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Keith Tan, a member of the disaffiliated ALP club and the PRIDE ticket, gently reprimanded me for being a little too dichotomous (or possibly trichotomous) in my analysis of the 2003 Melbourne University Student Union Elections. Since it should pretty clear from that post that I do not readily subscribe to the hoary left/right duality in politics, this is a welcome rebuke.

I am even less enamoured of the left/centre/right trinity that gains currency with each passing day. Modern politics allows for a whole slew of varied opinions, which are duly and irrationality co-opted into the old duality. The "left" now appropriates progressivism, radicalism, environmentalism, humanism/humanitarianism to sit beside its traditional socialism (which too fragments with every hour and every new idea). The "right" (perhaps less fickle) has the hopelessly irreconcilable duo of laissez-faire free trade evangelism and conservative traditionalism, and that's to say nothing of newly invigorated outright fascism. The self-denying "centre" has moderationalism (I made that word up), bastards-honestism (that too) and specialisationism (it's National Neologisms Day in my head!). The sinister nature of the "centre" is that its accepted discourse can be utilised by its neighbours to conceal extreme ideas. Ronald Reagan was perhaps the first successful exponent of this, and in today's Herald-Sun even Andrew Bolt was espousing the virtues of moderation and reason. (On top of that trinity, we have had since the 1960s the ephemeral prefix "new", as in "New Left" and "New Right". The dam wall, surely, is breaking on this penchant for empty categorisation.)

Anyway, Keith had two corrections to my analysis. One was that the Farrago editors were not "left wing" -- they take an independent, militant stance in the face of a domineering regime which has repeatedly attempted to censor their pages against any hint of dissent. (On that note, if you can pick up a copy of the latest Farrago, this point is well illuminated on the first page.) The other was that Pride and Left-Focus are not as ideologically linked as I had suggested; that the former subscribes to "progressive politics", according to Keith, and the latter to revolutionary socialist ideals.

Keith wrote a very interesting chronology of the Election week, which is accessible at zobang.easyjournal.com.

Joseph | 15 Sep 2003

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