Posts tagged "politics"

The wind blowing across the British Isles was odorous with fear of asylum seekers, infecting everybody with the panic of impending doom, and so articles were written and read, simply and stridently, as though the writers lived in a world in which the present was unconnected to the past, and they had never considered this to be the normal course of history: the influx into Britain of black and brown people from countries created by Britain.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah (2013)

So over republicans who want to act like we shouldn’t have personal beef with the monarchy.

Monarchy survives as an institution by creating a cult of personality around its representatives. That’s how it legitimizes itself. If you participate in their cult of personality, you’re propagating their political power. Royalty presents itself as something natural and uncontroversial by branding itself as an alternate form of celebrity, instead of the question of politics it really is.

The republic and the royal family are not separate issues. If you support the former, you should consider the latter contemptible.


First, the depth of the crisis is masked for the ALP by the electoral system. The two party preferred system inflates the focus on Labor when the real mood of the electorate is one of a cultural and emotional disengagement with the whole democratic system. The crisis is masked again by compulsory voting when representative democracy itself is now part of the problem as new horizontal and more direct forms of democracy permeate our lives, often online. But in Oz, while you are legally bound to participate in a system that, to say the least, is losing its legitimacy, democracy becomes more and more just an edifice. Of course, the same applies to the Liberals, but it matters more for the ALP because the right is always in power, regardless of whether it’s in office. Democracy is the only tool Labor has, the only source of power and influence. A sham democracy just results in the illusion of power when in office.

- Neal Lawson, "The challenge for Labor", Evatt Foundation, 7 April 2014 (via redrabbleroz)

jacking the important part from Oz’s quote.

Aw, hell, this on the ALP is good too doe:

Thirdly, its deep, bitter and, as far as I can see, politically meaningless factional divides deny the possibility of fresh thinking and the chance to form powerful and imaginative new intellectual alliances. The personalisation beyond any purpose, the hubris, the jobs for the boys and a few girls, instills rigidity and conformity when the very opposite is so clearly required.


In search of Australian nationhood

I don’t usually reblog my own things, but I was foolish enough to post this thing about Australian national identity at, like, 2 a.m. Sydney time, so here it is again.

screwrocknroll:

Nations are, by necessity, people united by common mythology. Sometimes that mythology arises from ethnic solidarity. Sometimes it is the product of a shared ideology. Others, as in the case of many post-colonial states, it derives from the mere legal fiction of internationally acknowledged boundaries. But nations do not exist without some kind of common purpose.

This is a problem that has particularly vexed the nations of the new world. Old world states define themselves in ethnic terms, and date the birth of their nation to the creation of their ethnic identity. This is the case with the French, the Russians, and the Japanese, and it is a conception of nationhood untroubled by sects who do not consider themselves bound by it, be they Basque, Chechan, or Ainu. The equivalence between nationhood and ethnicity is the reason why these societies have, in various ways, had such trouble adapting themselves to receiving immigrant inflows: if to be a French citizen is to be of Gallic heritage, what is one to make of French from North Africa or the near East? Should the nation continue to be ethnically defined, or can it find a new (excuse me) raison d’être?

The problem is both alleviated and compounded for states of the new world. The citizens of nations like the United States and Australia cannot with any awareness of history claim their nationhood derives from ethnic commonality. In such countries, settlers displaced, and now exist alongside, indigenous populations. Immigration has created culturally and racially pluralistic societies. There are not ethnic Australians the way there are ethnic Swedes or Thais or Greeks. Our nationhood cannot be defined by the forefathers of our citizens.

Being the first country to sever its ties with the British Empire, and having done so through armed rebellion, the United States was among the first modern society to consider this conundrum. Its determination, haltingly applied — through the inconstant expansion of citizenship and personhood to blacks, to its indigenous peoples, to immigrants — was that theirs was a nation founded upon an idea. To be American, unlike to be Portuguese or Dutch, is to find nationhood in the state’s civic religion, and especially, in the documents that express it: the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation, among others.

Australia, since its inception, has faced a similar problem to the United States, but we have not so readily found a solution to the conundrum of our nationhood. We are clearly not an ethnically united population: our continent’s original inhabitants are Aboriginal; our numbers have included Irish since the 18th century and Chinese since the early 19th century. And yet we feel ourselves to be more than a legally defined entity: we are a people with a common culture, common ideals, and common patriotic symbols.

