Margo, no doubt you will have received a flood of passionate messages in relation to the FTA.(Margo: Indeed!)I urge your readers to look beyond this immediate issue and ask why and how this political situation came about. Of course, it’s more than a political situation; it’s our whole damn future! But it’s played out politically, so let’s look to what’s going on.
Firstly, we need to understand the political climate we are in. Idealism is great for use as the overall measuring stick, and we must remain centred there. We have of course been removed, and in fact removed ourselves by allowing it, from a place anything near ideal. So, what is really going on?
There are four factors involved in creating a political climate. Let’s work from the grass roots up.
The mass mind
This is a loose term, because every individual thinks for him or herself and has their own individual view. But a mass mind is very real, in effect. If we were to step away from daily life and retreat to an overall position, looking upon our nation, we see a general result of all of those viewpoints. It’s the same for any nation. Our mass mind is a very interesting mix, it’s not at all a fully made or rounded Australian “oneness”. It is in fact extremely disjointed.
The mass mind is known also for the fact it is impressed upon. While individual viewpoints exist, these exist because of what is given to that mind, whereby that mind has its thoughts shaped by what is given to it. There is, if you like, no deeper or clearer insight made by that individual mind, and it enmeshes into the mass.
It is very politically impressionable. There are many reasons for this, most of which are due to a lack of time or inclination to want to look any further than what it is given.
These can be individual thinkers providing input, or institutions and organisations and other parties doing the same. These can also be acts of a human or non-human nature, like droughts and terrorist attacks, dollar valuations and sporting fixtures. This category represents unique forces that bear upon the mass mind and therefore upon the political climate of the day. Political parties and the Opposition leader are in this category.
This is a such a strong force in its own right it deserves its own category. It is a powerful force providing continual input. Readers of Webdiary are well aware of how frightening it can be to have a media force representing a singular proprietor’s viewpoint, and to be threatened with a lessening of media outlets. This threat is not so well known out there in the mass mind, if at all.
However, we are less inclined to see the media also for what it is: as a reflection. This is why blaming the media is always so fruitless. The media is fully designed to give consumers product. It wants to give you what you want. We must always remember that. The real question, ever, in critically assessing our media is: “What do I want?”. If your readers want to change the media, they must make their wants known to the media. The media is in effect guessing what you want, otherwise; yet their guesses are professionally acute.
Further, make those wishes known to the legislators and lobbyists, including the Opposition. Send them a copy and educate them as to what you desire of your media in your country. Your readers actively providing input in this way will most certainly make a difference. They key point to remember is that the media is only ever guessing what we want, until we tell them.
Think of the media as a highly energised spinning wheel, sliding out product for daily consumption. Even though the concept of “the media” in Australia maybe a huge thing in a reader’s mind, that is, the spinning wheel is huge, it’s also finely balanced, and very, very sensitive. Individual Australians have the power to tip the wheel, and change the product. Of course, major changes will take time, but if the media outlet wants your consumption, they’ll give you exactly what you want, in bucketloads. Making a difference begins with something as small as sending an email.
The Leader of the Day
Here we have a very interesting factor. It stands alone. For some reason, the human being seeks to have a singular person as a point of reference for communal living. Obviously we need a structure in place in society so as to function together. But a singular leader is not a given, it’s a choice humankind has made. So what does it represent?
A leader is two things. It is a force in its own right. It is a determining factor. This is clear. What a leader says, goes, until and unless it’s challenged effectively. Think of the mass mind, and imagine all those forces coming to a point. That point is the leader of the day.
Therefore, the leader is also a direct reflection of the mass mind. Think of the leader of the day as both a pinnacle and a reflection of the mass mind in one human being.
Our current leader
Looking into the fact that a leader is a direct reflection of the mass mind, we begin to find how the current leader, John Howard, has been so interesting a phenomena in Australia.
Australia has never been as a peoples one nation. We’ve been terribly divided all along. Of course this division began with the European invasion of Aboriginal Australia. The division of Aboriginal and settled Australia continues to this day. But there is tremendous division within settled Australia. Ours is most definitely a nation divided by class, race, education and outlook. We have been deeply divided as a nation.
