Caeser For Emperor! (Australia’s search for a political Messiah)

Caeser For Emperor! (Australia’s search for a political Messiah)

I’m not worried. Are you worried? Are we worried?

There seems to be a new and emerging power on the Australian political landscape. I suppose its the inevitable evolution of the phenomenon of personality politics that is at work here. We think and we talk in terms of individuals, rather than ideologies. We are more easily able to identify with an individual person or at least the public image of an individual person, than the political philosophy that they allegedly represent.

So we talk about our political history in terms of individuals …. about the Hawke Government or the Howard Government … like these individuals actually were the embodiment of the ideals of their particular political persuasion.

I suppose its all about icons and advertising and spin and salesmanship. So much emphasis is now placed on the leader of any political group and on the image that can be created around that individual.

The latest development in this phenomenon seems to be taking personality politics to a whole new level. Recently, we are seeing the emergence of a new political ‘power’ which is so ego-centric that a whole political party and its attendant ideology is named after its founder. And what are the credentials of this person to lead Australia into a bright new tomorrow? He has apparently amassed a considerable personal fortune in the mining industry … that’s that industry where some industrialist digs up the natural resources of your country and throws you a few beads and blankets as payment. They are getting very rich and you, you lucky dog …. might get a job working for them! Just at the moment, the mining industry is the poster child of Australian economics.

There is more substance than just a proven ability to get rich ….. to qualify our new political messiah for the task of leading us out of our apparent political wilderness. I understand, he has invested a considerable portion of his personal wealth in two projects that will be of incalculable benefit to the Australian people. He has a theme park where the major draw-card is apparently … dinosaurs! …. mechanical ones. Dinosaurs were those fearsome critters that totally dominated the earth, long before mankind arrived. And he is also building a replica of the Titanic (That’s that big, expensive, unsinkable ship that sank when it was brand new). This will be a display where people will pay money to tour and (presumably by some weird mental extension) participate in one of the more outstanding, totally avoidable man-made disasters in modern history!

The mantra of this new political party is one of economic recovery. They are promising to make the whole world a better place, by the magic of economic ‘progress’. Given the history and skill-set of their larger than life leader, I have to assume that means more “dig it up, cut it down, suck it dry and fish it out”. More environmental desecration, always in the name of the mighty dollar. Why we should all accept that the woes of the world can be cured by the acquisition of personal wealth, I really can’t grasp.

The bottom line for me is that Australians …. ordinary Australians are already amongst the wealthiest people on earth. And are they happy, well adjusted, contented and fulfilled? When will we learn that there are more important issues facing Western society than simple economics? Australians already enjoy a level of material wealth that is amongst the highest on the planet. Yet as a society and as individuals, when it comes to physical, mental and spiritual well being, we seem to be more or less bankrupt! Still the political luminaries continue to endlessly beat the drum of ‘economic prosperity = happiness’ because, put simply, that is all they know.

I don’t believe that the secret to future happiness is the preserve of economics. We are already at the top of the economic heap and yet we constantly hear that the new epidemics of our society are anxiety, depression and obesity. Add to that, the long standing social maladies of alcoholism, substance abuse and social violence and I think you’d have to concede that having enough material wealth hasn’t delivered a better world.

Its clear to me though, that we are sliding down a slippery slope indeed, when we start looking for some political messiah, to lead us out of our travails, when economics is the ONLY god being worshiped in Canberra. If we want to improve our society; if we want to build a better world to pass on to our kids; if we want to achieve a real measure of contentment and fulfilment in our own lives … then we had better learn to see beyond economics and beyond politics for that matter.

My little state of Tasmania is facing an election and this new political force is advertising heavily to win the support of the people. They have only one message …. that of economic progress. Like most political parties, they don’t know anything else. Despite the ravages of industry, both now and in the past, Tasmania is yet a jewel in the crown for Australia, in terms of environmental integrity and natural beauty. In our next election, we have a choice between three political parties, none of whom can see beyond short term economic expediency. And with the added absurdity of our party political ‘balance of power’ mechanism, the party that is elected won’t necessarily get to govern anyway (except in name, of course).

Personally, I am fearful for our future, regardless of who is in power. But I am most fearful, of a political party that is based on the massive ego of a single individual. I can’t think of a single local or world leader in the past, who ever had the effrontery to name his politics after himself. And I fear that the dinosaurs in the theme park and the reincarnation of that ship … are but harbingers of what we can expect, if we follow this pied piper down an uncertain path …. based on a belief that money is the answer to all things.

To me, the dinosaurs of yesteryear are like big business today ….. massive, unchallengeable and taking whatever they want. And the boat? Well …. maybe we are all invited on a voyage of economic, social and spiritual recovery! Deck chair, anyone? I’m gonna put mine here … or maybe here … or perhaps …. here.

Andrew Caddle 2014-01-31


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