The Labor Schism

By Legal Eagle

Since my post on Rudd’s announcement that he was resigning as Foreign Minister, Australian politics has now become a bear pit, at least on the Labor side. No sooner did Rudd resign than the Labor MPs started aligning themselves as pro-Gillard or pro-Rudd (Gillard appears to have the numbers). A number of Ministers in the pro-Gillard camp immediately launched into character assassinations of Rudd (including Wayne Swan, Nicola Roxon and Gillard herself). Rudd announced that he was going to take a tilt at the Prime Ministership.

First: my personal preferences. Once things started going pear-shaped for Rudd, I was very disappointed with him (see this post from February 2010, and this post from May 2010). I think my disappointment was so great because I’d had such high hopes of his government. Moreover, I started to suspect that he was a very difficult person to work with. I’d been told by media people of his quirks, but suddenly, after the leadership putch, it all came out in public. Lorenzo made the point that Rudd was like the pointy haired boss in Dilbert. This immediately struck me as an apt analogy: he was rude, quixotic and oblivious to the consequences of his actions. And, like the PHB, he frequently uses bizarre metaphors (‘fair suck of the sauce bottle’, anyone?). That being said, I really wasn’t comfortable with the way in which Rudd was deposed. I felt sorry for him. I still think it was the wrong thing to do. (Incidentally: anyone have any views on Noel Pearson’s recent observations as to the real drivers of the putsch?)

Once Gillard became Prime Minister I was prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt, just as I had Rudd. And I was proud that we had a female Prime Minister. Again, however, I became gradually disenchanted with Gillard (see my post on the Malaysian ‘solution’ for example, or the debacle of someone from Gillard’s office inciting the Tent Embassy to attack Abbott).

Now we come to the present bear-pit situation. The majority of Labor MPs are rallying around Gillard, but some have thrown their votes behind Rudd. And here I note an interesting thing. Rudd is described as being the preferred Labor Prime Minister in the electorate, over and above Gillard. I wondered to myself, Where are all these Rudd supporters? I know nary a one. Interestingly, my personal sympathy for Gillard has increased: whatever her flaws, she is such a strong person — I would have been curled in a foetal position under my desk if I had faced what she faces.

Then I saw the comments of a number of my Queenslander Facebook friends on the matter. Ah ha! I thought. That’s where the Rudd supporters are: Queensland. Rudd has arrived home in Brisbane to a “rock star” reception. Rudd is a Queenslander himself, and thus he tends to be seen as representing the interests of Queensland rather better than Gillard. By contrast Gillard is a Victorian MP, and thus perhaps it’s unsurprising that I haven’t seen a Victorian Rudd supporter yet on Facebook — although there must be some? My personal problems with Rudd, however, do not stem from the fact he’s a Queenslander, or any sense that he did not represent Victorian interests while he was Prime Minister, but from the Pointy Haired Boss issues mentioned above. If I were pushed to choose, I’d prefer Gillard over Rudd — she’s far from perfect, but she has been a professional manager. However, all this has caused the State-based interests in Federal politics to come into relief for me. Do those who comment here have any views on this?

Ultimately, though, I can’t help being depressed by the bear pit. I really cannot see how the present government can recover from the enmities now exposed publicly. This is all about personal revenge, not about what’s best for our country (whatever each side may be saying). I feel like I’m watching a train wreck in action: it’s hideous but you just can’t look away.

44 Comments

  1. Adrien
    Posted February 26, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    What’s really interesting to me about all this is that Labor Party people, the ‘insiders’ that is, seem to have no idea just how bad things are. They keep discussing the merits of Rudd and Gillard and contemplating other leaders. They blame the government’s shambolic performance on the News Ltd and for some reason labour under the delusion that this government has a record of accomplishment of which they’re entitled to be proud! I’d like to know what exactly is in the sauce bottle they’ve all been sucking.

    Apart from rolling and slandering each other and wearing a straight face while they spurt the most absurd spin they seem to be completely incompetent and totally unaware. I’m starting to be put in mind of someone who cleans toilets yet thinks he’s Napoleon.

    What exactly goes on in their minds when they think they can change their leader twice within the first few years of government and still be electable? As for Rudd, I reckon the guy’s deranged. The question isn’t why they rolled him but why they elected him in the first place and why they didn’t get rid of him completely when they finally woke up.

