Anti-politics from the inside

There have always been lots of people who saw nothing in politics except a bunch of windbags scoring points off each other. And a year or two back, there was a thing called anti-politics which attempted to give some kind of intellectual basis for this sentiment.

Although I’ve known lots of anti-political/apolitical people and paid attention to the discussion of anti-politics, it’s always been something I’ve viewed from the outside, and as a problem to be remedied by doing a better job of explaining the importance of political issues. I’ve often (in fact usually) been highly critical of the political positions of the major parties, but always highly engaged.

But now, I’m suddenly experiencing anti-politics from the inside. The country is on fire, and there’s no end in sight. The government is doing nothing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and actively promoting measures that would make things worse.

But watching the last session of Federal Parliament you wouldn’t know any of this. Angus Taylor is supposed to be the minister for emissions reduction: he’s failed miserably and lied about it continuously. But instead of discussing this, the politicians are arguing about bogus anecdotes and documents Taylor has put out as part of the culture war. Meanwhile, the government’s prime concern is to make life a bit tougher for a few hundred refugees, thereby getting the all-important win to end the year.

If this is what’s on offer, count me out.

57 thoughts on “Anti-politics from the inside

  1. Henry Lawson eventually came to the same conclusion as has the anti-politics crowd. He once wrote that
    ” In a land where sport is worshipped. And the labourer is God. You must pander to the people. Make a hero out of a clod.”
    It seems that our politicians are so wrapped up in point scoring they think they are playing some sort of game. People’s homes are destroyed, refugees are left to commit suicide, old aged people are stuffed into understaffed facilities, disabled people are abused when not being ignored and exploitation goes unchecked. But politicians only focus on their own narrow self interests. No wonder there is open contempt for politicians today. As Henry Lawson inferred the tendency in any “game” is to make heros out of clods. Our Houses of Parliament are full of clods disguised as heros.

  2. Apparently Albanese is about to make a speech about social media, citing an occasion where he was unfairly accused on Facebook, or some other place.

    It’s the best he can do.

  3. OK dig a backyard bunker , just dont start hiding in it yet.

    The 10 pillars of Fascism from Jason Stanleys “How Fascism Works ”

    1) a great mythic past
    2) propaganda inverted -true is false (fake news etc)
    3) anti- intellectualism – (the ‘Canberra bubble ‘ ?)
    4) un-reality, conspiracy theory, smash truth – so only loyalty remains
    5) hierarchy
    6) victim hood
    7) law and order- outgroup are diseased sex criminals
    8) sexual anxiety – uber masculinity to the rescue
    9) the rural heartland v the decadent city
    10) work will set you free- outgroup are lazy cheats

    These are from the long history of the study of Fascist politics ,not simply compiled in light of recent history. Fascist politics always cosy up with business oligarchs (because they have to , and the oligarchs will) and always seek to smash workers unions (as they unite people across race, religion, and gender etc). Over time the moral extraordinary is transformed into the ordinary. According to Hannah Arendt we can soon be effectively left with only a one party state if one party decides to put loyalty to their party above loyalty to the ideal of a rules based multi party state – she calls it a pre-fascist moment.

  4. Joseph Goebbels – “The ordinary Bürger, the ordinary citizen, will not vote for us, unless they’re terrified that the communists, that the Bolsheviks are coming for their property. Only if we can terrify them into thinking that the Bolsheviks, that communism is nigh, that it’s right around the corner and their property is going to be seized—only then will they run into our arms as their protectors.”

    Trump addressing the UN – “Virtually everywhere, socialism or communism has been tried. It has produced suffering, corruption and decay. Socialism’s thirst for power leads to expansion, incursion and oppression. All nations of the world should resist socialism and the misery that it brings to everyone.”

    Hitler to industrialists in the 1930’s – ‘” I’m going to protect you from government regulations. You’ll have your domain. I’ll have my domain.”

    Jason Stanley – ‘Fascism is unthinkable without patriarchy.’ and ‘ I’m much more worried about normalization than overreach ‘ .

