Home > #NewsCorpFail, #Ozfail, Media > The Oz as a (dysfunctional) group blog

The Oz as a (dysfunctional) group blog

September 19th, 2011

The latest round of controversy between Robert Manne and The Australian has followed a pattern that is now familiar. Manne presents the evidence that The Australian routinely distorts the news to fit its political agenda, and equally routinely denies that it has any such agenda. The Oz responds with a stream of opinion pieces, snarky items in Cut and Paste, objectionable cartoons and so on.

If we try to understand this in old media terms, it’s a bit hard to follow. Not only does the Oz violate basic rules like separation between news and opinions, but its reactions seem absurdly oversensitive. As I and others have demonstrated many times now, a single piece of criticism from a relatively obscure academic can drive the country’s only national newspaper (not counting the Fin with its special focus) into absurd paroxysms of rage.

On the other hand, if you think of the Australian as a rightwing group blog (readers can fill in their own examples), everything makes sense.

Looking at the Oz now, it’s easy to imagine it as a rightwing group blog that started up in the Triassic era of blogging (say 2002). Lines weren’t drawn so sharply then, so the contributors included some a bit more leftish or just less ideological than the group as a whole. Over time, some have been pushed out, and the others have been forced to demonstrate group solidarity on appropriate occasions, such as attack from the left.

By now however, a tribalist mode of groupthink has taken over the blog. Its members spend a lot of time reassuring each other that, in spite of all contrary evidence, they are right about everything. Even when they are demonstrably wrong on some particular point, they are still right in a way their opponents can never be. Conversely, no matter how bogus the argument, if it’s on the right side it has to be backed all the way.

And, thanks to the marvels of Google, Twitter, RSS and so on, the group is instantly aware of any attack on them, even from a lone blogger in the furthest reaches of cyberspace. Each such attack is treated as an existential threat, as if a few harsh words are one step away from the imposition of sharia law (whatever that means!). But since any notion of logical reasoning has long since been lost, the response consists of snarky gotchas, dark mutterings, absurd hyperbole and total lies.

As I mentioned a while back, with an individual blogger, this process typically ends with the sudden closure of the site. But group blogs with this kind of pathology seem to carry on for a long while. So, until Murdoch runs out of money to back it, I imagine the Oz will continue to amuse us.

Categories: #NewsCorpFail, #Ozfail, Media Tags:
  1. John Brookes
    September 19th, 2011 at 11:55 | #1

    Back in the 90′s and the early noughties, I was a regular “letters to the editor” writer in the Oz. It used to take a good effort to get published. Some time in the mid-noughties it became apparent that pretty ordinary letters with right wing views were being published. I became unhappy with the company my epistles were keeping, and stopped writing.

    Which is a shame, because I used to enjoy the challenge of writing letters deemed worthy of publication!

  2. Jim Birch
  3. may
    September 19th, 2011 at 12:52 | #3

    any way of finding out if any/all of these roaming fearfict packs are paid per comment?

    or paid for attending(in person,first class to do-buy) group thunk tanks for top ups on the latest on-line lines?

    nah.i’m being silly.it’s monday.

    still,
    in walkerstan(Wisconsin)blogroaning,sorry,blog roaming on paid work time has had repercussions.

    how much of the pack fict comments are posted on the time of various all unknowing companies?

    or does it all come out of a witting morloch media?

  4. mikey
    September 19th, 2011 at 12:57 | #4

    I’ve always thought of The Australian as some kind of printed blog. Perhaps a new named should be coined, such as a plog.

  5. sam
    September 19th, 2011 at 13:00 | #5

    I don’t know how to find this out, so I’ll ask it here. Is the Australian currently making a profit? Has it done so on average over the past 5 years?

  6. aidan
    September 19th, 2011 at 13:27 | #6

    The Cut n’ Paste “hatchet job” is particularly funny. They repeat the accusations against them thinking that they damn themselves, when in fact they are completely reasonable. I had to reread to make sure it was supposed to be critical of Manne.

    Hilarious lack of self insight.

  7. Mulga Mumblebrain
    September 19th, 2011 at 13:30 | #7

    ‘The Fundament’ (The Fundamental Orifice of the Nation) is simply the most extreme manifestation of Rightwing ideological groupthink in the propaganda and indoctrination system that is the Rightwing MSM in this country. If you follow the ‘propaganda model’ of the Western MSM, you see that the ideological bias and uniformity that is so marked at News Corpse also bedevils the rest of the MSM, but to somewhat lesser degree. So, whereas News Corpse runs a straight denialist message over anthropogenic climate destabilsation (while hysterically, histrionically and hilariously denying it) Fairfax and the other MSM treat the denialist industry with absolutely unmerited respect and accord them almost equal footing on the grounds of a spurious ‘balance’ that they utterly ignore when it suits the interests of the ruling class, as with support for Israel, or for the Western aggressions in Syria and Libya. Indeed Fairfax has denialist ultras aplenty, from Sheehan to a number of voices at the Fin Review who would not be out of place at News Corpse, and treats the denialist factories like the IPA and CIS as if they had anything apposite or credible to contribute to this life and death controversy, and constantly publishes their agit-prop, as does John Howard’s ABC. ‘The Fundament’ has simply grown the most extreme and now both contemptible and dangerous, since the arrival of Mitchell, who has certainly left his imprint on the rag. A process of unnatural selection appears to be in progress with the acquired ideological features necessary for success and promotion becoming more and more marked, to the point of caricature. And a certain emotional and developmental regression seems to be supervening as well, as the puerile and nasty cartoon depicting Robert Manne that appeared in Saturday’s edition plainly shows.

  8. Xevarm
    September 19th, 2011 at 13:33 | #8

    @John B.
    I have been through exactly the same sequence of events. I also spent many hours writing and drafting letters to the Ed at the Oz, some actually got printed, of which I was inordinately proud.
    Now I have next to no interest in it as a news paper and like most people I know get the majority of my news and views from the blogs and particular sites, (like this one).
    Has anyone though about running a campaign for letters to the Oz, like if we all can agree on what we want to write / say, then we all do it and send it in. :) How many people can we get mobilised to do it?

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain
    September 19th, 2011 at 13:34 | #9

    John Brookes, the roster of ‘pet’ letter-writers at ‘The Fundament’ is pretty thin, no more than twenty or thirty, and they appear over and over. That well-known ‘Friend of Israel’ Bill Anderson of Melbourne appeared recently on two consecutive days, saying, can you believe it, more or less the same thing on both occasions.

  10. paul walter
    September 19th, 2011 at 14:18 | #10

    Interesting to observe that noone has taken the government to task for not developing the scope of the parliamentary inquiry more than it has. In the end all that’s left is amusement, particularly when you see Gillard then get up and whine tearfully again about distorted press coverage.

  11. frankis
    September 19th, 2011 at 17:17 | #11

    I reckon the only way the Oz and Mitchell could amuse me more would be if I were to waste time reading them. But they’re well worth fighting. Like dysentery and illiteracy.

  12. Ikonoclast
    September 19th, 2011 at 20:56 | #12

    Darn! Prof John Quiggin and Mulga Mumblebrain have already said just about everything I’d like to say on this topic. The Anglophone right wing has become patently demented and dangerous.

  13. Mulga Mumblebrain
    September 19th, 2011 at 20:58 | #13

    Steady on frankis. That comparison is defamatory-if I was dysentery, I’d sue.

  14. JJ
    September 19th, 2011 at 21:34 | #14
  15. TerjeP
    September 20th, 2011 at 00:14 | #15

    By now however, a tribalist mode of groupthink has taken over the blog.

    JQ – it’s hard for me to figure out that whether you are saying that;

    a) some blogs are prone to group think and The Australian is like a right wing version of such a blog.
    b) right wing blogs are prone to groupthink and The Australian is like a right wing blog.

    Perhaps you could help clarify.

  16. zoot
    September 20th, 2011 at 00:46 | #16

    Sam @5: the received wisdom is that in its 40 odd years the Oz has never made a profit.

  17. Sam
    September 20th, 2011 at 01:44 | #17

    Thanks Zoot. Is there a link for that?

