Sunday, July 18, 2010


I just watched Julia Gillard in my hotel room in Paris. It's not just that I think that this population stuff is just wrong, simplistic and politically objectionable but I actually find Julia genuinely dislikeable. Particularly so in my Paris hotel. I keep containing myself not wanting to say anything too intensely negative about Gillard thinking that it is always possible that residual sexism is the source of the intensity of my feelings.
One has to be conscious and reflexive and self-critical about this. Look at so many critics of Obama who supposedly are engaging in very rational criticism of him and you cannot fail but see that their is racism, if not motivating the critique, at least giving it that extra little intensity.
So, I watch Julia and I try to contain myself. but this time I couldn't. No fucking way mate.
I think a woman PM is a good thing. I can appreciate the fact that my daughters look and see that there is a woman who is a PM and it broadens the horizon of the possible for them. In that sense any woman PM is good for women. But there is also a kind of political fetishism at work. Marx called commodity fetishism the process whereby among other things the consumer sees the commodity and thinks that it has hopped on a vitrine witout there being a labour process that has brought it about. As if its value is independent of the process of making it.
Likewise, political fetishism would be to fall into the trap of thinking that the value of a politician merely depends on their relation to other politicians without looking at the labour and the processes that have gone into making them as politicians. If we abandon this fetishistic position, a woman prime minister who has been brought in by a party machine is not the same as a woman prime minister who has been brought in directly by a popular struggle by women, for instance. And I am aware that it can be said that without popular struggle by women the party machine would not have got to the point where it can choose a woman. But I still think that it is not the same. I can't see Gillard and her sickeningly polished performances in abstraction from the very direct ugly, instrumental and inhumane, material process that has made her an electable prime minister.
Perhaps it's not just her and I've had it with professional politicians. The more professional they become the more I hate them and that's what it is: she is just too bloody smooth and good and slippery and shiny. Politicians like this appear before us on the screen and I feel that they are like Harry Potters' dementors. They suck the life out of our culture and society rather than breathe life into it. they are a depressive weight rather than an uplifting force. Maybe I should start a Society for the deprofessionalisation of politics.
and so, with these critical reflections behind me, I am going to allow myself to say, that yes, I saw Julia Gillard on TV in Paris and I said to myself: NO FUCKING WAY mate!


  1. Fantastic. I've been struggling to find the true source for the sour taste I have had in my mouth since Julia took over. I knew it was more than just the way that it happened and I was bewildered, even as a woman, at all the proud female hoorahs at our first female PM. It should be a great thing, and yet I feel less optimistic about voting, as though I have no real option at all. It feels like Pauline Hanson - wrong in so many ways!

  2. I guess it doesn't hurt to be a bit cynical about these things Ghassan but I think you are on the wrong track here. First, why focus on a politician's sex at all?? You seem to use it as a negative in the same way that others rate it highly. Surely Policy is all that's important. As to a politician's professionalism, imagine the opposite; someone without the capacity to juggle many balls, stay cool,know the facts,be articulate etc etc. You want another Mark Latham? Name a politician who is less professional that you admire?