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50 responses to “Links post: Why the Labor leadership change shows our political system is broken”

  1. Dave Bath

    It’s because the House on the hill is becoming like the Big Brother house – the media trivializes, the housemates put on a show to stay in favor with the viewing public while shafting the others.

    Mind you, a regular poll to evict the most disliked politician (the Athenians had one every year to expel the biggest troublemaker from town for 10 years) is the only useful thing missing.

    Is it any different in many things? Musicians? Once it was virtuosity, musicality and poetry, but is increasingly about celebrity (indeed infamy), lightshows and costumes.

    The earthquake mentioned at the end of Rundle’s piece is, I suspect, common to many things – it’ll be the Feelies and Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy soon… without the soma.

  2. Dave Bath

    It’s because the House on the hill is becoming like the Big Brother house – the media trivializes, the housemates put on a show to stay in favor with the viewing public while shafting the others.

    Mind you, a regular poll to evict the most disliked politician (the Athenians had one every year to expel the biggest troublemaker from town for 10 years) is the only useful thing missing.

    Is it any different in many things? Musicians? Once it was virtuosity, musicality and poetry, but is increasingly about celebrity (indeed infamy), lightshows and costumes.

    The earthquake mentioned at the end of Rundle’s piece is, I suspect, common to many things – it’ll be the Feelies and Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy soon… without the soma.

  3. Ilya

    Thank you for these links, excellent – and deeply depressing – articles. ‘Game on’ indeed.

  4. Ilya

    Thank you for these links, excellent – and deeply depressing – articles. ‘Game on’ indeed.

  5. p.a.travers

    Sparrow in writing seems to be able to express some strong passion himself.It comes along with the income.Rundle is a whizz at borrowing some other peoples’ random eventuations… which the universe may have abandoned.I don’t buy the end of the instituions and democracy,I haven’t even got a working savings passbook.GF!

  6. p.a.travers

    Sparrow in writing seems to be able to express some strong passion himself.It comes along with the income.Rundle is a whizz at borrowing some other peoples’ random eventuations… which the universe may have abandoned.I don’t buy the end of the instituions and democracy,I haven’t even got a working savings passbook.GF!

  7. John D

    I remember many years ago being startled when Robert Gottliebsen pointed out years ago that the rise of free market globalization was going to diminish the power of national governments. His thesis was that power was going to flow to multinationals who were able to relocate their business if they didn’t like what a particular government was doing, particularly in terms of taxes, subsidies and other things that might affect profits.
    The problem has got worse with the collapse of communism (big threat if the workers were too harshly treated) and the growth of the internet which made more jobs internationally mobile.
    None of this applied in the world I started work in (1960) Protectionism was in full swing. The communists were going to be a threat if the workers couldn’t see their conditions improving, unemployment was below 2% and the adults were all happy that the depression and WW2 was behind them. There was also this growing feeling that things were getting better. So we had a long period of Liberal party dominance supported by the Packer and Fairfax media empires. We even had a government that controlled the economy instead of a reserve bank that has far too much power.
    So Robert was right. Governments now have less power. We have a sense that things are in decline even if we did survive the GST. We have the climate crisis which no national government has the power to resolve on its own. So it is not surprising that western governments are going through a period of instability.
    Answers anyone?

  8. John D

    I remember many years ago being startled when Robert Gottliebsen pointed out years ago that the rise of free market globalization was going to diminish the power of national governments. His thesis was that power was going to flow to multinationals who were able to relocate their business if they didn’t like what a particular government was doing, particularly in terms of taxes, subsidies and other things that might affect profits.
    The problem has got worse with the collapse of communism (big threat if the workers were too harshly treated) and the growth of the internet which made more jobs internationally mobile.
    None of this applied in the world I started work in (1960) Protectionism was in full swing. The communists were going to be a threat if the workers couldn’t see their conditions improving, unemployment was below 2% and the adults were all happy that the depression and WW2 was behind them. There was also this growing feeling that things were getting better. So we had a long period of Liberal party dominance supported by the Packer and Fairfax media empires. We even had a government that controlled the economy instead of a reserve bank that has far too much power.
    So Robert was right. Governments now have less power. We have a sense that things are in decline even if we did survive the GST. We have the climate crisis which no national government has the power to resolve on its own. So it is not surprising that western governments are going through a period of instability.
    Answers anyone?

  9. Katz

    The seat of the earthquake that Mark refers to is the demise of Australian political parties as democratically run grass-roots organisations.

    For the example of the ALP in Victoria, I was a member in 1970 when local branches were emasculated. Whitlam’s federal intervention in the Victorian Branch was supposed to protect the Party from the dire effects of refusing to support government funding of non-government schools.

    Instead of mobilising grass-roots opposition of the Socialist Left to be, Whitlam decided on a coup. What is the point of a constitution and constitutional forms and legitimate grass-roots politicking if the results of such politicking are to be tossed into the rubbish bin of history?

  10. Katz

    The seat of the earthquake that Mark refers to is the demise of Australian political parties as democratically run grass-roots organisations.

    For the example of the ALP in Victoria, I was a member in 1970 when local branches were emasculated. Whitlam’s federal intervention in the Victorian Branch was supposed to protect the Party from the dire effects of refusing to support government funding of non-government schools.

    Instead of mobilising grass-roots opposition of the Socialist Left to be, Whitlam decided on a coup. What is the point of a constitution and constitutional forms and legitimate grass-roots politicking if the results of such politicking are to be tossed into the rubbish bin of history?