The United States found its identity in rebellion and, later, in internal conflict. Australia, however, has experienced no great unifying upheaval. Its birth was legalistic, not military. Edmund Barton is no George Washington. Indeed, the story of our nation has been one of the slow process of creating a nation. When we ask who we are, we are answering the question even while we pose it.

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In search of Australian nationhood

Nations are, by necessity, people united by common mythology. Sometimes that mythology arises from ethnic solidarity. Sometimes it is the product of a shared ideology. Others, as in the case of many post-colonial states, it derives from the mere legal fiction of internationally acknowledged boundaries. But nations do not exist without some kind of common purpose.

This is a problem that has particularly vexed the nations of the new world. Old world states define themselves in ethnic terms, and date the birth of their nation to the creation of their ethnic identity. This is the case with the French, the Russians, and the Japanese, and it is a conception of nationhood untroubled by sects who do not consider themselves bound by it, be they Basque, Chechan, or Ainu. The equivalence between nationhood and ethnicity is the reason why these societies have, in various ways, had such trouble adapting themselves to receiving immigrant inflows: if to be a French citizen is to be of Gallic heritage, what is one to make of French from North Africa or the near East? Should the nation continue to be ethnically defined, or can it find a new (excuse me) raison d’être?

The problem is both alleviated and compounded for states of the new world. The citizens of nations like the United States and Australia cannot with any awareness of history claim their nationhood derives from ethnic commonality. In such countries, settlers displaced, and now exist alongside, indigenous populations. Immigration has created culturally and racially pluralistic societies. There are not ethnic Australians the way there are ethnic Swedes or Thais or Greeks. Our nationhood cannot be defined by the forefathers of our citizens.

Being the first country to sever its ties with the British Empire, and having done so through armed rebellion, the United States was among the first modern societies to consider this conundrum. Its determination, haltingly applied — through the inconstant expansion of citizenship and personhood to blacks, to its indigenous peoples, to immigrants — was that theirs was a nation founded upon an idea. To be American, unlike to be Portuguese or Dutch, is to find nationhood in the state’s civic religion, and especially, in the documents that express it: the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation, among others.

Australia, since its inception, has faced a similar problem to the United States, but we have not so readily found a solution to the conundrum of our nationhood. We are clearly not an ethnically united population: our continent’s original inhabitants are Aboriginal; our numbers have included Irish since the 18th century and Chinese since the early 19th century. And yet we feel ourselves to be more than a legally defined entity: we are a people with a common culture, common ideals, and common patriotic symbols.

The United States found its identity in rebellion and, later, in internal conflict. Australia, however, has experienced no great unifying upheaval. Its birth was legalistic, not military. Edmund Barton is no George Washington. Indeed, the story of our nation has been one of the slow process of creating a nation. When we ask who we are, we are answering the question even while we pose it.

Read More


Prime Minister Paul Keating, February 27, 1992:

I was told that I did not learn respect at school. I learned one thing: I learned about self-respect and self-regard for Australia — not about some cultural cringe to a country which decided not to defend the Malayan peninsula, not to worry about Singapore and not to give us our troops back to keep ourselves free from Japanese domination. This was the country that you people wedded yourself to, and even as it walked out on you and joined the Common Market, you were still looking for your MBEs and your knighthoods, and all the rest of the regalia that comes with it. You would take Australia right back down the time tunnel to the cultural cringe where you have always come from.


[Labor] are only half-baked republicans … [I]f we weakly … just sort of take it when no one else wants it, you know — “so, oh, now we’re a republic” — I mean, George Washington didn’t do this with George III. Those Americans knew exactly what they needed.

On traitors.

monsterpussy:

fraser always had v good views towards immigration but that’s not the only thing in the world and booooo to him medibank never forgive but everyone forgot

Yes. Also, he conspired with the representative of a foreign country to overthrow a democratically elected prime minister. I don’t give a shit if Fraser makes things awkward for current-day conservatives, he’s a contemptible man whose legacy should be defined first and foremost by the assault he led on Australian democracy.


I reviewed John Sides and Lynn Vavreck’s The Gamble for the magazine!

