Home > Boneheaded stupidity, Oz Politics > Send in the clowns

Send in the clowns

March 26th, 2014

I’ve been working on a post about how to respond to commentators like Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt, and about the suggestion that they should simply be dismissed as clownish entertainers, to be ignored rather than criticised. But now that the Abbott government has turned into a clownshow (or maybe one of those medieval theatre restaurant shows) it’s hard to know what to do.

It’s amusing, in a morbid way, to watch the government’s more sensible supporters squirm with embarrassment as David Flint becomes the face of Australian conservatism. This lame capitulation from Malcolm Turnbull (whose advocacy of an Australian republic was all about symbolism after all) is a pretty good example.

But three years of continuous culture war is going to get a bit dull.

Categories: Boneheaded stupidity, Oz Politics Tags:
  1. paul walter
    March 27th, 2014 at 02:29 | #1

    Jack, that is so shallow.

  2. J-D
    March 27th, 2014 at 06:17 | #2

    @jack strocchi
    If DJs, hedge fund managers, and supermodels are poor role models, they won’t become better ones if they’re knighted.

    And if Governors-General are good role models, they won’t become better ones by being knighted either.

    Surely you aren’t deluded enough to imagine that being knighted will change anybody from not being a role model into being a role model? When has that ever happened?

  3. Mr Denmore
    March 27th, 2014 at 06:18 | #3

    Jack Strocchi, you are a rugged individualist, impervious to tribal affiliations and forging ahead with your brilliant owe-nothing-to-noone insights. Standing aside from Left and Right, you are a beacon of brilliant non-alignment showing us the way to a post-ideological future.

    Does that feel better?

  4. Fran Barlow
    March 27th, 2014 at 06:36 | #4

    Strocchi

    [Why can’t one, for example, oppose the weakening of financial regulation and support the return of chivalry?]

    Because few regular usages in societies after about 1900 involved horses and thus “currying favour” with one’s equine-marked betters. (Excuse pun) even having a car these days gets one no respect, squire.

    [I know that this would be inconsistent with Left-wing and Right-wing true believers.]

    Ah yes, the siren song of the self-aggrandizing extra-paradigmatic thinker, whose ideas droppeth into his head as the gentle dew from heaven. My heart goes out to those isolated by their insistent individualism. It truly does, because it’s a fardel few can bear.

    [They will just have to manage without my whole-hearted support.]

    Gosh. The Strocchi is ambivalent. What will we do?

    [The owner of this blog is a brilliant economist and a decent fellow. But he falls into precisely the same trap as that which he accuses his opponents: tribalism.]

    Aren’t you so gentle with this fellow, struggling as he is with his cultural poverty? Truly, your existential angst does not constrain your charity to others.

    [As soon as you surrender your free will to a party or movement you lose the ability to think clearly and act properly.]

    Petitio principii I fear. You assert that your epistemic rivals have surrendered their free will, but really, this is unfounded, and uttered principally to distinguish yourself positively from all others. In practice, your politics is simply a maladaptive response to the grip of the dominant property-owning class on public policy, and their articulation of the possible amongst the plebeians. This is why, so often, you identify with the cultural mores of both.

  5. Fran Barlow
    March 27th, 2014 at 06:43 | #5

    Oops wrong tags …

    Strocchi

    Why can’t one, for example, oppose the weakening of financial regulation and support the return of chivalry?

    Because few regular usages in societies after about 1900 involved horses and thus “currying favour” with one’s equine-marked betters. (Excuse pun) even having a car these days gets one no respect, squire.

    I know that this would be inconsistent with Left-wing and Right-wing true believers.

    Ah yes, the siren song of the self-aggrandizing extra-paradigmatic thinker, whose ideas droppeth into his head as the gentle dew from heaven. My heart goes out to those isolated by their insistent individualism. It truly does, because it’s a fardel few can bear.

    They will just have to manage without my whole-hearted support.

    Gosh. The Strocchi is ambivalent. What will we do?

    The owner of this blog is a brilliant economist and a decent fellow. But he falls into precisely the same trap as that which he accuses his opponents: tribalism.

    Aren’t you so gentle with this fellow, struggling as he is with his cultural poverty? Truly, your existential angst does not constrain your charity to others.

    As soon as you surrender your free will to a party or movement you lose the ability to think clearly and act properly.