  11. Ron

    1/ “Why the Labor leadership change shows our political system is broken”

    nonsense , Rudd found out that overwhelmingly 115 Labor MP’s in Caucus did not suport him , so he did not contest th ballot

    Those Labor MP’s did not suport Rudd for politic reasons of bad polls & Rudds lack of consultation/listenin to Caucus/Public concerns , and not as you wrongly assert because th challenge was public knowledge and they were forsed to support Julia

    Proved by fact that when Hawke was similarly publicly chalenged by Keating , Labor MP’s were NOT put off by that Challenge’s public knowlege , and in fact supported Hawke by majority in th later Caucus spill

    Democracy of Labor’s 115 MP’s rules , and not a one man band working 24/7 & not listening
    And oz Public democratically will hav opportunity to elect Julia , an i think they will

    Our Country is best in World on any fair measure , and our wonderful democratic Westminister sytem & with compulsory voting , and under AEC supervision , is one of th reasons Only fringe groups who oz voters dont suport in large numbers whinge

    2/ John D
    “..Robert Gottliebsen pointed out years ago that the rise of free market globalization was going to diminish the power of national governments..”

    This is true especialy in exchange & interst rates etc , however it also opens opportunities for additional trade

    YET despite Globilzation , oz has successfuly on its own borrowed 42 billion to fund us thru GFC via multiple targetted stimuli…resulting in low unemployement , low interest rates , growth and no Govt debt by 2013….in all these areas we ar envy of World whose Stimuli’s were poorly directed , so despite globilization Nations can affect there econamic futures to an extent (especialy in expenditures)

    3/ John D
    “We have the climate crisis which no national government has the power to resolve on its own.”

    agree , tell Liberals and Greens that , neither get it , in a globilized Trading World …..and is getting worse with China is building one large Coal Station a week

  12. Ron

    1/ “Why the Labor leadership change shows our political system is broken”

    nonsense , Rudd found out that overwhelmingly 115 Labor MP’s in Caucus did not suport him , so he did not contest th ballot

    Those Labor MP’s did not suport Rudd for politic reasons of bad polls & Rudds lack of consultation/listenin to Caucus/Public concerns , and not as you wrongly assert because th challenge was public knowledge and they were forsed to support Julia

    Proved by fact that when Hawke was similarly publicly chalenged by Keating , Labor MP’s were NOT put off by that Challenge’s public knowlege , and in fact supported Hawke by majority in th later Caucus spill

    Democracy of Labor’s 115 MP’s rules , and not a one man band working 24/7 & not listening
    And oz Public democratically will hav opportunity to elect Julia , an i think they will

    Our Country is best in World on any fair measure , and our wonderful democratic Westminister sytem & with compulsory voting , and under AEC supervision , is one of th reasons Only fringe groups who oz voters dont suport in large numbers whinge

    2/ John D
    “..Robert Gottliebsen pointed out years ago that the rise of free market globalization was going to diminish the power of national governments..”

    This is true especialy in exchange & interst rates etc , however it also opens opportunities for additional trade

    YET despite Globilzation , oz has successfuly on its own borrowed 42 billion to fund us thru GFC via multiple targetted stimuli…resulting in low unemployement , low interest rates , growth and no Govt debt by 2013….in all these areas we ar envy of World whose Stimuli’s were poorly directed , so despite globilization Nations can affect there econamic futures to an extent (especialy in expenditures)

    3/ John D
    “We have the climate crisis which no national government has the power to resolve on its own.”

    agree , tell Liberals and Greens that , neither get it , in a globilized Trading World …..and is getting worse with China is building one large Coal Station a week

  13. Ute Man

    The earthquake Rundle is referring to is this:
    Kunstler: The Long Emergency

    When I first came across it, I dismissed it as “doomer pr0n” – a paranoid fantasy.

    Now? I’m not so sure. Economies the world over have stopped growing – which means the expanded credit system has no basis to be paid back. “Austerity Measures” are two words you’ll be hearing for quite a while as the big unfunded welfare states are unwound. It’s easy to mistake it for the triumphant resurge of neo-liberalism as it finally has the ability to squash the so-called moral hazard of welfare, public health systems and government owned utilities. This, in my view, is a mistaken reading of what is actually happening: as we hit physical constraints to economic growth, our economies must contract.

    The discontent this is causing already feeds back into an angry and disillusioned populace (the tea party movement being the most obvious manifestation). I think perhaps Hansonism and the LaRouche movements predate it but it seems to me the underlying reason for their emergence is the same. The two main parties in Australia are ill-equipped to deal with the contradicting positions they increasingly must adopt to keep their popularity up. Read the Rundle piece – he explains it far better than I do.

  14. Ute Man

    The earthquake Rundle is referring to is this:
    Kunstler: The Long Emergency

    When I first came across it, I dismissed it as “doomer pr0n” – a paranoid fantasy.

    Now? I’m not so sure. Economies the world over have stopped growing – which means the expanded credit system has no basis to be paid back. “Austerity Measures” are two words you’ll be hearing for quite a while as the big unfunded welfare states are unwound. It’s easy to mistake it for the triumphant resurge of neo-liberalism as it finally has the ability to squash the so-called moral hazard of welfare, public health systems and government owned utilities. This, in my view, is a mistaken reading of what is actually happening: as we hit physical constraints to economic growth, our economies must contract.

