Let me say at the outset that the Emperor has been wandering around naked for years and no one has said a thing, not because they haven’t noticed, but because they either don’t care or they’re right alongside him. Welcome to the mirror reflecting the sham we accept as political life.
There is perhaps nothing sadder than watching, as I did a year or so back, a couple of sexagenarian hippies mooching around the former hippie trails of the verdant tropical uplands of northern Queensland looking for the remnants of their lost youth. It is sad because youth has manifestly fled and their erstwhile commune is now a shopping village filled with tourists.
In the same manner it is sad to see the modern left, the inheritors of the tradition of political principle and the proud legacy of the workingman’s struggle for political and economic justice, scabbing for votes among the latte-loving bourgeoisie like knock-kneed liberals on market day.
Moreover, the spectacle of a national Labor government, dependent upon the support of a handful of mealy-mouthed bourgeois independents, a foul-minded conservative turn-coat and a union member accused of misuse of workers funds, should foment deep rage in the heart of any worker or self-respecting political radical. Sadly, there is no rage - only the echoes of Karl Marx’s contempt for the parties of social democracy ringing through the years.
To paraphrase that Grand Old Man: “There is a Spectre haunting bourgeois democracy – and that Spectre is democracy – government by the implausible.”
It is my strongly held view that unless we restore some vitality into our political affairs Western culture, as we know it, is destined to an even more rapid decline. With the notable exception of Greece, the spiritual home of ‘democracy’, political life in the so-called Western ‘democracies’ is stifled - our polite society has made political morons of all of us. Political correctness has stifled robust debate; the workplace health and safety merchants so beloved of our Nanny State have us cosseted from the physical realities of life, and the pre-digested platitudes of post-modernist culture have constipated our minds.
It is my firm conclusion that a strong and vigorous society can only survive through robust dialectic debate, passion, conflict and pressure cooker politics. In short, we have become too smug, too comfortable, to cowed by post-modernist relativism.
That Grand Old Man, whatever the manifold flaws in his theories, helped galvanise a torpid ‘liberal’ capitalist world into the social dynamic that was the C20th. Marxist revolutionary theory forced the smug complacency of C19th liberal democracy to confront itself and come to terms with and address the political and economic inequity that was capitalism unrestrained.
That Marx’s corpus of often contradictory and opaque writings was used to establish and justify some of the world’s most brutal totalitarian regimes was tragic and left his reputation tarnished. However the fall of the Berlin Wall symbolised the collapse of most of the warped set of ideologies that claimed legitimacy and direct descent from Marx. Moreover, the collapse of the wall metaphorically released the imprisoned spirit of Marx held to ransom for seventy years by the lifeless fingers of totalitarianism.
The ‘idea’ of Marxism today should not imply a value laden commitment to ideology – no longer should it evoke images of white hats and black hats. Marxism in its simple political form is a critique of social injustice; it provides an over-simplistic framework to view history and a flawed theory of economics.
One may agree or disagree with the precepts of popular Marxism, but its role in shaping the C20th cannot be overstated. That its application led to the unspeakable atrocities of Pol Pot, Stalin et.al. is indeed horrible. But that is not the full story of Karl Marx. It will not do to toss the whole corpus of Marx’s writings into the dustbin. No less than one should abandon the study of Plato because he articulated the prototype totalitarian society.
It is therefore my intention to resurrect Marx as an aperient to cleanse the flatulence of contemporary politics. Through the prism of Marxism I intend to highlight some of the failings and absurdities of our political life. I intend to illustrate the fact that the Emperor is wearing no clothes. Not a particularly pretty sight! In doing so I draw largely upon examples garnered from my experience of Australian politics. Having studied it at university, worked in it professionally and, as an academic and commentator, written about it, my view of post-modern democracy is bleak.
I describe myself as ‘The Peripatetic Marxist’ because I intend to wander, intellectually, through the vales and alleys of political theory and practice, exploring the recesses of political history. I shall be travelling light – armed only with a broad pen filled with caustic comment.
So – if you like a touch of nonsense, the occasional non sequitur and Marxist doxologies leavened with a touch of secular political irreverence – join me and enjoy the journey.
08.11 | 06:21
The Australian community is in for a world of long overdue pain. It is wholly its own fault for which I have nil sympathy.
08.11 | 06:15
Thanks indeed for the comment. I do agree that we badly need to 'clean out the swamp'. Trump certainly stirred those fetid waters.
08.11 | 05:22
I agree with the general thrust of your comments but the Australian community believes the governments can deliver without pain and there will be a lot of pain up ahead.
07.11 | 11:17
Nice job on the essay John, but regardless of his positions, Dutton is too much a cretin of the past, he also looks like the walking dead. We don't need more career politicians, we need a Trump.