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Day to day politics: “There’s nothing like the certainty of a closed mind”. (The feral-right are nasty pricks).

Monday 8 January 2018

At the beginning of each year, I – like many others, I suspect – have an internal discussion in order to seek a greater understanding of what makes me tick. In the labyrinth of this debate I seek to understand how I could relate better to others and how I could be a little more persuasive without being a know all.

On my mind is to try to seek a greater understanding of those who differ in philosophical political thought to me. I am what I self-describe as an empathic, idealistic, political democrat, or commongoodist.

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” is how I see it.

This ‘common good’ principle is something you are more likely to find on the left of politics than the right. After all the right seek to serve those who have, whereas the left seek to serve those who have not.

Thus far my attempts have gotten off to a terrible start. You see I find it hard to understand why it is when commenting on something someone has written, just why they need to wander off in a different direction by changing the subject or just being sarcastic for the sake of it.

I get remarks like “your whole article is based on a wrong premise. You just make yourself look silly.”

When one inquires as to the basis of this assumption one is usually met with a similar line.

On a post about asylum seekers on Manus Island, John Livesley – a man who purports to be of the left – said the following. (He posts racist remarks on his Facebook page and later removes them. In fact he is probably not a real person).

“It’s just this typical demonising of people that makes me despair of left-wing politics. It is so ignorant and a useless commentary and a blatant insult to those people who voted for each member. John Lord has often made the point that personality assassination is a negative element in our political system, yet posts this rubbish. Many of us on the left believe that the asylum seekers in off shore centres should not be allowed into Australia. So why does Dutton, who is doing what the majority want,come in for such ridiculous abuse. Sticking to comments on policy will advance our cause more effectively.. asked him a number of times to explain what he meant but all I got was a continuation of “you make yourself look silly”.

This comment referred to my post about “Who is the biggest grub in the Coalition?” and the association between character and leadership.

Last year this blog we had some rather thoughtless comments from Mark Delmege who was of the view that I should be writing about his chosen subject rather than mine which was Donald Trump.

He thought I should be writing about the Obama administration. Undeterred he ignored me and began his own conversation. Anyway the thing got somewhat out of hand and our editor was forced to block him.

At the time I was at the movies watching La La Land and when I got home and read his comments I thought there must be some correlation between the two.

But in all seriousness I often wonder if technology and social media has just opened a pathway for nutters like these two to opine their drivel. Their ploy is to change the subject so as to argue on their terms.

The intent is just to play intellectual gymnastics with me but at my age I set a high bar that they are unable to jump. Maybe I am in Trump’s class of genius.

These of course are only two. On Facebook I have to deal with them every day. Fortunately at The AIMN we seen to have gathered some excellent, what I shall call, professional analysis experts. People who offer encouragement but are at the same time are prepared to critique in a way that is objective and considered.

Importantly they call a spade a spade with an eye always on the manners of discourse. If they don’t, they are tolerated to a point, and then dispatched to God only knows where.
Argument can break out at any moment on any post and it can be lively
Often I find that people’s opinions are based on their feelings or values rather than any understanding of the subject and the difficulty is in separating the two. Or often they place their feelings before the facts or just choose to ignore them altogether.

So it is rather difficult trying to understand the other person’s point of view when you are confronted with the aforementioned examples.

An observation

“There’s nothing like the certainty of a closed mind.”

In the case of Mark Delmege his only intention was to hijack the discussion. Unfortunately for him his anger in not being able to do so was confronted by some astute minds who well and truly put him in his place.

So my New Year’s resolution is of to a bad start because, well to tell you the truth, I don’t mind people having a different opinion to me but I do get annoyed when they create their own facts to support their view. Or with an empty head.

Plus of course when you have been following politics for as long as I have the pub test as we call it is sometimes more conducive to the truth than other forms of judgement. Like the drivel from a conservative journalist or the ratbag commentator on this blog or in the media.

My thought for the day

“We can learn so much from people we disagree with that it is a wonder we don’t do it more often.”

Footnote: I’m not sure I believe that anymore.

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  1. Möbius Ecko


    The future under the L-NP as they deliberately and secretly undermine the Australian Labour market. This from a government that promised transparency.

    Then there’s the ABC revelation of their blatant lying on Labor’s negative gearing policy during the election. The L-NP had this info but refused to release it as not in the public interest.


    By the way, that was a tactic started by Howard, specifically Treasurer Costello, who went to court and won so as not to release as “not in the public interest” information that showed budgeted monies for social and infrastructure projects compared to what was actually spent.

  2. Rapideffect

    The majority of politicians on either side are there to serve themselves, not others.

    Is this article in the wrong category?

  3. Michael Taylor

    It certainly was. Thanks for alerting us.

  4. Terry2


    I note that both Kelly O’Dwyer and Simon Birmingham are saying of the Treasury advice – on Negative Gearing having only a marginal and temporary affect on house prices if Labor’s policy was introduced – that the advice is over two years old.

    Helloooo ! the reason why this advice is only being released is because the coalition have been fighting tooth and nail to keep it under wraps and even now it has been released under FOI and is heavily redacted.

    Interesting that they throw O’Dwyer and Birmingham under the bus but when it comes to bagging the Victorian Labor government last week we see Turnbull, Dutton and Hunt out there carrying the banner ; now all of a sudden these luminaries are on leave !!!

    With due respect to Ms O’Dwyer, I think she is a very good example of why mandatory quotas based on gender are not always the way to go.

  5. Phil

    You are a tenacious man JL for daily diving into the river of personal opinions that is swarming with shoals of trolls and other hobgoblins that lurk under metaphorical bridges.

