Dr Elizabeth Rata’s recent article (“Democracy and Diversity”) makes some excellent points about why equality in citizenship and one law for all must always trump identity politics in the public square. However, she seems to have skated somewhat lightly over how it is that “liberals of both the Left and the Right embraced biculturalism with such religious-like commitment.” All ideas have a pedigree.
The ideological underpinnings of the Maori Sovereignty/bicultural movement trace back to the early 20th Century writings of Communist revolutionaries Lenin and Stalin on a topic they called “The National Question.”
Around 1905, Lenin and Stalin noted that Tsarist Russia consisted not just of ethnic Russians, but upwards of 80 formerly tribal subject peoples, conquered by the Tsars over the preceding 500 years and forcibly Russified. To expand the Bolshevik support base, these peoples were promised “the right to manage their own affairs,” “the right to self-determination,” “the right to speak, read, write, use, and be taught in their own language” etc.
After World War I, the multi-ethnic empires of Austro-Hungary and Czarist Russia to which the National Question was first applied to stir up revolution were no more. Lenin and Stalin then directed the National Question towards undermining the hold of European nations over their colonial possessions, so as to deprive them of sources of cheap labour, raw materials, and markets for finished goods.
Starting in the late 1920s and early 1930s, Communists all over the world were instructed to promote the independence aspirations of minority ethnic groups so as to bring them into conflict with the status quo, undermining social cohesion, breaking up nations and dependencies into warring factions, and leading to eventual socialist control.
Locally, the Communist Party of New Zealand (“CPNZ”) soon identified a minority strand of Maori opinion centred on the Tainui, Tuwharetoa and Tuhoe tribes that had always favoured reversion to tribalism, not engagement with the modern world. The CPNZ ran in the 1935 General Election on a platform that included “self-determination for the Maoris [sic] to the point of complete separation.”
You heard it here first.
In the 1930s, the CPNZ had little success with this line. Maori were a predominately rural people and had little contact with Communists, who were mostly found in urban areas with universities and a substantial manufacturing base. This soon changed. Between 1945 – 1975, Maori underwent what University of Waikato demographers Pool and Pole describe as “the most rapid urbanisation of any group of people, anywhere.”
This brought Maori flooding into the universities and trade unions, the CPNZ’s main recruiting grounds. The Communists who’d begun colonising the our universities to use them as factories of ideological reproduction had, by the mid-1960s, achieved critical mass in many departments, especially those specialising in the study of society. Their growing dominance on faculty hiring committees allowed them to systematically exclude anyone holding alternative views.
Controlling the universities is based on the writings of Antonio Gramsci, yet another disreputable Communist held up as an intellectual icon by the academic Left. In the 1920s, Gramsci reasoned that the capitalist ruling class controlled the social discourse, meaning the "subordinate classes" [Gramsci widened this from Marx's "the workers" to include women, ethnic minorities, alternative sexualities] lacked all awareness of their own class oppressions. Revolution must therefore first take place on the level of consciousness. This would occur with the formation of a body of intellectuals who would take over the Academy as a pulpit for mass-scale indoctrination. Ideally, these intellectuals would come from the "subordinate classes,” but would also include those from the "dominant classes" who could be induced to switch sides.
Gramsci’s adherents embedded themselves within our universities with the express agenda of helping their students to understand that the major social sciences, including geography, economics, sociology, history, political science, anthropology, and psychology, were not neutral and impartial. They were instead instruments of race, gender and class oppression. These views are now considered "mainstream" in the Western Academy.
Liberal arts students were told they were learning “progressive” new ideas about race, gender and class, not Communism. They were programmed with all the principles of Communism without the label then flattered for their cleverness in accepting the programming. If you told them they were Marxists or Communists, they’d respond with a pitying smile, roll their eyes, and accuse you of “seeing Reds under the bed.”
Most are not Communists. A small cadre of Communist converts derives a sense of superiority from knowing they are manipulating the situation. The vast majority are the fellow-travelling “Pinks” once referred to by Lenin as “useful idiots.” Having internalised the system of values upon which their membership of “Club Virtue” depends these people display a strong emotional resistance to having it questioned. If you disagree with them you are racist, sexist, fascist, misogynist, homophobic or just plain stupid. Rational discourse with such people is impossible.
After graduating, they have slithered forth from the academy into the media, education system, trade unions, Labour Party, entertainment industry, churches and other institutions that shape society’s governing ideas. Our universities thus served as a transmission belt into wider society for a raft of Communist narratives, including that of Maori as an “oppressed” people. As a result of what Communists refer to as “pressure from below,” the political centre of gravity has moved steadily leftward over several generations.
Then there is what Communists call “pressure from above.” Following the creation of the United Nations in 1945, Communists on its various committees and workgroups began to drip-feed National Question ideology into the fabric of that organisation. By 1960, the UN General Assembly had adopted the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. This stated that all peoples have a “right to self-determination” and proclaimed that “colonialism should be brought to a speedy and unconditional end.”
Over several decades, this position morphed into the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (“the UN Declaration”). New Zealand’s recent adoption of the UN Declaration is not binding and lacks an enforcement mechanism. Nonetheless, this document is far from harmless. The Declaration’s lofty phrases on the rights of indigenous people to self-determination, to maintain their own languages and cultures, to protect their natural and cultural heritage, and manage their own affairs, have further emboldened the Maori Sovereignty movement.
A few decades ago, anyone peddling identity politics would have been regarded as dangerously deluded. Now, through the Communist tactic of “pressure from above” by the UN and “pressure from below” by ethnic nationalists and their moral preening liberal enablers, the topic has been successfully mainstreamed.