve largely done away with the concept of the individual en masse, as they would do with innocent until proven guilty and the right to remain silent, insist on it. Thus, don’t take the veracity of my premise regarding state funding of the arts based solely on my word, Nobel Judge, Horace Engdahl, also fears for the future of Western literature:  (28)

Western literature is being impoverished by financial support for writers and by creative writing programmes, according to a series of blistering comments from Swedish Academy member Horace Engdahl, speaking shortly before the winner of the Nobel prize for literature is awarded.

In an interview with French paper La Croix, Engdahl said that the “professionalisation” of the job of the writer, via grants and financial support, was having a negative effect on literature. “Even though I understand the temptation, I think it cuts writers off from society, and creates an unhealthy link with institutions,” he told La Croix. “Previously, writers would work as taxi drivers, clerks, secretaries and waiters to make a living. Samuel Beckett and many others lived like this. It was hard - but they fed themselves, from a literary perspective.”

Engdahl, who together with his fellow members of the 18-strong academy is preparing to select the winner of this year’s Nobel literature award, and announce the choice on Thursday, 9 October, said it was on “our western side that there is a problem, because when reading many writers from Asia and Africa, one finds a certain liberty again”.

“I hope the literary riches which we are seeing arise in Asia and Africa will not be lessened by the assimilation and the westernisation of these authors,” he added later in his interview with Sabine Audrerie.

Engdahl told the French journalist that he “did not know” if it was still possible to find – as Alfred Nobel specified the prize would reward – “the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”. Today’s winners are usually 60 or more years old, he said, and are thus unaffected by the changes he described in the life of today’s writers. “But I’m concerned about the future of literature because of this ubiquity of the market. It implies the presence of a ‘counter-market’: a protected, profound literature, which knows how to translate emotions and experiences”.

Highlighting 2004 Nobel laureate Elfriede Jelinek for praise, Engdahl slammed novels which “pretend to be transgressive”, but which are not. “One senses that the transgression is fake, strategic,” he said. “These novelists, who are often educated in European or American universities, don’t transgress anything because the limits which they have determined as being necessary to cross don’t exist.”

Take away the struggle for income, institute a state patronage, and a literature becomes complacent and self-indulgent: it loses its edge, and its bite.

There’s an interesting discussion being run on the Economist on arguments for and against the state funding of the arts, (29) I recommend it to round this piece out, I have no space left to paraphrase other than one point against the naysayers:

Art can and does thrive without the support of government. Government arts funding began in Britain in 1946. Previous generations of playwrights and artists—Shakespeare included—were supported only by patrons and fee-paying audiences. Virtually the entire British artistic canon was the product of commercial funding.


Samuel Johnson wrote, "We that live to please, must please to live". When government seeks to get between artist and art lover, art will surely suffer. No elite panel of experts should decide what art is best for us. We should decide what is best for ourselves. The dead hand of the state doesn't have much going for it—we should put it to rest and embrace the messy, diverse, vibrant tapestry of commercial funding.

I started this section with the words ‘homogenised literature’ to denote our modern English literature at the hands of a Progressive Establishment; I continue with two more words, avant-garde. Does avant-garde have any meaning anymore, as applied to English literature? Writers using experimentation in form, style or content to articulate a necessary radical reform of our societies?

It exists in the literatures of Latin America, certainly Cuba  (Google Cuba in Splinters), possibly Asia (I have scant to almost nil knowledge of Asian literature, but I’m mindful of Engdahl's quotation above). But of our English literature, what has there been in the way of avant-garde since the 1960’s? Possibly Will Self’s latest Booker short-lister, albeit noting his hard Left world view; and possibly – I’ve not read it yet - Airini Beautrais’s poetry (doco)  Dear Neil Roberts, published this month by our own Victoria University Press, (30) and ‘a tribute to the spirit of resistance’ according to poet Maria McMillian (30a). Airini’s background is anarchist, she is as different to minarchist me in the same way as Le Guin would be, but she is putting the world in her work. But what else from our contemporary literature?

Isn’t that significant?

Further, moving to the price paid of such a literature, the New Zealand Book Awards has been cancelled for the 2015year due, in a roundabout way, to lack of a sponsor, with New Zealand Post having relinquished it’s funding of the event; for some years the issue of private sector sponsorship has been problematic. This month the Book Awards have issued a press release saying the event has moved to the structure of a charitable trust (31). Significantly, that seems to be so government assistance – remembering the Awards were once wholly funded by QEII Arts Council - is easier to obtain:

Announcing the formation of the New Zealand Book Awards Trust, chairperson Nicola Legat said the new legal structure would, amongst other things, allow more flexibility to apply for grants and patronage.

I’m assuming on the NZ Post – which itself is government, not private sector - withdrawal, that the private sector ‘patronage’ is non-existent, so the awards will be reliant on the grants stream. I’m sold on books, but books seem to be becoming so far removed from the lives of working and business New Zealand, no private sector firm can find sufficient nexus between their market and book readers to justify taking up sponsorship. There must be a lot of thinking for the arts to do in that conundrum, unless the arts wants to remain where they have ended up, as Virginia Woolf would say, for highbrows (32) – I have some sympathy for that – and as Progressive comfort food  – I have lost patience with that. I hope literary fiction, and our wider literature, is not forever doomed to be read by those who have a BA. The relevant question is can a progressive literature expect to be relevant to businesspeople, and let’s say laissez faire capitalists, individualists, small-staters, or will it alienate them by not speaking to and of the lives they live? Is a literature written almost exclusively within a Progressive mindscape with a Progressive metaphysics, relevant to living today, other than for Left Liberal lives lived on social media, and some few freaks like myself?

