February 26, 2004

just another day - rant warning

It's Thursday evening and the weekend is hoving into view. Just one more day of hot rooms and sweaty kids and sweaty teachers before we get a short break. Halleluja.

I have taken to getting the groceries at the Burwood Kmart square on the highway on the way home. Is it just me or is there is subculture of youth parenting and 1980s hairstyles down there? Seems its a pocket of the suburbia I used to know in amongst all the Eastern suburbs usual leafiness.

And Glen Waverley - once a definition of ordinary - has become r-i-t-z-y. I mean - you can tell which cars in the carpark at work belong to the students - they are better!

I agree with Darren about the whole faux suprise that the mainstream media are posing with in relation to intelligence on the war. Meanwhile, the Treasurer is saying older folk should work longer when half of them were thrown out of work some time ago in the 'slash and burn' period of economic fundamentalism that Costello also advocates. Senior staff cost more - look at the state school system having to make senior teachers redundant.

I read an article by Carmen Lawrence last night. It was in that old stalwart Overland. She was pleading for an ALP that actually stands for something - that isn't afraid of espousing values, rather than offering just a different mangement of the status quo. I wish her luck - she will be waiting a long time given the faces on the front bench at the moment.

So this isn't all nihilism and muck - I do think there is 'something in the air' at the moment. Of course you always have to temper any general zeitgeist you detect among your peers by thinking about what a narrow demographic they actually represent. But, I have numerous conversations about a dissatisfaction with the current terms of debate and public discourse about who we are as a people and as individuals. Greed and profit are clearly not delivering greater collective good. What is interesting is that none of the non-governing parties, bar some work done by Bob Brown (called by many the 'real leader of the opposition' - as in opposition to dominant politics), are tapping into this feeling in the electorate. They continue to play it 'safe' and just tweak around the edges of market economic models of public life and the common good. In fact, some no longer even claim to stand for a common good and openly show they are favouring sectors or even powerful individuals. Is it possible that a focus-group driven Canberra has created the conditions for a new sense of politics to develop in Australia, a sense of politics based on commonly shared values rather than party-machines? We were taught in school that politics was what happened in parliament. Then I learned at university that politics is everyday life - dispersed into the myriad social connections and decisions we make.

This is certainly my experience since I completed my studies. I find myself in conversation after conversation about the unsatisfactory nature of expecting earnings and consumption and lifestyle to answer the question of what life is about. Most people seem uneasy about the growing gap between the rich and poor. There is still enough of a cultural memory, if not an explicityly political memory, to question policies such as up front fees for teritary education, or removing tax exempt status from charities that also work to question and influence government policy, or giving ASIO powers to arrest someone on suspicion of activities that threaten national security and hold them for 48 hours without charge or access to lawyers or a phone. It's like a steady drip drip of policies that make some people at least very uneasy about the shape of this government and its shadow.

posted on February 26, 2004 at 06:10 PM by fleur.