Home > Metablogging > Farewell, again to Larvatus Prodeo

Farewell, again to Larvatus Prodeo

January 1st, 2014

After returning for the election year, LP is closing once again. I’ll miss it. Blogs have transformed the media but, in the end, seemed to have been absorbed by more traditional forms. Feel free to contribute your thoughts on LP and the future, if any, of long-form blogs like this.

Categories: Metablogging Tags:
  1. chrisl
    January 1st, 2014 at 20:57 | #1

    While disagreeing with most of what LP says, I too will miss it. Blogs are like a letters to the editor that are not edited by that editor.Then you can make your own reply. Not that it changes much! Keep up the good work JQ even if I disagree with most of what you say!

  2. January 2nd, 2014 at 11:55 | #2

    Unfortunately ever since the site redesign, I have not found the place to be very user-friendly.

    LP, the once and future king I suppose.

  3. Robbo
    January 7th, 2014 at 13:38 | #3

    Now that they’re gone, I’ll just have to look around a bit to find informed discussion like they have had on LP. And keep coming back here too of course…

  4. Mel
    January 7th, 2014 at 15:23 | #4

    Feel free to contribute your thoughts on LP and the future, if any, of long-form blogs like this.

    I learn a lot from left leaning econ blogs like this. Noah Smith’s blog is also excellent. I thought LP was embarrassingly bad and Mark Bahnisch a poor joke, almost but not quite the Steve Kates of the Left.

  5. January 7th, 2014 at 16:24 | #5

    A left Steve Kates? Geez, that’s a bit harsh.

  6. Fran Barlow
    January 7th, 2014 at 22:17 | #6


    Bahnisch a left Kates? That’s a lot harsh. I found Mark a little too conservative politically, but he is a genuinely erudite and thoughtful fellow.

    More broadly, I too will miss LP. Some very good people were on the LP collective and they produced a blog where the tone was generally more civil than in most places, and mostly interesting.

    The Climate Clippings section was always worth a read, and it was also a place where we lefties could relax and put aside our politics and chat randomly about our lives and what else was important without necessarily having to argue the toss.

    I have great respect for all those who made the blog possible and kept it going as long as it did.

  7. Mel
    January 8th, 2014 at 00:23 | #7

    I thought LP represented the very worst of the Left, with its knee-jerk anti-capitalism; bizarre analysis of neo-liberalism; kumbaya cultural relativism; oppressive political correctness; black armband view of history; slavish adherence to western preternaturalism; pollyanna utopianism and oppressive brand of feminism. Leftists without a background in economics are in most cases vacuous in my opinion, altho of course there are some outstanding exceptions.

  8. Mel
    January 8th, 2014 at 00:31 | #8

    I should also add that I agree with Fran wholeheartedly when she says that most of the LP crowd were good people. But good people with dreadfully wrong ideas scare me much more than bad people with evil ideas.

  9. Megan
    January 8th, 2014 at 00:55 | #9

    A novel concept!

    Perhaps instead of “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”, we could have “the road to heaven is paved by bad people with evil ideas”.


  10. Julie Thomas
    January 8th, 2014 at 06:30 | #10


    It is interesting how differently some of us ‘see’ – and judge – things. I just didn’t ever see any of that, but I only started reading since they did their come back.

  11. Fran Barlow
    January 8th, 2014 at 08:15 | #11

    I should also add that I agree with Fran wholeheartedly when she says that most of the LP crowd were good people. But good people with dreadfully wrong ideas scare me much more than bad people with evil ideas.

    While one may argue that bad people with evil ideas are less likely to see them realised than good people with dreadfully wrong ones, I’d be surprised if a review of the record would bear this out. I suppose it might be hard to achieve a consensus on who qualified in the good people with dreadfully wrong ideas category, but if we were to assume Mel meant to include the LP collective in it, it’s hard to see any of them as the least bit scary, much less the equivalent or worse than bad people with evil ideas.

    NB: I use the term “evil” with tongs. I don’t accept the concept but simply impute to Mel the idea of “harm to compelling human interest without the beginnings of adequate warrant”.

  12. January 8th, 2014 at 09:49 | #12

    Mel, whatever you think of Mark Bahnisch’s ideas, at least he could write like he had a functioning frontal cortex. Steve Kates reads like some poorly implemented AI that has been fed nothing but right wing propaganda.

  13. January 8th, 2014 at 10:04 | #13

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions AND bad judgement.

    Hence hell.

    At least that’s my recent philosophy on it.

  14. January 8th, 2014 at 10:58 | #14

    Mel, are you sure you were looking at the same LP as the rest of us?

  15. paul walter
    January 10th, 2014 at 21:15 | #15

    Apart from Mel’s rubbish, I’d go along with most of the comments.
    LP lasted a long time and did the job, although the po-mo brand of “left” was self-indugent at times. But, with its collegiate approach and various contributors, it also worked spectacularly well, a lot of the time.
    I am certainly better off for having been a reader of it, but won’t miss the worst of the some times arrogant moderation there.
    Any way, the”old” blogsites are closing down, en masse. Technology advances quickly and many people have moved to other sources for news and commentary.

  16. paul walter
    January 10th, 2014 at 21:56 | #16

    The other thing behind their thinking would be the disillusioning prospect of a Tory government into the forseeable future.
    After all the work they put in, trying to inform and get people to think about social, cultural economic and political issues, to see a Conservative government, particularly a Tea Party one put in so emphatically recently, would have been a ball-buster.
    They have above average brains and education; if others are too selfish or lazy to think on beefy issues, why not walk away, consolidate your own career, family life and so forth.
    If they are like me, they probably half chunder at the sight of a newspaper or news service, at this time.

  17. paul walter
    January 10th, 2014 at 23:28 | #17

    And finally, as this discussion is running hot and I don’t want to take someone else’s space, I’ll just say, apart from this site for good current affairs, try (Dr) Gary Sauer Thompson’s “Public Opinion”..this guy largely knows his stuff as well.

  18. Megan
    January 11th, 2014 at 01:16 | #18

    I found their ALP blind spot too nauseating to handle.

