What next ?

I’ve had my say on the election, and don’t intend to engage in post-mortems. The only question of interest for me now is: what to do next?

I can’t see any useful contribution I can make to Australian politics for the moment, though I’m happy to take suggestions. Serious policy development is going to be off the agenda for some time, and I’ve got nothing new to say about political strategy or day-to-day politics.

‘But the big issues I’m interested in (climate change, and the choice between socialist and Trumpist futures) are global and long-term. I’m going to spend some time thinking and writing about them. I want to put forward some possible visions for the long term (2050 or 2100) future, while maintaining urgency about the threats we face right now.

32 thoughts on “What next ?

  1. “the choice between socialist and Trumpist futures”

    Those are the only choices? Most developed countries still go by some combination of traditional labourist, consensus corporatist and liberal internationalist approaches.

  2. There is not any useful contribution that any logical, science-acknowledging person can make to this society in terms of immediate to mid-term (10 years or so) political or political economy actions. All sensible contributions have been foreclosed by the system. We see how effectively the best scientists and the best public intellectuals are silenced and/or ignored. We see how easily the gullible public is propagandized and led by the nose by the oligarchy controlled media. Panem et circenses. Bread and circuses.

    The system will fail only when the bread and circuses fail. The bread and circuses in turn will fail when the biosphere fails (system by system). Exogenous circumstances must change to change the state of this political economy system: a system now fully proofed against internal change. The major classes are far too comfortable. They must first become uncomfortable and even frightened. There is no need for revolution or sabotage to achieve this. Such attempts only rebound and worsen matters. The only need is to wait patiently while the system destroys its own basis for survival. Only when it has fully destabilized itself by its own unsustainability will it, or rather the people in it, be ripe for change.

    Time has reduced more fortresses than all the armies of the world. Time will also reduce the fortress of capitalism.

  3. Pr Q said:

    But the big issues I’m interested in (climate change, and the choice between socialist and Trumpist futures) are global and long-term.

    What makes you think that “socialism” (economic statism) and “Trumpism” (ethnic nationalism) are mutually exclusive options? It is obvious that Bannon, the true leader of “Trumpist” movement, leans heavily Left on many issues.

    In this country the twin ideas formed the basis of the ALPs foundational ideology, symbolised by the socialist commitment to “nationalisation”. Of course Davos globalists can’t wait to abolish nations, which partially explains why nationalisation is now such an uphill battle.

    Moreover the combination of ethnic conservatism and economic progressivism has one thing going for it: popularity. Hence the swear word “populist” is applied to both, as if being popular was some kind of fatal error in a democracy.

    Pr Q needs to ditch his beloved Three Party System typology, which hasn’t caught on and is inadequate. It leaves out nation statists, the most important partisan alignment in politics. For the better part of this century I’ve pushed a modified version of the standard quadrant political compass: Old Left / Old Right / New Left / New Right

    On this schema the AUS party system can be arrayed in a standard four-cell matrix:

    economic liberals: free marketeers such as the LP

    cultural liberals: civil libertarians such as the GREENs

    economic corporals: social democrats such as the ALP

    cultural corporals: religious authoritarians such as FF

    Krugman suggests that two of the Empty Quarters of U.S. politics are undeserved, the libertarians and the “racist populists” (he can’t help himself, can he?). The political market for libertarians is < 5%. But the “red necks”, “Chavs”, “bogans”, (isn’t it telling that the political class can only ignore or insult them) are a serious force, without a voice:

    There’s a substantial bloc of racist-populist voters, and you might think that someone would try to serve them.

    But the “deplorables” (there they go again!) could form a political bloc supporting solutions mitigating the catastrophic risks of Global Warming and Technological Unemployment. Of course they would not be liberal solutions, and therein lies the problem for cultural elites.