  5. Good stuff from sunshine. It does seem very early seventies, WASP pathologies descending into a lunatic pit, the IPA and their string pullers, utter stupidity.

    Even reltively conventional scribes are grasping to understand and explain the present situation, but in the meantime,

    I wiled away some hours back in the past having a geck at what the Permian Extinction was about and thought “well, how about that” without ever thinking such a catastrophic event could be even possible in the current era, yet I look at the way the world has gone over my lifetime, ever so slightly longer than Prof. Quiggin’s, and marvel, if that is the world, at people like Johnson, Trump and Morrison and the achieving of the conditions necessary for the possibility of something truly disastrous in this era.

  6. It does seem like we have a government that is engaged in ideological warfare as it’s priority rather than prioritising good governance within a socially and economically diverse nation – although no doubt many of those involved think reducing diversity and de-legitimising alternative world views to theirs is a path to their better governance. I use the word War deliberately, because I think they are acting like all conventions of accountability and process and even sense of fair play can be set aside – those who disagree with them are enemies. Even traitorous for having a different vision of what our nation should be than theirs. Saving the nation from these enemies takes sacrifices – and sacrificing government accountability is one they are willing to make.

    Crushing Labor and The Greens in ways that they cannot recover, so that environmental or worker rights considerations can never again impede their vision for the nation appears more important than dealing with the serious issues facing the nation and the world. I wonder if their assumptions about such problems as climate change being beyond the scope of governance to address are a consequence of their ideological world view. Lack of vision for what governance can do or lack of ambition? Or blinkeredideology that has no room for doing such things?

    I am coming to the view that these are people who lack the competency needed to deal with a real world that is more complex than their vision of it, that is more complex than they can cope with and doubling down on their ideology – expressing faith in it by pushing it as hard and as far as possible, in the hope that it might work – is their last ditch response.

  7. It is worth looking at the composition of the Federal parliament.

    Select the heading Occupational Background. You will see the Parliament (Reps and Senate) is dominated by;

    Business executives, managers, self-employed business-people, company directors, etc.: 25%
    Party and union administrators & Party and union officials : 16%
    Political consultants, advisers and lobbyists: 14%
    Barristers, solicitors, lawyers, legal officers, etc.: 13%

    These categories alone account for 68% of members. Is it any wonder that this Parliament makes laws to suit only certain elites? No, it is no wonder. These narrow-focus and often non-illustrious professions are concerned only with money, power, law and legalism and not with science, ethics, art, culture or the everyday concerns of ordinary people. Right there is our problem. Until we get scientists, ethicists, artists, cultural figures and representatives of every-woman and every-man into the Parliament, we have no chance of effecting the required changes for our environment, society and economy.

  8. Oh my goodness! David Littleproud has just called on shoppers to boycott Coles (for failing to pass on its milk levy). Isn’t this the Government that wants to make (environmental) boycotts illegal ? Presumably they will see a difference, but I don’t.
    On a similar note, the valiant Andrew Wilkie asked the only question about firefighting in the last sitting week of parliament. No action required here Andrew ! Don’tcha know we always have fires ?

  9. “… scientists, ethicists, artists, cultural figures ”

    More Peter Garretts? No thanks.

    More engineers?

  10. “There are two inevitable outcomes … Australian business does less business … and Australian business is forced to acquire goods or services from an alternative or overseas supplier at a higher price,” Scott Morrison said.
    (and he implied that this is a wicked thing to do)
    So, Littleproud are you proud to urge Coles doing less business and forcing Coles to buy milk at a higher price ? You should wash your mouth !

  11. In moments of quiet desparation I wonder what effect the failure of Australia’s political system to deal with even relatively minor policy challenges is having on punters’ trust in its capacity to address climate change.

