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

Rudd's 2020 Summit « Previous | |Next »
February 29, 2008

Unlike William F. Buckley Australian conservatives are not known for their love of ideas, enthusiatically engaging with ideas or debating their opponents ideas. They are a practical lot with little tolerance for the intellectual life. Biffing is more their style not civility in political discourse or intellectual honesty.

They basically see Rudd's 2020 Summit as a talk feast in which a lot of wild and dangerous ideas will surface. It smells too much of participatory democracy and the mob, who have no place in the political governance of the nation state. Governance is the terrain for the political elites--- elected representatives and their deliberation in parliament in a liberal democracy. That place is the clearing house of ideas in the nation.

If there is a disengagement from democracy by citizens then so be it. If democracy is premised on the exercise of power by and for a demos, then democracy is procedural not substantive. Effectiveness of governance is what matters especially around the economy, wealth creation and national prosperity. No one wants to be a hostage to bad ideas, especially those from the political agenda of the cosmopolitan, social liberal Left.

This conservative's position is one in which policy is, and should be, shaped by powerful economic interests behind the scenes and not by any consideration of a wider public interest. On their account everyone in public life is self-interested, and dishonest about their real motives. So no-one is believed to advocate a course of action because it is right, but only because it will benefit them. Politics is an elaborate charade whereby private interests masquerade as the public interest.

The Howard Government's resistance to the need to respond to climate change in order to protect the intensive energy users is a classic example of this. These energy users and lobbyists wrote the Howard Government's greenhouse policy. The aim was to keep everyone else powerless and in a state of subjection, and to push the traditional democratic processes of deliberation and consent into the background as irrelevant and unnecessary.

Parliament is no longer the clearing house of ideas: the executive dominates parliament, what happens in parliament is increasingly stage managed, whilst the media has embraced infotainment with enthusiasm. So how do we enrich deliberative democracy? Is the 2020 Summit a step in this direction? If so, how?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 4:41 PM | | Comments (13)


Shanahan was demented on this today. Rudd apparently risks being seen as elitist and also adopting extremist flakey ideas.

This is the worst of all possible worlds - one where the prime minister is willing to consider ideas offered by citizens other than the conservative media. Heaven forbid. It's bound to end in tears.

There can be no radical change. There must be continuity with the Howard regime.There is no need for policy momentum or vision.The boom+market will see us through.

That's Shanahan's position. So "radical" ideas must be blocked. The mechanism is wedge politics that divides an opponent through an appeal to a nation or national cultural beseiged either from without--terrorists or asylum seekers--- or from within --the latte elites who represent cultural relativism, social disintegration and social engineering.

I wonder if the 2nd 100 days will be as good as the first?

worse no doubt. That bushfire, a raft of women of substance being overlooked by the PM and his think-tank-making men, indicates more bushfires.

It will be interesting to see what happens after the summit. To what extent will the public be involved in discussion of the ideas and how would such a discussion be conducted? Rudd doesn't play the Howard media game, so it wouldn't be left up to opinion columnists to discuss on behalf of the public. Letters to the editor and talkback are not representative.

Written submissions leave out too many people who don't know how to put one together. Internet discussions on a government website maybe? Will we even be asked?

That brings up an interesting question.
Will there be 500 men and 500 women?

A spin off of the Summit may be engagement between onliners and the political processes. There are lots of sites already which are acting as forums for each topic area. Hopefully the participants themselves will continue this in an ongoing way.

Miranda Devine in the Sun-Herald calls Rudd's 2020 Summit a two day Canberra jaw-jaw; a pointless stunt; blokey talkfeast. For her the Summit is a waste of time.

Another indication that the conservatives have no time for deliberative democracy.

Piers Ackerman reckons the summit and Friday sittings show that government is in the worst crisis we've seen since Whitlam. I take that as a sign that Rudd is doing better than they expected. They're not responding well to all this cooperation are they?

I agree with Ackerman. Theres bad times ahead.

I looked at Ackerman's crisis argument.It's all built around the non-parliamentary Friday sittings of Members in the House of Representatives. Much ado about nothing. It's a beatup by the media mouth of Liberal Party.

Why doesn't he stick to the corrupt and incompetent NSW Government? Lots of meat there, surely. Sussex Street can win elections but they cannot govern the state. They just hold onto power so as to win another election and in doing so they have reduced the state bureaucracy to a shambles. So the crises build up.

The problem with your argument is that it would require Piers to practice journalism rather than paroxism. Not even a remote possibility of that happening.

I rarely read Piers Ackerman---from the little I've see he regularly devotes columns to "crises" cooked up by right-wing spinners in the Liberal Party.

There line is that the media will have to subject Rudd & Co to 'scrutiny'. By 'scrutiny' Piers seems to mean gutter attacks and media bile.