The advent of Pauline Hanson on the scene brought to light so many of these divisions. As a leader, she was a pinnacle and reflection of some strong aspects of that national division. As a political force she was born, created politically, by those very divisions, gelled into existence by an unresolved state of the nation.
John Howard, as political opportunist, has taken advantage of the nation’s division. To say he creates division is true; as we have seen, a leader is two things, a force of ‘input’ as well as ‘pinnacle-and-reflection’. But Howard is much more than Hanson; Howard represents divisions as in all she did, and then more, across the board, and right through into critical areas of education (our peoples’ future) and international relations (our place in the world). Howard’s input is widely regarded as divisive, and widely divisive.
Therefore to understand the political climate more accurately, we need to see John Howard as a singular reflection of the mass national division. All that division, grown for so many years, has been encapsulated in our current leader. He was the perfect man to do it. All aspects of his character have led him to this position in our national history, not the least of which is his all pervading trait of opportunism, as the pinnacle reflection of our national division.
The current political climate
What happens when a leader, reflecting our national division, provides input into our nation? He further divides it, obviously. We’ve had a decade of a nation not directed in any way forward, but one standing still, and separated apart. This is going to scare a few people: but the truth is that were such an effect to continue, over many decades the nation would in all probability end in civil war, as each faction is forced to find its own form of acceptance and validate its expression. While division remains, and while division is engendered, those divisions are forced ultimately to fend for themselves in the absence of a unifying leader.
The mass Australian mind was already deeply divided before Howard. Howard has deepened this division and created many more. This mass mind has been further divided by a divided media. We are hereby at an unheralded point of division in our national history.
This is the situation Mark Latham finds himself in.
It is very easy to criticise Latham for all the things we perceive him as failing in.
However, right now he has the most horrifying job in the country. He has to walk a tightrope, not just one, but many, strung between all the many factions of this deeply divided nation. He has to do it daily.
Where people wish for Latham to speak up in one particular way, and decry him for not doing so, “he’s failed us!” is the cry, but were he to fulfil all those particular needs, he would be decried in other quarters more so. Latham giving satisfaction in one quarter equals an horrific bushfire in another.
The question we must ask of Mark Latham in this current climate is not only “What have you done” but also “Who haven’t you upset!”. A more accurate assessment of Latham’s achievements at this point in time is reflected in the fact he has managed to upset far, far less people and factions than he otherwise could have. Sadly, this is the climate of our current reality. Equally, we must acknowledge the climate to understand Latham’s achievements.
Today’s political climate is not a situation of Government and Opposition. Analysts providing opinion on that basis have been dangerously misled.
To consider the current political climate as Government and Opposition is to assume that the government is one thing, and the opposition another. In fact, the government is representing the people, and the people are deeply divided. The Opposition, led by Mark Latham, and the minor parties, united in wanting greater unity of a government, are all fighting this political battle on many, many fronts at once.
Sadly, there are those analysts and commentators who see this achievement of John Howard as being politically clever and masterful. Long may they rue the day of that foolish and expedient belief, as they grow more clear in their role and their responsibility.
When does it change?
Right now, we are in no man’s land, politically. Politicians are electioneering, but there’s no election date. While ever Howard holds the key to that date and to power, in silence and in secrecy, Howard has the initiative. It is an achievement of no small measure that Latham has managed to set the agenda time and again while Howard holds the power initiative.
Latham is performing the task asked of him, straddling the great divisions, and doing so flying blind. Think of what this must be like. It’s a task requiring much forbearance and a grandeur of spirit. It must be extremely draining of energy to try to hold all the divisions together while flying blind. It must be heartbreaking, also, to know the damage that has been done in our divided nation, and to know that until that divisiveness goes, the game must be played in the current climate of horrible compromise.
Latham’s popularity and his energy must, by the nature of the current reality, be sapping. The smarter readers will know this, and be awaiting the time when the situation changes.
