Blinded By A Wink—Tony Abbott

In sawdust baloney just to hand, about it the Australian Prime Minister was seen winking. He did so in the style of Sid James as he engaged in a talk-back radio conversation with an impoverished and elderly Australian woman who identified herself as a telephone sex worker.

This just in: Tony Abbott has poor manners and a very dim sense of occasion. Were we not all adequately alerted to these shortcomings when he consoled Australian soldiers in 2011 about the death of one of their fellows with the phrase “shit happens”? How elegiac. Of course, this particular brand of shit—the death of an Australian at the hands of Taliban insurgents—was made possible by ongoing participation in a ludicrous war waged by a government in which he was a minister. It wasn’t just a piece of bad luck but a foreseeable tragedy.

Rather like the tragedy any reasonable economist can foresee unfolding in this nation following Treasurer Hockey’s budget. It’s fucking Milton Friedman the Musical and it rests entirely on the assumption that the unrestricted wealth of the few will lead the many out of poverty.

And it is this that is the genuine scandal; not that Abbott Is A Douche but that the theories that drive his governance are mathematically fucked.

Of course there are those who will argue with passion that this evidence of Abbott’s “criminal” character will set the swinging voters on to the side of the good; that his latest gaffe will convince everyday Australians to oust him. This, as I am regularly told by the conspicuously compassionate souls of social media, is viral utilitarianism. The ends justify the means.

Except, the means have come to be ends themselves. These means will signify nothing to those who already voted for the prick with full knowledge (and even admiration for the fact) that Abbott is an inappropriate duffer. They will signify everything to those already opposed. And here, the “protest” becomes an end in itself signifying revulsion for nothing but a man.

There are plenty of people who will see this moment as not just evidence but as a crime itself and if you don’t believe me, have a look at the “news” sites tomorrow which will be full of Abbott Is a Misogynist Who Slut-Shamed A Sex Worker. I am serious. Someone has a bottle of pinot grigio pre-emptively bought with the spoils of their idiotic commission which says “Abbott hates women and especially sex workers and especially old sex workers”.

You know what? Maybe he doesn’t or maybe he does but the plain fact is: he believes that this trickle-down shit actually works. He believes that lifting restriction on supply will lift people out of poverty. And so, quite possibly, it is not Abbott’s “lack of compassion” nor is it his amusement at the travails of aging sex workers that will dump us all save for Gina in the duplicitous shit of what liberal democracy has become.

The only thing that will deliver us from the dung heap is our ability to identify it. And it does not reside in “bad character” but in bad policy.

I don’t care if Abbott winks like Sid James in a Carry On film. He can nudge-nudge all he wants and just as much as the men of the ALP Right for all I care. For the 98th time. It’s not the man’s character. It’s his voodoo economics. Supply side theory will ruin this nation and not poor taste.

Joe Hockey danced. Tony Abbott winked. Christopher Pyne has a posh voice. If you’re looking for offence, find it in the budget. Otherwise, who the fuck cares.

It is not the work of the modern state to be moral. Of course, organisations such as Get Up have successfully convinced us that the government’s chief work is to Set an Example through Good Behaviour. But this is hooey. it is the government’s work to manage the economy. And Abbott Hockey is doing a shitty job of that with the noxious, faith-based idea that the only thing in an economy that should be regulated is poverty.

And every time we move further into this assessment of government for its “character” we lose sight of government business. The ends become the means.

Say it with me now: governments collect and distribute revenue. They set the terms for the domestic economy and print the currency and shit. That is what they do. Sure, they pass a few laws and build diplomatic and trade relations. But the core work is money money money money. They make fiscal policy. NOT MORALS.

Abbott slut-shamed a sex worker. I DO NOT CARE. I mean, obviously I feel bad for the poor lady. And I feel absolute revulsion for the sort of person who sniggers at misfortune and what was in this case the sound of true desperation. But as a utilitarian (most of the time; I reserve the weekend for treating means as ends) I feel bad for ALL the poor ladies and men who will not be served by our pious advancement of means above ends.

I imagine some of my favourite ALP leaders slut-shamed sex-workers after a meal of sweet-and-sour and I DO NOT CARE. I care about the eight hour day. I care that the nation is being led by a sort of divinity economics that can only increase poverty and diminish opportunity. I care that the things a government can actually do are the things in which we are losing interest.

