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May 3, 2013

The Left has lost its way through symbolism and stupidity

The Left is dead -- hopelessly lost in the minutiae of gestures, rainbow crossings, political correctness and confected outrage about the latest Geoffrey Barker piece. It's time for the Left to think about material conditions and macroeconomics.


Andrew Bolt is to David Marr as a Kraft Single is to raw milk chèvre. This is to say, these big cheeses long typified the differences between popular Right and Left thinking. Marr was, and remains, an acidic shock whose difficult charms reward the body politic when it takes the time to savour.

And to me, Bolt is just a nasty piece of work.

This has been the usual division: public thinkers of the Left offer us data and difficulty and demand our participation in understanding. Public thinkers of the Right offer us comfort. Eva Cox, for example, has long argued with numbers for tax and labour reform, whereas Piers Akerman draws hilarious crayon pictures of c0ck-and-balls.

But, recognising the traditional split between leftist wankers and conservative yobbos is nothing novel. What is new, however, is the conspicuous stupidity of the Left. If by “Left” we mean people who like rainbow crossings, petitions at change.org, and People with a Disability, then our gestures made in colourful chalk have begin to rival Akerman’s for numb impermanence.

It is, of course, easy to decry the lack of an emerging Rundle, and rage about the “dumbing down” of the culture and fetishise a golden age of debate. But it is stupid to simply call people stupid and explain the Left’s growing Kraft Single problem in the terms of things being Better in My Day.

Things, however, were certainly less individually sliced and wrapped in my day. Or, rather, they were less wrapped up in the cheesy idea of individuality.

Let me tell you what I mean by taking you through just the last week in the life of the “Left”.

With her budget taste-test speech served on Monday, Gillard had given the old Left food for thought. The Prime Minister told low-to-middle income earners that Keynes would want them to share the burden. By Tuesday, she had announced a levy for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. By lunchtime, News Limited had published this folly which is — to save you the displeasure of bad cheese — a sort of rom-com approach to analysis wherein a young, under-informed man says that HE doesn’t want to give up $300 a year and would rather drink his flavoured coffee, and a young, under-informed lady says that SHE ruddy well does.

But it was this piece by Tory Shepherd that drove the tone of debate on social and news media for much of the week. The NDIS and its revenue model drew wide and uncritical support and this is nice for the ALP this week, but not so good over time. We had a chance, for example, to talk about a government that has been quietly committed to progressive tax reform being pushed by a perverse opposition into serving Clive and Gina. Instead, the “Left” made do with crowing about its deep, deep love for the Disabled and never, for a moment, bothered to discuss, say, the idea of quantitatively easing Twiggy’s arse off the ground to pay for services that any reasonable human agrees are essential.

“It’s nice that you would happily relinquish your Wine of the Month Club subscription to buy a happy cripple but it is also deeply irrelevant …”

The debate, though, comes down not to macroeconomics and not even to the NDIS itself, but to the role of the individual in paying for it. You know, it’s nice that you would happily relinquish your Wine of the Month Club subscription to buy a happy cripple but it is also deeply irrelevant and even, I suggest, damaging.

The personification of this debate continued when Myer CEO Bernie Brookes did what any retail sector CEO would do and complained about the introduction of a new tax. Just like the old Left, Brookes, at least, is able to see that a tax is a tax and not the ethical responsibility of the individual from which it is secured. But, whatever. Let a dozen barely literate tits secure their freelance stipend from Fairfax and the ABC this week as they rage about the injustice of a CEO behaving exactly like a CEO.

That is, of course, if they’re not engaged with the matter of Geoffrey Barker who yesterday suggested female newsreaders should not wear cocktail frocks to work. In an inelegant and contorted act of onanism, Fairfax maintained the “rage” at its women’s interest site and offered an ad hominem attack on a man, its author claimed, some were calling Mr Misogynist.

For contemporary thinkers, this is not a polity but the sum of individual will. Brookes and people who want to drink flavoured coffees are responsible for delays to the NDIS. If Barker has not been charged with responsibility for all rape, he probably will be by the afternoon. Because the “Left”, such as it is, is not able to think about systems; about social and economic class. It has not only borrowed the cheesy stupidity of Andrew Bolt; it has borrowed the idea of his “individual” as well.