  18. Paul Norton
    September 20th, 2011 at 08:20 | #18

    I recall a few years back Arena Magazine ran a lampoon of the contents of a typical day’s worth of op-eds in the Australian, which consisted of a listing of the bylines of all the usual suspects (Kelly, Sheridan, Planet Janet, Saluszinsky, Pearson, etc.), all writing essentially the same article on the topic “the global left has been defeated and is everywhere irrelevant”. With the Weekend Australian’s response to Manne, life has imitated art.

  19. Jim Birch
    September 20th, 2011 at 10:25 | #19

    @Sam
    Of course, The Oz provides significant influence on Australian public discourse so it doesn’t have to make a profit if it improves the social and legislative environment for other actually-profitable News Ltd activity. There’s also a vanity driver.

  20. John Quiggin
    September 20th, 2011 at 10:51 | #20

    @TerjeP
    Hi Terje,

    Some blogs are prone to groupthink, and this is particularly (in fact, almost universally) true of rightwing blogs because membership requires tacit or explicit assent to absurd factual claims, most notably anti-science conspiracy theories about climate change, but also (while Bush was in office) absurd claims about how well the Iraq war was going, how WMDs were going to turn up Real Soon Now and so on.

    By contrast, leftwing blogs can go for groupthink if they want to, but need not. Compare, for example, the (admittedly tiresome after a while) debates about nuclear power here with the reflexive opposition of most rightwing blogs to ideologically unsound technologies like wind and solar.

    Best
    John

  21. Mulga Mumblebrain
    September 20th, 2011 at 11:32 | #21

    The Fundament is in fine form today-editorials snarling at the Palestinians for imagining that they were the same species as Israelis and at the Greens for daring to fight back, and the pet letter writers heartily congratulating the rag for getting stuck into the unspeakable Manne etc. In light of the Background Briefing broadcast relating to ‘astro-turfing’ of blog Comments, I’d say that The Fundament’s Comments might make an interesting investigation. I know that there is selection pressure through the readership being most Dunning-Krugerites and senile delinquents, and by editorial censorship, but the Comments on some subjects, particularly when there are many, simply reek of the apparatchiki sitting around and confabulating together. I wonder if they get fifty cents per contribution as they do in China (allegedly.) Of course this necessary propaganda task might have been outsourced to the IPA or CIS, or the Liberal Party Youth, or some other sheltered workshop.

  22. may
    September 20th, 2011 at 12:54 | #22

    @zoot

    if it has never made a profit is it a charity?

    how does it pay the albrechtson?
    (from “our ABC”)

    if it never makes a profit and is not a charity does it manage to pay it’s own way?

    if it doesn’t pay it’s own way where do the operating monies come from?

    if it receives cash to operate and consistently adheres to an ideological imbalance how is it able to call itself a news outlet?
    (or is there some little legal loophole where it claims to be “just entertainment?)

    if it is not “just entertainment”and is not a news outlet how is it not the propaganda,sorry,
    public relations/education arm of the supposition,sorry,opposition (we don’t need no steenking costings) party?

  23. may
    September 20th, 2011 at 12:57 | #23

    line 7 seven should be

    if it receives monies.

  24. may
    September 20th, 2011 at 13:27 | #24

    and

    http://my.firedoglake.com/cindykouril/2011/09/19/the-warning-shot/#comments

    a gentle reminder of what it is everybody is on about.

  25. NME
    September 20th, 2011 at 13:59 | #25

    Of particular interest concerning the proposed media inquiry are the shrieks of protest over the attack on freedom of speech this represents. All outlets are singing from the same song sheet on this one, but the Oz is particularly shrill.

    For me, freedom of speech implies the freedom for all to express their views in a public forum, safe from not just physical sanction, such as loss of liberty or torture, but, in a western democratic context, safe from vilification and the kind of threats or coercion which might lead people to fear for their economic well being and social standing. This of course does not allow any person or organisation to engage in the kind of hate speak, which is itself such vilification.. So what are we to make of these following recent examples:

    Paul Barry expresses on Q&A that he turned down the gig to write the Monthly piece on Chris Mitchell, as he saw it as a career limiting move.

    Dick Smith turned down the gig to appear in the climate change action ad. recently because he feared the backlash against him personally would damage his business interests. A well founded fear given the lashing Cate Blanchett then received for her part in it.

    The harassing of Greg Jericho and our own host JQ over unfavourable blog comments.

    The bullying of Julie Posetti with vicious legal threats, even though she simply reported an unfavourable fact (and one can only imagine the ugly backroom conversations with Asa Wahlquist which forced her to retract something she quite obviously said and meant). Her persecution is still ongoing.

    And (unfortunately not finally I’m sure) the attempt to demolish the reputation of Robert Manne, with the sad irony that every arrow flung just further proves his thesis.

    It seems to me that the greatest threat to freedom of speech comes from the Oz (and it’s rag tag sister papers), not from some half hearted inquiry. In Chris Mitchell’s world I imagine free speech is a zero sum good. The more of it he has the less for everyone else.

  26. TerjeP
    September 20th, 2011 at 13:59 | #26

    JQ – thanks for the clarification. I have seen the merits of wind power debated on sites like Catallaxy (which I assume you would regard as right wing). The opposition to wind power does not appear to me to be ideological. It is usually argued on technical grounds. Although the issue does seem to devide along ideological lines. Possible more to do with the role of government subsidies and policy in propping up these industries than anything to do with the technology. Most people on the right that I know would be happy for wind farms and solar farms to be built if they were built with private money and without preferencial policy. Having said that leftwing opposition to nuclear power seems to be based on exaggerated concerns about safety. I don’t think these issues are mere tokenistic flag waving and social signalling. There are more fundamental principles shaping these views.

    I never found my dissent on the Iraq war something that alienated me from the right on blogs. Obviously it was a source of passionate disagreement and some individuals overly personalised the disagreement. My impression is that a lot of the support for the war was a solidarity issue and given it was the right of Australian politics prosecuting the war case a lot of support was tribal. However disagreeing was allowed so long as you were willing to wage the case.

    I’m not sure which right wing blogs you frequent but my impression of both left wing and right wing blogs is that groupthink abounds in pretty much equal measure. Lots of people sail close to home and try to defend the mothership but there are also plenty of people prepared to fly solo and think for themselves.

    In terms of the bloggification of the mainstream media I think it is going to happen. Increasingly we want articles that make a case in depth and we look to comments and alternate sources for balance. For the casual reader this will leave a possibly biased perspective of the story but sophisticated readers will figure out who they trust and who is reliable. I fully expect opinion and analysis to be increasingly dominant. I think the issue is not how to stop it but how to live with it.

  27. rog
    September 20th, 2011 at 14:16 | #27

    Terje, imagine the degree of govt investment into solar if it was found to be useful in warfare.

    The nuclear industry would be nothing without govt support.

  28. Mulga Mumblebrain
    September 20th, 2011 at 15:12 | #28

    The Fundament, the rest of the Murdoch Evil Empire and their allies and grateful recipients of News Corpse’s ideological work on the Right, simply conflate their habitual hate speech with free speech. I do not accuse them of hypocrisy, because I imagine that venting hatred, assassinating character and demonising and vilifying those that they see as their enemies probably is their idea of the highest expression of personal freedom. And let’s not forget the quite hysterical hate campaign they prosecuted against Larissa Behrendt, where they had the greatest pleasure in combining misogyny with contempt for independent indigenous and fawning adulation for properly assimilated blackfellas since the halcyon days of the Hindmarsh Island campaign.

  29. NME
    September 20th, 2011 at 16:13 | #29

    Terje – “For the casual reader this will leave a possibly biased perspective of the story but sophisticated readers will figure out who they trust and who is reliable.”

    But this is the real problem of a biased media. This is the politically non engaged group representing the 10-20% of swinging voters who determine elections. They decide outcomes for all of us, but are the most susceptible to OzLies.

    I sometimes think the Left has done remarkably well in holding it’s own at all, given the relentless onslaught of the propaganda of such powerful vested interests. Or am I being too optimistic?

  30. Malthusista
    September 20th, 2011 at 17:03 | #30
  31. TerjeP
    September 20th, 2011 at 17:15 | #31

    NME – the left in statism terms have not merely survived but have triumphed. We have never had more regulation or government expenditure. The only retreat has been in some areas of direct ownership.

    As for media bias I regard the media as too left leaning. So obviously we are at variance in our opinion about the bias.