    ALP=Good/LNP=Bad with no critique of anything ALP, no matter how neo-liberal or proto-fascist, just turns my stomach.

    They can’t reach out to anyone who isn’t a card-carrier.

    Good riddance.

  19. Fran Barlow
    January 11th, 2014 at 06:54 | #19


    I don’t regard that as fair comment. The LP team spent much of their time sympathetically entertaining criticism of the ALP on climate policy, asylum seekers and gay marriage. The consensus amongst the commenters was probably closest to the Greens.

  20. paul walter
    January 11th, 2014 at 11:13 | #20

    Yes, there is some balance to that.
    Wedge is what shattered not just the left, but any form of rational political thinking. They were always kicking against the wind, given the cultural desert level the country has fallen to through msm.
    In the end, being human, personal feelings DID enter into some discussions, from all quarters.
    It seems some times politics is defined through “known unknowns and unknown knowns”.
    The issues discussed were serious and complex, in precisely those fields where human understanding is at its least, to do with the human mind and heart.
    Compared to the squander, squalor and destructiveness of the Murdoch press, say, it was a broadsheet revelation.

  21. paul walter
    January 11th, 2014 at 12:51 | #21

    The thread intrigues me, I sense so much positive could come out of a mannered conversation concerning the end of LP.

    It could encompass the difficulties specialists have in rendering complex theory to terms comprehensible to the masses without reducing the nuancing of theory, so collapsing it back to incomprehensibility through flaws in logic induced through oversimplification.
    It could be seen as a phenomena inevitably emergent through a shameful vaccuum left by MSM, even for dolt level intelligence and curiosity.

    You could ask, was it reasonable to expect perfection from people who weren’t journalists, but intelligent observers trying to colonise or retreive a cognitive desert left by barbarians like Murdoch and Packer?

    If you consider this cultural desert as actual you may instead feel humbled at the high class efforts made by these Cincinatus-like folk, called out from their private lives to fill a critical gap left by the “regs” failure to “Defend the Republic”.
    You could even feel a bit outraged that these folk were called away from their usual work as educators, as the likes of Sheridan, MacGuiness, the Devines, Shannahan, Albrechtsen and others proved too slovenly and detestable to even report the news straight, without omitting crucial truths for lies and propaganda.

    I think they are largely burned out.. as Fran Balow might say,
    ” (constructive) change may not happen this generation, or the next or the next after that ( against, say, the forces of obdurate reaction typified by the current IPA puppet government)”.
    Although my heart responds deeply to the complaints of old allies like Megan, the LP lot were, imho, sincere enough in their convictions and capable enough to at least try keep the flame alight, for a better times and if progressivist critiques are even remotely correct, this may have been the best even the most able, but inevitably fallible people like the rest of us, could accomplish in our era.
    On this level, we can still can regard them with respect and proclaim their brave venture, by and large, a remarkable and substantial experiment

  22. Paul Norton
    January 11th, 2014 at 14:46 | #22

    Megan @18:

    I found their ALP blind spot too nauseating to handle.
    ALP=Good/LNP=Bad with no critique of anything ALP, no matter how neo-liberal or proto-fascist, just turns my stomach.
    They can’t reach out to anyone who isn’t a card-carrier.
    Good riddance.

    Let me submit Exhibit A for the defence.

    I just went through my own author archive at LP and found a number of posts I had written that included critiques of many things ALP. One of them was titled “The unemployed are financially bankrupt because the ALP is intellectually and morally bankrupt”.

  23. Megan
    January 11th, 2014 at 15:37 | #23

    @Paul Norton

    Apologies, obviously “no critique” is wrong. And especially in your case.

    Something like “unswerving support for ALP” would have been closer to what I should have said.

  24. Mel
    January 11th, 2014 at 16:04 | #24

    Larvatus Prodeo was much closer to the Greens and the various socialist splinter groups than then the ALP. My recollection of the line up:

    Anna Winter, is an ALP member but she is on the far Left of that party. Intelligent and capable of presenting a nuanced, well reasoned argument that was impressive even when one disagreed with her. Probably the smartest cooky on the team.

    Paul Norton is a former Communist Party of Australia member and current Greens member who describes himself as post-Marxist. Has a surprisingly balanced and nuanced take on Israel/Palestine but apart from that has entirely predictable opinions for someone with the said descriptors.

    Brian Bahnisch describes himself as a socialist; routinely expresses anti-capitalist sentiments; opposes gm crops (the evil corporations can’t be trusted etc.) ; has an extreme doom and gloom outlook on climate change.

    Mark Bahnisch routinely changes his self description- once describing himself as a libertarian with some social democratic inclinations but now apparently identifies as a social democrat. Notwithstanding this self-definition he subscribes to some outlandish far-left theories like Loïc Wacquant’s grandiose and essentialist theory of neoliberal hegemony.

    Kim was an extreme cultural relativist who wrote a variety of opinion pieces that functioned as apologetics for Islam, including a piece that praised the wisdom of Sharia law. Apart from that her opinions were pretty much stock-standard inner city, university educated middle class left opinions.

    Tig Tog- an extreme left-wing feminist with a definite touch of misandry who famously called for the mass arrest of all white members of Duke Universities male lacrosse team weeks before the case collapsed, the prosecuting DA was disbarred and jailed and the new DA declared the players innocent of all charges.

    Robert Merkel- a technocratic centrist and a moderate, at least in comparison to the rest of the tribe 😉

  25. Paul Norton
    January 11th, 2014 at 16:11 | #25

    Mel, you’ve made some quite specific and quite serious claims about the views of some of my LP colleagues (particularly Brian, Mark, Kim and Tigtog). Can you provide some links or other references to support those claims?

  26. Mel
    January 11th, 2014 at 16:13 | #26

    Which one is the most serious? We can start there.

  27. Paul Norton
    January 11th, 2014 at 16:35 | #27

    Let’s start with:

    Kim was an extreme cultural relativist who wrote a variety of opinion pieces that functioned as apologetics for Islam, including a piece that praised the wisdom of Sharia law.