The “Left” now hungers for symbols of cultural identity and spurns the idea of class. Or, indeed, of material conditions.

Nowhere, for mine, is this more starkly drawn than in plaintive chalk on sidewalks as queer activism gives up its campaign for mental health reform and supplants it with the symbolic fight for an equality that already exists in law. Nowhere was this in sharper contrast than on the day of Gillard’s misogyny speech wherein many single parents (chiefly women) were consigned to Newstart.

The “Left” loved Sorry Day and, indeed, can’t get ENOUGH of Aboriginal Australia. They’re a very spiritual people, don’t you know. But on the day of the Closing the Gap report, the “Left” was far more interested in misogynists who had dared chasten Chrissie Swan for smoking while pregnant than to give a fuck that the mortality age-range between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians had widened.

But data no longer matters when we have stories about individuals. The economy is irrelevant in the face of cheese. By dividing us into individual slices of stupid, the Left serves up a convenience food from which the Right will profit.

So, you know, keep raging about marriage and newsreaders and “rape culture” and the number of flavoured coffees it would take to buy a cripple. And in September, do enjoy your new treasurer, Joe Hockey, who will borrow Akerman’s crayons to draw a picture of Milton Friedman’s cock-and-balls all over Keynes’ General Theory.


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65 thoughts on “The Left has lost its way through symbolism and stupidity

  1. j.oneill

    Helen, a splendidly splenetic piece but I was left with a conundrum that has bothered me for years. Where exactly is the “Left” in Australian politics? Of the parties represented in Parliament only the Greens have something resembling a “Left” agenda.

    The msm constantly remind us that such and such a Labor Member is of the ‘Left’ faction of the party, including to my complete surprise, the current PM. But I search in vain for a coherent analysis from anyone in the Labor Party that could be said to reflect a Left perspective.

    the day she was appointed PM by her parliamentary colleagues our ‘Left Faction’ PM stood on the steps of Parliament and said her three foreign policy priorities were (1) the US alliance; (2) maintaining the “mission” in Afghanistan; and (3) support for the State of Israel. Says it all really.

  2. JStephens

    A bit off topic but I’d like to clarify one thing regarding the single parents onto Newstart uproar. Yes it was disgusting but there is not a single mention that this actually had been happening since 1st July 2006, under the previous coalition govt. I know, because I was one of those single mothers who was unlucky to have separated from my violent ex-husband in 2007. Essentially there were 2 classes of single parents; those ‘lucky’ enough to have got in there before the deadline. Adele Horin wrote about it at the time in the SMH. So, when my youngest daughter turned 8 in 2008 I was unceremoniously dumped onto Newstart. As were all the other single parents post 1/7/06. The 80 odd thousand were merely brought into line with the rest of us. Think about it, they were also the more likely to have older kids anyway and thus more ability to work full time.
    Look, I think that ALL single parents have access to the higher pension payment and that poor unemployed people struggling on Newstart should also have a higher payment too. But to continue to protest about a group of lucky ‘grandfathered’ single parents being brought into line with the rest of us is a bit irksome. Where were the protests when the policy came into being almost 7 years ago? Or could it be that the uproar is due to the fact that it’s a Labor government?
    Disclaimer: I’m a Green, not a Labor voter

    Sorry Helen, but this has given me the shites since 2006

  3. Mark Duffett

    Wow, if this is calculated to piss both sides off, it succeeds brilliantly.

  4. Jonathan Maddox

    Seriously Helen — do you think we can’t campaign against endemic misogyny *at the same time* as engaging on macroeconomics and systemic racism? Have a little faith, and let us enjoy our rainbows.

  5. Gareth

    Chalk on sidewalks vs campaign for mental health reform.

    You can actually do both. I hate to say it, some people are better at the chalk rainbows than real hard work activism. Symbols are important, if only to increase visibility.

  6. Student T

    Very entertaining. Boy, I cannot wait to see the flack you are going to get from the Crikey commenters. Moderator get ready!