  32. TerjeP
    September 20th, 2011 at 17:29 | #32

    rog :
    Terje, imagine the degree of govt investment into solar if it was found to be useful in warfare.
    The nuclear industry would be nothing without govt support.

    I would not get hung up on sunk costs. We don’t tear down buildings just because their construction was an unwise use of money. The same is true of the research effort regarding nuclear.

    Solar cells and wind mills have got cheaper and subsidies arguably had something to do with it via economies of scale. However in spite of economies of scale in terms of machine production when it comes to machine operation there will always be diseconomies of scale beyond a certain point. So subsidies have limited value.

    In any case this is beside the point. The issue was whether such view points are merely about social signalling and tribal identification or if there are principled reasons for disagreement. I think it is more the later. I don’t dislike government spending on solar cells on some basis that liking solar cells would make me an outcast from the right. And I don’t feel exceptional in that regard.

  33. Craig Thomas
    September 20th, 2011 at 18:29 | #33

    @TerjeP

    Terje, the per kWh cost of nuclear vastly exceeds that of solar or wind.
    Groupthink exists when people deliberately discount reality in order to cling to their ideological position.

  34. rog
    September 20th, 2011 at 18:44 | #34

    @TerjeP
    Terge, it is “the point”

    Give solar the same handouts that the child of the Manhattan Project benefitted from and we might have a viable alternative. But all you “libertarians” want is that alternative energy resources be free from subsidy but you make no allowance when making comparisons with a subsidised fossil fuel based energy industry (and before you go anal over the term “subsidy” consider the tax breaks and infrastructure spend on conventional energy sources – you could also include the cost of war to secure energy fields).

  35. Mulga Mumblebrain
    September 20th, 2011 at 19:06 | #35

    rog, I believe that the right opposes solar, wind and other renewables for two principle reasons. First because renewables threaten the business interests of the fossil fuel industry, the most wealthy by far in human history, and a reliable source of moneys for Rightwing propaganda and political interests. And second because environmental concerns are seen, correctly I would say, as a Leftwing obsession, simply because the Left values life over money, contrary to the Right. So the Right denies every ecological crisis, attacks and vilifies environmentalists at every opportunity and spends billions on agit-prop to fool the public and appeal to their greedy self-interest. They cloak their ideological opportunism with economic mambo-jambo, borrowing much clap-trap from market fundamentalist ‘voodoo economics’. Of course the Right denies these motivations, but they would, wouldn’t they?

  36. Ken Fabos
    September 20th, 2011 at 20:12 | #36

    The Right really have lost the plot over climate change and it runs right through how it debates issues surrounding it, including attitudes to renewable energy, which, as with climate, they have chosen to frame as green-left driven. Not all the Right of course but you wouldn’t know it because those within the Coalition that accept the science and would be pro-active on climate policy are keeping heads down and mouths closed. Group think I would say. The focus on the admitted problems with the compromised, flawed and inadequate climate programs to date is with the intent of stopping climate programs, not creating better adequate ones. Policy alternatives are nearly as absent as discussion of the true seriousness of the problem. In the sense that the seriousness and urgency presented by climate scientist is treated as, if not completely wrong, as the kind of extravagant hyperbole that is the norm for public discourse the Right thoroughly embraces climate science denial. In that sense the group-think of the Right maintains denial about the seriousness of the climate problem whilst consistently opposing adequate action on emissions or carbon pricing.

    I can’t help but think that O’Farrell putting a ‘solar levy’ on every NSW power bill is an example and demonstration of the Right’s attitudes to renewables – frame it as entirely pointless green-left wastefulness and encourage resentment against renewables and the green lefties who have panels on their roof. An exquisite payback for having to back down on lowering the agreed feed in tariff which ought to make any future programs to sponser rooftop solar politically impossible. As a bonus it ought to encourage a more general opposition to spending on renewable energy projects. Good one Barry. Make no mistake, at it’s core the Right’s position is built on denial of the seriousness of climate change.

  37. TerjeP
    September 20th, 2011 at 20:20 | #37

    Craig Thomas :
    @TerjeP
    Terje, the per kWh cost of nuclear vastly exceeds that of solar or wind.

    Not even close.

  38. TerjeP
    September 20th, 2011 at 20:32 | #38

    There seems to be a chunk of groupthink going on here with regards to what rightwing people think and why they think it. You should all get out more.

    I’d love for solar or wind to be a cheap and viable energy source. However they aren’t. This isn’t ideological it’s just realism. Subsidies may help give the production of solar cells and windmills some scale and some cost reductions via the learning effect but power grids are not going to absorb more than a small percentage of wind and solar power. And given the capacity factors for solar and wind plants nore should they. Remove the subsidies and these technologies will all but disappear again.

  39. rog
    September 20th, 2011 at 21:01 | #39

    Terje, you seem to be unable to accept that the concept of level playing field needs to be applied evenly, not selectively.

    You also appear to be unable to accept that those who do not agree with you may not be from one group.

  40. Chris Warren
    September 20th, 2011 at 21:40 | #40

    @TerjeP

    Geez, if you removed the subsidy from nuclear power stations they would also disappear.

    If there was no subsidy – there would be no Snowy Mountain Scheme.

    Subsidies produce outcomes that capitalism cannot.

    So if we want to cut fossil fuels, then subsidise better options. Just take the subsidy from a few Collins Class submarines and divert them to a better need.

  41. shocked (just like Kylie)
    September 20th, 2011 at 22:27 | #41

    @sam

    Hi. In his book “Man Bites Murdoch”, former News Ltd editor Bruce Guthrie claimed the Oz regularly loses money, big time, because of poor sales in Melb/Vic, but Uncle Rupert props it up because it gives him clout in Canberra.

    Sounds pretty much like Kerry Packer responding to an executive who asked him at a meeting why they kept on “A Current Affair”. Story is Kerry threw a book (?) at the executive and said “It gives me power in Canberra” [add obscenity here].

    Thank goodness for the ABC, I say.

  42. TerjeP
    September 21st, 2011 at 06:13 | #42

    Geez, if you removed the subsidy from nuclear power stations they would also disappear.

    They are banned in Australia so it is a moot point here. Globally I’m inclined to agree although if you add a high enough price to CO2 emissions then nuclear is the clear winner. Typically it costs more today to make electricity from nuclear power than from coal which is why not many new plants get built. I’m of the view that nuclear could beat coal on price with the right innovation (eg LFTR – liquid flouride thorium reactor) however that is speculative. However even without innovation existing nuclear designs are vastly cheaper than solar and a lot cheaper than wind.

    Subsidies produce outcomes that capitalism cannot

    Different choices lead to different outcomes. However I don’t believe that subsidies in general do anything to improve outcomes. Of course their may be exceptions but not in the case of solar and wind power. We have been pouring money down the toilet.

    Getting back to the original point. Right wing bloggers (mostly) don’t oppose wind and solar as some ritual in social signaling and tribal solidarity. They oppose them because they are highly subsidies both via direct aid and highly favorable policy instruments (eg MRET). They are an obscene distortion of the market offering little practical benefit. Being able to sledge sections of the left over this issue may be an added benefit for some but it is in general secondary. These views are simply a logical outflow from views about free markets. If the left want to criticise the right for being too fascinated by markets then fine but this isn’t anything new.

  43. TerjeP
    September 21st, 2011 at 06:13 | #43

    Geez, if you removed the subsidy from nuclear power stations they would also disappear.

    They are banned in Australia so it is a moot point here. Globally I’m inclined to agree although if you add a high enough price to CO2 emissions then nuclear is the clear winner. Typically it costs more today to make electricity from nuclear power than from coal which is why not many new plants get built. I’m of the view that nuclear could beat coal on price with the right innovation (eg LFTR – liquid flouride thorium reactor) however that is speculative. However even without innovation existing nuclear designs are vastly cheaper than solar and a lot cheaper than wind.

    Subsidies produce outcomes that capitalism cannot

    Different choices lead to different outcomes. However I don’t believe that subsidies in general do anything to improve outcomes. Of course their may be exceptions but not in the case of solar and wind power. We have been pouring money down the toilet.

