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

Howard haters + Monica Dux « Previous | |Next »
October 16, 2007

Is this some kind of joke? Or plain confusion? Political bankruptcy? Ignorance? Lack of intellectual grunt? More evidence of the declining quality of the Fairfax Press? Does it disclose the poisons in our political culture? The political impoverishment of the left literary culture. Here's the case.

I'm referring to Monica Dux's op-ed in The Age entitled There must be more than just hating Howard. She basically argues that the left needs to, and should, stand for more than just wanting Howard out---vengeance. I was taken back by this as I thought that some on the left actually did stand for more than wanting Howard out: -water, climate change, forests, multiculturalism, better education, reformed health care. etc etc,. come to mind. So which Left is Dux referring to?

Theleft.jpg
Alan Moir

Dux makes reference to her generation of left-leaning thirtysomethings as Howard haters. My critical response is that she conflates this group with the left in general. One can be on the Left and not accept her description of what "the Left" stands for: Howard hating left-leaning thirtysomethings in Melbourne.

She characterizes her generation of left-leaning thirtysomethings thus :

My friends and I are classic Howard-haters — the latte-dependent, over-educated, bleeding hearts that you've read so much about. The PM recently acknowledged that many people hate him. Not just his politics but him, personally. And when it comes to the so-called educated elites, the reason for our venom is simple. There have been many decisions by the Howard Government, from its handling of the Tampa incident to jackbooted indigenous intervention that we regarded as more than simply politically distasteful. These were moral questions. But as deep as our disgust with the Prime Minister runs, we latte-sippers are essentially an impotent bunch.

She also implies that this Howard hating left-leaning thirtysomethings are becoming intoxicated by this blood lust and forgetting what really matters.

Well, I'm one of the so-called educated elites. However, I don't see myself as overeducated, nor am I'm seething with venom or disgust, nor intoxicated by bloodlust. I don't hate Howard at all. I respect Howard as a conservative politician, even though I deeply oppose a lot of what he stands for.

At least Dux has the self-awareness to see her friends as self-righteous, chardonnay-soaked and moralising and acknowledge their self-proclaimed position as the moral voice of the nation. She is also troubled by the lack of ALP policies, but she acknowledges political reality: that Rudd's reluctance to challenge the Liberal Party is really just a clever way of dodging Howard's "rabbits", and that it's the vote of "ordinary people" that will get the ALP over the line.

She states that us "prosperous, professional 'elites' have stopped caring who or what we vote for, as long as Howard loses, and adds:

If you don't believe that this is really happening then try this experiment: ask any self-identified Howard-hater why they're excited about the election. Will they reply with a list of the ALP's initiatives and policies, or will they simply say: "It looks like Howard's finally going to get it." Mandarin may or may not be mentioned.

Sure it's time for Howard to go. It is not a question of mandarin, though. It's more about reform. The Coalition has blocked developing and manufacturing solar power technology to protect the coal industry, even though solar technology is an Australian invention. The Coalition has done little to broadband the nation as it was too caught up privatising Telstra. It has done little to address climate change, and it has allowed the Nationals to block water reform.

update:17 October
So what does that case mean in terms of the original questions asked at the beginning of the post?

I'm inclined towards the poisons argument myself. What are those poisons? Are they hate, venom and being consumed with the bloodlust of die, Howard, die? That is very strong passionate language, taking us to somewhere other than the sunny side of the social liberal Enlightenment.

Is that somewhere else the dark, violent side of the liberal Enlightenment? To an incomprehensible “other,” inspiring terror in the eyes of the beholder (Dux and her thirtysomethings)? What then is the
incomprehensible “other”? The sheer violence of John Howard's regime?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:40 AM | | Comments (47)
Comments

Comments

Gary,
the Howard era is over. Even the Liberal Party knows he has long overstayed his welcome. So does everyone else.

Nan,
the Fairfax Press is definitely on the skids in terms of op-ed quality. The Age is its own little universe.

