Ben Kepes is a Canterbury-based entrepreneur and professional board member. He’s interested in politics but can guarantee that he’ll never run for public office.

OPINION: Recently, I wrote an article in which I discussed the false equivalency I see being thrown around by many relating to Covid-19. In that case, it’s all the anti-vaxxers and other malcontents suggesting that mandatory vaccination, and passports to prove those vaccinations, are somehow analogous to Hitler’s Germany, Nazi oppression and the Holocaust in general.

I received lots of feedback about the article, most of which was heartily supportive and in agreement that, no matter one’s view of the current situation, opining upon it as similar to Nazism is not only inaccurate but also highly offensive.

Of course with the positive and constructive comments came the other type. There were the usual suspects suggesting that, with time, they would be able to clear the fog around my mind or remove the wool that has firmly been pulled down upon my eyes.

To those people, Covid-19 is simply a vector for global control by (either jointly or separately, I’m not sure) the Jews, the United Nations, and Bill Gates. Oh, and chemtrails as well – it’s important not to forget the chemtrails.

There’s another line that these people often use, one which is similarly steeped in emotion, but little practical fact. That line is that the current situation sees New Zealand being dragged down into communism and socialism.

Let’s forget, for a moment, that many of the people using this line confuse the two, and have no idea what either is. Indeed, it would seem that simply electing a Government that is anywhere within microns of being left of centre, sees us immediately becoming a communist state.

Indeed, former Prime Minister and himself (somewhat ironically) a product of a society that inculcated social good into its DNA, John Key, came out with an opinion piece suggesting that somehow Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had dragged us down to the second embodiment of North Korea under Kim Jong-un.

This despite there being zero evidence of this. I don’t see widespread famine, the termination of relations from international partners, or the execution of anyone deemed to be a political opponent being on Ardern’s planning documents. And yet, it gets good press to drag out a line that “we’re just like North Korea”.

But perhaps more insidious is the socialist line.

It’s easy to dismiss the communist allegation – the deeds of Mao, Stalin and the Kim dynasty are well known, and most rational people would realise that our situation certainly isn’t that.

But socialism is a little different, and I’ve been thinking of the socialist allegation since my eldest son and his partner were plucked off the side of a mountain by a rescue helicopter recently. Now I could go into his navigational inexactitude. I could question his credibility as a former Boy Scout. But rather than that, I’ll focus on the events subsequent to any errors they made.

The fact is that when the need came for him to flick the switch on the personal locator beacon he was carrying, he was 100 per cent confident that a rescue centre in Avalon (paid for by us, the citizenry) would swing into action.

He was well aware that LandSAR would begin to mobilise a team of volunteers and paid staff (equipped and paid by you and me) and that if a helivac was required (tip of the hat to the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Trust here), a fully-equipped chopper would wing its way to him, staffed by highly-qualified paramedics and rescue staff.

The price he would pay for the operation? Other than some good-natured ribbing from his friends, and some subsequent denting of his ego, not a cent.

It is a part of being in this hellhole of New Zealand where we consider that we all have a joint obligation to each other – be it in terms of social welfare, housing, emergency response or whatever.

Many would suggest that the situation I’ve described is socialism and that the last 30 years, pretty much since homosexuality was decriminalised, has seen us descend ever deeper into a socialistic morass.

More moderate folks would see it not as socialism, with all the negative connotations that bring, but rather as the far more palatable concept of care and helping out fellow human beings. I would say manaakitanga, but that seems to be a bit triggering for some folk.

And that’s the thing about language – we can talk about a social welfare system using the language of socialism, and immediately it gets the backs up of all those who lean to the right of the political spectrum. But if we reframe that discussion simply as social good, fairness and equity, it’s a more difficult topic to get angry about.

And so to the current Covid situation. Vaccine mandates, vaccination passports and the like aren’t examples of socialism any more than they are examples of communism.

They’re an example of the best current scientific evidence driving policy decisions that aim to protect all. They’re about the strong doing their bit to support the weak. It’s not wholesale socialism – so let’s stop calling it that.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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