    Getting back to the original point. Right wing bloggers (mostly) don’t oppose wind and solar as some ritual in social signaling and tribal solidarity. They oppose them because they are highly subsidies both via direct aid and highly favorable policy instruments (eg MRET). They are an obscene distortion of the market offering little practical benefit. Being able to sledge sections of the left over this issue may be an added benefit for some but it is in general secondary. These views are simply a logical outflow from views about free markets. If the left want to criticise the right for being too fascinated by markets then fine but this isn’t anything new.

  44. Chris Warren
    September 21st, 2011 at 09:20 | #44

    Naturally when capitalists say they:

    … don’t believe that subsidies in general do anything to improve outcomes

    [ie Terje-speak]

    they attack the very foundations of the welfare state, the social wage, and social democracy.

    Every road, police station, law court, hospital, school and HE institutions, customs and quarantine service, defence outfits, and much cultural activity only exist through subsidies.

    “The Australian” rag only exists because it is subsidised from other streams of New Ltd funds.

    Most major shopping centres only exist because anchor-retailers get subsidised rents funded by higher prices elsewhere.

    Only capitalists claim that subsidies improve no outcomes and this is because the cost of a subsidy is finally covered only by the surplus (including middle class income premiums – a form of rent) capitalists and their hirelings want for themselves. Capitalists then try to spread (for ex.) Randite philosophy, to pursue this hoped-for capitalist cornucopia.

    You either have a social democracy based on regulated capitalism that subsidises social needs, or; capitalist cartels and monopolies that regulate people and culture based on commercial needs.

  45. Ken Fabos
    September 21st, 2011 at 09:26 | #45

    Right wing bloggers mostly don’t see any good reason to move to low emissions so investment in higher priced alternatives to do so must be considered bad policy; they prefer to believe climate science is highly uncertain in the sense that it must be less serious than the mainstream science says and as a consequence we should wait and see despite the science being more than certain enough and clear that it’s urgent. Delay isn’t allowing better policy to develop, it’s entrenching and exacerbating the problem.

    Nuclear is introduced in discussion as a solution primarily for tactical anti-green political reasons, mostly by people who don’t think emissions are really a problem – and it’s not a real policy position of the Right in Australia. Weak, compromised and ineffective policy is the consequence, not the cause of the relentless opposition by the Right to dealing rationally with this issue. Those on the Right that take the climate problem seriously are disturbingly silent on committing Australia to any serious emissions reduction policy and group think, peer pressure and political opportunism is keeping them silent.

    Sorry Terje but I think you are one of those on the Right that don’t really believe the problem is that serious. All the failures of the Right to develop rational policy gets down to that core issue of refusal to accept the science on climate.

  46. Trevor
    September 21st, 2011 at 10:19 | #46

    @ TerjeP. I think we all understand that the cheapest energy source in Australia is coal. We have truckloads of it and it is dead simple to shovel it into furnace, produce steam and spin a turbine. Unfortunately this very cheap energy also has a downside, it is the dirtiest form of energy. The effects of burning coal globally is one of the biggest contributors to global warming.

    Now if you don’t accept that, then it is a completely different argument and we will have to start again. If you do accept that, then how do you propose we move away from this dirty form of energy? By definition any other form of energy is going to be more expensive. That is why we used coal for so long, it was cheap and easy. Now though is the time to get smarter and market forces need a guiding hand to prod them in this direction.

    In pretty much all other areas where industry generates waste, regulation is required in order that it is treated correctly. Dont tell me that mining companies would rehabilitate land if it was not part of their mining agreement. Would industry treat its waste and dispose of it correctly if it could just pump it into the local drain or river with no penalty?

    The same applies for the atmosphere. It is just a lot more complex as the pollution is largely invisible and not localised. However this does not mean we should just throw our hands in the air and and say “its all to hard” just go for it guys and we will let the next generation sort it out or fry.

  47. TerjeP
    September 21st, 2011 at 10:40 | #47

    Sorry Terje but I think you are one of those on the Right that don’t really believe the problem is that serious.

    The observation is fairly accurate so there is no need to apologise. However I am genuinely intellectually interested in the debate about solutions. I do think humans cause global warming through CO2e emissions but I don’t think the problem is exceptionally serious. Temperature has gone from something like 288 kelvin to 288.7 kelvin in about 150 years. I’m not quaking in my boots about this. Especially when stacked alongside the other problems we encounter and cause for ourselves. And I think a lot of the policy response is worse than the problem it is supposed to solve, especially given how little they do to solve it and how much they cost.

  48. TerjeP
    September 21st, 2011 at 10:44 | #48

    Now if you don’t accept that, then it is a completely different argument and we will have to start again. If you do accept that, then how do you propose we move away from this dirty form of energy?

    Invent cheaper cleaner alternatives. For example the LFTR and IFR are both interesting possibilities in the nuclear arena. The LFTR in particular. I don’t think the government has much role to play other than removing regulatory obstacles.

  49. Trevor
    September 21st, 2011 at 11:01 | #49

    Can you supply any reference for costs for these systems TerjeP. From what I understand of the new generation nuclear options it would take us twenty years to build them if we started now and they still remain largely theoretical. Also, while being lower cost than legacy nuclear, they would still be more expensive than our current coal systems. So to be consistent with your argument these should also be ruled out.

    Not that I am saying they should be dismissed. This is an area that deserves to be looked at. But it is not a solution now for reducing our carbon output.

  50. TerjeP
    September 21st, 2011 at 11:09 | #50

    There are costings around for LFTR and IFR technology. However neither has been commercialised yet so they carry a lot of uncertainty. The second video at the following link talks a bit about it:-

    http://energyfromthorium.com/2011/08/05/two-teac3-presentations/

    However I’m not expecting this to prove my opinion correct. Merely to help inform as to what my opinion is and why I hold it.

  51. Trevor
    September 21st, 2011 at 11:40 | #51

    So I guess we have come full circle. The only way these systems would get up is by creating a playing field whereby they could compete on price with coal. IE energy from coal is made more expensive through having to pay for the pollution it creates. Nuclear does not create the pollution so has a inherent price advantage.

    For the sake of the discussion I am ignoring all the arguments that may come up about the carbon produced from the construction of the plants, the mining of the uranium and the treatment of the waste. Lets keep it simple and just consider the operation of the plant.

  52. Chris Warren
    September 21st, 2011 at 11:40 | #52

    @Trevor

    This area is well settled. A simple Google search on “global temperature” will show you how bizarre Terje is.

    The 288 to 288.7 K change due to CO2 doubling, is a fabulous tale from Munktonites. They divide the impact by taking the fourth root, based on Stefan-Boltzman’s black-body radiation-temperature relationship. This is laughable.

    Even a tenth of a % temp change due to CO2 will increase water vapour and methane (from permafrosts). These gases then have their own additional impacts. This, in time, destroys the climate if whatever caused the initial minute CO2 increase either continues or (worse case scenario) expands.

  53. KB Keynes
    September 21st, 2011 at 11:54 | #53

    I think My friend Terje is having himself on about Catallaxy.

    Let us take just two examples.

    Steve Kates pronounce the death of Keynesiansm just at the IMF publish a large study on fiscal consolidation in a number of countries. It shows the death of Classical economics and that Keynes was correct. Austerity should be used in good economic times and simply makes things worse in bad times.
    If you endeavour to actually comment on this you get banned.

    In another bit of classic timing we had the rehash that the CRA and GSEs were responsible for the GFC. However at almost the same time A Fed research paper showed no evidence for this at all. Nor did papers from almost every Regional Fed that has examined the topic.

    Ironies on ironies nuclear power is only economic when the price of carbon is raised yet they support nuclear power but not either a tax on carbon or an ETS such as is being legislated here.

    Catallaxy is virtually an evidence free blog where ignorance is bliss.

  54. Ken Fabos
    September 21st, 2011 at 12:34 | #54

    @TerjeP
    And on that basis I don’t believe your intent is to contribute meaningfully to efforts to reduce emissions locally or globally whether by nuclear solutions or otherwise. Which fairly well typifies the position of the Right on climate change. The nuclear thing is pure distraction and diversion, not alternative policy from the Right; their real support is for the fossil fuel industry not nuclear.