  7. Nathan Morsillo

    Hah! Swinging at left and right. Go Helen… Though I think there’s more about HOW the content you decry / want is delivered which impacts – because there is plenty of good stuff on both sides out there (in a longer form). But very few buying it or publishing to a front / ed page.

  8. pritu

    Thank you Helen, This echoes the frustration so many of us feel with the way politics is now done not only here but seemingly everywhere in the “democratic” world. Capitalism’s gargantuan butt sits solidly on every such polity and farts loudly and copiously through people like Bolt and Ackeman whenever issues of substance demand attention and thought. So we’re doomed to “enjoy” being ruled via the Right’s “tools” poncing about in lycra and bicycle helmets.

  9. Peter Murphy

    It’s nice the article uses “Left” (in scare quotes) rather than Left (without the quotes), but it doesn’t change the fact that leftish people are a pretty heterogeneous group. Some of them argue serious policy, some of them draw rainbow crossings, and some do both. Trying to put them into one bag is the sort of Janetalbrechtsensian rhetorical tactic that caused me to stop reading The Australian 10 years ago.

    Helen, I’ll be honest. I prefer the serious end of the spectrum. I live in Queensland, which is dealing with some serious issues regarding the LNP government’s privatisation agenda. There’s going to be a serious policy fight ahead. It is literally a “life-and-death” struggle: selling off the assets will reduce in such things as worse health services, and there will be people who will die as a result. So, yes, policy is deadly important.

    But none of that is incompatible with symbolism. I don’t mind people drawing rainbow crossings on roads. I don’t see it as incompatible. Maybe it’s generally not a problem.

    Isn’t this article pushing some sort of dualism that would cause Derrida to chortle?

  10. Robert Brown

    tldr; – piss off the lot of ya

  11. Peter CLARKE

    Nah. I read this because SM said it was “kick-arse”. But it isn’t. Says very little in a lot of typical Razerish over-written slipperiness. More angsty wriggling than useful or insightful analysis/commentary. Oh well.

  12. Peter Bayley

    @Robert Brown. I think you’ll find that actually IS a reply and you’re not too damned lazy at all.

  13. Hunt Ian

    I could hardly discern what was said through this rambling piece, with reference to “progressive” tax policy and to Geoffrey Barker, the Myer CEO, who had thumbed from Economics 1 textbook to find that increasing taxes was always inefficient and deprived people of the opportunity to spend money in his store. Apparently the left is “stupid” whatever that might mean. There is a saying about pots and kettles that Helen Razor should keep in mind. But to the substantive point, there is no basis for the claim that taxes are inefficient. Keynes did say that you should not reduce effective demand if you are dealing with an economy where lack of effective demand could lead to falling investment. But increasing the Medicare levy does not decrease effective demand, it simply switches it (a tiny bit, and not at all for high income earners who mostly save the top part of their earnings rather than spend it) from people who pay the tax to people who get paid disability support, who will, unlike high income earners, spend it all when they get it. What’s the problem with criticising the heartless and silly response of the Myer CEO?

  14. jennatilz mckrackin

    “…as they rage about the injustice of a CEO behaving exactly like a CEO”
    This is such dumb statement. a CEO’s job is to make strategic business decisions in their stewardship of shareholder funds. Their job is not to verbalize moronic brain farts that destroy the company brand, erode shareholder wealth and place their employees job security in danger. Whether those comments were true or not is not the point, even the most “barely literate tit” would know that its just a stupid decision to say such a thing in a public forum.

  15. Damien McBain

    Mark, I you’ve inadvertently hit a very important nail on the head. ‘Sides’. Left and Right. Labor and Liberal. I think the terminology and associated thinking bores the hell out of most Aussies these days and the only ones who still subscribe to it are the rusted-on zealots.

  16. aliso6

    Just when I thought the ridiculous debate over people with a disability was over – along comes tacky Helen. I’m one of those “cripples” and not happy with your article. None of you know what it means to be disabled and if you would only keep quiet. Trying to copy Deveney? Just put your legs underneath you and think a bit. I’m tired of reading and hearing enough rubbish already. And there are no conditions on that!

