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

Burchill: the blogger's fantasies « Previous | |Next »
June 28, 2010

David Burchell continues to do his culture wars job at The Australian of playing of the bad elites versus the good ordinary Australians. In his latest column---Real people don't get besotted with prime ministers he ties this into The Australian's intense dislike, nay antagonism, towards political bloggers. Their conception of politics is the existential conflict based on the friend and enemy distinction.


Burchill says the latter, as political enthusiasts, are political romantics caught up in their own fantasies:

One of most curious aspects of the past three years has been the yawning and ever-growing gulf between the universe of the political enthusiast -- the blogging savants, the convulsive Facebook oracles, the haiku poets of the Twitterverse and their motley followers and hangers-on -- and the reality of those who have to grind their lives away in the dreary vicinities of power.

The former are consumed by that beguiling procession of fashionable delusions and fantasies that they project onto the screen.

Burchill, of course, exempts himself from being part the political enthusiast. He does not succumb to his sbeautiful private fantasies. He is in touch with the real world beyond the screen; the world of those hard working folk with sound common sense and their feet solidly on the ground (in western Sydney):

All across the land, public administrators, local Labor and trade union workers and businesspeople alike have been gnashing their teeth in frustration at a government grown so dysfunctional that it could no longer sustain attention in a single policy priority for more than a few days, and so careless that it could no longer keep track of its proliferating expenditures, despite the charade of fiscal prudence.
The Australian, of course, has little time for the new voices in the public sphere especially when they are informed and are left of centre. We don't know what we are talking about, have little grasp of the national interest, and cannot even interpret the polls properly.

Burchill is bringing in Carl Schmitt's ideas into Australian conservatism. In Political Romanticism Schmitt writes:

In the romantic it is not reality that matters, but rather romantic productivity, which transforms everthing and makes it into the occasion for poetry. What the king and queen are in reality is intentionally ignored. Their function consists instead in being a point of departure for romantic feelings. The same holds for the beloved. From the standpoint of romanticism, therefore, it is simply not possible to distinguish between the king, the state, or the beloved. In the twilight of the emotions, they blend into one another. In both Novalis and Adam Müller, the state appears as the beloved, and the poeticizing of the science of finance that they bring off lies in the consideration that one should pay taxes to the state just as one gives presents to the beloved. (p. 126)

In Burchill's interpretation the romantic bloggers are all talk. They play at a liberal parlor game building their fictional edifices of words.

The only legitimate political commentators in the eyes of The Australian are the professional ones (especially those who work for The Australian) and who tell us what to think and what our politics should be. Their understanding of the public conversation about the political events of the day is that it is one conducted within the Canberra beltway by the professional media types in touch with the politicians and who have their finger on the political pulse of the nation. And that is the way it should be.

The Australian stands for the restoration against the democratic strands of the internet revolution. It also stands for the new austerity.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:04 AM | | Comments (12)


Reverse Envy is a nasty trait often exhibited in conservatives, from the traditional hatred of welfare recipients, through to our time, when all sorts of people are othered, judged as "undeserving".
Like Howard, Abbott is one of these with such a disappointing life of their own to comfort them, must then seek to intervene or interfere with others (the aboriginal intervention is an example?).

"...the reality of those who have to grind their lives away in the dreary vicinities of power."

Well, I imagine Burchill may be reflecting in this quote on the experience of working for Murdock as well as in Canberra. I see it as the sigh of the oppressed.

Management might well be constantly letting him know there are bloggers - receiving no money at all - doing essentially what they pay him to do.

This would not be a happy message to hear for any journalist who, while claiming to be in touch with the real australia, seems unable to refer to any real person by way of specific reference or quotation.

you almost make me feel sympathy for Burchill grinding away in the cogs of the Murdoch Press as he churns out his column. It is so hard and he's given little respect for what he writes from all those irreverent political enthusiasts.


I call what David Burchell is doing the very old-fashined term of 'singing for your supper'; or trying to impress the powers that be in the Liberal Party as you want to stand for them in a federal seat in 'Saltofthe EarthLand', aka Western Sydney.
He's tiresome and predictable, but tireless in his pursuit of the common conservative enemy, and given a regular soapbox to spout his bile from, sadly. He does honest discourse no favours.

One assumption in the professional journo vs bloggers divide that the Australian keeps pushing is that taking an explicit point of view interferes with journalism. The writing of the bloggers isn't real because of their bias.They are partisan.

It's a dubious assumption because the inference is that The Australian doesn't have a point of view and its reporters and columnists aren't biased. That's not credible given the partisanship of The Australian, its anti-Labor stance, and hostility to the Left.

There cannot be many journalists in the Murdoch Press who are committed to the old fashioned journalist virtues of temperance in the expression of personal views; forthrightness; and fairness.

That type of journalist--the unbiased observer--- and those kind of standards were killed off long in favour of the partisan hack running the party line and sticking the boot in.

I wonder how the traditional journalists (non-blog based) in the mainstream media feel about the blog based journalists in their newsroom? Do they think that it is not real reporting? Do they have a disdain for bloggers? Do they trash these blogging journalists in the newsroom the way they trash the independent bloggers? Do they make a distinction n between different types of blogging?

Chris of Brompton,
re your comment:

any journalist who, while claiming to be in touch with the real australia, seems unable to refer to any real person by way of specific reference or quotation.

Burchill's condemnation is a blanket one isn't it-its "blogging savants, the convulsive Facebook oracles, the haiku poets of the Twitterverse and their motley followers and hangers-on "---a universal condemnation.

To make sense he needs to name the people he has in mind, rather than condemn the new media en bloc. This style of condemnation can only deepen the newspapers struggle to avoid closure because it will strengthen the movement of readers to the new digital platforms. The digital revolution means that the media's business models are crumbling, innovative new forms of journalism are emerging, and consumer news habits are changing rapidly.

At least Burchill is not claiming that we bloggers steal his work without payment. Nor is he advocating that their iPads are taxed and the money given to Murdoch.

Re Anon, I did have in mind the situation of a person labouring in an industry encountering rapid change - like the poor wig makers in late 18th century France who could see their output and their highly skilled jobs rolling across the cobblestones before their horrified gaze.

What a romantic I am...

Burchill ignores that the media--eg News Ltd--are players, in political events, not just the mere chroniclers of events.

He also doesn't acknowledge that modern journalism--as practised at News Ltd--is about commentary. It is about using information to pursuade people to act or believe in a paticular way--eg climate change.

Too many pollsters, too often,too few in the poll group, too much attention paid to it in the media.
Polls ain't news.

I have been looking at some collective footage of Julia without sound looking at the way she carries and presents herself. She needs to get some help from experts I would say. She is in danger of being viewed as "Jool the Fool"