And I care that public opinion is being led by the sort of viral inanity that eclipses ends.
pjsmnryj

Finally. Please fuck off to your Emotional Girl Power Page if you’re going to leave “But Cant We Care About Both?” in the comments. Rome, or, in this case, liberal democracy is burning. SO, no. We can’t.

69 comments for “Blinded By A Wink—Tony Abbott

  1. Scoffy
    May 21, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    I know Helen – but it’s one of the few benefits I can wring from this lot. I don’t need another analysis of what’s wrong with their policies. I just need a laugh – albeit a rather hollow one.

    • May 21, 2014 at 8:10 pm

      But I think the constant laughing is destructive. For those who support Abbott’s Father Knows Best policies and genuinely believe in satisfying his surplus-boner, the response from the ‘left’ of ‘ohmy how rude’ will do nothing but convince them in the myth of ‘political correctness’.
      In short, the left has become what the right has long suspected them to be.

  2. NotaProf
    May 21, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    But it’s still ok to laugh? I wouldn’t give up my right to mock, mostly along with Pauline Pantsdown and her crew of merry meme makers, but I agree with what you say about the Left being found wanting on the actual analysis of the budget and stewing in personality politics. It’s a scary budget, incredibly divisive. But I think that’s what the LNP are after.

    “The tragedy is not that things are broken. The tragedy is that things are not mended again.”
    ― Alan Paton, Cry, The Beloved Country

    • May 21, 2014 at 8:47 pm

      I understand the argument about mockery. But I am also concerned that our new and growing instinct is to react to representation and not reality.

  3. Maj
    May 21, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    I wouldn’t say we’re blinded by this stuff. Sure it explodes for a day and is then forgotten… as is twitter’s MO. It was Pyne and cunt the other day. However, looking at other mediums and conversations in my everyday life, people are picking out the tangible issues, the real impact of changes. People on my facebook feed who work in health, education, single parents, families etc are talking from their own point of view and expertise about the real impact the budget will have in their lives/industry – and these friends would represent a range of voting outcomes from last election.

    Some jumped all over Keating’s arrogance in the day, just in those days it was the preserve of the newspaper cartoonists to make it a fuss, not hoards of people making memes.

    • May 21, 2014 at 9:33 pm

      As mentioned, Maj,it is my belief that ‘representation’ has eclipsed reality. I understand that we ma have individual friends that feel or anticipate the feeling of the sting of Abbott Hockey. But, much purported ‘left’ discourse or any discussion or protest in opposition to neo-liberal policy is made in terms of moral character. This has long been the case, of course. But now it is so very widespread and has begun to stand in for an actual opinion.
      These are not my thoughts alone. Peter Singer has written about it in his straight-ahead utilitarian way and it was the cornerstone of Baudrillard’s work.

  4. Bill
    May 21, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    Amen. The primary demand that we place on our elected representatives should be that they’re competent. The more we demand that they ‘share our values’, the more bullshit we’ll hear about early alarm clocks, curricula, the English canon, and the meaning of marriage blah blah blah.

    • May 21, 2014 at 9:29 pm

      I agree. Obvi. Let’s have governance that is as algorithmic as possible. I do not care about the identities of those who make policy. I care only for their policy.

  5. Rose
    May 21, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    I agree that calling him a cunt and laughing at him is a waste of everyone’s time but I don’t know if you’re sufficiently acknowledging the role of class interest. Sometimes you write like there is such thing as a policy we can all agree on and Hockey and Abbott just getting it wrong. As someone on twitter said about our George Osborne, “He’s doing a brilliant job. Just not the one we want.” Whether or not the Right believe trickle-down economics is good for proles is an important distinction, because if they do then you can make a mathematical argument. If they don’t care, then the question is whether we should bother trying to change their whole ethical and philosophical worldview or just get on with organising.

    • May 21, 2014 at 9:38 pm

      I do think about the role of false consciousness in the maintenance of class interests, Rose. Abbott’s supporters do not stand to gain from these policies but they believe in the possibility of upward mobility. Blah. I’m sure I don’t need to tell a Red Rose this sort of stuff.
      I am just for exposing ideology. And I think this fixation on representation and character occludes that. It becomes a matter of Who Is Nice.

  6. Rose
    May 21, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Aah, I think I misread the “algorithmic as possible” line about your non-interest in the human qualities of your leaders – I was imagining some kind of futuristic governance-by-spreadsheet fantasy rather than just more attention paid to macroeconomics and it read naively. Should have had more faith, my bad.