On the other hand the Australian is really the new ideological divide in our political culture -- one is now on the "Left," usually the "Far Left," if one supports what were previously the defining attributes of basic Australian liberties such as the "rule of law". The the "Left,"--- the "Far Left," ---is help to be a dark and shameful stain on the Australian nation in its war on terrorism.

I blogged on the solar technology article this morning. I noticed that when we looked into putting solar on our house, that all the technology was being imported from Germany. Now I know why. Thanks Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton and their Polly Minders from the Coalition.

Gary,

It's a simplistic argument. There's a difference between hating Howard and hating a lot of what he's done. Or not done. All of the children overboard-type things he represents. Letting our solar technology drift overseas is among those things. Howard acknowledges this himself with his love me or loathe me stuff.

Dux seems to be confusing Howard himself with the accumulated results of his leadership. Not hard to do really.

Lyn,
what annoys me is not just the simplicity----I accept this from the Age---but Dux's arrogance. Take this:

But where does this leave us Howard-haters? Supporting the Opposition simply out of spite against the Prime Minister, without asking what we're getting instead? Perhaps we're wrong and we're not the moral voice of the nation. But if we're right and we are, then aren't we abrogating our responsibility? It's as if we've stopped caring who or what we vote for, as long as Howard loses.

She and her friends are the moral voice of the nation! That implies there is only one moral voice--hers. But you can oppose immigration, refugees etc on moral grounds ----as bad. There are Christian moral voices everywhere.

There is a diversity of contesting ethical voices in the public sphere and yet Dux reckons she is the moral voice of the nation? It's arrogant nonsense.

Lyn,
why do people like Monica Dux accept the description applied to them by the cultural conservatives? Why do they accept the elites v battlers frame, rather than reframing it; or even questioning it?

From what I can gather Dux is a failed PhD candidate, who has a regular column in The Sunday Age is the assistant editor of The Monthly magazine and is a freelance writer.

So she should know better than passively accept the cultural conservatives elites v battlers frame. Shouldn't she be questioning this?

This is quite a good cartoon but I dont think the bird would like it much. Win or lose like Garrett she is destined for the tower.

Umm Gary, not quite sure what planet you are from but a 5min glance of leading left-wing blog sites in this country reveals Howard hatred writ large.

Happy to forward you a dozen examples if you like. Throw in David Marr (happy to provide another 1/2 dozen there), Philip Adams etc etc. and Monica is spot on.

The problem that you have is the same problem many Liberals had back in 1996 who had an irrational hatred of Keating. They are so self-righteous and absorbed in blaming Keating/Howard for everything they don't see their reaction for what it is: emotion masquerading as empiricism.

Monica unlike most on the left and the right can actually identify it. I suppose you'll be writing next that the left does not hate George Bush....happy to provide 100 examples on that one.

expose the fakes,
can you provide examples re ---a 5min glance of the leading left-wing blog sites in this country reveals Howard hatred writ large---so that I can go and have a look.

All Dux said in the op-ed was her and her friends.

Colin,
did you go solar? Or was it too expensive?

I hate Howard. I hate what he's done to the country I love.

I don't respect him as a "conservative politician" because during the course of my "overeducation" I learnt what that means, and he doesn't fit the bill. He's a wrecker, an opportunist, and someone who has constrained our social and political imaginary to suit himself, but name one important social institution he has worked to preserve (as an actual conservative might do).

My line is pretty similar to Dux's - I want him gone come what may. And I really think that the best way to do that is for "people like us" to keep our mouths shut, and let Kevvie do his work.

Jason,
As a conservative politician John Howard has worked to preserve the family, to strengthen the authority of the state, to increase the power of the churches, the military and the law and order agencies such as the polcie, spooks and surveillance crowd. He has also pretty much left Medicare alone.

Jason,
It must be a sad world you live in to think that one side is setting out to intentionally wreck Australia and the other will fix everything.
Only an idiot would think that.

Jason
My memories of political hatred are associated with the conservative, self serving NSW political machine and the way the machine of the NSW Right dealt with the middle class educated left as basket weavers.There's political hatred for you; hatred of the old Right machines who turned destructive and violent.