    Petitio principii I fear. You assert that your epistemic rivals have surrendered their free will, but really, this is unfounded, and uttered principally to distinguish yourself positively from all others. In practice, your politics is simply a maladaptive response to the grip of the dominant property-owning class on public policy, and their articulation of the possible amongst the plebeians. This is why, so often, you identify with the cultural mores of both.

    I might add that you also don’t bother trying to show why parties and movements might not in theory induce their adherents to think clearly and act properly. That surely, is a function of the composition of the party or movement, its cultural integrity and corporate insight, rather than a mere expression of it including more than one person. This is really an argument against the possibility of equitable collaboration amongst humans, and its logic is profoundly reactionary.

  6. Michael
    March 27th, 2014 at 08:24 | #6

    jack strocchi :
    Nowhere or anywhere, its up to you. If there is one thing I have banged on about this past decade or so its the intellectually lazy and ideologically blinkered attitude of partisans forcing themselves to take a consistent party line on every issue.
    Why can’t one, for example, oppose the weakening of financial regulation and support the return of chivalry? FWIW that is my position. I know that this would be inconsistent with Left-wing and Right-wing true believers. They will just have to manage without my whole-hearted support.

    That’s a pity, I was hoping someone was going to have a go at defending the indefensible. I’m not approaching this from a tribal point of view, but one of consistency. I agree that we need better role models, but I wait to be pleasantly surprised when this is proven not to be clumsy attempt at a wedge from someone who has done a lot to trash any residual honour left in the political system.

  7. Paul Norton
    March 27th, 2014 at 09:18 | #7

    Jack Strocchi:

    not very brave (indisposed to military service).

    This fudges the IMHO morally significant distinctions between being unwilling to die for a cause, being unwilling to kill for it, and simply exercising a rational discretion as to whether a cause is worth either dying or killing for.

  8. Tim Macknay
    March 27th, 2014 at 11:12 | #8

    Even Tony Abbott’s mentor, John Howard, thinks the restoration of Imperial honours is a silly idea, it turns out. There goes my theory that Tony was put up to it by John at the insistence of his wife Janette…

  9. Tim Macknay
    March 27th, 2014 at 11:15 | #9

    Hmm. The content doesn’t really match the headline in that link. This is a better one.

  10. Paul Norton
    March 27th, 2014 at 12:48 | #10

    At this time of year Australian university students are often submitting their first assignments, and there are always a few that mistakenly refer to the Australian federal government as “the Australian feudal government”. I suspect that there could be many such assignments this year.

  11. Patrickb
    March 28th, 2014 at 00:20 | #11

    So you just visit this blog to get your jollies. Creepy. Getting pleasure from such a thing.
    @faust

  12. Nathan
    March 28th, 2014 at 01:10 | #12

    @TerjeP
    Bolt’s intellect, average or otherwise, is not really the primary concern. I’m going to repeat a question I’ve put to you previously and that JQ has also brought up multiple times that you keep ducking. Are you aware of another journalist or commentator in Australia who has been caught out blatantly lying with the same frequency as Andrew Bolt? If not, glue-like tenacity aside, shouldn’t that be the primary point on which he is judged? We all, including you, seem to agree here that Bolt is quite often wrong. But you seem unwilling to concede he’s also incredibly dishonest

  13. JKUU
    March 28th, 2014 at 03:45 | #13

    For Bryce to accept the knighthood is massive hypocrisy given her espoused support for an Australian republic. It’s very disappointing, Bryce has lost respect and credibility. Furthermore, the “restoration” is a slap across the face of Australian egalitarianism.

    Clever politics though – in one fell swoop, Tony has created a distraction from the real problems facing the nation that he should be addressing, while at the same time tightly wedging Mrs. Bryce’s son-in-law, the leader of the so-called opposition.

    Neatly done Tony. I caution anyone who regards Abbott simply as a clown or buffoon. He’s a man of reptilian cunning, and a danger to the welfare of the nation.

  14. rog
    March 28th, 2014 at 05:14 | #14

    @JKUU Yes, I have wondered if this move was a cunning stunt or a fluke by Abbott – anyways it is arguably the best policy decision of the Abbott govt to date (end sarcasm).

  15. Tony Lynch
    March 28th, 2014 at 07:20 | #15

    A friend who knows Ms Bryce tells me that there is little chance she would reject any award, ever.

