One question on the latest round in the Burke saga. If Rudd were not in the firing line, does anyone think that Howard would have encouraged/forced Ian Campbell to resign?
The World’s Greatest Shave is coming up, and I’ve decided it’s time to put some skin in the game of appealing for charity. So, for the first time in 30 years, I’m going to shave my beard off. The big day is going to be Saturday 17 March. You can visit my profile here to sponsor me.
To encourage contributions, I’m offering an incentive. If I can raise $1000 from sponsorship, I’ll post a picture of the results here on the blog. Otherwise, you’ll just have to rely on your imagination. All proceeds go to the Leukemia Foundation.
Update 5pm Monday We’re already one-third of the way there, with contributions totalling $335:00. I’ll try to give regular updates
It’s time, once again for the Monday Message Board. As usual, civilised discussion and absolutely no coarse language, please.
Responding to Peter Beinart’s apology for supporting the war (unimpressive by comparison with the Bjorn Staerk piece I linked recently, but at least expressing some willingness to look at the reasons he got it so wrong) Hilzoy makes an important point
I admire Peter Beinart’s willingness to think about what he got wrong, and why. But while I think that he’s right to say that we can’t be the country the Iraqis and South Africans wanted us to be — a country wise enough to liberate other countries by force — there’s another mistake lurking in the train of thought he describes. Namely:
It’s not just that we aren’t the country Beinart wanted to think we were; it’s that war is not the instrument he thought it was …
Violence is not a way of getting where you want to go, only more quickly. Its existence changes your destination. If you use it, you had better be prepared to find yourself in the kind of place it takes you to.
There’s something even more fundamental to the appeal of violence. People are often faced with an unjust situation, where there is no apparent way to put things right. The injustice can be political or economic, as with a dictatorship or an unfair allocation of wealth, or it can be something like an incurable disease striking a loved one.
In these circumstances, where rational thinking produces a counsel of despair, it’s natural to take the view that “you have to do something”. In the case of incurable illness, the response may be a search for “miracle cures”. In other contexts, it’s more likely to be a resort to violence. This response is evident, not only in overtly political contexts, but in a whole genre of Hollywood movies where the protagonist (usually, but not always, male) is “mad as hell, and not going to take it any more”, and in real-life events that inspire, or are inspired by, such movies.
Sometimes, violence or the threat of violence is indeed the only effective way to resist injustice, but mostly it’s a way of making a bad situation worse.
To sum up, Violence is not a way of getting what you can’t have
Weekend Reflections is on again. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in contributions more lengthy than for the Monday Message Board or standard comments.
Just back from the Entertainment Centre, where the Brisbane Bullets scored a thrilling 3-point win over Melbourne in the first of the best-of-five Grand Final Series, making their record 21 wins in succession. This might be the year!
Looking back over the early history of the blogosphere, I checked the site of one of the early European “warbloggers”, BjÃ¸rn Staerk, and found this newly published and very impressive reflective piece. Not many people have the courage to look unflinchingly at their own mistakes, but Staerk does so. A short extract
When I look around me at the world we got, the world we created after 2001, that’s the question I keep coming back to: What went wrong? The question nags me all the more because I was part of it, swept along with all the currents that took us from the ruins of the World Trace center through the shameful years that followed. Iraq, the war on terror, the new European culture war.
This mirror of “What Went Wrong” wouldn’t be a story on the same scale, but it has the main theme in common. It would be about Westerners who had their reality bubble pricked by people from an alien culture, and spent the next couple of years stumbling about like idiots, unable to deal rationally with this new reality that had forced itself on them. Egging each other on, they predicted, interpreted, and labelled – and legislated and invaded. They saw clearly, through beautiful ideas. And they were wrong.
Who were these people? They were us.
As someone else would say, read the whole thing.
This post by Gary Sauer-Thompson on the decline of solo political blogging prompted me to take one of my periodic looks at the state of political blogging in Australia. I used the blogroll at Club Troppo, which is as close to a representative sample as I’ve seen, to get an idea of some trends. Comparisons are to my recollection which may be inaccurate
First up, there’s no doubt about the rise of group blogs. Although there are still plenty of individual bloggers (in fact the number is increasing, I think) group blogs are clearly much more important now than in the past. Most of the individuals who were blogging back in 2002 or 2003 have either given up or joined a group.*
The other striking feature of the Troppo list is the extent to which it’s dominated by the left and centre-left. Troppo uses the classifications Leftish, Centrist, Moderate Right and Right Wing Death Beast, but most of the Centrists could be counted on to prefer either Labor or the Greens to the Liberals or Nationals most of the time. I count 50 Leftish blogs, 24 Centrist, 10 Moderate Right and 16 RWDBs. What’s more, a large proportion of the latter two groups of bloggers have either shut down or shifted away from political topics. No doubt there have been some new entrants who haven’t been counted, but there are no obvious (to me) omissions of major political bloggers in the list (feel free to point out examples).
This is a complete reversal of the situation when I began blogging in 2002. At that time, the number of leftish Australian bloggers could probably be counted on the fingers of one hand (Rob Schaap, Rob Corr and Tim Dunlop are the only examples that come to mind, again feel free to remind me) while (IIRC) there were more active rightwing blogs than there are today, reflecting the upsurge in what used to be called “warblogging” that took place after the September 11 attacks. The obvious reason for the shift is the fact that, much more than general public discussion in Australia, blog debates have been focused on issues that have gone badly for the right, such as the Iraq war, global warming and the Bush Administration. A few bloggers have bitten the bullet and changed their views on these issues (for example, Ken Parish was a global warming sceptic until the evidence became overwhelming) but the more common response has been to close up shop.
A more recent development has been the adoption of blogs by the commercial media, who first ignored and then derided the whole thing. Even a year ago, the MSM was mostly keeping its distance, but now all the major newspaper sites I visit have blogs, and often lots of them. They’re guaranteed a big audience by their location on highly-trafficked sites, but they seem pretty mediocre taken as a group (MRD alert
Those are my thoughts. Comments, criticism and prognostications for the future are most welcome.
* I’ve had two bob each way on this, having joined the international group blog Crooked Timber a while back, but maintaining a solo identity for Australian stuff