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'

netroots: are they forming in Australia? « Previous | |Next »
May 2, 2007

An interesting essay by Jonathan Chait in the New Republic that has some relevance to Australia. Entitled 'How the netroots became the most important mass movement in U.S. politics' it discusses the rise of the Democratic machine in response to the much admired Republican one, which claims that it won the war of ideas or the culture wars. Chait says:

The most significant fact of American political life over the last three decades is that there is a conservative movement and there has not been a liberal movement. Liberalism, to be sure, has all the component parts that conservatism has: think tanks, lobbying groups, grassroots activists, and public intellectuals. But those individual components, unlike their counterparts on the conservative side, do not see one another as formal allies and don't consciously act in concert. If you asked a Heritage Foundation fellow or an editorial writer for The Wall Street Journal how his work fits into the movement, he would immediately understand that you meant the conservative movement. If you asked the same question of a Brookings Institute fellow or a New York Times editorial writer, he would have no idea what you were talking about.

A similar situation exists in Australia. The netroots have begun to change all that in the US with the politically activist blogs, such as Daily Kos, Eschaton, and FireDogLake that are allied to liberal bloggers such as Talking Points Memo and Washington Monthly. A movement, and its partisan ethos and party-line sensibi is developing, and it is one dedicated to the cause of Democratic victory. Political punditry is not a form of intellectual discourse but of political battle.

Is something similar happening here in Australia? Do we have homegrown Labor Party netroots that see politics as a battlefield and understand a the effectiveness of an idea in terms of its rhetorical effectiveness, not its truth?

Chait describes the shift that place with the netroots:

The notion that political punditry ought to, or even can, be constrained by intellectual honesty is deeply alien to the netroots. They have absorbed essentially the same critique of the intelligentsia that the right has been making for decades. In the conservative imagination, journalists, academics, and technocrats are liberal ideologues masquerading as dispassionate professionals. Those who claim to be detached from the political struggle are unaware of their biases, or hiding them.

Any sense of detachment from the partisan fray is impossible as we are caught up in a political war. So the netroot bloggers are a message machine.

What has formed during the '90s and the Howard years is a shift in the media landscape: a large mainstream media, with a social liberal bias mostly working in terms of liberal objectivity and profesional neutrality and a wildly is there an audience for in raw partisan liberal attacks? Will the Internet Left blogs grow in response to this demand for raw meat?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:41 PM | | Comments (6)


Reality is so constituted that it is evidenced and manifest, including in the way large numbers of people can recognise features in common. Meaning and value; deep fulfilment triggers, are activated through event and communication, which temporarily undermine the power of hegemony and appearance.
Don't forget, we never really saw the back of Mcarthyism; just grew innured to it, as is the actuality of repressive tolerance.
What is thought to be anomolous is actually the norm, but seemingly paradoxically due to the moment in history, this is also inverse to itself. It has been like the great underlying radio wave "buzz" of the universe not discovered until the 'sixties and 'seventies by the physicists because it was always "there", or the haze of pollution that millworkers in 19th century England were born into, lived their shortened lives under and died because of , never knowing the very bosom of their lives was toxic and artificial.
But once in a while things become so intolerable that people simultaneously wake up to the threat of the evolved current condition and begin to rebel in common.
Marx pointed out, the credibility gap between proclaimed and perceived reality becomes so great, the contradictions are somehow defined or contrasted by and through changing events inherent in the nature of reality, that even the least gifted recognise a threat.
On a superficial level, the Bush "Mission Accomplished" has the Right now deeply discredited in America and IR is having a similar efect on Australians.
The Right becomes inevitably too myopic and greedy and has to back off for a bit, offering the plausible compromise of weak social democracy. And most of us have become so fed up with the oppressiveness of the system that we'll plump for symptom-relief, and the buying of a bit more time between now and the grave.
As a social phenomena this proceeds to morph into a rebirth of consumer fetishism which allows the system a chance to buy back into the game through the production of little luxuries, as happened during the 'fifties, after WW2. Consciousness and memory decline.
And the cycle starts up all over again.

I would argue that in the face of a 10 year political onslaught by a well-funded, well-disciplined,right-wing assault on reason, the ALP political elite have caved in; with many of them acting to curb the influence of lefty activists over ALP politicians.

The netroots are a group of people who feel very betrayed by the leadership of Australia the media, and the ALP party.

