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

the evil Rudd « Previous | |Next »
September 13, 2007

The level of emotion invested in John Howard is amazing, at both ends of the spectrum. Hate is a strong word, but Howard Hater is an appropriate label for some. On the other hand, Howard Hugger is barely adequate considering some of the deifying tendencies around the place.

Howard's a walking representation of the divisions he's relied on over the years which has involved some pretty extreme stuff, so it's not all that surprising if generates extreme feelings in people. Back in May that famous Howard hater Phillip Adams wondered what he would do with himself if Howard lost and he had nobody to hate anymore. What will Howard worshippers do without him? Will they just invest the same intensity of emotion in hating Rudd?

Some Howard devotees have already begun their period of mourning. Some are convinced Rudd is worth hating on his own merits because, no matter how much he resembles Howard, he isn't Howard. Some will hate him simply for beating Howard. Others will transfer their adoration to whoever replaces Howard without a qualm, if Andrew Bolt is any indication.

And then there are the ones who seem to genuinely fear Rudd. The prophets of doom who anticipate packs of union bullies prowling our neighbourhoods and frightening the elderly, economic collapse on a scale beyond imagination, Mandarin speaking children unable to communicate with their English speaking parents.

This article has to be seen to be believed. It's not the first of its kind at Online Opinion, but it's the most extreme so far. It extends fear and loathing beyond Rudd and the Labor Party to include the apparently idiotic public thinking of voting for him and, of all people, Janet Albrechtson. Some of the commenters see this election as a battle between the forces of good and evil.

How will such people manage to bear the thought of their own countrymen, let alone rubbing shoulders with them in public, if Howard loses?

| Posted by Lyn at 12:29 PM | | Comments (20)


In relation to the article I suspect that Sandwich board wearing ranting loony numbers drastically dropped off with the advent on on-line forums.
But in saying that I wonder about the truth of these workplace and other political adverts from both sides as to whether they abide by the normal advertising laws of false advertising. But I guess we are used to it now just like the burger ads. Those burgers never do look so scrumptious in real life.

Off your topic but I'd be interested in your opinion as too which Woman would be the best for Howard to hand over to instead of Costello. Bearing in mind that the public wont have to vote her in initially.

You're right about the sandwich board wearers Les. It's interesting how they seem to flock together in certain places.

Which woman? Hmmm. Bronwyn Bishop? I quite liked Amanda Vanstone before they sucked the blood out of her and put her in immigration. Julie Bishop couldn't do it - she's too scatty. So it would have to be Coonan.

I quickly read the article when in Brisbane. I was struggling with the afternoon heat in a heavy suit and suit (suitable for Canberra) and trying to learn to use an Apple Powerbook Pro without a mouse. I

'd been up since 4am and I was tired. I couldn't understand the argument---what was Jonathan J. Ariel arguing? Or was it just a rant /rave by a writer, who says that he is an economist and financial analyst with an a MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management?

Political comment is about to become even loonier, now that we have the PM attempting to take voters into his ethical twilight.
Asking us all to be kind and re-elect him and his government because he is promising not to honour the simple contact between himself and his electorate if he is returned as the Member for Benelong.
As though not intending to honour the contract was a virtue!

"It's not the first of its kind at Online Opinion, but it's the most extreme so far."

I would point out that, as editor of On Line Opinion, I always strive for a balanced coverage and allow people from all viewpoints to have their say. You may like to note that since that article was published there has been a pro-Rudd article and an anti-Howard article And that is just in a couple of days. There will no doubt be more from both sides of the political spectrum as we progress towards the election.
Susan Prior

I think he was arguing that Howard is the only one who can stem the commie tide and people should shutup about Costello, but it's hard to tell.

Rant/rave category.

Jonathan Ariel was arguing that there was an irrational slide to Rudd.The slide refers to the public and this implies that public opinion is irrational and doesn't deserve to be respected. He says:

Unfortunately, it seems that the public is determined to elect a bunch of amateurs whose aggregate experience in office, knowledge of economics and achievements to date are so scant they can be summarised on the back of a shop-a-docket.

I've re-read the Ariel article and, with all due respect, I do not think that the issue which concerns people is objectivity in the form of balance.That account of objectivity implies that things are okay of an ant-Rudd article is counterbalanced by a pro-Rudd article.

The concern is with the lack of objectivity in the content of the Ariel article; namely

While the government is weak, any attempt to focus on a Sino-sycophantic Rudd administration as a peril to our national security will prove ineffective and futile. And this is a separate issue to the GOP running advertisements warning of the dangers of a Rudd-Swan government in Canberra as nothing but a quisling of socialist administrations in every single state and territory.

Quisling? That word has some specific meanings.The roots of Quisling are in the actions of the Norwegian fascist politician Vidkun Quisling during WW2 who collaborated with fascist German occupiers in The meaning of the term in this sense refers to traitors and collaborationists.

Rudd a traitor? Where's the argument for this claim that Rudd is a collaborator betraying his countrymen and women? This is serious issue as in contemporary political usage usage, "Quisling" is synonymous with "traitor", and particularly applied to politicians.

