Flashback Friday: Before paths diverged.

This picture was taken at an end of year celebration hosted in the early 2000s by the Green Party at a trade union hall on Great North Road. In it are three individuals whose paths crossed at that moment in time. One is a university lecturer. One is a university student who was a Green Party activist at the time. One is a young political commentator/stirrer/gadfly. At the time of the photo the three were connected by the fact that the student was in the professor’s class on Revolutions and Insurgencies and the commentator sat in on the class as well as interview the professor from time to time on political subjects. All were supporters of the Green Party at the time (the Donald, Fitzsimons, Tansczos, Bradford, Locke years when it was truly a “watermelon” party).

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The young guy was on the rise in media circles, the young activist was idealistic, energetic and enthusiastic in promoting environmental causes, and the academic was known more for his love of triathlons than anything else.

Flash forward twenty years. Who are they and what are they doing now?

16 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: Before paths diverged.

  1. James Green

    One writes a blog worth reading.
    One, last I heard, had fallen into the Twitter hole.
    Of the other I know nothing.

  2. Barbara

    Yes, the ‘mystery woman’ – Hannah Spierer (the other 2 in your photo are well-known!) – – I have seen the stuff article this morning too.
    You ask Paul how such a change can come about. But I have seen it in my own family, a close member who was always warm caring, interested and intelligent – turning by degrees into some kind of ‘hater’ through the influence of dodgy websites like bitchute (such an ugly name) which content she used to send me up to twice a day – and other sites equally disturbing. I used to think it was because she was uneducated (not meaning to sound elitist) but now I think there must be some kind of gullibility, susceptibility in some people’s character, some inability to discern (university does teach you critical thinking) … suffice to say we do not speak anymore; but I miss the former, kindly, sister that I knew …..

  3. Pablo Post author

    Barbara:

    I am not psychologist but I am struck by the fact that the current Hannah exhibits symptoms consistent with battered spouse syndrome. Her eyes are dead, in contrast to the vivacious young woman in my photo. That does not mean that she has no agency, but leads me to believe that somewhere along the line she suffered trauma that altered her world view. That is just my uninformed opinion, for what it is worth.

  4. Kumara Republic

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/129765330/from-potential-environmental-activist-to-conspiracy-theorist-what-happened-to-hannah-spierer

    “Once a self-described “leftie” who had considered joining a feminist movement, Spierer may have carried her anti-vaccination views from her past.
    A decade ago, people against vaccinations were often left leaning, but the pandemic and QAnon quickly amalgamated them into a melting pot of conspiracies – and it seems Spierer suffered the same fate.”

    There was a lot of hubbub about “potatoad” and “pigato” “franken-veges” surrounding GMOs during the early 2000s, and the lack of transparency from GMO multi-nationals, especially Monsanto of Agent Orange infamy, didn’t help.

    Maybe Spierer was deep-green/Tankie-adjacent to begin with? They seem to be the most vulnerable to going QAnon/eco-Fascist.

  5. Pablo Post author

    KR:

    Here is a bit of previously undisclosed info that might be relevant to your last point. Down the road from where I live is a so-called “ashram” run by con artists who prey on the spiritually needy. They operate as a sort of commune where people pay to stay in sub-standard housing so that they can pray as well as work for free. The place has a very slick on-line profile that makes it seem bucolic and has a common area that is its showcase, although the truth is different–poor sanitation, creepy residents, disinterested and hostile money-grubbing owners. People from abroad as well as NZ go there until they wise up and leave. The place is frequented by assorted scoundrel friends of the owners, including self-professed yogis, crystal healers, card readers, relationship “counsellors,” wellness gurus, a variety of massage-offering weirdos, etc. The word amongst locals is that a lot of unsavoury things happen there.

    The place is neighbourhood nuisance because they cast a blind eye on substance use, place their copious overflow rubbish in other peoples bins (which the bin owner/household pays for) and do nothing to contribute to maintaining the right of way that they live on even though their guests bring an inordinate amount of cars into the valley (and many drive like a-holes as well). They have unconsented dwellings and bush toilets on the property that for some reason Council has ignored in spite of several complaints.

    In sum: the place is a grifter’s paradise posing as a spiritual retreat for hippies, “free spirits,” the emotionally bereft and the socially maladjusted. Here is the twist. Ms. Spierer stayed there in the late 2000s. She actually came to visit my partner and I because she knew that we lived nearby. She seems fine and we asked her about her stay knowing what I have just mentioned. She demurred from answering directly, but said that things were good. I do not know how long she stayed there but we never saw her again. I would not be surprised that something happened to her while there, and that began the slippery slope ending up where she is today.

  6. Fortesque esq.

    There are pockets of those ‘grifter’s paradises’ all around the country these days.
    Those I’ve encountered recently include the Kapiti Coast, and the top of the South Island.
    Some of their residents get out of the compound from time to time and assume the local natives are so bloody fick their grifts will work. (Sometimes they do)
    There are better ways to earn a crust

  7. Tom Hunter

    Trial by association, and of course you’ve been targeted by the MSM before.

    Also, sorry to divert, but I’d be interested to hear your take on the Chilean Constitution reforms that were rejected by voters the other day. I must say I was surprised after last year’s Presidential election.

  8. Tom Hunter

    Ick. That was weird. “Problem with WordPress” so I re-submit the corrected version and then both appear. Would appreciate it if you delete that first one.

  9. Pablo Post author

    Tom:

    The reporter saw the post and wanted to use the photo so called me. We spoke a bit about Hannah but the story was pretty much written by then. She just used some short quotes from me for flavour.

    I was surprised that the Stuff article never mentioned Bomber. I know that there is bad blood between various news outlets and him but that seemed petty. Plus, Martin has had his own trajectory that, if not as radical as Hannah’s, is worth contemplating.

    As for Chile, I am disappointed but not surprised even though like you I though Boric’s election singled a Leftward shift in public political preferences. However, the Pinochet legacy Right pulled out all stops to paint the proposed constitution as a communist takeover and unfortunately some Lefties fed into that narrative. Most importantly, the rights awarded to indigenous people was seen by non-indigenous voters as a step too far, as it created a nation within a nation that would have its own laws, justice system etc. plus assorted entitlements. That was not going to fly and the Aright campaign to spin it as giving Mapuche and other indigenous groups special rights not available to others rang true with voters.

    The irony, in my mind, is that the proposed indigenous rights are less than those accorded to tribes in the US when it comes to life on reservations (which besides casinos have tribal police and courts, among other things), and hardline Chilean Lefties were making the argument against the proposed indigenous clauses precisely for that reason given what life on most reservations is really like. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

  10. Kumara Republic

    “I would not be surprised that something happened to her while there, and that began the slippery slope ending up where she is today.”

    A related thing happened with Canadian alt-Right political candidate & commentator Faith Goldy, who held progressive views on abortion & cannabis at high school. But after her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Goldy turned to trad-Catholicism, which is likely where she picked up her Dominionist & anti-Semitic views. It also didn’t help that her father was serially abusive.

    https://www.thecut.com/2018/11/faith-goldy-toronto-white-nationalist-poster-girl.html

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