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Simon Pound: How To Become A Pariah In Grey-Lynn

How To Become A Pariah In Grey-Lynn

Steps towards the hopeful end of left and right wing.........

There are a few sure-fire ways to spoil a nice Grey-Lynn dinner party. I’d say that there are four topics that are certain, certain, to upset the mood and leave fellow guests thinking that you are a baby-eating, male (a term often wielded as an insult) right-wing c**t.

Unfortunately for my social standing in respectable left-wing circles I am guilty of all four transgressions regularly though do not identify as right-wing, in fact I don’t think the terms left and right wing mean a thing anymore – lest of all to the people who throw them round.

As it is much easier to point out how you can avoid the social ostracization I faced until I discovered these rules than it is to actually get a left-wing person to define what left-wing economics entails, or even to provide a definition for progressive taxation, I thought I might share these guiding suggestions for the benefit of all.

Number One: Don’t, for godsake do not support Genetic Engineering.

Many a coffee in Verona has been irrevocably changed by the meekest pro-GE utterance. When it comes to tampering with nature and putting fish genes into tomatoes I’m all for it. In fact I thought it the height of wit to remove the ‘free’ from the ‘GE free NZ’ stickers.

‘Go for it’ would be my sage advice to all aspirant Dr Frankensteins.

I’ve found myself having to explain myself to kaftan-wearing advertising executives and washed up pop stars (who really should join Rotary or volunteer with City Mission, I mean if they insist on having a mid-life social conscience crisis I can’t help but feel that the least they could do is play it out privately and constructively….) anyway, you know the types.

To assuage these people my reasoning generally runs that I feel that the biggest lunacy of our age is the way we produce and protect food. It reminds me of the situations we scoff at now – things like feeding the ill Mercury (the kind of thing that these people suspect right-wingers still want to do today) or insulating homes with asbestos or, and this is my favourite folly, using lead pipes to pump in drinking water.

All of these things, thanks to scientific advancement, are now known to be harmful. I can’t help but think that in maybe just one hundred years time you’ll hear conversations like this:

“You know what they used to do with food back in the 1900s? They used to spray poison all over it as it grew to keep the insects off!”

“You’re shitting me? Spray poison on their own food – they can’t have been that stupid.”

“No really, they called it insecticide probably hoping no-one would notice that it was also humanicide.”

“And they wonder why the Cancer epidemic hit, fools”

Or something to the effect.

Trick is that GE is part of that same imperfect scientific advancement that now lets us know not to do stuff like treat a toothache with leeches.

It is true that we don’t know yet what GE might produce – which is, as far as I can tell, the closest thing the ‘anti’ movement has to an intellectualised opposition. I agree, we don’t. The part we diverge on is that I reckon we should be doing our best to find out, while they advocate sitting there – with brand new access to the coolest tool-shed ever – and doing nothing.

I figure that the most likely way to safely and sensibly feed and, in the long run, medicate and protect all humans is to be found in Genetic Engineering. And I’d really prefer it if wives with health plans, royalty cheques and far too much time on their hands would stop impeding the arrival of such a time.

In fact I’d go one further and say start the inevitable process of turning the technology onto humans. With any luck they could cleanse from our make up the ability to confuse fear and ignorance with morality and the protection of mother-nature, man.

Not that I don’t have reservations about the intellectual property on genes being corporatized and the likely emergence of higher and lower classes of human, in fact about the countless possibilities of abuse I can imagine. I’ll contend that I probably have a much better informed full list of concerns than the vast majority of people who consider themselves anti-GE. I believe, however, that we’ll stumble through the problems and that on balance GE is an historically unrivalled treasure trove.

But you’d be astounded how badly such an optimistic outlook goes down in these circles. Apparently it is reactionary to believe in revolution and safe to believe in the status quo. I reckon that alone might say more about the state of the trendy left these days than anything else more pithy. How on earth my position on GE can make me, as it was levelled, ‘more right-wing by the day’ I am unsure. Yet, I hope, not nearly so unsure as the leveller.

In any event in fifty years this whole discussion will be as irrelevant as the near exact arguments that raged against the adoption of chimneys and electricity. It’s the march of progress, or some such cliché.

Three more rules to follow – if there is demand for them. Let me know and I might get around to writing them.


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