Gary,

The article doesn't seem to be available online but from what you've quoted here I agree with Nan. She seems to be understanding herself in terms of the frame provided by the increasingly irrelevant culture warriors. Latte sippers defined that way are arrogant and do consider themselves the moral guardians. But like any other group manufactured for propaganda purposes, they don't really exist.

It's curious then, that someone who got as far as part way through a PhD (thanks Nan, I'll be pinning that on my wall) either hasn't understood this or is keeping the culture war lingo alive for the sake of an opinion piece. For me, the arrogance lies not so much in her assumptions about her own beliefs, as in the assumption that the issues belong to a particular group of people, which is what you're saying I guess.

Jason,

I've never met Howard so can't say I hate him exactly, but otherwise agree with what you say. It shites me that those of us who feel our society has been damaged have been painted as self-loathing, unpatriotic, Australia haters when in fact the reverse is true.

At the risk of sounding corny, I would argue that the Howard era was about loving the country on certain conditions (wogs, refugees, Muslims, greenies, stolen generations, gays etc don't belong), but the not-Howard version is closer to unconditional love where you can acknowledge who we really are and love us anyway.

political hatred---my response to this is emotion is that reactionaries on the Right--including the religious mob---have taken the language of victimhood from the left and enlisted it in the cause of the counter-Enlightenment. It's a bit of left of field I know, but that gives us an insight into political hatred.

Is Dux saying that she views Howard and his mob similarly to the way Jews use the slogans of anti-fascism and claimed that critics of Israel are anti-semites; or born-again fundamentalist Christians who described their opponents as “virulent bigots” and “hate-speak-mongers”.

My question is: how can Dux, as the liberal moral voice of the nation guarding all that is good and decent for social liberals, be filled--consumed-- with hatred towards her enemies? How does hate become good?

Lyn,
I accept that politics fundamentally divides the world into friend and enemy. Friend and enemy are concrete realities. They are not figurative. Howard is Dux's enemy.

The Friend enemy distinction does not describe a private relationship of antipathy. Antipathy is no necessary part of the political disjunction of friend and enemy. Hatred is a private phenomenon. Latin possessed two words: hostis for the public enemy, inimicus for a private enemy.

Australians do not make this kind of distinction.

peter,
yeah I concur. It is the conservative movement that is based on intense anger, hatred, and an insatiable desire for destruction. It lies at the heart of this movement. So many of them - including many of their most prominent spokesmen and pundits - desperately seek out, and usually find, new enemies on an almost daily basis who are decreed to be deserving of scorn, hatred, imprisonment or worse.

They routinely advocate new policies and government action devoted towards the destruction of their political opponents on the ground that the targeted individuals are not just political opponents, but enemies of Australia who deserve to be hated and destroyed.

You can sense the lynch mob rage and hate in the comments on the columnists posts in Murdoch's tabloids.

I am yet to be convinced that these friend/enemy op-eds etc are not just a writing style to maximise audience.

Take for instance Ann Coulter. I consider her a performance artist. A professional troll who doubles her audience and maximises her public exposure through writing in the friend/enemy style.

If Dux wrote something reasonable she would not echo chamber the 'left' and not troll the 'right' and vice versa.

One of the problems I have with modern op-eds is that they are all trolls. The editors on those pages are constantly trying to troll me so I react/bite.

Cam,
I reckon you have put your finger on this --the style is designed to inflame. I first saw it from the conservative noise machine---now it is being adopted by the Fairfax media.

And I've taken the bait.

Just read Monica Dux's latest foray into drivel, titled Howard Haters. What a pumped up little miss she must be, over educated?? dont kid yourself darling, you come across as a bigheaded moron. For God's sake, there should be a squad that runs around before an election seeking out people like you, that make fatuous statements such as, "we just need a change of Government, that's all" or "I just hate Howard, so I wont vote for his party". Regardless of the job he may have done, whether good or bad. These people need to be prevented from voting at all as it is quite obvious they dont have the intelligence to make an informed decision, wake up you idiots.

Shorter Dux (and "exposethefakes"): Voters who express a visceral dislike of one political actor are incapable of weighing up the pros and cons of another actor, because other people are incapable of holding more than one thought in their heads at one time."

