February 3, 2013
We have yet more superficial political commentary about leadership struggles in federal Labor, the chaos of the Gillard Government, more erratic political polling that is interpreted as spelling a big disaster for Gillard Labor, and election race calling. It's a shock horror meme from a mainstream media, whose central narrative is one of the Gillard Government being a failure and in disarray.
The over-hyped scandal meme is 'constant crisis'---the standard News Ltd text, for instance, –is ‘disarray’, ‘rocked’, ‘dramatic’, ‘frantic’, ‘shambolic’, chaotic. Every event that happens is plugged into the never ending disaster meme, as are the political rumours and journalist speculations about what might happen. It's the 'government teetering on the brink' narrative.
Russell Marks at the Conversation says that the Gillard Government is marked by dull neo-liberal grey due to the lack of fundamental purpose behind much of the government’s activity. He adds that:
It’s difficult to escape the conclusion that this is the sort of thing that happens when a social democratic party trades away most of its social democracy for the ideology of its opponents – free-market capitalism – and then attracts and rewards highly ambitious numbers-men....When a party is struggling to articulate its purpose, it’s no wonder some of its key agents run out of puff early.
According to Marks, the ALP has lurched from one panicked reaction to another. So Mark's "analysis" also buys into, and reinforces, the constant crisis narrative built on media beat-ups.
Why not explore an alternative or competing narrative: the Gillard Government is still standing and reforming in spite of the relentless attacks on it from the mainstream media, the Coalition and the Big Business. Why not analyse the difficulties and limits of a social democratic mode of governance in a low growth global economy where the economic outlook is deteriorating. Or what is happening to social democratic governance with an economy in structural transition?
If the Gillard Government has lurched from one panicked reaction to another, then this minority government is residing over low inflation, low interest rates, low unemployment, a massive investment boom, a “safe haven” currency, growing labour productivity, a sharemarket up nearly 20% since a carbon price commenced. How did this happen? Marks offers no account for the gap between his narrative and the current state of the economy.