  17. stephen@feneleyandco

    The most important point you make here, Helen, is the focus on the individual event at the expense of the larger context. It was a feature of the debate over the misogyny speech that unqualified fans of the speech refused to acknowledge (indeed, were downright dismissive) of the problematic context – that the Prime Minister uttered her fine rhetoric on the same day her government was taking the knife to support for single parents. For a fuller understanding of what Helen is saying here today, I recommend you also read her critique of the #destroythejoint campaign against 2GB and Alan Jones.

  18. klewso

    How can you argue when Helen wields the razor at both sides?

  19. klewso

    The way they’ll both use “human shields” to get what they want.

  20. Frank Birchall

    Pretentious, narcissistic and, in part, unintelligible.

  21. jennatilz mckrackin

    Helen is a very entertaining writer but as her attacks on “destroying the joint” (see: http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/03/11/razer-why-destroy-the-joint-misses-the-point/ and the response http://www.kingstribune.com/index.php/the-shout/item/1745-why-i-will-not-be-lectured-on-feminism-by-that-woman) a few months ago demonstrated, she is rapidly disappearing up her own ar$e. Anything that’s slightly popular or mainstream must be ridiculed & destroyed so that her clique of uber cool hipster intellectuals can feel superior. next…

  22. Mark from Melbourne

    Harsh but fair. And funny. Never though of Bolt as a Kraft Cheddar Cheese slice. Although I would argue that Kraft slices dont have much to do with cheese…

  23. Andybob

    Was this an intended as an illustration of false dilemma ?

  24. Mark from Melbourne

    Golly, I’m awaiting moderation. I must be on someone’s blacklist because what I posted was innocuous.

  25. Mark from Melbourne

    Although I did mention the “Bolt” word. And Kraft…

  26. Simon

    An attack on the “left”, but the examples given are all centrist liberals

  27. Mark from Melbourne

    Ah ha. Did a test and it is the use of B**t word that dragged it off to be vetted!

  28. Altakoi

    Good on you. I think the Australian ‘Left’, at least the bit of it I can see from comfortably employed Canberra, is turning into American Liberals. They also cannot see economic or social class and obsess about mental hygeine as a replacement. My recent moment of unreality was being lectured by an asian-American about how he was oppressed and I had white-priviledge so I didn’t see it. I might have agreed, but we were both at an expensive restaurant in Aspen. The point being that no-one has to lecture me about priviledge in Aspen, but I do wonder how he (a well paid lawyer) lecturing a few process workers in the rust belt, or indeed the waiter on minimum wage, about white privilege would fly. If we go down that path then its all middle class welfare and secret mexican maids.

  29. Limited News

    The Left should pay attention to Prof Steve Keen. Start talking about debt and take back macroeconomics from the banksters.

  30. Sam Binder

    Evidence of a great brain for government funded radio?

  31. Adam K

    Feels more like a personal rant than a piece designed to actually convert anyone to your position. I imagine you do have something useful to say, but it’s hard to discern it through this.

  32. Pusscat

    Damn, at least two other people have already bagged the clever Razer/razor pun I was planning…
    That said, this writing is SO infectiously energetic, making points I’ve seen made elsewhere in that awful whinging tone that so many of us love to hate. Certainly not the average dirge about what’s wrong with our polity/media/society/ notional constructions of reality etc.
    To redactively quote something I first read in chalk: This Rocks!

  33. GF50

    Oh my word Helen. BRAVO! hooray!. Plain speaking and so TRUE! More please!

  34. shepherdmarilyn

    And the lovely Gillard said she would again be jailing refugee children while remaining silent on the abuse and torture of refugees on Manus and Nauru.

  35. mikeb

    Excellent work Helen. Both sides deserve a kick in the guts at times – if just to wake them up.

    …..but I’ll keep Kraft singles cheese as a guilty pleasure with reserved fridge space alongside King Island Double Brie et al.