    • May 21, 2014 at 10:10 pm

      Just a plea to care less about identity in politics.

  7. Baiba
    May 21, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    I caught the end of free education and the start of HECS. HECS is now an enormous amount. And graduates are working for free in work trials. Menzies in the post war period did enable the poor to progress by offering scholarships to returned servicemen. There are ways to deliver policy that does show care for those who require a step up. It’s hard to divorce personality from the equation,Helen, when Tony’s face says it all. He doesn’t seem to care and that really shows. If a poker face delivery of how the budget will help people like the caller in the ling term had taken place, it would appear professional in a leader. It’s really really hard to go beyond that lack of care and school boy sniggering I’m afraid.

    • May 22, 2014 at 9:14 am

      Again, B. I feel this stuff has totally obscured all of the other stuff.

  8. sarah
    May 22, 2014 at 3:39 am

    ooh but aren’t he awful

  9. matt
    May 22, 2014 at 8:13 am

    I agree entirely Helen however when engaging in debates with those support this govt policies. Having this to show then as the man in charge has taken the wind from some Bogan sails I must admit.

    • May 22, 2014 at 9:13 am

      You do understand that large numbers of people will be okay with the wink and the smile? That it will be evidence to many of nothing but that Tone is a Bit of a Devil?

  10. Carlene
    May 22, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Have already seen a no. of comments to this effect “bit of a lad” “bit cheeky” and what’s wrong with those lefty wowsers. So quite frankly if those said lefty wowsers think they’re on a winner with but “look at his character” then they need to think (was going to say again but, you know, something has to have been already done once for an ” again” to apply).

    The economics that underpins this government & drives the budget is bad theory that leads to bad policy that can only result in bad outcomes for all but a few.

    As you so rightly say, among other great points, “Supply side theory will ruin this nation and not poor taste.”

    Also imagine a system of networking & who you know resulting in your child be recommended as a candidate for anything – outrageous & would never happen in either side of politics, business, not for profit organisations, sport, art, film, TV. Bad Tony – you are awful. I demand a character based election now!

    • May 22, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      The thing is, the right is so much better than this character-based politics that the left will ever be,C. “Juliar” plays while “Joliar” doesn’t because progressives are not ultimately committed to this morality-as-policy stuff.

  11. Carlene
    May 22, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    I agree the left is bad at it & it shows in the awkwardness of the “slogans”.

  12. Elizabeth
    May 22, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    great piece, a timely reminder we need to stop expecting compassion or morality from these guys. They are lawyers after all. let them get on with defending f**k ups as they were educated to do.

    • May 22, 2014 at 1:26 pm

      And even if they do deliver compassion and morality (and I believe Hockey is actually compassionate and genuinely believes his father Knows Best shit is good for the nation) what then?

  13. Carlene
    May 22, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    I don’t know why we even try when we could just go for discussing good policy as a response

  14. Julian
    May 22, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    “Let’s have governance that is as algorithmic as possible” I like this. Most of what govt does needn’t be politicised at all. It is not a toy. Govt is politicied by the division that occurs when you create a party. I am a unionist, I am a businessman, I like leaves (these are party names!). By electing party representatives instead of people representatives we get into situations where a Unionist who likes leaves becomes preposterous, self defeating then a Carbon Tax for example, becomes impossible. Surely a govt that wanted to find the best solution to global warming, was not rife with the corruption of parties and vested interests could just address it and move on to the next crisis. Anyway vote independent

    • May 22, 2014 at 7:02 pm

      Just pretty keen on getting the identity out of politics.
      Identity politics in the field is fine. When it is used to decry (“He can’t govern because he is a mean man”) or valorise (“she is a lovely lady and therefore good for politics”) it is equally damaging.

  15. Glenn
    May 22, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    Hi Helen, Haven’t you just published an article in Crikey pointing out the relevance of Smoking Joe’s daddy issues and narcissism to the formation of the LNP budget position?

    • May 22, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      I can only presume you are not a subscriber and have not read the piece but just the headline.
      I talk about how Joe uses his family moralising to make a point that plays within the electorate. Joe, too, is using defence ad hominem as a way to convey and reproduce his morality. To describe something is not to endorse it. Just like reading a headline is not actually understanding the article to which it is appended.
      But. Hey. Never miss a chance to “call me out online”. Even if your suspicion is based on a three second reading of a headline.

