The Breakdown of Shared Reality

We have a senator not only peddling conspiracy theories derived from the Nazi idea of cultural Bolshevism on the floor of parliament, but even calling for ‘a final solution to the immigration problem’. Sky News calls upon neo-Nazis like Blair Cottrell to share their opinions on immigration and policy. Our major papers decry Jews who form colonies. The ABC’s august Four Corners decided that Steve Bannon deserved their platform to gaslight the nation. This isn’t normal. How did we get here?

Peter Dutton, the Minister for 2GB

Malcolm Turnbull today brought on a leadership spill, where he beat back Peter Dutton’s challenge by a narrow 48-35 margin. This pre-emptive strike is unlikely to hold the conservative forces for long, and as I write, senior ministers are resigning from their posts. So today I ask the question, who is Peter Dutton?

NEGligence

The ‘only credible plan’ is dead. Much like Malcolm Turnbull’s prime ministership, the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) was a spineless compromise between reality and the intransigent conservative elements of his own party. As it passes into the nether realm, our PM is set to soon follow. The future of the Liberal Party and Australia’s action on climate change hang in the balance.

The Death of Fairfax and the Stratification of Journalism

Nine and Fairfax have announced a merger, with the resultant company to be called Nine and Nine shareholders to control the majority of shares. This isn’t a merger, but a takeover. Fairfax, as we know it, is dead. With the death knell of Fairfax comes the confirmation that online advertising isn’t sufficiently profitable to fund serious journalism.

The Tension Between Education and Training – A Counterpoint

So emphasising a humanist education rather than training builds reasoning, critical thinking and creativity. That’d be great, except that none of those skills are at all useful in the festering wound which is our society. Teaching children to learn and follow their interests only creates a fantasy of adult life, whereas training them for the reality of wage labour avoids any such delusions.

The Tension Between Education and Training

What is the point of schooling? Is it to expand your intellectual capabilities and widen your range of thought, or just to train you in the techniques required for future employment? These objectives are not just competitive but actively contradictory and held in constant tension in our education systems.

Sport and Discipline

It is a commonly held truism that sports and politics should never mix. Sport is an oasis, untouched by the mundanities of life. But to watch a game of football is to break apart this illusion. Representatives of two nations clash in a contest of strength and skill. A referee enforces strict conformance with arbitrary rules. The crowd’s passions are subsumed in the game. How could this be apolitical?

The New Panopticon

Surveillance is a powerful tool to discipline a subject’s actions. Jeremy Bentham recognised this when he proposed a new type of prison in the 18th century. The panopticon design would provide complete visibility of all inmates at all times to a centrally located warden. Now the panopticon is no longer applied to prisoners under the watch of the state, but workers under the constant scrutiny of their employers. What is the modern open plan office but a mechanism for the surveillance and discipline of workers?

A Society of Infants

We spend our days endlessly repeating simple tasks, and even outside of work we refuse to grapple with higher order ideas and concepts. Politics has been reduced to squabbling over petty resentments, a kind of spectator sport. Even our art has given up on the profound, simply packaging up nostalgia and spectacle to be sold back to us. We cannot call ourselves grown men if we act like infants.

The Growing Illiberality of Liberalism

At the core of the liberal philosophy which guides our modern societies are two principles – free people and free markets. It has generally been assumed that these are in harmony. But as the populist consequences of the GFC continue to reverberate through our world, establishment liberals are being forced to choose between the two. Time after time, unelected officials have chosen to protect the markets against the consequences of democracy in a way that lays bare their true priorities.