  36. Damien

    It is clear that, in these modern times, tear-streaked faces are much more interesting than substantial policy issues. We want to see cute, impaired children hobbling bravely towards the camera and plucky carers doing the impossible on a daily basis for love. The approach instantly reduces people with disability to objects of collective pity – charity cases requiring charity and care rather than citizens entitled to independence equal to others, liberty from the cold hand of charity and the disabling effects of dependency and caring, however well-intentioned. The point about sacrificing a daily lite soy latte for the NDIS simply perpetuates the dependency perspective, as does the Government’s ill-considered name for the NDIS – Disability Care. This is an example of where the symbolism does matter because it defines how this scheme, like so many others will be shaped into the future.

  37. kris s

    ‘Twiggy’, as he is called is derided by the writer, who complains about thoughtlessness and trite symbolism over two pages, would have met,helped and employed more first Australians in one year than she has used a point props or punchlines over a lifetime.

  38. mattsui

    I’m glad to see Heleln pop up on Crikey occasionally still. Not sure I understood the article, though.
    The left-right paradigm would really be better abandoned – read comments on the ABC or any commercial news website and see how often sensible arguements are dismissed as the ravings of a leftist.
    Truth is, there are many compassionate and even environmentally conscious folk whose economic outlook puts them on the right, just as there are those on he left who would turn their backs on humanity for the sake of the environment. In both camps are people capable of intelligent debate…. and some idiots too.
    Then there’s the vast majority of us who think of themselves not as lefties or conservatives but as people who want things…. they vote accordingly, rendering these left and right machinations moot.

  39. 81dvl

    Crikey!…. More Helen Razer – what’s not to like?

  40. Gavin Moodie

    I agree with j.oneill. Razer conflates the left with the ALP and diverse other views, some of which are libertarian, some of which are from cultural elites and some of which sympathise with disadvantaged people. But socialists have never accepted the ALP and the others as anything other than betrayers of the class they claim to represent.

  41. Flowenswell

    So much real contention. There’s nothing easy in much of this discussion, which is the object of the piece (for all those who sought to artfully dismiss it in txt msg style–doesn’t happen much at Crikey, but always so hopelessly meaningless).
    It might be that the best sign of a thoughtful mind is that it can be changed, and if you can reliably predict how a commentator is going to react there is just no reason reading it, unless all you want to do is ‘win’ the argument. The problem with commentators is that they can make an extremely complex problem involving committed, informed and expert minds seem simple by virtue of shared ideology and rhetorical flourish. This does nothing to inform the general public because they want to hear only what they want to hear, making it easy to sit on their side and perform the right rituals and gestures to reassure themselves that they have a valid position. Which is fine in regard to gay marriage (we’re all thoughtful, respectful and creative, right?), but really doesn’t do much for the economic disadvantage experienced by many Aboriginal Australians or single parents and their children.
    I feel reasonably assured (at least hopeful) that there is enough momentum behind marriage equality for it to become a regular and legitimate thing here in the next decade. Unfortunately, despite widespread goodwill, I fear that I won’t live to see the Gap Closed or a majority of single parents and their children living equitably and comfortably in my lifetime.

  42. AR

    Helen – your third paragraph is JS Mills de jour, “better a Socretes dissatisfied than a fool content.”
    Apart from that allusion, probably utterly accidental,the attempted verbal pyrotechnics (all damp squibs unfortunately)was like dining on white sliced & fizzy pop,bloated yet empty.
    The heading said more than the tedious verbiage. “needs to do betterly”

  43. Caz Lake

    Are you, essentially, arguing that the left has adopted the same ideologies of individualism that have traditionally been right-wing?

  44. Simon Mansfield

    On the money Helen. The white middle class Left of Australia today is sickening to listen to. Crikey reeks of it day after day. So nice to see a mirror held up to us all. Would be nice to see a matching piece from someone like Kerr who use to lay into the right in the same way in Crikey of the old days.

  45. philippa scott

    Rape culture is real. Everything else you said is true.

  46. Julia Birchwood

    i showered today but i still smell of sardines and camembert.

    what should i do helen?

  47. Pipp The Curious

    This article makes so many valid points, and in such an intelligent, humourous manner. I am so utterly perplexed by this “left”, “right”, “male”, “female” antagonism, and wonder whether it will ever be possible to offer a considered opinion, without being sent straight to jail, directly to jail, do not pass go. I wish I could forward my own thoughts with such clarity, but unfortunately I do not have the gift. I believe that all the people with this kind of passion, and the integrity to speak against rigid opposition could successfully run the country as a ” Council of Elders”, better than those who prostitute themselves for party endorsement, and ultimately for the public vote.

