Attila the Pun
Sunday, January 23, 2005
Armageddon approaches

I think Terry Lane has been hanging out with Margo a bit too much:

John Howard's planned changes to the institutions of government after July 1 will mean an end to democracy as we know it, writes Terry Lane.

That introduction actually mischaracterises Lane's article, but hey, this is the Age after all.

The fact is that capitalism, as the powerhouse of affluence - Karl Marx had no misgivings or reservations about the driving force of capitalism - is only one factor in general national prosperity.

The single, overwhelming, factor.

Indonesia and Thailand are capitalist paradises where labour has no rights, and the environment can look after itself, and the weak are in no position to cope with natural disasters.

Capitalism, without the restraining, moderating and redistributive devices of democracy, free media and organised labour, is a devouring beast; and when it comes to capitalism no one can hold a candle to the Soeharto family and their pals.

Does Lane have any idea what he is talking about? If asked to name a "capitalist paradise", do you think you could find a single economist, even an evil "economic rationalist" that would name Thailand or Indonesia? A cronyism paradise perhaps. If you risked having your business taken off you because it is competing with a less efficient business owned by the President's son, you would probably disagree with Lane's assessment as well.

This year could be the one in which Australia becomes more like Soeharto's Indonesia, or George W. Bush's America, and less like the civilised nations of Europe, where capital and labour have a more sophisticated and subtle understanding of the tension between the two that is necessary for civilisation to flourish.

Note the little two step there? He refers to Indonesia as a capitalist paradise, to show how bad untramelled capitalism is, the warns that we may become more like that or America, without giving a single reason why becoming more like "George W. Bush's America" would be a bad thing.

This is another example of the pond of unspoken assumptions that people in the lefty op-ed community swim in. Everybody knows that being more like the US would be bad right? Huge gap between rich and poor, no civil liberties, compliant media etc etc. The fact is that none of these are ever proved, or rarely even explicitly stated.

As from July 1, when the party of capital takes total control of the institutions of government, we may expect to see Deakin's co-operative edifice being demolished, brick by brick. And the justification for crying "Havoc" and letting loose the dogs of capital will be that this will, in the end, be best for us all.

Not surprisingly, Lane doesn't explain how this edifice survived the last time that the party of capital had total control, under the Fraser Government.

Already we rank near the bottom of the international league table in all the measures of social well-being, except, significantly, in what we pay for medicines. How long do you think the pharmaceutical benefits scheme will last under the winner-takes-all Howard Government?

Care to name those tables Terry, so that we can evaluate exactly what you mean by "social well-being"? Didn't think so.

We won't be the first to be put through the capitalist experiment. New Zealand has been there and done that, eventually coming to its senses thanks to the persistence of democracy.

Wow, so you mean that the Government implemented a policy direction, and if the voters don't like it, they can vote them out? Do you think this could also work with the evil Howard regime?

The same will happen here, always assuming that democracy itself is not a victim of the Howard revolution. Unhappily, it very well could be.

If Howard decides to change the method of electing the Senate to guarantee that the party with the majority in the lower house also enjoys a majority in the Senate, then an important component of our democratic system - proportional representation in the house of review - will be lost.

Where exactly has Howard said that he is considering changing the method of voting for the Senate? Isn't it the Right that is supposed to run scare campaigns?

Say what we will about J. W. Howard, he is a radical ideologue with a well-defined concept of what an ideal nation should look like. It's no wonder the majority of electors choose to go along with him just to see what will happen next. It beats ladders of opportunity for excitement any day.

So Howard has a strong set of principles, articulates them clearly to the electorate, and the majority vote for him "just to see what will happen next"? Wouldn't it be just awful Terry, if the majority actually voted for him because they agree with him?

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