What on earth are they? One test of the worth of a proposition is whether anyone could be bothered to assert the contrary. If I said ‘I believe in family values’, you might respond by asking the question I began with. Or you might say ‘Who bloody well wouldn’t?’ Either way, the conversation is hardly illuminating. In ordinary parlance, we are dealing in motherhood statements.
Yet, in the controversy about Barnaby Joyce, the former Deputy Prime Minister, many in the press said that part of his problem in answering allegations of hypocrisy was that the man with a wife and four children was having an affair with a woman while at the same time leading a party that subscribes to ‘family values’.
Don’t the Liberal, Labor, and Greens parties have the same values? Of course they do, and it is idle to suggest that you might find a difference in their platforms founded on a difference in their attitude to the family. Insofar as anyone suggested that marriage equality might be a threat to ‘family values’, they would be begging a booklist of tendentious questions.
You might be reminded of that other shocker, ‘Australian values.’ Every time I hear that term, I immediately think of Senator McCarthy and the House of Un-American Affairs Committee – and we don’t want to go down there.
The term certainly invites twisted history. It’s downright sad to see Australians trying to find ‘mateship’ in the wasted slaughterhouse called Gallipoli. The Turks, English and French all lost more men at Gallipoli than Australia did. Didn’t they have mates? The whole notion is at once precious and insulting.
If I were asked to take a stab at an ‘Australian value’, I might suggest that we might be less class conscious than say the English, Americans, or French. But I couldn’t verify that suggestion, and our claim to be egalitarian has taken a hit over the last generation, with bank managers taking home 100 times the money they pay their tellers. And people like Henry Lawson and Paul Keating see too many people around here who are keen to tug the forelock, and who don’t think that we can be trusted to appoint our own head of state.
So, Australian values are as much use – in language – as family values.
And while we speak of the National Party, let’s reflect on another vapid buzz phrase – ‘identity politics.’ According to Wikipedia:
Identity politics, also called identitarian politics, refers to political positions based on the interests and perspectives of social groups with which people identify. Identity politics includes the ways in which people’s politics are shaped by aspects of their identity through loosely correlated social organizations.
Can you imagine a more dedicated set of exponents of identity politics than the National Party? The teams at the Murdoch Press and the IPA may be faced with what they like to call an existential crisis when they reflect that all Coalition governments – and they can support no other – are premised on identity politics. Dear, dear, dear, dear.
And while on buzz words, watch ‘virtue signalling’ take off. The usual suspects go after labels with the same glee that little boys go after marbles or yo-yos.