  12. I’ve been apolitical, anti, political and now a political buddhist – engaged but disengaged / disilusioned.

    ANU election study;
    “Men were much more likely to support the Coalition than women (48-38%). The AES has found changes in gender differences over time. In the 1990s men were slightly more likely to vote ALP than women, but more recently women have become more likely to vote Labor.

    “A growing divide has shown up between younger and older voters. “The 2019 election represents the lowest Liberal party vote on record for those under 35 (23%) and the highest ever vote for the Greens (28%)”.

    “While working class people are much more likely to vote Labor (41%) than middle class voters (29%), long term trends indicate Labor’s working class base has eroded.

    “There was a strong association between ownership of assets, such as property and shares, and a higher vote for the Coalition.”

    The rock the house was built on is turning to sand and shifting constantly it seems.

  13. Anthropogenic Global Warming: scads of evidence that it exists, and is happening, versus GB’s insistence it is “unproven.” While it cannot be proven in the mathematical sense of the concept of proof, it can be demonstrated fairly well by use of mathematical models based on the physics, i.e. on the physical and chemical properties of the constituents of the atmosphere. Models such as these are in widespread use throughout chemistry and physics, so it isn’t like they haven’t been validated in multiple contexts. These models are consistent with the more recent observational record, and consistent with paleoclimate evidence, e.g. from ice cores, bore holes, rocks, fossils, and a lot more besides.

    While the current circumstance has the distinction of being an extremely rapid discharge of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere (and, by extension, the oceans), comparison with paleoclimate is still informative. There are studies in which the effects of various events, such as the solar cycle, volcanic activity, etc, are statistically subtracted out of the observational record, and what remains is a pretty decent, statistically significant, upward trend in the globally averaged annual surface temperature. You may wish it were not so, but it is so. If you wish to argue about the *policy* direction, fair enough, and there is plenty of room for disagreement on the best strategy, for sure. Flat out denial of what is strong evidence of human-induced climate change on the global scale is to exit the debate entirely.

    As for the current politics of the bush fires in Australia? Well, flat out rejection of the problem is what we are getting, and as evidence of that, the PM didn’t to meet with fire chiefs before the start of the fire season, despite their repeated requests. The final sitting week of parliament is another bit of evidence that politics of bush fires consisted of ducking the issue, or deflection.

    There have been some news articles concerning climate change and Australian fire trends that are of questionable accuracy, and aren’t helpful. There are academic studies of the trends that are somewhat at odds with one another, and—for now, at least—I doubt that a definitive statement can be made as to specific linkage of AGW with Australia’s fire seasons and fire behaviour. The natural variability due to idiosyncratic confluences of the dipoles and other weather events has significant impact upon the fire season, as does the behaviour of human beings (e.g. arsonists), and extending built-up areas, change of farming, drought, flood, are all idiosyncratic factors that further complicate the picture of long term trends. Eventually, there may be enough data to establish the nature of the link between AGW and Australian fire trends, but for now, I suspect there isn’t enough. Of course, we can conjecture as to the long run. Short term, though, predictive capability is pretty good as to the likely nature of upcoming fire seasons, and fire chiefs have that at their disposal. So, there is plenty of scope for disagreement on best policy for dealing with fire seasons as bad as the current one, but meeting with the fire chiefs before the start of the fire season would have been a fairly logical step, I would have thought.

    It’s hard to get excited about politics, when rejection, ignorance, and meaningless platitudes—“thoughts and prayers”—are the best we can expect from the current mob.

  14. While it cannot be proven in the mathematical sense of the concept of proof

    Since nothing in law or in the historical, social, life, or physical sciences can be proved in the mathematical sense, why even mention this?

    It is as clearly demonstrated as anything in the physical sciences: (a) that burning coal, oil, or natural gas releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere: (b) that atmospheric carbon dioxide is transparent to visible light but opaque to infrared; and (c) that the earth absorbs energy transmitted from the sun mainly in the form of visible light but radiates energy mainly in the infrared. Given those facts, it follows that an effect of burning coal, oil, or natural gas must be to increase the earth’s temperature. Which of those three facts is it supposed to be that so-called ‘climate sceptics’ are doubting?

