Philosophical Conversations Public Opinion Junk for code
parliament house.gif
Think Tanks
Oz Blogs
Economic Blogs
Foreign Policy Blogs
International Blogs
Media Blogs
South Australian Weblogs
Economic Resources
Environment Links
Political Resources
South Australian Links
"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Margo's finger on the button « Previous | |Next »
April 11, 2003

In this piece Margo Kingston spots something. This is the first paragraph:

"A man with a job to do speaks bluntly of the savages war makes of men as the man who ordered him to do this, at a summit with Tony Blair, mourns the loss of fallen Allied soldiers sacrificed to this war of 'liberation' and pointedly fails to mention the innocent Iraqis also sacrificed. He knows that his mighty force has just dumped four giant bombs on a restaurant in a suburban area on the chance Saddam might be there. Up to 14 innocents are dead."

What is troubling is the lack of compassion for the suffering of the Iraqi people. by President Bush. Yet the Anglo-Americans are fighting the war on behalf of the Iraqi people. So why no compassion? The lack is one of legitimacy. It highlights the way the US has transformed from republic to empire. The new ethos is respect for our power. Might is right. What is promised is democracy for Iraq, but the experience of reconstructing Afghanistan is sobering.

Margo's second paragraph is not the one about John Howard talking in terms of sweet nothings. It is about the Labor Party:

"The opposition, which failed the Australian people so terribly in failing to hold Howard accountable for his big lie before the war that he had not already committed us to it, is now irrelevant, reduced to public brawling about the failings of a leader before it's even decided on a replacement. This is an opposition which failed to insist that a decision for war without the backing of the Australian people stripped a Prime Minister of legitimacy, an opposition which failed to argue a sustained, powerful competing vision for Australia at the time we needed it most. It is cowed, broken, unable to rise to the occasion on at a time when it was imperative that it did so."

The good old light on the hill that guided them through the late twentieth century has gone out. This is a party that is rotting inside. It too has lost political legitimacy and has become concerened with power for its own sake.

Political legitimacy is important. When it is discarded as irrelevant, as Gerard Henderson did this morning on Radio National Breakfast, it returns to bite you hard.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:01 PM | | Comments (6)


Here we have, i think, a classic case of the same approx. set of data, and two totally different conclusions. Political legitimacy is important [cut to course outline] you say.

Of course it is important. Show where Howard does NOT have political legitimacy!

Three points:
1)take a look at the questions being asked in public opinion polls
2) look at the sample size.
3) since when has the government been required to slavishly *follow* public opinion? For instance explain the apparent public acceptance of capital punishment, but the rejection of this by both major parties.

We [you/me llberals/conservatives] are looking at recent events with different lenses, and that is the problem that interests me a bit at the moment. The French people seem to have been completely misled by thei media, which might offer a clue. Perhaps we are not reading enought of the opposition arguments enough.

Serious attempt to engage, but maybe we are talking past each other

we are talking past each other. I never mentioned Howard. I mentioned Crean. Howard does have political legitimacy within Australia. I would not deny it.

And Bush does have political legitimacy with the US. I would not deny it for one moment.

I am talking in terms of international relations and the public opinion of the world of nation states. I will spell it out.

The Anglo-Americans do not have political legitmacy amongst world opinion. They had to operate without the UN because their case to invade was not convincing, or found wanting.

Henderson explicitly rejected this in favour of might is right and respecting the awesome power of the US empire.

Many say who gives a toss about world opinion: eg. the neocon hawks, such as Miranda Devine who says lets exterminate the cockroaches now.

Lack of political legitimacy is a problem in the occupation of Iraq given the potential anarchy, conflict and civil war that will arise between the different ethnic groups within Iraq stirred along by long reach of Syria, Iran and Turkey. Not to mention the old Baarth regime.

The occupation will be made as difficult as possible and the Anglo-Americans lack political legitimacy--seen as an occupying power. Currently, it is an occupying power that does not have the forces (the military as police) to maintain minimal order at the moment.

Henderson's brute force ain't going to work in this situation. Political legitimacy is required.So it will have to be earned. Problem is the hawks have no time for all this softie girly stuff. The UN can go to hell aoart from doing the humanitarian stuff.

The neo-cons see the wold of nations through Hobbesian eyes--the sword of Leviathen is all that is necesary to maintain order in an anarchic world.

Hence we have the problem of political legitmacy.


Sorry to intrude but I am an American who takes exception to your assertion that Bush has political legitimacy in the US. Many here believe that his presidency will always be tainted by the questionable election in 2000, and feel the policies of this administration are not the will of the majority of the people. I think our people have been sedated with a "Reality Television" -induced malaise, and think this war is an extended version of "Cops: Iraq." JMHO

As an American I also echo what Laura said. Bush will never have full legitimacy in my eyes, as he was not the choice of a majority of American voters. Legitimacy and authority comes only with the consent of the governed. Contrary to what Henderson says, legitimacy in a democracy ultimately does not flow from the barrel of a gun, but from political institutions and a free media free from corporate control.

Okay guys and girls,
Point taken.
There is a big question mark over the political legitimacy of George Bush in the US.

I thought that his success with the Iraqi war had displaced that question mark.

Street fighting in Baghdad, Mosul, Basra, still, looting everywhere, no Saddam, success?

Oh, but we did secure the oil wells, didn't we?

Yup, time to take on Syria...