  28. Mel
    January 11th, 2014 at 16:48 | #28

    On Kim’s apologetics you may remember this http://larvatusprodeo.net/2006/03/01/the-unbelievable-truth-about-sharia-law

    Unfortunately the link is broken but you may recall the defence of Sharia Law in that post.

  29. John Quiggin
    January 11th, 2014 at 17:33 | #29

    Mel, give it a break. I indicated I’d consider a return in the New Year. That wasn’t an invitation for the culture wars to be restarted in this blog.

    If you want to comment here in future, please avoid any participation in intra-left disputes.

  30. paul walter
    January 11th, 2014 at 18:52 | #30

    Well, back for a look to see if anything inadvertantly had turned up and to my surprise a rather nasty spat, involving Mel.
    I won’t add, anything I say would only worsen things.
    Yes, far more interesting to consider the era of LP, what things were like a decade or more ago, how blogsites like this one and LP got going and what features of presenting social issues to
    to a varied public, might have occurred to the principles.

  31. paul walter
    January 11th, 2014 at 18:54 | #31

    Btw, what are Mel’s credentials?

  32. alfred venison
    January 12th, 2014 at 19:02 | #32

    it was a great place in its prime; a diversity of opinion & mutual respect.

    but the place went downhill towards the end with (1) partisan moderation, and (2) house rules selectively applied against people not favoured by the ruling clique.

    i saw people ganged up on – dog piling – over a word, without intervention from moderators.

    i saw slurs written about people (against house policy) that i would have been reprimanded for had i written them. again, selective application of the house rules & partisan moderation.

    i saw moderators disparaging people’s ideas until the left.

    there was a clique there that was determined to enforce its dogma and the place was doomed when they started.

    i left before the end because i didn’t feel it was a fair or safe place anymore for anyone who didn’t toe the dominant dogma.

    this needs to be put on the record.

    this was not brian or mark.

    and, no, i will not provide links.
    alfred venison

  33. paul walter
    January 12th, 2014 at 19:30 | #33

    Just the same, it was as you say, valuable and helpful when there was a dearth of decent current affairs much anywhere else.
    I’ve got to say, the moderators who applied the same rough justice to me and you as to others outside the charmed circle, also deserve commendation in some ways. They worked at it for several years and applied their minds to often complex subjects and I doubt they got much reimbursement for it.
    Thinking on it, this time I’m a little sad, because I think this time there will not be a comeback.
    “Don’t it seem to go
    that you dont miss what youve got
    till its gone”?

  34. Rob
    January 12th, 2014 at 21:09 | #34

    As a former frequent commenter at LP back in the day (until I was banned), I think Mel has it nailed. They were, by and large, a pretty decent bunch. Mark was a good enough bloke, but he wasn’t quite as smart as he thought he was. Kim was usually effective at rhetoric and invective, which was refreshing, and she was only occasionally vile. As for the rest, they were as predictable as the sun rising in the east. Definitely no surprises. After all the righties got banned, it was an extraordinarily depressing echo chamber. I suspect they knew this, and that’s why they closed it – twice. That said, I’ve got nothing but good wishes for the lot of them. Some of them will eventually see sense and reconcile to the world. Others will not.

  35. Megan
    January 12th, 2014 at 22:18 | #35

    I just remembered another partisan thing about LP that really annoyed me.

    “Behind The Seams” was going to be some kind of half-pregnant ‘moderate’ approach to getting to the truth about fracking and CSG.

    It was launched in about February 2012 just in time for the 2012 Qld elections that would see the ALP reduced to a basketball team for (amongst several other contemptible things) their “deal is done” position on CSG. That project abruptly ended, apparently at the same time as their enthusiasm for informing people about the joys of CSG, a few days before the March 24 election.

    In that case the ALP was wedgied again because Newman promised to save a couple of farms around Boonah whereas the ALP declared the entire state open slather for fracking.

    As one who has taken a keen interest in the science/economics/politics & social impacts of fracking, I thought this project sounded promising but its blatant political purpose (attempt to save Qld ALP) was disappointing.

  36. jungney
    January 13th, 2014 at 09:40 | #36

    LP was a terrific experiment in collective blogging. I learned a lot from reading the posts and the responses; it provided the opportunity to test ideas and frequently receive thoughtful responses.

    However, in the period of its latest incarnation, brought back to life for the Federal election, it appeared to me that moderator decisions became deeply partisan after the development of the ‘smash the joint’ response to media sexism and persecution of Gillard.

    I think some moderators drank far too deep from the ‘smash the joint’ cup to the point where a previous insistence on fairness and fair play in dialogue was abandoned; slur, insinuation and character attack dominated over reasoned discussion.

    I should say that the sorts of comments I’ve read here from one Mel pretty much fit that description. Sectarianism of any sort is always a dead end. Who doesn’t know that yet?

  37. Lesley de Voil
    January 13th, 2014 at 10:47 | #37

    As a generalist with perhaps the only blinder being my delight that anything good could come out of Queensland (present company excepted, of course, Prof Q), I was more than a little underwhelmed by LP’s last manifestation. Having relied on this source during the time since I abandoned NewsCorpse, I found it recently much too sectarian on the opinion side, with not enough pointers to reliable factual information, Brian’s Climate Clippings being the honourable exception. The concept of the group blog seems to slipping away. Does this mean further atomization of culture is inevitable?

  38. Paul Norton
    January 13th, 2014 at 11:10 | #38

    I will content myself with observing that if Mel’s comment @24 is accepted as substantially correct, some newer comments on this thread cannot be sustained, and vice versa.

  39. alfred venison
    January 13th, 2014 at 15:18 | #39

    no, Paul Norton, they can both hold. the law of the excluded middle doesn’t apply here.
    these are personal impressions of the same blog. you were among the blessed & were never poorly treated, i’m not surprised you don’t get it. -a.v.

  40. jungney
    January 13th, 2014 at 16:06 | #40

    Thanks alfred for sustaining the discussion.