Funny you should say that. It's exactly how I feel, too.
During the weeek I watched the 4 Corners revist of the WA Burkean antics ( and Media Watch, of course!), saw the story on teev relating to the brazenness of the Makris group and Rann, saw the news about the Clipsal site predicted to me ages ago by a friend who is suspicious of "nuclear" and defence, and read another article on the obscenity that is Tasmanian woodchipping by the well-known journalist Richard Flanagan in David Marr's "Monthly".
The last reminded me of the gormless capitulations, through to Rudd most recently, of the ALP to Lennon and Gunns, as well as concerning Cubbie Creek in Queensland.
Then there was the announcement, curiously hidden away on p23 of the Adelaide Advertiser, of the massively costly purchase of Super Hornet aircraft, despite recent queries over its affectiveness and the weird goings -on in general over defence procurement in recent years.
As to the sidelining of thinking people within labor's parliamentary wing, we can consider the eclipse of Lawrence, Kerr, Faulkner, Plibersek (as to power base)and the attacks on Gillard.
We all know how much the Right hates the outnumbered centre-left. This goes back at least as far as the Split. For years now they have been far more interested in crushing the Left than the Tories. And the subsequent avalanche of WA inc type antics right across the country betrays why. They don't want the new and soul-less Tammany Hall exposed.
At Fed level they even turned on an individual as hapless and inoffensive as Kirk, because the woman was concerned over a conscience issue; refugees. Then there are the bizarre attacks on Kank and the Greens and Democrats, and on and on.
My experience of the blogs is of people like me who feel alienated, disempowered and depressed, and not just Lefties but right across the spectrum.
But there is a Doestoyevskian feel about politics now that contrasts with the naive hopes and optimism of twenty, thirty or forty years ago.

on the media point I guess that bloggers are critical of Canberra Press Gallery journalists because the latter mindlessly pass on government statements, spin and press releases without bothering to investigate if they are true. And the journalists then grant anonymity to those government sources who do nothing but spew government spin with impunity in order to manage the news.

The other bone of contention bloggers have with the Canberra Press Gallery is that they more often than not peddle vacuous, vapid, empty-headed, petty gossip, obsessed with meaningless chatter and snide, personality-based assaults. And they do so while ignoring the most substantive policy matters. Many of them do not understand policy issues, nor do they want to.

The Canberra Press Gallery response to bloggers making this criticism is that bloggers are partisan whilst journalists are not. The elevated Journalists deal only in objective facts and have no political agenda. The lowly bloggers, by contrast, don't care about facts, only their crass partisan agenda.

The claim by the Canberra Press Gallery about the important, objective, nonpartisan role played by journalists--which we blinded partisan bloggers do not understand----is a bad joke even for the Comedy Festival.

It is the glaring discrepancy between how the Canbera Press Gallery journalists describe what they do and the trash they churn out on a regular basis that is the core of most media criticism.

The key sentence here is the comment about the elitist preisthood being objectivist whilst the rest of us insensitive, illiterate swine are mere vessels for prejudice.
Its surely more important to read Milne, Oaks, Hartcher, Shanahan, Akerman etc for what they don't say and what they don't write about (with mode of expression employed, often as emotive black propaganda also considered) than what they include.
I recall last year that one of the government's press lackeys ended up publically berating Matt Price from the Oz last year and wonder if this had anything to do with Price's perversely improved objectivity during the smear wars of a couple of months ago.
BTW, this reminds of the comments by Gray concerning Hayek in that link you offered (beautiful stuff; so far: not finished intro yet, though), starting at Kant which is just where I needed to restart.
"More to heaven and earth...than...dream'd of in your philosophy",
is often employed as an reprimand from the Fathers as well as being over employed as an alibi for corrupted Plausible Deniability.
But we have seen with Bush what happens when introspectivity is encouraged in others but disdained as an activity for oneself.
Good friends over the years have reminded me that it can be more profitable to self- inventory in the hunt for the cancer of hubris and I always liked the response attributed to Socrates, to the effect that,
" all I know is that I know nothing",
when he was honoured as a wise man.
So their presumption that the rest of us are just pratts is possibly offensive and presumptuous. As we are offended enough to "take their number", so their lazy contempt for us opens the possibility as to their own eventual downfall.

modern "journalists" take dictates from those for whom they work and "go along with it -- for good salaries and a great deal of air time".

I presume if weenie nancy-boy liberals sip chardonnay while eating brie and thinking of ways to ruin Australia, then our true blue He-man patriotic conservatives, busy saving Australia from pinko multicultural liberals, drink full-blooded red wine--- the type of wine that glistens and throbs with power.