January 23, 2014
The slogans of the Abbott Government are well known and include from i an earlier time when the Coalition was in opposition, such as " stop the boats", "cut the waste", and "dump the tax". those To these we can now add "Australia is open for business" and " goodies and baddies".
The last one is designed to provide a guide to, and to make sense of, Australia's foreign policy under the conservatives. The US is a goodie so China must be a baddie. Japan is a goodie because it is aligned with, and a friend of, the US and so is against China. Similarly with Australia. It is a goodie. Edward Snowden, because he is exposed the way the US has been spying on the world, and hurt its interests is a baddie--a traitor. Obviously, spying, when done by goodies, is okay, but it is terrible when done by baddies. If Australia is a goodie, then Indonesia is a baddie. Clearly the Australian navy is a goodie and asylum seekers are baddies.
The limits to sloganistic thinking can be seen in the Middle East. Israel is a goodie so the Arab states and people opposed to Israel are baddies --such as Iran and the Palestinian people. The Assad regime in Syria is a baddie and those seeking to over throw it are goodies. However, the opposition includes Al Qaeda but they are a baddies because we fought the long war in Irag and Afghanistan to cut the head off Al Qaeda's head. So goodies can be baddies. I'm sure yesterday's baddies can become today's goodies--Germany and Japan for instance. It becomes all very confusing.
I used to think that these slogans were political messaging and that the degree of calculation was all pervasive. It was the very dogged, daily repetition that was significant. It indicated that these noble lies had been crafted and premeditated and discussed, focus-grouped and weighed through other sieves of qualitative reasoning, before being determined to be an essential part of the Coalition's strategy.
But what if the noble lie was more than myths needed to give people meaning and purpose and to ensure a stable society? What if the untruths were also the way the conservatives thought about things? They actually believed the noble lie. They do believe, for instance, that the removal of carbon pricing will reduce electricity charges and restore the competitiveness of Australian companies; or that green regulation, designed to protect Australia's environment from being trashed by global companies now that Australia is open for business, is bad.