  4. I think Labor is in with a chance in 3 years time. Morrison cant use endless deficit spending to get reelected like Trump can. You must have the worlds reserve currency to do that. The Liberal baked in structural budget problems are likely to catch up with the Coalition and they might try to cut services too much. On the other hand Morrison may do Labor-like budget reform (supported by Labor) . Also I do wonder if hubris will get the better of him and in the name of freedom he may get too religious or economic libertarian on us. Australias founding principle is the fair go ,Americas is freedom, established power wants ours to be a land of the free too.
    It beats me how people are saying Morrison ran a great campaign. It was a hollow one man show ,and the policy that was there is 30 or 40 years old. Any child actor turned advertising man should be able to repeat slogans flawlessly whilst pretending to be an everyday bloke.

  5. On bright side:

    (1) it looks like the conservative side of politics will fall just short of controlling the senate. According to the ABC election results website, the Coalition (35) plus One Nation (2) plus Australian Conservatives/Fraser Anning (1) will have 38 seats out of the 76. They will need Jacqui Lambie or someone from the Centre Alliance to pass any conservative legislation.

    (2) ScoMo has tacked to the centre on social issues, an example being his response to the Israel Folau affair.

    (3) Australia doesn’t have the same “racist populist” (see Jack Strocchi’s comment) problem as Europe and the US because the ALP acquiesced on stopping the boats. If they hadn’t done that, the ALP would by now be reduced to a rump and we’d have conservative federal governments for at least the next two decades.

    (4) The states will get on with moving Australia to a renewable energy future even without fed support due to the economics.

    (5) No more Tony Abbott!

    (6) Three years isn’t that long but, just in case, it is still long enough to do some serious doomsday prepping. My underground bunker already has room for six people and one thousand cans of baked beans and a water recycling system. Get digging, folks!

  6. Interested in the assumption that seems to lie behind this that serious policy can only happen at the Commonwealth (rather than State) level. Is that true?

  7. put me in the ALP will win comfortably in three years time.
    Morrison’s tax cuts after the 2022 election are hugely expensive. The budget forward projections have them being paid by expenditure falling to absurdly low levels.

    Like Paul Keating before him he will be hoisted on his own petard.

    Add in being unable to use fiscal policy as the economy slows and irony simply accelerates.

    climate change will be to be fore and we can assume units from coal fired power stations will drop out on very hot days leading to predictable drop outs. Both solar PV and windpower will be considerably cheaper that old coal fired power. too easy

  8. I would be interested in some considered thoughts on what we can do about the corporate media; specifically what controls we can impose.

    Murdoch’s media domination is being allowed to undermine our democracy. It first white-anted the Liberal party, purging the centrist elements, and then delivered the equivalent of tens of millions of dollars of free advertising for the right-wing remnant (both directly and indirectly, through favourable editorial and polling treatment to Palmer, in return for a $6m advertising deal). If and when Labor win an election, I am concerned that Murdoch will whip up a significant minority who do not consent to be governed by the majority. I was hoping for a Labor Government and a Royal Commission, but that’s now out the window.

  9. We haven’t dodged socialism at all. It’s simply that we have socialism for the rich and the upper middle class. Examples are negative gearing, diesel fuel subsidy, state and local subsidies, federal tax breaks and tax holidays, business and banking bailouts and guarantees. In total, these amount to more money than is devoted to social welfare.

    Here’s some information on the US system:


  10. The collision between climate action and coal jobs was a big electoral weakness for Labor.

    A very useful contribution would be some suggestions around how we untangle this toxic political economy?

    A jobs guarantee for coal mining regions seems like an obvious start, and perhaps you’ve written on this before.

    If not, some thought leadership on how to achieve this and what it would look like could be very helpful. If we are to ever overcome this barrier to climate action in Australia.

  11. Maybe I should just focus on the fact that my short or medium term financial situation will be better under a Coalition government .I am the right age and social background. As has been said 3 years isnt that long , assuming they will get power one day Labor needs to get ready to make changes that are hard to reverse – like medicare, axing white Aust policy, or superannuation. A lot of good can ,and has been ,be done in a short amount of time .
    I think Morrison only took one policy that requires parliamentary approval to the election ? ,’vote for us and we will give you $1000 tax cut into your pocket within 8 weeks’.

  12. Anthony Albanese expects Labor to win the Federal election. Otherwise Tanya Plibersek would be getting a clear run at the leadership.

