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

question time « Previous | |Next »
March 24, 2011

I've been watching Question Time in the House of Representatives this week, and it has degenerated into name calling, sledging, personal abuse and hurling invective at one another. It looks like the latest episode in the culture wars.

It is not a public space of deliberative reason under any description in which carbon tax is debated and persuasive arguments are mounted and criticized. It is much more than political point scoring, as there is no respect or civility in question time for the ethos of parliamentary democracy. Liberal democracy has been hollowed out. It is a empty shell; a facade.

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The Liberal Party has been the worst in this during Question Time, and they have been lead by the overheated rhetoric of Abbott and Hockey. Their tactics have been to create as much noise as possible; and in doing so they been playing to the public gallery full of denialists from the anti-carbon tax rally.

It was organized by the astroturf Consumer and Taxpayers’ Association’s (CATA) group who say that they are leading a genuine grass roots people's revolt. The reality is that we have a fake grassroots movement organised by big-dollar lobbying masquerading as street-level activism.

In Crikey Bernard Keane says that this revolt of old white blokes--- "good, decent Australians from middle Australia who wanted honest government" according to the Liberals---is:

not really about climate change or immigration, but about social change and the social and economic transformation of Australia in a way that older, white Australians resent. This crowd grew up in a monocultural, British country that relied on protected industries -- particularly the "real jobs" to be found in manufacturing. They grew up with a political system dominated by old white men. Australia has changed beyond recognition for them and because of their education levels and their age, they aren't as well equipped to handle it as others are. They therefore feel disoriented, dispossessed and resentful, particularly because they don’t hold the same pre-eminent position they used to hold socially, economically or politically.
Keane adds that this is why there’s such a strong conspiracy theory fringe to climate denialism. The placards about UN and IMF plots yesterday weren’t coincidental. Like most conspiracy theories, they’re driven less by paranoia than by a desperate search for reassurance that someone, somewhere, however evil, is actually in control of what’s going on, and the right order of things could be restored.

There are two objections to Keane's reworking of the standard interpretation One Nation movement. First, it does not really describe the radical right---ie., the Citizens’ Electoral Council, The Australian League of Rights, National Civic Council, an anti-gun control enthusiasts and the Lavoisier Group. What the rally indicates is that the Liberal Party has increasingly shifted to occupy the terrain once represented by One Nation. They demand the right of the corporations to make more money, pay less tax at whatever social cost, and to dump the environmental regulation of big government.

Secondly, Keane does not mention the emergence of astroturfing in Australia. This is limited to political groups such as Consumer and Taxpayers’ Association’s; it also includes ''persona management'' systems that are designed to flood online discussion sites with comments of a predetermined political slant from fake members of the public. If you read the comments to the various columns of the mainstream press, what you notice is that they are largely cut and paste reiterations of extremely thin, simplistic and explicit political spin.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:42 PM | | Comments (7)
Comments

Comments

This is why I argued a couple of posts back that Labor don't have to concern themselves with the progressive vote.

They'll pick up what they lost to the Greens with the climate change policy, and Abbott's revolt will drive the centre back to Labor.

I imagine the more sensible Liberal voters would be taking a dim view of Tony Abbott cavorting with Pauline Hanson and others on the outer reaches of the right wing universe.

I suspect that the sense of collective victimhood and entitlement makes this crowd oh-sooo easy to exploit.

When he is wearing his Captain Catholic mantle doesn't Tony Abbott embody the interests of the National Civic Council.

Why is the media all over 1500 (max) demonstrators with hateful slogans and banners, ignoring the 80,000 strong petition supporting a carbon tax or the rolling demonstrations that GetUp has organised in state capitals. The Melbourne rally had 8000 demonstrators on the Labour Day holiday weekend.

The political language is becoming extreme: some placards read "Juliar: Bob Browns Bitch'', ''Ditch the Witch''. In the House Abbott called Gillard delusional in a medical sense whilst Hockey called her schizophrenic.

"Why is the media all over 1500 (max) demonstrators with hateful slogans and banners, ignoring the 80,000 strong petition supporting a carbon tax or the rolling demonstrations that GetUp has organised in state capitals..."

I'm guessing it's the same reason that give the tea party ratbags and Palin so much attention... while the massive protests in Madison, Wisconsin's capital, go practically unnoticed.

re: " it also includes ''persona management'' systems that are designed to flood online discussion sites with comments of a predetermined political slant from fake members of the public.

A lot of the comments on articles on environmental articles at Fairfax and the ABC are close to vituperative gibberish from regular identities that shout hostile nonsense. They look to be pre-written in denying climate change and attacking the author. There is no debate on the issue--just nastiness.

it looks to be part of a well funded campaign from the big polluters using fake "concerned citizens" claiming to be worried to death about a conspiracy by governments and scientists to raise taxes and restrict their freedoms in the name of tackling a non-existent issue.

Peter S Stock, we are now reaping the consequences of the neolib capture of public broadcasting.
The reality of media is defined in terms of the media environment, post Cash for Comments- open season on the truth and propagandists from Chris Uhlman to Alan Jones, now substituted for real analysis, by black shirt CEO's like Mark Scott, to further dumb down the public.
Judging by that farce engineered by Abbott on the steps of parliament house the other day, this is something they've been singularly and tragically successful at.