Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Barbara Sumner Burstyn: Brethrenesque World Order

The Brethrenesque World Order


By Barbara Sumner Burstyn

The point is not whether the National Party is somehow behind the Exclusive Brethren pamphlets. The point is that the kind of world that a Don Brash led government would create is such a tidy fit with the views and mindset of people like the Exclusive Brethren, a sect based on the principals of exclusion and narrow morality, that they feel impelled to come out of hiding and jump into the political fray.

When the group of seven white men in their perfectly home-pressed white shirts say the country is in need of change, they don’t mean less tax or better delivery of health and education. They don’t mean more autonomy for business, less protection for the environment or the end of race-based support. They are speaking in a code that those on the fundamentalist far right can understand. Change to the Brethren means moral change.

In that world-view there is only one definition of the family. There no gay or lesbian families, no drinking, no drugs, no passion for the environment, no extreme views other than their own. In short there are none of the complexities and moral dilemmas we all face on a daily basis. These men, the promoters of the National party, want nothing less than the redefining of our society along the hierarchal lines of the church they represent.

Of course in the Exclusive Brethrenesque world that would flourish under a Brash-led National Party there would be nothing so overt as mandatory head-scarves or outlawed make-up or fashions circa 1950 or a limit to women’s education or opportunity. But the potential would be there, the groundwork laid with every soft voiced command, with the underlying smugness of father-knows-best power, with every condemnation couched in the pressed white shirt of gentlemanly manners.

The Exclusive Brethren take the long view. They want less government interference in people’s lives. In their world order the social dividend would be null and void. The state of things like health care and infrastructure is of no importance to them. Social imperatives that set a premium on well-rounded education, on imposing a standard of childcare, environmental protection or health would be of little value. That’s because God helps those who help themselves and financial success is the sign of God’s blessing (and their leaflet drop smacks of nothing if not disposable income) while being poor must surely be the result of indigence, of lack of character or intelligence or worse.

For church members to say they’re not acting on behalf of their church is disingenuous. For the men of the Exclusive Brethren there is no ‘outside-of-church.’ They are their religion. Which is why women and children are so tightly controlled, why TV, radio and the Internet are banned. The Exclusive Brethren do not live in the world as we know it. They are a community apart - home schooled, controlled, guided and from all reports; exploited, devalued and disrespected by their leaders, excluded from their society for the slightest misdemeanor. Their church lacks a democratic structure. They enforce rigid codes of behavior. Artistic endeavor is known not to be favored. A report presented to the British Psychological Society in 2000 found that those who leave the strict confines of the sect have mental problems far exceeding the usual rate in society. And this is the world they see Dr. Don Brash delivering.

It is irrelevant whether and what Brash et al knew about the pamphlet drops. What is important is why the Exclusive Brethren did it. In their white-washed world there are leaders and there are followers. There are rules and simple black and white edicts that make life easy. It is this flat world that the Brethren believe National comes closest to emulating.

When you consider your vote, think big. Don’t think about the tax cuts, the new roads for Auckland or any other of the promises. Think instead of the kind of social environment you want to live in. The Brethren are wealthy people, their money tightly controlled to benefit only those of like mind, who play by their rules and obey their ways. Imagine that kind of world insinuating itself over New Zealand. Personally I don’t want to live in any country the Exclusive Brethren’s would approve of. There’s an old Yiddish saying; a poor man shames us all. In the Brethrenesque new world order a poor man would shame only himself, God’s (and therefore society’s) blessing made manifest in the colour of your skin, the state of your bank balance, the whiteness of your cuffs, the fold of your headscarf and the blankness of your stare.

ENDS

Barbara Sumner Burstyn © August 2005

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news