Monday, October 12, 2009

Searching for a narrative

I really enjoyed this latest contribution from David Burchell at The Australian.

He asks whether the leaders of the Government (Mr Rudd) and Opposition (Mr Turnbull) have over-dramatised the differences between their parties in the search for a meaningful political narrative.

My favourite line:

And so there they stand before us, like the shimmering cities of Cathay: two rival fantasies, each as terrifying or as promising as the other, and each with as much plausibility as those gold-paved streets.

I tend to agree with Burchell that the differences between the parties, especially on economic policy, lie mainly in rhetoric rather than reality. For example, when all is said and done, their views on the appropriate size of the fiscal stimulus are closer than many people realise.

A possible exception is climate change, where there is clearly a group of Coalition MPs who are opposed to an emissions trading scheme. But surely this is more to do with different constituencies (e.g. the Nationals country/regional base) than some neoliberal / socialist ideological divide?

Political narratives defined by what they are not provide no vision for the nation and I wouldn't be surprised if an already disengaged public switches off.

What do you think?

5 comments:

Nathan said...

Wow Phil,

I dropped by to check out the rejuvenated philricho experience and found I'm already on the blogroll.

Simone's not going to like this word verification commenting thing though...

Kutz said...

Hey Phil,

I hope you'll be posting a lot, because I'm looking forward to learning some stuff from this blog!

As for the lack of a political divide in our country, yes.

What's been the flow-on effect of similar situations in other countries, do you know?

Kutz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kutz said...

Oh, and have a read here sometime. Some of the bits may tickle your fancy.

brad mccoy said...

yeah, as i was reading through this post i was thinking "what about climate change?" and then BAM! you already covered!

perhaps also in terms of international relations? i think labor probably has a better history of engaging our international neighbours. whitlam was behind our good relations with china (and was called a pinko for his efforts), hawke and keating worked hard at relations with asia pacific. howard stuck his nose up bush's ____.

and sometimes there is more to the supposedly artifical ideological divide than it seems. take the culture wars for example. hopefully with howard gone, and rudd having apologised, we might actually have some real australian history taught in schools. and that's significant