I’ll answer that. Of course it can, because literature talks to the human experience, what it is to wake up, have loved and lost. But that doesn’t change my point there’s an alienation of world-view to thankfully a still large portion of our population that is in the form of a schism. There’s a bigger world out there than in our interiors.

Meandering Back:

To answer the Book Awards dilemma in context, think about this. Progressives thought they were going to do a lot better in this year's (New Zealand) election; readers of social media would have thought that inevitable. Because I had become mired in social media, I thought so too, not understanding how distorted toward progressivism social media was. Philip Matthews, chief all-things-literary in The Press newspaper, Christchurch, and who can write a good book review, whose politick – evident on his Twitter account – is, again, hard left, in a piece on Left blogs and the election result (33) as well as being a handy mass media advertisement for many Left blogs, including one so new it’s not had a chance to build a readership, ruminated on a connection between Left blogs and the Left’s worse showing in an election since 1922, with one of the bloggers early in the piece asking, ‘is it even possible that bloggers are part of the problem?’ A theme picked up again in closing by Danyl Mclauchlan, author of Left blog Dim-Post, who concludes that ‘some of the Left’s problems stem from over-engagement with social media’. Indeed, on the strength of this Mclauchlan promised to stop his blog, a promise, I notice this week, unfulfilled, a happy occurrence given Dim-Post is one of the better progressive blogs. The problem is neither of these two bloggers, or Matthew’s article, got close to the truth. Namely, those individuals who understand – even if put to the task many couldn’t verbalise it - the importance of self-reliance and aspiration to a prosperous and free society, and the cruel harm of government created dependence, plus the malice behind every big state model, I’m talking about businesspeople, private sector workers, the missing majority, are busy out working and not sniping away behind keyboards: they’re largely invisible on social media. Over this election the only time they showed up in person was at the voting booth, and in a manner that sent predictable shockwaves through the progressive New Zealand blogosphere, even from aftershock ridden Christchurch where a bloodbath for the Right had been predicted, but ended in the opposite. 

That columnist the Left love to hate, Karl du Fresne, picks up this point: (34)

Not everyone is so obsessed with politics or news in general that they feel compelled to constantly check Twitter, Stuff or Cameron Slater’s latest blog post.

People who are so obsessed – [snip] – could easily fall into the trap of assuming that everyone else is, too. But most people I know, and they represent a reasonably wide demographic cross-section, seem to have a healthy grip on life’s priorities and manage perfectly well without getting hung up on Twitter or any other online news outlet.

If they are on Twitter at all (and I know few people who are, or at least who are prepared to admit it), then it takes its place along with all the other things going on their lives. It doesn’t occupy their every waking thought.

And thank God for that, because what sort of world would it be if police officers, bus drivers, construction workers, shop assistants, schoolteachers, forestry workers, nurses, farmers and plumbers constantly interrupted whatever they were doing to look at their digital devices for fear they might have missed something?

My thesis entails that this difference between the progressive world-view informing social media, replicating the same world-view of our literature from writing to publishing, to review and every mouthpiece for our literature, as compared with a real New Zealand as indicated in the voting booth, no, that’s unfair, as compared with the rest of New Zealand, is a problem for a diverse, relevant literature, for we largely have a potential readership which is alienated from the writing industry by metaphysics. I love reading. I particularly love reading New Zealand novels because they can bring me home to this landscape. Yet, no New Zealand literary fiction novel I have read is set in the mindscape I inhabit, a mindscape I hold based on how the world actually works, particularly regarding economics – noting economics, philosophy and politics can’t be separated -  indeed, when metaphysics is overt in any novel, that will likely be antagonistic to my metaphysics, and thus, wrong: and given Left mixed-state-centric economics, the socialism of today, is a disaster for every population that succumbs to it that’s a problem again for the suspension of disbelief. And despite the chest beating this piece is written to provoke – though I suspect silence will be the likely response – that world-view, that metaphysics, is a vital matter for a literature, for even if a ‘novel must not state its values’ to eschew such notion subtly, that progressive world-view is pervasive, a world-view is always pervasive: it seeps through and exists behind the text. It is destroying a Free West. Possibly I’m the only one who can write that, because, returning to where I set out from, the Progressives take that metaphysics for granted as reality, it’s unseen to them because it’s the narrative they have stopped questioning, (thus left to confusion when the world bursts in).

Thank Rand New Zealand letters has this blog to show it what it is incapable to see for itself. (Though I won’t hold my breath on being interviewed by The Press’s literary go-to … um, on that point, I wouldn’t be interviewed anyway: I don’t like public, thus the only place public will know me is via this blog.)

Look, I just brought up Ayn Rand. A litmus test.

Does anyone think if Ayn were trying to flog her manuscript of Atlas Shrugged today, she’d have any success? Or Ezra Pound? On the balance of probabilities, I will venture my own opinion she wouldn’t get past the first step, finding an agent, though I would be fascinated in the opinions (in the comments section) of agents or publishers. Interested parties might argue that from the point view of aesthetics, and I’d have some sympathy for that argument, but I’m not so sure that would fully explain it, not forgetting that book has over time been one of the most influential in its audience and the book market’s best sellers: (35)

"In 1991, the book-of-the-month club conducted a survey asking people what book had most influenced their lives. The Bible ranked number one and Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” was number two. In 1998, the Modern Library released two lists of the top 100 books of the twentieth century. One was compiled from the votes of the Modern Library’s Board, consisting of luminaries such as Joyce Carol Oates, Maya Angelou, Edmund Morris, and Salman Rushdie. The two top-ranked books on the Board’s list were “Ulysses” and “The Great Gatsby.”

