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.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Idealism Versus Materialism (sort of)

Life doesn't really allow us the opportunity of performing controlled experiments in the area of philosophy. The 2007 Australian Federal Election will, however, give us the opportunity to test a hypothesis or two.

I think by now it's reasonable to assume that there will be an overall swing toward the Labor Party. Whether this swing will be enough to see them elected is another question, but several months of polls have consistently put Labor's popularity in the stratosphere, compared to the incumbents. A Liberal staffer has supposedly admitted that his comrades are 'shitting themselves'.

In some states, particularly Queensland and Western Australia, Labor hit pretty close to rock bottom at the last election, and were always likely to bounce a little, if only slightly.

The blogosphere and media are busily trying to analyse the whys and wherefores of the impending swing. One theory doing the rounds is the notion that so-called 'small "l" liberals', (also known disparagingly as 'doctor's wives'), in traditional, blue-ribbon Liberal seats, are turning away from Howard.

This theory suggests that the small l's can get all the 'fiscal conservatism' they like from Rudd, without having to endure Howard's ugly social policies. If this theory is correct, we should see big swings in seats such as Wentworth, Kooyong, Higgins, and Goldstein, among others. Some of these seats have never been held by Labor, and it's difficult to imagine the extent of blue-rinse suicides should such a theory eventuate in practice.

The other theory that has also done the rounds, and to which I'm somewhat partial, is what I'll term loosely the 'materialist' theory.

Howard has reignited class warfare with his attacks on unions, and especially, with his gutting of workers' rights via Workchoices.

Sure, unions are in decline. They still have about 1.7 million members, which is substantially more than the combined membership of all political parties.
And sure, our friends at News Ltd tell us that 'class no longer exists', and is merely a rhetorical fiction, intended to keep aging Trots in print. Those doing overtime on AWA's might beg to differ when examining their payslip.

If this theory is correct, we might see the biggest swings not in blue-ribbon seats, but rather, blue-collar seats. AWA's, interest rate rises and the Liberals' hollow claims about economic prosperity don't play so well among the so-called Howard's battlers. If I am correct in believing that these people will respond to the economic and industrial warfare being waged against them, we should see major swings in seats such as Corangamite, Paramatta, and even McEwen. I take my examples from Vic and NSW as I know these two states better than the others, but some people may have other suggestions.

Of course, it could also happen that both groups of voters swing towards Labor. At this point, I'm not so sure that this will occur. Despite some recent fluctuations in polling data, I'd guess the 'real' 2-Party Preferred vote is something like 55%-56% for Labor at the moment. The fluctuations have generally been well within the margin of error. If both groups are swinging, we might see an election of Canadian proportions.

We shall see which explanation is the more likely after several more long weeks.

UPDATE:

This was an election-related post from 23/10. I gave some of the ideas contained therein a run on Larvatus the other day, and some people were mortified at the idea that supposed Liberal Wets were not going to single-handedly give Labor a victory.