  15. KT2: thanks.

    J-D: I only mention it because some forms of “skepticism” are so extreme, no amount of evidence is enough to convince such skeptics; it was an oblique rebuttal of such skepticism. I could have said it differently, for sure. Anyway, we are in furious agreement, I think.

    As for which of those three things climate change rejectionists reject, I’d say all three. They say the greenhouse gas effect isn’t proven, or that it is too weak to possibly make a difference, or there is too little CO2 to make a difference (false sense of proportion, based on 0.04% of atmosphere sounding like it is too small an amount to matter), or that sun cycles haven’t been taken into account, or that the current climate change is just a long natural cycle (e.g. 60 year cycle—don’t ask me why though), and so on. The thing is, each of these potential alternatives have been investigated and essentially ruled out, based on observational data. You don’t need a climate model to rule them out, statistics do that just fine. The Skeptical Science website has a long list of the skeptic’s debating points, and rebuts every one of them.

  16. KT2. 9:19 am –
    M Grattan? Yeah , nah. It says much that your other link, the source of Grattan’s usual biased cherry picked focus here, was not linked by her!

    On that, some differing considered opinions in comments there as usual – plus a link to a full updated pdf of MANUFACTURING CONSENT – Edward S Herman and Noam Chomski, 407pp.

    p 297
    7 Conclusions
    become too independent and too powerful for the public good, Anthony
    Lewis of the New York Times writes that

    The press is protected [by the First Amendment] not for its own
    sake but to enable a free political system to operate. In the end,
    the concern is not for the reporter Or the editor but for the
    citizen-critic of government.

    What is at stake when we speak about freedom of the press “is the
    freedom to perform a function on behalf of the polity.”l Lewis cites
    Supreme Court Justice Powell, who observed: “no individual can obtain
    for himself the information needed for the intelligent discharge of his
    political responsibilities…. By enabling the public to assert meaningful
    control over the political process, the press performs a crucial function
    in effecting the societal purpose of the First Amendment.” Therefore,
    as Judge Gurfein ruled in supporting the right of the New York Times
    to publish the Pentagon Papers after the government had failed to show
    any threat of a breach of security but only the possibility of embarrassment:
    “a cantankerous press, an obstinate press, a ubiquitous press
    must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even
    greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to

    We do not accept the view that freedom of expression must be
    defended in instrumental terms, by virtue of its contribution to some
    higher good; rather, it is a value in itself. But that apart, these ringing
    declarations express valid aspirations, and beyond that, they surely
    express the self-image of the American media. Our concern in this book
    has been to inquire into the relation between this image and the reality.
    In contrast to the standard conception of the media as cantankerous,
    obstinate, and ubiquitous in their search for truth and their independence
    of authority, we have spelled out and applied a propaganda
    model that indeed sees the media as serving a “societal purpose,” but
    not that of enabling the public to assert meaningful control over the
    political process by providing them with the information needed for the
    intelligent discharge of political responsibilities. On the contrary, a
    propaganda model suggests that the “societal purpose” of the media is
    to inculcate and defend the economic, social, and political agenda of
    privileged groups that dominate the domestic society and the state. The
    media serve this purpose in many ways: through selection of topics,
    distribution of concerns, framing of issues, filtering of information,
    emphasis and tone, and by keeping debate within the bounds of acceptable
    premises. We have sought to show that the expectations of this
    model are realized, and often considerably surpassed, in the actual
    practice of the media in a range of crucial cases. We quite agree with
    Chief Justice Hughes, whom Lewis also cites, on “the primary need of
    a vigilant and courageous press” if democratic processes are to function
    in a meaningful way. But the evidence we have reviewed indicates that
    this need is not met or even weakly approximated in actual practice…


  17. GB: I wrote my comment before I saw your comment(s) and I have got to say, I feel quite vindicated in my characterisation of the extreme skeptic. If the cap fits,…

    As for accusations of being a dirty liar, nope, I take the evidence of the climate scientists as being credible, until *you* prove otherwise. By your own standard as to what should be rejected as evidence, I see no reason to take your scribbled chart, something the cat dragged in by the look of it, as evidence of anything other than you being able to wiggle a line on a metaphorical page.

