Thursday, October 2, 2014

Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys.


I've tried. God knows I've really tried. But in the end it's just too convenient, just too much of coincidence piled on opportunity to be credible: That the Abbot Government's ghastly new security/anti-terror laws are being bludgeoned through Parliament by that most open-minded and nuanced of thinkers George Brandis while the nation's terror alert status is raised from "Strewth" to "Crikey!", and all while 800 coppers are unleashed in three states to arrest two prize dickheads of a certain swarthy ethnicity and unfashionable religious persuasion. It just defies belief. 

It reached that mathematical degree of dodginess where the number of Politically Convenient Coincidences (PCC) is greater than the degree of Probability and Credibility required to be true. It's a classic example of the famed Australian Bullshit formula:

It's an equation that allows right wing shock-jocks and empty-headed tabloid butt-monkey mouthpieces to drool and slaver over rabid headlines and egregious wog-bashing to their febrile hearts' content. It generates the public rubber-necking and under-the-bed-checking (aren't we a flexible people?) that distracts us from the One Big Story of the last year that just won't go away. Which is Diamond Joe Hockey's 'Bugger me, call that a budget?' epic drama of class hatred, social welfare dismantling and economic punishment that THEY CAN'T GET THROUGH THE SENATE!   

(Whoops, I got a little loud there. Nursey, it's time for my happy pills..)

Yet is this being spoken of? Not while there's a fear campaign to be prosecuted and a resolute, firm-jawed Prime Minister to be lauded. Does its myriad of toxic details and subtle undermining of our social fabric make headlines and column inches? Not while we have Clive 'Billion Dollar Loony' Palmer to wave in front of a dazed and puzzled public's alert-but-baffled attention span.

Clive and Tony are two sides of the same political coin. The PM is shown to be softly-spoken but carrying a big - actually put that down Tone, not in public mate, fair go - mandate for war. There is no mandate for war actually, no more than there is for the slash and burn of social infrastructure and disinterested reporting. But there is a precedent, which is the important thing. Howard took us to war on the basis of a pack of lies. And that didn't make him look any less of a tough, nuggetty little PM of our wide-brown-land. So Tony signing us up for a coalition of the "testicularly driven to bomb the bogeymen of ISIS" before there's actually a coalition to join isn't a problem.
"Trust me, I'd rather be out there with you guys... Boom! Ka-Pow!"
The Yanks still hadn't got their military shit together this time before Tony already has us shipping out and singing "Waltzing Matilda With Bombs" as if it was a done deal. And our feckless media have been singing from this hymn sheet for weeks now. Back this up with the horrible, terrible, scary, scary threat to all of us from those ethnic bastards who refuse to 'whiten up' and join Team 'Straya and we're off to another lovely war. Which always justifies any oppressive legislation you can dream up.

"First they came for the bikies,
And I thought, fuck 'em, cos they scare me.
Then they came for the unionists,
And I thought, fuck 'em, cos they ain't me.
Then they came for my civil rights,
And I thought, fuck 'em, that's only for Muslims.
Then ASIO came to lunch, and I couldn't get the bastards to leave..

.. with apologies to Martin Niemöller 

All of which puts a spring in Tony's step and points in his popularity, which is half the battle won. So who cares what it costs us in those oh-so-scarce budget $$ and (other people's) homes and bodies? Our first bombs haven't stopped smoking in Iraq before Captain Aggro has us hinting slyly at sinking the slipper into Syria. Cos what's the diff? They're all just wogs, mate, eh? Trust me, this is going to get much, much worse before it gets better.

And the other half of this game of 'hide the budget sausage'? That's simple. You give the punters what every threatened, frightened, going to war nation needs. Clowns. Something to laugh at. And it's doubly successful if you can neutralise a political threat at the same time. Enter Clive Palmer pursued by bears. I like Clive. He may be a confused right-winger with a social conscience which sees his self-interest clash with his better nature twice a day and thrice on the Sunday show, but he's good for our democracy. He's different. He's unpredictable. He's an independent thinker. All of which means he's just as likely to do something positive as he is to do something selfish. 

And if ever a parliament needed some shaking up this one does. Complacent, comfortable governments produce crappy legislation (I'd tender the Qld Newman government as a current example). A little instability is good for a democracy - the Julia Gillard minority government had to fight for every detail of legislation, every point of principle, and over every public issue. The result was a raft of well-thought out, hard-won legislation that was genuinely aimed at improving this country for every one of us, from Gonsky to Disability Support and an environment we can actually live in.

You can tell this is true because the Coalition couldn't find a single issue in it to fight against at the election. Tony Abbott swore allegiance to every bit of it all across the country, with only Labor's internal shit-fight and the Carbon Tax as points of leverage. The second proof is the speed with which Tony's class warriors have moved to destroy every bit of it he signed up to. But I digress ..

Cuddly Clive has been attacked on all sides by every party, media ratbag and main-chancer for two reasons. First, he's a big soft target. His politics are largely driven by an emotional commitment to "the great Aussie fair go" where it doesn't collide with his own self-interest. He's actually an old-fashioned agrarian socialist (like the National/Country party used to be). He sees people at the bottom being screwed over - as in the government's attack on working class superannuation coupled with its slashing of age-pensions - and gets outraged at both the unfairness and the short-sighted stupidity of it - and opens his mouth and his wallet. 

That he usually can be distracted by a potential cost to himself shouldn't surprise anyone. But he does more to raise those issues than the Big Four parties combined. And he gets airtime - he's good press fodder, his antics and size and un-thought through ideas make good copy - something journos are desperate for in a world of shrinking newspaper circulation.

Which brings us to the second reason he cops such a whacking. He's rocking the boat. And all those in politics and the media who have their bum attached firmly to a place in the Big Show don't like that, not at all. Clive questions the orthodoxy. He says 'No, that's not the only alternative.' And, 'We could do something different about that'. Which makes Bill Shorten, for example, look like what he is: an unprincipled prick without a single idea to his name, or a policy he wouldn't strangle publicly if he thought it would advance his cause, which is Bill Shorten first, last and always. 


And it's not just the Shortens, Pynes, Morrisons and Milnes who detest him. It's the media pundits too. The talking heads who sit on the side lines and spout endless amounts of bilge-water about the harsh realities of economics and the cost of caring, and their endless fascination with the picayune details of practical politics. Reserving to themselves  the right and the privilege to decide the issues that matter in our tiny pool of tinier minds. 

They exist like mistletoe, swaying with the prevailing winds of gas-baggery, but rooted in and sucking nutrition from the power structure from which they claim to be independent. They all have a vested interest in the stability of our system of misgovernment. And any threat to the balance of media power threatens their security. So Clive is ridiculed as a gargantuan buffoon one minute and decried as a political hypocrite for his independence the next. From the equally porcine Laurie Oakes to the middlebrow twee of Annabel Crabb, their babble froths and bubbles yet contributes and signifies nothing.

It's like the 1950s never ended.

As I said at the beginning. I've tried, I've really tried not to be sucked into this government's predictable excesses. But in the end, when it's war abroad and class war and the construction of an expanding security state at home, I can't stay silent. But there is a mantra that helps. Just keep repeating
"Not my circus, not my monkeys."

"Thank you Nurse, I'm ready for my medication now .."

1 comment:

Jason said...

My sentiments articulated far better than I ever could. Thanks bro