Let them eat cake…

While this title refers vaguely to the fact that I had cake to celebrate my birthday at work today (complete with tiara). It’s more to do with the original misquotation of Mary Antoinette.

“Let them eat cake” has been quoted throughout time as fundamental evidence that the elite ruling class is out of touch with the masses. Mary Antoinette was supposedly confronted with the news that her people had no bread to eat – and she infamously replied “qu’ils mangent de la brioche” – wikipedia claims that this quote is in fact a misrepresentation as she was only 10 and living in her native Austria at the time it was documented and was not born when the incident was said to have occurred. Although the quote is not accurate – it represents the disparity between the ruling class of France and its people – a disparity that eventually led to her execution during the French Revolution.

Australia’s politicians and intellectual elite are at the cusp of creating a similar chasm between themselves and those they rule (or us plebs). Fortunately John Howard is the ultimate bridge builder (according to Kevin Rudd he’s built a bridge too far…). I recently subscribed to Crikey – the elite’s trashy gossip magazine. In fact founder Stephen Mayne was at the centre of the Walkley controversy a couple of weeks ago when News Ltd’s political editor Glenn Milne drunkenly attacked him, pushing him off the stage. Through Crikey I’ve discovered a number of blogs where Australia’s “intellectual types” hang out and discuss why the country is going down hill. Left-wing secular humanists (and I think the left wing is tautological at that point) are the most annoying breed of snobs I’ve ever come across. I wish they would die. Or at least stop trying to inflict the rest of the world with their skewed view of logic and reason. Rudd has been simultaneously hailed as an intellectual hero while being shouted down as a man who dares to suggest religion should have some bearing on politics. They can’t have their cake and eat it too.

Rudd is an interesting character. It’s two working weeks since he took the reigns of the Labor party. The opinion polls spiked – as they always do with a new leader (in an interesting aside – it seems a political takeover sends value up, while a when a company takeover occurs the buyer’s share price often drops…), but most political scholars (with bias towards the government) suggest this will stabilise and Rudd will need to do more to actually win the election. The battlegrounds for the next election are in the process of being drawn – Labor will use IR and the environment as their trumps while the government will stick to the flashpoint issues of defining “Australian” and promoting their economic strength. Fortunately for Labor Rudd is a very smart man. Just like Kim Beazley. Unfortunately for Labor, early indications are that Rudd’s intelligence rubs the electorate the wrong way. Rudd has used his first fortnight in the job to position the party philosophically without revealing any major political differences to the previous leadership.

The key to success in Australian politics is engaging the fairly large, educated, middle class with political philosophy that they don’t necessarily care about. Labor needs to pick “wedge” issues that will polarise the populace giving them a majority chunk of voters. The Howard Government has perfected this method. IR and the environment have the potential to do this – but the Howard Government’s issues may be the biggest ace in the pack. Immigration, Australian history, racism and tolerance – they’re all big, divisive issues. To have any chance of winning the next election, and for Rudd to keep his head (in a less literal way than the French royals), Labor and the left needs to realise that a lot of their political postulating isn’t hitting home with the electorate at all. They’re stuck in a philosophical battle while the Liberals are scoring points by applying things where it matters most to the modern Aussie – their sense of “self” and their wallets.


Tim says:

Another problem is tha he is going so far to show isn’t under the union’s thumb that it puts him directly at odds with those who are

Anonymous says:

I wholeheartedly agree with you! The problem with the Left is that they are gay.

Joel says:

Tim, I think that is where Julia Gillard has to come in. Despite the fact that she is probably the least likable woman on this planet second only to Helen Clark (and then only because she is from New Zealand), she is an ex-union thugette, which means she will have the backing of all the ex-union thugs in the party (pretty much everyone other than Kevin Rudd) plus the large unionist vote that saves the Labor parties proverbial in any given election.

Leah says:

Is there a reason those last few lines are in tiny font? It’s driving me crazy.

Nathan says:

I have no idea what went wrong – it should be fixed now though.

miriam says:

Nathan, has anyone every told you that you are a very beautiful man.

It’s not the dress that makes the person, but the person that makes the dress… In your case, it’s the tiara!

Pretty as a princess.

Anonymous says:

I am quite appalled by these comments. Firstly, or lastly, Nathan’s comments at the end about what the critical issues for next year’s election will be. Immigration, Australian history, racism and tolerance are not BIG issues, they are a smoke screen that have been used by neo-conservatives in both Australia and the US to distract the electorate from what is critical. They are scare tactics designed to get us scared of losing something we already have, there by not having to promise to improve our lives.
On the other hand we have issues surrounding IR laws and the environment. The Howard government has continually denied that there is a problem with climate change, until very recently, and is in no position to remedy a situation that he and his government are largely responsible for. Further more, am I the only christian concerned about the well being of all workers who are not in a proffession.
Which leads to my other comment, why are conservatives, and most christians so agaist unionism. Unions have been responsible for most of our great working and pay conditions. There pupose is to represent those with very little bargaining power individually in hte work force. Yes, there has been corruption in the past, but that is true of any organisation. Overall, they have had a very positive impact on our contry.

Nathan says:

Please stop posting anonymously – at least make up a stupid nickname – I can’t tell all the anonymous opinions apart.

Making issues out of non issues is part of politics. If you can get the electorate behind you on a non issue where there’s a point of distinction between the sides you’ll win the election.

They may not be issues to you anonymous, but I’d suggest you probably fall into the latte left category of people who get caught up in the activities mentioned at the start of the post.

You’ve got to remember that a scary percentage of the Australian population think that A Current Affair and Today Tonight are legitimate forms of journalism. Howard is great at engaging with those voters – and that’s the ultimate advantage of a compulsary democracy. In other countries they’d be too apathetic to vote – but Howard wheels them in by appealing to their emotions and their hip pockets.
I’m not going to buy into the IR debate – I think there are actually pros for workers under the laws despite the protests against them. The shortage of workers means that the onus is on an employer to keep their employee and workers are free to shop around for the best deal. That my anonymous friend is the market economy at work.

Anonymous says:

there is only one true anonymous and that is me. the previous anonymous who was pro-union is an imposter. he must be gay.

Leah says:

To anonymous: “critical issues” in politics are what is on the public’s mind, not what is really important to the country. Therefore, factors that are put out there (as smoke screens) may not be of real importance but they are still critical to the public. And of course, whatever is important to the public is important to politicians. So therefore, just because it is important to the country (maybe it’s not, maybe that’s just your opinion), doesn’t make it a critical issue, it’s only a critical issue if the public (and, therefore, politicians) place importance on it.

Also, there was no benefit in bringing “Christians” into the equation as far as unions are concerned. Yes, you can draw generalisations about parties as they’re mostly true, but don’t do it about Christians. You’re only going to create emnity.

And you only make yourself look gay by calling someone else gay for being an “anonymous” imposer.