    The discontent this is causing already feeds back into an angry and disillusioned populace (the tea party movement being the most obvious manifestation). I think perhaps Hansonism and the LaRouche movements predate it but it seems to me the underlying reason for their emergence is the same. The two main parties in Australia are ill-equipped to deal with the contradicting positions they increasingly must adopt to keep their popularity up. Read the Rundle piece – he explains it far better than I do.

  15. kymbos

    I think you’re taking it a bit far, Mark. Rudd never had a base in the Party, and as such his leadership was predicated on continual polling success. The factions he was trying to break took their opportunity when his popularity dropped away. There’s no reason to suggest that subsequent leaders with more factional grounding can’t survive periods of poor polling.

  16. kymbos

    I think you’re taking it a bit far, Mark. Rudd never had a base in the Party, and as such his leadership was predicated on continual polling success. The factions he was trying to break took their opportunity when his popularity dropped away. There’s no reason to suggest that subsequent leaders with more factional grounding can’t survive periods of poor polling.

  17. Ootz

    kymbos, have you read Rundles piece or follow Euro politics?

    JG is very likely to find herself stranded on Rundles metaphorical reef of the 21st century, as it is not just poor polling that is the problem.

    Like ute man, I am not a doom p0rn fatalist and Rundles piece resonate very strongly with my observations and analysis in the political, economical, social, technological and environmental spheres. As does Sparrows piece in relation to perceptions etc. in politics. Dismiss Marxist and fancy French intellectual thinking at your own peril (personally I am an ecclectic pragmatist, horses for courses etc), but Guy Debord comes to mind with his society of the spectacles. Thats why I guess many wont get Rundles Earthquake unless it comes with 5.1 surround sound on a blueray DVD produced in Hollywood, watched on a plasma screen for entertainment or for that matter read the tablets coming down the mountain as in supersized MSM.

    My second book in my early life in which I was totally absorbed, was C W Ceram’s Gods, Graves and Scholars. To me the biggest puzzle of it all was, how could such rich, sophisticated and powerful civilisations vanish? Today I think I know the answer, I am living in it.

  18. Ootz

    kymbos, have you read Rundles piece or follow Euro politics?

    JG is very likely to find herself stranded on Rundles metaphorical reef of the 21st century, as it is not just poor polling that is the problem.

    Like ute man, I am not a doom p0rn fatalist and Rundles piece resonate very strongly with my observations and analysis in the political, economical, social, technological and environmental spheres. As does Sparrows piece in relation to perceptions etc. in politics. Dismiss Marxist and fancy French intellectual thinking at your own peril (personally I am an ecclectic pragmatist, horses for courses etc), but Guy Debord comes to mind with his society of the spectacles. Thats why I guess many wont get Rundles Earthquake unless it comes with 5.1 surround sound on a blueray DVD produced in Hollywood, watched on a plasma screen for entertainment or for that matter read the tablets coming down the mountain as in supersized MSM.

    My second book in my early life in which I was totally absorbed, was C W Ceram’s Gods, Graves and Scholars. To me the biggest puzzle of it all was, how could such rich, sophisticated and powerful civilisations vanish? Today I think I know the answer, I am living in it.

  19. billie

    Last Sunday I was so unhappy with Labor’s performance I was going to vote Green, although I noticed that people on the street were vocally defending the RSPT tax. On Monday I wondered why Australian Story repeated their Julia Gillard story.
    On Wednesday night I wished that Rudd had been speaking that clearly and passionately 3 months earlier.
    I hadn’t realised the number of things that Rudd’s government had passed that make life better for the poorer sections of society until I heard his farewell speech.
    Its very sobering to realise that plotters started destroying the Prime Minister and fed the media. Do not reward them, make Bill Shorten wait.
    Finally I wish Julia a successful Prime Ministership. Labor must beat Tony Abbott, reduce our carbon emissions, make the miners pay more tax and continue to build an equitable society.

    Feminism “has come a long way, baby”: In 1973, when Whitlam was Prime Minister women earned 2/3 of the male wage, had just won the right to remain working after marriage, could not contribute to Commonwealth Superannuation, couldn’t get a mortgage and had gained control over their own fertility. Women’s status was tied to who they married and their children’s behaviour.

  20. billie

    Last Sunday I was so unhappy with Labor’s performance I was going to vote Green, although I noticed that people on the street were vocally defending the RSPT tax. On Monday I wondered why Australian Story repeated their Julia Gillard story.
    On Wednesday night I wished that Rudd had been speaking that clearly and passionately 3 months earlier.
    I hadn’t realised the number of things that Rudd’s government had passed that make life better for the poorer sections of society until I heard his farewell speech.
    Its very sobering to realise that plotters started destroying the Prime Minister and fed the media. Do not reward them, make Bill Shorten wait.
    Finally I wish Julia a successful Prime Ministership. Labor must beat Tony Abbott, reduce our carbon emissions, make the miners pay more tax and continue to build an equitable society.

    Feminism “has come a long way, baby”: In 1973, when Whitlam was Prime Minister women earned 2/3 of the male wage, had just won the right to remain working after marriage, could not contribute to Commonwealth Superannuation, couldn’t get a mortgage and had gained control over their own fertility. Women’s status was tied to who they married and their children’s behaviour.

  21. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Or for more doomer erotica, there’s Jared Diamond’s Collapse, with Australia getting a chapter of its own. Since the book is is front of me, let me quote the key paragraph for that chapter.