      • Glenn
        May 22, 2014 at 5:42 pm

        Unfortunately my confusion is not because i haven’t read the article as I have read both this one and the Crikey piece. Maybe I am just not able to grasp the subtleties of your argument/s. I will keep persisting (re read) and see if the penny drops. Not ‘calling you out’ but just verbalising my confusion perhaps too briefly.

        • May 22, 2014 at 6:14 pm

          I can assure you that I did not ascribe Joe’s morality to his childhood experience. I explained how he used the father model as a myth. Perhaps the error was mine in failing to communicate clearly.

        • May 22, 2014 at 7:00 pm

          I urge you, perhaps, to comment on the Crikey article if you have access.
          I think this is one of many comments in the article that makes it plain thst I am critiquing Hockey’s defence ad hominem; hardly endorsing it.

          There is, perhaps, nothing more “entitled” than to permit one’s own experience to stand in for everyone’s experience. It is, in fact, messianic.

  16. Simmo
    May 22, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    In order for the discussion you describe to gain prominence, it has to be audible. The same conversation held by the same crowd in the same dank bar will continue to enjoy the same level of ineffectiveness. So, whilst claiming the title of Day’s Best Demolition in 140 Characters is, indeed, meaningless, it may entice the clicking of a subsequently-posted link and then lead to…who knows?
    The powerless outrage, if used as a gateway to attract interest, could actually be turned into a positive. (It’s not as if The Marketing Unit of The Left is going to struggle to find wall-space for their next award, are they?) And if, through this modern chain of events, a few minds are brought to consider the real issue, then that’s a good thing. Be honest, no-one other than the author ever read those earnest pamphlets of yesteryear.
    So,yeah, a witless comment posted under a picture of Abbott & his daughters achieves nothing on its own bit it’s not impossible that it could lead somewhere with a purpose. Just occasionally.
    It is, after all, why I’m here now.

    • May 22, 2014 at 5:27 pm

      So if all of this clicktivism and hilarity works, why is the left disappearing?

      • Simmo
        May 22, 2014 at 5:40 pm

        I, for one, have little idea of what the public representatives of the left actually propose, which doesn’t help attract support. Dare I suggest that now might be a good time to clearly differentiate their policy position from that of others?

        • May 22, 2014 at 7:01 pm

          Sorry. I’m not getting you.
          What am I not doing that I should be doing?

  17. Glenn
    May 22, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Ok, me again. In the Crikey article aren’t you saying that Hockey’s family morality, rather than just being used to “make a point that plays with the electorate”, is to be played out on a grand scale via a combination of his narcissism and his position of power. i.e. “And this is why a generation of young job-seekers will find life impossible. Their dole payment is Joe’s quality time with dad. It must be withheld for their own good.” Is this not a case of flawed character (among a team of similarly flawed characters) leading to bad policy?
    Why is calling out Abbott’s sexism a waste of time but calling out Joe’s narcissism (which I think is an excellent point worth making) worth several hundred words in a Crikey column? I agree that the progressive Left’s obsessive focus on calling out ‘sexism, misogyny etc’ is a diversion that serves the status quo. I think that an examination and discussion of a powerful person’s character and how that might inform their policy agendas is worth having in addition to critiquing actual policy. I guess this puts me in the ‘ can’t we do both ‘ category. I struggle to see how Abbott’s titilation upon hearing a tale of this woman’s distress is not worth discussing?

    • May 22, 2014 at 7:07 pm

      I was talking about how Hockey uses the family myth and the father figure to gain approbation from the electorate. He does this by means of ad hominem.
      I am describing, quite precisely, how Joe relates his own experience with a “relatable” “narrative” to that of the electorate.
      I am not saying this is a good thing. I am saying that this is a bad thing.
      I am also saying that his charge against “the age of entitlement” is gainsaid by his own method of entitlement.
      I am not talking about the man’s character. I am talking about his methods.
      In “calling out” Abbott’s (real or imagined sexism; late news reports indicate he may have known who the woman was as she is a talkback regular) we think we are discovering something that is not there.
      In looking at the tried and true methods of Hockey with the father myth, I am trying to talk about how he is using consciously (not ‘unconsciously’ as Abbott’s “gaffe” was alleged to be) particular methods favoured by the right and enabled by the current age of “personal story telling”.

