1. Now, to echo some points by m’colleague Keane, we live in a profoundly individualist and atomised society, in which people build identity through media and markets. Everyone now realises that this creates a cultural crisis of meaning. The Right deals with that by fusing free-market individualism with conservative ideals — patriotism, etc — which free-market individualism undermines.
    Labor offers a pallid version of this. Sooner or later it will have to come up with something else — a genuine program which posits new ways of putting society together to respond to human needs and desires that atomised market life cannot offer.

    Guy Rundle on the Labor Party strategic review | Crikey

    (behind a paywall, can be read if you sign up for a free trial)

    So this has helped me to clarify where i diverge from Grundle and others on the left who use this kind of rhetoric.*

    I don’t think we quite have “a cultural crisis of meaning,” i think there is a general inability to fully articulate the meaning of contemporary culture and events but that’s more an issue for ideologues (and others) who have a need to define and tie down ideas into various camps. Yes we’re going through a period of dramatic change but that change is infused with all kinds of meaning and fascination beyond people being “atomised” because of teh markets. Hindsight is pretty well a requirement for the best understanding of meaning, although we can give it a pretty good shot without it.

    I also disagree with the implicit notion that we’re in a world, so devoted to individualisation and, once again, teh dreaded markets, that we are left in a mindset where there is almost no such thing as society left but people “building identity through media and markets.” Firstly I agree with a comment here that that is a bit of a straw argument made by those on the left, although one which i have some sympathy with given the rhetorical emphasis of the right. Secondly, i don’t wander around during the day, lamenting that society only values me as a consumer of products. I’m pretty sure most people don’t think like that, and those that do wouldn’t think that way all the time.

    I am on the left and a significant part of why i say that is because i believe in many collective solutions to problems, e.g. Medicare. I acknowledge that the last two to three decades have seen a movement away from these kind of solutions towards more individualisation and less intervention by governments, and i acknowledge that a political climate geared in that direction makes it harder to advocate for collective solutions, but i think the general thrust of these reforms in Australia has been a net positive, even though i really can’t be sure in many respects, because of my age and experience (or lack thereof.)

    Finally, i read this statement, “a genuine program which posits new ways of putting society together” and i’m left thinking that, sure, a government may look to re-arrange society in some ways, but they don’t actually have to put society together. Society does that itself. And it actually does it reasonably well by its own accord.

    *Although now i have written out this response i’m also left with a lot more of questions of myself. Hmmm.

    1. thewetmale posted this