"The other list was based on more than 200,000 votes cast online by anyone who wanted to vote. The top two on that list were “Atlas Shrugged” (1957) and “The Fountainhead” (1943). The two novels have had six-figure annual sales for decades, running at a combined 300,000 copies annually during the past ten years. In 2009, “Atlas Shrugged” alone sold a record 500,000 copies and Rand’s four novels combined (the lesser two are “We the Living” [1936] and “Anthem” [1938]) sold more than 1,000,000 copies.

"And yet for 27 years after her death in 1982, we had no single scholarly biography of Ayn Rand. Who was this woman? How did she come to write such phenomenally influential novels? What are we to make of her legacy?

Despite Rand’s influence, despite how the public want to read her not as much, but more, than the other literary heavy-weights, she only exists as the butt of cynicism and the arrogant put-down in a smug literary press (and social media). You won’t see a literary editor sourcing criticism on her work, or that biography mentioned. As I said, I didn’t put Ayn Rand in the title of this piece because I knew not a member of the Literary Establishment would get themselves past it and there’s no point just writing this piece for classical liberals: they have no influence over literature, none. This is important. It’s not relevant whether Rand’s philosophy is any battier than DH Lawrence’s notions of sexual life fucking in the forests and undergrowth; the point is, circa twenty first century, she probably wouldn’t get her foot in the door of the literary publishing industry, whereas Lawrence would. Aesthetics, yes, but also content. By way of anecdote and a personal remonstration, I can show Atlas Shrugged would not be published today because of content, and that is a matter relevant to a successful, because relevant, literature, and points to how problematic can be a literature which owes its livelihood to a welfare state, and has bought into that ethic intellectually. Hitch your socks up, this of course requires another detour off-piste.  

I sent the below patronising email to a client of mine some while ago, they’re a young couple, just starting out lower order milking, looking to their next step of share milking, their first baby on the way, and hungry for knowledge, needing to supply a five year plan for the bank:

I have learned over the years that the wealthiest self-made clients, who are often the most innovative, laugh on mention of formalised business plans and five year budgets – perhaps don’t tell [bank manager] this. Formal financial planning is not ‘huge’ within the psyche of an entrepreneurial spirit. One of the world’s richest businessmen, Richard Branson, of Virgin Airlines, admits he’s never been able to learn the difference between gross margin and net profit, and can’t read a set of financial statements. (I’ve done okay, yet have never in the twenty three year life of my practice ever done a financial budget or written business plan. Time spent on that would've been a waste of time for me, in my specific circumstances. ) I believe the important thing about these people, and individual’s such as Branson, is they tend to work on a conceptual, goal driven level, as well as a life-is-fun, glass half full, ethic, plus they’re interested in everything, not just the specific fields in which they work: particularly they read and travel widely, which educates and broadens their minds to new and differing opportunities.

By read widely, I mean within your industry, in order to understand the drivers of the economics of dairy in New Zealand, changes in technology, staff management, farm management, etc. Especially staff relations: that's huge in dairy. When the Dairy Exporter enters your mail box, actually make time to sit down and read it, for it’s part of your job. But also read widely outside farming, including general news – NZ Herald, Stuff, NBR, BBC, CNN (Internet great for this) – read and have opinions about politics, economics, and most certainly, shock, horror, read literary fiction novels to understand what life is, and the experiences of others – it’s a cheap way of traveling.  (If for no other reason, reading widely as well as broadening your minds to new opportunities and developing interests in other fields, including artistic, means when you’re out socially with non-dairy farmers you won’t bore them witless. Truly, I’ve been out with dairy farmers, I know what I’m talking about, as I've been bored witless. I've been at nights where if I heard the words, payout, heifer, rotary, conversion, tax, income equalisation, et al, one more time, I would have self-immolated.)

I love the courses your bank runs, one of which you’ve done. Albeit I think their value is not so much the content, as forcing you off the farm and talking to each other about your aspirations and your lives together. When stuck in the often stressful, hum drum routine of the farm, on-farm, it's very easy to 'drift into' automatic pilot and not talk to each other at all until your relationship ends up on auto-pilot, as with your farm management. The only reason I've ever seen farmers on my client base leave farming- outside retirement and carking it - is over relationship breakdowns: I've not had a single one go broke, or forced off for lack of a five year budget. At least four times a year arrange, if nothing else, long weekends to get away by yourselves. Surround yourselves in ‘difference’ as much as you can, so you don’t end up old in your forties, thinking in straight lines. Always have a part of your mind off the farm, looking for other skills, no matter how unrelated they seem.