    Paul, LP was a great experiment in democratic discussion within a community of association. As a way to utilise the technology, I’ve not seen its like for good information and generally well informed comment from a wide range of commentors. Its therefore important to speak dispassionately and truthfully about what appeared to me to be a breakdown in some moderators etiquette and ethics.

    I allege moderator misbehaviour which took the form of deleting and altering posts without comment; my ‘screen shots’ at different times substantiate this. I won’t be providing the evidence, I just made my own study of how these circumstances worked themselves through.

    Otherwise, I found the interpretation of house rules to be very unevenly applied such that it felt like playing with a crook umpire. I share a.v.’s view that a coterie of dogmatists, with moderator bias assisting, in the end created an unsafe online environment in which to conduct open conversation.

  41. Val
    January 14th, 2014 at 09:49 | #41

    hmm well I spat the dummy and exited noisily from commenting on this site some time ago due to its sexism, but I still lurk here occasionally, and I find it too hard to let this stuff go by.

    Yep, I agree there were some problems with moderation at LP, but I also think, Jungney and AV in particular, that you guys could whinge for Australia. I’m a greenie left wing feminist and I got treated just as harshly as you, worse at times.

    I think what happened at LP was quite complex, and also had to do with people’s emotional and mental wellbeing, which was discussed at times but is not something one necessarily wants to go on about publicly. I remember Guy Rundle wrote a great essay on depression and its cultural meanings and impact back in about 2001, worth re-reading in this context I think. Anyway, some of the dismissive comments on this thread seem both unfair and unkind to me – I think Mark and all the LP crew deserve better, and I’ve certainly had run ins with them at times.

  42. Val
    January 14th, 2014 at 10:02 | #42

    But I also think there is something in what Megan said – there were at times things going on at LP that seemed to be about protecting the ALP rather than being a genuinely open and progressive left wing forum. I guess the message is that blog owners and authors need to be transparent about their political allegiances?

  43. alfred venison
    January 14th, 2014 at 10:54 | #43

    hi Val
    “you guys could whinge for Australia”. what does that mean? i know its a figure of speech, but you should read more carefully. for the record, i have not said i had been treated badly, i said i had seen other people treated badly.

    i’ve been coming to this site for years mostly lurking, there haven’t been any threads on social credit where i could shine, but there was one on music once & there’s one on religious education in public schools today. on the whole though its 95% hard core economics and national & international finance even with equations & formulae when it suits. and with a vocabulary that is sometimes arcane & impenetrable to me and which i often cannot follow. my problem. i feel privileged to be able to sound off here occasionally & i accept when i come herer that i am coming to a place where some very well educated & intelligent left-leaning (for the most part) people who know finance & economics as well as i know music come to speak among themselves. -alfred venison

  44. Val
    January 14th, 2014 at 11:12 | #44

    Fair enough Alfred, I accept you weren’t talking on your own behalf. And yes ‘whinge for Australia’ is a figure of speech, not meant seriously, just suggesting that you’re being a bit one-eyed in your complaints.

    I thought you were agreeing with Jungney that there was a “destroy the joint” dogmatism (by which I take it he means feminist dogmatism) and I wanted to point out that I am a feminist and I also got treated pretty harshly at times.


  45. Val
    January 14th, 2014 at 11:14 | #45

    @alfred venison
    my post @ 44 was a reply to you, sorry.

  46. jungney
    January 14th, 2014 at 12:38 | #46

    I’ve also been lurking here for a long time from time to time. I read Quiggin because he appears to me to be an openly political economist. He and Ross Gittins are my go to writers for economics I can actually understand. I’ve never commented here before and probably won’t again except on this topic but thanks anyway for the opportunity to discuss what appears to me to be some of the misuses to which this new medium can be put.

    As to ‘whingeing for Australia’ on any other day I’d cop that with a wry grin but it is exactly the kind of personalization of comment that was let slide at LP. It became the dominant tone to smear people. Like you, I ended up in the dungeon for what I regarded as the unscrupulous reason of simply not liking what I had to say.

    As to you being harshly treated as a greenie feminist: heaven only knows what sorts of feminisms informed some of the commentary there; some I recognized, some had inherent logic backed by analysis and some appeared to be what happens when someone with a personality disorder adopts a philosophical position. Think of it as type of po-mo Stalinism. Anyway, perhaps you should see wear your harsh there as a badge of honour.

  47. January 14th, 2014 at 14:09 | #47

    The name of the group is Destroy the Joint. If you’re so sure what is wrong with them, you’d think you’d at least know the name.

    exactly the kind of personalization of comment that was let slide at LP.

    …Exactly the kind of thing that was *not* let slide at LP, leading to the mods being denigrated as being too control-freaky. You can’t have things both ways.

  48. alfred venison
    January 14th, 2014 at 15:11 | #48

    yes it did slide Helen and of course it can happen both ways because different people form different impressions from their experience of the same place depending on whether they were on the inner or not. it hinges on whether “control-freaky” is felt an individual to have applied to all without favour. so we have the situation of apparently incompatible experiences because the rules were not applied uniformly. this is not a dialectic where you sift & sift until you come to one right answer. -a.v.

  49. jungney
    January 14th, 2014 at 16:04 | #49

    Helen, don’t for a moment take what I said above as applying to you. I’m afraid that your objective and good standards have been betrayed by others.

    As to the matter of the correct name for a coterie of trashers, who will only ever aspire to be destroyers, whether named as ‘trash’ or ‘destroy’ the joint: why would anyone bother extending the courtesy of a correct name to a tendency when it has the attributes of a sub-type of infantile disorder.

    It’s over.

