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

the impoverished state of politics « Previous | |Next »
June 9, 2006

Some interesting comments in this article from the London Review of Books about British politics that apply to Australian politics. Ross McKibbin asks: 'Does it matter whether Brown is prime minister rather than Blair, or Cameron rather than Brown? Does it matter, indeed, whether there is a Conservative or a Labour government? At the moment, not much.' Can we say the same in Australia? Is politics that impoverished here?

Unlike many, McKibbin gives some reasons for his claim:

The first is that the country’s political elite is now largely divorced from the country; probably to a greater degree than at any time since the 19th century. This elite is drawn from an increasingly narrow social range: primarily from the law, the media, political and economic consultancy and ‘research’..... Whatever their formal political allegiances, they are all the same kind of people who think the same way and know the same things.

And secondly:
In a less mealy-mouthed age both the Labour and Conservative Parties would be thought on balance right wing, with the Labour Party more ambiguously right wing than the opposition. We have now a right-wing government and a right-wing opposition, while a centre-minded electorate has to choose which of the two is more palatable – that is, least right wing.

This is so in Australia? Or is it. Does labour market deregulation mark a significant difference between the Coalition and the ALP in Australia?

McKibbin says that another major reason why it doesn't make much difference whether there is a Conservative or a Labour government is what Australians would call the Lib-Lab argument, ie., the two major parties fundamentally share the same ideology:

Despite assurances that the political elite is interested only in what works, this is the most intensely ideological period of government we have known in more than a hundred years. The model of market-managerialism has largely destroyed all alternatives, traditional and untraditional. Its most powerful weapon has been its vocabulary. We are familiar with the way this language has carried all before it. We must sit on the cusp, hope to be in a centre of excellence, dislike producer-dominated industries, wish for a multiplicity of providers, grovel to our line managers, even more to the senior management team, deliver outcomes downstream, provide choice. Our students are now clients, our patients and passengers customers. It is a language which was first devised in business schools, then broke into government and now infests all institutions.

What used to be the centre has moved to the right of the centre.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 4:12 PM | | Comments (2)


Exactly, the terminology of business has invaded and supplanted most other terminologies.

And it is rooted in the power of capital.

No wonder most of us feel adrift and confused by the world around us, we truly are being reduced to economic units to serve the unfettered corporations.

As to whether IR is a point of difference between the two majors, yes, to an extent. However, the proof will be what happens if Labor wins the next election. How much will be rolled back?

the terminology of business, grounded in capital, sure has invaded and supplanted the language of politics, democracy and statecraft. Don Watson wrote about this recently in his Death Sentence, The Decay of Public Language, which charts

how "managerial language" has infiltrated the English of politics, business, bureaucracy, education and the arts. The book is about the rise of core strategies and key performance indicators, and the death of clarity and irony and funny old things called verbs. It is about a new language that Watson calls sludge and clag and gruel.

This business language has been destructive of the public sphere, as McKibben points out. When do you hear the public referred to as citizens concerned with the public good? They are seen in advertising terms of an electoril market that needs to be sold a product with enticements.