29 Jan 2018

Popular politics in 2018. The ism of 2018?

Neoliberalism is an old term, dating back to the 1930s, but it has been revived as a way of describing our current politics – or more precisely, the range of thought allowed by our politics. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, it was a way of assigning responsibility for the debacle, not to a political party per se, but to an establishment that had conceded its authority to the market.

For the Democrats in the US and Labour in the UK, this concession was depicted as a grotesque betrayal of principle. Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, it was said, had abandoned the left’s traditional commitments, especially to workers, in favour of a global financial elite and the self-serving policies that enriched them; and in doing so, had enabled a sickening rise in inequality.

The long read

Neoliberalism: the idea that swallowed the world – podcast
The word has become a rhetorical weapon, but it properly names the reigning ideology of our era – one that venerates the logic of the market and strips away the things that make us human


Over the past few years, as debates have turned uglier, the word has become a rhetorical weapon, a way for anyone left of centre to incriminate those even an inch to their right. (No wonder centrists say it’s a meaningless insult: they’re the ones most meaningfully insulted by it.) But “neoliberalism” is more than a gratifyingly righteous jibe. It is also, in its way, a pair of rose coloured eyeglasses.

Image result for Tim Minchin

Extract from an article by Tim Minchin

To Politicians.

Learn how to talk to the people, he says: “You don’t have to talk dumb – you have to talk clear ... You don’t have to be a fucking demagogue and rile up the less educated, the less rich, the insecure to turn on themselves.”

More than that, he thinks, leaders should be given space to change their policies and their minds: “How is the term ‘flip-flop’ a bad thing?” ... You can get out of Brexit.

 You can speak to your population and say, ‘We’ve done our due diligence, we’ve worked really fucking hard, we’ve spent a lot of money and done all the studies, and it turns out it’s going to destroy us – and we don’t think you want that ... More evidence has come in, the parameters of the decision have changed and therefore the decision is going to change, and I hope you can support me.’

“I know I don’t understand the subtleties of politics – obviously – but just get a fucking leader who can say the right shit ... Someone with a good heart, good intentions. Someone who can talk.”

8 Dec 2017

Dignified retirement’ for workers?? NO.NO,NO!

The Coalition war on ‘dignified retirement’ is a bad joke

Immigration minister Peter Dutton has focused on
millions of 'lost' money? What lost money? Photo: AAP
Edited by Stephen W T Read

Sarcasm may be the lowest form of wit, but it helps cut through political farce – as demonstrated when shadow treasurer Chris Bowen slammed the looming bank royal commission in Parliament this week.

At issue was the government’s determination to investigate not-for-profit industry super funds, a group of which own The New Daily.

The ‘scandal’ surrounding industry super, he thundered, was that they “are the best-performing superannuation funds in Australia when it comes to returns for their members”.

“The government has to get to the bottom of these outrageous returns that the industry funds dare to produce for their members, and some are rumoured to be members of a trade union … ‘There are members of unions who are having a dignified retirement. How dare they, we must get to the bottom of this at once!’ the Prime Minister has ordered.”

'Workers having a dignified retirement is an aberration, this can't be allowed to continue', said  the PM.
We can fix this situation easily by forcing them to join the under performing funds as quickly as possible, we can then get bankers on their boards, that way they'll under perform like the rest, that way no one will tell the difference and we can hide the fees?

America:- Pence dumped? Divine intervention?

Vice President: A Dazed Mike Pence Wakes Up 15 Miles Outside D.C. After Asking God To Deliver Him From Evil

30 Nov 2017

Humour polices taboos and stereotypes, including those of cultural difference. So perhaps it should be banned or at least strictly licensed.

Do we really want joke police, because we are heading that way.
Image result for A smiling face laughingImage result for A smiling face laughing

We live in an age of rising gelotophobia; not, in case you are wondering, a fear of ice-cream, but a fear of laughter. It can, it seems, be terribly destructive to laugh at anyone for a range of reasons, and one of the hottest of those is cultural appropriation. 

The agelasts (“wowsers”) often seem keen to use the wonders of social media to howl down anyone who dares to laugh at other cultures.

The wowsers have a point, at least some of the time. Blackface inscribes unequal and oppressive racial power relations. It does so even if entered into innocently as “just a joke”.
Humour polices taboos and deploys stereotypes, including those of cultural difference. So perhaps it should be banned or at least strictly licensed.

If that doesn’t sound right to you, it is probably because you also sense that laughter can be a source of pleasure, understanding, and human connection.

It was written by a comic playwright, more than 2,000 years ago, near the start of his Heauton Timorumenos (The Self-Tormentor) and it means something like “I am a man: I consider nothing human alien to me.”

Humour is one of the most durable ways of bringing people together, through the intimacy of shared laughter and understanding. Laughter is a distinctive feature of humans and it has evolutionary as well as socialorigins.

It is a human pleasure and a social glue, but it has also, for a very long time, thrived on cultural appropriation and distortion. We laugh with, but in doing so we often also laugh at.

Satire such as the verbal and cultural trappings of Trump (though Alec Baldwin does it with a certain furious intimacy).
Parody, one of the most ubiquitous comic and satirical techniques, functions by imitation with comic distortion.
It appropriates accents, gaits, wardrobes, words, and anything else it can think of, almost always in a judgmental way.

Nine times out of ten, “That is just not funny” does not mean “That is a badly-executed joke” so much as “I don’t agree that you should be laughing at that”. Then the equally lame response comes back: “Can’t you take a joke?” 

A fairly clear way to bring some order to this confusion is to distinguish between laughing up and laughing down. In modern Australia and other Western nations, we are generally OK with laughing up at people or groups who are relatively more powerful. When it comes to politicians, this licence to ridicule the powerful becomes a universal civic duty.

It seems to me that you can and should disagree ethically with some jokes, but it’s a big step further to insist that they simply are not funny, and a very big step beyond that to deny them a right to exist.

Humour without the risk of danger and offence would be a very bland thing. Humour helps build the robustness it requires of its victims, it is often a very good thing.

In our pursuit of a world that is safely and entirely OK, must humour be cleansed of its original sin of cultural appropriation and insensitivity? Are comedians welcome to make us laugh, as long as they don’t make us laugh at anything that doesn’t belong to them? Can an Englishman, an Irishman and a Frenchman never walk into a bar again unless complex multiple-citizenship conditions apply?

Is that fair? Would we like a world like that?

It would  be laughable.

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Popular politics in 2018. The ism of 2018? Neoliberalism is an old term, dating back to the 1930s, but it has been revived as a way of d...