  50. alfred venison
    January 14th, 2014 at 16:19 | #50

    helen, i’ve been hanging out to hear what Jungney said above & i’m pleased as punch to hear it said you were one of the fair & sensible people there. i felt it “in my bones” too but it is nice to hear confirmation from a source i trust. if one had to boil this range of experiences down to one answer i guess it would have to be that people’s impressions of the impartiality (or otherwise) of the moderation there are “mixed”. -alfred venison

  51. alfred venison
    January 14th, 2014 at 16:57 | #51

    yes, Val, i saw your travails there, you stuck to your guns, and i admired you (at a distance, eventually) for it. really.

    i wasn’t agreeing with Jugney then but i will now though my experience of what he’s discussing was indirect.

    its not that it was feminist, its that it was dogmatic. i saw a clique emerge where there was no room to discuss any conclusions or (sometime sweeping) assertions certain people made in the name of feminism: “that’s how it is, i won’t discuss it with you”. this attitude was alienating and did nothing for either the enlightenment of “wayward” comrades or solidarity among comrades.

    we’re facing a long long lnp winter without a long standing forum for mutual support among people of left persuasion who i thought have enough in common just in opposing the lnp without having to conform to the dogma of a clique. in other words to agree to disagree on some things in order to unite behind what we have in common against the common foe. it was there at first in spades & i was happy as larry; it was conspicuously absent at the end. sincerely, alfred venison.

  52. January 14th, 2014 at 17:46 | #52

    @alfred venison
    I agree with a lot of what you’ve said, but not what Jungney has said. He seems to have something against feminism per se, even though claiming it’s only ‘some’ types of feminism he objects to. Also I don’t think he understands the concept of personalising. (Jungney I didn’t set out to talk about you, rather than to you, just started this as a reply to AV). Making a joke about people’s comments isn’t personalising, but suggesting that a feminist holds the views holds the views she does because of a personality disorder certainly is.

    It was 42 degrees in Melbourne, computers at Monash campus where I study stopped working today, the aircon seemed to be struggling and the tram in front of mine broke down on the way home. We’ve had two fire emergency warnings near Melbourne, fortunately both fires have been controlled, but with this heat wave we definitely face the possibility of a 2009 situation again. And we have a PM who effectively denies climate change, so yes, I agree with you the left needs to unite. But you won’t get a united left unless women are treated fairly, so that is not just a priority in its own right, but an integral part of facing the social and political problems we must deal with.

    And just to repeat my earlier message, I think this blog has failed to tackle questions of sexism. I know there’s a current thread about sexism in certain disciplines, which is a start, but I suggest it needs a more rigorous and soul searching examination.

  53. alfred venison
    January 14th, 2014 at 18:41 | #53

    hi Val – sincerely, i don’t think he has a problem with feminism, i think his problem is more with the nexus of traditional feminism (which he understands very well and supports) and post-modernism. i don’t want to go into it any further as he is more eloquent and will no doubt speak for himself

    i don’t think he is saying that the feminist views are indicative of anything one way or another about a person’s mentality but that what was done by a person holding those views was poor form. i think its an important distinction. i think he could be said in the local sports parlance to be playing the person not the ideology (in the fair sense of the word). but again his understanding and eloquence surpass mine and he will no doubt speak for himself.

    coming from alberta – where it gets minus 30 every winter (but we don’t tell the easterners) – i used to take perverse pleasure in heat waves. a natural part of the cycle, an infrequent extreme weather event that i could personally experience and enjoy as in “i was there”. there is no longer pleasure to be found in heat waves for me.

    personally, i think its good tony abbott is driving the bus at this time – the contradictions in his position are glaring and will become – with every heat wave & bush fire that passes in his long first summer – only more acute and difficult for him to handle with his customary vocabulary and his limited intelligence. he will get no breaks from the climate. something will give as the collective experience of this accumulates in the minds of millions and even low information voters will get it that its not labor or the greens who pointed fingers & stood around talking idly about planting trees while houses burned and grandparents expired.

    i’m not saying that labor has a believable or credible climate policy in the eyes of you or i or the voters at the moment but only that it works well for them to not be in the driver’s seat while rome burns but rather for the stupid man to have that role now. -alfred venison

  54. Mel
    January 14th, 2014 at 19:38 | #54


    And just to repeat my earlier message, I think this blog has failed to tackle questions of sexism.

    Val, you keep overstepping the boundaries of civility and common sense. One person blogs, including your own I might add, can only concentrate on a tiny number of all possible issues and these issues will nearly always be those few on which the author has some comparative advantage.

    A blog owner isn’t “failing” because he or she refuses to accede to constant pressure from some punter to write on a particular issue.

    Personally, I’d like to see our Professor Quiggin give an update on his views on genetically engineered crops but I most certainly have no right to demand he does or to be rude if he doesn’t, especially given Professor Quiggin’s punishing work schedule which includes authorship of several books and IIRC a publishing record that puts him in the top 300 list for economic journal citations worldwide.

  55. January 14th, 2014 at 20:21 | #55

    I am talking about sexism in the blog. Try to think about it substituting racism for sexism and you will understand what I mean.

    Of course you may not agree with me that there is sexism in the blog, but hopefully you will understand that if, for argument’s sake, you accepted that there was inherent or unconscious sexism, then it would be a reasonable expectation that the blog owner would do something about it.

  56. January 14th, 2014 at 20:27 | #56

    I actually thought the same about LP and Mark Bahnisch, but there were more feminists actively posting feminist views there, so it was counter-balanced somewhat.

    This is a complex issue, and I do intend to write more about it on my own blog – in fact I’ve started another post, which it think at this stage will be about the logical steps of my argument rather than the evidence (because gathering and organising specific evidence is incredibly time consuming). However I have made specific points here before about specific examples.

  57. January 14th, 2014 at 20:28 | #57

    Sorry meant to reply further to Mel, not to myself!

  58. John Quiggin
    January 14th, 2014 at 20:52 | #58

    Val, you’ve made claims of sexism at this blog many times , but AFAICT your only actual complaint is that I criticised Julia Gillard on such issues as opposing equal marriage and denying benefits to single mothers (points on which I’m happy to stand with consistent feminists like Eva Cox).

    I’m not going to reopen that issue, but if you have any other complaints about posts here, feel free to put them forward.

  59. January 14th, 2014 at 21:30 | #59

    @John Quiggin
    I know you’ve said you’re not going to reopen the issue, but I presume I am allowed to defend myself? I didn’t in fact only complain about equal marriage and single mothers issues. I complained -at length and with evidence – about the way that JG was represented on this blog prior to that, at which time you actually said that you would think more carefully about the issue in future or words to that effect. It was after K Rudd was re-elected as leader, and I came back here to find what appeared to me exactly the same kind of dismissive and arguably contemptuous comments from yourself and a number of regular commenters here, that I became really upset.