  16. Fran Barlow
    March 28th, 2014 at 07:43 | #16

    @Tony Lynch

    Cue The Chaser then … I can think of a few.

  17. Sancho
    March 28th, 2014 at 08:17 | #17

    Restoring honours is such an odd choice. It’s so grand and yet so inconsequential.

    The message seems to be, “I hope we’ve demonstrated fully that Australia is returning to the fifties and bloody well staying there this time”.

  18. March 30th, 2014 at 13:27 | #18

    The announcement that Abbot government is to reintroduce chivalric honours has unleashed a flood of commentary, mostly of it of the knee-jerk liberal variety. To be fair, one thoughtful commentator, Martin Flanagan, did put his finger on the inner workings of the PMs soul:


    YBorn in England, Abbott is a Catholic monarchist – a curious combination. One of his close friends, the late Christopher Pearson, used to hear the Mass in Latin. For a time, I likened Abbott to Guy Crouchback, a character from the pen of the English Catholic novelist Evelyn Waugh, a man with a reactionary and religious bent – hence Abbott’s spell in the seminary as a young man.

    But he took it right back, with yet another bleat about Abbots uncharitable attitude towards asylum seekers. As if medieval knights would automatically adopt a Left-liberal position on border protection!

    The rest of the commentary has barely risen to the level of schoolyard point-and-snigger. How do you respond to someone pulling faces and shouting “nyah, nyah, nyah!”?

    A romantically inclined conservative and Christian malgre lui cites an appealing work of art. So I have dragged out and dusted off a quote from Cpt Crouchback, interlocuting for Evelyn Waugh. Someone needs to articulate the vision of those who find themselves marooned in the era of post-modern liberalism and besieged on all sides by the ideological equivalent of barbarian hordes.

    And who better than the tragi-comic poet lamenting the end of the Age of Chivalry? Especially meaningful to me owing to the setting and Anglo Catholic ancestral references. I’ve always had a soft spot for Muggeridge, Greene, Eliot et al. The scene is set in the imaginary village of Santa Dulcina della Rocce, located on the coastline of Northern Italy, to where Crouchback has made pilgrimage prior to joining his regiment:

     

    Just seven days earlier

    [in August of 1939] he had opened his morning newspaper on the headlines announcing the Russian-German alliance. News that shook the politicians and young poets of a dozen capital cities brought deep peace to one English heart.

    The enemy at last was plain in view, huge and hateful, all disguise cast off. It was the Modern Age in arms. Whatever the outcome there was a place for him in that battle.

    Now there was a last piece of private business to transact. Thirty-five years old, slight and trim, plainly foreign but not so plainly English, young, now, in heart and step, he came to bid good-bye to a life-long friend who lay, as was proper for a man dead eight hundred years, in the parish church. His name, just legible still, was Roger of Waybroke, Knight, an Englishman; his arms five falcons. His sword and one gauntlet still lay beside him …

    Waybroke, now Waybrook, was quite near London. Roger’s manor had long ago been lost and over-built. He left it for the Second Crusade, sailed from Genoa and was shipwrecked on this coast. There he enlisted under the local Count who promised to take him to the Holy Land but led him first against a neighbor on the walls of whose castle he fell at the moment of victory. The Count gave him honourable burial and there he had lain through the centuries, where the church crumbled and was re-built above him, far from Jerusalem, far from Waybroke, a man with a great journey still before him and a great vow unfulfilled.

    But the people of Santa Dulcina della Rocce, to whom the supernatural order in all its ramifications was ever present and ever more lively than the humdrum world about them, adopted Sir Roger and despite all clerical remonstrances canonized him, brought him their troubles and touched his sword for luck, so that its edge was always bright.

    All his life, but especially in recent years, Guy had felt a special kinship with “il Santo Inglese.” Now, on his last day, he made straight for the tomb and ran his finger, as the fishermen did, along the Knight’s sword. “Sir Roger, pray for me,” he said, “and for our endangered Kingdom.”

  19. J-D
    March 30th, 2014 at 20:56 | #19

    @Jack Strocchi
    You have used an enormous quantity of words to not explain why you think the re-introduction of knighthoods is a good idea.

    … unless what you’re saying is an attempt to justify the re-introduction of knighthoods through a negative evaluation of the people who dislike the idea. If so, that would tend to support the theory that the motivation underlying this development is one based on spite.

