the australian constitutional thingy

Rob Schaap rws at
Tue Nov 9 22:55:38 PST 1999

G'day Cat,

Regarding this Angelism:

>>>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 took Ange to be referring to 'unionist' or 'Labor member' - you can add 'republican' now. None of these avowed tags gets you outside or opposite the structure of your oppression. Maybe a simplistic take on my part, but that's what I was agreeing with.

>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'.

Maybe it's because their interests aren't being served, but hate 'em they do. Cops, pollies, public servants, academics and monarchs - all have taken substantial hits in trustworthiness/dignity'respect/popularity polls, on talkback radio, in letters to the editor, and in the media (even journalists have gone backwards). I reckon a fair bit of this was expressed as 'no' the other day.

>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).

Me, too.

>>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

Reckon you're right, Cat. 'Practical and unpretentious' doesn't mean 'without contradiction at its core' (and, yeah, I am pretty comfortably at home in this milieu). And anyway, if it weren't there, we'd be hard pressed to explain why it seemed to resonate so widely. That's what I was trying to get at with that bit about:
>>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

>but voting no was an expression, wasn't it? how was it not 'a practical
>expression of the people [defined however]'?

The welfare state was a bipartisan matter of faith here (just look at the Tories' 1974 Platform - it reads like the Communist Manifesto by today's standards!) until the early eighties. It expressed the nuances of our particular prejudices and aspirations (traditionally harder on Aborigines, women and the unemployed; traditionally generous to students, the sick, male workers, home buyers, truckies, farmers, and domestic manufacturing capital). For most of the time, its weightings were not politically contentious, if memory serves. That's a much more eloquently and holistically representative expression of our political culture du juour than a stifled response to a simple 'yes/no' choice on a sparse little ballot paper.

Seems to me the ballot paper itself has taken on the form of the system's representation (imposition?) to us rather than ours to it. They unilaterally build our hovel for us, and we're left to choose the toilet paper.

>how about if it was an
>expression of 'us' and we're just part nostalgia, part rampant insecurity,
>part justifiable cynicism, and part stupidity.

I've no problem with this, Cat. There's no single explanation. But there'd be a couple of practically decisive ones, and I was proposing my take on what those might be.

Cheers, Rob.

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