    I don’t think there is any point rehashing all those issues now. As I said to Mel, the task of assembling all the evidence about ‘what actually happened’ would be time consuming, but I hope to do it one day. In the meantime, I have responded, civilly I hope, on the Philadelphia thread.

    Can I just suggest here that if you are observing gender imbalances in economics, maybe my allegations about sexism on this blog should be taken more seriously? To say that there are problems with sexism here may be putting it bluntly, but in essence it’s similar to the concerns underlying your own post about the absence of women at the Philadelphia conference. To acknowledge that there appear to be problems re gender equity in economics, but then to suggest that a feminist critic like me is overstating or exaggerating her case, is problematic.

  60. January 14th, 2014 at 23:29 | #60

    @John Quiggin
    Acknowledge again that you don’t want to reopen the issues you mentioned, but sleepless in hot Melbourne my mind keeps turning to a strange coincidence – today quite out of the blue a left wing male academic said to me something to the effect that he personally thought the best answer to the equal marriage question was to get rid of marriage altogether, outdated institution, etc

    So now I keep thinking about this, and wondering if, had he said that to you, you would have felt impelled to criticise him on your blog? I know the circumstances aren’t exactly comparable, but you know, interesting question, honest answer.

  61. alfred venison
    January 14th, 2014 at 23:40 | #61

    hello Val, i’m back again.

    “… the way that JG was represented on this blog… ”

    when you say “the way that JG was represented on this blog” do you mean the way julia gillard was criticised on this blog?

    if so, what would you have people who don’t like julia gillard do, sing encomiums?

    on the other hand there were a lot of unpleasant representations or criticisms of kevin rudd at lp including insinuations about his mental health. no one called for those people to speak nicely about someone they didn’t like and no one insinuated that those people who didn’t like kevin rudd were critical of him because he is a man.

    there were issues with kevin rudd but at least he stood up to the transnational mining corporations that were colluding to dictate tax policy to the commonwealth of australia. -a.v.

  62. January 15th, 2014 at 00:06 | #62

    @alfred venison
    No Alfred I actually mean the way Julia Gillard was represented, particularly as someone who was devious and incompetent. This was a narrative that fitted with traditional sexist stereotypes of women, and also paralleled, from the left, the same narrative that Tony Abbott and his right wing henchman such as the shock jocks were constructing.

    One of the reasons I was strongly convinced that this was sexist was that the left wing ‘dishonest and incompetent’ narrative so clearly aided what Abbott was doing, that I considered no rational left wing people would have bought into it, unless there were powerful unconscious motives for doing so.

    One of the key logic points that I will explain in my post, when I finally get round to writing it, is this recurrent denial problem: when I discuss sexism, people (such as you, but this was a common problem on LP too) try to reconstruct the discussion as being about Rudd vs Gillard, that is they try to locate it in a different, and competing, discourse of competitive individuals vying for leadership, which is what traditional patriarchal politics in Australia has been about. But I am not talking about that or in that discourse – I am doing a feminist analysis of what happened to Julia Gillard. I am not in any sense saying that people should not criticise Gillard – of course they can. I am talking about the way those criticisms were constructed to create a particular narrative of incompetence and dishonesty, that fits with an overarching patriarchal view that women are not fit to be political leaders.

  63. Megan
    January 15th, 2014 at 00:43 | #63

    Not sure if this is of any relevance to this, but….

    I would leave “incompetence” out of it, because it rather depends on what the person is trying to accomplish as to whether they have been competent about it.

    But “devious”? Of course Julia Gillard was devious. So was Kevin Rudd, as is Tony Abbott. John Howard was too.

    Can anyone seriously suggest that Julia Gillard wasn’t devious?

  64. January 15th, 2014 at 01:04 | #64

    Sorry to be off topic but it’s 36 degrees in Melbourne at 2 in the morning – I’m finding it hard to believe this.

  65. Megan
    January 15th, 2014 at 01:06 | #65

    As a specific example of Gillard’s deviousness:

    She promised Andrew Wilkie that the ALP would take to parliament legislation about pokies and then didn’t do it – using the argument that it would not have passed.

    That is devious. If it would not have been passed, the honest (non-devious) way would have been to simply allow that to take its course.

    Bligh did an almost identical thing with abortion in Queensland. Desley Boyle has said that a conscience vote on decriminalising abortion would have passed, but Bligh refused to allow one because, she said, it wouldn’t have passed.

    That is devious.

  66. Mel
    January 15th, 2014 at 01:30 | #66

    John Howard was routinely derided as ratty and John HoWARd the war criminal; ruthlessly sent up in cartoons and on left wing satire skits as a mentally retarded midget with a speech impediment; regularly called a scheming liar; Etc. At the time almost everyone on the Left thought this was hilarious and perfectly fine. (FTR, I think Howard deserved most of what he got).

    By way of comparison, Gillard was treated much less harshly apart from the vile treatment dished out in mostly unread and unknown (at least until feminists started publicising them) quarters like Larry Pickering’s blog.

    It is also worth noting that many feminists in the femosphere demonised Rudd as if he was some creature from hell. Check out some of the bizarre and debased commentary at Hoyden About Town for example.

    Larvatus Prodeo contained oodles of viperish feminist comments such as this from Liz:

    Fuck you Rudd. And fuck off all the fanboys and girls who were convinced Rudd was a saviour. His concession speech was one more example of how weird he is.

    Any man who said anything even remotely as vicious as this about Gillard and her backers would’ve been eviscerated, yet the aforesaid comment attracted no rebuke at all, in fact our very own Val echoed the use of the derisive term Rudd’s fanboys.

    Feminists would do very well to get their own house in order before lecturing others.

  67. Julie Thomas
    January 15th, 2014 at 06:18 | #67


    “Can I just suggest here that if you are observing gender imbalances in economics, ”

    Can I suggest that there might be other reasons, as well as or instead of, sexism that contributes toward gender imbalances in economics or any of the other traditionally male disciplines?

