The recent election in New Zealand, in which the minority Labour Party was able to form government with the assistance of both the left-wing Greens and the patriotic New Zealand First party, is just the latest reflection of a turning of the tide against the narrative that has dominated Western societies since the end of the Cold War in 1990.
The dominant paradigm of the period has been a radical individualism in personal morality, the elevation of the individual at the expense of the family and wider community obligations, the superiority of untrammelled free markets in the economic arena, and free flows of money and people around the world.
In many ways, this was the ideology of the former New Zealand National Party government, which further deregulated the NZ economy under Prime Minister John Key, supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership in international trade, increased immigration, pushed radical social reforms including same-sex “marriage”, and allowed foreign capital to pour into the country, particularly in the housing industry.
Part of the reason for the change of government was the emergence of a new Labour leader, Jacinda Ardern (pictured), who not only galvanised a large women’s vote, but also articulated a powerful critique of the direction of New Zealand society, characterised by increasing division between rich and poor, and a housing crisis caused by rising foreign ownership, particularly from China.
Capitalism has “failed”
It was significant that Ms Ardern said, after putting together a coalition to run the country, that capitalism had failed New Zealand.
Speaking on NZ television, she was asked to comment on a statement by NZ First leader, Winston Peters, a strong supporter of building New Zealand’s economy and prosperity, that many Kiwis were correct when they considered capitalism to have been a foe.
She responded, “Has it failed our people in recent times? Yes. How can you claim you’ve been successful when you have growth roughly 3 per cent, but you’ve got the worst homelessness in the developed world?”
She said the measures of success must change away from just counting economic growth. They needed to include things like people’s ability to lead a meaningful life, enjoyment of life, and whether their income was enough to survive and support a family.
The new Government, in which Winston Peters is Deputy Prime Minister, has already signalled a fundamental change in direction, foreshadowing withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and substantial cuts to immigration; which Peters had described as a racket used to get people into Australia.
Mr Peters is reported to have said that New Zealand exports two things: milk powder and residency stamps to get into Australia.
One observer commented that New Zealand migrant intake issues would be self-correcting as soon as NZ puts controls on what he called visa rackets (international student, spousal, family reunion, etc) that are used to get NZ residency, and then automatic entry into Australia.
While the new PM has been widely criticised for bending to the Greens on the legalisation of marijuana, she has simply said that the matter would be put to a referendum of the people within three years. Ms Ardern didn’t say whether she favoured legalisation, but did say the current system wasn’t working well.
“I also have concerns around young people accessing a product which can clearly do harm and damage to them,” she said.
As the people of New Zealand voted down a proposal by former Prime Minister John Key to change the national flag, it is far from certain that a referendum legalising recreational marijuana would be carried.
The rejection of the globalist ideology evident in New Zealand is also an issue in recent developments in Europe, going back to Britain’s vote to leave the European Union last year.
The push for Catalan independence is partly the result of a sense that Catalan national identity has been submerged by both the Spanish state and the European Union’s push to mould everyone into a new European identity.
In Italy, the northern regions of Lombardy (based on Milan) and Veneto (based on Venice) have voted overwhelmingly for increased autonomy from the central government in Rome, in a move that reflects deep-seated and long-standing senses of regional identity.
The referenda in those places give the prosperous north of the country greater leverage in seeking financial autonomy, but there is no suggestion of independence.
The recent elections in Austria and the Czech Republic, where anti-establishment parties made large inroads, and new coalitions formed demanding greater autonomy from the EU, further reflect popular disenchantment with the centralisation of power within the EU, and particularly the attempts to override national governments.
The final direction of the new popular mood has yet to become clear, but the era dominated by the ideology of globalism is clearly over.