Johnno

Sunday, July 23, 2006

A lesson in photography



How to take a photo of someone getting a book signed by ex-Prime Misnister Gough Whitlam



How not to take a photo of someone getting a book signed by ex Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.

Sheesh, I handed my camera to the wrong guy. "I think it took a photo, I'm not sure.", said the long haired bearded guy. Here's the result.

On Tuesday I checked my letter box and found an invitation to a book launch, main speaker Gough Whitlam ex-Prime Minister of Australia. Thought it too good an opportunity to pass up. I thought it would be interesting no only in what Gough had to say but would be interesting to see who else turned up.

So, I rolled up to the New South Wales state parliament ( like the US state congress), passed through security and went to "The Strangers Dining Room". Sitting around in big leather chairs or standing chatting were a Labor party speechwriter or two, a Senate leader, State MP's, ex opposition leaders, an ex-Prime Minister, Presidents of the Federal Labor party..... and as I described to Peter in an e-mail.....some guy from the Blue Mountains.

It was strange, only the night before I had been working night shift in a factory, 12 hours later I had found myself in a room (only in Australia!) with the guys who only 10 years ago had their hands on the joystick that ran Australia. How things have changed.

The book launch was for the book "Coming to the Party -(where next for Labor)" which was an effort by 12 Labor party politicians, policy makers and thinkers to discuss the doldrum the Labor party is in at present, much like the Democrats in the US.

Twelve leading politicians and commentators drawn from across the Party's spectrum, examine post-Latham Labor--analysing its problems and proposing a vision for victory in the 2007 federal election. Many believe the Party can be reformed and democratised, and its message made compelling once again.


Yes, we have the same problem as our brethren over the Pacific, we a have a centre-right party on opposition and a far-right party at the controls. I've seen some discussion in the USA via Scruggs about setting up networks and think tanks to work ourt effective strategy, seems the Aussies have the jump on this one.

This is one American view...... it could apply to Australia just as equally.

What I hope to make apparent on this weblog is that while public demonstrations and legal proceedings might be necessary, they are insufficient tools for reining in social and political misbehavior by the Far Right. Even within the institutional arena, it's the investigative research, education, and organizing--carried out by grassroots groups, individuals, and networks--that in large part makes responsive legislation and legal judgments possible.

The impression sometimes created by protests and court victories is that people don't need to get involved themselves, but can just write a check to some high profile organization and not give it another thought.

The combination of theatric spectacle with a shallow general understanding of social change often overshadows the grassroots work needed to put things right in our country.

It's a paradox that creates tension within the human rights movement, and often prevents development of initiatives like ours.

But what mostly concerns me is the misperception that right-wing paramilitaries are our main problem, rather than the very widespread and entrenched system of exclusion from power and decision-making in this country, and how mainstream this white collar thuggery really is.

Barry Jones who could be described as the "guru" of the party gave a short speech, one point he made that stuck out for me, was an article he cited. The old triangle wealth spread (small amount of wealthy at the top, large amount of poor at the bottom) has given way to a diamond spread of wealth( pointy at both ends).... thus the Labor party has pretty well achieved what they set out to do and in the process made themselves redundant....where next?

Personally I'd hate to see the Australian Labor party ending up like Blair's "New Labour".

Perhaps a "hands across the ocean" approach is a viable option, both oppositions of two VERY hawkish government could put their heads together and come up with an effective cross ocean strategy?

1 Comments:

  • Spartacus recommends opposition research first, before advocacy, and I think he's right about that. There's a handbook -- haven't read it yet -- that he and his colleagues find useful.

    It makes a lot of sense. There is always crime connected to politics and getting the crooks out cramps the style of the more wretched wingnuts.

    By Blogger J Alva Scruggs, at 3:31 am  

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