    The comment you quote from one John Livesley is fascinating. It has all the markings of a right wing lornorder zealot.

  6. bearbrooke

    Your essay brought to my mind a couple of stanzas by the poet David Whyte:—

    “You must learn one thing.
    The world was made to be free in.

    Give up all the other worlds
    except the one to which you belong.”

    Democracy and free speech are affiliates: which is sometimes damned annoying if you speak or write politically. Fascism is inclined to deal with free speech by executing those who dissent. Masters of the word and pen who are democrats use language as a sword to cut down pesky wiseacres.

    Democracy makes them welcome — the wiseacres. I’m glad of that. When I’m confronted by such upstarts I think of trees and of cows that unscab their itchy backs on the bark of those trees — so when I respond I do so with a sense of fun.

  7. John Lord

    Phil. He is a fascinating man, but a racist fool.

  8. Möbius Ecko

    Terry2 saying the document is two years old only damns them more, it’s an admission they lied at the last election. They narrowly won in part because of the scare campaign that Labor would crash house prices, something that is now proven to be an outright lie as at the time they had incontrovertible evidence to the contrary.

    The government (Morrison) is also saying there are other documents that prove their case, but they refuse to table them. I bet their toadies in the housing and finance industries are flat out at the moment producing them.

  9. Harry

    Love your work John! Invariably thoughtful. I think we can learn from those who disagree with us, as a generality but there are unfortunately those with whom a robust but respectful dialogue is just not going to happen.

  10. wam

    I totally agree with your thought and your footnote!
    Clearly the point is any benefit comes from the ‘want’ to learn. Have you lost the ‘want’ and stopped looking at the other side of politics??

    I believe in honesty, Lord. not the truth you espouse. Just the honesty to recognise that the LNP, under the most amoral opus dei driven tool in my time on earth, took politics to the poor and non-intellectual class, via a media desperate for viewers, sales or listeners. The result is we have an inept government bouncing from crisis to crisis but a population primed for believing a slogan if the words sound right. Once believed it becomes the truth. Once it is true any opposition is a lie. Just a simple confusing circle that I don’t see labor recognising much less breaking.How many gillardian ‘I will not…’ could there have been in the last 4 years?.
    The tactic, of speaking at the below average level, will always triumph over silent intellectual common sense.

    Remember, the rabbott was freely supported in his disgusting sexist attacks on the prime minister. From blatant exposing of viscous headlines to an inane parody on the ABC. with ONE exception labor was compliant.
    Well the rabbott set the scene! Politicians must talk to the bottom half or just hope enough are sick of being disadvantaged ie whinge on facebook and the ABC(no longer fair??) and trust on osmosis.

    Up to 71% Australians do not want the boat people!
    Just as many workers do not vote labor for many reasons. Many labor voters do not support boat access to Australia,
    Where do the asylum seekers get the money?
    Why are there hundreds of men on manus? Did they leave their wives and children behind?
    Why do the pro-boats continually mix the terms asylum seekers and refugees? Why do the same people display women and children when the boats are overwhelmingly full of men?
    History showed we accepted refugees from the war many fleeing Stalin. Indeed remember the water polo between hungary and russia in melb. We took asylum seekers after the vietnam war. Are you equating the men of manus with these?
    Sure we had Captain Dragon, Zental and a few vietnamese crooks but the muslim crooks, that may lurk on manus, are far more dangerous.

    ps I had you mixed with the melbourne footballer(died 1980)who would have been in his 20s when harper’s book was published and may have seen the racism in the book. Sorry if you were a child in 1960. Sorrier if you cannot see the racist elements.
    pps ‘racist fool’ is risky from a man who didn’t see black till it was shiny? Unless you are one of those who call religious bigots racists?

  11. John Lord

    Wam. We are not related but I actually worked with him for a period. I played for Preston. VFA. I thought he was still alive.

  12. John Haly

    It is interesting you mention via that quote, the personality assassination criticism. I have encountered a criticism from defenders emerging whenever I mention the personalities involved in the political debate. The complaint that I am “playing the man” or “engaging in character assassination” as though somehow ideology and politics should only be discussed in a disconnect from the personalities involved. That somehow politics can exist in a vacuum without reference to the people generating it.

    Critical analysis of politics by the nature of the game requires some perception of ideology, psychology, motivation and reason. People generate politics, the philosophy does not exist outside of the philosophy of minds. Divorcing an idea from its generator is disingenuous and simply demonstrates one’s inability to delve into the motivation, the perception and the reasoning of the person. Such analysis is incomplete and inadequate because it does not recognise the source of the ideas are, nor understand how they generated, nor why they exist. Examining an idea in a vacuum presumes that an idea exists without a progenitor. That “effect” exists without “cause”. Being critical of an idea presumes that you are being critical of its originator and they that adopt it. For example, the emotive arguments that emerge from segments of society – slighted over criticism of ideas – are predictably volatile precisely because these are ideals held by them. Hence speaking of the progenitors of political speak becomes automatically “character assassination”, to use a term one particular family member uses consistently. The idea and the person are not separate entities to be discussed in some form of an objective vacuum in which you can divorce the idea from those who hold it.

    And, yes, while I find debate with intelligent rebuttal stimulating, and when my Father was alive, he certainly provided that caliber of debate from opposing political viewpoints. (My father never resorted to dismissing a criticism of a philosophical opponent “character assassination”.) I encounter well constructed debate it in decreasing portions nowadays and I am too, like you, John, not sure “I believe that anymore”.

  13. John Lord

    Thanks John Haly. Excellent comments there.

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