APROPOS NOT A LOT
I've just given the blogoshed a big old print of a square-rigger chasing a lateen schooner downwind into an early 19th century dusk and I've been watching Last Tango In Paris. Had to consult Danny Peary's *Guide For The Film Fanatic* afterwards to check I'd not been wasting my time and was most gratified to discover I hadn't.
I'm very pleased with the AU2 Falcon that replaced the burned out XF Falcon that replaced the given away XE Falcon - it's all modern'n'stuff - feels like I've nicked a grown-up's car every time I get in - sports a thumping stereo, too - one that'd be booming out Fleetwood Mac Live At Chess if Number One Loinfruit didn't have his Prodigy CD araldited in. I suspect he knows I hate it, but buggered if I'll give him the satisfaction of admitting it. Number Two Loinfruit likes Green Day and is still of an age where it's nice that Dad likes what he likes. There, methinks, lies my salvation.
On the political front, I see the Captains Of Industry are already swarming all over the Coalition with lots of good ideas for reaming workers; that ol' Coodabeen is already scrubbing up for the traditional post-election porkectomy; and that people for whom only their mums voted are gonna get into the Senate instead of people for whom hundreds of thousands voted because above-the-line voting is an undemocratic rort just waiting to be exploited by anyone unscrupulous and clever enough. Labor got half way there, I s'pose ...
Tomorrow morning I don pith helmet and backpack and march into the lawn - the Victa's in there somewhere and it has been suggested to me my plans for an arvo's pint'n'punt might well depend upon its recovery.
I AM NOT TAKING THIS WELL
A weekend's contented trudging, nibbling and sipping my way through the Blue Mountains has come to an end (I especially recommend the Fairfax track just behind Blackheath, btw - the panoramic vista waiting for you at the end of that gratifyingly short trundle is beyond the reach of words), and I am (somewhat reluctantly) returned to the Australia of pollies and bloggers.
can always be relied upon to shed light on the dark matter that is modern politics, so Surfdom was my first port of call, and this post
the one to excite a fresh week's dismarrhoea.
Dismally enough, it got me thinking about old Uncle Joe Stalin. An old tale (of which I read just recently, but I can't remember where) has it that he once delivered an eloquent lesson on governance at the expense of a caged bird. He removed the creature from its home and proceeded carefully to pluck it. Upon finishing, he held the doomed bird in his fist for a minute and then opened his hand to reveal the shivering little mass within. "See how grateful is this bird for the protection and warmth I now afford it" was all he needed to say.
This latest burst of 'globalisation' has had a thirty-year career in which to produce its inherent contradictions. For increased, if selectively distributed, wealth and heightend expectations we have paid the price of a generalised fear of its defining traits, effective proximity to 'the other' and local fluctuations caused by irresistible remote forces.
Perhaps it should not surprise us that those who so carefully imposed the new order are best prepared to exploit this fear.
It does gall, though.
In my view, winning elections in an age such as ours necessarily entails an umbrella strategy aimed at countering, accomodating or exploiting inevitable generalised fear.
Fear of 'the other' can be countered by being content with the number of enemies you already have and judiciously minimising potential enmities for a country which is, after all, of only middling international significance.
It can be accomodated by making a show of fighting the enemies you already have and consolidating alliances insofar as this can be done without adding to the stock of enemies.
And we already know it can be exploited.
What can not be countered in the short-term (eg. the vulnerability of an indebted and narrowly commodity-dependent economy) must be either:
- accomodated: eg. the promulgation of such costed and funded strategic industry policy as 'globalisation' currently allows, with special reference to projected 'value-adding' opportunities, thus highlighting the shortcomings of FTAs that further inhibit our capacity to diversify, integrate and consolidate across national industrial sectors;
- or exploited: here again a blood-and-soil xenophobia can carefully be nurtured, albeit at the expense of different phobic others.
Labor got everything wrong in 2001 - 'small-targetism' allowing Howard to set an uncritiqued fear-mongering agenda on all fronts.
Sad, then, that it still got most things wrong in '04:
- having begun the attack on Howard's foreign policy, Labor squandered all by shutting up about Iraq, razor wire camps and the FTA just when people were actually listening
- if Labor had the medium-to-long-term policy to ameliorate Australia's exposure to rate inflation, I didn't hear about it;
- meaning Labor effectively denied itself the high ground from which to wrest the agenda from Howard;
- meaning a singularly uninspired advertising team would have less ammo with which to attack Howard on ground they allowed him to choose;
- meaning mounting debt and an export sector of unaddressed fragility never became the issues they should have been.
Our 'truly humbled' prime rodent is right about one thing, Tampa and S11 alone do not explain Labor's woes. The Aston by-election took place before Tampa, and any Labor strategist watching the point-blank refusal of the mortgagees of that electorate to grant Labor even the normal anti-government swing should then and there have jotted but one word into their laptops. Fear.
Labor never got Aston back; not least because Aston's even more scared now. And quite rightly, too.
We've been plucked, you see.