    But thank you, for your stately contribution to the subject. Look forward to the next installment.

  18. Don,

    You are correct. And arguing with someone as deluded as G.B. is fruitless. Frankly, I don’t know why J.Q. doesn’t ban him for his flagrant nonsense. People have been banned for less.

  19. Ikon: thanks. The chart GB used is of US temperature anomalies, not the global annual mean temperature, or the global anomalies. I admit I was a bit snarky about the chart.

  20. “As for accusations of being a dirty liar, nope, I take the evidence of the climate scientist…”

    Stop right there. They have not presented you with any evidence. You are lying. And as we have seen you don’t even know what evidence is.

  21. “he chart GB used is of US temperature anomalies….” It makes no difference. All the data is rigged by the same people and in the same way.

  22. I’ve deleted the comment to which this replies. Please don’t respond to this kind of thing. If it’s out of control, get in touch with me and I’ll respond

  23. I’ve deleted the comment to which this replies. Please don’t respond to this kind of thing. If it’s out of control, get in touch with me and I’ll respond

  24. I’ve deleted the comment to which this replies. Please don’t respond to this kind of thing. If it’s out of control, get in touch with me and I’ll respond

  25. I’ve deleted the comment to which this replies. Please don’t respond to this kind of thing. If it’s out of control, get in touch with me and I’ll respond

  26. I agree Australian politics today is rather discouraging. But I firmly believe that the work you (i.e., J Quiggin) do, including your blog posts, make a difference. I almost always learn something new when I read your writing. They bring clarity and illumination to many important issues. Thank you!

  27. “There have always been lots of people who saw nothing in politics except a bunch of windbags scoring points off each other…”

    Honest Government Ad | Quiet Australians (“..for guidance just look to the Labor party”)

  28. Hopefully the thread gets a healthy dose of ‘troll away’ soon, because this is just embarrassing. Yes, it is. I’ve deleted a few posts

  29. The occasional light sprinkle of bird droppings can be beneficial to many plants but when it comes in ship loads the effects can be corrosive.

  30. The Labor Party, just like the parties in the LNP, gets large donations from the mining, coal and gas industries. These parties and their backers and interested in one thing only, money. Money is only useful while there is stuff to buy. Once our damage to the environment goes beyond a certain threshold, there won’t be enough stuff to buy. What happens then?

  31. Graeme Bird, your personal sovereignty includes finding a nice little island and live there on your own, undisturbed by anybody who does not take you seriously on the topic of ghg emissions and climate change. The personal sovereignty of the rest of us implies complaints from you, by electronic or any other means of communication, about your feet getting wet and you are concerned about the water soon reaching your chin will, of course remain unanswered. Best wishes.

  32. As for which of those three things climate change rejectionists reject, I’d say all three.

    Don, you may be right, but I have never encountered any instance in which somebody explicitly denies any of the three points I stated, so if you are able to cite any it would be of considerable interest to me. For example, I can’t find such an explicit denial in the list of sceptic’s debating points you linked to (although that does include some I’ve never encountered before, as well as some that I have, so thanks for that).

  33. The Millennium Report agrees that oversized fire seasons might not be caused by climate change , running an incisive piece of investigative journalism titled —>>> ‘ Are satellite-based laser weapon arrays and flame-throwing drones the primary arson technologies starting the Californian firestorms? ‘ .They are encouraging people to prepare for civil war – only president Trump can secure the Republic and save the country from the Socialist coup that is well underway .They claim that it is not strange at all that God would choose an imperfect individual as his earthly representative.

