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Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Fast Show

I've been watching a bit of The Fast Show recently. (Funny how our skills of procrastination always come to the fore around exam time.) For those who have never heard of it, it's a British sketch comedy show that aired in the late nineties.

This sketch made me giggle.

For those not easily offended, there is also a great sketch called "I didn't mean to say that". The mannerism of the three guys are great.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Interesting Quotes: Episode 1

"Men are unable to forgive what they cannot punish and they are . . . unable to punish what has turned out to be unforgivable."

Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition

Is it just me or is what this quote implies a little debilitating? It's saying in order to move on we always feel the need to make someone else pay for what we perceive to be their mistakes. If we cannot make them pay, or if we feel they do not sufficiently recognise their guilt, we are genetically forced to carry our feeling of injustice with us like a burden... unable to place it down on the ground and keep walking.

What does this say for our relationships with each other? Many of the things we do to each other are unable to be sufficiently "punished"... which makes me think, how much baggage do we all carry around with us?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Snow fall in Rue St André, Montréal - 13:07, 3 December 2007

A crack in the shell and it all just fell apart...

Graffiti in Sydney suburb of Redfern

It's been roughly a week since the Liberal Party lost power in Australia. It has been interesting to see how drastically the party has imploded in that time. The (former) Prime Minister, John Howard, lost his own seat of Bennelong, and has therefore not managing to be re-elected to parliament. It is only the second time in Australia's political history that an incumbent Prime Minister has lost in his own electorate. Peter Costello, the former Deputy Prime Minister, a man who had made his desire to lead the Liberal Party no secret during the last eleven years of government has finally decided he doesn't want to run for the Liberal leadership. In fact, he no longer wants to remain in politics at all, preferring to move into the private sector. Similarly, prominent ministers in Howard's former government, notably former foreign minister Alexander Downer and former Attorney General Philip Ruddock (who was once described by David Marr as "a dark star" and "a blank page of a man"), have taken much diminished roles in the new Liberal opposition government.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how much Howard's obstinate iron grip of the party, his muzzling of the more liberal Liberals, his "we work as a team and we do it my way" policy to leadership was the only thing holding the party together. Without Howard the party finds itself rejoicing in the increased freedom of life in the Liberal Party without Howard, but also daunted by the consequences of what unbridled freedom involves. The implosion of the party demonstrates just how fragile the faith in Howard as a leader was within the party. With Howard no longer dominating the party room, it is clear for all to see just how discontented many members of the Liberal Party were with the way the party was being run. Remember, this is the party that only a week ago, some 47% of the Australian population voted for.

Without Howard the unquestionable is suddenly being questioned. Suddenly apologising to the Aborigines for the Stolen Generation is no big deal. Suddenly, signing the Kyoto Protocol is the right thing to do. Suddenly, gay rights are on the agenda. Suddenly, instead of petulantly crossing our arms and saying, "well, why should we?" we're asking, "why shouldn't we?".
I find it a little disturbing that we followed along so obediently and unquestioningly for so long. Many political commentators have pointed out that one of Howard's great skills was to induce apathy in the Australian public. His leadership was devoid of any real inspiration. It was a case of trying to annoy the least number of people, rather than any real attempt to inspire a nation to follow a dream. When it is revealed, as it has been, that even those in his own party were only marginally behind him (if they were actually behind him at all), you have to wonder why we were all so easily convinced. We just learnt to swallow the pills. We thought, "he doesn't want to talk about Guantanamo? That's ok. He doesn't want to talk about Woomera, about Villawood? Well, hmmmm it's all so complicated anyway. He wants to go to Irak? I mean, pass me the sport would you.... yeah... that's better."

What was gained by being so obstinate towards taking responsibility for anything? What did we gain by being evasive of answers? Why did we feel the need to go out of our way to be so disdainful of the idea of everyday decent values? It didn't amount to anything in the end. Howard hasn't left the Liberal Party in a position of strong intellectual or conceptual consensus as to what it stands for. Instead, the party is left groping in the dark, having to redefine itself, perhaps now knowing more about what it doesn't want to represent, than what it does.