the australian constitutional thingy

Catherine Driscoll catherine.driscoll at
Mon Nov 8 18:28:23 PST 1999

rob wrote back to angela lots of stuff with which i agree, and:

>>and there's no 'identity' because the prior forms of working class identity
>>have proved themselves to be little more than mechanisms of integration and

i skipped this in angela's post but... this only makes sense to me at the level where people want to say all 'identity' in this politicised sense is a mechanism of integration and subordination. i'm not really happy with that either, but are you saying there's something specific about workingclassness that used to be articulated as an identity and no longer can be?

>Well, I passionately agree with this -

in which case i'd also like to know what it is you're agreeing with

>but I don't reckon most saw this in
>such a finely tuned beam - we simply hate all authority more every day.

do we? who's we in this? the working class? rural voters? i really hadn't noticed 'them' hating all authority -- seemed to me much more like they wanted authority to serve their 'interests'. which don't seem to me to be inherently any better than the interests of what you call the cafe-au-lait set (i prefer flat white myself, less chance of it being served in a glass with a tissue tied round it, i hate that).

>The 'no' brigade traded on this throughout, and it resonated. 'Course,
>their particular deployment was both deceitful ('direct election' alone
>would just get us more of the corporate party thing) and incoherent ('don't
>fix what ain't broke' is an ill fit with 'don't trust your institutions').

oh i loved that. but that contradiction wasn't invented by the abominable kerry jones & co -- it's already part of if not a cornerstone of that 'proudly practical and unpretentious political culture' you seem to be praising.

>>which explains why traditional Labor Party electorates
>>voted overwhelmingly 'no' -- as did National Party (rural) electorates
>Not to my satisfaction, Ange. A bit of insecurity overload (generally a
>conservative force); a bit of 'fuck all this
>symbolism-for-the-cafe-au-lait-set shit' (an impotent bleat from a proudly
>practical and unpretentious political culture which has to choose from two
>words to express itself); and a dash of 'we the people should be trusted to
>choose our president' (although we're happy not choosing our
>primeminister). That's my instinct, anyway.
>>you can't explain that without pondering the history of the collapse of
>>>traditional forms of representation, organisation and identity, and
>>indeed >without thinking a little of the ways in which working class
>>identity is being
>The welfare state seemed like a practical expression of the people, I
>reckon. This state doesn't. Our institutions don't express us, and we're
>either too insecure or too alienated from each other to even think of doing
>the expressing directly ourselves. Get into some of that Telstra stock,
>buy dead-locks, and enjoy some private suit-loathing when the news comes on
>- that's us.

but voting no was an expression, wasn't it? how was it not 'a practical expression of the people [defined however]'? how about if it was an expression of 'us' and we're just part nostalgia, part rampant insecurity, part justifiable cynicism, and part stupidity.


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