Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bob Carr Sails his Intellectually Floatless Plot in Mountainous McGuinnes' Sea

With the announcement of Prime Minister Julia Gillard that senator-designate Bob Carr will be appointed to the foreign minister portfolio, I'm republishing the following article for the readers of this new blog. The article makes it glaringly clear the second rate foreign minister Australia will have with Bob Carr's elevation to the Ministership.

By Con George–Kotzabasis

The intellectual lightness of former premier Bob Carr’s critique of Paddy McGuinnes lies in the opening of his article published in The Australian, on January 30, 2008., ” ‘Don’t get too close to that crowd of Quadrant’, instructed Paddy McGuinnes…The year …is fixed in my memory as 1976 or 1977, when I was an employee of the Labor Council of NSW”. ( A period when the latter was employing standover goons from the Sydney underworld to bash and threaten the lives of left-wing members of the Labor Party, and which McGuinnes dubbed as the right-wing thuggish Labor Council of NSW.) As if this statement of McGuinnes in 1976-77, would be the ‘fixed’ Gospel truth about Quadrant from which McGuinnes would never deviate with the passing of time. Carr claims that “Quadrant’s anti-communism was too unfashionable for him.”[McGuinnes] As if the latter was picking his political “fashions” from the ‘cat walks’ and designs of other conservatives and was intellectually incapable of designing his own anti-communism, which he did, and during his journalistic career brilliantly articulated and exhibited.

Carr claims that “McGuinnes contribution was a different one” and “deliciously counterproductive”, which the Labor party relished. He was the Godfather of the three deadly sins that would cast the Howard government into the political abyss of Hades: Climate change denial, support for George W. Bush in Iraq, and loss of workers’ rights. “For ten years, whatever Howard did or said he would be supported by a group of columnists…none more bottled-up angry with Labor than McGuinnes”. This was Howard’s “Praetorian Guard”. And “when the electorate wanted Howard to ratify Kyoto and wind back the commitment in Iraq, the symbiotic link with Praetorians made it impossible for the emperor to shift”. It was this attachment of Howard to the orthodoxies of the Praetorians “that did him in”. Carr caps his argument by saying that “McGuinnes and his allies had won their man for their program, but their program had lost Australians”. And “McGuinnes was haunted by ghosts… Women from the Push days, his Labor Party buddies from the past, above all the imaginary leftists who seemed to occupy a large part of his mental space”.

Well let us deal with Carr’s argument about Paddy and Howard’s Praetorian Guard that “did him in”. The three issues that presumably ousted the Howard government, i.e., climate change, the war in Iraq, and WorkChoices were present during Kim Beazley’s tenure as opposition leader without in any way increasing his polls against Howard , So there must have been other factors that brought the Coalition government down that Carr hardly even attempts to probe. And all the pre-election polls had shown that at least the two issues of climate change and the war, scarcely made any ripples in the calm lake waters that the electorate was paddling its canoe. The issues that led to the defeat of the former government did not emanate from the “program” of McGuinnes and his allies, but from a number of tactical mistakes made by the Coalition prior and during their lackluster electoral campaign and its inability to cut Rudd’s populist wings that would make the pigeon land, in the guise of an eagle, on the Lodge.

On the two pivotal issues of security and economic management, on which the Coalition had no peers in the political spectrum and was politically unassailable, the Howard government failed to concentrate the mind of the electorate. Instead of making these two issues the axis upon which the safety and continued economic prosperity of the nation depended, it squandered this political capital it had in its hands by ‘hoarding’ the first, that is, by keeping silent about the great importance of the security of the country during the electoral campaign¬—and considering that the war in Iraq was being won by the Coalition of the willing with hardly any Australian casualties, which was vital to the security of the West, the reticence of this fact was politically astonishing---and by treating the second, i.e., economic management, as a ‘safe haven’ in the electorate’s mind and a safe protectorate that could not be ‘stolen’ by the me tooism economic conservatism of Kevin Rudd.

Rudd owes his victory to the humdrum desires--that had nothing to do with the war or climate change--of Howard’s battlers and to the self-employed tradesmen, both groups drenched with middle-class conservative values. Once Kevin 07 established in the minds of these two groups his economic conservatism coupling this with his promises of lower food and petrol prices as well as ending the ogre of Work Choices, which the unions’ advertising campaign successfully managed to depict, then Rudd was bound to win the race, as the unbreakable momentum of all the polls had shown during the long campaign, without steroids.

Howard’s campaign strategists committed the error of thinking that they could take the wind off the sails of Rudd first by a profligate and luxurious spending, and secondly, by tampering with the Work Choices legislation with the aim of making it more palatable to the electorate, and in the process bungling it, which instead of making it acceptable to the latter it created the strong impression of Howard’s guilt about Work Choices as being an anti-working class measure and hence generating a great distrust of Howard. From this point on whatever Howard was saying was falling on deaf ears and no monetary offers lining the pockets of the electorate would change the latter’s choice to have a go with Rudd. Indeed, “the electorate had moved”, to quote Carr, and ‘de-latched’, from Howard not because of Kyoto and the war in Iraq, as Carr claims, but because of the failure and inability of the Coalition’s strategists to expose the falsity of Rudd’s so called “new leadership” and to take the wind off the sails of his bloated populism, as it’s written in Kevin Rudd’s stars that his “new leadership” will be led by the weathervane of populism.

