Published in Overland Issue 213 Summer 2013 Politics Spectres of labourism Geoff Robinson In March this year, prime minister Julia Gillard boasted that she led a Labor government, not a social democratic one or a progressive one. She described Labor as ‘politically, organisationally, spiritually and even literally, the party of work’. Her academic admirers were in agreement, with labour historian Nick Dyrenfurth arguing that, unlike that latter-day Trotsky, Kevin Rudd, ‘Gillard “gets” the labour movement’.1 Despite their differences, both Rudd and Gillard believed that the Right’s cultural politics during the Howard years had divided a natural majority for the centre-Left. But they disagreed as to who made up this natural majority. Gillard’s labourism evoked fidelity to an imagined working class whose foes were cast both as inner-urban progressives and wealthy elites. Rudd’s appeal was more amorphous: upon his return to the position of prime minister, he cast Labor as the party of a classless progressivism – the ‘new way’. To Rudd, the division between Labor and its opponents was not about economic interests or cultural divides but rather about the future and the past. Both leaders, and their academic admirers, built on the arguments of recent Australian humanities scholarship that emphasised identity and agency over structure in explanations of political life. In power, both leaders often governed against the spirit of their respective appeals: Gillard’s first act as prime minister was to revise the Resource Super Profit Tax of her predecessor in favour of the ‘vested elites’ and ‘infamous billionaires’ that labourists such as Wayne Swan disparaged. When Rudd reclaimed the leadership, one of his first initiatives was to ‘lurch to the Right’ on asylum-seekers.2 Their records revealed the limitations of cultural politics. Gillard’s labourist appeal enthused Labor activists and parliamentarians. She won the loyalty of much of the Labor-sympathetic intelligentsia, such as Dyrenfurth, David Burchell, Judith Brett, Frank Bongiorno, Waleed Aly and Tim Soutphommasane.3 Dyrenfurth’s response to Labor’s 2010 traumas was to declare that the party’s motto should be ‘It’s the culture, stupid’. Equally, Swan argued that a spirit of egalitarianism was incarnated in ‘our history and our national character’. From this perspective, history was on the side of the Left, and culture and class were one. These latter-day labourists argued that ‘the Left’ had abandoned the ‘Australian legend’ and ‘mateship’ to the Right. 4 Some of Rudd’s intellectual admirers, such as Robert Manne, were more detached from the Labor tradition, but they too argued that politics was about a battle of ideas. Manne believed that Rudd’s 2007 election victory was more than just a change of government: it indicated a fundamental change in the ‘political atmosphere’.5 Gillard’s labourist appeal was a political failure. Electoral support for Labor plunged to historic lows, and this collapse was most apparent among ‘traditional’ Labor voters: members of non-Anglo immigrant communities and workers without university qualifications. Her panicked parliamentary colleagues finally brought Gillard’s term to an end. Rudd’s return as leader challenged Labor’s identity as a party based on trade union affiliation. Gillard’s labourist defenders offered little explanation for her unpopularity except to blame Rudd.6 They ignored the fact that an earlier generation of Labor-sympathetic intellectuals had been down this road before during Bob Hawke’s leadership. Indeed, in 2010 Gillard claimed that Hawke was her role model.7 Thus Gillard’s intellectual loyalists followed the path that many of the 1980s Left had followed. In those years, Labor’s state-sponsored nationalism, apparent in Hawke’s advocacy of an Australianised school curriculum, appealed to a generation of intellectuals whose politics were formed in the 1960s. For younger intellectuals, cultural theory came to legitimate a largely affirmative celebration of Australian popular nationalism.8 From the perspective of the present, the 1980s seem like the years in which Hawke’s benign populist nationalism won the culture wars. Yet during the Hawke years, Labor’s appeal to working-class voters was significantly eroded. This decline occurred long before the spectres of ‘political correctness’, ‘culture wars’ and the ‘big picture’ stalked the land. Labor insiders were well aware at the time that ‘the base’ was unhappy. As early as 1986, Labor pollster Rod Cameron called for a ‘return to