    • May 22, 2014 at 7:09 pm

      You can see how Hockey is doing this on purpose, right?

  18. Simmo
    May 22, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    All we’ve got is “we’re nicer”. As you said, it’s actually all about the money, so the ideals are fine but how will they be achieved? Never been a better time, everyone is interested at the moment.

    • May 22, 2014 at 7:15 pm

      m8. I have said it before. When a culture shifts its attention from material reality to representation, there is a fatal failure of poetical engagement.
      What eh fuck point is thee in being interested in ‘Left’ politics is all that is on the left is a bunch of awareness and ‘calling out’?
      There is nothing there. There is just an interest in the symbols that point to the existence of something long since gone. This is a disease of the age and extends far beyond mere left politics. See in in famous-for-doing-nothing celebrity, the everyone-has-an-opinion and my-feelings-and-personal-story MATTER culture.
      If all that people are interested in really is symbols and identity and not forceful social change, then we are fucked. All we have is a symbolic order more and more detached from actual power and the material world.
      That is the problem.
      Read Baudrillard and get back to me.

  19. peter__
    May 22, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Jesus Helen, it’s like you’ve never met an actual human.

    You reckon dissertations on the nationalisation of the means of production is going to pull the punters in? Or even sensible and humane pension policy?You’re as deluded as the clicktivists you (possibly rightly) deride. Find me one piece of evidence that promotion of sensible (or otherwise) economic policy has won the left a single vote in the last twenty years.

    If you haven’t noticed our political system is “biggest bullshitter takes all” system, and most Australians seem pretty comfortable with that. So I’m not sure if your being pure or autistic, but you’re not supporting the eight hour day, or bringing a single person out of poverty.

    So by all means work out what’s wrong with the system, but don’t call us back until you’ve worked out a viable way to fix it. If it doesn’t involve pointing out that Tony Abbott’s a cocksucker that’s fine. But if it does, I’m down with that too.

    Love your work!

    -P

    • May 22, 2014 at 7:39 pm

      SO. You’re cool with folks feeling as though they’re informed by means of what has become an almost daily game of gotcha. I’m not.
      I would rather people feel ignorant of politics and unable to comment rather than have the illusion that they can see from where the power comes.
      My work is addressed only to those who have an interest in politics.

  20. Simmo
    May 22, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    The increase in activity around this topic on platforms like Twitter is indicative of a sincere interest in social justice. To dismiss it as either purely self-interest or star-fucking only forces people to seek alternative sources of representation. The left, or anyone else, can either recognise that, accept it and use it for a positive purpose, or ignore it and wither.
    The attention of apathetic Australia is currently focused, as never before, on the question of social justice but the answers need to be practical & achievable or they’ll go back to the footy.

    • May 22, 2014 at 7:48 pm

      And so you see this focus on social justice (I say on representation) as having achieved what? A few marches of the size that regularly occur in any case.
      It is malarkey to think that the left is ‘stronger than ever before’. I is weaker and satisfied with mythology and representation. Twitter et al afford the illusion of engagement and give a sense of satisfied fun to its participants who all agree with each other and race to be the One Who Cares Most.
      And, while birds of a feather tweet together and convince themselves they are making a difference, late capitalism is having its own party. The terms of which we choose not to see because we’re so fucking thrilled to ‘have a voice’. Which is just the same voice attached to different user names.
      Maybe read Adorno & Horkheime in Dialectic of Enlightenment. The chapter The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception describes how people thought of telly as a great new democratic way to engage with power. The reality being that television simply stabilised people.
      I is odd to think that twitter and such can do this. It’s US making the media, right?
      But for me, I think its even more fatal to believe in real engagement and real dissent when all we are doing isliving in an echo chamber.
      And whatever. Call me snobby or elite or uncaring. I don’t fucking care. Because uncaring.

  21. Sami
    May 22, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    I care about character inasmuch as character drives politics.

    One of the things I can’t get over about this incident is how fucking CHILDISH it was. Say what you like about John Howard – and I could say a lot, assuming I didn’t have an aneurysm before I finished – but he at least tended to behave like an actual grownup.

    Abbott is weak-minded and weak of character, which is why he gets swept along with all this bullshit. I don’t think he’s evil of intention, just too foolish to know better.

