I did say I didn’t have a horse in the election, but I guess I did have a preferred outcome. That outcome would have been a narrow victory for one side or another, narrow enough to lend some power to the independents and stifle any hyperbole about mandates and morning springing at the brown brink eastward. A narrow victory would have been the best thing to nourish democracy and stifle its great enemy, the legislative activism that is ceaselessly sowing the tares of law until they stand thick and tall choking every patch of fertile ground. If you followed my link to Belloc in the last post, you might have read the following bit about one of the reasons for the appeal of Islam in the ancient near east. But as you probably didn’t, here it is again:
…society had fallen, much as our society has today, into a tangle wherein the bulk of men were disappointed and angry and seeking for a solution to the whole group of social strains. There was indebtedness everywhere; the power of money and consequent usury. There was slavery everywhere. Society reposed upon it, as ours reposes upon wage slavery today. There was weariness and discontent with theological debate, which, for all its intensity, had grown out of touch with the masses. There lay upon the freemen, already tortured with debt, a heavy burden of imperial taxation; and there was the irritant of existing central government interfering with men's lives; there was the tyranny of the lawyers and their charges. To all this Islam came as a vast relief and a solution of strain.
Anyway, is it safe for me to read the papers again? Have all the people who were outrageously pleased by the election result finished jubilating? It was principally the thought of the ‘Howard Haters’ celebrating with all the subtlety and intelligence they brought to their complaining that made the prospect of a Labor victory unpleasant to me. I always found the depth of their hatred incomprehensible. Here was a man seamlessly continuing the Hawke-Keating era agendas of privatizing stuff, of interning asylum seekers, of gutting higher education, and loyally supporting the US alliance. All governments since 1975 have more or less done the same thing. The Coalition government was not remotely ‘of the right’ in any way that would be recognisable historically anywhere. It wasn’t socially conservative, it wasn’t economically conservative, it wasn’t small-government conservative, it didn’t have any autocratic tendencies that weren’t shared with the Hawke and Keating governments. Of course, Howard’s government made far too many laws. True, he did that bullshit ‘never ever’ thing. I trust Lexifab’s appraisal that standards of accountability nosedived under his watch. And he seems to have been, on balance, more of a lying weasel than the other guy seems to be. But I don’t think there was anything particularly dark and evil about the man or his government. He seemed to be more decent and more competent than the general run of leaders in the Western world.
I expect Rudd will be, as well. I liked him when he used to appear on the TV in the mornings in the days when I watched TV in the mornings. He voted the right way in the ‘Let Scientists Go Crazy Ape Bonkers with Their Drill and Sex’ vote on embryonic stem cells. (Like Howard and Costello, and Peter Garrett; and unlike Brendan Nelson or Malcolm Turnbull.) I hope he goes through with his undertaking to abandon the old government’s move to introduce an identity card by stealth. I know that what he has said and what the old lot said about climate change and foreign policy, once you scrape away the rhetoric, is almost exactly the same, so I don’t feel any unease there. I don’t expect his government will be any better or worse for my sector than the last one- especially as Higher Education is now one of many far-flung satrapies watched over by a Minister for Everything. But I might allow myself to be a teensy bit hopeful there. I’m also happy with the way Rudd distanced himself from the frivolous cultural obsessions of Keating. I felt a Costello government would have been far more likely to subject us to another time-wasting constitutional change debate.
Perhaps only a Labor government will be able to get away with not implementing ‘Son of Kyoto’. Perhaps only a Labor government will be able to get bipartisan support for Hilary’s invasion of Iran. I hope so.
This really is the Lucky Country. Howard did a decent job. I am pretty sure Rudd will do a decent job. The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil. And if the Howard Haters have finished rejoicing, I can happily go back to reading the papers!