basic Labor values’.9 For contemporary labourists, the erosion of working-class support for Labor during the Hawke years has been largely overshadowed by Paul Keating as prime minister. The Keating years are cast by labourists as a period in which Labor was preoccupied by non-economic ‘big picture’ issues such as Mabo. Dyrenfurth and Bongiorno argue that Keating demonstrated ‘an almost Whitlamite departure from his overwhelming preoccupation, while Treasurer, with sound economic management’. But this is a misleading portrait: economic policy issues were central to the Keating years, with the shift to enterprise bargaining, the One Nation and Working Nation economic statements, and national competition policy merely a few examples. Where Keating did diverge from the high economic rationalism of the mid-1980s, it was to place a greater emphasis on the social safety net. Unfortunately, Labor’s focus on social protection for the poor undercut support among working-class voters in employment. Labor insiders know this: when Keating’s staff in 1995 toyed with ‘triangulation’, it was issues around social welfare that they focused on, not Mabo or the republic. A similar story unfolded in Britain, where Labour voters in employment have become particularly hostile to the recipients of welfare payments. The foundations of the Gillard government’s crusade to move sole parents onto Newstart were laid during the death agony of the Keating government.10 In the aftermath of Howard’s 1996 victory, the Liberals boasted that their ‘social conservative’ appeal had won working-class voters. This theme was taken up by media commentators and had a significant impact on many Labor politicians. Commentators from the Left intelligentsia mostly blamed Labor’s defeat on its record of economic liberalism.11 Howard’s directionless first term led some commentators on the Left, such as Guy Rundle, to argue that it was Pauline Hanson rather than Howard who set the agenda on the Right. Amanda Lohrey even contended that, although the Left had lost the election battle, it had won the war against reactionary conservatism. Later critics of Howard, such as Manne and Margo Kingston, actually voted Liberal in 1996. In that year, a Whitlamite intellectual such as David Williamson was more preoccupied by the dangers of ‘political correctness’ than by what he assumed would be the minimal impact of a Howard government.12 Until 2001, Howard in power was unpleasant enough to anger the Left but not so politically effective as to inspire panic. Before the 2001 election, it seemed likely that he would be, at best, a two-term prime minister.13 It was the conservative victories at the elections of 2001 and, even more so, 2004 that made him an intellectual and political problem. While Labor’s capitulation on asylum seekers in 2001 was deeply upsetting for many of the progressive intelligentsia, it was Howard’s election victory in 2004 that was particularly traumatic for labourists. Dyrenfurth described the sight of Tasmanian timber workers cheering the prime minister as both ‘comical’ and ‘disturbing’; Rundle spoke for the Left as whole when, after the 2004 election, he anticipated epochal transformations and a ‘vastly more problematic period’ ahead.14 Both progressives and labourists drew on the cultural turn in humanities scholarship to explain Howard’s success. The subsequent political failures and policy disappointments of Rudd and Gillard demonstrate that pursuing a victory on the ‘cultural battlefield’ is to confuse a metaphor for reality. In the 1980s and 1990s, the focus of Australian historiography became ‘cultural history’. In this framework, ‘culture’ was to be not just the subject of historical inquiry but an approach to historical inquiry based on the empathic interpretation of ways of living. The popularity of the approach to understanding human experience extended well beyond historians.15 The cultural turn led historians to consider political identities as a form of cultural expression. The political implications of this were ambiguous. Sometimes discourses were cast, as in Foucauldian readings, as forces that created individuals. Across the spectrum of the Left, it was common to identify a ‘contradiction’ between ‘true’ conservative values and the relentless dynamism of neoliberal capitalism, a case backed by citations from John Gray, the former British Hayekian liberal turned critic of globalisation. Rudd’s essays as opposition leader repeated this argument and cast cultural wars as a distraction from this