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

political portraits « Previous | |Next »
December 18, 2004

I don't really care all that much about ranking the Australia's Prime Ministers as to who was the greatest.

That view presupposes the great man view of history, which I reject in favour of great historical forces sweeping us vulnerable and fragile human beings along. It is the mass of humanity within economic and political relationships that drives history.

Those historical forces trash our sacred laws, tear at our bodies, leave us damaged, wounded,and scurrying for safety. If you look back on where we came during the 20th century we see wreckage upon wreckage piling up, and discern the "grief" and "helpless sadness the tragedies and monstrous sacrifices have caused.

History may well be a slaughterbench upon which the bodies an virtues of innocents have been sacrificed. But history is more than a "slaughter-bench," more a series of senseless tragedies, since the the basic structure of reality itself is rational. You can discern rationality at work in the struggle for freedom.

Oh well, that's enough Hegel for the weekend.

The composite image of our Prime Ministers as noble characters and historical beings appeals to me for some reason. Maybe it is because we can begin to understand that these individuals were limited by the constraints and forces in a particular period of Australia's national development.

Political Images2.jpg

Where are portraits of our Prime Ministers from the 1st half of the 20th century? Does our historical political consciousness only go back to 1940? Does our historical understanding acknowledge that none of these individuals overstepped their time---the world in which they found ourselves in?

The lives of these noble characters are suspended somewhere between the beasts and gods. Their good character, concern and care for others as they bult a state and nation was corrupted by historical adversity. They then used language as a persuasive force inside the game of power and revenge.

You can read the history they were a part of as the destruction of convention and the betrayal of trust. You can smell the blood, feel the lust for revenge, discern the hint of cannabalistic desires (politically speaking) and hear the screams as these friends tear the flesh of their opponents to bloody shreds.

This is history as tragedy. We are characters in the political machinery of that tragedy.


| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:53 AM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (1)
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