    Australia has been and is still is “mining” its renewable resources as if they were mined minerals. That is, they are being overexploited at rates faster than their renewal rates, with the result that they are declining. At present rates, Australia’s forests and fisheries will disappear long before its coal and iron reserves, which is ironic in view of the fact that the former are renewable but the latter aren’t.

    One problem: are the governments – state or federal – ALP or Liberal – actually capable of handling this issue? At least they know what an “environment” is, and they’re not mandating clear felling anymore. But every big over-financed whiny special interest group that comes along throws them into a tizzy of confusion and fear.

    Thats why I guess many wont get Rundles Earthquake unless it comes with 5.1 surround sound on a blueray DVD produced in Hollywood, watched on a plasma screen for entertainment or for that matter read the tablets coming down the mountain as in supersized MSM.

    Better give them a forerunner of what to expect.

  22. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Or for more doomer erotica, there’s Jared Diamond’s Collapse, with Australia getting a chapter of its own. Since the book is is front of me, let me quote the key paragraph for that chapter.

    Australia has been and is still is “mining” its renewable resources as if they were mined minerals. That is, they are being overexploited at rates faster than their renewal rates, with the result that they are declining. At present rates, Australia’s forests and fisheries will disappear long before its coal and iron reserves, which is ironic in view of the fact that the former are renewable but the latter aren’t.

    One problem: are the governments – state or federal – ALP or Liberal – actually capable of handling this issue? At least they know what an “environment” is, and they’re not mandating clear felling anymore. But every big over-financed whiny special interest group that comes along throws them into a tizzy of confusion and fear.

    Thats why I guess many wont get Rundles Earthquake unless it comes with 5.1 surround sound on a blueray DVD produced in Hollywood, watched on a plasma screen for entertainment or for that matter read the tablets coming down the mountain as in supersized MSM.

    Better give them a forerunner of what to expect.

  23. Sacha

    I suggest that looking at whether leaders can address particular great challenges rather than challenges in general. Each one will have its own characteristics and challenges.

    With climate change, one aspect of the challenge is to internalize some costs which have been ignored, and doing this will have distributional impacts. Throw in the special interests, the difficulty of selling action and the difficulty of coordinating ~200 countries and it makes the issue hard.

    What are other great challenges?

  24. Sacha

    I suggest that looking at whether leaders can address particular great challenges rather than challenges in general. Each one will have its own characteristics and challenges.

    With climate change, one aspect of the challenge is to internalize some costs which have been ignored, and doing this will have distributional impacts. Throw in the special interests, the difficulty of selling action and the difficulty of coordinating ~200 countries and it makes the issue hard.

    What are other great challenges?

  25. qier

    Check out ClubOrlov and The Archdruid report for more of the same. While i keep a focus on current politics i pay attention to what will have to be done if starts seriously falling apart. Paul Erlich has a FORA lecture on this topic, which i listen to periodically as well.
    It is interesting to find the emergence of this doomer pr0n as nearly nearly accepted wisdom on mainstream political blog non-MSM sites, from different angles and perspectives.

  26. qier

    Check out ClubOrlov and The Archdruid report for more of the same. While i keep a focus on current politics i pay attention to what will have to be done if starts seriously falling apart. Paul Erlich has a FORA lecture on this topic, which i listen to periodically as well.
    It is interesting to find the emergence of this doomer pr0n as nearly nearly accepted wisdom on mainstream political blog non-MSM sites, from different angles and perspectives.

  27. nasking

    My new post…after a few days of reflection on holiday as a Qlder:

    Qlders Stormed The Beaches: Proud Of Kev

    http://cafewhispers.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/qlders-stormed-the-beaches-proud-of-kev/

    N’

  28. nasking

    My new post…after a few days of reflection on holiday as a Qlder:

    Qlders Stormed The Beaches: Proud Of Kev

    http://cafewhispers.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/qlders-stormed-the-beaches-proud-of-kev/

    N’

  29. Ute Man

    What are other great challenges?

    Ocean acidification. Back when we had pay TV, there was a chef (Stein?) who did a show on showcasing seafood from the UK. Up and down the coast of the UK he went, and at every fishing villagee he went the original fishing fleets were devastated or gone completely and the fishermen in those communities were scrounging for all sorts of horrifying creatures that 50 years ago they would have thrown back. It was somewhat startling in a LifeStyle channel show. Now, the simple answer is probably that the fisheries were simply over-fished to the point where they could no longer replace or sustain any kind of fish population, but given that quotas started to be introduced in the 1950s I’m not sure. Research into the coral bleaching events on the reef systems seem to indicate that the PH of the ocean just might be feeding back into marine fertility. That is downright scary if it’s true.

    Liquid fuel for transport: It’s not that there isn’t any left, just that it is increasingly hard to get. We had a preview of this difficulty in our own mini-spill, but the Gulf of Mexico demonstrates just what the oil companies are faced with when deep water drilling is required. I’m sure BP thinks the Deepwater Horizon spill is something like Apollo 1 (capsule burned on the launchpad during a test with three astronauts inside, but the program was eventually successful). It looks to me though that Deepwater Horizon is more like Space Shuttle Columbia: the beginning of the end.

    One thing is clear – operating at 5000 feet requires a similar level of technology to space flight and nobody quite knows what they are doing. Worse than that, the massive disaster has produced devastating consequences with an amount of oil that the US would ordinarily burn for transport in a matter of weeks.

