Tag Archives: leadership

The Political Instability is Due to a Pathological Regime

[Didn’t get any takers for this commentary, then it got stale. There may be more opportunities before too long.]

SnakeOilIt’s not the salespeople, it’s the product. The product does not serve the people and the people know it, so they keep rejecting the salesperson.

You might think, after a parade of six short-term Prime Ministers, and counting, that this diagnosis of Australia’s political instability might be more commonly perceived, but much of the attention remains on more superficial factors like personality, technology, social media and so on. Even when the political product is questioned few seem to appreciate the depth of its inadequacy.

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Australia needs a new progressive party

[This article is posted at Independent Australia today.]

The Australian Labor Party needs major reform, even leader Bill Shorten thinks so.  But what constitutes “major” reform depends on who’s talking.  To Shorten it reportedly means you don’t have to be a union member to join Labor, and perhaps unions and factions will have a little less say in preselections.

A few weeks ago I suggested Labor ought to disavow the market-fundamentalist neoliberalism that has dominated Labor and most of the world for the past three decades, because neoliberalism has been the major cause of rising economic and political inequality, and it directly caused the Great Recession that still grips much of the world.  Not only does neoliberalism undermine Labor’s founding purpose, to stand up for ordinary people, but it is a baseless and discredited ideology, as I have explained in my book Sack the Economists, and it has brought the return of plutocracy and the new gilded age, as exhaustively documented by French economist Thomas Piketty.

Although I advocated reform of the ALP, I hold little hope it will happen.  Even where they are not overtly corrupt, Labor and too many unions are dominated by careerists whose only goal seems to be to acquire power for power’s sake.  Shorten’s incremental changes will not break the power of these people.  Indeed there seem to be few left in Labor who have not accommodated to the betrayal of Labor’s purpose.  (I hasten to add I am a supporter of unions in principle, but too many of them have also become ossified.)

Left to its own devices, the ALP is unlikely to fundamentally reform itself.  It would take someone at least of the stature of Gough Whitlam, and no such reformer is in evidence.  Therefore a different strategy is required.

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StE gets big plug in Australian Fairfax press

An article by Bob Douglas on the dire need for real political leadership prominently features Sack the Economists, along with a new book by prominent Australian economist Ross Garnaut, Dog Days: Australia After the Boom, the latter launched by prominent Liberal politician Malcolm Turnbull.  Tony Abbot deposed Turnbull as Leader of the Opposition in 2009, winning by one vote, otherwise Turnbull would probably now be Prime Minister.

See Bob Douglas’ article in the Sydney Morning Herald here.  It also appears in the Melbourne Age and the Canberra Times.

What if Gillard Were to Lead?

English: Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gil...

Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Published at Independent Australia 19 Jan.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s October parliamentary speech, in which she systematically tore down Opposition Leader Tony Abbot for his persistent misogyny, got a big reaction world-wide.  Why?  Because it is a problem not often addressed in mainstream politics, and because of her obvious passion and authenticity, delivered with devastatingly articulate precision.

In all the discussion that followed, about whether this was routine parliamentary posturing, about why the commentariat was caught off-guard, about whether she is hypocritical about other issues, one question was missing.

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Labor and the Media: Obstacles to a Decent Society

Two major Australian institutions are in the spotlight at the moment, the Labor Party at its annual national conference, and the media in an enquiry prompted by the Murdoch press’s excesses in Britain.  However the deepest problems with them are rarely acknowledged.  The Labor Party has become an obstacle to good governance and to a tolerable future for Australia.  The media have become more superficial, divisive, and regressive, and they are eroding our open and democratic society.

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Asleep at the Wheel, Accelerating Towards the Precipice

[This was published at On Line Opinion 29 Nov 2011.]

It is characteristic of some past societies that their highest accomplishments occurred just before a precipitous decline in their fortunes, according to Jared Diamond in his book Collapse.  It is less common that a society’s trajectory comprises a slow rise, a plateau and a slow decline.  Diamond does cite some societies that were able to shift their strategy and successfully negotiate a crisis, so a crash is not inevitable.

The former pattern, accelerating into a crash, is a signature of a society oblivious to imminent peril.  At least, the leadership of the society is oblivious to warning signs of a crisis, and they just keep on doing what they have always done.  Or perhaps they become more and more dissolute, like the later rulers of ancient Rome.

There is an eerie sense of unreality in Australian public life.  The things our leaders argue about, and the evidence they pay attention to, are largely irrelevant to our real situation, which is one of rising multiple crises.  The longer the crises continue unattended, the worse will be the consequences.

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Lost Labor – from 2003

I have been well ahead of the pack on a number of important issues, political leadership among them.

Here is the opening sentence from a comment by Don Watson on political leadership, from the current issue of The Monthly.

“It is now all but universally agreed that the Australian Labor party is a near-ruin, ruled body and soul by factional bosses and opinion pollsters.”

Below is a post from my old website www.geoffdavies.com, dated 7 June 1993.  You can also find more recent comments of mine here in the category “Political commentary”.

After two months abroad I find little has changed on the Australian political scene.  John Howard has finally confirmed he will stay on, the obsessively one-eyed Government is still attacking the ABC for alleged bias, and the Labor Party is still clueless.

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Lesser Known Economic Miracles

Two lesser-known economic good news stories provide a revealing perspective on the mainstream economic paradigm, and on Australia’s current state.

The first economic miracle is Mauritius, brought to our notice by Joseph Stiglitz in the Guardian.  Mauritius gained independence from Britain in 1968, and with few natural resources in its Indian-Ocean archipelago its economic prospects were rated as pretty dismal.  Bucking the usual prescriptions of economists (sell your soul and your land to overseas investors and tourists), and despite per capita income of less than $400, Mauritius decided to invest in its one major asset – its people.

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