Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Please, bang your Caterist head here, and score a grant while passing go and deploring the culture of handouts ...

The pond is not inclined to brood, but on the other hand, the pond prides itself as being the blog of record for prime, hardcore loons.

How did that wording on the Statue of Loonerty go? 

Give me your tired, your poor loons, your huddled masses of loons yearning to breathe free in reptile la la land, the wretched refuse of Murdoch's teeming rags. Send these, the taxpayer-funded with generous grants, nicely domiciled, and tempest-free bludgers to the pond, we lift our lamp beside the golden door so they might enter the glittering dome of blog loonery ...

Or some such thing, perhaps it got garbled in translation.

You see, the pond was still in mourning at not celebrating the thoughts of the Caterists this week ...

The pond has been a devoted follower of the Caterists for yonks, with every word faithfully transcribed, as the pond stands in awe and admiration, transfixed like a wedding party guest in the grip of an ancient and wise mariner.

And that's when it occurred to the pond.

The thoughts of the Caterists aren't just valid for a day. There's an eternal nugget present, gems that might be fossicked at any time. Essential verities are at play.

In short, what was wrong yesterday is just as wrong today, as it will no doubt be wrong tomorrow ... and so reading aged, well matured Caterism, a day old and so rich in the bottle and ready to be drunk with wild abandon - no more cellaring required - could still be done with enormous personal profit ...

Oh that's such a smooth, velvety drop, yet with a hint of Hunter Valley earthiness and a tang of saddle leather.

Who else could discover the tremendous virtue of Mark Latham?

Who else would hail Mark Latham as an astute judge of the mood in the outer suburbs where the middle class resides?

In just the same way as Mark Latham once scribbled at length about the many virtues of Caterism ...

It takes a fair bit to offend me these days but Nick Cater’s new book The Lucky Culture and the Rise of an Australian Ruling Class has done the trick. It is an infuriating and fundamentally dishonest attempt to demolish everything Labor might reasonably stand for this century: action on climate change, support for the Hawke/Keating economic model, ongoing higher education expansion, Whitlamite service delivery and sensible human rights safeguards. 
Cater’s core proposition is that Labor is part of a new social and political elite, a class of tertiary educated progressives who look down their noses at ‘ordinary Australians’. I’ve had my arguments with the party’s parliamentary and trade union leadership, but it has never been about snobbery. The Laborites I talk to are as earthy and grounded as they were 30 years ago. The only elitists I see in Sydney are the old North Shore and Eastern Suburbs set, the born-to-rule brigade who brush past the workers at the racetrack and other public events like they are trying to avoid typhoid. It was ever thus. 
Cater, in effect, has reignited a class war – a debate as to where snobbery resides Down Under. He argues when he migrated from England to Australia in 1989 we were an egalitarian utopia, a classless society in which all citizens were given a fair go. I remember something different. Friends from Western Sydney who missed out on job applications for no other reason than they listed their addresses as Liverpool and Green Valley. Newly-arrived migrants who were labelled ‘slopes’ and ‘towel heads’. Women who were expected to do paperwork and prepare supper for community organisations but not to run for elected office. Public housing estates which looked like war zones – a world apart from the North Shore, Eastern Suburbs and gentrified inner-city (where Cater eventually settled). 
If Cater wants a fuller understanding of social values in Australia in the 1980s, perhaps he should ask Geoffrey Blainey, who is launching The Lucky Culture on May 13 at the Institute for Paid Advocacy (IPA) in Melbourne. In 1984 Blainey called for the re-introduction of a racially discriminatory immigration program, complaining of the “slow Asian takeover of Australia.” 
I don’t want to be too harsh on one of our cultural imports, but Cater’s understanding of Australian egalitarianism is poor. On pages 92-93 of his book, for instance, he complains about panellists on the ABC’s Q and A program picking on Gina Rinehart because of her looks and apparent inability to “afford a hairdresser”. This was, in fact, a light-hearted exchange in May last year, involving the irreverent Australian comic Barry Humphries. Yet for Cater it represented “boorish” behaviour devoid of appropriate “courtesy and a modicum of respect” for “Australia’s most successful mining entrepreneur”. He opined: 
A class that relies for status on cultural rather than financial capital cannot concede that wealth carries virtue, and resorts to attacking Rinehart’s cultural standing in the most personal terms. It amounts to a crude assertion of cultural refinement … (on) how to handle money and how to arrange their hair. In a society where net wealth is considered a poor guide to character, the sneer is an assertion of class superiority … In a country where cultural superiority becomes important, belittlement of others is an underhand form of self-aggrandisement, a habit that once adopted becomes almost impossible to break. 
Australian culture has always involved mockery. Our egalitarianism is a social habit, not an economic doctrine. This means taking the piss out of the rich and powerful, which is exactly what the Q and A panellists did. They used common, irreverent Australian humour – the type one would hear in pubs, clubs and mateship groups every day.