    The overall complexity of these systems has lately been blamed (that nobody really knows how the feedback of financial markets and physical systems works) but liberal economists have been telling us for 200 years that the greatest strength of the market economy is that nobody needs to know because it is inherently self correcting, and therefore all big mistakes must in fact be from government intervention. That philosophy (sort of) underlies where the tea party try to derive their philosophy of a renewed republic with a minimal government. Now, those economists are probably broadly correct (it corrects!) but the increasingly scary swings of that self correcting pendulum are starting to make me woozy.

    For most people (me included) the whole thing just seems like a scary house of cards – a teetering mass of financial ponzi schemes and crazy planet altering experiments involving carbon dioxide. That increasingly fickle and powerful corporations feel free to country shop for amenable rules, compliant governments and a population just a little hungrier than where they are leaving. In turn, our own governments try to cover the income shortfall of hollowed out industrial economies with “family tax benefits” and lax credit markets and end up like Greece: technically bankrupt with a population entirely dependent on welfare. Greece was never a spectacularly stable country and the fallout will be nasty.

    None of it will end well. When we all collectively supported governments in dismantling tarrif walls and price controls we also collectively ceded the power to do anything whatsoever. Now we are trying to bring them back in the form of carbon taxes and progressive industry taxes. Capital still flows freely, but half a dozen boat people trying to find a better life away from religious persecution or war suddenly seem like A Big Deal if you’re six weeks away from retrenchment.

    Dammit. I am a doomer. How did that happen?

  30. Ute Man

    What are other great challenges?

    Ocean acidification. Back when we had pay TV, there was a chef (Stein?) who did a show on showcasing seafood from the UK. Up and down the coast of the UK he went, and at every fishing villagee he went the original fishing fleets were devastated or gone completely and the fishermen in those communities were scrounging for all sorts of horrifying creatures that 50 years ago they would have thrown back. It was somewhat startling in a LifeStyle channel show. Now, the simple answer is probably that the fisheries were simply over-fished to the point where they could no longer replace or sustain any kind of fish population, but given that quotas started to be introduced in the 1950s I’m not sure. Research into the coral bleaching events on the reef systems seem to indicate that the PH of the ocean just might be feeding back into marine fertility. That is downright scary if it’s true.

    Liquid fuel for transport: It’s not that there isn’t any left, just that it is increasingly hard to get. We had a preview of this difficulty in our own mini-spill, but the Gulf of Mexico demonstrates just what the oil companies are faced with when deep water drilling is required. I’m sure BP thinks the Deepwater Horizon spill is something like Apollo 1 (capsule burned on the launchpad during a test with three astronauts inside, but the program was eventually successful). It looks to me though that Deepwater Horizon is more like Space Shuttle Columbia: the beginning of the end.

    One thing is clear – operating at 5000 feet requires a similar level of technology to space flight and nobody quite knows what they are doing. Worse than that, the massive disaster has produced devastating consequences with an amount of oil that the US would ordinarily burn for transport in a matter of weeks.

    The overall complexity of these systems has lately been blamed (that nobody really knows how the feedback of financial markets and physical systems works) but liberal economists have been telling us for 200 years that the greatest strength of the market economy is that nobody needs to know because it is inherently self correcting, and therefore all big mistakes must in fact be from government intervention. That philosophy (sort of) underlies where the tea party try to derive their philosophy of a renewed republic with a minimal government. Now, those economists are probably broadly correct (it corrects!) but the increasingly scary swings of that self correcting pendulum are starting to make me woozy.

    For most people (me included) the whole thing just seems like a scary house of cards – a teetering mass of financial ponzi schemes and crazy planet altering experiments involving carbon dioxide. That increasingly fickle and powerful corporations feel free to country shop for amenable rules, compliant governments and a population just a little hungrier than where they are leaving. In turn, our own governments try to cover the income shortfall of hollowed out industrial economies with “family tax benefits” and lax credit markets and end up like Greece: technically bankrupt with a population entirely dependent on welfare. Greece was never a spectacularly stable country and the fallout will be nasty.

    None of it will end well. When we all collectively supported governments in dismantling tarrif walls and price controls we also collectively ceded the power to do anything whatsoever. Now we are trying to bring them back in the form of carbon taxes and progressive industry taxes. Capital still flows freely, but half a dozen boat people trying to find a better life away from religious persecution or war suddenly seem like A Big Deal if you’re six weeks away from retrenchment.

    Dammit. I am a doomer. How did that happen?

  31. Ootz

    Good suggestion Sacha, however, if we take your example of climate change, this “particular great challenge” is in it self a “general great challenge”, to use your parlance.

    take just climate, it is in itself already amazingly complex to understand nevermind the technology that is required to abate our impact thereof as well as the social, cultural, financial and ecological ‘engineering’ required to implement those changes. In a nutshell that is the overwhelming problem, unprecedented complexity and scales coupled with increasing urgency.

    Let me make a crude analogy. Imagine implementing a new generation accounting software system in an organisation with dozens of branches and hundreds of suppliers and clients. Further, give each stakeholder within the organisation as well as those associated with the organisation or affected by the new system a vote on which competing system developing team to contract for the next three months.

    There are theories and methodologies available to deal with complex and large scale changes such as Systems Theory and Soft System Methodology. However, complex systems and changes have their own innate and often unpredictable behaviour, risks and limitations. For example, you may have heard of Cascading failure, these sort of events can be triggered by ‘butterfly wing’ events and have enormous large scale impact see Northeast Blackout of 2003.

