Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Liberals fail to redefine beliefs (or the end of Left/Right)



I came across this letter in today’s “Toowoomba Chronicle”.
Liberals fail to redefine beliefs The left has lost. So says the left. This is not a point-scoring statement from someone from the right but the words of the people from the left themselves. They say that market-based capitalism has proven it works. They no longer hate it. This may seem simple but it is staggering in its consequences for politics in Australia. It is seminal and all embracing. The Liberals are strategically blindsided. They are in determined denial about the changed ALP. They have missed the shift, failed to read the changed environment and hence failed to redefine and reposition their beliefs and brand. The Labor movement is a conglomerate and culture of thinkers. Political argument, frequently aggressive and fiery, is a core function. Ideas with passion matter. It causes great divisions. But when cohesive themes emerge, formidable strength is the outcome. A close look at the Rudd Government allows these twin elements to be seen. It's why respectful discussion of spirituality, relationships, family and self-worth are comfortably interwoven with economics, business, finance and tax. It's a new framework for politics and public policy debate. The simple two-way split has gone. For each of the political parties, for business, unions and individuals, it's a new environment. Richard Wood Darling Heights

It's interesting in a number of ways.
The author has been a guest speaker of the League of Rights -

here

so it’s fairly safe assumption that his sympathies are towards the Dexter side of politics. It's refreshing then that he’s put his finger on one of the main factors separating the current government and opposition –
“The Labor movement is a conglomerate and culture of thinkers. Political argument, frequently aggressive and fiery, is a core function. Ideas with passion matter. It causes great divisions.
But when cohesive themes emerge, formidable strength is the outcome.”
And his slant on the Liberals –
“They have missed the shift, failed to read the changed environment and hence failed to redefine and reposition their beliefs and brand.”
I’d put it differently, but don’t disagree with the thrust of his argument. Any political group which embraces values beyond the material will always be driven by passion. There is no “left/right” anymore, but there is a defining difference between the politics of the material and the search for a spiritual ideal. Richard Wood describes it quite well.

I guess the cohesive themes may include climate change and "your rights at work".

2 comments:

RICHARD J WOOD said...

Thanks for your post, 1735099. I appreciate your feedback on my letter. I thought the 'Dexter' reference was priceless. - RJW

RICHARD J WOOD said...

If you dont mind, 1735099, I thought I would extrapolate on some of the points raised in my original letter for the benefit of your readers.

"The left has lost.  So say the left!  This is not a point-scoring statement from someone from the right but the words of the people from the left themselves.  They say that market-based capitalism has proven it works.  They no longer hate it."

"This may seem simple but it is staggering in its consequences for politics in Australia.  It is seminal and all embracing."


I think we both agree that the old left-right battle is now no longer primary to understanding the fundamentals of Australian politics.  Deeper analysis and deeper meaning must be investigated.

The shift is blunt.  The central plank of left politics has always been that the capitalist system necessitated war between two classes;  the workers and the bosses.

The bosses (capitalists and managers), would always seek to exploit the workers.  The economic system required this and concentrated power with the bosses.  Consequently, workers had to bond collectively to prevent being exploited.  This inevitability of class warfare is the core of the left's economic and political world view.

But in the past few years the left has accepted the falsehood of this assumption, particularly as it applies to Australia.  That's a huge step for the left.  It recognises and accepts that market-based capitalism clearly delivers sustained economic growth and maximises equitable distribution of wealth.  Exploitation is not inherent in market capitalism.  The left no longer hates market capitalism.  It has embraced it.

It recognises that deprivation is not a consequence of market capitalism but is the product of other human situations;  namely family dysfunction, ill health, disability, poor education and substance abuse.

This shift by the left is new and can be identified in fairly recent writings of leading left academics and the repositioning of the Left of the Labor Party.  It's not something they are yelling out loud but it's a huge political development.  It holds huge implications for economic management, business operations, workplace relations and social policy.

It explains why the Australian Labor Party is now politically dominant in Australia.  With the conversion of the left to market capitalism, the economic rationalists within the ALP and the left are able to work together without suspicion.  It's why factional division within the ALP has largely disintegrated.

Under Hawke and Keating, the economic rationalists pushed through economic reform but they had to stomp on the left to do so.  The Left and the Right in the ALP did battle.  The battle is largely over;  the Left have mostly converted.

The old-style lefties who remain in the ALP are frustrated.  Some are young.  They are isolated and locked out from the real levers of power in Labor.  Many have resigned from the ALP and joined the Greens.  This suits Labor.  Parked in the Greens, they are politically more manageable than if they continued to work the numbers within the ALP.

    - RJW

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