In many ways, The Gamble acts as a counter to the addictive and gossipy Game Change series Washington journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin have penned during the past two campaigns (see Nicole Hemmer’s review). The contrast might even be deliberate; The Gamble reveals in its opening line that 68 individual moments during the 2012 campaign were described as “game-changers” somewhere in the American media, and Sides and Vavreck have a decidedly more sober view of electoral politics. “The continual search for game-changers treats a campaign like a boxing match, where the momentum may be shifting back and forth with every punch and the knockout blow could come at any moment,” they write. “In reality, there are few knockout punches, and most game-changers do not really change the game that much.”
This means — as the authors demonstrate with exhaustive reference to polling, modelling, and charts aplenty — that such widely touted news events as Barack Obama’s “You didn’t build that” comment or the “47% video” leaked to liberal website Mother Jones, which showed Mitt Romney dismissing close to half the American public as “dependent on the government,” had almost no impact on voters whatsoever. 
Also meaningless in terms of shifting voter opinion: any of Romney’s widely reported “gaffes,” the Obama campaign’s summer advertising blitz hammering Romney for his connection to private equity firm Bain Capital, and the disruptive effects of Hurricane Sandy, which struck the east coast in the last week of October. 

On one level, I think this is a really important book, and it would be great if loads of people read it — especially people interested in American politics, and especially people professionally interested in American politics. (Though I’d much rather such people first read Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State; Talking Right; or Nixonland.) But on the other hand, for me it unexpectedly exposed the limits of political science — something I hinted at previously. Reading The Gamble, I started to think about the strengths of the Game Change books: how they portray the human side of politics, how even if elections aren’t driven by personalities, politicians can be, how our first draft of history will inevitably be messy and impressionistic and foolish. Don’t get me wrong, Halperin and Heilemann are exactly the kinds of reporters who would benefit having their exuberances tempered by Sides and Vavreck. But journalists exist for a reason, and though the authors of The Gamble are quite capable communicators (you don’t write for WaPo if you’re not), they’re researchers first and writers second, and you can tell. And I firmly believe that good writing isn’t window-dressing; how you say something is as meaningful as what you’re saying.
The other thing is that if you paid attention to the right blogs throughout the campaign, a lot of this stuff isn’t new. Which doesn’t mean The Gamble isn’t worthwhile — a book is more permanent than a blog post, and has a wider reach — but it does mean that for certain folks, its revelations are less stunning than might be supposed.
[x-post]

I reviewed John Sides and Lynn Vavreck’s The Gamble for the magazine!

In many ways, The Gamble acts as a counter to the addictive and gossipy Game Change series Washington journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin have penned during the past two campaigns (see Nicole Hemmer’s review). The contrast might even be deliberate; The Gamble reveals in its opening line that 68 individual moments during the 2012 campaign were described as “game-changers” somewhere in the American media, and Sides and Vavreck have a decidedly more sober view of electoral politics. “The continual search for game-changers treats a campaign like a boxing match, where the momentum may be shifting back and forth with every punch and the knockout blow could come at any moment,” they write. “In reality, there are few knockout punches, and most game-changers do not really change the game that much.”

This means — as the authors demonstrate with exhaustive reference to polling, modelling, and charts aplenty — that such widely touted news events as Barack Obama’s “You didn’t build that” comment or the “47% video” leaked to liberal website Mother Jones, which showed Mitt Romney dismissing close to half the American public as “dependent on the government,” had almost no impact on voters whatsoever. 

Also meaningless in terms of shifting voter opinion: any of Romney’s widely reported “gaffes,” the Obama campaign’s summer advertising blitz hammering Romney for his connection to private equity firm Bain Capital, and the disruptive effects of Hurricane Sandy, which struck the east coast in the last week of October. 

On one level, I think this is a really important book, and it would be great if loads of people read it — especially people interested in American politics, and especially people professionally interested in American politics. (Though I’d much rather such people first read Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State; Talking Right; or Nixonland.) But on the other hand, for me it unexpectedly exposed the limits of political science — something I hinted at previously. Reading The Gamble, I started to think about the strengths of the Game Change books: how they portray the human side of politics, how even if elections aren’t driven by personalities, politicians can be, how our first draft of history will inevitably be messy and impressionistic and foolish. Don’t get me wrong, Halperin and Heilemann are exactly the kinds of reporters who would benefit having their exuberances tempered by Sides and Vavreck. But journalists exist for a reason, and though the authors of The Gamble are quite capable communicators (you don’t write for WaPo if you’re not), they’re researchers first and writers second, and you can tell. And I firmly believe that good writing isn’t window-dressing; how you say something is as meaningful as what you’re saying.