Where is the argument that Rudd favors the interests of other nations or cultures (China?) over his own. Or, on another interpretation of that paragragh, where is the argument for the assertion that social democratic state governments are traitors in Australia, which has a long social democratic tradition.?

The lack of objectivty refers to the lack of argument for such a claim not the question of balance. As an editor of On Line Opinion defending your acceptance of this kind of work as worthy of political debate in terms of 'balance' is no defence. It does not address the issue of concern.

From my perspective Ariel stands for the rejection of public reason, not an expression of it. I am suprised that you defend it, given the ethos of On Line Opinion 'to provide a forum for public social and political debate about current Australian issues' and that you 'welcome any rational contribution to what has become a robust public debate not available in any other media or forum.'

Ariel is Hayek gone crazy. Australia is free enterprise, free market, competitive economy. So the enemy are the socialists (communists socialists and the social democrats as they what to use state power to regulate the free market and so crush free enterprise.

However, this is not an economic argument about the market v state issue, as Ariel uses the political language of 'Quisling' as traitor and collaborator selling out their country. Traitor and collaborator refers to loss of liberty, detention camps or imprisonment. It's violent stuff.

How Ariel squares his celebration of Howard and his big state conservatism with the free market and small government is beyond me. He can't so he eludes the issue.

This is an violent unconscious expression--a rupture-- of Australian conservatism, not an rational argument from the perspective of classical liberal economics.

I've read the article again, third time now, and still find it extreme. The article Susan offered as an example of anti-Howard is nowhere near as emotive. The author Gary Brown goes so far as to give credit where credit is due to the Howard government.

I've got no problem with OLO publishing material like Ariel's. It's given the commenters something to sink their teeth into which is a good thing. My criticism is not directed at OLO. For all I know something equally vitriolic will turn up from a pro-Rudd author tomorrow.

My criticism is directed at the article and the thinking behind it. I see a poorly argued piece of extremism, as do many of the commenters at OLO.


I wish I'd thought of the word 'violent' myself. That's precisely what it is in two ways I think. The violence of aristocracy and the incitement to violence some of the commenters responded to with references to good and evil.

It's neither rational in the economic or conservative traditions, nor in the democratic one.

I don't think Ariel was thinking about the free market versus the commies. He wasn't on about Labor versus Liberal or he'd have refrained from calling the treasurer Pierre Popinjay. It's about the deification of Howard. That's my reading anyway.

Ariel is very rational indeed when it comes analysing the economics/finance of Qantas at the time of the attempt by the private equity cowboys to takeover our Qantas.

Ariel sees government ownership as socialism--eg., the ALP's broadband proposal even though that is a public private partnership to develop infrastructure.

You're right Nan. Well spotted.

I know it's being pedantic, but he's also one of the few contributors who doesn't seem to understand the concept of word limits. 2000 tops at OLO, which is a real comprehension challenge in wide column electronic format.

You picked up on his attitude towards the public earlier on which I also found pretty disturbing. Apparently we're a whole nation of nongs.


He's a trifle inconsistent on that score. Nan found him objecting to the takeover of Qantas.

Perhaps he only objects to government ownership when it's a Labor government doing the owning.

He wouldn't be the first Howard devotee to do that and he won't be the last. We're all prone to contradict ourselves from time to time, especially when something important is at stake.

I'm filing Ariel in the same compartment as people who argue that evolution is irrational.

The Ariel piece was completely laughable as I noted at the time at Surfdom But if Online Opinion wants to publish humour I'm all for it. The Churchillian comparison was a stroke of genius.

On the main topic of the post, it seems to be Julia Gillard who seems to inspire the most irrational hatred and apoplectic rage. Not sure why, but she seems to have that effect on white Anglo males of a certain age (e.g. that adornment of the Senate, Bill Heffernan). I expect her to cop endless slander and abuse of the most contemptible kind for the rest of her political career, which of course she can wear as a badge of honour.

I imagine those white Anglo males of a certain age are even more incensed at the new, serene, unruffled Julia we've seen this year.

the crowd you refer to would suspect that Julia Gillard's handbag is full of knives.

Isn't Ariel one of these wingnuts that turns up occasionally representing the Israel lobby in Fairfax media? Could be wrong..
As for the mob who run online op; an obviously Rightie thing at bottom.
And like Fairfax, SBS and the ABC they have veered sharply to the Right attempting to shore up Howard during his self- inflicted troubles.
As for Gillard; a winner! Unlike some of the envious political losers who have shown their dials lately.


In the comments attached to the article Ariel claims to be independent. Of course, others claim to be camels and sea horses.

To be fair to Online Opinion, Graham Young makes no secret of his own political leanings, and the site does publish stuff that runs both ways. I guess it's only fair to let the lunatics out of the asylum once in a while, if only for the sake of amusement.

It must be getting pretty hard for the right to come up with good news these days. Even Shanahan's being cautious.