So, go through the exercise of the five year plan, and we’ll have a look, remembering my own opinion that you really mostly need a detailed cashflow for year one to negotiate the current facility and which can be revised as you go through the year; a near detailed plan for year two, but year three and beyond is really broad strokes only at this stage, and capital budgeting set by your goals for your lives. The year one and two detailed budgeting will have (hopefully) come from earlier goals you were striving for. My point being it’s the goals that are important, and budgeting doesn’t give you those, rather, it’s based on them. My challenge for you, outside of that, is get away at least once a quarter, and by this time next year have read at least three literary fiction novels: if you want to know what, off the top of my head, a New Zealand great, Maurice Gee, perhaps his novel Going West; Milas Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being; and Elizabeth Knox, another Kiwi, Glamour and The Sea. (I can see your faces from here.) If not that, then take up painting, or something, anything, just not directly related to farming. If you must, sport, but mixing with a different crowd to what you normally would - ie not all farmers - I particularly like solitary pursuits, as they force you to live and cogitate inside your own head.

As I’ve brought in dairy farmers to a literary post, it is relevant to point out that the dairy industry has its own annual awards, which unlike the Book Awards, are not short of private sector sponsorship: (36)

The Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda Motorcycles NZ, LIC, Meridian Energy, New Zealand Farm Source, Ravensdown, and Triplejump, along with industry partner Primary ITO.

I’ll be checking on the young dairy couples’ reading program, or not, this coming fortnight, but this raises a pertinent point. I ask many of my clients, all businesspeople, contractors, farmers, what they read: the overwhelming reply is they don’t read fiction at all, certainly not literary fiction, with many doing that proud boasting thing Kiwis do, I only read non-fiction, what’s the point of that fiction guff, it’s not real life. And a related point, that personal remonstration I promised. My own second novel (the first awful, strictly bottom drawer) is now 117,000 words in progress, and because my mind seems better suited to long form – Whaleoil won’t read my blog because the posts are too long (so there are advantages; this blog is Whale Army proof) – I can’t write short stories, and worse, I can’t write a query letter. If I can’t write a query letter, all the time spent on my novel is wasted, as I’ll never get an agent to read a word of it, so I sent a draft query to a site called Query Shark run by an American literary agent. She was great, in that she took the query on, and over about twenty or so iterations rightly destroyed it. I still can’t write a query letter. But one of the by-the-by things she mentioned when finding part of the plot revolves around an income tax audit – write what you know - was a throwaway quip that nobody would be interested in reading about tax; it’s just one of those things, we all have to pay tax, get over it.

The thing is, these businesspeople and farmers who only read non-fiction do have to put their minds and their cash flows to taxes; taxes are precisely where they live. And I wonder if they’re not reading literary fiction because the books we’re writing are not written where they live. They’re in the landscape, they’d recognise that all right, but the lives walking around on fiction pages aren’t their lives, especially if those lives have seriously inculcated this fantastical nonsense in The Bone Clocks.

For a time I harboured a notion that it could be in the pages of indigenous writing that the rebellion against a state-endorsing literature might take hold, (given  classical liberal writing has all but folded its cards on the table): after all, a Maori oral literature had 'the trick of standing upright here' long before Mr Curnow sailed in. A literature working through colonialism surely must see the lie and damage of the state enterprise. Unfortunately, name me a Maori writer whose politick is not Left-Liberal, or advocacy for the future of Maori not tied to dependency on the welfare state? I don’t even think Alan Duff qualifies. So there will be no revolution away from a state literature born of Maori writing, for the same reason I have written there will be no Maori self-determination politically - and despite it appears arguable Maori did not cede sovereignty to the Crown via the Treaty (37) – because a progressive Maoridom is the antithesis of own-rule, individual or tribal. Indeed a progressive Maoridom is a culture happy to remain cowered on the leash of state also, accepting alms.

To Publishers: An Apology and Some Prescience: (Has Anyone Got a Torch? I'm Losing My Way - INDIVIDUALISM.

I realise publishers, especially, could rightly feel put upon with a piece of work like this, for publishing is in a changing paradigm. I have no doubt the traditional publishing model will survive, albeit working more and more in a fully digital ebook environment with dead tree books becoming effectively a luxury item; as Louis Vuitton went from making trades quality tools, from memory, to a luxury end of the market selling high price ideas as much as ‘stuff’; collectibles. The working part of the book market will become an exclusively digital market: despite my own protestations even four years ago, ‘oh, but smell this book’, I and Mrs H only buy ebooks anymore because Kindles are so convenient, and I can buy whatever book I like in milliseconds without leaving bed. However the traditional channel will survive because agent/editor/publisher is an unbeatable professionalism filter, take it away and already you can see in the self-published book market that the Internet has made possible the death of aesthetics in large part. At least as this point.This piece avoids aesthetics but take it away and there’s nothing worth reading: I can’t be bothered trawling through reams of dross to uncover perhaps one worthy self-pub read in a hundred. Though this is not to deny that market a future: already name authors are moving to self-publishing because they can sell from a base of the reputations their publishers have made them – this must be the most bitter pill for publishers to swallow - with more profit, and importantly, a greater degree of freedom for themselves (and certainly a quicker time to market). I see New Zealand journalist/satirist Steve Braunias has set up a self-publishing press to sell his next non-fiction book, Madmen: Inside the Weirdest Election Campaign Ever (38). Despite he’s a dopey plonker refusing to see the beautiful convenience of ebooks (!!), though showing this growing self-publish market is not restricted to ebooks, based on his Metro and other writing credits, no doubt his (available from Whitcoulls) dead tree book will be a worthy read. Because he is a known name in a related field, well known on the book circuit, he will no doubt be able to leverage off this market to his advantage. Braunias also evidences a final reason a crossover into that other market self-publishing will cater for:

People from all walks of life constantly come up to me on the street and say, "My goodness, I really enjoyed the campaign diary you wrote online for Metro magazine during the election. How I miss it! But if you wrote a new prologue and epilogue, and reshaped the text as a sort of non-fiction novel, and it was published as a book in time for Christmas, then life would once again have meaning."

