Creeping nationalism

You know what I love, this article from the Dom by Nigel Pinkerton.  Read this:

Z Energy’s advertisement was, at best, sloppy and, at worst, a deliberate attempt to build its brand on a misguided sense of national pride by implying that New Zealander’s deserve those jobs, even at a higher wage, more than foreigners.  As the world’s separate economies become increasingly globalised, allowing labour to move more freely between regions and allowing companies to outsource, it will not only deliver cost savings to businesses and consumers, but also help correct the vast global inequalities our world still tolerates.


Now I have to admit some interest – he is a work colleague.  He showed me the ad the other day (as I tend to avoid watching TV) and I was also shocked.  When did we think it was alright to say we are shutting people, often people that are much poorer than ANYONE in NZ, out of the opportunity to work – no only is it alright, but its comical.  I suppose it became alright at about the same time we decided it was fine to be xenophobic, which if I remember correctly started at the beginning of the recession … although it was probably sitting in the back of peoples minds to start with … come to think of it, even during the good times we liked to push buy NZ made 🙁

There are a lot of good things with nationalism: belonging to a group, pride in one self, building opportunities with others in the group – but when nationalism moves people to exclude others, doesn’t that seem a bit wrong.

Personally, I have been hurt by the xenophobia that has become apparent in recent years (*, *, *, *) and it was nice to read someone else who felt the same way.  As people, why can’t we just care about other people – who cares what country they were lucky (or unlucky) enough to be born into.

10 replies
  1. rauparaha
    rauparaha says:

    It just seems like good marketing to me: pick the things that define people as a group and persuade them that you’re in the group. Is all this hand-wringing really ever going to eliminate group-based discrimination?

    • Matt Nolan
      Matt Nolan says:

      You are 100% right, 100%.

      But, that doesn’t mean that illustrating the biases associated with this behaviour, and showing how they can be seen as morally inappropriate, has significant value.

      After all, this is exactly what economists did with slavery.

      • rauparaha
        rauparaha says:

        I agree that it is worth pointing out the immorality implicit in some policies and statements. However, is the problem here actually that people have a mistaken concept of employment as a zero-sum game or is it just that the vast majority of people are xenophobes? If it is the latter then what is pointed out in the article won’t seem immoral to them.

        • Matt Nolan
          Matt Nolan says:

          Indeed, and of course I would prefer not to focus on the idea of moral judgments too much – apart from making them transparent.

          There is definitely an information issue, where people may not realise that trade could make us better off – and that is another important thing to educate people about.

          However, during times like a global financial crisis we may face a short term trade-off in terms of work – and people have shown that they would be willing to significantly lower the living standards of people overseas in order to get some short term gain for people that happen to be born in NZ.

          They can feel like this if they want to – but god dang it, the moral judgment they are making has to be transparent!

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