contradiction.16 For Gray and his epigones, such as Rudd, political contests were not between social forces but disembodied concepts. From another perspective, political discourses were created by the agency of individuals. Brett pioneered this approach. She claimed to follow in the tradition of political psychology associated with Alan Davies, but her work largely rejected his Freudian explanatory framework for an empathic emphasis on individual biography and personal values.17 In Brett’s analysis, Menzies and then Howard appeared as master cultural engineers. Brett’s own writing reflected not only intellectual trends but also the destabilisation of Australian political certainties during what Peter Beilharz called the ‘Labor decade’. The crisis of official Liberalism generated a renewed interest in liberal ideology, while the faith of Left intellectuals in parliamentary socialism was shattered by the manifest inconsistency between Labor’s policies in government and even the most anaemic form of socialism. Political certainties were up-ended at the very time that economic liberalism became an unchallengeable certainty. Meghan Morris’ cultural-studies fascination with Keating anticipated the approach that Brett would bring to Deakin, Menzies and Howard.18 The emphasis that the cultural turn placed on language and discourse implied a focus on political leadership. This orientation was congruent with the interest that American presidential politics increasingly attracted in Australia. Loyalty to British or European socialism no longer distracted Left intellectuals from the fact of hard and soft American hyperpower. Howard seemed an Australian equivalent of George W Bush. Australian observers pined for political leaders who would be able to reshape Australian political discourse by force of will, as they imagined American presidents did. In fact, the capability of American presidents to change public opinion by force of rhetoric is minimal – and Australian prime ministers have even less ability. Despite this, Gillard’s unpopularity was attributed by many Labor supporters to her communication failures. It was a curious judgement, since by any objective standard Gillard was a better communicator than Hawke, whose convoluted expression, propensity for wandering off topic, and tendency to address audiences as though they were Arbitration Court judges was the despair of his speechwriter.19 Hawke’s labourism built on a real social basis: a union movement whose consent was required to effectively govern Australian capitalism. Gillard’s labourism – however eloquent – was no more than words. After Howard’s political triumphs in 2001 and 2004, it was conservatism, not liberalism, that fascinated Australian intellectuals. Labourists such as Burchell argued that Labor could appeal to ‘conservative’ voters by distinguishing itself from the priorities of the Left intelligentsia. Beneath the nodding to Machiavelli and Weber, Burchell simply repeated conventional wisdom about the importance of aspirational voters and the need to eschew the Left’s ‘canards’ about ordinary Australians.20 His work anticipated the rightward turn that many enthusiasts for Gillard would take after 2010. The rapid decline in support for the Howard government after WorkChoices and Rudd’s assumption of the Labor leadership undercut the appeal of conservative labourism as an electoral strategy for the Left. Even the ‘Your Rights at Work’ campaign eschewed labourist rhetoric for a broadly social liberal and progressive appeal. Unions appealed to general values of ‘fairness’ and ‘rights’ assumed to be shared by all Australians, rather than to specific class interests or even the interests of unions themselves. The fall of Howard seemed to exemplify the progressive case: even on the vexed issue of refugee policy, the concessions of the Howard government during its last term could be with some optimism cast as a similar triumph of values, with ‘decent’ Australians finally seeing through his politics of fear.21 In the euphoria of Rudd’s victory, new Labor MPs cast the 2007 election not as a victory for social democracy but for the ‘Australian value’ of fairness. The apparent consensus on climate change policy between Labor and Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition seemed another example of how Labor had marginalised Howard-era conservatism. Admirers of Rudd, such as John Quiggin and Scott Steel, cast the Liberals as a crippled political force doomed to endure a long term in the wilderness while Labor, it