Apologies to all two of the Cultured Animal’s current readers. Your Dear Beast is incapacitated at this moment. No, it’s not a Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumour; nor, unfortunately, a holiday to Tasmania (although that is coming, and you are warranted in expecting a post on MONA shortly thereafter). Your Most Highly Distinguished Animal is in fact working very hard … elsewhere. For now, here’s a few brief words in place of a proper post.
Robert Manne and Australia’s New Complacency
I have just toddled along to Melbourne’s Wheeler Centre to listen to Monsieur Manne say a few brief words on what he calls the current “complacency” in Australian politics (though he doesn’t credit himself as being the first to describe it as such), and consequently in our dominant cultural outlook.
Atop his soapbox, Manne outlined a few concepts which are dealt with far more thoroughly in his new book, Making Trouble (which I haven’t yet read but look very much forward to doing so). He had some rather poignant things to say, none of which were particularly new to Your Animal but which were so succinctly put – indeed, so wondrously illuminated by his Whitlam-esque, sparkly eyes – as to make one weep. Thank you, our ever eloquent Sir Manne. (I love that his surname is a like “man” but feminised, don’t you?).
- The Iraq war: “a castle of fiction”, the meaning of which has “never really been accepted”.
- He encouraged his audience to participate in Andrew Bolt’s blog “by telling him he’s a fuckwit”.
- My favourite, which is particularly pertinent to a previous entry on recent austerity protests in the UK, was his discussion about the role of more extreme protest in our political landscape. Manne predicted many young people might fight our cultural and political complacency by landing ourselves in jail through more extreme acts of protest. He specifically did not condone, however, acts of violence. He instead suggested there might be many things that young, disillusioned and angry folk can do in a “nonviolent”, “considered” and “principled” manner, in order to “prick” the offending cultural smugness he describes.
- Just an appreciative note on design: the cover of Making Trouble features, as you see above, a red balloon. I do love such tongue-in-cheek symbolism, and I yearn to be one of the many who will yield that sharp needle …
Tanner Fights Back
Speaking of political culture, there seems to be a phenomenon where ex-Labor pollies emerge shortly after the end of their political careers, literary tomes in hand, to expose the serious mess of the party system that has just chewed them up and spat them out. Lindsay Tanner continues this trend with his new book, Sideshow: Dumbing Down Democracy. Tanner and Manne share a disillusionment with the state of Australian politics, and both are hard at work in their recent books to parade the ruthlessness of its charade, the rotten fruitlessness of its game.
I do hope that any Australians out there with half a brain will listen to Robert and Lindsay’s words of wisdom, just as I once listened to Robert Lindsay’s words of wisdom.
Problem is, we’re all a little bit too complacent.
And would probably rather be watching season three of MasterChef.