Well one thing has led to another and my new book Madmen: Inside the weirdest election campaign ever is in the shops soon!

There was intense disinterest from mainstream publishers so I decided to form my own firm - Luncheon Sausage Books.

Katrina Duncan from Auckland University Press masterminded the book's production, and Jenny Nicholls from North & South magazine  designed the front and back cover. The cover image was painted by subversive Hamilton man Joshua Drummond and depicts the Prime Minister in a state of bliss.

The book was typeset, designed, illustrated, and proofed in three weeks.

He also mentions that quick turnaround time to market which traditional publishing will have to sharpen their game on if not to lose their major names, although they will also be seeing their lawyers about contracts if they have sense.

Self-publishing will be from that place mainstream publishers are not interested in, either by topic, or perceived risks. And that’s an important market niche; hopefully time will bring mechanisms where quality self-published works can be accessed quickly and reliably.

(I promise to try and get back on the path again soon, but while I'm up this diversion) ... capitalism via the Internet also provides a funding mechanism that didn’t exist before in the form of crowd funding which may give the self-publishing market oxygen. The Economist piece already mentioned takes up this point: (39)

These days artists have many more means of finding audiences to support their work. Crowdfunding services such as Kickstarter are matching artists with those who are willing to pay. New projects are added to the site each day, and each day new projects receive funding, from enthusiasts far and near. In February it was announced that Kickstarter was on track to distribute more funding to artists in America than the National Endowment for the Arts.

Pledge systems like this guarantee that the projects that receive funding are widely desired. They connect artists to a wide range of consumers to whom their projects may appeal. If the cost of advertising once posed a severe barrier to unknown artists, it is now easy for art lovers to find and support new works.

This model is being used extensively in New Zealand in short film and music, but I’ve yet to see a novelist peddling an idea to be funded. Though former New Zealand publisher and bookseller, Graham Beattie who runs this country’s best book blog for news on the book trade, Beattie’s Book Blog, and Carole Beu who runs Women’s Bookshop, recently crowd-funded a Book Show just finished showing on Sky’s FaceTV, but, this is the Internet age, available to watch online (40). This show fills in the space of Emily Perkins network book program that had its funding cut by TVNZ. Quality-wise due to money constraints Graham and Carole’s show is not a patch on the former network version, which is sorely missed by this blogger, although the thing is, it’s books; you only need a basic TV set and intelligent people talking about books and you’re going to have an interesting show, which the Book Show is, plus provides a venue for authors to be interviewed and hawk their wares. One Christmas holiday book purchase this year will be Janette Turner Hospital’s The Claimants, that purchase a direct result of seeing it reviewed by Carole; likewise Tina Makereti’s interview – Book Show episode eight online - on her Where the Rekohue Bone Sings sees that novel on the wish list also.

Lastly, and as a way for private enterprise to profit via a direct nexus with our literature - oh, we're back on track - what about product placement in books? (41)

The author William Boyd has featured in the news recently because of his latest novella, The Vanishing Game. Not in a we’re-all-so-excited-we-can’t-stop-talking-about-it-before-we’ve-even-read-it way, but because he’s admitted the book contains product placement, where he gives his character a Land Rover Defender to drive.

That UK Independent article is written from the point of view it’s a dreadful idea, but of course it is, read the agenda in the byline – it’s the given world of modern English literature again:

Where else will we be able to retreat from the stress of everyday capitalism if writers are paid to include certain items in their books?

See what the writer did there? Well of course arty types need to retreat from the rigours of voluntary exchange from time to time, far better I guess (?) to have a Soviet styled setup to tell you what you’ll be doing each day (or else) … Or not.  Once you become aware of how pervasively this anti-capitalist state socialism permeates every level of our literature, you can start to gauge how quickly we are traveling down the road to serfdom of the new collectivist gulags we are creating. If nothing else, admit to the imbalance here.  As for products in books, if it doesn’t breach the integrity of a piece, that’s down to the writer’s judgement surely?

[By the by, I’ve written this entire piece from roughly 11.00pm to 1.00am weeknights, and the odd hour I can crib around work on the weekends, always with a crisp, citrusy nose glass of  Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc at hand. Highly recommended, retails most supermarkets around the $15 mark.]

So books are far from dead, there are many new and exciting vistas opening before and beyond funding. It’s a scary world for writers and publishers alike, undeniably, but that’s not a bad thing, indeed, my premise here being this is a good thing if it brings in content and characters my clients might buy because there’s a literature that is relevant to them.

And better, there might arrive that necessary thing, a literature that questions, undermines and subverts. A literature that sets out to radically reform our societies, that pursues a happiness unshackled from the growing menace of our tax surveillance states.

Which gets me back to the cultivated Mr Keynes …


I will put this piece to the digital vanity press of self-publishing, my blog, digressing, however, a last time, to the related economic note already mentioned of how John Maynard Keynes is, from beyond the grave, destroying the Free West more thoroughly – albeit more slowly – than Karl Marx could have hoped. I need to bring in economics because Keynes big state ways come from his economic theory, and unsurprisingly the way in which he has unravelled creativity from a necessary individualism, is in a manner similar to how he is destroying economies by unravelling economic theory from its base unit, the psychology of the individual human mind: as I said in the post covering my midlife crisis, everything is connected.