  2. Mel
    Posted February 26, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Adrien @1:

    “Apart from rolling and slandering each other and wearing a straight face while they spurt the most absurd spin they seem to be completely incompetent and totally unaware. ”

    Stop babbling, Adrien. We are literally the envy of the western world because we’ve managed to pull through the GFC and the Great Recession far better than our peers (the US, UK, France, Germany etc) , at least in part because of competent economic management by the Government.

    The soap opera doesn’t matter folks.

  3. Posted February 26, 2012 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Except I think it does, Mel. Appearances matter – it looks like they don’t know what they’re doing and don’t care what damage they do to each other.

  4. Posted February 26, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    As a foreigner from a country that take politics very seriously, living down-under I keep saying that no-one takes politics seriously here, not even the politicians. At first I thought a lot of what I heard was just, you know that sarcastic Aussie humour, but after a few years it occurred to me that, no, it wasn’t a joke, and yes, this is indeed the way they do things here. I still can’t believe that the people of Australia, who, I assume, wants to be a democratic nation on par with the best, let them get away with it. But no, mandatory voting coupled with upvoting to a two-party system is giving you what you deserve. There are some strong revisions needed, one of them being to make a new law for politicians; don’t be a brat, speak politely to eachother, and hey, coalitions should be the norm, not some freaky incident you all think are weird. It’s almost like Aussies think cooperation is a bad thing, or something.

    I was, too, very excited about Rudd when he got in power (lived in Canberra at the time, and the city was buzzing), but I’m not sure his failings can be all blamed on him. I think there was lots of petty battling on the inside causing delays and silent protest. I’ve never seen such a strange sight. Gillard was at first better, but now I can’t stand the way she speaks; it’s polerized and polished political svada (translation; nonsense) in order to not attract any attention. Heavens, they get a chance like this, and they don’t want attention?

    The only thing worse with this whole mess is that the opposition (laughably represented by one other party) only get their confidence back, and if that happens the biggest moron of all will get into power.

    This country is so politically screwed up, and some how you put up with it. Argh!

  5. kvd
    Posted February 26, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Well I think the argument is basically who gets to sit up the front of the bus on the way to electoral Siberia. You really have to wonder at what drives these people.

    I give credit to Ms Gillard for actually governing as she has in this parliament; and I would allow that Mr Rudd might (just might) drag the rotting corpse that is Labor over the line at the next election. But what would you then have?

    A seemingly narcissistic PM who seeks counsel from himself in the third person, and is despised by half of his caucus, and most of the current front bench – some of whom actually have talent surpassing anything available to Mr Abbott.

    But there’s a deeper problem behind this. A comment on LE’s earlier post seemed to suggest that it was ok for them to play, because we could rely upon our Public Service to carry on regardless. That is simply not true – or not as true as it used to be maybe 20 years ago.

    We’ve all heard the stories of the debacle that was Pink Batts, and the Education Build. Reasonable policies for the times in which they were pursued. But woefully, inadequately, incompetently, implemented by our public servants. I’m saying (maybe excepting Treasury) that our Public Service might be good at policy formulation, and evaluation – but they are absolute shite at implementation, and have been for years.

    Good luck Mr Abbott. The keys will be shortly yours, but I’d use a commercial contractor to check the plumbing, the wiring, and the water supply before moving in.

  6. Posted February 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Actually, I agree with Mel (except I give a lot more credit to the Reserve Bank).

  7. Mel
    Posted February 26, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    kvd:

    “We’ve all heard the stories of the debacle that was Pink Batts, and the Education Build. ”

    Yes but I’m still not clear on how much of it was facts as opposed to “stories”. (IIRC Possum argued pretty convincingly I thought that the pink batt scheme deaths were if anything below the industry average. Ditto for fires.).

    Anyway, the Government has certainly done a crap job of selling itself.

    I disagree with most of what Alexander Johannesen @4 says other than the part about us getting the politicians we deserve. Australians spend a lot of time pissing and moaning about politics but then do precisely nothing to change it. We really are a nation of bystanders (that includes me- ain’t no-one gonna dislodge me from my armchair).

