Friday, April 25, 2008

Summat summit about nowt

It's been interesting to read the responses of the 2020 summit participants following the event. The general consensus seems to be that the event was confused and disorganised, that certain views weren't heard, that other views were given unfair emphasis, that the agenda was manipulated by politicians and bureaucrats, that many ideas were ignored in favour of bland meaningless political statements, that many ideas weren't new, that too many celebrities were invited and that Kevin Rudd and Labor politicians deliberately tried to ingratiate themselves with the media. But still, respondents and attendants seem determined to be positive. Michael Gow writes: "... everyone subverted the white board tyranny and started having their own conversations." Alison Croggon: "... it was an inspiring invitation to a participatory democracy, and it resulted in some valuable and stimulating discussions and ideas." Andrew Norton: "Outside the sessions, I had some useful conversations."* Most baffling of all was Cate Blanchett's response:
Blanchett set the audience nodding in approval when she stated her belief in 'a long and meaningful relationship between arts and government' and that 'much can simply be done by imagining the arts where they rightly belong - at the very heart of our society.'
I always thought it was a positive virtue of our society that artists typically wanted greater independence of government. Observing this, Tim Blair noted sardonically: " Dissent is so 1996-2007."

And I really don't know why there has been such a positive response to the summit. Sure, conversations were had, but conversations can be had anytime. More than anything else, the optimistic response by Croggon, Blanchett, et al, seems to indicate that they were flattered to be invited to the summit. It reminded me of an observation C S Lewis made about a radical socialist acquaintance of his, 'a young man I once knew':
He had been a strict socialist at Oxford. Everything ought to be run by the state; private enterprise and independent professions for him were the great evil. He then went away and became a schoolmaster. After about ten years of that he came to see me. He said his political views had been wholly reversed. You never heard a fuller recantation. He now saw that State interference was fatal. What had converted him was his experience as a schoolmaster of the Ministry of Education - a set of ignorant meddlers armed with insufferable power to pester, hamper, and interrupt the work of real, practical teachers who knew the subjects they taught, who knew boys, parents, and all the real conditions of their work. It makes no difference to the point of the story whether you agree with his view of the Ministry; the important thing is he held that view. For the real point of the story, and of his visit, when it came, nearly took my breath away. Thinking thus, he had come to see whether I had any influence which might help him to get a job in the Ministry of Education.
Here is the perfect band-wagoner. Immediately on the decision 'This is a revolting tyranny', follows the question, 'How can I as quickly as possible cease to be one of the victims and become one of the tyrants?' If I had been able to introduce the young man to someone in the Ministry, I think we may be sure that his manners to that hated 'Meddler' would have been genial and friendly in the extreme. Thus someone who had heard his previous invective against the meddling and then witnessed his actual behaviour towards the meddler, might possibly (for charity 'believeth all things') have concluded that this young man was full of the purest Christianity and loved one he thought a sinner while hating what he thought his sin.
Just so. It's far easier to seek to be one of the 'elite', to have the ear of those in power, than to seek real independence from the powerful.

PS Please read Jack Marx.

*Though it's true, the tone of his blog post is far more cynical.


TimT said...

That quotes from Lewis' 'Reflections on the Psalms'.

Blogging might be a little light for the next coupla days as I'm moving house.

No, really!

Steve said...

Thanks for the referral to the Jack Marx column, which I had missed. I agree with his fundamental point about Kevin Rudd: some people seem to admire him for manipulative mind games; but if someone recognised such behaviour in (say) a co-worker or a friend's partner, they would rightly take it as a sign of an evil heart, not cleverness.

I also continue to be flabbergasted that John Quiggin can continue to assert that there were no people with an irrational hatred of John Howard, and use of the term "Howard haters" was a mere labelling tactic. He certainly can't have read Webdiary during the Howard years, or a wide variety of Fairfax journalists, or the LP crowd, etc etc.

TimT said...

Very weird, true. I saw his post linked on Club Troppo. It's probably just part of a wider claim that the left are never irrational. I made the point on Jeremy's blog the other day that it's the irrational emotions (like irrational likes/dislikes) that we're the least aware of, because we are so caught up in them.

ras said...

Best of luck with the move Tim.

I successfully ignored the 2020 summit. I managed to be sick the entire weekend. With the same cold that i still have.

TimT said...

Thanks Ras! And yep, the lurgy struck early this season. I have it too; a nasty little bugger that lingers in your throat for a while. I refuse to draw any parallels between this and the Rudd Government!*

The move should be good. I'll probably get the net up at home during the week, but will be online before then. Even if I do some furtive blogging at work, I'm sure I'll be online one way or another.

*Sorry. Couldn't help myself.

Caz said...

"much can simply be done by imagining the arts where they rightly belong - at the very heart of our society"


In that case we can also achieve much by imagining peace, prosperity, cures for all cancers, immortality, and clean water and CC cup breasts for all.

If only I'd known it was so simple.

I'm now imagining that I'm five inches taller and my bottom is taut and terrific.

nailpolishblues said...

I believe that last one is a very common imagining, Caz. I quite recently saw a woman who was imagining it a g-string and some very unfortunate shorts.

Good luck with the move, Tim.

Maria said...

Well, Steve, I don't think an evil heart and cleverness are mutually exclusive. One can well take something as the sign of an evil heart AND a sign of cleverness!

As for the summiteers, I am sure it's very lovely to be told you are one of the brightest minds in Australia and therefore invited to a summit, but it seems these bright minds are just as easily manipulated by such flattery as ordinary minds that they can be turned to going ga-ga at the government because they've been told they're so brilliant.

Thanks caz. I'm imagining my bum now, and imagining I didn't fart then. I think that's another common one.

TimT said...

Whenever I think of flattery, a quote by Wile E. Coyote (of Warner Bros. fame) comes to mind: "Flattery will get you nowhere."

If only the summit had had more Wile E. Coyote's at it!

Caz said...

Perhaps I did overlook, unfairly, the whole g-string thing. It might, after all, be a devise intended to lift (yank-up, hoist, elevate) the buttocks into a sense of perky firmness.

Alas, it failed in execution, leaving many a left and right buttock entirely uncontrolled in public places, much like poorly set jelly attempting to escape its surrounds.

nailpolishblues said...

Oh? You saw her too then?

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