Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The conservative mood

Why is it that everywhere left liberals succeed in getting elected to government they have to spend their time defending themselves against aggressive right wing attempts to delegitimize them as if it is the conservatives who are in power and the government in opposition?
It is a bit of a mystery because on one hand one can say that the general mood is conservative and the government has to cater for that general mood. Yet, the left liberal government did get elected after all.
This is true of Australia where sometimes you would really think that it is the Liberal party that is in power and the government in opposition. The conservatives make their points as if they own the moral high ground while all left positions are uttered as if apologetically. This is all the more strange since the opposite is true. Why can someone like Abbott manage to take such a morally bankrupt position on boat people and sound so aggressively self-righteous and moral at the same time? It is truly puzzling. Why do atheists need to act as if they have something to apologise for?
We see the same thing in the US, with Obama elected as a left liberal but the conservatives acting *convincingly* as if the government is illegitimate from day one. Witness the Mosque debate now. Never have so many morally bankrupt people sounded so self-righteously moral. Why do conservatives get away with so much aggressivity while in opposition while elected governments who represent the majority have to be careful about right wing sensitivities? Why does not the right feel the need to be careful about left wing sensibilities?
I truly find this puzzling. and I don't think it is just because the left liberals who get elected are whimps. They are. But there is some deep tendency in the Western collective unconscious that is governing the mood of our times and I can't really work out what it is.

1 comment:

  1. Yes - I think we need to start unpacking some of the reasons for this and then as progressives start changing how we respond. Of all the examples you mention, our leaders whether it be Obama or Rudd, were elected on a platform of positive social change and given a mandate to implement policies that are far more progressive than we have seen from either of them. And this does in part tell the story of vested interests as well as the lack of spine & conviction we have resigned ourselves to expect. This is sad.

    But I think we need to look at how we, as progressives frame our positions that then help conservatives pushing just mean and crazy things like opposing the 'mining tax' and 'stopping the boats' look more convincing.

    And we need to fill that moral vacuum in Australian politics with that more positive vision.

    Ghassan, I know you are an academic and not a politician, but here is a chapter in an e-book More Than Luck that you might like to read that gives a good assessment of how the hell we ended up in this political black hole ... and how we might start to dig ourselves out:http://morethanluck.cpd.org.au/more-than-luck-ebook/introduction/

    Even for people like us who are politically engaged, this election has seen us switch off in disgust and despair.. I hope there is hope after the campaigning ends.