  8. kvd
    Posted February 26, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Mel I agree with your comment on the unfortunate deaths and fires. That is my understanding too. But I’d stand by my comment that these were good schemes poorly implemented, and badly administered – neither of which is a minister’s job, but certainly that of the departments involved.

  9. Movius
    Posted February 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Pretty certain the pink batts et al were administered by brand new Departments of Rainbow and Unicorn Affairs created by Rudd and not the departments with the experience of administering similar programs.

  10. Posted February 26, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Mel @7 : So, for the sake of keeping the discussion fruitful, what apart from “you get the politicians you deserve” do you disagree with? I think, frankly, that that could well be my main point, but as to my various observations I’m not sure I’m that off the mark?

  11. Posted February 26, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Well, I know what I’ll be doing tomorrow @work – explaining the labyrinthine processes of Australian politics to a bunch of bemused Scots. Yes, this is now making the news over here.

    Just adding to Mel and Lorenzo’s point: no-one in the UK can understand why Australians whinge so much, and also why we are so poor at acknowledging how well-run Australia is (even allowing for recent stuff-ups by newly created departments for unicorns and fluffy bunnies, or whatever).

    I can assure you that the SNP in particular is looking at Australia and going ‘if Scotland becomes independent, we’re doing THAT!’

    To give you an idea of just how remarkable Australia is, take a look at this:

    http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2011/12/08/australian-exceptionalism/

    [To my shame, the link was first drawn to my attention by a member of the SNP. Yes really.]

  12. TerjeP
    Posted February 26, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    When Latham lead the ALP I preferenced Labor over Liberal for the first time since the Hawke years. He was a rough nut but he had substance. I still quite like him. However I disliked Rudd almost immediately. He always struck me as somebody that should not be given power. Instincts can sometimes mislead you but everything that has happened since simply vindicates my initial reaction. Rudd makes me think of Stalin.

  13. TerjeP
    Posted February 26, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    Skepticlawyer – we also have an exceptional amount of economic freedom in relative terms. However we could do a lot better.

    http://www.heritage.org/index/default

    There is no point being complacent.

  14. paul walter
    Posted February 26, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    Yes its been pitful.
    To think that sophisticated adults, with fine accomplishments in other fields, can’t work their way through what is little better than a personality clash, is breathtaking.
    It is like watching a Steven Hawking fail on two plus two after propounding some sort of complex theory on quantum physics.
    I find little to add, beyond saying that LE’s take is basically mine, none of the Manichean false dichotomies, farty partisanship and ad-homening come any where near a real appreciation of changing times and underlying socio-political complexities.
    It may be that Rudd does an Othello and strangles Gillard’s Desdemona, but the only people gloating will be the gormless Iagos of the tabloid press, the opposition and Labor’s own lazy factions and their hack mediocrities.
    These two otherwise capable people, and others also, ought to be bloody ashamed of themselves, for letting this get out of hand to the extent that it has- they will all go down, if they’re not careful, like Gadarene pigs over the cliff.

  15. Adrien
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 2:30 am | Permalink

    Mel – Stop babbling, Adrien.

    I cannot because I never started.

    We are literally the envy of the western world

    Our economic situation is enviable, yes.

    because we’ve managed to pull through the GFC and the Great Recession far better than our peers

    Yes.


    at least in part because of competent economic management by the Government.

    Our economy is a free market so it is not managed. But we do have a well run country. This is a legacy. Our current government inherits this legacy. Has it contributed or detracted from said legacy? Yes/no?

    If yes, please illustrate with examples; if no please ellucidate as to your point.After all it seems to me that a good part of the reason why this country runs well is that we call bullshit on bullshit governments.

    How does indulging the Kevvie the SocioDork versus Joolia the Bogan Queen mini-series contribute to our well ‘managed’ economy?

  16. Adrien
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 2:38 am | Permalink

    alexander- – But no, mandatory voting coupled with upvoting to a two-party system is giving you what you deserve.

    How does compulsory voting figure here? Or the two party system? Both have existed a long time and this problem is new.

    There are some strong revisions needed, one of them being to make a new law for politicians; don’t be a brat,

    Oh please write a draft of that one, I need a laugh old bean.

    coalitions should be the norm

    The norm should be the norm however it plays. What doesn’t play well is when the ‘norm’ is subject to predestinate determination. Legislate the norm before the fact and what occurs is not normal. 🙂

  17. Posted February 27, 2012 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    The New South Wales Disease has infected the ALP nationwide. It is important to our country that both sides of politics are viable. When one side of politics has lost its way to the extent that the government has, it not only gives a free kick to their opposition, it makes it easier for the leadership of that opposition to not feel the heat of competition from within their own ranks.