  34. You say “If this is what’s on offer, count me out.” What does that mean? You can’t retire gracefully from the catastrophe; that’s certainly not on offer. You may not be interested in human extinction, but human extinction is interested in you, to extend Trotsky.

  35. “… we are not warming.” (Graeme Bird, Dec 9) seems to be contradicted here –

    Also GB, to demonstrate your empirical decency, can you practise some science yourself (for the first time on this thread) and reference your proofs of climate data fraud?

  36. Ernestine +1

    JQ I understand you may delete this, yet it is important to remind commenters to reveal mindset of websites cited here.

    J-D, we henceforce have the whole bibilical Canon to cite. From GB’s linked graph ‘about’page…

    “Our Centering Narrative
    Genesis 18:1-15 (NIV 2010)The Three Visitors
    1 The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre

    If anyone can be bothered… https:// treeofmamre.

    GB, as I felt your comment to be ‘dirty’,  I searched for about page of linked graph before allowing my browser to navigate to “the great trees of Mamre”.
    [ insert a googol of biblical talk, while the planet burns ]

    I have saved us all the trouble of worrying about your niggles, by invoking trends, not god, or thermometers.

    And I am much more worried about temperature trends, and this person;

    The mendacious Australian Anti-politician who will tout this garbage;

    “Mr Taylor called the credits an “overachievement”.

    “I look forward to showcasing Australia’s enviable record as a world leader in renewable energy investment, our 411 metric tonnes of CO2 overachievement of our Kyoto 2020 target, and our fully costed plan to meet our Paris commitment,” he said in a statement.

    I hope we get banned.

  37. i was wondering when it would get to this.

    “true belief”entities (and there are so many versions of them)
    claim extra legal rights (rites?) of abuse.

    i can be abused and if a child, terrorised by the threat of punishment by torture, for ever,
    for the thought crime of disbelief.

    i can be made the equivalent of murderers and thieves without any avenue of rebuttal.

    public money upholds the “true belief” indoctrination of children through schools.
    income is not taxed.
    depraved actions perpetrated are denied.

    and all allowed by representatives in Federal parliament elected to represent their entire constituency and not just good buddies for god.

  38. How to deal with a corrupt parliament (Cromwell, 1970) (1min:19)
    Published on Jul 7, 2016
    A clip from the movie CROMWELL (1970)

    Cromwell disolves Parliament (3min:33)
    Published on Sep 2, 2019
    A clip from the 1970 film Cromwell shows how things should be handled when dealing with a corrupt Parliament.

    As parody dubbed over recent brexit UK Parliament footage:
    If Cromwell were here today (2min:31)
    Published on Jan 30, 2019
    Oliver Cromwell’s (Actor Richard Harris) speech to parliament has never been more fitting!

    But of course due to Cromwell’s various parliamentary confrontations and increasing detachment the lawyers’ party gained control during the Rump Parliament (It’s said that 90% of success is just showing up, which they mostly did, unlike others). Subsequently that crafty vested interest group have hung onto state power down to the present, there and here and elsewhere. Separate heads of power? Pffft.

  39. erm, Svante?

    the only good result of that nasty episode was that by the chopping off the head of charlie 1,
    the current crown crowd are a lot more circumspect about the consequences of divine rights.

  40. KT2 – “I hope we get banned.”

    I do not. I suspect Morrison’s government would be ecstatic to have global climate talks break down, especially under circumstances where climate activists/climate serious nations under the auspices of a UN coordinated international body can be blamed. Blameshifting is like their own special superpower, up there with social divisiveness.

    Despite appearances to the contrary I think their denial and obstruction is on the edge of being untenable; the lengths these obstructionists go to is indicative of their vulnerability to a swing back to responsible adults being in charge.

  41. KT2 – “I hope we get banned.”

    What could happen is that Australia could become an international pariah state subjected to sanctions by the EU and other nation groupings that actually care about climate change. Of course, that might not matter if India, China and the USA continue to not give a rat’s about climate change. We can trade our way to catastrophe with them. (Black comedy sarcasm intended.)

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