seemed, had developed an alternative ‘ordinary populism’ to that of Howard. Australia was set to become the Victoria of Steve Bracks, writ large.22 The crisis of the Rudd government during 2010 undercut the progressive case. The consensus on climate change was shown to rest on the shaky foundations of Turnbull’s liberalism, while refugee policy returned as an intractable problem for Labor. It was in this context that the Rudd government announced the Resource Super Profits Tax. Over the next months, the tragedy of Ben Chifley’s bank nationalisation was replayed as a farce. Labour historians cherished the memory of Labor’s cultural politics: how early twentieth-century publicists and politicians had evoked a dichotomy between productive workers, symbolised as Australian bushmen, and parasitic capitalists cast as ‘Fat’. Early labour movements sought to rally the productive classes against the unproductive. This was the legacy revived by the Chifley government’s campaign against the banks and by Rudd’s battle with the miners. Labor moderates like Chifley considered finance capital to be unproductive, and hoped for a producers’ alliance against the banks. In similar style, Rudd pledged that the mining tax would enable reductions in overall business taxation. Even the demonology of Gina Rinehart recalled older images of ‘Fat’ that cast capitalists as feminised and corpulent.23 Both in the late 1940s and in 2010, Labor was baffled by the extent of capitalist resistance and by how many Labor voters were receptive to the arguments of bankers and miners. There is no natural left-wing ‘economic’ majority that slumbers, waiting to be called into existence by an appeal to ‘true’ Labor values, even when the appeal has carefully eschewed ‘wedge’ issues such as anti-communism in the 1950s or marriage equality and the fate of asylum seekers today.24 With the mining tax, Rudd tied himself to the labourist banner. As a result of the political failure of the tax, he was overthrown by a leader much more closely aligned with labourist traditions. Gillard’s first act was to accept an unfavourable compromise on the mining tax.25 This was followed by the disappointing outcome of the 2010 election, when Labor was forced into minority government. Labor’s loss of support and the rise of Tony Abbott encouraged the labourist argument. Dyrenfurth and Soutphommasane argued that Rudd had been wrong to argue that the culture wars were a distraction, with Dyrenfurth contending that ‘[n]othing less than an all-out cultural war on Labor’s behalf is required to prosecute a reformist legislative agenda’. Soutphommasane took up the arguments of those American liberals, such as Richard Rorty, who blamed the New Left and the cultural turn of academic radicalism for much of the rise of working-class conservatism during the 1970s.26 The fruits of this culture war were meagre. Labor drifted towards acquiescence in Howard’s cultural conservatism combined with a flood of labourist rhetoric. Gillard’s social conservatism approached parody. Like the contemporary American Right, she assumed that personal ‘conservatism’ such as ‘politeness and thrift and fortitude and doing duty and diligence’ translated into political ‘conservatism’. Gillard hoped that opposition to marriage equality would place Labor on the winning side of this conservatism. She was notably unsuccessful: voters regarded her as to the Left of Rudd. Labourists tied themselves in knots to justify an increasingly severe refugee policy, whereas Rudd would simply give voters what he thought they wanted.27 Even by the criteria of an imagined ‘socially conservative’ labourism, the Gillard government’s performance was disappointing. Tax rates were lower than under the Hawke and Keating government, as were core welfare payments relative to median incomes. The spectre of ‘welfare dependence’ was an obsession for the government, as demonstrated by its reforms to single-parent payments. Gillard’s opposition to marriage equality made her an outlier even among much of her support base, but her political heir apparent, Bill Shorten, although a tepid supporter of marriage equality, championed an illiberal scheme for ‘boot camps’ for the young unemployed. The industrial relations reforms of the first Rudd government were largely of Gillard’s devising but they did not correct the notable post-2000 redistribution of income from wages to profits.28 It is not surprising Gillard’s revived labourism was disappointing, for the old labourism exemplified by the ALP between the two