Politics exists

I am slowly working through work which provides commentary through the lens of the post-political (e.g. Jacques Rancière/ anti-politics (e.g. Julian Brash)/ consensus politics), so the other day I was quite interested in Chris Uhlmann’s piece on The Drum, ‘Political engagement is a universal constant’.

 I thought I would write a post pulling it together with some more theoretical analysis, but that has not happened. So here’s a ‘cut-and-paste’ style post.

 Chris Uhlmann starts off saying,

 It’s routine to hear people say they hate politics and that they happily live without engaging it at any level.

Only people who live in functioning democracies have the luxury of this kind of delusion.

He goes on to make valid points such as,

On a grand scale one wonders how the politics haters imagine the roads they use got built.

 Of course

… we have very short memories and are given to romanticising the past. […]

And we should also reflect on how politics is played in some of its other grades, before we damn the way the game is played at the highest level.

 This signals a sudden shift in the article as he makes a few points drawing on coverage of the Northern Territory intervention.

No one disputes that something had to be done to protect children from neglect and abuse and to slow the rivers of grog. It’s just as clear that one of the intervention’s real failings was the failure to consult. That meant it did not get the one thing it needed to endure: the goodwill and enthusiastic support of the people it was aimed at helping.

But given that consulting here so often ends in a stalemate, it’s easy to understand how a professional politician might choose to act rather than sit and watch a tragedy unfold.

 And concludes,

Because being good for nothing is one of the routine, mindless, charges that politicians face.

 I’m not really sure what I think of the article. Is he trying to make a Peter Sutton style point?

I think there will be more of this sort of discussion in the wake of Lindsay Tanner’s book and current American politics. In fact, perhaps set to be one of my all time favourite lines is, ‘Policy is policy. Politics is politics.’ from this post by David Roberts.


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