The monsters have stormed the gate

My sympathies to my friends in the United States of America.  Following is an extract from an essay I wrote in 2002.  My concerns have not changed, just expanded to encompass many parts of the 'free' world. (Sorry would LJ cut, but LJ seems to be feeling unwell). ETA LJ cut now working.

The conservative forces, dominated by the Howard government, proponents of economic rationalism and globalisation, and mainstream media have effectively silenced the radical thought in Australia.  They have created a conservative discourse through attacks on affirmative action, multiculturalism, feminism, academics, public broadcasting, public education, Aboriginal reconciliation and immigration.  This conservative discourse has effectively positioned the majority of Australians for a compliant reading.  Today the concerns of Australia are dominated by “neoliberal free-market economics and a new social contract based in private interest and competitive individualism” (Davis, 2002).  This overwhelmingly dominant discourse is reinforced daily through the use of specific language, ideology and knowledge, to ensure that the discursive power is maintained.  As Manne comments,


The public mood of contemporary Australia is dominated by the conservative homilies of John Howard and Tony Abbott; by the populist chatter of inflammatory talk-back radio hosts; by television current affairs programs preoccupied with law-and-order anxieties and by welfare dependency outrage; and by right-wing opinion columnists scoffing at the ideal of social justice on every other day (Manne, 2001:198).


Foucault was concerned with “how knowledge was put to work through discursive practices in specific institutional settings to regulate the conduct of others” (Hall, 1997: 47).  The discourse of neo-conservatism has regulated and silenced the voices of radical thought by representing them as the cultural elite, out of touch with ‘ordinary Australians’.  As Foucault has argued discourse “regulates not only what can be said under determinate social and cultural conditions but who can speak, when and where” (Barker, 2000: 79). 


How many more voices will be silenced now?


You see, Debra, I really like you. But I don't buy any of that.
1) Globalisation does a hell of a lot more to advance the interests of poor people round the world than protectionism does. As one politician from a poor Asian country said, if we can't compete with our cheap labour, how else are we supposed to compete?
2) Maybe the voices of radical thought that are supposedly being ``silenced'' -- who exactly is silencing them? there is freedom of speech in Australia -- are just not grabbing people because those voices are less than compelling. That is, those voices may not actually have anything interesting to say.
3) A certain amount of welfare dependency outrage is justifiable. The welfare system is very open to abuse. And it's lower middle-class people who suffer the most from the consequent tax burden.
4) Public education, public broadcasting, multiculturalism, feminism etc, are not all perfect institutions and should not be immune to criticism. I have the deepest appreciation for what my feminist forebears fought for in terms of legal rights and cultural acceptance of the female view. But I find most of what passes for feminist discourse these days to be the most appalling rubbish.
5) America, Australia and NZ are swimming in freedom and freedom of speech. People have so much of it, they don't know what to do with it and totally take it for granted. We've had left wing and right wing governments here and in the end, life goes on regardless, and the governments don't really make that much difference.

Don't wish you to defriend me over this, Debra, but I'm starting to get pissed off on behalf of the neo-cons, who are apparently the root of all evil. And it aint true.