Recently I tweeted a link to this Reuters piece by Edward Hadas, noting that if this was a serious piece, then economic commentary had reached a tipping point. Mr Hadas has found the solution for the world’s economic woes, caused by too much debt, to be simply that central banks print money enough to extinguish all the debt in the world. The mechanism slightly more complicated – though ridiculously not a lot – but as easy as that, and frighteningly, since the meltdown of August 2008, a method which western governments have all been trying watered versions of. I got the reply in my Twitter timeline from a left-liberal that, quote, ‘That is a serious piece supported by economic theory, MMT out of Keynes and Minsky.’

Let’s take this serious theory another step then: I can solve poverty and inequality in precisely the same manner, by every central bank placing into every individual’s bank account, tomorrow morning, the international dollar standard in each currency of $10 million dollars.

Or would that solve poverty?

The problem is, Mr Keynes, and world finance ministers to varying degrees, who work their theory out from the basis of collectivism, of macroeconomic indicators that can be managed by levers, (42) and thus see the state as the solution for everything, misunderstand totally the primary unit of any economic system – and the reason why a free market is the only system that can give prosperity – namely, individual human beings, and their private metaphysics complete with eccentricities that are unknowable to the machine of state, yet catered for by free markets.

Forget the fact that short term physical resources are relatively fixed, thus if there is only enough wood, nails and, as importantly, skills to build two houses in the economy today, and tonight every person gets given $10 million dollars, all that means is tomorrow the cost to build a house will have been inflated by the increase in the money supply to everyone. Other than skyrocketing inflation, nothing else changes about the two houses, however, something much more lethal has also happened. Namely, within six months of everyone receiving free fiat money, with the promise of an infinite supply of fiat – and the key here is in the word fiat - money to come, I would estimate mass starvation and a subsistence economy because the day after that money went into everyone’s account, the following day 99% of people stopped showing for work, and entrepreneurs stopped innovating. I wouldn’t go to work tomorrow if I had the money not to, I’d sit at home writing novels which I’ll be able to charge anything I want for because money is now limitless, and my book sales are determined only by money supply, apparently, at least as thought by Keynesians who think economics says pull this lever here and that happens over there, and that my books sales have nothing do with whether I’m talented or talentless, and have produced something anyone would want to read or not.

See, everything just connected. And that should be a universal theme, I think.

So I’ll let Abe Ravelstein take this one out:

“This is one of the traps that a liberal society sets for us – it keeps us childish. Abe would probably have said, ‘It’s up to you to make a choice. Either you continue to see as a child, or else.”

(Ravelstein, Paul Bellow.)

For over seventy years now western democracies have used the emoting booth to demand we be treated as children: it’s taken a while, but we’re quickly beginning to understand, at least some of us who realise the nature of the tax surveillance state, what the ‘or else’ will be all about, indeed, in a real sense is already. And despite my comments about this year's election, this National government is progrssive in its inculcation of the Big Brother state. As Ayn said, the difference between the welfare state and the totalitarian state is only time. And sadly it’s not as if history, and a former literature, hasn’t told us about the ways of tyranny before. Because literature should be covering universal themes as portrayed by dystopia, surely, but it’s not Mitchell’s dystopia of the Endarkment that is our nemesis, that’s fantasy; the dystopia arises from every account in my Twitter timeline that thinks it’s not.

Logopœia - A Challenge:

I’ve mentioned my recent posts on FATCA and GATCA; in those I explained how via the tax state we have entered a global surveillance state where our personal histories – not just metadata -  are open to all tax officials where we are domiciled, and are now to be freely traded amongst nations, an Oceana that covers the planet, and given we’ve philosophically executed the legal individual by tax statute, the West will soon have no moral grounds not to  snitch on Russian dissidents to Putin and other tyrants as they set up citizen based taxes such as the United Police States of America to track tax their nationals world-wide. 

And where was a literature of resistance to this?

I’ve answered that, it was where the Progressives who marched against anonymous metadata to protect us from terrorists were, fighting for the police state, not the individual, nor for creative expression. It has domiciled in the Wasteland of statism that has destroyed the West. I remember as a child reading history books that told of the three and five hundred year breakdown of empires, of the Hittites, the Greeks, the Romans, and wondering what it must have been like for common garden Mr and Mrs Astrix to be living in the ruins of civilisation: did they know all that had been lost? Well don't wonder, we're all living in the ruins of the Free West.

To the Progressive literati, you can ignore this post, or rebuff. If you’re looking for a starting point, there would be no better than arguing the affirmative that Ayn Rand would still find an agent and publisher in 2014. Perhaps you might break out of your monologue and into a dialogue for once. As a rule you don’t like dialogue; you have inculcated collectivism until it has become tribal; at least that’s what I’ve found on most topics. There are even Twitter accounts I follow that on numerous times I have tried to engage socially, nicely and uncontroversially, from which I have only ever received a chilled, infantile silence: that was the gripe I wrote of concerning the climate debate. I’ve been told bare-faced to my Twitter account some individual Progressives refuse to read my blog because I am who I am, and I ain’t them. To such identity mind-borgs, tribal-borgs, difference is seen as a virus which might infect them with the respondent, and spread through the group. My only advice is writing from within an echo chamber allows you to learn nothing new, nor change, as in expand, your perspective. Indeed the blog of one such man – proud Marxist (as unsurprising as boring) - is on my blogroll, as are many Progressives, there in his case because I disagree with his politick, and his tiresome tactics of ban and boycott, but he writes well, sometimes he interests me; I have not closed my mind off to him.

