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Wednesday 08 October 2008

Proclamations of the Red Queen

2nd October 2008

Maxim Institute: Silent Portal?

Posted by: Craig Young

It seems that the nzvotes website is going to be rather anodyne during this general election, probably because the Maxim Institute is trying to balance its two constituencies.

During the last general election, as Nicky Hager notes in The Hollow Men (2006), it was all much simpler. Bruce Logan was still in charge, and under Don Brash and due to the latter’s Exclusive Brethren linkages, the National Party was experiencing one of its periodic delusions that social conservatives were a reliable constituency for the New Zealand centre-right. Accordingly, Logan pursued his usual social conservative bias, with clip-on acknowledgement of the importance of free market economics.

And then, it all fell apart. Brethrengate happened, National lost the general election, and Bruce Logan ‘retired’ from the Maxim Institute shortly afterward, due to Paul Litterick’s revelations about his plagiarism of Anglo-American social conservative source material. The Institute closed down Evidence magazine and its Christchurch offices, and experienced a rapid staff turnover, leading some observers to question its ultimate survival prospects.

Three years later, the Institute has metamorphosed into a substantially different organisation. One look at its current policy briefings, submissions and Real Issues email newsletter will tell you that it has shifted allegiances to the New Right, and it is social conservatism that is now the optional extra.

Sure, the Institute still runs its Compass indoctrination camps for fundamentalist tertiary students, and sure, it signs up to initiatives that Christian Right organisations operate, but its preference is for New Right policy issues these days, because social conservatism doesn’t pay the bills. It’s more likely to provide the Business Roundtable and Centre for Independent Studies with column space, and there’s an implicit bias toward ACT and National’s New Right within its current work.

One wonders how long it will continue to be known as the “Maxim Institute”, given its transition, and how much longer it will continue to exist as a seperate entity, rather than as (say) an educational policy unit within the Centre for Independent Studies. I imagine the Business Roundtable and its other new allies would want to fund a single consolidated organisation, rather than two unneccessarily seperate organisations.

Will this be the Maxim Institute’s last election as an independent organisation? Will it make any attempt to enhance what has become an increasingly thin social conservative veneer? Don’t count on it.


Nicky Hager: The Hollow Men: Nelson: Craig Potton: 2006.

Maxim Institute websites

Tags: Politics · Religion

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Paul Litterick // Oct 2, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Funny you should mention that, because I was at the NZ Votes debate last night, in Pukekohe, at which Mr Fleming referred to the Hollow Men as “a work of imaginative fiction.”

  • 2 Craig Young // Oct 2, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Indeed. Was there much moralising in evidence, or was it FiscCons ahoy?


  • 3 Maxim Institute: Silent Portal? // Oct 2, 2008 at 11:57 am

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  • 4 Art // Oct 7, 2008 at 2:28 am

    Takes one to think they know one!

    The Maxim Institute has been peddling fiction for years and years and years.

    Their paper on social justice for example was just that.

    In his book, Nicky described how Maxim worked in conjunction with National last time. Although don’t forget ACT had made deep inroads into National last time through people like Diane Forman, Catherine Judd, Michael Bassett, Ruth Richardson ..

    So in that sense, it is more of the same from Maxim..

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