    Those representing the ALP in parliaments today are either lawyers, union leaders or political staffers by profession. In the early Australian parliaments it was said that you had every trade in the town represented. While the business people and farmers are still represented, the steel worker and the engineer, the shearer and truck driver are nowhere to be seen.

    The difference between who should and shouldnt represnt the ALP is ably demonstrated by Kathy Jackson and Craig Thomson. There is no way that a party responsible for governing Australia should preselect arseholes like Thomson for parliament and no way that a party who wants to govern Australia should expell from its membership someone that will stand up for the people they represent with such grace.

  18. Ripples
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Having moved into a new house over the last fortnight I have not managed to get my communications up to speed so without television or internet I had very little knowledge of this little game in the ALP.

    This morning before I logged on for my dose of Sceptical thought I over heard people in the tea room discussing what sounded like a football score. I didn’t realise until I read here what the scores were all about.

    I have to admit that ever since the meltdown of the Australian Democrats I have lost interest in the political landscape in Australia. I think the effort of wading through carry on with parties and personalities and shenanigans in general to get to actual policy and the working of government has made such an effort unsavoury to me.

    In some ways I wonder if this reflects ancient Rome and the bread and circus. In this has politics become a show to appease the masses?

    I still reserve my belief that much popular entertainment is such a design to appease a populous and not encourage critical thought and the political reporting follows this design. I have a feeling that I am feeling extra pessimistic today.

  19. paul walter
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Well.
    As many figured Julia Gillard got home comfortably enough this time.
    But not so comfortably that she can feel altogether comfortable.
    Now the best last chance beckons, but the safety net is gone.
    Kevin Rudd looks beaten and exhausted and that’s probably a good thing, maybe he goes home for a little break, licks the wounds and has that overdue bout of constructive introspection.
    All of what’s just occurred need not be ruinous, but this government must understand now that salad days are over. If they can’t understand from this point, “united we stand. divided we fall”, this will have just been a sign post on the way to something that will make the last few days seem a cakewalk.

  20. Ripples
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    LE, I agree it is a pretty good country and things could easily be an awful lot worse.

    Maybe that is what partly leads to the bad taste, the apparent dichotomy of what seems to be a very dysfunctional political landscape and a relatively successful country regardless.

    I am disinclined to correlate success to the dysfunctional politicians and tend to wonder if they have any real influence on the success. Is the country successful despite the worst efforts of leadership? I refer not to any particular party but the whole political landscape and its players.

    Maybe the issue I have is my own problem in that I once perceived statesmanlike behaviour and poise demonstrated by political figures of the past and this isn’t necessarily what I see in today’s political landscape.

    Could I be becoming like my father and the “we had better politicians in my day” mindset? Oh my I think I need bourbon now.

  21. Posted February 27, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] Excellent piece, though the wealth stats are inflated by our ludicrous house prices flowing from our land use permit raj.

  22. kvd
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Programmatic specificity morphs into programmatic discontinuity. Not that I pretend to understand either phrase.

    Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I thought Ms Gillard handled her presser just how she should have been handling her Prime Ministership: totally in control; short direct answers; preserving (announcing?) her dignity as PM in front of what basically was a bunch of press tossers interested only in the afternoon filing deadline.

    I must say I’ve always admired Ms Terese Rein. An Australian and international business success, and quietly active on the charity front. Intelligent, competent, respected, self-starter.

    Perhaps it’s really true that opposites attract?