  68. January 15th, 2014 at 08:16 | #68

    mel January 11th, 2014 at 16:04 | #24

    Tig Tog- an extreme left-wing feminist with a definite touch of misandry who famously called for the mass arrest of all white members of Duke Universities male lacrosse team weeks before the case collapsed, the prosecuting DA was disbarred and jailed and the new DA declared the players innocent of all charges.

    I’ve only just become aware of this thread, so my response is late, but given that Mel is eliding a fairly crucial point in order to imply a particularly extreme stance on my part that was not in fact my position, I’ll note that what I suggested was that *all* team members (not just the white ones) should be charged with wasting police time (via their non-cooperation with the investigation). I was absolutely not calling for anybody at that time, on the existing evidence, to be arrested for the alleged rape itself.

  69. alfred venison
    January 15th, 2014 at 08:18 | #69

    hello Val
    i still think you mean criticism.

    you say you come at this as a leftwing feminist.

    well, i come at this as a leftwing man from resource rich alberta, who was just getting over his province’s popular royalty reforming premier being removed from office, by his party executive, under pressure from transnational oil corporations, only to witness, later in the same year, the australian labor party, under pressure from transnational coal corporations, remove a popular royalty reforming prime minister at the peak of a prolonged crisis with mining.

    it is clear as a bell that rudd was removed because despite unprecedented pressure he was standing firm on the mining tax & the public was losing interest in the story.

    corporate pushback against royalty reform happened around the world that year, Val, and in australia julia gillard was the witting or unwitting tool the australian labor party used to effect the will of the miners. in metaphorical mode: your country was rolled by transnational capital and its pockets rifled, while julia gillard held the door open. that’s why i despise julia gillard: she sold her country short to further her career. tanner was right.

    so you can discern whatever narrative you want from that but you should know that its insulting to assert to educated people who dislike julia gillard that they do so because they can’t control their unconscious. that may hold for vulgarians, i don’t know, but to educated people with degrees its a slur. -a.v.

  70. Paul Norton
    January 15th, 2014 at 08:51 | #70

    its not that it was feminist, its that it was dogmatic. i saw a clique emerge where there was no room to discuss any conclusions or (sometime sweeping) assertions certain people made in the name of feminism: “that’s how it is, i won’t discuss it with you”. this attitude was alienating and did nothing for either the enlightenment of “wayward” comrades or solidarity among comrades.

    Respectfully, a.v., this was not my experience, and not my reading of the numerous threads on which feminism and related matters were discussed. It is also worth noting that no small number of feminists who at one time or other were regular contributors to or commenters at the blog ceased or reduced their engagement, and the reasons they gave for doing so were quite the opposite to what this quote suggests.

    Also, as numerous posts by Mark and Brian showed, there was hardly a pro-Gillard monoculture at LP.

  71. jungney
    January 15th, 2014 at 08:58 | #71

    Val, not for the first time in these sorts of discussions do I point to the Sydney University philosopher Jean Curthoys whose wiki entry reads:

    Her 1997 book, Feminist Amnesia, accuses later academic feminist theory of abandoning the liberation theory of the 1960s for an intellectually and morally sterile careerism.

    Her trenchant analysis is still relevant today and informs my critical interest in liberation theory as well as those forms of feminism that offer to rejuvenate women’s liberation. There’s really not much else to say except that critical support of a movement or idea is worth far more than any amount of barracking and cheer squadding.

  72. alfred venison
    January 15th, 2014 at 09:34 | #72

    Paul Norton
    my references are not to the threads dealing with feminist topics. i did not attend those threads: i have no theory, i have nothing constructive to add, out of respect i stayed out of the way of people engaged in those threads. you will not find my comments on those threads.

    it happened in overflow a lot.

    i did not say there was a pro-gillard monoculture.

    i specifically excluded brian & mark in my first comment here.

    we will have to agree to differ. -venison

  73. Val
    January 15th, 2014 at 10:33 | #73

    On twitter yesterday there was mention of some research showing that young women were less likely to go into politics because of what happened to Julia Gillard (can’t copy here but it was a tweet from @ToryShepherd referring to an article in the Advertiser, if you want to look at it).

    So could I respectfully ask people to stop trying to put the issue of the way Julia Gillard was treated into the old patriarchal discourse of competing individuals (Rudd vs Gillard). That is not the important issue. The important issue is the sexism that was shown towards Gillard.

    Everyone who tries to switch the topic from “sexist treatment of Australia’s first female PM” to “Rudd vs Gillard” is complicit in the sexism that was shown towards her. You can argue about what was and wasn’t sexist, but no reasonable person could claim that there wasn’t sexism towards her.

    I’m going to try to end my participation in this discussion (and this blog) now, at least for a while, because it uses too much of my time and I feel that it is, if not entirely fruitless as I have sometimes suggested, at best a tortuous process of trying to provide feminist insights to people who are reluctant to hear them. Hopefully it’s not a complete waste of time, but – as so often in these discussions, sadly – I have to fall back on saying that I am actually quite bright and a somewhat original thinker, so I hope people will make the effort to understand what I’m saying, even if it doesn’t seem to make much sense to you at first.

  74. January 15th, 2014 at 11:00 | #74

    Val, the overall impact of the media coverage of Gillard on women interested in politics does not provide any insight into whether this blog, LP or any other particular blog has discussed Gillard in a sexist way (unconsciously or otherwise).

    The issue of sexism against Gillard may be an important issue, but that does not mean everyone, everywhere needs to discuss the issue at length to avoid being sexist.

  75. January 15th, 2014 at 11:03 | #75

    For some reason the link to my blog fell off my name (even though I put it there yesterday) – so just wanted to reinstate that.

