Has New Zealand’s “End of History” Era Ended?
I don’t talk much about New Zealand politics, for a few reasons.
The burgeoning Un-Diplomatic community is global (and disproportionately American). US politics is such a high-stakes dumpster fire that it’s usually the most urgent target of attention. And of course it took me a while—too long—to figure out New Zealand’s political landscape, which doesn’t map neatly onto what I know about the US and Europe.
But New Zealand just had a national election. Not only might it have been a signal change in what it means to live here; it also says something about our current conjuncture and where the world is going.
The upshot: New Zealand’s insulation from “the end of history” trends the last decade or so may have just come to an abrupt end.
While North America, Europe, and parts of Latin America have become renewed sites of ideological struggle and broken elitist political parties, New Zealand’s large but shrinking middle class has relished being the last refuge for boring, technocratic, “vital-center” politics. That’s over, but New Zealand’s political class may be the last ones to get the message.
Let me explain.