The other thing is that if you paid attention to the right blogs throughout the campaign, a lot of this stuff isn’t new. Which doesn’t mean The Gamble isn’t worthwhile — a book is more permanent than a blog post, and has a wider reach — but it does mean that for certain folks, its revelations are less stunning than might be supposed.

[x-post]


Krugman is talking inequality with reference to this chart, and it’s not the first time I’ve seen liberals who are discussing the issue use men’s wages as a base. (The point here being that, in real terms, 60 per cent of American men have seen their income fall over the past 40 years.) I think the idea is that if you use men’s wages as a measure, you’re accessing a controlled sample, since social changes haven’t altered men’s participation in the workforce and remuneration the way it has women’s. Ceteris Paribus.
But… why should men be the control? I mean, if we’re trying to gauge inequality, surely change in gender-induced inequality is just as meaningful as changes in class-induced inequality? Person A’s lower wage compared to Person B’s doesn’t become more excusable if Person A is a woman.
And, while in my brief search, I couldn’t find the exact data Krugman sourced, this similar set suggests that women’s wages have risen in real terms across all percentiles since 1973. (Though, dismally, for some they’ve fallen since 1979 — thanks Ronald Reagan.) That’s an important data point when considering inequality, and the liberal desire to draw attention to class-based inequality shouldn’t permit putting the thumb on the scale by comparing the situation of men now to the situation when women’s wages were even more artificially depressed than they are now.
One way to look at this, incidentally, is that as women have made gains, men have lost; men, forced to compete against new talent, are unable to maintain as high a living standard as they once did. But this doesn’t take into account the increased productivity from abandoning the inefficiencies of a workforce that doesn’t provide proper consideration to the talents of fifty per cent of its number.
Which brings me to a question about productivity: why isn’t gender equality a big part of the discussion of increasing productivity? If women’s wages are being artificially constrained (and they are), then that means the economy isn’t operating at peak efficiency. Men are, effectively, seeking rent on their penises. Considering American women earn 81 cents on the dollar compared to American men, addressing this disparity seems to be ripe grounds for easy gains in productivity. Jus spitballing, but, anyone interested in supply-side inefficiencies should probably be very interested in gender inequality, I reckon.

Krugman is talking inequality with reference to this chart, and it’s not the first time I’ve seen liberals who are discussing the issue use men’s wages as a base. (The point here being that, in real terms, 60 per cent of American men have seen their income fall over the past 40 years.) I think the idea is that if you use men’s wages as a measure, you’re accessing a controlled sample, since social changes haven’t altered men’s participation in the workforce and remuneration the way it has women’s. Ceteris Paribus.

But… why should men be the control? I mean, if we’re trying to gauge inequality, surely change in gender-induced inequality is just as meaningful as changes in class-induced inequality? Person A’s lower wage compared to Person B’s doesn’t become more excusable if Person A is a woman.

And, while in my brief search, I couldn’t find the exact data Krugman sourced, this similar set suggests that women’s wages have risen in real terms across all percentiles since 1973. (Though, dismally, for some they’ve fallen since 1979 — thanks Ronald Reagan.) That’s an important data point when considering inequality, and the liberal desire to draw attention to class-based inequality shouldn’t permit putting the thumb on the scale by comparing the situation of men now to the situation when women’s wages were even more artificially depressed than they are now.

One way to look at this, incidentally, is that as women have made gains, men have lost; men, forced to compete against new talent, are unable to maintain as high a living standard as they once did. But this doesn’t take into account the increased productivity from abandoning the inefficiencies of a workforce that doesn’t provide proper consideration to the talents of fifty per cent of its number.

Which brings me to a question about productivity: why isn’t gender equality a big part of the discussion of increasing productivity? If women’s wages are being artificially constrained (and they are), then that means the economy isn’t operating at peak efficiency. Men are, effectively, seeking rent on their penises. Considering American women earn 81 cents on the dollar compared to American men, addressing this disparity seems to be ripe grounds for easy gains in productivity. Jus spitballing, but, anyone interested in supply-side inefficiencies should probably be very interested in gender inequality, I reckon.



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