Farewell, again to Larvatus Prodeo

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.

83 thoughts on “Farewell, again to Larvatus Prodeo

  1. 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.

  2. @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.

  3. 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

  4. Val:

    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.

  5. @Mel
    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.

  6. @Val
    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.

  7. 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.

  8. @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.

  9. @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.

  10. 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.

  11. @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.

  12. 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?

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. @Val

    “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?

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. “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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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

  31. 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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s