When one digests the events of the last couple of weeks the question seems not an unreasonable one. Things have happened and decisions have been made that are out of step with what one would expect in a true Western democracy. There are traits in the Prime Minister’s demeanour and personality that should give us some clues as to the type of person she is – the real Jacinda Ardern. A look at her political background provides even more clues. Her language and beliefs reflect the vernacular and ideals of the hardline far left more so than the moderate centre-left.

Her Demeanour

The PM will often turn up late to a press conference. What does this tell us? In psychology there are various reasons given for lateness. The one I think that most aptly applies to Ardern is as follows: Unless you present a very good excuse for being late, preferably something that is out of your control (e.g an elephant on the motorway), being late sends out the message, My time is more valuable than yours,” and “I’m more important than you,” and perhaps even, I’m doing you a favour by turning up at all.” It is particularly rude to turn up late to this type of event.

Her Personality

Here we are looking at a ‘cult of personality’ or ‘cult of the leader’. This arises when a country’s regime uses:

  • The techniques of mass media (she’s bought them off)
  • Propaganda, (communication that is used to influence an audience and to further an agenda)
  • The big lie (a gross distortion or misrepresentation of the truth used for propaganda purposes)
  • Spectacle (refers to an event that is memorable for the appearance it creates; e.g. 1 pm pressers)
  • Nationalism (that the nation should be in agreement or harmony with the state; e.g. “team of five million”).

This is all designed to create an idealised, heroic, image of a leader through unquestioning flattery and praise.

We now know why she beat a hasty retreat from Mike Hosking. It was because she got neither of those from him.

A cult of personality is established using modern social engineering techniques. Social engineering is defined as a top-down effort to influence attitudes and social behaviours on a large scale – most often undertaken by Governments, but also carried out by media, academia or private groups – in order to produce desired characteristics in a target population. These techniques are normally established by the state or the party in one-party states or dominant party states. They are often seen in totalitarian or authoritarian countries.

Her Political Background

She was President of the International Union of Socialist Youth. In early 2009, two months after becoming an MP, Ardern presided over that organisation’s annual meeting. The comrade’s talk was all about redistribution of wealth which they said would lead to more financial stability and justice. Their point was that human beings are born with unequal resources available. Think capital gains taxes, Wellbeing Budget etc. They further stated that “Today’s dominating system of western capitalism has contributed to the unequal distribution of wealth worldwide”.

There is such a thing as a Personalist Dictatorship. This kind of dictatorship is more dictatorial than other types. In this type of dictatorship, a person as an individual stands out from all the others and leads the country. He or she may belong to any political party or the military. There are different reasons that cause Governments or an individual to become a Personalist Dictatorship. One is the incompetence of democratic government.

The Government has the responsibility to provide facilities and to fulfil the needs and solve the problems of the public. But when the Government is weak at providing all the above, it can be the green signal for a dictatorship.

When we look at the psychology of dictators, the three main traits are power, fear and anxiety. They see themselves as “very special” people, deserving of admiration and, consequently, have difficulty empathising with the feelings and needs of others.

Not only do dictators commonly show a “pervasive pattern of grandiosity”, but they also tend to behave with a vindictiveness often observed in narcissistic personality disorder. Some of these individuals maintain a cultural and political environment that feeds grand delusions regarding their self-importance. Saddam Hussein thought of himself as the saviour of the Iraqi people. Does Ardern think the same with her lockdowns and elimination strategy in regard to Covid?

There is a lot more to the subject than what I have written. However, does any of the above sound like New Zealand to you? Reflecting on the behaviour of this Prime Minister and her government certainly drew some similarities for me.

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