I'm intrigued by the fact that there's a plug for an upcoming book at the end of the article, and it's called The Great Feminist Denial; will it be along the lines of "all other feminists, especially the baby boomer ones, are stchoopid"? Such a negative title doesn't bode well. I think I can hear the rustling sound of a strawfeminist being built. (And I'll be happy if proved wrong on that one!)

Helen
I noticed that too. I did a quick google on Dux + 'The Great Feminist Denial' and this op-ed turned up in The Age. It's a phenomenological account of feminism in the 1990s and a defence of 1990's style feminism.

That's all I could find. I still have no idea of what the phrase 'the great feminist denial ' refers to. I'm currious to find out, given the way Julia Gillard is represented in the Moir cartoon as the 'bird in the political cage' who is not allowed to talk politically. It's a harsh image, but a realistic one given the might of NSW Right machine that Nan refers to.

Would 'the great feminist denial ' refer to those women who stand free and independent but deny their feminist heritage?

Kind of a fluff piece, but on balance her heart seems to be in the right place. I like the concluding sentences of that article. I was afraid we were going to get another Virginia Hausegger/Caitlin Flanagan but apparently not so.

Someone also in the AGE (letters) pointed out to her today that it is quite possible to vote Green and give second preference to Labor if you don't like 'em.

Helen,
Nope the female bird has not only escaped the patriarchal cage on Dux's account, but she is happy to living outside it and has few regrets. So it is different to Virginia Hausegger 's The sins of our feminist mothers’, piece in the Age, where she was miserable, frustrated and even angry about finding herself with a good career but childless at the age of 38. I haven't read her 'Wonder Woman - the myth of having it all' and I do not know the work of Caitlin Flanagan

The conclusion to Dux's feminist op-ed is this:

True, our activism did not always achieve the kind of epic Cecilia B DeMille grandeur that we were shooting for. But at least we unashamedly called ourselves "feminists" - a label that has since become so bruised and battered that the fundamental message of equality for women has been lost.And while our youthful exuberance might have expressed itself in some misshapen activism, there's one thing that was undoubtedly worth fighting for: a woman's right to enjoy her own sexual experience.

In light of today's raunch culture, with young women apparently more concerned about pleasing the opposite sex than themselves, perhaps we had it right after all
There is some baggage---the political hatred that is used to characterise the friend enemy distinction.

So we have the tendency to slide into the personal mode of feeling---'I hate X for hurting me'--- as opposed to thinking in terms of political reason.

It seems to me that Dux was making a worthy point. Subtle but consistent slides to the centre-right (almost always motivated and rationalised on the pragmatic grounds that they will make the ALP more electable) have landed us in a situation where we now have a choice between two conservative parties – one more centrist and the other virulently right wing. Rudd is consistently putting pragmatism ahead of principle, thereby accelerating that process. ALP supporters who are happy to wear this, as long as the hated Howard is defeated, are complicit. Isn't that essentially what Dux is saying? Why do you find her argument so appalling?

Sandra,
If your interpretation of Dux's argument is a plausible one, then I concur---Monica was making a worthy point indeed. What to do, given her argument? We vote Green in the House of Representatives and especially in the Senate. That gives us some checks and balances on an ALP ruled by the NSW Right; a group that is attracted by Family First so much that it is willing to hop into bed with little protection.

So what do I find questionable in Dux's argument? A summary of the points in the above post and comments highlights the assumptions underpinning Dux's worthy argument. It's the assumptions:
1. basing one's politics on hatred of the individual person--John Howard --and not political reason. That approach to politics demonstrates disrespect for one's fellow citizens.
2. claiming that the social liberalism of you and your thirty something friends represents the moral voice of the nation. Therein lies hubris and arrogance.
3. conflating your particular tendency of leftwing with the Left in general, when her 1990s university education in poststructuralism---postmodernist theories emerging from left-wing interpretations of Nietzsche---would have informed her about diversity and difference.