There's more here, (watch out for the subscriber pop-up), because Latham has a lot to say about this particular budgie:

While the Labor movement is not without its problems – I have written about them at length – I cannot stand by and watch someone like Cater lecturing the party on the cultural habits of suburban Australia. He is a prototype of the ‘cosmopolitan sophistication’ he otherwise condemns: tertiary-educated, widely travelled, mesmerised by the high arts, with a working career in an information industry dealing with abstract concepts. And now the author of a 361-page book. 
The differences between right-wing cosmo-sophisticates and left-wing cosmo-sophisticates are not vast. They relate solely to politics. Thus for conservatives, the so-called culture wars (of which Cater’s book is the latest instalment) are a way of entering the political debate from a different angle. It is an attempt to frame left-of-centre activists as out-of-touch and unworthy, using culture as a veil for party politics. 
Cultural analysis is also useful in diverting attention from one of the right-wing’s traditional weaknesses: the elitism of the establishment. It is not Tony Abbott, the Rhodes Scholar son of a North Shore dental specialist, who has enjoyed a privileged life – or so the argument runs – but Labor MPs who grew up in working class areas and pursued the aloofness of an Australian university education. 
There is a strong element of deceit in this tactic. This was evident in Cater’s appearance on Q and A, in which he claimed his book is “not a left/right argument.” “I’m not making a left/right argument”, he insisted. Make no mistake, The Lucky Culture is a long, carefully-structured assault on progressive values and ideas. Any Labor person who has anything to do with its promotion is fouling his own nest. 
Already, the right-wing barrackers are out in force, with Abbott, Miranda Devine and Piers Akerman writing glowing reviews. It is Abbott’s kind of book: narrow, hypocritical and based on a big lie. It promotes climate change denialism, winding back mass university access and funding state-led economic development through the construction of dams – a throwback to the failed agrarian ethos of Abbott’s mentor, BA Santamaria. In the run up to September’s election, Cater has sounded the bugle of the culture wars and unsurprisingly, the right-wing hunting pack is howling in unison.

And so on, and on, this being in the day when Latham could still pop up at the Chifley Research Centre, before his ever-narrowing self-implosion saw him attempt to reinvent himself as a fellow traveller with those very same Devines and Akker Dakkers and Caterists ...

If nothing else the pond loves a rich and resonant irony ...

And so it came to pass that the Caterists might quote the Lathamites, before moving on to the Ming the Merciless dreamtime, and all was well in the world ...

What's there to say about this celebration of Ming the Merciless? This relentless suggestion that it's Bernie Sanders who's the cause and the explanation of all that's wrong with the United States, as opposed to a symptom. As if the Caterists might never mention the words "Koch brothers" for fear it might ruin a grant application.

Please don't ask the pond about the strivers, the planners, and the ambitious ones.

You won't find them amongst the Caterists.

You see, the last thing the pond would want is for research centres to be destroyed by hand-outs.

Here, score a grant and argue this issue amongst yourselves (and more grants here):

And so reluctantly, with great regret, the pond must leave the 1950s and return to the present ... and a Bill Shorten Zinger ...

Oh dear, it seems we never left the 1950s at all ...

Nope, it's still the land of Queen Victoria's copper ...

Huzzah, huzzah, huzzah, and remember ...


  1. Surely Cater can't go any lower in my estimation...

    He bangs on about how fucked the US middle class are because their job security is precarious and they probably won't be able to fund their retirements and then, almost in the same breath, concludes that the middle class needs "opportunity" not hand outs without even bothering to, at the least, outline what he means by "opportunity".

    As if that wasn't stupid enough, he also throws in the completely unfounded argument that the middle class won't aspire to become wealthy because the wealthy get taxed more.

    I'd really like to know why I don't get paid by the government for being a brainless twat in service to the private sector.

    Now there's a disincentive to work for you! Stuff the 9 - 5! Set up a think tank, publish shit and get paid. Sweet gig.

    1. and fails to mention just why the middle class of the USA is fucked, and why demagogues like Trump are winning the primaries, and why people are turning to the social inclusion of people like Sanders. Yup, it's because they are being taxed too much, and the cultural elites are being culturally elite.


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