Category Archives: blogs

Political addiction and the 2007 election ( Revenge of the Pseph)

“Well may you say God Save the Queen, but nothing will save the governor General”


I just had to say that on remembrance day. Every time I visit Canberra I have to stand at the front of the old parliament house and recite this mantra. Today is a holy day for political junkies.

I find election night television coverage to be a highlight of my viewing year. Every now and then I like to sit in the TAB and make a few bets, there is something mesmerizing about studying the numbers on the screen and trying to make sense of them followed by an exhilarating or disappointing climax as the race is called. I get the same petty buzz on election nights.

My name is John and I am a political junkie.

My craving for more and more is profoundly dissatisfied by this Federal election. I feel I am being subjected to involuntary cold turkey and being denied access to any solid political hits.

I am bored silly with the present election campaign. I agree with Mark Latham’s analysis that this election is a Seinfeld election – all about nothing. Senator Andrew Bartlett makes similar observations on his blog “Empty vessels and hollow men”.  

Kevin Rudd and the ALP have been running fast in all directions to avoid any argument with John Howard and the incumbent government and the substance of all media coverage has been meaningless visits to shopping centres, workplaces, schools and old peoples homes. The media hunts for bloopers and mishaps. When they get such a spontaneous distraction they feature that as the lead story.

When John Howard and Kevin Rudd met for a televised debate the headlines were not interested in any political issues but focused on the sensation of “The Worm”, the perception of the audience. The only exciting news presented about the election to date has been the almost daily release of opinion polls and the endless speculation about the size of the swing to the ALP.

Unfortunately much of the election commentary on the blogosphere has been similarly shallow, often just commenting on the media pulp but more and more  engaging in the esoteric art of psephology (the statistical study of elections).  

Independent psephylitics have been raised to a higher pedestal than political commentators.   The ABC’s Antony Green, the unchallenged Lord of the Psephs, has emerged as the most authoritative election analyst on the web and on the T.V. Journalists of the ilk of Laurie Oakes or Paul Bongiorno who have dominated past election coverage with their inside leaks, policy juxtapositions and eagerness to find or create political conflicts have been sidelined by Lord Antony’s speculative number crunching.

Politics has been reduced to the level of a cricket match. We, the people, sit in the grandstands cheering for one side or the other and watching the scoreboard.  However we will be quickly evicted if we wander on to the pitch. The thing that makes the 2007 election different to other cricket matches is that the ALP is content to bowl under-arm for the whole test. The government is swinging wildly trying to make contact with the ball but it rolls so slow and so low they cant do anything with it.

It is easy to be cynical about politicians detachment from the real world, about their minimal contact with their constituents who have no real power or voice in parliamentary business. Consent is given to these removed politicians once every three (or six) years by way of a cross in a box next to their name on a ballot paper which is the only political engagement required of a “responsible citizen”. It is similarly easy to be cynical about the expansive gulf between policy principles discussed in parliament and the real working (or not working) of government policies and public service delivery in the real lives of real people on the ground.

The only knowledge we have of the exercise of political power comes from a severely refracted, minimalised and biased mass media, not necessarily biased within the parliamentary spectrum but intensely biased in the construction of notions of society, citizenship and politics. The mass media, as our only common cultural experience as a nation defines our notions of “normal”, “reasonable” and “desirable”. The media is biased in favour of a growth/consumerist economy and sociology. Alternative perspectives of the world and the perspectives from on the ground in real peoples lives are simply not represented in the cultural parameters of mass media product.

So, through a combination of detached and alienating parliamentary political process and a one dimensional mass media, mainstream political discussion and activity is simply engagement in this clumsy illusion.

This mass adherence to illusion is a matter of consciousness. It is what we flawed humans do, we adopt or create illusions and then cling to them as if it was absolute reality.

The shallow, mechanical nature of the 2007 election is actively dumbing down the Australian population – and our consciousness, our understandings of what politics is and what is our role in it. We are more and more accepting our position as a passive market rather than an active body-politic.

Public opinion, as expressed through surveys, petitions, political campaigns and focus group research is not used as a basis for democratic policy development but as data that influences the advertising campaigns for undemocratic, unrepresentative policies devised by small elites detached from any public control or even input.

Politics and ideas have been reduced to conversation and “public opinion” (whatever that is). The concept of an idea metamorphosing into action and history is a notion that is not even considered by us ordinary people except within our privatised existence at work or within the fence lines of our home.

It does not matter if our politics is Green, revolutionary socialist, christian, feminist, libertarian or anything else if we engage in politics as simply conversation, ideas detached from existential reality and material history, then our politics is an illusion with no connection to the exercise of power. The adoption of alternative political illusions is not alternative to political illusion itself which, as I mentioned, is a matter of consciousness not ideology.

On matters of consciousness, Jiddu Krishnamerti had something to say on the matter…. “The core of the teachings”


Filed under australia, blogs, history, philosophy, politics, psychology, society, spirituality

12 months of Paradigm Oz

It is 12 months since Paradigm Oz started, the point at which I had planned to evaluate my experiment.


12 months ago Paradigm Oz was planned as a news agency to be based on Palm Island. My partner and I had been working with a few Palm Islanders in the previous year developing proposals for sustainable housing projects for Palm Island. We had been running the website, which wasn’t really a blog because it didn’t invite comments. served the purpose of building a network around our work as well as being an information resource on the issues we were pursuing, in particular sustainable housing and this blog was supposed to be the next step in the same direction.

Because of various issues, in particular our continuing battles with the Queensland Adult Guardianship regime we never ended up moving to Palm Island. Apart from our own problems, key people we were working with on Palm found themselves burning out.

So in the end I decided to continue with Oz as a personal blog as an experiment, just to see what would happen.

I have found the blogging experience quite unfulfilling without the base of an active organisation as was and as Paradigm Oz was originally envisioned.

I have no agenda to promote or publicise so my writing has become somewhat purposeless. I have figured that my opinions and perspectives may be interesting to some. But in the end, so what?

It is this one dimensional nature of the written language that I have found most dissatisfying about producing a blog.

The dominant methodology of learning in our institutions from pre-school to Phd is written text. While we may read about many things from many perspectives, our monotonous one dimensional pavlovian experience is that of perceiving text – marks on paper or a screen generating electro/chemical reactions in our brain that generate perceptions of shape that trigger pre-existing concepts.

Written texts are not a direct experience of the reality of their subject matter.They are an experience of a representation of the subject matter, a secondary learning characterised by the monotonous experience of text triggered conceptual recall. Writing just reminds us of our own preconceptions and is incapable of teaching anything beyond them.

However a multi-dimensional education methodology based on direct experience of the reality being studied gives new concepts (rather than just networking existing concepts) for which often the student must afterwards find the language (or music or art) to explain it rather than discovering the concept through language in the first instance.

So, on reflection of the last 12 months of Paradigm Oz, it has been a succesful experiment in that I have figured out a bit about the mechanics of the blogosphere but it has been a failure in terms of building any organisational or educational momentum, which was my underlying reason for experimenting with a blog. I can still see enormous possibilities in education and organisation but I will have to change my blogging paradigm beyond detatched commentary for this to occur. This is my challenge for the next twelve months – stay tuned!


p.s. at the time of writing Paradigm Oz has had 12, 544 visits in the last year, nearly 10,000 0f those visits have been since July.

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