These assumptions are not healthy characteristics of our political culture. Even if you disagree with me that these assumptions need to be deconstructed, don't you think that they are a little shopwarn and in need of some defence , given the way that conservatives have managed to change our public culture in the last decade?

I agree with you re voting Green, but the fact remains that a government will be formed by either the ALP or the Coalition, not the Greens. That is the political reality in Australia, so it is not illegitimate to lament the fact that the opposition (the ALP) is failing to oppose.

To address you points:

(1) we seem to be missing each other here. I read Dux as sharing your concern. Isn’t the article all about the fact that personal hatred of Howard is leading many on the left into muddy thinking and compromise? That’s one of the reasons I liked the piece. She actually says “in our excitement, are we becoming intoxicated by this blood lust and forgetting what really matters?”

(2) her comment (about one group being the moral voice of the nation) is a conditional (either X or Y, either they are or they aren’t) so she isn’t claiming that her friends are in fact the conscience of the nation. Anyway, in my experience the left is not short of self righteous individuals who do see themselves as arbiters of morality and conscience. I read Dux as appealing to them to remember their principles and not get carried away with mere hatred. Once again, I agree.

(3) It seemed to me that she was very clear in addressing her critique to a specific segment of the left, i.e. Howard hating liberal lefties. Other posters (above) have criticised her for invoking the right wing created myth of a latte sipping elite. But many enduring stereotypes are based on a kernel of truth. I’d have to say that a lot of my friends do fit this cliché pretty closely. And I speak as a life-long leftie who enjoys the odd glass of chardonnay myself.

Sandra,
an interesting debate is forming. Good to see someone taking Gary on. Re your comment that:

...the fact remains that a government will be formed by either the ALP or the Coalition, not the Greens. That is the political reality in Australia, so it is not illegitimate to lament the fact that the opposition (the ALP) is failing to oppose.

That points to voting Green (or Independent in SA) in the Senate to ensure that whoever forms Government in the House of Representatives does not also control the Senate. We have had enough of executive dominance these last few years, and what we have learnt is that the Senate's powers need to be restored and strengthened. It is the House of Review---where the legislative work and inquiries are done.

If the ALP wins---as I hope they do--then I do not want the bully boys of the ALP Right--with their roots in the Catholic DLP---running things. Moir's cartoon has Gillard in the cage---and he's right. People seem to miss the 'bird in the cage' image:---Rudd Labor is Right wing Labor and these social conservatives and machine men don't much like Gillard.

The Senate must provide the checks and balances. It's all we have. Defend the Senate I say.

Reluctant to comment after recent stoushes elsewhere concerning this type of "opinionated" middle class or New journalism peddled by the tabloids- useless as nipples on a bull.
Female Sinclair Lewis...
Subliminally, the "story" is actually the snoot writing the stuff; a Judas-goat leading in to "brand" advertising for the demographic.
The stuff in this case is done in that patronising, aggravating nauseating "we" of trendy snots: excludes unfashionables over thirties and bluecollars (women or men), male readers;say no more and and anyone who is not totally airhead self-absorbed or interesting in scoring alibis for themselves for copping out of the political process.
Damns the ALP with "faint praise" but is actually just running interference for the Coalition as well as "garnering market" for the advertising.
Lacks any of the sort of substantial critique you'd get from Germaine Greer, Summers or any other genuine feminist cultural analyst, because these people deal with reality and many female news readers don't want to engage with reality any more than the males who only grab the paper for the racing section. And the people running the papers don't want the readers too smart .
Think Ron Walker and his mates and who THEY are.

Sandra,
I agree with Nan about defending the Senate to place a check on executive dominance. I'll take the points 1-3 in different comments to make things easier. I've gone back and re-read Dux's op-ed in The Age

On the first point---the political hatred one---the title of the op-ed There must be more than just hating Howard supports your interpretation. So does the way Dux ends the op-ed by saying that:

Call me naive, but I like to imagine that back in '72 the discussion on election night focused on the positive vision of "It's Time" rather than the somewhat less dignified "Die, McMahon, die!"

