Everything is Political These Days
Now days everything is political. There was a time not that long ago when discussions about politics at social gatherings, family get-togethers and the workplace were actively avoided. The usual reason for this being why ruin a good social occasion by possibly triggering an argument from attendees holding opposing views. There were exceptions of course but that was usually because the whole reason for the get together was political.
Plus most people weren’t that interested in politics anyway. It was something politicians did.
Most people worked on the fact that an election had been held some time in the past, another would be held at some point in the future. Until then let’s just get on with other things. Like living.
Besides if you were that interested in the whole politics thing you had three options, all of which revolved becoming a member and active in the political party of your choice. You could go Liberal the party of capital, Labor the party of well labour or the worker and the Country/National party the party of the bush. If you were keen go for your life.
But now days everything is political.
I mean everything and I think here especially in Australia.
Every actor. radio DJ, comedian, musician, sportsman or sportswoman, important business person, famous overseas visitor, man woman and child wants to talk politics in one way or another because today everything is political. Our sexual preference, gender identification is politics, our inbuilt prejudices, the sport we play, the TV we watch, it’s all political.
I am part of the problem. I admit I am a political junkie. I watch TV shows like Insiders and The Drum. I read opinion pieces and political analysis in conservative newspapers like The Australian and The Financial Review and progressive press like The Age or The Guardian and The New York Times.
Now you might say great, increase awareness, improve participation that will make our democracy thrive but if that is so why does it seem like modern democracies aren’t thriving. Why does it seem that the more we talk about politics and indeed politicise everything the more our democracies are struggling? Is it a case of now we have too many people caring and we were better off when the majority didn’t give a shit?
For what it is worth there I think there are four reasons why too much politics is actually damaging our democracy. Those four reasons being
· The 24 Hr. News Cycle
· The Influence of Social Media
· Now more a consumer less a citizen
· The rise of Identity Politics
There are millions of words you can read about these four phenomena and I suggest you do check some articles out but I am trying to keep this brief so here we go.
I believe between the four of them they are causing real problems by severely and negatively shaping our world. Like the next glass of champagne or that last ski down the mountain when you’re tired and the light is fading, more is not necessarily better.
The 24 hr. news cycle creates angst and anxiety about things that don’t matter. News by its very nature needs to be sensational to attract out attention and when you are getting te sugar hit all day every day it is destructive and completely unbalanced. As someone once said, the thousands of commercial planes that take off and land safely every day are not news.
The influence of social media creates tribalism and an echo chamber effect. We only see and hear what we want to see and hear reinforcing that only our point of view can be correct. Critical thinking goes out the window and prejudice replaces it.
And worst of all, it is hard enough to be sure the traditional news mediums are presenting facts. The Internet as we have seen is full of manipulation, a million opinions and subjective truths but can be low on facts.
Our total embrace of almost unfettered capitalism has made us consumers and customers instead of citizens. The economy must endlessly grow, we must have the latest and greatest, even in education you are no longer a student but a customer. Not only is this attitude destroying our planet, it creates too much inequality, expectation, envy and greed.
The rise of identity politics destroys the ties that bind us together by focusing instead on our differences. Obviously there are inequalities and problems in homophobia, racism, misogyny etc. that are being or need to be addressed but all too often Identity Politics seems to say,
“You are not like me so I don’t acknowledge you and you have nothing to say that I could be interested in.”
And therefore the ability and the actual essential act of understanding different opinions and cultures and people ceases and any opportunities for reaching common ground or at least tolerance are gone.
As I have noted before the favourite tool of the conservative right to use to denigrate their political opponents is too question their Australian values. When the conservative/right say “hard working Australians” in a pitch to the electorate there is a coded pitch to their supporters, an appeal to swinging voters and an attempt to talk to the disaffected worker who now days finds The Labour Party and The Greens almost completely uncaring.
All the terms used on morning TV programs like Aussie battlers, mateship, doing it tough etc. are powerful phrases for the conservatives.
For Christ sake, you would think we are the only nationality in the world where the men are capable of making true friends.
When the progressive side of politics wants to sink the boot in they question your intelligence and denigrate appearance. Or they query the fairness of ideas and situations. As if fairness was everywhere once and has now been mysteriously lost.
The best example of this is TV shows like The Weekly where the whole show takes cheap comic shots at figures on the right like Pauline Hanson. These shots are generally around lack of intelligence, education and sophistication or if the target has those things it might be a discussion on entitlement. And so the battle lines are drawn.
I say cheap comic shots because a lot of this stuff is just virtue signaling and basically preaching to the converted. Worst of all, it’s lazy, average comedy.
Charlie Pickering has built a career out of it and frankly it is weak as water. Far better is the subtle satire of Sammy J or the manic Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell, both pretty good replacements for the wonderful but sadly finished Clark And Dawe.
Even better, if you want to see comedy at it’s most difficult, political, and angry and absolutely no holds barred check out the final two episodes of the latest series of Get Krackin. Fucking Genius.
The online satirical media organization The Betoota Advocate is the exception to my complaints about the Internet above. Happy to take the piss out of everyone from all sides it has a generally light hand, razor sharp wit and is on target almost all the time
So what am I trying to say here? I guess what I am often saying.
Be nice to each other.
Opinion is not necessarily prejudice.
You might be incorrect in your assumptions. Maybe apply some critical thinking and research before you start pontificating.
We all have prejudices; it’s what we do about them that counts.
Abusing people you don’t agree with might make you feel better but if the aim is peace not war, you might want to try another tack.
Change will come, always too soon for the conservative, always too slow for the progressive.
Five Songs About Politics as opposed to political songs
Drunk on Election Night – Dan Kelly and the Alpha Males
Kick Out The Jams Motherfuckers – MC5
Revolution – The Beatles
Elected – Alice Cooper
Waiting For The Great Leap Forward – Billy Bragg