    If the Right could treat the issue as genuinely serious and developed a sincere policy plan, even one predicated nuclear, I would feel a lot more optimistic but they are not sincere or genuine and continue to peddle denial of the seriousness – and even the existence – of this problem. Even Abbott’s ‘policy based on a lie’ line will be taken by his many loyal supporters to refer to the science of climate being a lie, a view which senior members of his party – the Right – actively promote. Which he’d surely insist only referred to Gillard’s utterances – which is another measure of Abbott’s insincerity.

    As long as the Right can discount the consequences and costs that arise from global failure on emissions, they can push the line that calls for commitment to renewables is costly, pointless and driven by unrealistic green ideology. And continue to contribute nothing but criticism to development of effective measures to reduce emissions.

    It’s way past time the Right began taking the issue seriously and actually began contributing constructively to solutions but they are so mired in their own delusions about the issue and so gripped by group think that they are incapable of it.

  55. frankis
    September 21st, 2011 at 12:41 | #55

    @TerjeP
    Others may be keen to try to better inform Terje’s opinions; for any such concerned citizens I’d proffer:

    1. 0.7C in 130 years? Sure. It may for that matter be 0.7C in a thousand years. But the global average land temperature graph can also be read as telling us that temps have risen roughly 0.6C in less than 40 years, since the 70s.

    2. A paper out yesterday finds that “missing” heat – heat we’ve added to the system but which hasn’t yet turned up in average surface temperature trends – may be found in the deep ocean. Trenberth says “The heat has not disappeared, and so it cannot be ignored. It must have consequences.” sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110918144941.htm

    3. Arctic summer sea-ice extent is at a minimum where, if it were assumed for argument’s sake that summer sea-ice extent typically varies in a normally distributed fashion about something like the 1979-2000 mean, we’d be currently witnessing a 1 in 10,000 year or less event, for the second year running. nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/N_stddev_timeseries.png

    4. Not for millions of years has there been this much CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere (~390ppm and rising) while there’s remained this much ice on the land.

  56. frankis
    September 21st, 2011 at 12:43 | #56

    ps apologies for adding to this diversion from the subject of the post.

  57. Tim Macknay
    September 21st, 2011 at 13:02 | #57

    It’s way past time the Right began taking the issue seriously and actually began contributing constructively to solutions but they are so mired in their own delusions about the issue and so gripped by group think that they are incapable of it.

    The Right in general has actually gone backwards on this issue in the last decade or two. The position of The Australian on the issue is a classic example, and the Liberal Party federal election platform in 1990 had a climate change policy that was more ambitious than anything that has been proposed since. It seems the denialist position has hardened and become more popular on the right even as the scientific evidence of the seriousness of the problem has firmed up.

  58. TerjeP
    September 21st, 2011 at 13:12 | #58

    For the sake of the discussion I am ignoring all the arguments that may come up about the carbon produced from the construction of the plants, the mining of the uranium and the treatment of the waste. Lets keep it simple and just consider the operation of the plant.

    Trevor – That seems a biased assumption given the massive material inputs demanded by solar and wind power capacity (not to mention land) which dwarfs the inputs required for nuclear (including fuel). Are you sure you don’t work for the mining lobby?

  59. John Quiggin
    September 21st, 2011 at 13:21 | #59

    Terje, I suggest you Google “Rightwing” + “wind power”, and see the kind of groupthink I’m referring to.

    Bear in mind that your co-thinkers are supposed to be against “picking winners” and so on.

  60. TerjeP
    September 21st, 2011 at 13:24 | #60

    Ken – the right in general is for cheap energy. It need not be fossil fuels. It just happens to be at this point in time.

    Frankis – the Argo bouys were deployed to look at ocean temperature. Last time I looked they were not finding anything conclusive in terms of warming.

    Tim – public opinion in general has gone “backwards” on climate change. Lots of the predictions made in the 1990s have been complete failures. The drought has broken. The temperature trend has been unexciting. My own opinion in 1990 was much more concerned than it is today.

  61. Trevor
    September 21st, 2011 at 13:47 | #61

    OK Terje I get it. You don’t think global warming should be taken seriously and only activities that in no way will have a cost impact on any business should be contemplated in line with this view. I and many others don’t agree and may think you a bit of a dill but if that’s your view, fine. As long as your honest about it.

    I am just curious why you feel the need to come on to blogs such as this and make like you are interested in debating the topic. Evidence upon evidence is presented and all you do is retreat to a circular non sensible argument.

    BTW. What are we this week? Luvvies? That seems to be the latest pejorative used. Have we moved on from “inner city elites” yet? I suppose tree huggers and hippies is sooo 2000′s. Let alone chardonnay socialists or latte sippers.

    This is another topic that amuses me. Right wing critics seem to think they are being clever by dreaming up names to call those they disagree with. Perhaps its an indication of the quality of their argument. Name calling is always a good substitute for reasoned logic.

  62. may
    September 21st, 2011 at 13:54 | #62

    “hot spots of radiation” reported found in Tokyo.

    true?

    coalition MPs’ call for reducing ABCs’ funding on the back of howards’ revenge.

    true?

    how come an american evangelist with ties to morloch media is in charge of the ABC?

  63. may
    September 21st, 2011 at 14:18 | #63

    @Trevor

    don’t forget “fancy shmancy” applied to those who prefer to eat food without the low(or high) dose of cumulative pesticides.
    (but we’d starve without them.)

  64. TerjeP
    September 21st, 2011 at 14:34 | #64

    JQ – mostly I get stuff about bird kill and wind farm shutdowns. If I google “leftwing” and “wind power” I get much the same stuff. If I read some of the blogs I get rants and arguments like at most blogs. Not exactly indicative of group think.

  65. Tim Macknay
    September 21st, 2011 at 15:43 | #65

    Tim … Lots of the predictions made in the 1990s have been complete failures. The drought has broken. The temperature trend has been unexciting.

    Terje, if you believe the above, you must either be completely misinformed on the issue or consciously choosing to ignore facts that don’t agree with your preferred position. Your comments about “the drought” and temperature trends being “unexciting” have absolutely no relationship with either the data or scientific opinion about trends in temperature and rainfall. Given how readily available the information is, you must be totally disinterested in informing yourself about the subject.

  66. Donald Oats
    September 21st, 2011 at 15:57 | #66

    I remember being told all sorts of things, concerning the use of wind turbines for “baseload power”. Not only was it interesting to hear Greg Combet speak (in parliament; news coverage not very good) about renewable energy, particularly when he made the point that car factories are using wind turbines for their power requirements, 100% of power being the stated goal for numerous others. Ford^Fn1 has already set up windpower for one factory, adding turbines as the factory product lines are increased; BMW are also doing this, and no doubt they will be soon followed by their competitors. Since they are relying on turbines for 100% of their power requirements, they obviously feel that it won’t affect their production rate too much. Of course, it is reasonable to assume that they have some sort of plan B for power outage or be-calming; in the past car factories have in many cases been totally reliant upon coal-fired power, and have had no plan-B for grid blackouts or power shortages, beyond not being able to meet their production targets. No doubt these early wind-powered car factories are in one sense experiments, or proof of application; nevertheless, big companies don’t like taking very public foolish risks, so it is a fairly safe bet that Ford, BMW, and others, have taken a long, hard look at whether wind-power can meaningfully work.

    Now, when was the last time I read a great article on wind-power potential in the Oz? Hmmm…

    Fn1: Type the key words “car factory wind-power 2011″ or just “factory wind-power 2011″ into WKSE to pull up very recent articles on exactly this. Can’t be too hard to find at least some praise for alternative energy use in major projects, the journos just have to be able to type. Or, take the Sydney Morning Herald’s news article reporting on parliament, to quote:

    Earlier this week, the opposition leader said there was no way you could have a solar-powered steel mill or a wind-powered manufacturing plant.

    “Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional,” he said.

    Unfortunately for Mr Abbott, such projects are already under way.

    In Germany, BMW is building wind-turbines at its Leipzig manufacturing plant that will provide electricity to assemble hundreds of vehicles per day from 2012, Mr Combet said.

    In the United Kingdom, Ford’s diesel assembly plant is already completely wind-powered.

  67. sam
    September 21st, 2011 at 16:23 | #67

    TerjeP, people don’t use “Kelvin” as a temperature scale in everyday life for the same reason you *are* using it here; it’s misleading. Most biological systems spend their time between 270K and 310K and concern themselves with small changes within this narrow range.