However, more is going on at another level. Dux identifies herself as a Howard hater ----'where does this leave us Howard-haters?. Though she knows that political hatred ---die Howard die--- is not enough, she realizes that her and her friends are unable to escape from this emotional straitjacket.

If you don't believe that this is really happening then try this experiment: ask any self-identified Howard-hater why they're excited about the election. Will they reply with a list of the ALP's initiatives and policies, or will they simply say: "It looks like Howard's finally going to get it." Mandarin may or may not be mentioned.

All she is left with is imaging something different-1972-- and hoping that this may happen in 2007.

So the title--- 'There must be more than just hating Howard'--becomes a cry of pain from a wounded individual who knows that she , as a social liberal, has been damaged by the Howard decade and the conservative ascendancy. She is suffering from an illness and longs for it to end. She stands on the threshold of a re-evalaution of her values.

What she does not do is engage in a critique of political hatred and try and shift it to something healthier and more constructive---It's Time. What's more Dux knows that she is caught up in a bad--- self-destructive---space--- consumed by a personal hatred that leads to brutality and vengenance. She is in need of of some classical philosophical therapy to help treat the bad emotions and restore her health.

Les,
The Axis of Awesome's 'Rudd versus Howard' is brillant. It 's much more inventive than the cartoons or the op-eds. It has real bite.

Rudd looks like a younger Beazley.Intentional? Or just the character in the band?

Nan, you are right concerning the Moir cartoon. Moir did a satiric cartoon protype with Gillard as a bird solemnly cawing away for the shredding of IR whilst Rudd did his right wing employer-friendly pitch a month ago,
But the one above is shocker-pure Tory propaganda. How I yearn for a good Pryor!
To Nan and Sandra, yes it IS exasperating that labor won't be less timid. It's been like it for a long time; this DOES have to do with the takeover of the ALP by the conservative right factions.
But gee, look what happens if ever they DO open their mouths on issues of principal. Even last week they nearly got branded Luddites over Tasmania, despite running light years from it before the smear even began.
As I speak, at this very moment am listening to the ABC reporting a new rabid McCarthyite campaign of union bashing, crock full of hysteria from Costello.
What hope adult discussions concerning substantial issues any way, in this ideology- driven climate?

Paul,
Rural Press, who own the Canberra Times, are not putting the Pryor cartoons online these days. They are still the best thing in the Canberra Times.

This debate has been going on all year. Over at RTS Ken said "Blogging for the next 6 weeks will be tedious. Anything that doesn’t trumpet the praises of Kevin the Good will be lambasted as a gross exercise in self-indulgence that risks delivering the nation to another three years of rule by the Demon King. Maybe I can write about cats."

Some of us are so fixed on seeing the end of Howard that any criticism or real scrutiny of anything vaguely leftish is condemned. It is clearly ridiculous for anyone capable of critical analysis to limit their critique to the opposition, in this case Howard, yet there's a lot of it going on. There's an enormous emotional investment in this election.

Gary, I read Dux as one of a largish number of Howard haters who have started to question their habitual spot in that groove and started to remember that the left is about more than just opposing a single politician for what he symbolises. I'm with Nan on the language she uses, but then again, it's the most effective way to get her point across. Unfortunately.

Where you argue that she's caught up in a self-destructive space, what she calls impotence, seems to me to be what she's trying to say. Hating Howard is pointless.

It seems to me that the end of the Howard era (and it's over whether he wins or loses) has freed a lot of people up from that tiny, pointless focus to start thinking about, and remembering, other things. The picture is now bigger than Howard, which seems to be why the It's Time slogan seems so appropriate. The left love nothing more than a zeitgeist. There's nothing quite like looking at the polls and seeing a sense of solidarity reflected there.

It's left to the more manic among us to maintain the hate but Dux is arguing that it's time to move on.

Lyn,
Okay, Dux is trying to dig herself out of a dark space; one full of venom and where people have become intoxicated by a blood lust and forgotten what really matters.It's a pathological condition.

She is trying to argue that "the left" needs to stand for more than just wanting Howard out. It's just not persuasive.

