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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

beyond boring « Previous | |Next »
May 27, 2003

The melancholy cultural critic over at junk for code seems to have recovered from the boring syndrome that afflicted him last week after he read Tim Blair's weblog.. Public opinion thinks that Tim has definitely gone upmarket with the shift to Movable Type. Much improved.

The cultural critic has a longish post on the Hollingworth saga, which he sees in terms of a tragic life. He has trouble though in putting his finger on the deep driving forces of the tragedy, and so he turns to Angela Shanahan for help.

What is problematic about this sorry saga is the relationship between ethics and politics in political life. We do not really expect much in the way of ethical behavior from our politicians---we accept that they are bottom feeders with dirty hands---but we do so with the Governor General. That public office is different---an exception?

What we do know is that Sir William Deane's conduct was judged to be in accord with moral standards of the GG's office but that Peter Hollingworth's conduct was not. Its not the politics---its the ethics. So what are the moral standards attached to that office?

Do we know? Presumably they are historical conventions because they have not been written down anywhere in the Constitution, nor as a code of conduct written by the Federal Parliament. These conventions have developed over time and they appear to have evolved into a democratic relationship between the GG and citizens.

Paul Kelly sees the relationship in political terms. He says:

"....the claim of public ownership of the office [of the Governor General]is growing the notion that the governor-general is responsible to the people. That means, in turn, the office is being politicised."

He misses the ethical dimension of the claimand its connection to a common ethical life.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:07 PM | | Comments (0)