  23. Mel
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Adrien @16:

    “Our economy is a free market so it is not managed. ”

    Write a two thousand essay on how this is a dopey comment because the government manages our mixed (not free market) economy and submit it to me by Friday then I’ll answer your question, you filibustering flibbertigibbet. Some subject headings might include macroeconomic and microeconomic theory and practice, fiat currency, monetary and fiscal policy, property and commercial law, tax incentives/disincentives, free trade agreements, import/export restrictions, regulatory credentialism, government creation of markets (eg water trading in the MDB), oligopoly protection (eg. re the Big Four banks) etc etc etc

  24. Posted February 27, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Adrian @17 : Compulsory voting is, for me, a very weird thing, and it certainly doesn’t sit well with me. The main thing is that most people don’t give a rats about politics, and hence certainly don’t understand the consequences of whatever vote they are forced to cast, especially as his/her voice trickles up a power-structure they have absolutely *no* idea about. It plays well to the cult of personality, not the cult of party policy with subtleties and undercurrents and compromises. Playing the popularity game on the ignorant should not be the basis for democracy; we should value science and politicians who make informed decisions, honest debate (as opposed to a public cock-fight) and willingness to compromise.

    Mel @26 : I think many people confuse “free market” with our “free-er than strict market.” People like to think of, say, the USA as the prototype for free market economies without really understanding what an unregulated free market would be really like, or just how much regulation does indeed go on over there.

  25. Movius
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    I only like mature politics for mature political observers such as myself

  26. Posted February 27, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Playing the popularity game on the ignorant should not be the basis for democracy…

    There is something worse than politicians playing the popularity game on the ignorant. It’s politicians playing the motivation game on the ignorant.

  27. kvd
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    I agree with your thoughts [email protected] I’m always wary of non-compulsory voting – worrying that those who then vote might be more easily captured by the so-called ‘elites’ among us.

    Basically if we are to be misinformed, lied to, and manipulated then the more of us forced to vote the better. And the less excuse any of us has that they were not part of the process.

  28. Jacques Chester
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    though the wealth stats are inflated by our ludicrous house prices flowing from our land use permit raj

    Compulsory superannuation is the other elephant in this crowded room.

  29. Jacques Chester
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    There is something worse than politicians playing the popularity game on the ignorant. It’s politicians playing the motivation game on the ignorant.

    One of the most concise remarks on the electoral consequences of Hotelling’s law that I’ve ever seen.

    That the USA is obsessed with soaring rhetoric, crushing negativity and generous lashings of moralistic navel-gazing — while in Australia our politics is largely transactional — is not coincidental. Compulsory voting plays a large role. So too does our Washminster constitution.

  30. Adrien
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Mel – Write a two thousand essay on how this is a dopey comment …

    I get paid well to write lies, so cough up the cash and sure. 🙂

    The government has all sorts of instruments that affect the economy but it does not ‘manage’ it. This is at the heart of the liberal/socialist worldview fandango so I don’t expect you to ‘get it’. But if you could get it, it would be good.

  31. Adrien
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Alexander- It plays well to the cult of personality, not the cult of party policy with subtleties and undercurrents and compromises.

    As opposed to the US where voting is not compulsory and so elections are a sober reflection on policies. 🙂

    Playing the popularity game on the ignorant

    And who is ignorant? Who are we to decide who is ignorant? See the problem. A lot of people who are very hip to political insider views and news are, in my opinion, ignorant of the real world. Why? Because they’re too busy obsessing over the petty games that make up political activity 85% of the time. Many ALP members are right now arguing about the Rudd/Gillard thing in total ignorance of just how sick their party is.

    People like to think of, say, the USA as the prototype for free market economies without really understanding what an unregulated free market would be really like,

    Regulation does not equal management. Football has rules and referees. But these institutions do not decide if Collingwood or Geelong win the grand final.

  32. Patrick
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    I think Alexander has confused a monoculture with democracy.

    Norway has a lot of things going for it. I’m not sure how many of them are relevant to Australia.

  33. Patrick
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    I think Alexander has confused a monoculture with democracy.

    Norway has a lot of things going for it. I’m not sure how many of them are relevant to Australia.

  34. kvd
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    [email protected] I remember during the Queensland floods watching that little tug trying to guide a large piece of the Riverside walkway so that it wouldn’t cause damage to (I think it was?) the Gateway Bridge. I thought they did a marvellous job, just doing as best they could, and were successful.

    Now if that’s what you mean by a ‘managed economy’, then I’d agree with you. Otherwise Adrien seems to have it right imo.

  35. Ripples
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    KVD @ 38–you are correct, the little tug that could was manoeuvring the section of river walk away from the pylons of the Gateway Bridge in the Brisbane River.

  36. Posted March 1, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Adrien : Sorry for the late reply. I’ve been ill.