    Now take another few other “great challenges” such as sustainable economic and population growth, dwindling natural resources, systemic pollution, collapse of diversity of species and whole ecosystems, growing imbalance in distribution of wealth and you have got Guy Rundle’s 21st century reef. Julia probably needs more than just a pilot and sonar to make it through these waters. But then there is always hope as well as human ingenuity particularly when the sh1t hits the fan.

    Cheers Ootz

    NB it helps to remember Darwin’s dictum on evolution is that the fittest will survive and not those with the biggest plasma screen.

  32. Ootz

    Good suggestion Sacha, however, if we take your example of climate change, this “particular great challenge” is in it self a “general great challenge”, to use your parlance.

    take just climate, it is in itself already amazingly complex to understand nevermind the technology that is required to abate our impact thereof as well as the social, cultural, financial and ecological ‘engineering’ required to implement those changes. In a nutshell that is the overwhelming problem, unprecedented complexity and scales coupled with increasing urgency.

    Let me make a crude analogy. Imagine implementing a new generation accounting software system in an organisation with dozens of branches and hundreds of suppliers and clients. Further, give each stakeholder within the organisation as well as those associated with the organisation or affected by the new system a vote on which competing system developing team to contract for the next three months.

    There are theories and methodologies available to deal with complex and large scale changes such as Systems Theory and Soft System Methodology. However, complex systems and changes have their own innate and often unpredictable behaviour, risks and limitations. For example, you may have heard of Cascading failure, these sort of events can be triggered by ‘butterfly wing’ events and have enormous large scale impact see Northeast Blackout of 2003.

    Now take another few other “great challenges” such as sustainable economic and population growth, dwindling natural resources, systemic pollution, collapse of diversity of species and whole ecosystems, growing imbalance in distribution of wealth and you have got Guy Rundle’s 21st century reef. Julia probably needs more than just a pilot and sonar to make it through these waters. But then there is always hope as well as human ingenuity particularly when the sh1t hits the fan.

    Cheers Ootz

    NB it helps to remember Darwin’s dictum on evolution is that the fittest will survive and not those with the biggest plasma screen.

  33. gav

    You’re making too much of this. Rudd had NO SKILLS as a leader, was backed by nobody and was removed, end of story.
    Guy Rundle’s article was incoherent.
    When the next strong leader arises, politics will ‘work’ again, but the system can’t be expected to support the no-talents we have at the moment, and why should it?
    The question of why we draw our politicians from such a narrow pool and why that restricts the talent available, is indeed worthy of discussion.

  34. gav

    You’re making too much of this. Rudd had NO SKILLS as a leader, was backed by nobody and was removed, end of story.
    Guy Rundle’s article was incoherent.
    When the next strong leader arises, politics will ‘work’ again, but the system can’t be expected to support the no-talents we have at the moment, and why should it?
    The question of why we draw our politicians from such a narrow pool and why that restricts the talent available, is indeed worthy of discussion.

  35. Spana

    My great concern is how party politics in Australia co-opts many people into being ineffective and powerless activists. On this blog alone we have the sad chorus of those who may not like what has happened but will continue to vote ALP. As the article states, Gillard or Abbott will not change much.

    This could not be more true. While we (including much of the left) obsess about polls, popularity and the machinations of this event, the big issues remain agreed upon by both the ALP and Libs. There is silent agreement by Gillard and Abbott not to rock the boat where it really matters.

    Both support ruthless capitalism.
    Both support big business over workers. (I am just waiting for Gillard’s sell out on the mining tax).
    Both support materialism and its associated environmental destruction. Notice in all the debate about climate change, no ALP or Lib politician ever challenged the way we live or consumerism.
    Both support the war in Afghnanistan where Afghanis ar still being killed with coalition bullets and bombs. The left has now gone silent on these outrages because Obama and the ALP are now in power. How many on this blog will refuse to support Gillard because of her support for this war. Stay at home patriotism triumphs again.
    Both support distracting the public from the real issue whilst focussing on unimportant rot like polls, Gillard being a woman or personal pieces on the leaders.

    A new politics is needed but by the comments on this site it appears that even those with an interest in politics will still do their dutey and prop up the two party system.

  36. Spana

    My great concern is how party politics in Australia co-opts many people into being ineffective and powerless activists. On this blog alone we have the sad chorus of those who may not like what has happened but will continue to vote ALP. As the article states, Gillard or Abbott will not change much.

    This could not be more true. While we (including much of the left) obsess about polls, popularity and the machinations of this event, the big issues remain agreed upon by both the ALP and Libs. There is silent agreement by Gillard and Abbott not to rock the boat where it really matters.

    Both support ruthless capitalism.
    Both support big business over workers. (I am just waiting for Gillard’s sell out on the mining tax).
    Both support materialism and its associated environmental destruction. Notice in all the debate about climate change, no ALP or Lib politician ever challenged the way we live or consumerism.
    Both support the war in Afghnanistan where Afghanis ar still being killed with coalition bullets and bombs. The left has now gone silent on these outrages because Obama and the ALP are now in power. How many on this blog will refuse to support Gillard because of her support for this war. Stay at home patriotism triumphs again.
    Both support distracting the public from the real issue whilst focussing on unimportant rot like polls, Gillard being a woman or personal pieces on the leaders.

    A new politics is needed but by the comments on this site it appears that even those with an interest in politics will still do their dutey and prop up the two party system.

  37. Ootz

    Gav, what is your interpretation of strong leadership? Oligarchy like in Russia post communist collapse? Or emulating Genghis Khan in Afghanistan.
    Try charismatic, it gets you closer to the main attribute of past leaders successfully involved in major change.