world wars was a doctrine of defeat. It offered no practical guidance to the Scullin Labor government during the Great Depression, while the achievements of the Chifley government owed little to labourism.29 The electoral and policy record of the Rudd and Gillard governments was disappointing for intellectuals who placed their hope in either leader. Both labourists and progressives cast politics as a war of ideas. Both ignored what Louis Althusser called ‘the conditions of force’ to which theory must defer if it was to become a power. In the end, both labourists and progressives during Labor’s short decade subjected their ideas to the political force of a Labor party focused on victory at almost any cost.30 1 Paul Kelly, ‘Labor Locked in a Crisis Over Identity’, Australian, 23 February 2013; Nick Dyrenfurth, ‘Honourable Election Loss for Gillard Better than a Rudd Return’, Sydney Morning Herald, 21 February 2013; Julia Gillard, Speech to the Australian Workers Union National Conference 2013, <http://pmtranscripts.dpmc.gov.au/browse.php?did=19071>; ‘Gillard Vows to Protect Penalty Rates, Holiday Pay’, ABC News, 14 March 2013, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-03-14/gillard-vows-to-protect-penalty-rates-holiday-pay/4572400>. 2 Kevin Rudd, ‘A Call to Arms: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd Announces the Federal Election’, Australian Labor Party, 4 August 2013, <http://www.alp.org.au/kevin_rudd_election_speech>; Wayne Swan, ‘The 0.01 Per Cent: The Rising Influence of Vested Interests in Australia’, The Monthly, no. 76, March 2012, <http://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2012/march/1344425290/wayne-swan/001-cent-rising-influence-vested-interests-australia>. Waleed Aly, ‘Fresh Fire But Using Gillard’s Ammo’, Age, 28 June 2013; Frank Bongiorno, ‘The Churn Goes On’, Inside Story, 27 June 2013, <http://inside.org.au/the-churn-goes-on/>. 4 Nick Dyrenfurth, ‘Howard, Hegemony and Values: The Left and The Problem of Mateship’, Arena, no. 79, 2005; Judith Brett, ‘How Howard Hijacked the Vision Splendid’, Age, 23 August 2003; Nick Dyrenfurth, ‘John Howard’s Hegemony of Values: The Politics of “Mateship” in the Howard Decade’, Australian Journal of Political Science, vol. 42, no. 2, 2007, pp. 211–30; Swan, ‘The 0.01 Per Cent’. 5 Robert Manne, ‘Introduction’, in Dear Mr Rudd: Ideas for a Better Australia, Black Inc., Melbourne, 2008, p. 2. 6 Nick Dyrenfurth, ‘Ruination Looms for a Party with a Penchant for Self-harm’, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 February 2012; Jason Scott, ‘Gillard Demise Sown in Unforgiven Rudd Coup That Hurt Trust’, Bloomberg, 26 June 2013. 7 ‘Bob Hawke Is My Role Model – Gillard’, 2010, Brisbane Times, 12 July 2010. 8 Andrew Milner, Contemporary Cultural Theory, Allen & Unwin, Sydney 1989, pp. 38–9, 77–81; Peter Beilharz, Transforming Labor: Labour Tradition and the Labor Decade in Australia, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 1994, pp. 97–102, 156. 9 Stephen Mills, The Hawke Years: The Story from the Inside, Viking, Melbourne, 1993, pp. 93–8; Andrew Scott, Fading Loyalties: The Australian Labor Party and the Working Class, Pluto, Sydney, 1991, pp. 51–63. 10 Nick Dyrenfurth & Frank Bongiorno, A Little History of the Australian Labor Party, NewSouth, Sydney, 2011, p. 161; Colin Campbell & John Halligan, Political Leadership in an Age of Constraint: Bureaucratic Politics Under Hawke and Keating, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1992, pp. 83, 235–7; Don Watson, Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: A Portrait of Paul Keating PM, Knopf, Sydney, 2002, pp. 666–9; David Charnock, ‘Class and Voting in the 1996 Australian Federal Election’, Electoral Studies, vol. 16, no. 3, 1997, pp. 295–6; Ramesh Randeep, ‘Labour Voters Increasingly Turning Against the Poor, Study Says’, Guardian, 14 May 2013; John Edwards, Keating: The Inside Story, Viking, Melbourne, 1996, pp. 517, 536. 11 Pamela Williams, The Victory, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1997; John Wiseman, ‘Howard Govt: Fightback’s Back’, Arena Magazine, no. 23, 1996, pp. 5–6; Boris Frankel, ‘The Myth of It’s Time’, Arena Magazine, no. 22, 1996, pp. 5–7; Marian Sawer, ‘A Defeat for Political Correctness?’, in Clive Bean (ed.), The Politics of Retribution: The 1996 Australian Federal Election, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1997; Ashley Lavelle, In the Wilderness: Federal Labor in Opposition, PhD thesis, Griffith University, Brisbane, 2003, pp. 199–201. 