    But, erm, I would never point to the US as an example of much done right, so no. Look rather to Scandinavian countries which incidentally is my best reference.

    As to who is ignorant? Anyone who doesn’t care nor know about the workings of politics and yet vote, really. In Norway we have a political culture, ie. everyone (with the usual caveats) follows it and understands it. (My Aussie wife can tell many stories of how this is a direct crash with the Aussie way) Living down-under, talking about politics, even on a neutral platform, proves itself rather tricky (albeit not impossible). There’s a certain degree of seriousness applied to politics that I’m used to which simply is in reverse here (and in the US, I’m also happy to report). I usually say that even politicians don’t take politics seriously here. It’s that strong polarisation of opinion, that any problem has a white or black answer that I really have a problem with, and what else could it be than a) politicians are black and white (which I don’t think is the case), or b) playing the popular vote demands such stupid rethorics.

    Yes, I’d still push that most Australians are ignorant of politics (disclaimer: I’ve lived in Canberra for many years, and had both friends and family talk about political issues, with them most of the time throwing their arms up in the air over the state of it, especially as we entered those wretched waters of ‘subtleties’ and centrism), however this stems probably more from the crazy antics of it (feel free to list your favourite political storms, such as this posts subject) and the treatment of public opinion than from people not necessarily wanting to know or have a say. And, personally, I suspect the forced voting don’t make a dint in people’s general understanding and engagement of politics, it’s just one more thing the government forces Aussies to do without having solid facts for doing so, and as such enters into that long-held tradition of opinion-over-reason that follows Aussie politics around like a bad smell.

    There’s plenty of wonderful things about Australia, don’t get me wrong, but their political climate and inner workings are *not* some of them.

  37. Patrick
    Posted March 5, 2012 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Yes, Alex, but leaving aside Scandinavian countries as possibly inappropriate comparisions (homogeneity in particular springs to mind) what other countries would you say we do worse than?

    (so tempting to say ‘real’ instead of ‘other’ but I’ll try and keep the gratituitious insults out of it for now)

  38. Adrien
    Posted March 7, 2012 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Alex,

    Sorry for the long reply but I had to think about it:

    As to who is ignorant? Anyone who doesn’t care nor know about the workings of politics and yet vote, really. In Norway we have a political culture, ie. everyone (with the usual caveats) follows it and understands it.

    Many I’ve spoken to are, they say, well informed, but they have never read Machiavelli, which is not essential, nor do they grasp the fundamental and unpleasant truth that The Prince elucidates, which is. Moreover the complexities of the field of human law in which powerful interest, the powerless multitude, the tendency to chaos and the attendant vagaries of human vanity, illusion and ego are beyond anyone to ‘understand it’. At least perfectly.

    I remember an interview with the Swedish band ABBA. They were asked about their wealth and Benny Anderson replied that Swedish citizens had to pay a lot of tax, adding, quite sincerely, that it was fair. This is not an attitude traditional in English-speaking countries. The Scandinavian tradition of democracy is quite distinct from the English and is based on this difference of ethos.

    That said, Australia has, from time to time, borrowed from Scandinavian democracy. It is distinct from other Anglosphere countries in that its origin are in penal servitude and its ideas of liberty are slightly different. The benefits and liabilities of this I won’t discuss now.

    Compulsory voting doesn’t force one to cast a vote. It compels one, quite gently, to turn up and take a bit of paper into a booth. You can draw dirty pictures on it if you want to or defame the candidates. But because people in general have to turn up, people in general have to take a cursory interest.

    Most of us are led by our noses right thru the process. The intelligentsia by and large loves to delude itself that it understands. But the conversation is usually devoid of the obvious grease, barter and graft that comes of the political life. You may like what the Greens have to say but the minute they run, they become just like the rest of ’em. Unavoidable.

    What is avoidable is the denigration of elections to a parade of interest groups like they have in the States. Why would this happen? Because generally people don’t give a shit and know even less. It’s because we’re ignorant that compulsory voting is required. In Australian democracy it’s a bulwark against plutocracy. It’s a form of sports. 🙂

  39. Jacques Chester
    Posted March 7, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    In Norway we have a political culture, ie. everyone (with the usual caveats) follows it and understands it.

    I call availability bias.

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