    Re narrow pool, have you ever tried to vote below (above?) the line on a senate ballot form. Perhaps we should have a closer look at the general disengagement of active political participation. But then everybody is either busy coping with the political fallout or watching the political bloodsport on the telly, it is safer that way. However, I see a future for emerging political entities and mechanisms such as Getup for people to participate in.

  38. Ootz

    Gav, what is your interpretation of strong leadership? Oligarchy like in Russia post communist collapse? Or emulating Genghis Khan in Afghanistan.
    Try charismatic, it gets you closer to the main attribute of past leaders successfully involved in major change.

    Re narrow pool, have you ever tried to vote below (above?) the line on a senate ballot form. Perhaps we should have a closer look at the general disengagement of active political participation. But then everybody is either busy coping with the political fallout or watching the political bloodsport on the telly, it is safer that way. However, I see a future for emerging political entities and mechanisms such as Getup for people to participate in.

  39. Ootz

    On further reflection, it will be interesting to follow the new experiment in the UK. We sooner or later will probably find us in a similar situation. Once the cup overunneth, our scenario will be more akin to that rather than a rum party movement. Let’s hope so anyways :p

  40. Ootz

    On further reflection, it will be interesting to follow the new experiment in the UK. We sooner or later will probably find us in a similar situation. Once the cup overunneth, our scenario will be more akin to that rather than a rum party movement. Let’s hope so anyways :p

  41. zoot

    Spana @18 I largely agree with what you’re saying (much to my surprise). However I would like you to expand on

    A new politics is needed but by the comments on this site it appears that even those with an interest in politics will still do their dutey and prop up the two party system.

    Not sure what action you’re advocating.
    My dilemma is that I have to choose between the lesser of two evils, and it is largely a matter of style. Gillard and Abbott are two faces of the same coin, but Abbott as Prime Minister is my worst nightmare (Ratty on steroids). Gillard will still jump to the tune of our overlords but she will be less vicious about it (well Rudd was, anyway).
    So after voting Green I intend to preference ALP over the Coalition in the lower house, and Libs over ALP in the upper house (just to spite Mark Arbib). As I see it, my only alternative is to vote informal and that really goes against the grain for me.
    What other action(s) can I take?

  42. zoot

    Spana @18 I largely agree with what you’re saying (much to my surprise). However I would like you to expand on

    A new politics is needed but by the comments on this site it appears that even those with an interest in politics will still do their dutey and prop up the two party system.

    Not sure what action you’re advocating.
    My dilemma is that I have to choose between the lesser of two evils, and it is largely a matter of style. Gillard and Abbott are two faces of the same coin, but Abbott as Prime Minister is my worst nightmare (Ratty on steroids). Gillard will still jump to the tune of our overlords but she will be less vicious about it (well Rudd was, anyway).
    So after voting Green I intend to preference ALP over the Coalition in the lower house, and Libs over ALP in the upper house (just to spite Mark Arbib). As I see it, my only alternative is to vote informal and that really goes against the grain for me.
    What other action(s) can I take?

  43. Ute Man

    Ootz – the UK experiment just looks like an exercise in paralysis as we have here. Notionally left parties like Labor and The Greens seemingly have nothing close enough in common to negotiate, and even if they could agree you’re stuffed by Fielding and Mr X anyway. The conservatives and Clegg – both might philosophically bow to the liberal tradition but the tories have no real commitment to it – no more than the Liberal party here.

    So… paralysis. A government rendered ineffective by a combination of internal power plays and external forces who believe they are owed favours to maintain the status quo.

    As Mark has been saying and Rundle concurs – it’s a disease of western democracy poised on a knife edge of damned if they do, damned if they don’t. It is appearing across the west and manifesting itself identically, everywhere.

  44. Ute Man

    Ootz – the UK experiment just looks like an exercise in paralysis as we have here. Notionally left parties like Labor and The Greens seemingly have nothing close enough in common to negotiate, and even if they could agree you’re stuffed by Fielding and Mr X anyway. The conservatives and Clegg – both might philosophically bow to the liberal tradition but the tories have no real commitment to it – no more than the Liberal party here.

    So… paralysis. A government rendered ineffective by a combination of internal power plays and external forces who believe they are owed favours to maintain the status quo.

    As Mark has been saying and Rundle concurs – it’s a disease of western democracy poised on a knife edge of damned if they do, damned if they don’t. It is appearing across the west and manifesting itself identically, everywhere.

  45. John D

    Nasking @14: I think you were right on the mark when you said in Cafe Whispers:

    So, when our brave leader & tactician Kev took much of the flak during that storming of the beaches, faltered, stumbled as the wounds gaped, bled from the Murdoch empire firestorm…and other assaults…Julia stood up and took the flag from his bleeding hands, in that rough way you have to when sometimes the leader has been almost mortally wounded but won’t give up, even if it kills them in the process.

    It was time to let our leader heal his wounds. For our troops to take a breath. Realise the achievements. Get word back to the rest of the population. Bring in FRESH troops.

    Fortunately, brave Kev now has time to recuperate, repair. Be honoured. Get the recognition he deserves for his great contribution to the cause…bringing “fairness” back to this land & the workforce.

    There was no prize for a burnt out Kevin stumbling on to an election loss and it is ridiculous to dismiss Julia’s determination to lead us to a better future.

    However, there are limits to what a political leader can achieve. It is up to the outsiders to challenge simplistic paradigms such “the need for growth”, “markets are the answer to everything” etc.

