A Narrative of ALP Decline

The recommendations of the Faulkner, Carr and Bracks review of the ALP were released yesterday.

There are a lot of interesting points to mull over regarding processes and procedures to get members, unionists and community supporters further involved within the party. What I’d like to open up discussion on first though is what the report did not discuss – the philosophy and values of the ALP. There has been a relative absence of any substantive analysis of deeper systemic problems and trends (except for a few notable exceptions) regarding the Australian Labor Party and its role in Australian society. Perhaps emblematic of the current crisis within the party is Troy Bramston’s call in The Australian today for Labor to abolish its “quixotic and irrelevant socialist objective”. However, maybe before getting all philosophical we should have a look at recent history. Continue reading “A Narrative of ALP Decline”


Climate disasters, Flood Taxes and the Political Winds

I was up in Brisbane for work on Tuesday 11 January this year.

The rain was steady and heavy – the day before a workmate had warned me that he thought the Brisbane River would burst its banks. Selfishly I thought nothing of it. I would be working in the inner Brisbane suburb of Milton – the flood I assumed would only hit those on the fringe of the city. I was wrong. The warning came over the office radio and we made the call to evacuate the premises. Co-workers were dispatched to their family homes and I hailed a taxi to the airport. It was only the middle of the day and it was already peak hour. The traffic snarled slowly away as the river reached up to city and overwhelmed it. The airport was full of stunned commuters dispatched back down South. My moment of relief was punctuated by the announcement that the airport had been closed due to surrounding thunder storms. The whole scene struck me as eerily reminiscent of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Forty Signs of Rain. The near future has arrived and now we have to start dealing with the reality of a more hostile and variable climate. I was lucky – too many were not. Continue reading “Climate disasters, Flood Taxes and the Political Winds”

A Response to Lakoff’s “The New Obama Narrative”

George Lakoff, cognitive scientist and guru of progressive political framing, threw down a challenge on the Truth Out website recently, and I think I’m going to take it up to him.

Lakoff analysed Obama’s recent State of the Union address, and observed that at last Obama had an overarching political narrative – improving America’s competitiveness. During the address, Obama pledged that his “administration will develop a proposal to merge, consolidate, and reorganize the federal government in a way that best services the goal of a more competitive America.” Notwithstanding the political/tactical benefits for Obama, Lakoff rightly points out the dangers of a competitive narrative for progressive politics. On the one hand, the task of competing in a harsh global economy justifies strong investment in education, health and infrastructure (that’s good), but where does the fight for labour rights and ecological sustainability fit with a competitive economy? If anyone has an answer feel free to share it. Continue reading “A Response to Lakoff’s “The New Obama Narrative””