i was just reading this piece on onlineopinion
and a few thoughts occured to me about this ongoing think tank rant i've been indulging in.
one of the characteristics of totalitarian governance is the demand that all thought/discourse is controlled by the centre. this is simplifying matters, but essentially everything is administered by the 'elites' at the heart of the nation.
this is possible because the imagining of what the nation itself represents is controlled by the propaganda machine of the elite. the consequence is "aryans" = "germans" and "jews" = "non-germans". but as argued by mosse for example, the jews were very active in turning pre-1933 germany into an early liberal democracy. what changed is that national socialism made a conscious decision to exclude
the objective category 'jew' from the imagined german nationality. this then allowed them to act in the manner to whcih they saw fit, because 'jews' = 'foreigners', even though pre-1933 (this date is abritrary), they were germans of a sort, i.e. german citizens
so why am i deconstructing german nationality?
because my current niggle is that we are undergoing a similar sort of 'exclusion from the national imagination' of a series of groups under the right-ward shifting governments of the early-C21st.
there's been a lot of murmur about 'fear' in much of what i'm reading lately. the fear of terrorism, the fear of inetrest rates, the fear of the demise of 'family values', but i think that this isn't a new thing. IMHO what really characterised the 1990s was the profound lack
of fear. the evil empire had collapsed under its own weight, the world's economies were recovering after liberal reforms etc. etc. call this rose-coloured 20-20 hindsight, but the 1990s were a time of optimism for people in my generation.
but now we're back to being afraid again, just like we were of nuclear holocaust in the 1980s.
maybe people just like being afraid of something
anyhow, combine this with the ever increasing movement of populations in liberal democracies towards a centrist, middle of the road governance regime of alternative economic managers
, and you have a potentially
frightened population (i don't think people are always frightened, i think its just there waiting to be triggered. "terrorists!!" = "eeeek!!!").
here's the kicker though. in a totalitarian nation-state you'd have to worry about this type of problem, because totalitarian regimes are characteristically modern
, meaning centralisation, confinement to the limits of the sovereign nation-state 'container', exclusion of non-national ideas and persons, use of internal production and minimal interdependence with 'outside' economies except in trade etc etc. totalitarian governments are able therefore to harness and use fear, to exploit it to their own ends.
but we live in decentred
, open and liberal societies. whether the munters on the right understand it or not, we live in post-modern democracies
. the centre and try to control the discursive structures and processes that occur in the public sphere and the national imagination, but the most they can truly manage is a strong influence
the problem of the homogenisation of the middle-class we can do nothing about. and why would you? they're the economic powerhouse of any contemporary system. without the ugg-boot and track-pant clad masses buying great stuff the marginalised groups of society would not have access to cheap stuff to make their lives easier.
as long as you can ensure that dissent
isn't suppressed, a real threat in contemporary australia, you can ensure than the marginalised and minorities can have voice in the public sphere, or at very least within minority public spheres
. this is the clincher. the left needs to harness
minority opinion and praxis for introduction to the mainstream. the middle consumers
are open to the market-place of ideas, the trick is to not let the economic governance elites
do all of the national imagining.
a left-think-tank needs to identify and illuminate new means and methods to diversify both society and the nation, to ensure that the boundaries of inclusion are constantly expanding and shifting, and to ensure that the marginalised and metics of the post-modern state have the ability to access the benefits made available to the middle consumers.