    It’s true that 0.7K probably doesn’t do too much damage, but 2K will. And if people like you get their way, the world won’t stop there.

  68. TerjeP
    September 21st, 2011 at 17:27 | #68

    Your comments about “the drought” and temperature trends being “unexciting” have absolutely no relationship with either the data or scientific opinion about trends in temperature and rainfall.

    I think you will find I was talking about public opinion.

  69. Tim Macknay
    September 21st, 2011 at 17:55 | #69

    @TerjeP
    Oh, come on Terje. You’re now saying this:

    Lots of the predictions made in the 1990s have been complete failures. The drought has broken. The temperature trend has been unexciting.

    was about public opinion? Funny because it reads like it’s about “predictions made in the 1990s”, “the drought”, and “the temperature trend”. Those are all “public opinion”, are they?

    FWIW I agree that the polling indicates that the public (in Australia at least) have become less concerned about global warming in the last five years or so (whether they are less concerned than they were 20 years ago is debatable). But to claim that the rest of your comment was about “public opinion” is risible.

  70. Tim Macknay
    September 21st, 2011 at 18:05 | #70

    @sam
    Thanks Sam. I had wondered why Terje was using the Kelvin scale instead of the more usual Celsius, but it’s obvious now that you point it out – it makes the warming appear less significant. Tick another box in the “ideological bias” checklist.

  71. TerjeP
    September 21st, 2011 at 18:27 | #71

    Tim – talk about selective quotation. My comment was clearly about public opinion. Here it is again in full:-

    Tim – public opinion in general has gone “backwards” on climate change. Lots of the predictions made in the 1990s have been complete failures. The drought has broken. The temperature trend has been unexciting. My own opinion in 1990 was much more concerned than it is today.

    Note the words “public opinion”. The first two words in my passage after your name in fact. The words you omitted when you quoted me and tried to imply it was disingenuous of me to to make out that I was referring to the factors that had shifted public opinion. Those words “public opinion” kind of make it clear I was talking about ….. wait for it ….. public opinion.

  72. rog
    September 21st, 2011 at 18:34 | #72

    I get it, Terje’s concept of a free market is one in which you are able to pick and choose which expert opinion (and the definition of “expert”) fits your particular way of thinking.

    I think Terje is a smiley.

  73. rog
    September 21st, 2011 at 18:38 | #73

    Or you could put it another way, free marketeers want to the freedom to pick their own winners.

    They instinctively reject expert opinion as being an impost.

  74. TerjeP
    September 21st, 2011 at 18:46 | #74

    I am just curious why you feel the need to come on to blogs such as this and make like you are interested in debating the topic. Evidence upon evidence is presented and all you do is retreat to a circular non sensible argument.

    I’ve been coming to this blog for about a decade. I recall emailing John Quiggin a little in the late 1990′s pre blog. I suspect that to a certain extent I frequent this blog out of habit. However it’s also because the topics are generally of interest and the participants in comments are often interesting. I do find lot’s to disagree with and I have been asked by others why I waste my time listening to socialists but I do find it somewhat entertaining and sometimes occasionally I learn something new.

    BTW. What are we this week? Luvvies? That seems to be the latest pejorative used. Have we moved on from “inner city elites” yet? I suppose tree huggers and hippies is sooo 2000′s. Let alone chardonnay socialists or latte sippers.

    I think all these pejoritives still have currency. I tend to use the term “statists” a little but more as a descriptor than as a pejorative. Also “the left” on occasion or just “socialists”. It depends on the context and the level of exasperation. However for the most part I’m not inclined to engage in personal abuse because it doesn’t amuse that much and it certainly doesn’t enlighten.

    This is another topic that amuses me. Right wing critics seem to think they are being clever by dreaming up names to call those they disagree with. Perhaps its an indication of the quality of their argument. Name calling is always a good substitute for reasoned logic.

    Yes but this preoccupation is not unique to right wing critics. Critics from across the spectrum have the capacity for vitriol. The left wingers favorites when criticising the right seems to be descriptors like “greedy”, “evil”, “redneck”, “racist” etc. A lot of the left are exceedingly convinced of their moral superiority.

  75. TerjeP
    September 21st, 2011 at 18:49 | #75

    rog :
    I get it, Terje’s concept of a free market is one in which you are able to pick and choose which expert opinion (and the definition of “expert”) fits your particular way of thinking.

    If I’m paying then absolutely. I think the term is “doctor of your choice”.

  76. Mulga Mumblebrain
    September 21st, 2011 at 20:44 | #76

    Don’t you just love it when Rightwing climate destabilisation denialists pretend to be ‘sceptics’ or seriously well-informed observers who see it all as a Leftist beat-up, while the vast majority of the real experts in the field, the climatologists, are becoming steadily more pessimistic. Still, preposterous self-regard and narcissistic over-estimations of one’s intelligence are ubiquitous on the smug Right. It’s a sort of up-market Dunning-Kruger phenomenon.

  77. TerjeP
    September 21st, 2011 at 20:57 | #77

    See that. Lots of name calling and abuse. Some people just can’t help themselves.

  78. Tim Macknay
    September 21st, 2011 at 22:20 | #78

    Note the words “public opinion”. The first two words in my passage after your name in fact. The words you omitted when you quoted me and tried to imply it was disingenuous of me to to make out that I was referring to the factors that had shifted public opinion. Those words “public opinion” kind of make it clear I was talking about ….. wait for it ….. public opinion.

    the factors that had shifted public opinion

    Terje, you made a statement about a shift in public opinion. You then made several statements which were factual claims about the state of the climate and the science, i.e. alleged mistakes in scientific opinion in the 1990s, changes in rainfall (or the drought breaking, in any case), and temperature trends, which you presumably consider to be the underlying factual reasons for the shift in public opinion.

    I had no problem with your claim about public opinion shifting. That’s why I didn’t include it in the quote. My disagreement was with the factual claims which, as I said, are inconsistent with readily available data and scientific opinion (although I’ll grant you “the drought has broken” – although the long-range rainfall trend shows continued drying in Eastern Australia, it is reasonable to refer to a wetter year after a string of very dry ones as “the drought breaking”). I wasn’t selectively quoting you to misrepresent what you said. I was focusing on the part of what you said that I disagreed with.

    If you are now claiming that the comments I did quote should not be taken as factual claims because they are connected with a claim about public opinion, then yes, you are being disingenous. Or are you now saying that you do not actually believe that “lots of the predictions made in the 1990s have been complete failures; the drought has broken; the temperature trend has been unexciting”?

  79. Chris Warren
    September 21st, 2011 at 22:56 | #79

    @TerjeP

    I suppose Terje is just a bit jealous ….

    A lot of the left are exceedingly convinced of their moral superiority.

    Of course. Capitalists want to drive wedges through society based on economic exploitation. This is immoral.

    In the field of morality, the Left essentially stands for – “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. So if Leftists want to get married or have their claims for refugee status dealt with humanely, they will fight to give others the same rights.

    Capitalists, by definition, do not “do unto others as they would have them do unto them”. They pay wages under conditions they would not accept themselves. Capitalists also sell at prices they themselves would not be willing to pay.

    Capitalists use their immoral wealth to give their children, education, health, and cultural opportunities that are denied to the children of their workers.

    Capitalism caused the Indian Wars, African Wars, the Boxer Rebellion, the First World War, the Second World War, the Vietnam War, two Gulf Wars, and has long threatened nuclear war when Jupiter nuke-missiles were placed in Turkey. Capitalism also demands cheap and nasty working conditions and cheap and nasty environmental conditions.

    Capitalism continues the same moral basis inherent in fuedalism. And then they winge when the Left claims moral superiority.

    Winges such as Terje’s are an act of ignorance.

  80. TerjeP
    September 21st, 2011 at 23:00 | #80

    Tim – it is not facts that shift public opinion but perceptions.

  81. TerjeP
    September 21st, 2011 at 23:05 | #81

    Chris – you are conflating capitalists as a societal class (as per Marx) with capitalists as a school of philosophical thought. Perhaps it is deliberate. Irrespective your claims are mostly without any basis or relevance. However you do help to prove my point about the lefts delusion regarding superior morality.

  82. Chris Warren
    September 21st, 2011 at 23:34 | #82

    @TerjeP

    Obviously, the ideology of a class is conflated with the class itself. This is not ‘deliberate’. This is common sense.