12 Guy Rundle, ‘Responding to the Right’, Arena Magazine, no. 27, 1997; Amanda Lohrey, ‘Pass the Torch Song’, Arena Magazine, no. 22, 1996; David Williamson, ‘Men, Women and Human Nature’, in Peter Coleman (ed.), Double Take: Six Incorrect Essays, Methuen, Melbourne, 1996; Watson, Recollections, p. 711; Guy Rundle, ‘Room for Manoeuvre’, Arena Magazine, no. 26, 1997. 13 Paul Kelly, The March of Patriots: The Struggle for Modern Australia, Melbourne University Publishing, Melbourne, 2009, pp. 402–3, 424–5, 616–19. 14 Lindsay Tanner, ‘Courage and Compassion’, in Politics With Purpose: Occasional Observations on Public and Private Life, Scribe, Melbourne, 2012, p. 183; Nick Dyrenfurth, ‘Contesting Judith Brett’s Class: An Argument About Labor’s Past, Present … and Future’, Arena Magazine, no. 75, 2005; Guy Rundle, ‘Notes After the “Settlement”’, Arena Magazine, June, 2005, p. 6. 15 Hsu-Ming Teo & Richard White, ‘Introduction’, in Teo and White (eds), Cultural History in Australia, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2003, p. 3. 16 David McKnight, Beyond Right and Left: New Politics and the Culture Wars, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2005; Waleed Aly, ‘Tory Politics: Pact to the Rafters in Contradiction’, Age, 17 May 2013; Kevin Rudd, ‘Faith in Politics’, The Monthly, no. 17, 2006; Kevin Rudd, ‘Howard’s Brutopia: The Battle of Ideas in Australian Politics’, The Monthly, no. 18, 2006; Manne, ‘Introduction’, p. 2. 17 Gavin Kitching, The Trouble with Theory: The Educational Costs of Postmodernism, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2008, pp. 33–9; AF Davies, Private Politics: A Study of Five Political Outlooks, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1966; Judith Brett & Anthony Moran, Ordinary People’s Politics: Australians Talk About Life, Politics and the Future of Their Country, Pluto, Melbourne, 2006. 18 Beilharz, Transforming Labor; Lindsay Tanner, ‘Redefining the Role of Government’, in Social Democracy: Future Directions, Victoria University, Melbourne, 1996; Meghan Morris, ‘Ecstasy and Economics’, in Too Soon Too Late: History in Popular Culture, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1998; Eve Vincent, ‘Confusions of an Economist’s Daughter’, Griffith Review, no. 13, 2007. 19 Stephen Skowronek, The Politics Presidents Make: Leadership from John Adams to Bill Clinton, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1997; Greg Sargent, ‘Why the Green Lantern Theory of Presidential Power Persists’, Washington Post, 30 April 2013, <http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2013/04/30/why-the-green-lantern-theory-of-presidential-power-persists>; Geoff Robinson, ‘Why Labor Has Failed to Sell Gonski’, The Conversation, 16 April 2013, <http://theconversation.com/why-labor-has-failed-to-sell-gonski-13500>; Mills, The Hawke Years, pp. 113–14, 188. 20 David Burchell, ‘Perpetual Disillusionment’, in David Burchell & Andrew Leigh (eds), The Prince’s New Clothes: Why Do Australians Dislike Their Politicians?, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2002; David Burchell, ‘“The Mutable Minds of Particular Men”: The Emergence of “Economic Science” and Contemporary Economic Policy’, in Mitchell Dean & Barry Hindess (eds), Governing Australia: Studies in Contemporary Rationalities of Government, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 1998; David Burchell, Western Horizon: Sydney’s Heartland and the Future of Australian Politics, Scribe, Melbourne, 2002; David Burchell, ‘Labor Needs Lathamism Without Latham’, Australian Policy Online, 19 January 2005, <http://apo.org.au/commentary/labor-needs-lathamism-without-latham?section=commentary>. 21 Kathie Muir & David Peetz, “Not Dead Yet: The Australian Union Movement and the Defeat of a Government’, Social Movement Studies, vol. 9, no. 2, 2010, pp. 215–28. 22 Trevor Cook, ‘Whitlam’s Grandchildren: What the Class of 2007 Can Tell Us About the ALP’, 2009, <http://trevorcook.typepad.com/files/rudds-class-of-2007.pdf>; John Quiggin, ‘The Last Liberal’, 2007, <http://johnquiggin.com/2007/11/25/the-last-liberal/>; Possum Comitatus, ‘Gen Blue: Coalition Mortality and Electoral Decline’, Crikey, 15 May 2009, <http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2009/05/15/gen-blue/>. 23 Joy Damousi, Comrades Come Rally: Socialism, Communism and Gender in Australia 1890–1955, Oxford University Press, 1994. 24 Carol Johnson, The Labor Legacy: Curtin, Chifley, Whitlam, Hawke, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1989. 