    The only part of his weakness of character that infuriates rather that disgusts me is his claims of Christianity. That’s a multi-levelled thing. Partly, as a Christian myself, I think it’s inappropriate of politicians to talk about their religion, because religion has no place in politics or governance. Partly it’s the part where I could write an entire book on the subject of Tony Abbott Is Wrong About Everything using only quotations from the Gospels. After all, Jesus was not particularly reticent on the topics like, “The Poor and the Sick: How Should We Treat Them?” or, “People Like Refugees Who Are In Need: Should We Help Them?”

    • May 22, 2014 at 7:51 pm

      We could talk about Rudd’s character, widely reported to be repulsive, all day. Guy was a good leader.

  22. Simmo
    May 22, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    obvs nothing will change until the current government moves on but then what? Unless the next mob arrives with a clear approach to the attainment of their goals, it’s for nothing. I grasp your point about the (mostly) meaningless nature of electronic rants. I understand that “I’m mad as hell, blah, blah, blah” doesn’t get us anywhere but people actually want to do something. Blockades & marches are physical embodiment of the anger. We’re not allowed to shoot the bastards.
    You asked why the left is disappearing. Failing to accept people who are looking to make a difference sure ain’t helping.

    • May 22, 2014 at 8:10 pm

      Look. I am with Kant on this one; he the father of Means as Ends. In describing his categorical imperative, the great ethicist said the will to do good is not something in itself that should be applauded nor is it necessary to or in any way leads to good means.
      So in short. Tony Abbott, like most politicians, wants to make a difference and help everyone, He does. Surprisingly, most politicians do. Is this will alone sufficient to support him? Is anyone just wanting to do good enough?

  23. Simmo
    May 22, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    No, of course not. I’ve said all along that there are people, right now, who want to act – to give better protection to the disadvantaged, for example – but who do not have any idea of how to do that. If by marching & getting exposure in MSM, the students have inspired anyone to consider their vote more carefully, then something has been achieved. It’s not all theory & intent – what can I physically do to make a difference?

    • May 22, 2014 at 8:34 pm

      I am just trying to provoke people into asking and answering that question: what do we need to include in our repertoire of dissent? Do new and complex times call for new and complex actions?
      There are many believers in radical democracy who actually think that conventional protest in a liberal democracy is destructive. That is, if we show opposition, we are showing that there is a possibility of opposition. And, of course, there may not be. So, isn’t it possibly better to restate and agree with ludicrous power-mongering because only then can we see it as ludicrous> Acting in an apparently free way makes us feel free. And we are not.
      So as someone who actually doesn’t give a shit about seeming like a nice person (and frankly, seeming like a nice person seems very very important on internet these days) I will just keep prompting people to question their actions as moments not of dissent but possible compliance.
      I don’t have answers. But, hey. Neither does anyone at present. I am just asking questions: don’t you think this “show of opposition” is nothing but a big pacifier?
      If you want to think that I am being unhelpful or whatever, fine. Don’t care. Don’t need to justify how much I Really Care because everyone fucking believes they really care and naturally I do too but I have the good sense not to buy into I Am A Good Person debate. Although, as a lady, it does seem that this is expected.

  24. Simmo
    May 22, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    Thanks for your time, Helen, lots to consider. And I quite like the “Thinking Person’s Auntie Jack” persona.

  25. Ric
    May 22, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    Both major parties subscribe generally to the same flawed macro-economic dogma; both major parties have given up “representing” for “governing” … some of us “lefties” have slid so far right that Malcolm Fraser would be considered too liberal (rather than Liberal) to join the left wing of the ALP. And, as a collective, we appear to have given up thought for slogans. While I have no gripe with 140-character “bites”, I agree they need to be supported by a more substantial argument (I got here because the link was Tweeted, so there can be value in it :) )

    • May 23, 2014 at 12:28 am

      Goodness. I have no real objection to social media per se. I am just shitty with stupid impotence dressed up to look like smart power.

  26. Luke
    May 23, 2014 at 8:21 am

    No. I call Bullshit! on this.
    Only a couple of chaps in the executive (in this govt they are chaps) are there to manage the economy. The rest most definitely have a social or regulatory role outside of mere money managing. It’s one of the reasons we precede their name with the signifier Honourable.
    Abbot “gets women” we are told. What he actually seems to get is money from mates so his child can get a free run through Aristocrat Finishing School.
    The wink, like other titbits, bells the cat that his policies are less about caring and more about distain, and their exposure makes it harder for him to sell them along those lines.

