ADELAIDE - Bernard Corden has written a fine polemic in ‘There’s a man going ’round taking names’.
Idealism, unfiltered through the lens of reflective thought, is a dangerous thing.
Very few proponents of ‘pure’ neoliberalism – the ideology that markets can run the planet better than governments - appear to devote little if any time to reflection.
As Corden points out, the liberation promised by the internet as it emerged in the final years of the 20th century was fleeting. We now see it being captured by despots or billionaires.
And it is concerning that those who currently lead us do not appear to understand the inherent dynamics of the neoliberalism they espouse.
Rather they are like the ‘useful fools’ who initially supported Nazism or Marxist Leninism without understanding their true implications until it was far too late.
The power shift from governments to huge international corporations that Corden mentions is real enough to me.
But even moderately expressed concern about its tightening grip on democratic values is viewed by many people as over-reaction, misunderstanding or even hysteria.
But the power shift under neoliberalism is no small thing; it is a real phenomenon and it already has had real consequences.
In a local context, the Great Australian public seems mostly apathetic and supine in the face of this change; unable to comprehend the entirety of what is going on, much less how radical it is.
As Phil Fitzpatrick points out in his article today, people with more moderate, progressive and democratic views seem unable to formulate a coherent and credible response.
Still, there are some green shoots, notably the increasing number of people who recent polls show us have indicated their enthusiasm to elect independent members of parliament.
Many of these people have migrated from the 'sensible centre' of conservative politics and are in no sense radical.
They have come to believe that conventional party politics no longer produces people who can faithfully represent their interests.
Instead we see that many politicians once elected behave as if in a tribe of their own – a new class, not upper or middle or lower - the political class.
Papua New Guineans are well used to this.
That said, the move to independents and candidates from smaller parties, like The Greens, is pronounced and significant.
It is a sign that the rise of neoliberalism may yet be challenged, but I expect that process to be painful and protracted.
History shows that the privileged never willingly give up their privilege and the powerful never give up their power without a fight.