Guy Rundle writes:|
Dec 10, 2007 12:00AM |EMAIL|PRINT
The old radical American IWW group used to tell their organisers that, if they were about to be shot, they should make sure that people who see it knew you were unarmed at the time, and hence victims of the bosses’ terror.
That seems to be the mood over at The Oz, where op-ed editor Tom Switzer has taken the extraordinary step of using the page to apply for his own job.
The article is the usual construction – brave put-upon conservatives telling the unpopular verities etc etc to fashionable opinion etc etc. The aim is to make any sacking look like a silencing.
The truth is otherwise, which is why Switzer is worried – News Ltd has run a quasi-hysterical series of campaigns over the past years, around the elites etc, and allowed blatant spinning to infect their news pages.
The result, in terms of an impact on public opinion, has been virtually nil. “Australia is a more conservative place than it was before Howard,” Switzer opines.
Really? Let’s look at social behaviour. Cohabitation and divorce are at the same levels. Casual drug use is up. The Iraq war is more unpopular than ever. The TV has shows with content that would have caused conniptions a decade ago. Abortion is widely supported. Family First is on 1% of the vote.
Gay culture and the s-x industry is part of the mainstream. An apology to aborigines has been mooted and no-one really objects. The republic issue was delayed, but a fair referendum on it will almost certainly be a yes.
What’s happening? What’s happening is we are resuming an Australian trajectory begun in the Gorton years, and continued even in the Fraser interregnum. If Labor can swing a decade in power then the period 1969 to 2019 – a half century – will be one of almost continual progressive (to varying degrees) government. The Howard government will be the last desperate bid to stop the process – and one that failed as soon as it tinkered with arbitration.
In that environment, the Switzer-gang-that-couldn’t-shoot-straight are going to be useless, because they have no dialogue with the times – a la JS Mill, they are the “second rate minds who are always against the spirt of the era”. Albrechtsen used to be interesting to read because she was obviously influencing the government. Who’s going to read this mad maven now, banging on about judicial activism, and fiendish feminists?
What you need in these times is one such contrarian columnist, not eight, with the rest talking closer to where people actually are. If Switzer and Mitchell don’t clean house, someone will.
The other reason these guys are under the hammer is, of course, because they failed. Paradoxically for a bunch of people with a lot of time for Karl Popper’s “The Open Society and Its Enemies” they forgot the signal message of that book – dictatorships fail, because they substitute propaganda for information, and thus have no way of informing themselves about the true state of reality.
News and Co surrounded Howard and Co with the delusion that the ex-PM represented Australia’s distilled essence back to himself – obscuring the degree to which he had already been shucked, like a used peanut shell, with fatal consequences.