Thursday, March 28, 2024

Gary Moller: Is tribalism the greatest threat to our liberal democracy?

The other day, my grown son visited the doctor for a minor concern and was surprised when they didn't charge him. Despite his offer to pay, they refused to accept it. Interestingly, I also went to the doctor for a minor issue, but was charged $80 for the brief ten-minute visit. The reason for this discrepancy is clear: I am a retired white man, while my son is a working man with brown skin, just like his mother's complexion. We are a family divided by privilege based on our skin colour (race, or tribe). So, also, increasingly, is the entire country.


New Zealand has entrenched and flourishing race privilege, which comes at the cost of merit-based systems and democratic principles.

I invited Paul Mulvaney, NZ Freelance Journalist, to comment on the state of New Zealand's democracy, and here's what he wrote:

When citizens abdicate their democratic duty, when the media abandons its responsibilities, when judges become political activists, when academics are intolerant of open inquiry, and when governments are subverted by an ideology – that is when a corporate tribal elite emerges to encircle the commons, that is to privatise what belongs to the public, to us the people, and to govern not in our interests but for themselves. It is in this way wealth & power are merged.

I support the activities of those in civil society who value & engage in Maori language and Maori culture.

A liberal civil society is where we meet in all our differences – indeed society is at its most creative when diversity is practised & enjoyed by everyone.

To conclude Politics arises from civil society – from the various conflicting interests of people.

That political-civil interaction is what democracy looks like. But, and this is the crux of my argument, no interest group has the right of governance unless the people agree.

Elections are that act of agreement – always temporary with the winner always on trial.

New Zealanders, both Maori and non-Maori, have not been asked to agree to tribalist governance . If we had been asked would we have agreed?

Tribalism and democracy are incompatible. We can’t have both.

Tribalism is based on principles of inequality whilst democracy is based on equality.

Kin status is what matters in the tribe; citizenship is the democratic status.

Tribalism is exclusive. To belong you must have ancestors who were themselves born into the system.

Democracy by contrast includes people from all backgrounds.

The matter of who is included or who is excluded touches all areas of New Zealand life.

Many New Zealand families have members who are Maori and members who are non-Maori.

If we wish to keep NZ as a liberal democratic nation then, as we derive our citizen rights from the nationstate, so we have a duty to ensure that the nation-state which awards those rights, remains democratic and able to do so.

For our country to remain a liberal democracy, we need to know what democracy is, its true value, and what we must do to restore it.

Paul Mulvaney

Gary Moller is a Health Practitioner who is focused on addressing the root causes of ill health or poor performance. This article was first published HERE


Anonymous said...

No doubt about it..... yes.

Anonymous said...

"Is tribalism the greatest threat to our liberal democracy"?

You and I both know it is Gary, but our successive governments are leading us down this path, by design it appears.

So much for Democracy or should that be Duh-mock-racy.

hughvane said...

Let's stop protecting the perpetrators of this ludicrous apartheid, so for starters Mr Moller, identify that medical practice.

NOT the individuals in it, eg. the dr or nurse or receptionist, they're following the terms of their employment.

Bringing the farcical management, shareholders perhaps, into public ridicule might just have far greater effect than 'nicely-nicely does it'.

Allan said...

" Ethnic based tribal politics has to stop. It is rooted in the bankrupt idea that the goal of politics or business is to funnel as much pie as possible to ones family tribe or circle with little regard for the public good. It stifles innovation and fractures the fabric of society. Instead of opening businesses and engaging in commerce, people come to rely on patronage and payback as a means of advancing. Instead of unifying the country to move forward on solving problems. it divides neighbour from neighbour”

Barack Obama    University of Nairobi  2006

I think we definitely seen the beginnings of this over the last six years, hopefully this will now be reversed, I hope we have all learnt a lesson.