  20. rog
    March 31st, 2014 at 04:19 | #20

    @Jack Strocchi What amazes me is that with credible issues requiring urgent govt action, in particular climate change, conservatives regress to fictional romantic eras of damsels in distress and knights in shining armour.

  21. March 31st, 2014 at 04:20 | #21

    J-D @#19 said:

    Up thread I have already explained “why I think the reintroduction of knighthoods is a good idea”.

    Shorter Strocchi: Elites, in the post-modern liberal era, have lost the plot. Aristocratic virtues such as noblesse oblige, courage, duty, (rather than meritocratic CV building) are more worthy of honour in the current period.

    Truth be told the most successful “meritocrats” are dynastic rent-seekers who place a premium on putting assets into family trusts and prudent assortative mating. So if we are going to have aristocratic vices it would be nice to have some aristocratic virtues.

    Although I will admit that there is an element of old-fashioned “spite” and tribal pay-off in this Culture War skirmish. Most conservatives have long since run out of patience with Left-liberal obsessive resort to moral grandstanding and gestural politics and secretly yearn for a bit of tit-for-tat.

  22. March 31st, 2014 at 04:34 | #22

    rog @ # 20 said:


    What amazes me is that with credible issues requiring urgent govt action, in particular climate change, conservatives regress to fictional romantic eras of damsels in distress and knights in shining armour.

    Well “credible issues requiring urgent govt action, in particular climate change,” didn’t stop liberals from bringing the government to a grinding halt in order indulge in their narcissistic urge to “apologise” for the alleged misbehaviour of their ancestors. As if they felt any actual shame or remorse, rather than indulging in the urge to bash dead White male bogeymen.

    At ant rate the present conservative can do two things at once ie support action to reduce climate pollution and support chivalric honours. Both are instances of the conservative spirit.

  23. Julie Thomas
    March 31st, 2014 at 07:03 | #23

    @Jack Strocchi

    But most of you White males very much need to be ‘bashed’ over the head with examples of your hypocrisy and imaginary superiority. Unfortunately your type of ‘man’ just doesn’t have the ability to understand the subtlety that other types of humans are able to comprehend.

    The conservative spirit is just God when he’s Drunk – on power and hubris and false beliefs.

  24. Fran Barlow
    March 31st, 2014 at 07:04 | #24

    @Jack Strocchi

    Whatever your impulses once were, your impulses today are thoroughly antithetic to the well-being of working humanity. I’m not calling you a n*zi, because you clearly aren’t but your language above would never be rejected by one. “Courage, duty, nobless oblige, chivalry, degenerate elites” … combined with your xenophobia — an incoherent mix of RW populism and appeals to dynasticism (while compliaing of dynastic rent-seeking!)

  25. Ikonoclast
    March 31st, 2014 at 07:32 | #25

    Re the Strocchi debate. Gee, I worry about being a reactionary conservative because I believe in constitutional democracy and social welfare principles. One actually feels quite the old fashioned conservative in that position these days. Then again, I believe in worker owned and operated enterprises and removal of all corporatists, shareholders and rent-seekers. That appears to be my last radical plank.

  26. rog
    March 31st, 2014 at 07:41 | #26

    @Jack Strocchi

    the present conservative can do two things at once

    Only if one of those two things is to maintain the status quo. In that regard conservatives do a lot of work to effectively do nothing.

  27. J-D
    March 31st, 2014 at 10:49 | #27

    @Jack Strocchi
    You have suggested that knighting people will encourage altruistic sacrifice, modesty and gentility, respect for traditional institutions, chivalry, and the aristocratic virtues of noblesse oblige, courage, and duty.

    This is pure fantasy. As I have already pointed out, the experiment has been tried. The conferring of knighthoods has been going on for centuries, with none of the effects you desire.

  28. March 31st, 2014 at 11:47 | #28

    @Jack Strocchi
    Jack, Abbott has already demonstarted – repeatedly – that he is not able to fart and chew gum simultaneously.

  29. Michael
    April 1st, 2014 at 10:17 | #29

    Shorter Strocchi

    True conservatives are only those driven by noble and honourable motives and left-liberal-latte snorters are driven by a perverted desire to besmirch the good character of the afore-mentioned in tit for tat tribalism.

    Your pre-modern thinking is not fighting against post modern relativism and revisionism – the right are just as adept at that as the left (see the US) it’s reality you are fighting.

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