In the last four or five months, some people called ‘the elite’ have been held to be responsible for quite a lot, including political earthquakes in England and America. Apparently, they have not cared enough about those who are on the wrong end of the inequality stakes. The people who make this claim are often in the media, which is a principal target of those who have missed out. The elite are those who are chosen. It should mean the cream. It is hard to see the press in general, or the Murdoch press in particular, as the cream. But it is harder to see just who the elite are here. In truth, it is just a distracting label for an indeterminate body of people, and a gateway to bullshit.
Another problem word for us now is ‘conservative’. A conservative political party is one that seeks to keep things as they are and to minimise government action. The Tories in England claim to be such a party. Until recently, the Republicans did also in America. For many reasons, we have never had a real conservative party in Australia. We are just too reliant on government to allow that to happen. And we don’t like ideologues.
But now the word ‘conservative’ is claimed by some politicians, such as Abbott or Bernardi, and commentators, such as Bolt. As best I can see, the ingredients of their beliefs are as follows. They are concerned about ‘border protection’ – they think it is in order to hold indefinitely people who sought to enter this country by boat in order to deter people they call ‘people smugglers.’ They think that what we call ‘climate change’ is either bullshit or over-rated; they get very worked up over ‘renewables’. They also get worked up over laws about insulting and offensive words. They say that a law against insulting or offending people on the ground of race limits their freedom of speech. Of course it does – the question is why they want to be free to insult and offend people on the ground of race, and how that freedom might benefit them or us. They are mostly monarchists; Abbott’s mania about this was instrumental in his losing office. And most of them claim to be close to God – obnoxiously so to those who prefer to see religion kept out of politics – no matter what the faith may be.
I hold the opposite view on each, but it is hard to see how these views qualify for the label conservative. This is especially so with the views on hate speech and climate change. I don’t see how the rejection of science or laws needed to maintain public order makes someone a ‘conservative.’ And, if it matters, both look to be pure bullshit – and to be the subject of quite manic pogroms in the Murdoch press.
I saw four exemplars of this weird faction on Sky the other night. Going from left to right around a bemused and sensible chair they were – Bronwyn Bishop, Mark Latham, Ross Cameron, and Rowan Dean. I don’t know how much alcohol was involved, but they were like pigs in a trough. They were bucketing Obama and chortling about Trump. It was like Animal Farm crossed with Lord of the Flies. It was seriously scary and nauseating. Dean may be the most revolting person in public life here, but that night he had three challengers.
This faction is in my view in large part responsible for Shorten being tipped to win the next election by the length of the straight.
That’s all now – I’m being worked over by Telstra again. I know what it feels like to be rejected – but here the ‘elite’ are certainly not involved.
Poet of the month: Rosemary Dobson
On Christina Stead
I sit beside the bed where she lies dreaming
Of pyrrhic victories and sharp words said,
She will annihilate the hospital …
Suppose her smouldering thoughts break out in flame,
Not to consume bed, nightdress, flesh and hair
But the mind, the working and the making mind
That built these towers the world applauds …
I have dreamt her nightmare for her. She wakes up
And turns to smile with quick complicity.
”I wasn’t asleep. I watched you sitting there.”