    My claims are based on the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes, Immanuel Kant, and the Holy Bible. This is where the Golden Rule originates and is based.

    Only politically motivated commentators would pretend they see no basis and understand no relevance.

    But this is your problem.

    If challenged the Left can always demonstrate its moral superiority, so there is no point trying to deny, or provoke it.

  83. Tim Macknay
    September 22nd, 2011 at 00:12 | #83

    Tim – it is not facts that shift public opinion but perceptions.

    Terje, I assume you mean that your comments regarding failed scientific predictions, temperature trends etc referred only to public perceptions of the facts concerning these things, not to the facts themselves. Well, if that is really what you meant, fair enough, although you didn’t make it very clear.

    Of course, it doesn’t address the issue of why public opinion (to some extent), and more particularly rightwing opinion (to a much greater extent), appears to have tracked in the opposite direction to the data and the scientific opinion. Which brings us back to The Australian, groupthink, etc. Oh good, this discussion wasn’t off-topic after all.

  84. Mulga Mumblebrain
    September 22nd, 2011 at 07:00 | #84

    Chris Warren, The Golden Rule pre-dates Christendom by some centuries. Mo Zi in China for one said more or less the same things several centuries before Christ. I would imagine that decent people felt the same way from the earliest times. You are correct too, to state, straight up, that the Right does not think like that. It is how you define the Right. They hate, fear and exploit others, seeking their own self-interest above that of others. Their credo is ‘Do unto others before they do it to you’. The clearest possible expression of this contempt, indeed hatred, of others is the anthropogenic climate destabilisation denial industry, where the Right has not only abjured rationality and scientific research, but has embarked on a course, in order to protect the riches of the fossil fuel business and the Right’s domination of society, that will almost certainly cause the greatest catastrophe in human history. And to do so they have lied. misrepresented, vilified, intimidated, threatened and then lied some more. If you had only arrived recently from outer space the reality of the Right and the morality and inhumanity of the Rightist would be revealed by this one debacle.

  85. Chris Warren
    September 22nd, 2011 at 08:23 | #85

    @Mulga Mumblebrain

    Yes, the so called “Golden Rule” is the fundamental bedrock of morality in society and probably existed in some form, as a concept, in most ancient societies. It is a product of pure reason.

    The Left also wants to give future generations the same benefits as we have enjoyed. This antagonizes the right because they make themselves wealthier if they can pass-off nuclear waste and a destroyed climate to their grandchildren’s grandchildren.

    The right is distinctly immoral for short-term gain. It was the eighteenth century Left who opposed slavery and the rancid right in the House of Commons who continued to support it and to provoke the abolitionists.

    But the worst is yet to come. Today’s right will destroy the entire climate just to protect their wealth, and will destroy entire society if anyone tries to interfere in their schemes.

  86. Mulga Mumblebrain
    September 22nd, 2011 at 09:49 | #86

    Precisely Chris. ‘Right’ and ‘Left’ no longer refer to the seating arrangements at long defunct French Assemblies, but to basic psychological and spiritual motivations and tendencies. The Right is quite simply those who more fear and hate others than accept and enjoy them. It’s the difference between life seen as competition with enemies where the object is to divide humanity into ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ and life seen as co-operation towards the goal of greater happiness for as many as possible.

  87. Tim Macknay
    September 22nd, 2011 at 10:44 | #87

    I must say, I find this Manichean idea of the “left” as representing goodness and light, and the “right” as embodying evil and darkness, a ridiculously simplistic notion. The terms are far too ambiguous and unstable to admit to such an absolute meaning. Characterising your opponents as inherently wicked on the basis of their opinions alone is part of a process of dehumanisation that all too frequently leads to violence. Decent people should eschew it.

  88. Chris Warren
    September 22nd, 2011 at 11:11 | #88

    @Tim Macknay

    By all means, but your comment is even MORE simplistic, predictable and hackneyed. The fundamental aim of humanity is to achieve “goodness” and “enlightenment”. There is no other claim for moral-values-in-action than this.

    Compare the progressive, Left movements of UK Reform Bills (opposed by the Right), and suffragettes (opposed by the Right), and then the KKK and lynch mobs (opposed by the Left) in the USA.

    So this demonstrates that the Right are inherently wicked and anti-social based on their acts, and they are a dehumanising influence that all too frequently leads to violence. This is the lesson of history.

    Indecent people pretend otherwise to pursue their own agendas.

  89. Mulga Mumblebrain
    September 22nd, 2011 at 11:14 | #89

    Tim the Right’s opinions are poisonous enough, morally and spiritually, (and to deny so is, I believe, ‘moral equivalence’ taken to the level of insanity)but it is their actions and behaviour that are truly evil. If you do not understand the notion of evil in human affairs, might I suggest that you begin by contemplating Madelein Albright’s blunt assertion that the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of five, as a direct consequence of the US/UK sanctions regime was a price that was ‘worth it’.

  90. Chris Warren
    September 22nd, 2011 at 11:56 | #90

    Yes the onus on Tim Macknay is to show how Rightist theory (or acts) are not anti-social. Rightwing people do engage in ‘conspicuous charity’.

    If he really thinks the current schema is simplistic – then the onus is on him to come up with a better one.

  91. Tim Macknay
    September 22nd, 2011 at 12:40 | #91

    Yes the onus on Tim Macknay is to show how Rightist theory (or acts) are not anti-social.

    This is the problem – I have no idea what you actually mean when you say “Rightist theory”. It appears to be an amalgam of everything you detest at any given moment.

    If he really thinks the current schema is simplistic – then the onus is on him to come up with a better one.

    I wouldn’t really dignify “us=good; them=bad” with the term “schema”. There are plenty of ways of analysing and discussing human affairs and conduct without reducing everything to two ill-defined categories, so I don’t need to “come up with them”, and there is no onus on me to do anything in particular.
    Madelein[e] Albright’s blunt assertion that the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of five, as a direct consequence of the US/UK sanctions regime was a price that was ‘worth it’.

    I wonder if you think I’m ignorant. Of course I’m aware of Albright’s indefensible remark. But what does it have to do with Manichean notions of left and right? Nothing.

    Presumably you find tub-thumping moral denunciations of no-one in particular to be cathartic, but it sure is tedious for the rest of us. And it’s a poor substitute for argument.

  92. Mulga Mumblebrain
    September 22nd, 2011 at 13:51 | #92

    Tim, forgive me if I’m wrong, but you strike me as someone who identifies with the Right out of self-interest, or because you have not thoroughly thought things through. Certainly it is embarrassing to have to admit that the Right routinely kills, tortures, bullies, threatens and intimidates to get its way, and is currently leading a truly diabolical campaign to thwart action on anthropogenic climate destabilisation, but you still seem wedded to the general ideology. Perhaps you see my Manichean worldview (it is tempered, but basically black and white, I must admit-the greys are either ‘black’ greys or ‘white’ ones)as unlikely to lead to good results, and that is certainly a decent argument. However, believe me, I spent years expecting the Right to see the error of their ways, if only in the interests of the survival of their own children in the face of ecological disaster, and they only got worse and worse.I do think some decent people call themselves ‘Rightwing’ when in fact they are not, and they perform a role as ‘useful idiots’ behind which the true, misanthropic, terminally greedy and violent Right can hide. My definition of ‘Right’ and ‘Left’ seems simply not to be yours. For me it is a euphemism for good and wicked. The Albright example is simply one of the most egregious examples of thousands of similar acts of evil brutality and sadistic cruelty. Forgive me, but in my ‘schema’ that spells E.V.I.L ! I cannot think of any really ‘Left’ politicians in power, save the Greens. Gillard is hard Right, as is the hideous Rudd, in my definition. Malcolm Fraser is now a true ‘Leftist’ although he may deny it.

  93. Fran Barlow
    September 22nd, 2011 at 14:14 | #93

    @Tim Macknay

    Tim, forgive me if I’m wrong, but you strike me as someone who identifies with the Right out of self-interest,

    Mulga,

    Tim and I commonly find ourselves in sharp disagreement over this or that matter but at no point has Tim ever said anything that would warrant the claim that he “identifies with the right”.