    • May 23, 2014 at 12:31 pm

      Harder to sell to whom?
      And you may “call bullshit” all you wish. If you believe that it is (not that it should be; just that it is) not the primary work of the modern state to manage the economy and if you believe that regulation of the economy is not the most influential thing a government can do, we have a fundamental difference of opinion.
      Pointing to the number of people in regulatory roles as opposed to those in Treasury is, I would suggest, not any argument against the fundamental idea that it is material conditions and NOT moral ones that impact lives.
      Of course, this idea is shared by many centrists who believe that markets mean little. I suggest that it is wrong and ask that you go back to your Marx.

      • Carlene
        May 23, 2014 at 4:10 pm

        I do read & read economic theory & analysis & opinion and I go back to my Marx. Then all I see in this “show of opposition” is the potential for prolonging the very thing we seek to overthrow. Fiddling around the edges & reversing some of the budget decisions will not bring any fundamental changes to the economic system that favours the few to the detriment of the many. I fear small “victories” will satisfy & lead to a belief something has been done & Tony/Joe/Scott et al have been shown the error of their ways through the power of those that show they care.

        I have no idea how we destroy the market but I do know unless we recognise its power & how it controls us we have no chance of figuring it out.

        These two pieces of yours on Abbott & Hockey are great thought provokers. Please keep challenging us into asking the questions and looking for answers

        • May 23, 2014 at 6:04 pm

          You know I agree.
          I despair that the alleged ‘left’ now sees the work of the state as moral calculus. I mean. FFS. That there is a very broad view that economies mean so little compared to Negative Attitudes is something I find astounding.
          Of course, if there were a magical way to legislate niceness, then I’d be all for it. There isn’t. And, you know, even if there were, I’d have Issues with the state making my ethical decisions. I’m thinking here of the anti-bullying legislation in work places. If Fair Work had truly overturned Work Choices and we had a nation that worked toward managing the labour market to a point where people felt secure in their employment, then wouldn’t that not only obviate the need to legislate against bullying behaviour which is, of course, the result of unequal power relations.
          But. No. It’s all about being fucking nice. Making gestures. Appeasing interests that are not sufficiently broad.
          All we can do is plead for liberalism in personal affairs and conservatism in economic governance.

  27. Carlene
    May 23, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    Destroy may be too harsh – manage, control, use for better outcomes for the many. I am a work in progress!

  28. Will
    May 23, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    Yes, I did just have Jennifer Saunders and Johanna Lumley’s voices reading this to me in my head, with champagne in hands, O.K. fuck off if you think that’s not cool!

  29. John Brady
    May 23, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    I care that Abbott lied, yet again (* ref below) – see the SMH excerpt below re his latest lie, i.e. his denials of his offence. The reason that we have this ideologically driven wrecking ball of a budget is that he lied his way into power, so it matters.

    And sorry Helen, I do care about both. It is just not possible for me to watch Abbott’s wink without being appalled at his lack of empathy and intelligence. It needs to be called, and anyway, it goes to the heart of his economics.

    From the smh at http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/tony-abbott-admits-wink-was-a-mistake-defends-daughter-over-scholarship-controversy-20140522-38ppk.html#ixzz32XDaZlyP

    On Thursday during his radio program, Mr Faine rejected comments that he winked or smirked at Mr Abbott.

    ”I raised an eyebrow because it’s not every day that a grandmother on radio says that she supplements her pension by working on a sex call line,” he said.

    ”It is a complete fabrication to say I somehow winked at the prime minister or was smirking or anything like that. Nor was I indicating that I needed his permission to continue which was the statement from the Prime Minister’s office.”

    Ref re Abbott’s lying: http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/is-australia-run-by-compulsive-liars-part-two-abbotts-astonishing-30-lies,6398

    • May 23, 2014 at 10:54 pm

      So raising an eyebrow is permissible while lowering an eyelid in retort is not?
      Good luck to you. Go and care conspicuously about important gotcha moments. You have many places on the internet in which to do so. A blog of less-than-modest prominence is perhaps not the place for you to voice just how much you care about a perceived moment of poor morality.
      Rudd went to a strip club once.