  48. David Hand

    Great piece of writing, Helen. I think that putting up Bolt and Ackerman as the champions of the right and then lampooning them is entertaining but superficial.

    The real champions of what you and Crikey would refer to as “the right” are Keating, Costello, Tanner and Turnbull. Eva Cox’s thoughtful and numbers-backed writing doesn’t produce change because both major parties have embraced the modern, open and flexible economy we have in 2013 and that has stood by us so well for the past 25 years. No one is going to change it any time soon because it has widespread support and it works.

    All we get from the urban intellectual commentators such as Marr are pained and emotive outbursts about greed, neoliberals (whatever that means- but they must be evil) and it’s all caused by Murdoch brainwashing stupid people in western Sydney to vote Liberal.

    It leaves Marr and Cox out on a limb from most people, beloved of urban intellectuals but alienated from the suburbs, about who Marr in particular, can barely hide his contempt.

    Hockey will be Treasurer in September because “the Left” as you describe them make a lot of noise but cannot mount an intellectual challenge to the prevailing economic policy developed in the Hawke / Keating years, perpetuated by Howard / Costello and then tampered with and damaged by the inept and untalented Swan.

  49. Tom Jones

    So many cliches, so much Ennui, so few insights. No light bulbs going off here, just a lot of mixed metaphors.

  50. prembrowne

    I was trying to read this piece but halfway through it started to disappear up its own a#@e, and became too annoying to bother with. As others here have pointed out, Helen’s piece is over-written; big on tiresome metaphors, small on presenting a cohesive point.
    Does she think ignorant comments from CEOs are expected therefore not worth commenting on? And what is so wrong with making life choices as an ‘individual’, rather than as part of a movement? Is no one intelligent enough to make decisions that are positive for themselves and their community?
    As mattsui and others have pointed out, an article about ‘left’ vs ‘right’, in 2013, seems archaic, no matter how much you decorate it with interesting words strung together in slightly irritating fashion. Few people I know identify with these ‘sides’ anymore.
    Unfortunately this article is no more insightful or useful than any from the other media commentators and groups Helen is complaining about here.

  51. matthews chris

    In her rush to contrarianism Razer misses the point, which is to point out through our tweets, our actions, our comments that we are part of civil society, and that as individuals we are all connected by our obligtion to act for the good of all.

  52. prembrowne

    ‘The left’ has lost its way not through stupidity but through having become obsolete. It was once the voice of the people. Now the people have their voice in every tweet and post and blog and self-righteous (like this) late-night comment on Crikey forums. Same for ‘the right’. Chalk on the pavement counts too, it’s just retro-tweeting.
    Helen is aiming this squarely at… who? Pretty much everyone it seems – perhaps in Helen’s mind, Helen Razer is the only sane, sensible person left in Australia who is capable of seeing things as they really are.
    Joe will be YOUR treasurer too, Helen; perhaps we all need to take responsibility for the way things are rather than blaming everyone else.

  53. David Hand

    Great piece of writing, Helen. I think that putting up That man from 10 and Ackerman as the champions of the right and then lampooning them is entertaining but superficial.

    The real champions of what you and Crikey would refer to as “the Right” are Keating, Costello, Tanner and Turnbull. Eva Cox’s thoughtful and numbers-backed writing doesn’t produce change because both major parties have embraced the modern, open and flexible economy we have in 2013 and that has stood by us so well for the past 25 years. No one is going to change it any time soon because it has widespread support and it works.

    All we get from the urban intellectual commentators such as Marr are pained and emotive outbursts about greed, neol iberals (whatever that means- but they must be evil) and it’s all caused by Mur doch brainwashing stu pid people in western Sydney to vote L iberal.

    It leaves Marr and Cox out on a l imb from most people, beloved of urban intellectuals but al ienated from the suburbs, about who Marr in particular, can barely hide his cont empt.

