Our most read story last Friday — by a lot — was Helen Razer’s reflections on Hillary Clinton’s Australian tour. It should come as no surprise that Razer was not a fan of what she declared a “scented bath of toxic feminism”, but readers were somewhat divided. Some stood up for Clinton herself, while others sought to defend Julia Gillard (who appeared alongside her). Is it fair to lump our former PM in with Clinton?
Eva Cox writes: What happened to feminism as movement to correct the basic gender biases that saw macho masculinity decide what mattered and denied the social basis of relationships any value? This personalised version leaves out so much that it fits with neolib crap.
Stephen Gill writes: There was without doubt a level sexism and misogyny in the US election that in my experience was unprecedented. It was crude it was vile and it was deplorable. People who want to use the argument that thats what we should expect when someone is in politics are apologists for this bad behavior. It should be called out for what it is: abuse. There should be penalties for the instigators.
Andrea writes: Helen your mind was made up about what you would encounter at this event before your attendance. I have no firm view on Hillary Clinton but regarding Julia Gillard I do, and she was indeed a victim of misogyny in her tenure as PM. “Deliberately barren”, “ditch the witch” and other sentiments abounded, even here, regarding her treachery when male politicians doing the same would not be judged.
As for comments saying she was not a good PM, I vehemently disagree. Look at her record on legislation and what she was up against — not just the opposition but a wafer thin margin and Rudd in the curtains.
Lorraine Paul writes: I feel sorry that you had to cover this type of middle- to upper-class crap, Helen. As for myself, I wouldn’t walk across the road to listen to Clinton. As you have just demonstrated, she would have nothing to say for the (un)privileged. A scion of a particular type of American who is unable to see the injustices and inequalities inherent in the capitalist system and fiddles around on the edges firmly convinced that the system will work “if only”.
Andrew Self: Hi Benjamin, thanks for the article. I wrote the Overland piece you linked to. I think we’re probably in agreement on 80-90% of this stuff. I am also deeply uncomfortable that a UBI is being championed by the tech bros in Silicon Valley, and I can see how a bad UBI could be repressive.
On the other hand, I think that unless we discuss and advocate for better ways of organising our economy (not sure the current system is working too well), nothing will ever improve. I worry that the left seems timid about advancing new ideas, spooked by the prospect that the 1% will find some way of twisting any new initiative to serve its own ends. Sure, there are risks, but that’s why we need really good and vigorous debate about the specifics, to identify and shut those risks down.
As you say, talking about a UBI for the medium term doesn’t displace the need to make advances in the short term on industrial protections, minimum wage increases, etc. But we can do both. John Quiggin, for example, has done some good thinking in an Australian context about how we could transition to a UBI (plus, perhaps, a jobs guarantee) from where we are right now, how much that would cost, and how it could be funded in an equitable way.
MJM writes: From this sorry catalogue you have omitted reference to Abbott’s commitment to the costly search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, missing since March 2014 and still not found.
“Malaysia is just one more example of Australia’s drop-dead hopeless ‘commitment’ to anything close to truth-speaking about its neighbours.” We are a dreadful neighbour — there is no gain in speaking this awful truth.
Paul writes: Sorry but isn’t Bishop the one who was touted, by all of the Australian media, as Australia’s finest foreign affairs minister when she took the Security Council seat that she tried to stop Labor getting?
Competence has never been a word you could use to describe her, or any other L/NP Minister. Privileged, arrogant, and wealthy are probably corrupt better descriptors. It is great that the truth of the Turnbull government is coming out day by day, we can only hope that it is reported widely enough for Turnbull to suffer the ultimate political cost: loss of government and his own seat.
Arky writes: It’s not really a good idea to comment on other peoples’ elections if you want to maintain good relations. It’s also ineffective. Individuals can indulge in “truthspeaking” for no benefit, governments have broader responsibilities.
Criticising the state of democracy in Malaysia all these one-party years would also be a de facto backhander to half the world’s governments. And for what?
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