  30. CAP
    May 25, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    100% Agree – forget the wink, the nation is bent over a barrel about to receive one of the biggest financial rogerings in living history at the expense of the very least cashed, to fill the pockets of the very most cashed. If people must mutter ‘winker’ under their breath then so be it, but honesty, it’s getting distracted from the fact that people need to know how incredibly regressive this budget is and why. We need to win the economic argument not the Abbott’s a great whooping winker argument, which has well and truly been won. We can’t squeeze anymore blood from that stone, the people who care about that are already on board. Some people love bawdy, arrogant, sexist old men, and they’ll be won over by a finance argument not this. Australia has voted in womanising alcoholics term after term before, but if the Australian quality of life is dropped they are furious. Time to get furious at the budget, it truly is crap, and while the winker story is taking all the focus, the LNP are being given time to scramble and recover under the radar for a bit and come up with excuses and a game plan. People can’t damage Abbott’s image by pointing out he’s sexist. Everyone knows! Even those who say he isn’t are not really believing it they are just referring to the fact that in modern Australian society there is an accepted level of sexism, and they know you can’t really get him on that because there are enough people who find that level of sexism acceptable voting for him to counter it.

    Good call on the “Carry On” reference. I can absolutely see the old cast of ‘Carry On’ doing an absolute bang up job.

    Sid James – Tony Abbott
    Kenneth Williams – Christopher Pyne
    Bernard Bresslaw – Joe Hockey
    Barbara Windsor – Julie Bishop
    Charles Hawtrey – Cameron Hunt
    Hattie Jaques – Bronwyn Bishop
    Peter Butterworth – Malcolm Tunbull
    Joan Sims – Michaelia Cash

    …………………………………..the list goes on.

    Makes me laugh just thinking about “Carry On Capital Hill”.

  31. Dan
    May 26, 2014 at 2:19 am

    Oh thank fuck. I found refuge here after looking through #yesallwomen.

    Such conspicuous self-congratulatory bullshit. Such plastic feminism devoid of any pretense of engagement with IDEAS. And fuck debate. Lets just denounce people. Those who disagree are INFECTED. The only cure is a smarmy cliche to identify myself as not one of them… To show I am an enlightened one, that I conform to the inward facing world where they only things that matter are what people SAY in the MEDIA and not what people DO in the WORLD.

    You people aren’t thought leaders. You’re not even ‘the left’. You’re a bunch of inbreeding over educated middle class cunts who like to jerk each other off.

    Get fucked. And why always is there this underlying disgust for the working class. For the BOGAN. Because they see most of your concerns as trivial bullshit? Cause you wouldn’t know how to talk to them even if you didn’t consider it beneath you. Well they still decide elections and they quite rightly hate your fucking guts.

    Glad I got that off my chest. Love your work helen.

    • May 26, 2014 at 1:00 pm

      You make me look like Pollyanna by contrast.

  32. Sami
    May 28, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    I’m not sure I agree. Partly I don’t get the impression Rudd’s character is repulsive, in the general sense. I think he’s probably annoying and twerpy, but not nasty. Partly Rudd comes off as a policy wonk and doesn’t appeal to religious bullshit.

    And partly, I don’t think he was a very good leader. I think he was an excellent Foreign Minister, but as Prime Minister he made, well, a really good Foreign Minister.

  33. Dan
    May 30, 2014 at 11:22 am

    I agree that the trivial moments overwhelm the bigger issues, but I also think you might be giving the government too much credit when it comes to ideology. Trickle-down economics is a theory which, while it doesn’t work, at least has generalised prosperity and elevation of the poor as nominal end-goal. It’s possible to disagree on economic solutions to the problem of poverty while still acknowledging that poverty is an economic problem. But I don’t think that’s the core of my disagreement with the government.

    When you look at the rhetoric from the government, I think there’s a clear implication that poverty is a moral problem, inflicted by the poor upon themselves. They should drink less beer, or they should pick more fruit, and then they’d be as rich as us, and while they’re at it they should stop wasting our money on going to the doctor and university. The budget is not an attempt to reward the rich so they can help the poor. It’s an attempt to free the rich from the need to finance layabouts. Britons of inherited wealth had stories about noble blood to justify their inheritance and underwrite their absurdly elevated status, but that’s inconsistent with the Australian national myth of egalitarianism, so our domestic blue-bloods have to invent morality tales to explain their own position on the scale of disparity.

    In that context, perhaps it’s possible to read more into those gestures than just trivial symbols of unlikeability. What if the wink means not so much “Hey, check out the saucy old wench”, but more “You and I both know what’s going on here and what her real problem is, and it’s not HECS or Medicare”.

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