Keep the revolution rolling? Or bring back the cardigan?

Colin James, Australia New Zealand School of Government seminar, Wellington,
5 August, 2016

This is work and thought in progress. Constructive comments welcome to

A public service serves the public, or should. It is, or is supposed to be, the instrument of the collective public will and interest. When the public changes, or changes its mind, so logically does, or should, the public service. read more

Lives are local

Colin James sum-up comments to Inspiring Communities conference
Wellington 22 June 2016

You are doers. I am a be-er/talker. You are insiders. I am an outsider. So I should stop now and let you get on with the “messy” business you do, as Nichola Brehaut put it.

But perhaps I should pick up Nicola’s “messy” point. “Messy” is democratic and your disparate actions in response to the people around you are the essence of democracy. Doing things democratically, as you do, may, as Nicola also said, take a little longer but it leads to better outcomes – “hoods” can become “goods”, Stone Soup told us. read more

When the cord breaks: the fourth Labour government

Talk by Colin James to Christchurch Labour, 19 May 2016

“The moment of conception is a barrier surpassed, birth a boundary crossed. Gunter Grass’s Oskar, the mettlesome hero of The Tin Drum, narrates in real time his troubling passage through the birth canal and his desire, once delivered into the world, to reverse the process. The room is cold. A moth beats against the naked light bulb. But it’s too late to turn back, the midwife has cut the cord.” – Francis Stonor Saunders, “Where on Earth are you?”, London Review of Books, Vol 38 No5, 3 March 2016. read more

Advance Australia Fair?

Introductory comments by Colin James, Wanaka Aspiring Conversations, 24 April 2016.

Tomorrow is the centennial Anzac Day, the day when we first paused in our daily lives to grieve the killing at Gallipoli and find meaning. (Worse was to come in France and Belgium.) We were on that day in 1916 two dominions linked in battle for our empire. read more

TPP: Notes for comments at Institute of International Affairs forum on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

1. The big context is the globalisation of information and connection, finance, production, consumption and people, accelerate by the coming of age of digital technology. This is pulling down borders of many sorts; but also putting borders up of many sorts as people get more fearful because of the globalisation of war, which now takes new forms, cf ISIS. read more

Global citizens in a world of disorder

Comments to the Wairarapa branch of the Institute of International Affairs, 9 June 2015

The world is in a disorderly phase. This is driven in part by geopolitical and geo-economic events, including the mass movement of people, and in part by disruptive technological change which is fragmenting and dispersing power, eroding the sovereignty of individual nation-states and beginning to turn us from citizens of nations into global citizens. This multi-generational transition is likely over time to require a range of informal and semi-formal supranational governance arrangements. A role for New Zealand, as a disinterested global country-citizen, could be to suggest prototypes of such arrangements, starting in the South Pacific. read more

Some thoughts on the political implications of regional demographic shifts and imbalances

[These comments are set in a 2013-43 timeframe but necessarily with a stronger focus on the 2013-23 period. The comments were to accompany Professor Natalie Jackson’s analysis and projection of demographic change* and the focus on that change, not other change, except incidentally.]

The demographic age and ethnic imbalances projected for the next 30 years are likely to influence local and national politics by adding region-to-region socioeconomic disparities to the national socioeconomic disparities which have developed over the past 30 years. Disparities reduce social cohesion which is the bedrock of political stability. read more

A small country on the planet of the apps

Colin James to Golden Bay University of the Third Age and public meeting in Takaka, 20 March 2015

It’s 2015 and you have a health issue: the doctor will see you now.
Imagine it’s 2020: the robot will see you now.
Now stretch your mind to 2025: the customer (patient) will see you now.

This time travel is not as wildly fictional as it sounds at first hearing. The 2010s are a remarkable decade. The science and derivative digital technologies that gave us the transistor in 1947, the integrated circuit (which we now call the chip) in 1958, the ready-to-use personal computer in 1977, the public internet a decade later and the smartphone in 2007 has come of age. It is a new industrial revolution – but very much faster than the first in the eighteenth-nineteenth centuries. There is a loose parallel with the coming of age in the 1920s of the technologies developed from the science of electricity a century earlier which transformed many aspects of daily life. But this industrial revolution is much faster than that one, too. read more