Carr ends his tirade against McGuinnes by stating that the latter "was haunted with ghosts…above all the imaginary leftists who seemed to occupy a large part of his mental space”. As if he himself and the left in general, were free of their own ghosts planted in their dragons’ teeth by that great intellectual landlord absentee from history Karl Marx, class struggle, the proletariat, capitalist exploiters, the universal man, who would work during the day, play the harp in the afternoon, and write and “practice” poetry during the night. Not to mention its more modern up to date fads such as "make poverty history” in countries such as Africa where political corruption is rife and when one gets on the sleaze racket of a governmental position it becomes a way of life and where a free rein of insatiable cleptocracy reigns.

Just-in-time news, Bob Carr has drowned…It was never wise for lake swimmers to swim in the mountainous sea of Paddy McGuinnes.

I rest on my oars:Your turn now

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Iron Ladies Never Die they Just Continue to Show the Way

By Con George-KotzabasisJanuary 9, 2012

In a hostile world only the strong have the right to indulge in hope. Thucydides

Ah, that memorable, fascinating, admirable, and politically insightful and intrepid subject, Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, that challenges almost all of contemporaneous political leadership that is scrambling on all its fours--with some notable exceptions such as Lee Kuan Yu, of Singapore and Antonis Samaras, of Greece--from Obama to Zapatero to Merkel and Sarkozy, who  instead of standing on the shoulders of political giants, like Thatcher, to command events, they have been overwhelmed and overcome by them.

The characteristic spending profligacy of Labour socialist governments over a number of years, and the excessive borrowing and inflation that resulted by the latter’s policies that brought the UK into economic stagnation gave Margaret Thatcher the opportunity to win the election in 1979 with a sizable majority. Her victory would bring not only the transformation of British politics but would also spawn, with a small astute coterie of others, the seeds of a profound change on the political landscape of the world. Further, by re-introducing forcefully the idea of privatization as a dynamic concept among the economic detritus left by Labour’s deficit-laden nationalization of industries, she would place the country on the trajectory of economic efficiency and generation of wealth for the benefit of all Britons.  To open markets to the world she abolished all exchange controls on foreign currency five months after coming to power. The UK from being the poorest of the four major European economies in 1979 became by the end of ten years under Thatcher’s stewardship the richest among them. In a series of economic policies packaged by Milton Friedman’s and Frederick Hayek’s monetarist theories, Britain’s GDP grew by 23.3% during this period outpacing that of Germany, France, and Italy.

However, to accomplish the latter goal, she would have to confront the power of unions decisively, which, in a ceaseless campaign of strikes and imprudent and irrational demands were ruining the British economy. In 1979, at the apex of union power, Britain had lost 29.5 million working days to strikes, whereas at its nadir, under the robust stand of Thatcher and her strong blows against it that led to the defeat of unions, in 1986, the figure of lost working days was 1.9 million. The Moscow trained communist Arthur Scargill, secretary of the Mining Unions, had unleashed in 1984-85 a myriad of strikes with the aim to obstruct the Thatcherite pro-market reforms that would put Britain on the roller skates of economic prosperity. By the end of that year that shook the foundations of British industry and broke the morale of some of her Cabinet members--that prompted Thatcher in a memorable quip to say to them, “You turn if you want to. The lady is not for turning.”—the red flag became a trophy alongside the Argentinian flag in her collection of victories, as Arthur Scargill conceded his defeat.

In international affairs she questioned Kissinger’s policy of d√©tente toward the Soviet Union as she believed strongly that Communism should not be accommodated but overcome. For this implacable stand the Soviet Army’s newspaper Red Star christened her the “Iron Lady.” Together with President Reagan, she planted the diplomatic dynamite under the foundations of the Soviet empire that would eventually bring the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of Lenin’s benign Marxist dream that had turned back to its true nature as a nightmare of Gulags and Killing Fields.

Thatcher in the 1980’s fiercely opposed the European economic and monetary integration. To her the European construction was “infused with the spirit of yesterday’s future.” In the kernel of this construction laid the central “intellectual mistake” of assuming that “the model for future government was that of a centralized bureaucracy.” And she was prophetic to the current events and crisis of Europe when she argued that German taxpayers would provide “ever greater subsidies for failed regions of foreign countries,” while condemning south European countries to debilitating dependency on handouts from German taxpayers.” She concluded, “The day of the artificially constructed mega-state is gone.”

However, no statesmanship is without its warts. In 1986 prohibition of proprietary trading went out; the separation between commercial and investment banks was abrogated; and ‘casino banking’ took off, which without these changes would not have happened. Her critics accused her of promoting greed which she personally abhorred. Also, the introduction of the poll tax on adult residents was most unpopular among Britons and sparked the Poll Tax Riots on March 31, 1990, that instigated an internal coup against her that ousted her from her premiership.

Margaret Thatcher entered number 10 Downing Street with her strong character and astute political perceptiveness with panache that destined her, like all great statesmen, to “walk beneath heaven as if she was placed above it,” to quote the seventeenth-century French political philosopher, Gabriel Naude. She will enter the ‘gate of heaven’ not as the frail distracted old woman, as she was depicted in the film made by Phillida Lloyd, but as the iron lady who will never die and continue to show the way.

I rest on my oars: your turn now...