Stop! No, no, just stop what you’re doing please. I noticed while typing the above sentence he’s posted a new entry (45): it’s a great post about abandoned ruins and vistas. I feel the pull of those too; one of my favourite Twitter accounts is ‘abandoned pics’; somehow such scenes are both exalted in their graceful, ruined longevity, at the same time as reminding us of our impermanence. But, he ends on the meme, where this post began, Mitchell’s fantasy:

And a species on the brink, such as we are, would do well to reflect that these pleasing images of ruin and decay – which we admire and share even as whole island nations slip under the sea – promise to be multiplied in the years to come. And when they do, when even Buzzfeed struggles to digest them and keep up, we may cease to see their appeal, and start catching on to what is decidedly un-human about them: a world without us.

Let me point out a problem here. IPCC’s  John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science & Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, has recently released a Climate Explorer tool, and contends, as above, the sea level in San Francisco Bay will rise one foot: he’s a memester also. The problem is the stable tide gauge in San Francisco Bay shows the sea level in the bay is currently lower than it was 70 years ago. Fact. (46) Seriously, don’t panic, even if we are to assume a climate effect (which will most likely not be based on CO2, but H2O), Buzzfeed is never going to be swamped by a rising tide of sinking land masses. That is fantastical alarmist nonsense. More, it is irresponsible.

Anyway, those brave souls who’ve made it through, feel free to comment, or link to any responses you may have. Because what a pity if this post dies with a whimper, when it demands a bang. After all, it's our literature.

Decry orthodoxy always, that's what I think, fight the mindless machine of state and rebel by embracing a voluntary life of laissez faire. Or most probably in the Age of Airhead, as Lindsay Perigo (40) rightly has termed this, don’t.


Reward for Reading:

I said at the beginning there was a reward for reading this piece through to the end. You don’t need to look around for it, you’ve got it already: you read it.

No, I’m not a Grinch. 

Here, if you've found anything in this piece interesting, then you might like to read a chapter from my novel, soon to be queried with agents and publishers.

With that, given the length of this post, and the day job I’ve got to get back up to date, I doubt I’ll be able to post again before the New Year, so let me wish anyone who has made it this far all the best for the festive season. Drink and be merry; don’t let the wowsers bite, as hard as that will be in wowser nation.

And a Test:

Dare you to be a rebel and tweet this, even if you’re as angry as hell about it. #Difference #LoveOfLiterature

And Another Bit:

Why have I not dealt with this topic from a view of ‘why aren’t more classical liberals writing literary fiction?’

Because chicken and egg.


Am I particularly interested in a middlebrow literature? No.

Am I particularly interested in a lowbrow literature? No.


In The Colloquial:

If the tree of freedom must be fed with the blood of patriots from time to time, then mustn’t the Kindle of our literature be set alight at least every ten years?

Oh For F**ks Sake:

And now I find Dunedin, New Zealand has become a UNESCO Creative City of Literature. If you’re wondering what that is (47):

By joining the Network, cities commit to collaborate and develop partnerships with a view to promoting creativity and cultural industries, to share best practices, to strengthen participation in cultural life, and to integrate culture in economic and social development plans.

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network now comprises 69 cities that have identified culture and creativity as a strategic driver for sustainable urban development.

If you have read the whole of this piece you will understand how I despise this entire concept; if anything was a symptom of bureaucratic over-funding ... I shall restrict my comment to a question: does the term 'best practice' have any place in a literature?  

A Confession - I’ve Been Having an Affair: Apropos Nothing.

Over the 23 year course of my marriage to Mrs H, I’ve been conducting an affair. As is the nature of these things, it’s always been moments cribbed in the dead of night, or those precious dalliances in the weekends. Here's the object of my affection:

Given to me by sister number four on 20th February 1984, it turns 31 years old this coming new year. I love how the paint has worn back to the brass as it moulds with my hand.

It’s sat a Batchelor of Arts in English literature and language, plus European history; it’s passed a Bachelors in Accountancy (groan) and Honours also (Jesus, those were trying times.)

It signed the marriage certificate with Mrs H before we absconded to the Christchurch Fitzgerald Arms, for our wedding at the pub (buy your own meal and drink for all invited - that morning.)

It signed the cheques to run the business that makes our income when cheques were still a thing. It got us started and has given us the savings to allow me to write a ditty such as this is, and, thankfully, drinks:

Inside its Sheaffer case is transcribed every dog I've had, when they arrived and when they died, with a little lock of their hair.

And though there has been a falling out over latter years, with touch typing and word processors I can’t read what I write with it anymore, well, not past the point of memory of the written, all my handwritten text an abandoned picture of my own impermanence,  it has still signed the Will stating  it’s to go to the grave with me (because Mrs H, and she’s lovely, don’t get me wrong, but she cannot be trusted to give this pen the affection it is owed in giving my life, during those late night respites from the stress and drek of the day job, hope, and in hope, purpose and meaning.)

Right, move along now please, nothing more to see here …

Footnotes – Outside Links or Hardcopy Sources:

1) The (Christchurch) Press, hard copy, 7 October 2014.
33) The Press, Saturday, 1 November, 2014.