It changes when Howard calls the election date.
At that moment, Howard throws the key on the table. And at that moment, Mark Latham is more equally able pick it up.
And at that moment, the general public, the mass mind, starts to take an interest.
What happens then?
Mark Latham is then more of an equal contender. He is not now. He may be regarded as such, but in terms of power, he is not, not now. And then as the general public grows in interest, he breathes more energy. The more interest from the general public, the more energy. With energy, comes greater focus and power and forthrightness, for the one who is in contention, regardless of how much of those things he had before: the key has been thrown onto the table, and that gives energy naturally to the one who would pick it up.
The reverse is true for the one who is incumbent. John Howard has thrown the key on the table, he’s thrown away the initiative, he now has to expend more energy to get them both back.
At that time, each more equal contender stands to represent something of the mass mind, and the mass mind begins to decide.
There is great division in our nation, as we’ve had to horribly face, and yet there is also a tremendous oneness.
The oneness, the unity, is found in the values we hold. At the time of more equal contention, both Latham and Howard will have a track record that above all else matters. One will stand for unity and inclusion, the other for divisiveness and exclusion.
Deep down, we all know how tolerant and what the true Australian is. This will be reflected in our new leader. Let’s have patience and understanding in the meantime.
Margo: And giving away our economic sovereignty to the big boys in America, against our national interest, while collapsing the energy Latham has built up among citizens – how does that fit in, Robert? Please explain! Why didn’t Latham have the guts to take this issue on? He could win back the former Labor battlers on the FTA issue, for a start. He could argue the national interest, and that Howard has betrayed it. Why did he do this, Robert. Why? Who owns the Labor Party?
Robert replied to my questions just after publication of this entry:
Mark Latham has not collapsed the energy built up among citizens. He has collapsed the illusion he was anything but a politician. Of course he has made mistakes; we all knew he would. But the energy you speak of has not been collapsed. Further, what has been collapsed is the illusion that we would immediately and from this terribly divided national condition, exacerbated for nearly a decade by Howard, fight on the grounds of an ideal national way. That is not the playing field we are on.
The energy you are speaking of is a latent energy. You and your readers will find in him more of what you are seeking at that moment. How will this happen?
It has left Howard, for a start. He loses much, much more when he calls the date. Howard must fight to retain public enthusiasm. He’s thrown everything and more at doing so, and hasn’t succeeded. Howard is not far enough ahead to win from this position, given among that the mass mind is now more fully aware of his divisive ways. That energy is there for the taking. It will congeal on Latham through Latham representing, within and through the confines of what he has to work with, a more inclusive country with a a forward direction. I am not here to advocate ALP policy, so look to them to find the extent of that inclusivity, beyond what Latham himself represents.
After that, let’s work to make the system better ourselves. We all must learn from this reign of John Howard and become more aware and more active, lest how can we ask our politicians representing us to be more of the ideal of we want! I recommend your book “Not Happy, John!” for providing positive ways in which this can happen.
This FTA is an horrific compromise and one that hurts me deeply, I assure you. I do not support the decision, but I understand the climate in which it was made. Yet this issue had to be dealt with. My only hope is that in power, good sense will prevail and the thing can be tempered. If not, let it be clear it is Howard’s legacy.
In relation to Latham taking this issue on, he did so. His actions are actions of inclusivity. You must remember he cannot afford to set afire the national public mind. He was threatened with this by Howard’s artillery, fully lined up and waiting.
What happens if the public mind is set afire? Fear is generated, it catalyses on Latham, and fear is Howard’s win. That is what Howard was seeking.
Try to see it in that light. Your enlightened and passionate readers may feel that Latham has set the public afire, but as much as your readership is extensive and valued, this is not the mass mind. The mass mind is not jumping up and down one way or another on this issue. That, Margo, is the greater problem.
Further questions must be asked of Mark Latham. Let’s ask those questions, and let’s listen to the answers. While doing so, consider the climate and understand what he has to do.