Category Archives: politics burblings

Can we see right? With C. Wright, maybe…

I’m going through my unread gmail messages, tracking down notes to myself about the four empirical chapters of The Thesis  (which is all but done).  And I’m stumbling on stuff that I always intended to blog/think more about.  Here’s one (should probably turn into a video!)

“The first rule for understanding the human condition is that men live in second-hand worlds. They are aware of much more than they have experienced; and their own experience is always indirect. The quality of their lives is determined by meanings they have received from others. Everyone lives in a world of such meaning. No man stands alone directly confronting a world of solid fact. No such world is available. The closest men come to it is when they are infants or when they become insane: then, in a terrifying scene of meaningless events and senseless confusion, they are often seized with the panic of near-total insecurity. But in their everyday life they do not experience a world of solid fact; their experience itself is selected by stereotyped meaning and shaped by ready-made interpretation. their images of the world, and of themselves, are given to them by crowds of witnesses they have never met and never shall meet. Yet for every man these images – provided by strangers and dead men – are the very basis of his life as a human being.

“The consciousness of men does not determine their material existence; nor does their material existence determine their consciousness. Between consciousness and existence stand meanings and designs and communications which other men have passed on – first, in human speech itself, and later, by the management of symbols. These received and manipulated interpretation decisively influence such consciousness as men have of their existence. They provide the clues to what men see, to how they respond to it, to how they feel about it, and to how they respond to these feelings. Symbols focus experience; meanings organize knowledge, guiding the surface perceptions of an instant no less than the aspiration of a lifetime. Every man, to be sure, observes nature, social events, and his own self; but he does not, he has never, observed most of what he takes to be fact, about nature, society, or self.

“Every man interprets what he observes – as well as much that the has not observed: but his terms of interpretation are not his own; he has not personally formulated or even tested them. Every man talks about observations to others: but the terms of his reports are much more likely than not the phrases and images of other people which he has taken over as his own. For most of what he calls solid fact, sound interpretation, suitable presentation, every man is increasingly dependent upon the observation posts, the interpretation centers, the presentation depots, which in contemporary society are established by means of what I am going to call the cultural apparatus.”

C. Wright Mills, “The Cultural Apparatus,” in Power, Politics, and People: The Collected Essays of C. Wright Mills, p. 405-406

Open letter to Jay Weatherill on #fuckwitgate

Dear Jay,

we are both busy (you with trying to implement climate and energy policy while the Federal Government supplies only ridicule and chaos, me with finishing a thesis) so I will keep this as brief as I can.

When I read what was reported in today’s Australian (1)  ‘Jay says nay on right-wing remark‘  I was both confused and exasperated.  I do not understand why you would wait a week before claiming “I think I might have been misheard. I think I said…” 

I note there are lots of qualifiers there (and no outright denial) and it’s followed by a claim about background noise.  On that, I would point out that you don’t flag any problem with my hearing everything else you said – all those quotes which reflect (well) on your actions since the September 2016 blackout..

I wonder if you worry, that this Clayton’s denial – the denial you have when you’re not having a denial –  just feeds into the public narrative that politicians will try to wriggle out of things they said and that they later wish they hadn’t?

Clearly my prediction that this was going to be a ‘one-day wonder’  was misplaced. Oh well.  I have no interest in continuing this non-controversy, because in the absence of a sound recording, everyone can just say ‘no evidence’ and it goes all Rashomon.  The following  questions seem obvious though-

  • Why did you not claim that you had been ‘misheard’ at the time?  Why is that, as Giles Parkinson pointed out in the Australian article today,  neither you nor your office sought a retraction, correction or apology?
  • Why did you call the remarks ‘lighthearted’ if they were simply indeed ‘rightwing  sceptic’?  That’s not particularly light-hearted, simply banal.  By referring to your comments as light-hearted the day after, surely you were tacitly admitting what you had said?
  • Why did the  entire room burst into laughter and applause if all you did was describe Kenny as a right-wing sceptic?
  • Why did you offer a mock apology ‘oh sorry’ at that time?
  • Why did none of the other 100 people present at the book launch – fans of you and Mark Butler- come forward to challenge my account?  (Of course, some may now do so, now that you have signalled that this is something you want to bury)
  • Why did you call the event – and continue to call it – a private function? It was a book launch, or heaven’s sake!  If you can’t get that right, why should anyone believe what you “think” you said?

Am I surprised by your behaviour? A little. But I  am more disappointed – I thought you had more guts.  But perhaps you have to save those guts for challenging the Federal government’s egregious inaction on climate and energy, and water. If that’s the case, well, then, so be it, and good luck.
Marc Hudson

Footnotes

(1) Of course, the Australian has a very long (27 year) history of reporting climate stories badly. Examples available on request. On the book launch beat up they managed not to credit their source and then mis-identify the location of the book launch (it was at the Publishers Hotel, not the University of Adelaide.  Then, on Friday of last week its stablemate the Advertiser managed to get the day of the launch wrong.  So maybe you were ‘misquoted’ (oh the irony) or were speaking with your tongue in your cheek?

Thoughts on ‘what next’? #2ndGE2017

Interested in any good articles people have read on what happens in the next six months. My thinking, fwiw is this –

May cannot expect to cling on for more than a few months. The DUP deal is inherently unstable, and there are any number of domestic landmines.

The thing that is saving her at the minute (and by the time I finish typing this post things may have changed) is that there is no clear alternative who can fight an election campaign (the conventional wisdom – for what that is worth – expects one in October). Boris Johnson wants the gig, but his negatives are very very high. Amber Rudd is in a real marginal constituency now. Fallon, Hammond etc – give me a break. Ruth Davidson is an MSP, not an MP, so would have to be parachuted into a safe seat – not an easy thing to do on the sly.

Labour now look like “winners” – apparently lots of people have been googling ‘join Labour’. Problems for them are

a) risk of cult of personality

b) boring people with boring meetings

c) sustaining momentum (no pun intended).

d) Its EU/Brexit position – hmmm – will it be able to finesse the issue? Will we see a rise of the remainers?

Mainstream media seems a bit stuffed in terms of its ability to influence voters (young people just do not buy newspapers).

As Craig Murray writes

I suspect that what happened is that the mainstream media realised it is losing influence, and tried to compensate by becoming so shrill and biased it simply lost all respect. This election may be the one where social media finally routed the press barons. They may in turn start to wonder if it is worth sinking millions into a newspaper if it can’t buy an election

So, the government loses its majority thanks to dead/retiring MPs, no way ending austerity because nobody would believe them, no way of continuing it because of unwhippable marginal MPs (Zac Goldsmith).  Heathrow decision still not made, Brexit negotiations going horribly.

Big business will be furious. I mean, beyond furious.

A general election in October-November, by which time May will have been replaced (everybody knows she cannot campaign her way across a wheatfield).

Labour, with extra resources, targets lots of the marginals, wins more seats, ends up with say 300, taken from Tories and SNP. Forms government?

Am I dreaming? What am I missing??