    In my opinion, if he identifies with any idea set it’s with those of the liberal left. No, he’s no kind of far leftist, but the world is not divided merely into the far left and the right. I’ve no doubt that he finds killers, torturers, bullies and similar utterly reprehensible and feels nothing but a desire for their actions to be abated regardless of its impact on wider social arrangements.

    I get it that you see great injustice in the world — as do almost all of those of us who post at this site, but that is no reason to impugn the integrity of others without adequate warrant. Nobody here — not even those who seem to endorse it (and Tim is not to be included in that number) — is the cause of misanthropy or inequity in the world.

    You may find it better to try to specify the ways in which the world could be a better place and the most probable vehicles for realising your vision than to vent at those who don’t seem to share your particular take on things.

  94. Chris Warren
    September 22nd, 2011 at 14:29 | #94

    @Tim Macknay

    I think it has been made pretty clear, that a suitable concept of Rightist is those who abrogate or ignore the Golden Rule. There are others who do base politics on the Golden Rule. These are certainly to the Left.

    If you have not comprehended this, I suppose by also using the concept “capitalist” I may have blurred the issue.

    I am less concerned about Left and Right, than the problem of capitalism, and it seems that Rightist theory, to the extent it opposes governmental regulation, is the love child of capitalist lobbyists and their fellow travelers.

    However there is another rightist trick. Confounded with the concept based on the Golden Rule, they rewrite this as a childish “us-good-them-bad” misrepresentation, and then attack their own misrepresentation.

    While in general the Right is as I have described, in our modern particular circumstances, this label should be always associated with capitalists. In previous times it would be associated with Rotten Boroughs and feudal strata. But in our contemporary era:

    Today’s capitalists will destroy the entire climate just to protect their wealth, and will destroy entire society if anyone tries to interfere in their schemes.

    They will be defended by right-wing theorists and politicians in the media and academia. They will also be defended by Liberals and the rightwing in the ALP and churches and to some extent by rightwing unions.

    How is a denunciation of Madeleine Albright, an denunciation of “no one in particular”? How is she not a “particular”?

  95. sam
    September 22nd, 2011 at 15:16 | #95

    George Orwell used to write about the term “f@#$ism” becoming a catch-all for everything bad, rather than a specific set of political beliefs. “My my, this rain simply won’t stop, the weather has been positively F@#$IST today!”

  96. Mulga Mumblebrain
    September 22nd, 2011 at 16:49 | #96

    Fran, I asked Tim to forgive me if I am wrong, which I very well may be. But he has criticised my positions, as is his right, and which I do not resent, in a manner that makes me suspect his motivations. You may have seen the long quotation from Orwell, which I replied to as best I could, and he has accused me of Manicheanism, which, up to a point, is true, but which I saw as a reproof. He also accuses me of having no arguments, which I dispute. My arguments are simple, and arise from my experience and reflection. The human world is dominated by evil people, who I identify as Rightwing, in ideology, psychology and morality. The proof that this dominance is wicked is not just the centuries of exploitation, genocide, aggression and contempt, practised mostly by the West, but the current unprecedented global poverty, inequality and want. Moreover the capitalist system that the Right so very strongly identifies with and promotes, has brought the planet to the brink of ecological collapse, which will reduce humanity to the brink of extinction, if not over it. Yes, it is a simple dichotomy, that between good and evil, life and death, right and wrong, and I’m a simple-minded creature.

  97. Fran Barlow
    September 22nd, 2011 at 17:09 | #97

    @Mulga Mumblebrain

    The human world is dominated by evil people, who I identify as Rightwing, in ideology, psychology and morality.

    Which is interesting, because those who speak of evil and of morality start getting scored by me as more to the right than the left. It’s an appeal not to human possibility but to the metaphysical and suprahistorical. It locates agency outside of humans.

    The proof that this dominance is wicked …

    Oh dear … the use of the word for non-religious human insight to convey turpitude … That doesn’t sound leftwing at all.

    is not just the centuries of exploitation, genocide, aggression and contempt,

    The terms “aggression” and “contempt” are not political categories. They say nothing at all about human empowerment. Again, these seem drawn from the lexicon of priests or their putative secular equivalents. Your sentiments seem to be with the disadvantaged, but that is not in itself a leftwing position. Leftwingers can account for disadvantage and outline the circumstances in which the disadvantaged and their allies can achieve inclusion and equity in governance.

    I’d say you need to have a good sort through what you regard as important and how you imagine humanity can get there. When you’ve done that you may be in a better position to specify right and left than you appear to be now.

  98. Tim Macknay
    September 22nd, 2011 at 19:06 | #98

    @Fran Barlow
    Thank you Fran. “Liberal left” is a fair characterisation of my views, as far as it goes. I certainly don’t identify as rightwing. I fail to see where I have said anything that would indicate that I am “wedded to the general ideology”, as mulga puts it.

    Mulga, I’m sorry you suspect my motives. I’m not sure there’s much I can do about that – I call it as I see it. You’ve clarified that for you, “rightwing” is a synonym for “evil”.

    I think it has been made pretty clear, that a suitable concept of Rightist is those who abrogate or ignore the Golden Rule. There are others who do base politics on the Golden Rule. These are certainly to the Left.

    This seems confused to me. I have no problem with the Golden Rule, but again, it doesn’t really map onto left/right politics in any way that corresponds with the way those words are usually deployed. You mention Hobbes and Kant above, for example. But classical liberalism of the sort they espoused is usually regarded as being on the right, these days. Also, a capitalist might well argue that he applies the Golden Rule consistently by acting according to a rule-bound, “enlightened” self interest towards others, and expecting them to deal with him in the same manner. I don’t particularly agree with such an approach, but as far as I can tell it’s consistent with the Golden Rule.

    How is a denunciation of Madeleine Albright, an denunciation of “no one in particular”? How is she not a “particular”?

    I was referring to the denunciations of the amorphous category of “the right” as being the embodiment of evil, not to the Madeleine Albright reference.

  99. Mulga Mumblebrain
    September 22nd, 2011 at 19:32 | #99

    Well Tim, it was not I who mentioned Hobbes and Kant. I find the definition of good and evil to be simplicity itself. Good is what improves the enjoyment of life of those living, and protects the life prospects of those unborn. Evil reduces humanity’s ability to enjoy life, by violence, exploitation and indifference to the fate of others. It’s rather like the Supreme Court Justice in the USA not being able to define pornography, but stating that he knows it when he sees it. And the world is currently seeing a lot of evil, and to deny that it overwhelmingly emanates from those who cheerfully declare themselves to be of the Right is, in my opinion, mad or a diversion. I’m sorry but I don’t care what way ‘left/right..are usually deployed’. I’m only interested in what I mean, and ‘Left/Right’ for me refers to a dichotomy between good and evil. The prevalence in society today of the character traits of the psychopath, the lack of empathy, the lying, the indifference to the fate of others, the narcissistic self-absorption etc all derive, I believe, from the total global supremacy of the Rightwing ideology that bears so many names. Libertarianism, free market, neo-liberal, rational self-interest, these are all self-serving euphemisms for a worldview deriving from psychopathology that sees other people as, at best, competition, or, more commonly, enemies. And that triumphant, inhumane, compassionless ideology is destroying humanity.
    And Fran, I believe absolutely in empowerment, another reason I despise the Right. If there is a viler example of deliberate disempowerment than the hideous Northern Territory ‘intervention’ I shudder to imagine what it is like. This obscenity is, now, bi-partisan policy.It is hard to speak of human ‘agency’, when people’s lives are so circumscribed by the economic power of the Right, by deliberately imposed inequality, by precarious work conditions, by impoverished public provision in education, health, housing, transport etc, all policies pursued by the ideological Right without restraint. ‘Inclusion and equity’ are disappearing because of the political dominance of the Right. My policy is simple-remove them from power and substitute rule by those who do not hate others.

  100. Geoff
    September 22nd, 2011 at 21:55 | #100

    I see it as “brand” building eg Chris Uhlmann efforts on 7.30 report tonight he spent all day thinking of a gotcha question for the prime minister, she thought “thank you,” now the audience is now on my side. But frankly all these guys seem to do is work on there catch phrases, gotcha questions and news grabs not honest analysis, in the end it is prespun spin, each trying to be to clever by half so when anyone looks at it with dispassion, they are all a waste of time.

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