  13. Jack S, the LP is no longer a free market party, because support for that position has collapsed. That’s one of the reasons why the three-party model works while quadrant models do not. More on this later, perhaps.

  14. Paul Norton.

    This is Albo’s last crack. He is 56, 59 at the next election. Of course he is going for it. It’s now or never.

    Plibersek is only 49. She’s got an extra electoral cycle in her career that Albanese does not. I’d like to her as shadow Treasurer. It will make her or break her.

  15. I hope not smithy.

    It would be a Julie Bishop episode ll over again.
    There are quite a few economically literate people in the caucus. The present incumbent is one of them.

  16. @nottrampis

    The present incumbent [tautology alert!] is tainted. He needs to go somewhere else, like defence.

  17. Smith9 – “This is Albo’s last crack.”

    Albo? Murdoch’s “Save Our Albo”. Albo of the never-never… the recycled fast train, er, study proposals, the inarticulate stumblebum who couldn’t hold a candle to Turnbull’s fanciful fraudband waffle (deliberately?)…

    Just another case of ‘recycling’ destined for the dump.

    The ALP needs a Whitlam to utterly reshape it. They haven’t got one in the offing.

  18. “while maintaining urgency about the threats we face right now.”

    The only threats we face now come from socialists on their progression to communism.

    Suppression and socialism go hand in hand, so we understand and are not offended by your continued censorship of opposing views including ours.

    Good luck with your echo chamber,


  19. Smithy I do not disagree merely pointing out he understands economics unlike Tanya

  20. Tony says –

    Tony Abbott? That you? Still on about being denied freedom of speech? Well mate, like another Rhodes Scholar with the Boxing Blues wrote: “freedom is another word for nothing left to lose”. Get used to it.

    La da La la da da la da da la da da
    La da da da da da da da da Tony,

    Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose,
    And nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’ but it’s free,

    Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose,
    And nothin’ left is still all that’s left to Tony,
    Yeah… (Kris Kristofferson, apologies)

  21. Svante

    I agree that Albo needs to be weaned off some of his obsessions, like fast trains.

    But I don’t think he will be. In fact I think he will go into full-on nation building mode: a train line from Perth to Cairns here; Mt Isa to be turned into a world centre of artificial intelligence research there; a banana industry for Tasmania; the Winter Olympics in Darwin and so on.

    There are worse things.

  22. Another positive that I didn’t put on my list is that the Liberals will in future be less inclined to run conservative reptiles like Abbott in wealthy, well educated blue ribbon seats. If the LIberals want to take back Warringah from Zali Stegall, they will need to run a social liberal. This is what they needed to do to take back Wentworth from Kerryn Phelps.

  23. Smith9:

    “I agree that Albo needs to be weaned off some of his obsessions, like fast trains.”

    Agreed. Albo should watch the “Utopia” fast train episode.

  24. The climate has changed apparently, and right on cue it looks like Palaszczuk wants a run up to a law and order election.

    What next?

    There will be protests, arrests, and convictions tested. Repeat. And there will be blood.

  25. There is a bit of talk around about Labor needing to move back to the ‘centre’. Its better to die on your feet than live on your knees. Remember Thatcher thought her greatest achievement was moving her opposition so far to the right.

  26. Curt, you have completely derailed this thread. I’m deleting all your comments, along with responses (although I endorse most of the). Please any future comments along these lines to the sandpit, avoiding any references to physical violence.

  27. It’s a conundrum, trying to guess what’s best for everybody. The ALP platform was well meant and it’s increase in public funding to essential services should have been a no brainer. But their tinkering with super and property was not well thought out, the implications on dividend imputation are complex and profound and negative gearing has already been tried and proven to be a political bomb.

    IMO that was the real issue, the ALP presented a threat to both homeowners and super holders everywhere and those that did not have the resources to work these issues through voted No.

    As is their right.