Graham (Beattie) has always been good to me in that if I slip him an email saying I’ve got a book review or a literary ramble up, he will promo. Graham is also one who has never let any political affiliation slip on his site, I wouldn’t have a clue what his politick or philosophy is, other than he revels particularly in New Zealand’s cook books, so he’s always going to be a good bloke in my book.

There’s on interesting comment to his blog post, from Paul Shannon, per his Google + page an author of two novels in New Zealand, and providing me another data-point in evidence of my thesis, namely, (hard) left-liberal, progressive:

Paul Shannon said...

So what is that all about Graham? That liberterians don't write novels?

I put a substantive reply up, which was mainly orientated around if Paul were to read the whole piece – it’s only 18,000 words – he would find out for himself, but to quote my piece:

If you’re having trouble deciding where I’m going with this, that will be answered in Part II, however if you are a writer, agent, publisher, anyone in the literary industry pull yourself up at this point and answer this: how many of your associates in literature are used to speaking of capitalism with anything other than arrogant (feigned) world-weary cynicism? How many are openly supporters of the laissez faire capitalism that gave us our freedom and more prosperity than any civilisation in human history? (Nil?)

The Americans have their problems, and are headed into the spiritual and economic poverty of collectivism at pace under Obama, but are we ever likely to see a site in New Zealand run by an academic linking Austrian economics with literature? Answer: no – don’t make me laugh. I’m ‘chuffed’ to see Troy Camplin, Ph.D. devote an entire post to my piece. Quoting:

While here in the U.S., we don't really have all that much state funding of the arts, the institutionalization created by our universities is more than doing the job. Consider my post on The Institutional Role of Creative Writing Programs and my post on Institutionalizing Everyone With College. For those who believe in Zeitgeists, it may not be entirely coincidental that I have come across three people saying essentially the same things about the role of government-funded institutions (especially universities) in the creation of homogeneous outcomes in either college graduates or the content of our works of art and literature.

Let me note that Hubbard makes essentially the same points Jaswinder Bolina does in regards to literary production being a spontaneous order, and the effect of particular institutions on that artistic production, particularly on the content. Both identify literary production as spontaneous orders, and both are arguing that our particular dominant institutional structures within that order are having an effect on content. I am not sure that Hubbard and Bolina would agree with each other on politics (I don't know Bolina's, but I do know the education he received), but they have still managed to come to similar conclusions about the state of literature and the reasons for that state.

Notable in that is the fact that US doesn’t have an industry in funding the arts such as we do here through Creative NZ, or as they do in UK and Eurozone. I don’t think there is any coincidence to the fact that by far the biggest readership of my blog, geographically, is America. Interestingly New Zealand is only consistently my third biggest readership with, of all countries considering I continually bag its politick, France in second. That’s not the surprise it might seem when you understand the exodus of business from France currently to escape that socialist gulag’s 75% income tax rate and anti-capitalist stance of its leadership; especially recalling the poll which showed half of French youth would leave France if they could as they see no prospects or future in a country which demonises prosperity. I get almost no readership out of the UK.

Disappointments & Sour Grapes:

I sent a link to landfall to see if they were interested in a piece based on this.

Why? Well you have to try.

Their reply and my answer are below. I now realise this far out from my BA I have no idea what ‘literary merit’ means: I reckon I could’ve guessed thirty years ago – when ironically I twice had poetry published in Landfall – but I’m too long careered and jaundiced by reality to have a clue any more, plus Imogen’s admonition is prescient; I’ve not read a Landfall essay since the late 80’s because I’d rather read novels. That said, if a piece of writing entertains me, and says something to add to the ‘conversation’, especially if from a viewpoint not seen before, then I think that’s literary merit … of a sort – isn’t it? Perhaps – never use ‘perhaps’ in a literary piece – I’ve simply lost the curse of discourse. Though remember the premise of my above post covers that notion in which literary merit in a progressive-bound literature would be to the exclusion of the world that has relevance to society; the world which comprises philosophy, economics and politics.

Reply from Landfall on sending them a link to above, querying their interest for a chopped down –slaughtered – essay re subject matter. My underlining:

Dear Mark

Thank you for your submission. The Landfall editor carefully examined your essay as published on the blog and regrets that a version of it would not be suitable for Landfall's current format, for a whole variety of reasons. However, you are welcome to submit a related essay of less than 3000 words for consideration for the next issue of Landfall, if you wish. There is no guarantee of acceptance and literary merit is the prime consideration, regardless of politics. 

Before rushing to prepare such an essay, should you decide to do this, I suggest you carefully look at some recent issues of the publication to see what is actually being published.

Kind regards
Imogen [surname]

And my reply:

Thanks Imogen

I guess I knew the answer, albeit part of my thesis is politics may well be determining 'literary merit', and influencing the aesthetics of our contemporary literature; that's why I thought this of some importance.

Indeed, the matter of aesthetics is becoming the front and centre issue for me.

But don't panic regarding future essay submissions :) As I said in my piece I can't be bothered writing with academic rigour or in straight lines, so shall stick to hypertext and my blog.

Have a great festive season.

Kind regards Mark

So onward and upward, I note ‘proud-Marxist’ Ban and Boycott Giovanni Tiso and Public Address contributor Jolisa Gracewood are co-editing a New Zealand edition of Overland in the New Year. I wonder …

No, don’t panic, again, believe me, ‘for a whole variety of reasons,’ I’ve little wonder left in me.

Related Posts:

The above can be considered my literary manifesto part I, so you might also enjoy reading: