How to kill a Zombie

The ideas or rather ideology / dogma of Neo-liberal Capitalism are dead or at least should have been killed by contrary evidence a long time ago. Instead like Zombies they “keep shambling along, eating people’s brains.” (Nobel Price winning economist Paul Krugman in his latest book : “Arguing with Zombies“)
In this post-evidence, post-truth environment evidence and facts have not been able to kill the ideas of Neo-liberalism. Here are some of them :
The “trickle down” theory for instance that if governments give tax cuts to the top – the rich – the money will end up at the bottom – in the pockets of the poor. As if money followed the law of physics i.e. gravity.
The idea of globalisation, which in fact is the race to the lowest wage economy to satisfy the consumer wants of the already rich countries. Globalisation mainly enables the free movement of capital most of it speculative. A system which enriches the minority at the top by impoverishing the majority at the bottom i.e. the workers in both countries.
Privatisation of state assets because public is bad private is good. Leave everything to the invisible hand of the market.
Austerity at least for beneficiaries and the working poor combined with tax cuts for the rich.
Shrinking the role of the state. “I’m not in favour of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” (Oliver Norquist)
Creating a selfish “greed is good” generation. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher one of the main protagonist of Neo-liberalism (in-)famously declaring that “there’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families.”
Most annoying of all we were told that “There is no Alternative” as if our economic system was part of nature like the laws of physics.

All these ideas could not be killed by all the evidence that they were actually harmful to the economy and society. The wealth and income gap can only grow so far till the masses will have had enough. Still the neo-liberal dogma reigned supreme in the Western World till only a couple of months ago.

Then we found the killer cure called Corona Virus COVID 19 :

Over night neo-liberal capitalism went out the door. The zombie ideas were laid to rest hopefully forever.

We had to realise that Globalisation proved to have been putting us all at great risk not only our health by spreading the virus within hours around the world but also economically. International supply chains collapsed. In our country for instance pharmaceutical supplies are getting scarce as most of our medicines or at least the ingredients are manufactured in China.
Privatisation has long been proved as a disaster. Now we are fortunate that we at least still own over 50% of our national airline. The government has to support it anyway and will eventually have to take it over totally.
Austerity was still big a year ago when for instance nurses, doctors and other workers in our run down underfunded health system had to go on strike to to get a pay rise to keep them in the profession. They were told that there was no money. Now the government has forgotten austerity, which prevented us from being prepared and is throwing around billions and still cannot get the health workers into the understaffed hospitals.
And the shrinking state is back. Big business beneficiaries of the ne0-liberal dogma are crying out the loudest for support from the government. Even the down to the core ne0-liberal opposition has gone quiet on trickle down and tax cuts.
And shock horror the economic relief measures even in the US and UK come close to an Universal Basic Income, which is now openly discussed as a permanent solution the time of which has come.
And society is back. Our political leaders do not appeal to our selfishness and greed in this time of crisis but to our sense of community and care for the common good to protect not ourselves but our society and country. The New Zealand Prime Minister’s trademark word is kindness.

As bad and deadly this pandemic might turn out to be one of the good outcomes has to be that it has killed Ne0-liberalism. The virus proved to us that There is an Alternative.

Economists and politicians who still peddle neo-liberal ideas should check if their brains have been eaten.

Dr Hans B. Grueber

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I am a Denier not a “Doomer”

I went to the gym today and of course the corona virus was the topic of conversation. A young guy next to me in the safe 1.5 meter distance thought that the whole thing was a bit overblown. My question was if he believed in science. Of course he did. He made some provocative comments like that the world would be better off with two billion less people. Then he changed the subject to climate change and proudly announced himself to be a denier not a “doomer”.

He came up with the usual denier arguments like natural climate variations and the Australian bush fires having nothing to do with climate change but arson. The “Greenies” not allowing one twig being picked up from the forest floor and preventative back burning being stopped. Even the facts of rising CO2 concentration in the atmosphere and ever rising temperature records pearled off him.
Instead he asked me if I was driving a car and travelled by plane, which he liked very much and would not give up or restrict. From a marketing point of view climate change was an impossible sell as nobody would want to change their behaviour. He was not a “doomer” and everything would be alright.

We parted ways for a while. I knew as a proud denier he was a lost cause to reason. Then I had my own light bulb moment. I approached him again and asked him if he knew the tale about the “Three little Pigs”. He remembered it well from his childhood. I asked him if he thought that the third little pig that built the solid brick house was a “Doomer”.

He looked a bit sheepish or should I say piggish.
Of course he would not change his mind. Childhood lessons forgotten or dismissed as just childish.

Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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Thanks to the Virus . . .

Thanks to the Virus

we are getting a taste of what the world will look like only a few years down the track when climate change takes hold.
Less air travel. Greta Thunberg alerted us to it with her example.
Less mass tourism destroying our natural environment and making precious destinations like Venice or Barcelona unbearable for their residents to actually live in.
Less consumption of cheap (Chinese) products designed for our overflowing landfills.
Less ‘can-do-without’ mass gatherings and events.
Less chasing the fairy-tale of perpetual growth in a “dig and gig” (Naomi Klein) economy based on environment and climate destroying extraction together with dispiriting exploitation of the work force by taking away job security.

Thanks to the Virus the upwards trajectory of increases of the main greenhouse gas CO2 in the atmosphere will show a dent this year despite the enormous emissions from the Australian bush fires.

Thanks to the Virus the climate gets a reprieve.

Thanks to the Virus we are forced to learn the lesson that the neo-liberal ideology that we are only egoistic greedy individuals and “society does not exist” (Margret Thatcher) is failing. We will experience the opposite. Only collective action as a society will give us any chance to contain the spread of this deadly disease.

Thanks to the Virus we are learning that it is crucial in a crisis to be prepared.

Thanks to the Virus we are learning that time matters for our preparedness. In this case time is measured by days and weeks to learn about the spread of the disease and prepare the health system for our response.
This lesson should be applied to climate change where the world leaders so far have wasted time measured in years and decades.

Thanks to the Virus we are now force fed the experience of a live similar to what it will look like under climate change. The difference being that this time it happened over night. If we would take climate change seriously we would be prepared. The alternatives in the entire economic system, infrastructure, power generation, transport, food production and a just and fair distribution of income and wealth would be in place introduced gradually.

Thanks to the Virus we are given the opportunity to learn.
We will learn that the mainly for profit skeletal health system of the US will do much worse than the “socialist” public health systems of Europe and New Zealand for that matter.
We will learn that he most neo-liberal regime in the world the US will fare worst in this crisis having all but destroyed all communal collective organisations and undermined all previous efforts of preparedness to deal with a crisis like this.
We will learn that a country without paid (sick) leave cannot hope for workers to self quarantine.
We will learn that countries with an inclusive cohesive society will do much better than countries divided by racism, xenophobia and hatred.
We will learn the outcome of the presently running experiment of “Will People listen to the Scientist” ? (Neil deGrasse Tyson)

Thanks to the Virus we will relatively quickly get the answers to this most important question.
Why does it have to take thousands of lives to get this most important answer ?
The right answer is the one and only chance we have to act in time to avert the climate crisis.

Greta Thunberg

repeats again and again the mantra of her climate campaign : Listen to the scientists !
Will we ?

by Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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The Populist Xenophobia/Racism Trap

Xenophobia/Racism the Fear of the Other

Racism is one form of Xenophobia. Like with many human conditions Xenophobia / Racism is not black and white but appears on a scale. Located on the most extreme end is the Holocaust – the murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime during World War II for solely racial reason. This ideology perceived Jews as a different race and as such sub-human and not worth living. On the other end of the scale are people who live, break bread, sleep, socialise with people of different skin colour, custom, religion or nationality without those differences being an issue or even noticed. In between we find probably the vast majority of people. Like my uncle who initially was unhappy (“foreign blood”), when his daughter married an Indian student who became the most favourite member of our family being such a lovely man.

Racism is ancient and comes in many forms. The Greeks coined the word still in use today: Xenophobia. It means the fear of the other like foreigners with different languages and customs. Another form is discrimination and hate of other religions or even between branches of one religion. Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland or Sunnis and Shia Muslims. Originally the fear and loathing of the outsider had a useful function to keep the tribal grouping of people who were related or at least knew each other together and safe. It even served a purpose in organising larger population of the same language and beliefs into nation states.

Xenophobia/Racism everywhere

Racism never disappeared. It could be seen as the glue holding groups of people together. However its extreme forms of the Holocaust or the terrorist attacks in Norway and Christchurch/New Zealand have not been tolerated and the perpetrators prosecuted. They have given racism a bad name. Even in racist countries like the US or Australia in polite society it has become uncouth to for instance use the N-(igger) word. However being so ancient and deep seated Racism continues as a strong undercurrent even if people would not admit to it.
Racially based atrocities continue to happen in the Third World like ISIS in the Middle East, the plight of the Rohingya in Myanmar or the Hutu/Tutsi genocide in Rwanda. We, the First World look at these with disgust and condemnation. We don’t acknowledge our  racism even if it sits on the same spectrum and can easily move up the scale.

The big question is : Why has Racism in Western so called “liberal democracies” risen to the surface in recent years and again been a deciding factor in national politics ?

Neo-liberalism – Populism

Part of the answer lies in the rise of Neo-liberalism the source of most evil over the last 40 years. The now leading economic dogma in the world has lead to an ever widening gap between the rich so called 1 % and the rest. Real income over the last 40 years has stagnated for the vast majority while the incomes and wealth of the 1% or even more 0.1% have risen astronomically. The majority are increasingly resentful waiting for the promised “trickle down effect”. They lash out at the establishment and perceived elites.
As Racism like any prejudice is based on ignorance it helped that the Ne0-liberals deliberately cut back on education beyond basic numeracy and literacy to be able to read instructions. The dumber the people the easier they can be manipulated being unable to distinguish between truth and lies.

Here Populism comes in defined as “championing the common person, usually by favourable contrast with an elite” but in contemporary understanding “revolving around a charismatic leader who appeals to and claims to embody the will of the people in order to consolidate his own power.”
A few names spring to mind : Donald Trump (US), Narendra Modi (India), Jair Bolsonaro (Brasil), Victor Orban (Hungary), Rodrigo Duterte (Philippines) and Boris Johnson (UK).

These examples all happen to be on the conservative side of the political spectrum. Progressives at least start out with the idea to make the world a better place and are often divided how best to get there. Conservatives wanting to keep their privileges are united by the simple goal to just stay in power. Their power hunger makes them ruthless in their use of any means for their political and personal end. Their main tool is lying to the people the more blatant and often the better.

Exploitation of Xenophobia/Racism

The puppet masters of the dark art of political manipulation like Steve Bannon and Dominic Cummings if these populist politicians didn’t know it instinctively themselves have identified Xenophobia/Racism as the perfect condition to be exploited. There is no defence against dog whistle racially charged lies. Xeno-Phobia as all phobias is not rational. It cannot be countered with facts, truth and rational discourse. You cannot argue against their slogans “Make America great again” (US) or “Taking back Control” (UK).

For this reason I would advise the UK opposition not to allow a snap election fought on the single issue of Brexit, which is Xenophobia/Racism pure.
They cannot win against slogans like “Taking back Control”, “31 October Independence Day” or “The people vs Parliament”. Of course the “people” will win. Only 40% of British voters may still be hardcore Brexiteers. However this minority  will give Boris Johnson under the undemocratic first-past-the-post electoral system a big majority in Parliament.

Don’t fall into  the Populist Xenophobia/Racism Trap !

Dr Hans B. Grueber


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Saving the World

Greta Thunberg, a name one year ago nobody had ever heard of. Today the young Swedish climate activist’s image is everywhere. Here is one of the latest from her facebook page :

School strike week 52.

69031467_894604544240700_8117994793717465088_nPos 47 degrees 17 minutes north and 13 degrees 17 minutes west,
which for non-sailors is in the middle of the Atlantic.

Greta has in just one year become a global phenomenon. I have never in my lifetime seen anything like it. Out of her well researched and deeply held concern for the future of our planet and the inaction of decision makers she decided one Friday in August 2018 to wag school and sit down in front of the Swedish Parliament.

1-Gq7IsTUc7tv8ybRlpmG3kwSince then the sixteen your old looking more like fourteen who has Asperger Syndrome has morphed from the “silent child at the back of the class” to a worldwide celebrity gracing among others the cover of time magazine.

Climate Activism as Therapy

Asperger Syndrome is a developmental disorder characterised by significant difficulties in social interaction, often high intelligence and with the “pursuit of specific and narrow areas of interest”. In Greta’s case it has lead her to concentrate on climate change probably like no other of her generation. She really knows her stuff. It made her so concerned that she became depressed, developed an eating disorder and stopped speaking for quite some time. Fortunately her parents supported her all the way. In her words “Asperger is not a disease, it’s a gift.”
She reflects on her actions : “Before I felt lonely, both because of Asperger’s Syndrome … I don’t like socialising but also because it felt like I was the only one who cared about the climate and the ecological crisis. No-one I knew cared about this and I felt I was the only one. It makes me fell good that I’m not alone in this fight and it feels like my life has gotten some kind of meaning lately.” (facebook)

I try to imagine what has happened to this “child” in such short time and how it must affect her. Greta goes on dealing with everything calmly with reason, clarity, grace and passion, which put the rest of us to shame. Every piece of footage and writing I have seen shows her enduring the frenzy of media attention to put climate emergency at the centre. Again her Asperger condition must be a blessing.
Obviously this last year was good for her. You can see it. This is not the silent child in the back of the class any-more.

A handout picture shows Greta and her father Svante Thunberg meeting with Boris Herrmann from sailing Team Malizia at the Swedish ambassador's residence in Paris, France, July 22, 2019. Picture taken July 22, 2019. Christian Krug/Team Malizia/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. MANDATORY CREDIT.

Greta and her father Svante Thunberg meeting with Boris Herrmann from sailing Team Malizia

Critics and Haters

There is the usual cohort of haters from the fossil fuel climate change denier camp desperately clinging on to the do nothing status quo. Greta understands that this hatred comes with the territory and is a sign of the growing success of her campaign. The Greta Effect is now recognised as a “thing”. For instance in Sweden air travel reduced by 10 % because of the Greta Effect. The recent European elections had the surprising success of the Greens across the board attributed to the Greta Effect. At local body elections in my old home town of Hamburg the Greens became the strongest party in four out of seven districts, which had firmly been in social democratic hands forever. The voting age was lowered to sixteen and Greta had been at a huge – Friday for Future – rally in the city earlier in the year. No wonder that the haters see the writing on the wall and double their vitriolic efforts.

However the most annoying “critics” are the patronising nitpickers. For the benefit of the German Spiegel Magazine, which has a few of those the word is “Korinthenkacker”. It means literally someone unable to do a decent dump instead only craps currants.
I mean the people who interview her during a train trip criticising her for eating some vegetarian on board food because it was wrapped in – shock horror – plastic ! I mean the people who are seriously trying to calculate the carbon footprint of her transatlantic trip making it out to be the great PR disaster by including several flights to get the yacht ready and in place, including the construction of this high-tech carbon fibre racing machine, including the travel of all the media to Plymouth to report on her departure. The people who tell us that her Atlantic crossing is not clean because the “Malizzia II” has a a diesel engine, a safety requirement for yachts of her type. Next they will calculate the carbon footprint of her train travel by including the rails made of steel using coal during the manufacturing. In the end these people would really like her to stop breathing because that too produces CO2.

The last thing these nitpickers want to talk about is climate change. In the US a recent study found that the birth of the English prince Archie got more media coverage in a couple of weeks than climate change in a whole year. If it takes another child to take notice of the most critical issue facing us all so be it.

Racing across the Atlantic

The most insightful observations about Greta came from experienced skipper Boris Herrmann. Never before a total novice attempted to cross the Atlantic in a racing yacht. Greta accepted the opportunity/challenge without fear. Herrmann observed it coming from the strength of her conviction that things had to change accepting that for herself leaving her comfort zone. Matter-of-factly she talked about the food and the bucket she would have to use. While her critics would not even need a bucket shitting their pants in the middle of the ocean.

Go Greta ! Have a safe trip !
I am looking forward to your acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Price as it will be like all your speeches to the point and not longer than a few minutes.

Dr. Hans B. Grueber
20 August 2019


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Virtual World


Walking along the river Elbe during this year’s visit to my old home town of Hamburg I was approached by two men with a video camera. They told me that they were working on an university project and if I would like to answers a couple of questions.
“Could I imagine to live in a virtual world ?” and “Would I like it ?”

I immediately thought of and told them the story Yuval Noah Harari told about his home town of Jerusalem :
Recently I went with my nephew to hunt Pokémon. We were walking down the street and a bunch of kids approached us. They were also hunting Pokemon. My nephew and these children got into a bit of a fight because they were trying to capture the same invisible creatures. It seemed strange to me. But these Pokémon were very real to the children. And then it hit me: This is just like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he says in the interview.
“I look at the stones of buildings in Jerusalem and I just see stones. But Christians, Jews, and Muslims who look at the same stones see a holy city. It’s their imagination, but they are willing to kill for it. That’s virtual reality, too,” he adds.

I was the first person they had approached and my interviewers were taken aback with what hit them and stopped recording after ten minutes. The questions had got me talking and I have not stopped thinking about how much we actually live in a virtual world.


A long time ago visiting a religious festival in the hills of Sardinia and later the Vatican my eyes were opened what religion was all about. (see my previous blog “Thank you Brian Tamaki”)
However I am still fascinated that so many people feel the need for some imaginary friend up somewhere to tell them what to do. While writing this I came across more from Harari :
“Well, the thing about humans is that we’re very good at inventing fictional stories, and believing in these stories, and then we can’t tell the difference between the imagination and reality. . . . In the real world there are no angels or demons, no gods, no sin, but you look at the world through the bible and suddenly the entire world is filled with angels and demons, and this is a sin, and you shouldn’t do this or do that, and it’s all in the imagination.”

Sadly the imaginary world of religion in the 21st century still leads us into war, terror and mayhem. One would have hoped that we left the dark ages well and truly behind and  enlightenment would have overcome (our need for) religion. At the extremes there seems to be no progress. The deeds in the name of or at least associated with religion like attacks on mosques, churches and synagogues speak for themselves.

In my own experience talking to many people I find good and bad.

For instance at my local weekend market is one man of the more aggressive Christian fringe who not surprisingly also spreads various conspiracy theories. I normally have a friendly banter but one time shortly after the Christchurch attack I had to intervene when he had aggressive words with a stall holder of probably Indian or Pakistani origin wearing a headscarf. Other market goers were also upset.

On the other hand I regularly talk to a nice Jehovah’s Witnesses couple trying to convince them of the errors of their ways. These discussions are friendly and respectful. I see how sincerely they hold to their believes and that they do no harm. After one of those discussions I came up with a possible answer :

Back to the original questions.
Yes, I cannot only imagine to live in a virtual world but unfortunately we all live in a religious virtual world mostly to our detriment.
No, I don’t like it. We all would be better of with no religion at all. The world is full of enough problems to cause conflicts. We don’t need religion to act ethically and help and support each other. We are fast approaching the existential crisis of climate change. The last thing we need is bickering over some ancient pieces of historical fiction like the Torah, Bible and Quran.

Dr. Hans B. Grueber


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Easter message from an old dreamer : Imagine . . .


Imagine you were wagging school on 15 March in Christchurch to take part in the world wide protest against climate change. You are marching and having a good time in the sun and expect that you as part of a world event starting in New Zealand will make the six o’clock news. Imagine that some person told you that this would not be the case. Instead an hour or so later in your peaceful town a lone white supremacist gunman would massacre 50 Muslims.

You would have said or at least thought that the person was having a bad dream. However that nightmare is exactly what happened.


By the night of that Friday you had learned all about the horror of Muslim men, women and children praying in two mosque being brutally killed. Some been finished off while already laying wounded on the ground by a cold blooded shooter. As a true terrorist he was out to inflict maximum brutality and bloodshed in order to strike fear / terror into our hearts. You also had learned that this terror was not only aimed at Muslims in Christchurch or New Zealand but everyone around the world. The gunman had live-streamed the murders on Facebook for all to see, download and spread.

Imagine if at that time someone told you that within a week the image of New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern comforting a Muslim woman would be projected onto the tallest building in the world in Dubai and their Sheik would thank our Prime minister and New Zealand in the name of 1.5 billions Muslims in the world.


You would have said that the person was dreaming. However that dream is exactly what happened.


The story of white supremacist hatred, bloodshed and terror had been overtaken by the story of love, grief, empathy, comfort and support. The overflowing flower tributes and messages not only in Christchurch filled our screens. The story of selfless by-standers and first responders doing their up-most to save the lives of the wounded led the news. And most of all Jacinda Ardern, our Prime Minister was leading the nation in making the Muslim Community part of New Zealand as never before : They are Us !

54256889_1545604638904933_7483627999544213504_oWomen wearing head-scarfs in solidarity with our Muslim brethren. An Imam leading a prayer in Parliament. A Muslim call to prayer broadcast nation wide. Millions of dollars donated  within days to support the victims. Government including the usually hostile Department of Immigration working overtime to help the survivors. The world watching and praising Jacinda for her leadership in giving comfort and taking action to ban the weapons, that had taken so many lives within minutes. Leadership was not offering “thoughts and prayers” – the usual US response to mass shootings – but action on gun laws.
There was even talk of the Nobel Peace Price. However the nominations for this year had already closed.

Imagine if somebody told you after all this outpouring of love that within days anti-Islamic hatred would raise its ugly head in New Zealand with a vengeance. That the letter writers, the talk-back callers, the self appointed bishop and even patronising so called “feminists” would all be showing their prejudiced ignorant Islamophobia. That social media would be so full of hate that one had to be fearful for Jacinda now having a target on her back.

You would have said to the person that he was having a bad dream. However that is exactly what happened.

The core of this fear and hatred is racism and xenophobia. It is fanned and exploited by populist right-wing demagogues all over the world beginning with Trump in the US, Brexit in Britain and many other countries around Europe and the world not to forget Australia with its long racist history now manifest in its inhumane refugee policies. It does not feel like a coincidence that the white supremacist murderer is Australian.
In this instance the hatred manifested itself in the form of Islamophobia. The attack and the backlash against empathy and love shown to the victims is directed against  the religion of Islam. The victims from many different countries and different colour had one thing in common their Muslim faith. And the perpetrators and haters have the Christian religion in common. This hatred is especially insane as in the aftermath of the massacre the Muslim community in Christchurch and around the world  have shown so much love and forgiveness.

The thing which enraged the haters most besides ignorant patronising objections to wearing a headscarf was the (Muslim) prayer. Could it be that there would be less hate if there would be less prayers ? If there would be less religion ? Even better if there would be no religion at all ?

May be it takes a much bigger dream and imagination to make the world a better place. May be it takes late but immortal John Lennon‘s dream :

maxresdefaultImagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

by Dr Hans B. Grueber


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At war with China ?

What do I know about China

I remember an excellent BBC documentary series about China’s and its rich history and culture over thousands of years with the recent period of communism being only a very thin veneer. I still have Mao’s little red book from 1966 in my library not that I ever really read it. I read the 2006 Jung Chang/Jon Halliday biography of Mao and learned about the revolution, civil war, the “long march”, great famine and horror of the cultural revolution. And of course who does not love the Dalai Lama and has taken the side of Tibet.
Over recent months I have been learning and thinking more about China. From a book about German Imperialism, which luckily lasted only for thirty years, I learned how imperial Germany conducted itself as a colonial power in China. I knew about Kaiser Wilhelm’s infamous “Hun” speech to the troops embarking on the expedition to the German enclave of Tsingtao not to take prisoners. But I did know little about that bloody even bloodthirsty campaign of America, Germany, Britain and other European powers to put down the so called “Boxer Rebellion” and ransack Beijing.


This was only one of a long list of humiliations China suffered at the hand of Western powers at a time when it was weak. We are most familiar with the earlier Opium Wars when Britain forced China to open its ports to the import of British (Indian) opium.

How do Chinese feel today ?

My local Cafe is run by a Chinese immigrant with whom I often talk about things Chinese. I remember well his reply when I confronted him with Mao’s personal failings and cruel policies, which costs tens of millions of his countrymen their lives when he pursued the development of nuclear weapons at all costs. He would always be revered as “Chairman Mao” who not only defeated the Japanese occupiers  but had made China strong to never again be humiliated by any foreign power. After centuries of weakness that must be feeling really good.

China is a military/nuclear super-power. It recently achieved a first in space landing a craft on the far side of the moon. It most of all is the biggest economic power behind only the USA. My friend pointed out that unlike for instance Russia’s and America’s economies still mainly based on commodities from sunset industries like coal & steel, oil & gas China has a plan for the future based on high tech, Artificial Intelligence (AI), modern infrastructure with bullet trains, giant dams and bridges. Underpinning all is an education system producing a million engineers every year.
As a result hundreds of millions of of Chinese have been lifted out of poverty. A growing middle class now can buy New Zealand products and travel to our country bringing in the major chunk of our export earnings.

All this I know without being an expert in Chinese affairs. One would expect the people in Wellington responsible for our China policies to know at least as much.

New Zealand – Chinese Relationship

Historically New Zealand and China never had a reason to have an angry word with each other. It should not come as a surprise that New Zealand scored the first bilateral trade agreement. After all we tend to portray ourselves internationally as an independent nation not beholden to any foreign puppet master.We gave the world a shining example with our nuclear free policy.
Now it appears that this image like the “clean green New Zealand” is shattered. We are found out as a “Five Eyes” spy-network partner obediently following Trump/US orders. We are banning the Chinese tech giant Huawei from building the next generation 5G network. The “concerns” of our GCSB spy-masters about “security” are such laughable bullshit that it would take another blog to rebut. Concerns about industrial espionage are the peak of hypocrisy as the “Five Eyes” have for decades done just that not just to our cold war enemies but our friends and allies for instance in NATO. The audacity to raise such “concerns” with a straight face beggars belief.
To ban any Chinese company from doing business in New Zealand on such flimsy pretences breaches our bilateral trade agreement we are so proud of. This might have been just the final straw.
We started in cold war style by naming China as a potential enemy in a defence paper citing the South China Sea. Then our foreign minister in a speech in Washington asked Trump America for help to push back Chinese influence in the South Pacific. Now we idly stand by when our “Five Eyes” partner and British defence secretary Gavin Williamson talks about Britain strengthening her global presence and enhance her lethality and sending the next generation Aircraft carrier, the Queen Elisabeth, into the South China Sea. Can’t we see how China must feel about that.

However the elephant in the room remains Huawei.

I watched the prime minister last night on Q+A trying to distance her government from its own spy agency by emphasising it’s independence and a new law it operates under. This is plainly absurd to seriously suggest that government can openly outsource policy decisions of this magnitude to the “Deep State”, the spooks suspected to wield the real power anyway. Our GCSB as all spy agencies is of course by nature totally unaccountable to the public. Zero transparency. They always claim to know “secret” things we don’t and will never know because as the secrecy argument goes “If we tell  you we have to kill you“.

It might be the first sign of back-paddling to reverse the Huawei decision when the prime minister says that New Zealand will act independently and she trusts the “process”, which allegedly is underway. Or she is totally naive. The point of “Five Eyes” is that spy agencies do not act independently. There is no process one can trust if it is shrouded in secrecy.

It does not wash with Huawei and/or China and it should not wash with the public of a Western democracy.
New Zealand cannot afford to take sides in the trade war between the USA and China because that is all it is.

Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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OMG : What did I do ?

This week I celebrate the second birthday of my first born grandson. This is the reason to wonder what world he will live in if he reaches my age. This is for you OMG.

The end of the century

Near the end of the century you will be my age if you are lucky. You might not consider yourself lucky in the world you will be living in.

172925_600The picture looks grim. And many – especially the ones in power to do something about it – do not (want to) believe it. Or so they say. It could very well be that they know exactly what is going to happen but just don’t care. That they despite their pretences to love their children and grandchildren just care about themselves and their lives in luxury and over-consumption and give a damn about future generations. A 15 year old Swedish school girl Greta Thunberg did not pull her punches at the recent Climate Conference in Katowice Poland.

The Science

Looking into the future is not a precise science. There are to many known and unknown variables. We cannot even predict the future weather if it is going to rain on the fifth day of the boxing day cricket test, which might be only ten days away. Many mistake the weather with climate and conclude that if we can’t predict the one we cannot predict the other. That however could not be further from the truth. Climate is the big picture of the whole planet over decades and centuries. Here the data show patterns and trends. And these don’t look good. For instance the fact that in the last 18 years we had the 17 hottest years on record. The jury is in. It is man made by our fossil fuel consumption.
Another trend is very worrying. Every new international climate report is more alarming than the last as new data come in. The news on climate change get worse not better. The outlook gets more catastrophic by each report. This is not hyperbole. Most serious scientists know that there will be no miracle technical breakthrough. The idea that we are so clever that we will invent some technical solution just in time to save us is just an excuse not to act now to prevent the climate catastrophe.
Nor does it look like that there will be a miracle enlightenment of the elites to turn this hopeless situation around. The latest climate conference in Katowice ended after overtime to just keep the Paris agreement alive without any real progress. The point of no-return might have already passed anyway.
The consequences of global warming, which instead of slowing is accelerating, are dire. First of all we will not be able to hold it at 2 degrees. By the current trends at the end of your lifetime it might be closer to 4 degrees. This will lead to sea level rises that will displace hundreds of millions of people in low laying coastal areas including many of the world’s largest cities.
Large areas of land in all continents, which today are still arable and feed hundreds of millions of people will not be able to sustain life. The oceans as a major food source will be affected .
By the current rate the process will be accelerated by the disappearance of tropical rainforests like the Amazon and in Indonesia. They served us as carbon sinks and provided us with oxygen. With them we will also loose biodiversity on a catastrophic scale.
This is what scientist of the various fields are telling us today. However that will not be the worst part of it.

War and Civil Unrest

Over the last few years we are witnessing scary developments in the countries of the North triggered by a wave of immigration from the South. Right-wing anti-immigrant parties gaining power and are destabilising formerly solid democratic countries. That many of the newcomers pray to a different god adds to the xenophobia. The people we as their rulers looked down at are now moving in next door. But this is nothing compared to what is coming in 20 or 50 years time. What now seems to be a wave will be regarded as a trickle compared with the tsunami of desperate victims of our reckless destruction of the planet being forced to move north. As history has shown no wall will stop them.

The worst consequence of climate change will be war and civil unrest over dwindling resources and survival space. Civil society as we know it will not survive.

Is there no Hope ?

I am afraid it does not look good. Sir David Attenborough, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Pope Francis among all the scientists have just sounded the warning bells again without effecting any change of direction.

LONDON - MAY 02: Sir David Attenborough launches National Moth Recording Scheme at London Zoo on May 2, 2007 in London. The scheme is run by Butterfly Conversation, funded by a grant of 806,000GBP from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Thousands of volunteers will be enlisted over the next four years to help record the moth population in the Britain. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
The powerful that could stop us from going over the cliff are distracted. The rich are busy getting richer. The politicians are busy to get re-elected in short term cycles. The media mostly put their heads in the sand chasing trivial stories instead. A revolution of civil society is not in sight as all demand that their way of life i.e. over-consumption and destruction of the planet must be maintained. The US will never give up the “American Way of Life.”

Man has evolved to survive sudden danger. We instantly swing into full action mode when threatened by the sound of a rattle snake or an intruder breaking a window. Our lizard brain has however not evolved to react the same way when the threat is without precedent and relatively distant. We are like possums in the headlight to slow to move.
That is however no excuse as we are the first generation in history, which has all the information to confidently look into the future and act upon it.

What did I do ?

After WWII in Germany my generation asked our fathers the question : What did you do during the 3. Reich when the Nazis send millions of Jews to their death ?
In future I will face the question : What did you do when in your time the course was set for genocidal global destruction ?

Sorry, I have no excuse for my generation.

For myself I can say that I always have been an activist and on the right side of history including on the issue of climate change. Still I must admit that my greatest contribution might just have been that I never was a wasteful consumer.