  28. John Q: I hope you will revisit thus decision in a while.
    1. It matters a lot what lessons Labour draw from the reelection. Was it the climate policy, redistributive taxation, or an uncharismatic lead candidate?
    2. The incoherence of the Morrison government will be underlined by events, as with Trump’s. If Australia follows the American pattern, the gap will be partly filled by state policies. That’s current politics too.
    3. Rupert Murdoch is 88. Death of Rats (see Terry Pratchett) is sharpening his scythe. The funeral games will be dynastic politics on the grandest scale. Progressives should be ready to exploit the confusion as the empire fractures.

  29. JQ you say; “But the big issues I’m interested in (climate change, and the choice between socialist and Trumpist futures) are global and long-term”

    How nuanced are you re “between socialist and trumpist”? Your statement sounds a tad binary.

    Do you decide priorities?

    And then I suggest gamification of “what next”.

    Jared Diamond oulines below (2), prioritising is not the answer; “… We got to solve all four of those problems.”.

    Problems with out priority which Diamond says must be solved;
    – nuclear holocaust
    – climate change
    – unsustainable resource use
    – maintaining or increasing inequality

    1) Levitsky and Ziblatt; …”Of all the books that this new democracy-defense industry has produced, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt’s How Democracies Die makes the most coherent case, by way of comparison, for why Trump’s presidency may well endanger one of the world’s oldest republics. As scholars who have worked primarily on Latin America and Europe, Levitsky and Ziblatt demonstrate how a global perspective should shake many people out of the complacency created by their cherished beliefs about American exceptionalism.”…(1)

    2) Jared Diamond says; “But the United States today believes what’s called American exceptionalism. That phrase, American exceptionalism means the belief that the United States is unique, exceptional, therefore there’s nothing we can learn from other countries.”…

    …“We should not be prioritizing our efforts.” It’s like someone asking me, “Jared, I’m about to get married.”…

     …”So for the state of the world today, how do we prioritize what’s going on in the world? We have to avoid a nuclear holocaust. If we have a nuclear holocaust, we’re finished, even if we solve climate change. We have to solve climate change because if we don’t solve climate change but we deal with a nuclear holocaust, we’re finished. If we solve climate change and don’t have a nuclear holocaust but we continue with unsustainable resource use, we’re finished. And if we deal with the nuclear problem and climate change and sustainable use, but we maintain or increase inequality around the world, we’re finished. So, we can’t prioritize. … We got to solve all four of those problems.”

    1) https://www.thenation.com/article/how-democracies-dies-how-democracy-ends-book-review/

    2) Jared Diamond: There’s a 49 Percent Chance the World As We Know It Will End by 2050 

    I agree with 1 & 2 above that amajor impediment is American exceptionalism. Trumpism being a symtom of continuing feeling of, and protection of percieved exceptionalism.

    And “trying” won’t effect exceptionalism…

    “In the United States, we’ve arrived at a pair of mutually exclusive convictions: that liberal, capitalist democracies are guaranteed by their nature to succeed and that in our Trumpist moment they seem to be failing in deeply unsettling ways.” … “…but my answer is admittedly more ambitious: It’s time to give socialism a try.”…

    Trying socialism is easy to give up. Choosing to do is what is needed as language and mindset matters. The socialist zeitgeist seems like zeno’s arrow, always nearly there, gaining on the target by 50% each time step. But then “we” vote, or the entrenched change system parameters and the target / goal posts / system is moved away again.

    And so to my suggestion for what your next medium of communication may be …

    “The Waiting Game’ Communist Monopoly’ Teaches Downside of Socialist Life” was made to show younger generations how communism was ” bad “.

    So my suggested gamification encompassing your aims of what to do next…

    With minor changes “The waiting game” would, ironically imo, show neoliberalism / financialisation / free market ideologies are basically as “bad” if you are not one the top say, 20%. 


    Seriously – make a game platform to allow 15 – 33 yr olds ( avg age gamers in US 33) to see how their decisions NOW effect THEN to show how they can be happy, healthy and social in the game called “possible visions for the long term (2050 or 2100) future, while maintaining urgency about the threats we face right now” game. Short name: What Next – Your Choice!

    It may be a hard sell though to beat fortnite and league of legends!

    View at Medium.com

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