Many on the left--eg. environmentalists do stand for more than wanting vengenance. They want a sustainable Australia. It's her and her friends that are caught up in the pathological problem. Moreover, Dux shows no awareness that many on the left do not have this self-destructive problem.

Re Pryor, sounds suspiciously like censorship-didn't Fairfax take them over recently? Never mind, he'll have good company in a sin bin shared with the likes of various Media Watch, ABC Glasshouse and SBS Dateline producers and Kostakidis, to name but a few.
BTW, interesting listening to Margo Kingston on Philip Adams recounting her kneecappng by Fairfax executives about 2004.
One of these b....s, Mark Scott, now runs the ABC and I reckon he has done more damage in a day than Shier did in a year.
Don't tell me these are "good" people and don't tell me I should deny myself the consolation of the deep anger and hate I feel for them... shit, now I even know how Alanis Morissette feels!

Rudd really has been Bushwhacked by this debate issue and it happened when he was forced to name Swan as the future Treasurer.
Win or Lose the debate on Sunday and I expect it to be a draw. Costello will come out and lay down a challenge to Swan. Now that will be a walkover for Costello. He will make Swan look like a school boy with his money tied in his hanky by his mummy.
Rudd knows full well this will be the second debate so all this silly talk of 3 debates with Howard is just ranting.

Sandra,
re the moral voice of the nation issue.

I concur with your assertion that ' in my experience the left is not short of self righteous individuals who do see themselves as arbiters of morality and conscience.'
You write:

(2) her comment (about one group being the moral voice of the nation) is a conditional (either X or Y, either they are or they aren’t) so she isn’t claiming that her friends are in fact the conscience of the nation.... I read Dux as appealing to them to remember their principles and not get carried away with mere hatred. Once again, I agree.

That was Dux's intention. However, she does go back on the conditional, thus:
But where does this leave us Howard-haters? Supporting the Opposition simply out of spite against the Prime Minister, without asking what we're getting instead? Perhaps we're wrong and we're not the moral voice of the nation. But if we're right and we are, then aren't we abrogating our responsibility? It's as if we've stopped caring who or what we vote for, as long as Howard loses.

That phrase 'But if we're right and we are, then aren't we abrogating our responsibility?' She is saying that the claim of her social liberal friends to be the moral voice of the nation is right.

I contest that claim. The claim is based on their challenging Howard on issues such as the handling of the Tampa incident and jackbooted indigenous intervention.She says that we regard these as more than simply politically distasteful since these were moral questions.

Rightly said.

The environmental concern for a sustainable Australia is also an ethical and political issue, as it is about living differently. Dux is so blind or arrogant--- that she does not see this, let alone acknowledge it. So what she misses is that there are diverse ethical voices on the left, some of them do not claim to be the moral voice of the nation, and some are engaged in the ethical conversation taking place in the nation.

Les,
a bit off message there. I haven't seen Rudd, Costello and Swan debating Monica Dux's recent op-ed in the Age.

Are you referring to the tax issue when you say that Rudd has been bushwacked?

Sandra,
on the diverse left voices issue: Re your point

(3) It seemed to me that she was very clear in addressing her critique to a specific segment of the left, i.e. Howard hating liberal lefties. Other posters (above) have criticised her for invoking the right wing created myth of a latte sipping elite. But many enduring stereotypes are based on a kernel of truth. I’d have to say that a lot of my friends do fit this cliché pretty closely. And I speak as a life-long leftie who enjoys the odd glass of chardonnay myself.

I accept that. She's talking to her thirtysomething friends in the lefty literary world of Melbourne. The ones who use Quadrant for toilet paper and secretly desire an aesthetics of violence.

On a lighter note Dux cannot be referring to inner city greenie lefties such me as I enjoy drinking the odd glass of Verdhello, live in Adelaide and do not hang about in a literary culture.

An 'aesthetics of violence' changes the terrain a bit I know. But it was implicitly introduced by Dux--words such as hate, venom, intoxicated by blood lust etc.---and I'm just putting a category around them to form a constellation. Her thirtysomethings find pleasure in the violence that is why they find it hard to leave the dark space.

