C'est nous qui brisons les barreaux des prisons, pour nos frères, La haine à nos trousses, et la faim qui nous pousse, la misère. Il y a des pays où les gens aux creux des lits font des rêves, Ici, nous, vois-tu, nous on marche et nous on tue nous on crève.

Friday, 11 May 2007

The Hysteria of Everyday Media

Anyone sufficiently unfortunate to have come into contact with the Murdoch media in recent times will have observed a distinctly histrionic, anti-Labor agenda.

GrodsCorp has noted that Rudd is Bolt's newest whipping boy. The Australian no longer even bothers with a pretence of fair and balanced reporting or editorialising.

Given that Rudd is probably Labor's most conservative leader in recent memory, and given that virtually all progressive aspects of Labor's politics are being kept off the public relations agenda, one has to wonder what all the fuss is about.

All of the topics that were 'at issue' in 2004 are still at issue in 2007 - Hicks, the environment, interest rates, Iraq. On none of these issues are Rudd or Labor threatening to do anything radical. The key difference between the two elections is that industrial relations has since become a major issue, but even on this topic, Rudd is promising a watering-down of Howard's laws, rather than a wholesale overthrow. Labor is hardly signalling a return to protectionism or industrial domination by so-called 'union bosses', the ludicrous claims of Shanahan and co. not withstanding.

The past 11 years has seen Ugly Australia come to the fore. The Prime Minister has demonstrated amply that he is content with the misogyny, homophobia, and racism of the likes of Heffernan, Laws, and Jones. The Liberals feared the Rise of Pauline Hanson not because of her ideology, but because she pinched some of their votes. The Australia of Patrick White and Sidney Nolan has been effectively suppressed. Muslims are routinely mocked and demonised in the press and blogosphere, in a manner not unlike Jews in pre-WWII Austria and France. The words 'inner-city' and 'intellectual' are habitually used by the commentariat as terms of abuse. The cosmopolitanism of our great cities has continued in relative silence, amidst the hysterical din of our far-right politicians and media.

There is some hope, albeit meagre, for those hoping for the more equitable and progressive elements within Australian politics to emerge. If the Liberals win the next election, they should do so far with a greatly reduced majority, and with Howard likely to step aside as leader. There are few senior Liberals vying for leadership who would be as conservative as Howard. Both Costello and Turnbull are progressive when compared to our sadly backward-looking current leader. (Abbott has no chance at Liberal leadership - he is the Liberal equivalent of Mark Latham, and even less electable). Alternatively, should Rudd win, we will see a very similar Australian government, but at least Workchoices will be made history. Labor may spout its 'democratic socialist' credentials on its website, but we will not see anything remotely 'socialist' in Labor's politics. I would imagine the focus would be on a managerial, fiscally conservative Labor government, somewhat similar to Bracks in Victoria.
In short, rather than being brazenly shafted by our federal politicians I suspect we will merely be slapped around, a velvet glove mediating the iron fist. Small mercies, I suppose, though in such times, one takes what one can get.