    Hockey will be Treasurer in September because “the Left” as you describe them make a lot of noise but cannot mount an intellectual challenge to the prevailing economic policy developed in the Hawke / Keating years, perpetuated by Howard / Costello and then tampered with and damaged by the inept and untalented Swan.

  54. neil busacca

    The left is woefuly fragmented but as always the right is relatively together in their love of money any will do and say anything to get and preserve it.

    A perfect example of disharmony on the left was 2 socialists arguing at the marxist conference about 451 visas. I didn’t catch the names of the guy and gal.

    The female thought 451s were great as they provided a backdoor formigration and that anybody who wanted to migrate to australia should be able to without hindrance.
    The male wanted 451s abolished as big businness were using them to bring in cheaper foreign workers to replace equally skilled local workers and undermine unions.
    I’m sure if the IPA or andrew bolt were on the sidelines watching this debate that would have been hysterically laughing.

  55. dirt armature

    If La Razer is arguing that attacking individuals who self identify as right wing or can be labelled as right wing is lazy and makes political debate cartoonish and stupid–yes, agreed. There’s a lot of political posing that firms up superficially constructed left and right wing political identities based on nothing more than piling on to a (substitute left or right here) wing person or policy. ‘I hate Andrew Bolt therefore I’m left wing’ or ‘I hate the ABC therefore I’m a libertarian’ When the ALP became neoliberalised in terms of ideology and culture in the 1980s the specturm of older right and left wing positions was made redundant. Liberalism remains the only game in town. The question is what sort of liberalism: neoliberalism, labourism, social democratic, conservatism, environmental?

  56. Shane Maloney

    Yet another incomprehensible Razer brain fart.

  57. neil busacca

    cheesy grins all round.
    evryone is it seems relating cheese to politicians

    Michael Gove (UK)yesterday “There is a sense sometimes of exasperation with the political classes. We do sometimes seem, the three of us, the pasteurised cheese on the cheeseboard, and then Ukip is the rich, ripe, stinky alternative, and people think: ‘Don’t mind having a slice of that.'”

  58. Patriot

    Helen’s writing style is perhaps best suited to radio broadcasting.

    Today’s left in Australia includes anti-industry Greens and trade unions, immigrant ethnic minorities and anti-immigration protectionists, religious fundamentalists, atheists and gay rights activists. The only thing they all have in common is that they want a massive State that taxes business to within an inch of its life and intervenes in every facet of our lives with different, often conflicting, goals for every group. The result we see now should have predicted from the start.

  59. Tristram

    Ah Helen Razer, queen of the false dichotomy.

    It is possible to campaign for gay marriage AND worry about mental health (there is some overlap too. Oh no, symbols!). It’s also possible to call out misogyny whilst worrying about the economy. Just like you can endlessly write inane articles about Margaret Cho and My Kitchen Rules, but also pump out pointed political diatribes.

    And in the time it took for you to compose ten boring tweets about the footy, I drew one chalk crossing on the road. Nothing too radical, but a tiny bit of activism that boosts queer visibility.

  60. Clinky Laszlo

    TOTALLY AGREE, HELEN. The left is now a massive steaming turd. And the roaming pack of certain outraged females on social media makes me ashamed of what Australian feminism has become.

  61. David Irving (no relation)

    Sigh. Having recently told Feminism what it’s doing rong, Ms Razer takes an ill-aimed swipe at teh Left.

    I used to think she was clever and funny. Some of us grow up, I guess.

  62. Caleb Edwards

    I think mostly your argument is flawed and that people, for the most part are indeed more rational than you give them credit for. Of course you could be forgiven for your conclusions if your only contact with progressive Australians is via Facebook, forums, and the media (Crikey included), but that ignores what is clear; the internet does not count.

  63. Venise Alstergren

    HELEN: A splendid piece of up-and-at-’em writing although, I have to say I envy you for your ability to tell where the left ends and the right begins. If the Labor Party hadn’t become a mirror-image of the bible-bashing Nashos and Libs, and if the social media hadn’t politically corrected our cultural horizons, we may have retained a uniquely balanced mixture of Labor and the others. If only!

  64. Elbow Patches

    Ironically, the left is proud to be so right-on while the right has always been culturally left-behind.

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