Name change

I changed the blog name from 'speaking uncivilly' to 'speaking fearlessly' because I think that expresses better what I'm trying to do. There's complex issues about honesty vs truth, I'll try to explore it later but I have to go to the community garden now.

1.58 pm Back from community garden but have to do some gardening here now! So quick thoughts. A lot of people are pretty direct on twitter, including some academics eg Ben Eltham. But I think a lot of us feel constrained. It’s like someone said in the research project (the other blog) - political issues and evidence based issues are seen as different. If it’s ‘just political’ it’s ‘just a viewpoint’. Well every statement comes from a viewpoint, but we still have to respect evidence.

From my viewpoint, the evidence is that we are approaching crisis. Climate change and other kinds of environmental degradation are happening very fast. Inequality is increasing. These things are interlinked. I can spend time writing about this - and I am - and trying to increase knowledge by publishing articles in academic journals, but that’s a slow process. In the meantime, do I sit by and watch our politicians selling us out?

I’ve been a political adviser. I researched issues and wrote them up in ways that were suitable for messaging to the public. I was pretty good at that. I tried not to distort evidence, but I was happy to use political rhetoric that aimed to put political opponents in the wrong. For example, in 1998 or thereabouts: ‘Mr Kennett is simply wrong on health funding’ (a good one, because it was effective and correct); ‘Mr Kennett is telling country Victorians to suffer’ (obviously more rhetorical and metaphorical, but appropriate in a discussion of funding cuts to health services).

As an academic, my role is not so clear to me. I feel I have an obligation to draw people’s attention to critical political problems, and that rhetoric is appropriate to do this, but it’s not clear to me what kind of rhetoric is ok. Complicating the issue is that even though I was pretty good at what I did (I researched and also coordinated policy for both Labor and the Greens), neither political party really appreciated me. They used my work, but they didn’t value me much. This has led to me not trying to get involved in politics as much, both because I don’t want to be treated that way, and because it has affected my confidence.

I’ve been banned from joining my local branch of the Greens, because there are a few people in it who really dislike and resent me (due to old disputes), but I’ve also been invited to be an adviser to the Greens on policy. This is what I mean about people being idiots. It’s just so frustrating and stupid, what else can I say. I wouldn’t mind doing some advising, and I’m pretty sure I could be useful, but I’m not going to do it while these local people (I’ll refrain from calling them idiots again) cling on to their silly grievances and won’t allow me to be a member.

Of course the Greens should do something about this shit, and of course they don’t. If even Bob Brown can’t refrain from publicly putting his oar in over the Lee Rhiannon issue, how are ordinary members going to understand that discipline is necessary in politics, that you can’t just go on endlessly fighting silly personal battles. Anyway, off to the garden ...

6.30 pm It's a truism I suppose that the left spends its time fighting itself. But it's depressing to see the Labor partisans like Van Badham peddling bullshit about the Greens. One could say 'lies' or 'half-truths' but really bullshit is the better word (there's a book been written on this I think). They are statements that contain enough truth to sound convincing to people who don't know much about the subject, but are actually designed to mislead.

For example, 'the Greens vote with the Liberals on X' (Labor votes much more often with Liberals than the Greens do); 'the Greens voted against Rudd's carbon price and are to blame for the mess we are in' (they voted against it because they saw it as an ineffective scheme that would lock Australia into an inadequate response. The carbon price scheme introduced successfully by the Greens and Gillard Labor was a much better scheme); 'the Greens voted with Liberals to reduce pensions' (the Greens amended the legislation so that there was an earlier cut-off for people with significant assets, but people on the full pension actually got more).


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