Will that be enough to answer your question : What did I do ?

By Dr Hans B. Grueber

PS : Happy Birthday OMG.

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American Democracy on Notice

US mid-term elections

In a few weeks American voters have a last chance to assert that they still care about their republic and democracy. The signs are not good.

The sad story of the American republic, political system, democracy being broken has at this point of time three parts to it. First there is President Trump rather a symptom like a exploding pimple on a festering smelly boil called the Republican Party, which in turn is part of widely infected cancerous rotten body called the American people/voters. One would not exist without the other.
The events of the last couple of years could be described in other terms. A deeply corrupt neo-liberal gang (Republicans) have found the populist demagogic tool (Trump) to seduce a big enough uneducated, dumb, angry minority – that is all you need in the undemocratic US political system – to vote against their own interests. Driven by spite and hatred against what they perceive as the intellectual liberal “elite”.

A columnist for Daily Kos GrafZeppelin127 last Friday describes it like this :
It’s no secret that selfishness, cruelty, resentment, hate and fear are the reasons why millions of Americans nominated and elected a self-evidently unqualified, vulgar, ignorant, demented racist gangster to be the President of the United States. Not because they “liked” his “policies” (he never really had any), not because they thought he was objectively qualified for the job (viz., had any knowledge, understanding and/or experience in government, law, public policy, military affairs or international diplomacy), not even because they necessarily thought he’d be good at the job, but because he spoke to their selfishness, cruelty, resentment, hate and fear; told them it was OK to be selfish, cruel, resentful, hateful and fearful and that they were right to be selfish, cruel, resentful of whoever they resent, hateful of whoever they hate, and fearful of whoever and whatever they fear.
What these people really want is to live in a world where they don’t have to see, hear, experience or be confronted with people and things that make them uncomfortable, that bother them, or that piss them off. Not only that, but voting Republican and electing Republicans doesn’t make those things go away and doesn’t shield them from any of it. Sure, it makes those obnoxious and annoying liberals feel shitty, which for some is the only real goal anyway.”

38600592_1097542147060934_5319628776361951232_n                              Trump rally: I’d rather be a Russian than a Democrat

Democracy like Market

Democracy is like Adam Smith’  legendary  market. For both to work you need informed rational people to make rational decisions in their best interest. As soon as people act/vote irrationally and destructively the theory does not work any-more. Neo-liberalism and our so called “democracy ” go down hand in hand.
The uninformed irrational participants allow the “market” make only the top 1% richer. The rest put up with holding down two or more jobs to still rely on social welfare and food banks.
The uninformed voters become content with voting every two to four years without any real effect due to Gerrymandering, voter suppression and ruthless lies and manipulation. The USA being the only so called western democracy to actively prevent citizens from voting.


Lies and the dumb gullible Voter

Part of the right wing neo-liberal agenda has always been to keep people as uneducated and uninformed as possible. Otherwise they might wake up and actually consider what is good for them.
The US have been running down the public education system for the last three and more (neo-liberal) decades. People are so dump shouting down “Obama Care” at Trump rallies because they “still have the Affordable Care Act” not realising that they are one and the same.
One can have sympathy for people who spend all their waking hours trying to make ends meet. They don’t have the time nor energy to engage in politics. However the people who have time for Trump rallies are just to lazy to inform themselves about the most basic political facts. And that is how the Republicans like it.
It makes the gullible masses more susceptible to blatant bare faced lies. One example from two years ago stuck in my mind. Facebook spread a link to a legitimate looking ‘news’ website with the headline “Pope endorses Trump”. Any only rudimentary interested and informed person would not even click on a link that was obvious bullshit. Yet the people behind it put it out there expecting/knowing that people would be swayed by it.

And before we in New Zealand get to smug about our superior education and electoral system I remind you of Steven Joyce’s classic dirty politics barefaced lie. The “hole in the budget” lie knocked the momentum out of Labour’s campaign just weeks from the election. There was/is no effective defence against a lie repeated again and again. It is to late for voters to be woken up a year later.

Can US democracy survive ?

The White House, Congress and with the disgraceful appointment of Brett Kavanaugh the Supreme Court are now under control of what would be in any other liberal democracy regarded as criminals. The checks and balances the constitution tried to put in place are failing. The founding fathers did not envisage a criminal gang taking control of all three branches of government.
The only ones to be able to reign in the abuse of power and restore a semblance of legitimacy, legality, basic decency and sanity are the American voters. After the events of the last two years there is no excuse any-more that they don’t know what they are doing. If they fail to punish the criminals and rather reward them at the ballot box the US Republic is doomed.
Let’s make no mistakes we, the rest of the world, will be affected.

American Democracy is on notice.

Dr Hans B. Grueber





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