Gary
I'm intrigued. What do you mean by an aesthetics of violence? How are politics and aesthetics linked?

An aesthetics of violence for me refers to Hollywood action films with their long-developed visual vocabulary of violence. I can understand that some audiences have cultivated tastes for the narrative possibilities behind being blown up with blood splattered everywhere, but what does this have to do with Dux's There must be more than just hating Howard op-ed in the Age? I don't see the link, even though I love the smell of blood from a good political knifing.

Are you suggesting that the bloodlust of Dux's thirty somethings Howard haters turns them into assasins seeking vengeance?

Nan,
Re an aesthetics of violence---A contemporary link is this issue of Bad Subjects.

I was thinking in terms of Edmund Burke early writings on the aesthetic and the sublime, which were intimately connected to his political concerns.The heart of his aesthetic addressed itself to the experience of terror, a spectre that haunts Burke's political imagination throughout his career. Burke's preoccupation with violence, sympathy and pain actually allowed him to explore the dark side of the Enlightenment.

Isn't that dark side of the Enlightenment (social liberal version for Dux) what is disclosed by the deeper current of Dux---both her talk about hate, venom, intoxicated by blood lust etc---and the political violence in her 1990s feminism? Violence, pain and terror (Tampa and Howard's jackbook Intervention into the Northern Territory are Dux's examples) are all sitting there in her text---as Sandra saw. Isn't this terrror the spectre that is haunting Dux and her Howard hating thirty somethings?

Burke's Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas on the Sublime and the Beautiful (1757), introduces the idea that sublimity is constituted by a fear of alterity whereby the sublime is achieved artistically by a tantalizing obscuring of otherness. Burke argues:

Whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain, and danger, that is to say, whatever is any sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime; that is, it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind if capable of feeling. (39)

So we have aesthetics bound to politics and vica versa. Burk's text is one of the three theoretical "arche-texts of the sublime" ---ie., Pseudo-Longinos, Burke, and Kant

Dux, as an independent literary writer, is talking about the relationship between the sublime and terror in politics and her words --- hate, venom, intoxicated by blood lust ---refer to the experience of the sublime. If we dig back to the text of Pseudo-Longinos we find the sublime linked to ethics----which is what Dux is doing.

Sorry...didn't realise you were the comment sheriff nan.

The Tax issue is partly the bushwack.

Rudd seems to think he can run around ranting about 3 debates with Howard 1 on 1 and drawing worm stuff into it to detract from the real debate that will be Costello vs Swan. Real in terms of thats where the Rudd team will be hit hard.
Howard only has to draw the first debate for it to be seen as 50/50.....and 50/50 doesnt win 16 seats.

The aesthetics of violence is actually coded in the crisis development of the article. Culminates in proposing that even considering reasonable enough Rudd Labor in terms as drastic as: " ...abrogating our responsibility".
Note the universal "our" again- "we" eg, the wider electorate of oiks become (snotty?)intellectuals for the split second it takes to decide the opposition on Dux's constructed false terms!.
"We've" been told not dismissing Rudd ( the article seeks that exclusive and unconditional surrender ) creates a nightmarish denouement. It's the end of life as we know it; the sky is falling down!
Worse of all,th einference is we stay condemmed to a chardonnay-sipper eternity by default if Julia'nKev are not dipatched. It is devious and silly, but slyly has its sequel in the hystericist Costello teev rant about "Communism".
Dux is Manichean and seeks or is enveigled into, participating in the creation of an apocolyptic, surreal atmosphere condusive to the pro-Howard Age's creation and manipulation of public anxieties at this early stage of the election campaign.

Gary, And I've taken the bait.

In internet parlance, YHBT HAND [you have been trolled, have a nice day]. It is hard, they are very good at their craft, and even if you make an attempt not to be trolled you eventually do sooner or later. Several of the Au op-ed writers know how to push my buttons with extreme accuracy.

Ultimately you do have to engage these people with rational discussion, yet you have to balance it with their job/style being making inflammatory and sensationalist statements purely to increase their audience and have everyone look at them.

So, it is hard.