  46. John D

    Nasking @14: I think you were right on the mark when you said in Cafe Whispers:

    So, when our brave leader & tactician Kev took much of the flak during that storming of the beaches, faltered, stumbled as the wounds gaped, bled from the Murdoch empire firestorm…and other assaults…Julia stood up and took the flag from his bleeding hands, in that rough way you have to when sometimes the leader has been almost mortally wounded but won’t give up, even if it kills them in the process.

    It was time to let our leader heal his wounds. For our troops to take a breath. Realise the achievements. Get word back to the rest of the population. Bring in FRESH troops.

    Fortunately, brave Kev now has time to recuperate, repair. Be honoured. Get the recognition he deserves for his great contribution to the cause…bringing “fairness” back to this land & the workforce.

    There was no prize for a burnt out Kevin stumbling on to an election loss and it is ridiculous to dismiss Julia’s determination to lead us to a better future.

    However, there are limits to what a political leader can achieve. It is up to the outsiders to challenge simplistic paradigms such “the need for growth”, “markets are the answer to everything” etc.

  47. Spana

    Zoot. I agree with your dilemma. For the last two elections (fed and state) I have voted informal because of my contempt for the ALP but my inability to bring myself to vote for the Libs (or state LNP). I really agonised over throwing away a vote but had discussions with anarchists who I respected and very much felt at that point that a vote for either of them was me giving some sort of consent to the system. Therefore I withdrew my consent.

    I don’t know if it was the best choice but do believe that if for example a huge number of people boycotted an election or at least voted informal then this would hasten the collapse of an illegitimate two party system. This is theoretical at this point in Australian because it is not something Australians are about to do.

    My view though is not conventional and I view voting at this stage in terms of how its result influences social justice and peace activists. For example, once Obama was elected, the war on Afghanistan and Iraq continued but criticism from the left fell silent. Same in Australia. Civilians still die in Afghanistan but there is no protest against the ALP because it silences most of the left. Furthermore, unions go silent on really bad stuff when the ALP is in power. They are virtually no different in policy, side with the bosses and as I have said, Gillard has advocated using scab labour a number of times. Yet the unions are worrying about Workchoices. Workers lose their voice under the ALP because the unions go silent.

    The idea that the ALP is a tiny bit better so let’s not vote it out just means that it continues to get away with its bad behaviour. If the Libs and ALP are different sides of the same coin then no matter what way it lands it is still worth the same amount. But if one side makes workers and activists see the evils of the system (as Howard in power did) then it is better for the more blatantly bad Libs to be in power than it is for the deceitfully but equally bad ALP who uses and betrays workers every time. The Libs are simply a more transparent ALP.

    That is why I will be voting for minor parties and preferencing eventually to the Libs. I have a long term view that we will be better empowered with a clear enemy than a lying deceitfull ALP that does exactly what the Libs do anyway.

  48. Spana

    Zoot. I agree with your dilemma. For the last two elections (fed and state) I have voted informal because of my contempt for the ALP but my inability to bring myself to vote for the Libs (or state LNP). I really agonised over throwing away a vote but had discussions with anarchists who I respected and very much felt at that point that a vote for either of them was me giving some sort of consent to the system. Therefore I withdrew my consent.

    I don’t know if it was the best choice but do believe that if for example a huge number of people boycotted an election or at least voted informal then this would hasten the collapse of an illegitimate two party system. This is theoretical at this point in Australian because it is not something Australians are about to do.

    My view though is not conventional and I view voting at this stage in terms of how its result influences social justice and peace activists. For example, once Obama was elected, the war on Afghanistan and Iraq continued but criticism from the left fell silent. Same in Australia. Civilians still die in Afghanistan but there is no protest against the ALP because it silences most of the left. Furthermore, unions go silent on really bad stuff when the ALP is in power. They are virtually no different in policy, side with the bosses and as I have said, Gillard has advocated using scab labour a number of times. Yet the unions are worrying about Workchoices. Workers lose their voice under the ALP because the unions go silent.

    The idea that the ALP is a tiny bit better so let’s not vote it out just means that it continues to get away with its bad behaviour. If the Libs and ALP are different sides of the same coin then no matter what way it lands it is still worth the same amount. But if one side makes workers and activists see the evils of the system (as Howard in power did) then it is better for the more blatantly bad Libs to be in power than it is for the deceitfully but equally bad ALP who uses and betrays workers every time. The Libs are simply a more transparent ALP.

    That is why I will be voting for minor parties and preferencing eventually to the Libs. I have a long term view that we will be better empowered with a clear enemy than a lying deceitfull ALP that does exactly what the Libs do anyway.

  49. zoot

    Thanks Spana @24, your points are well made.
    Abbott as PM would just do too much damage for my vote. Of course it can be argued that could be a good thing in the long term in that it might tend to hasten the end of our current corrupt system.
    I’m afraid I’m too old and weary to accept the argument; I don’t think we will ever wrest power from those who have always wielded it. Democracy is a wonderful notion, but it has never actually worked in the real world.
    /cynicism

  50. zoot

    Thanks Spana @24, your points are well made.
    Abbott as PM would just do too much damage for my vote. Of course it can be argued that could be a good thing in the long term in that it might tend to hasten the end of our current corrupt system.
    I’m afraid I’m too old and weary to accept the argument; I don’t think we will ever wrest power from those who have always wielded it. Democracy is a wonderful notion, but it has never actually worked in the real world.
    /cynicism