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Utopia and fish & chips: Opinion


By Gerald Ford

In this Midweek, a columnist shares an amusing catalogue of last meals, ordered by prisoners facing execution.

It got me asking not only what would I eat, but how would I end up in that mess?

I could only blame the kind of future world I see in my worst nightmares, where non-conformity is a capital offence…

It is the year 2028 and New Zealand is in trouble.

The global Ministry of Environmental and Security Services (MESS) took over from the last indigenous Prime Minister (a cryogenically preserved Roger Douglas) three years ago, and life is not much fun.

The national anthem and the haka have been banned as fostering “nationalism”, now as dirty a word as racism used to be.

Without their inspiration, the All Blacks haven’t won in two seasons.

Now we sing the international anthem, “It’s a small world after all”, with lines in six languages.

Not that Disney has fared that well. The 18th remake of Captain Planet bombed at the VR plex.

(This is a giant maze of cubicles with headsets and gloves. The genetically modified popcorn is as big as walnuts so it can be held in gloved hands, but to us old-timers it’s not the same.)

Sheep and beef farming has been discontinued and the nearest thing you can get to a burger is a lentil, mussel and synthetic monstrosity known colloquially as a McMummy.

Economics is simpler since the Globo – our new unit of currency – was instituted, and tax dodging is trickier, too. The compulsory smart chip implants have turned us all into walking wallets.

There is a black-market currency of old New Zealand $1 coins, Pokemon cards, .22 bullets and cigarettes.

Just don’t let MESS catch you with the cigarettes. Their re-education courses are brutal and the official vape alternative, Little Nico, is even more addictive than tobacco.

Religion has gotten weird.

Divisive sacred texts have been banned, as have symbols except for the peace sign, and MESS-approved clerics preach awareness from circular temples, as the congregation meditates or secretly watches sports games through headsets disguised as spectacles.

All our clothes are smart clothes now. Basically everything we wear and use is now cleverer than us and connected to the Internet.

With AI or its trendier new name CC (connected consciousness), the Internet is all around us, on us, and increasingly with all the tech implants, in us.

TV still exists, despite all predictions, being essential to combat boredom since most of our jobs are now done by machines.

MESS itself is in fact the only employer, and they screen all their applicants with the “peace and unity test”. This weeds out anyone who doesn’t believe in the inevitable goodness of human progress.

I failed the test. My fish and chips are waiting.

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