    Also Alfred I just saw your point about the mining companies above, I hadn’t noticed it before. Just briefly, there are different ways of interpreting what happened. I tend to think JG didn’t negotiate hard enough, which research shows is more likely with female negotiators – on the other hand her negotiating style worked really well in forming a coalition with independents and greens, which again research suggests women are somewhat better at than men, on the whole – so we are talking about strengths and weaknesses here. But none of these gender differences are absolute – for example one can’t imagine Angela Merkel or Maggie Thatcher being soft in negotiations. And without trying to make this a “Rudd vs Gillard” discussion, it is also worth noting that Rudd’s style of walking away from situations when they got too hard was not an effective negotiating style either.

    Anyway my key point is that I agree with you this is an important issue, but it is absolutely not necessary to frame it as

    that’s why i despise julia gillard: she sold her country short to further her career. tanner was right.

    ie Julia Gillard was a devious lying manipulator who deliberately sold her country down the river because of her ambition to overthrow Rudd. That’s your narrative, and as I say that kind of narrative fitted very well with Abbott’s narrative. Your content may have been different, but your overall narrative – I despise her because she is a liar – fitted beautifully with Abbott’s, and also fits very well with a view that women can’t be trusted and are essentially unsuitable to exercise power.

    I can see that you may object to this analysis, and this is an issue that would take ages to argue through, so I will just say that I hope I have given you something to think about, and maybe we can continue the discussion at some other time. Cheers.

  76. John Quiggin
    January 15th, 2014 at 11:03 | #76

    OK Val, I think we’ve established that your only concern about sexism on this site relates to your view that criticism of Gillard, even on policies which you are unwilling to defend, was automatically sexist.

    I’m not planning to post anything further regarding Gillard, so this problem is now only of historical interest.

    As we seem to be getting more heat than light, could I ask everyone who has commented so far to make just one further comment. I’ll close the thread tomorrow.

  77. January 15th, 2014 at 11:05 | #77

    @John Quiggin
    Ok I’m an idiot who is only driven by personal emotional feelings and doesn’t know what she’s talking about, so I’ll stop commenting. No sexism here.

  78. Paul Norton
    January 15th, 2014 at 11:12 | #78

    Val @73:

    Everyone who tries to switch the topic from “sexist treatment of Australia’s first female PM” to “Rudd vs Gillard” is complicit in the sexism that was shown towards her.

    Of course in a mature political and intellectual culture it should be possible to engage in conversations about both. That said, I reiterate my position that supporters of the change of leadership from Gillard back to Rudd needed to acknowledge (as some did but many didn’t) that under the circumstances this move would unavoidably provide aid and comfort to reactionary and misogynous elements in our society and culture, that this had to be recognised as the price that was being paid on the gamble that a change of leadership might avert the greater evil of an LNP victory, and that in the event the gamble didn’t come off.

  79. John Quiggin
    January 15th, 2014 at 11:32 | #79

    “a left wing male academic said to me something to the effect that he personally thought the best answer to the equal marriage question was to get rid of marriage altogether, outdated institution, etc. So now I keep thinking about this, and wondering if, had he said that to you, you would have felt impelled to criticise him on your blog? I know the circumstances aren’t exactly comparable, but you know, interesting question, honest answer.”

    If he was actively campaigning against marriage, I’d regard his view as consistent but misguided. If not, I’d regard it as a copout.

  80. Mel
    January 15th, 2014 at 11:49 | #80

    I’ll close by saying that some issues can only be successfully discussed with the empathy and (relative) warmth that exists in face-to-face discussions.

    Blogs offer only a very “cold” means of communication with the end result being that discussions of issues like sexism almost always turn ugly very quickly.

    I have great face-to-face discussions with women I regard as feminists but the blog discussions I’ve had with feminists have almost ended up becoming bitter over relatively minor points of difference.

  81. jungney
    January 15th, 2014 at 13:35 | #81

    Thanks for the one last comment offer.

    Val, and others, my concern was to challenge what I see as the near hegemonic dominance of liberal feminism in Australia. Guided by Curthoys and some other feminists like bell hooks, both of whom emphasize liberation theory, it appears to me that contemporary feminism has knocked itself unconscious on the glass ceiling and is little more than an advocacy school for women of the professional bourgeoisie who imagine that their own advancement is the purpose of the women’s liberation project.

    There was a time when feminism was a guiding light for those men who also found the hegemonic rule of dominant masculinity a preposterous fraud and who struggled to clear a space for solidaristic dialogue between men and women. It doesn’t work that way any more; we are accused of being ‘fanboys’ for failing to take sufficient umbrage at the sexist treatment of JG as if that is the only issue of concern. It isn’t. I agree with a.v.’s analysis that the timing of Rudd’s dismissal and the complete watering down of the RSPT into the MRRT was a complete capitulation by the ALP, under JG’s leadership, to global capital which capitulation will have resounding effects at least the equal of media sexism against Gillard.

    The old miner’s paper Common Cause at one point had a banner that read something along the lines of ‘The ALP – Advancing the Interests of the Working Class, One by One’. Contemporary Australian feminism appears to be operating along the same lines as the banner suggests.

  82. alfred venison
    January 15th, 2014 at 14:57 | #82

    well, Val, i could say – but i don’t – that when i try to talk about how julia gillard sold her country short to further her career, some people invariably turn it around to a discussion of how poorly she was treated later because she’s a woman.

    few it seems want to face up to what was an abject failure of statesmanship & socialist conviction that was the november 2010 removal of rudd & capitulation to transnational capital.

    this was the time, you may or may not recall, when julia gillard allowed a sinister cabal of transnational corporations – aided & abetted by rupert murdoch – to get to a position where they could dictate tax policy to a first world nation state.

    the die has been cast, Val, and by julia gillard, a precedent set and god help any future reformist prime minister man or woman who has to face off against transnational corporations.

    and please, Val, don’t read into this gillard -v- rudd. this is not about gillard -v- rudd. this all & only about julia gillard and her failure of character at a time in history when her country most needed her to assert national sovereignty against powerful transnational corporations.
    alfred venison

  83. Val
    January 15th, 2014 at 16:30 | #83

    Jungney AV et al – I’m not supposed to comment again and have said that I won’t (for the time being) but if Prof Q lets this through I just want to acknowledge your comments and say that I will bear them in mind and try to reference them when I do my blog post on these issues. Thanks.

Comments are closed.