25 Geoff Robinson, ‘Judging Julia’, Online Opinion, 16 July 2010, <http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=10686>. 26 Nick Dyrenfurth & Tim Soutphommasane, ‘Introduction’, in Nick Dyrenfurth & Tim Soutphommasane (eds), All That’s Left: What Labor Should Stand For, NewSouth, Sydney, 2010; p. 4; Nick Dyrenfurth, ‘It’s the Culture, Stupid’, in Dyrenfurth and Soutphommasane (eds), All That’s Left, p. 18; Todd Gitlin, ‘The Left, Lost in the Politics of Identity’, Harper’s Magazine, September 1993; Richard Rorty, Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1998; Ellen Willis, ‘Escape from Freedom: What’s the Matter with Tom Frank (and the Lefties Who Love Him)?’, Situations: Project of the Radical Imagination, vol. 1, no. 2, 2006, pp. 5–20; Tim Soutphommasane, Reclaiming Patriotism: Nation-Building for Australian Progressives, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 2009, pp. 22–4. 27 Sid Maher, ‘Julia Gillard Makes Stand as a Social Conservative’, Australian, 21 March 2011; Charles Murray, ‘Why Aren’t Asians Republicans?’, American Enterprise Institute, 26 November 2012, <http://www.aei-ideas.org/2012/11/why-arent-asians-republicans>; Ramesh Ponnuru, ‘Condescending Twaddle About Hispanics’, National Review, 13 November 2012, <http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/333306/condescending-twaddle-about-hispanics-ramesh-ponnuru>; Simon Jackman, ‘Malcolm in the Middle: Why the Coalition Might Turn to Turnbull’, Guardian, 18 July 2013, <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/18/malcolm-turnbull-coalition-middle>. 28 Eva Cox, ‘Why Julia Gillard Should Stay’, Sydney Morning Herald, 20 February 2013, <http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/why-julia-gillard-should-stay-20130220-2eqvz.html>; Gillard, Speech to the Australian Workers Union National Conference 2013; Peter Martin, ‘If the PM Said It It Must Be … Gillard’s Rubbery Figures’, Petermartin.com.au, 2 May 2011, <http://www.petermartin.com.au/2011/05/if-pm-said-it-it-must-be-gillards.html>; Bridie Jabour, ‘Far from a New Start, Losing Sole Parent Payment Shuts Down Mothers’, Guardian, 15 August 2013, <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/15/newstart-sole-parent-single-mothers>; Verity Edwards, ‘Bill Shorten Defends Boot Camps’, Australian, 29 July 2013, <http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/bill-shorten-defends-boot-camps/story-fn59niix-1226687172708>; Matt Cowgill, ‘A Twitter Exchange with Troy Bramston’, Storify, 2013, <http://storify.com/MattCowgill/bramston-v-cowgill>; ‘Shorten Won’t Break Ranks Over Gay Marriage’, ABC News, 9 November 2010, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-11-09/shorten-wont-break-ranks-over-gay-marriage/2328816>. 29 Tim Rowse, ‘The Social Democratic Critique of the Australian Settlement’, in Jenny Hocking & Colleen Lewis (eds), It’s Time Again: Whitlam and Modern Labor, Circa, Melbourne, 2003; Stuart Macintyre, ‘The Short History of Social Democracy in Australia’, in Don Rawson (ed.), Blast, Budge or Bypass: Towards a Social Democratic Australia, Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, Canberra, 1984. 30 Louis Althusser, ‘Is It Simple to Be a Marxist in Philosophy?’, in Philosophy and the Spontaneous Philosophy of the Scientists and Other Essays, Verso, London, 1990, p. 211. Geoff Robinson Geoff Robinson @geoffpolhist is in Politics at Deakin University. His book on Jack Lang When the Labor Party Dreams is still available. More by Geoff Robinson Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays 2 First published in Overland Issue 228 24 January 202325 January 2023 Politics The end of the politics of care Giovanni Tiso The daily spectacle of televised briefings was not unique to New Zealand, and it may simply be the case that Ardern thrived when given the opportunity to speak to the public directly—in other words, that she was better than others at it. Alternatively, we could say that her rhetoric found in the pandemic the ground on which to turn into concrete action. Either way, the benefits we derived in terms of lives saved from the remarkable extension of that social license are literally incalculable. First published in Overland Issue 228 15 December 202216 December 2022 Politics Let them vote Sam Wallman At sixteen years old you're old enough to die in a war, have worked for two years, drive a car, leave school, pay taxes, get married, secure public housing, vote in over 15 other countries, have an existential crisis. Let 16+ year olds vote!