Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Whyalla the fuss over a loaded dog?

In front of the vet clinic in Whyalla stands a two metre tall steel sculpture of the Loaded Dog, the eponymous hero of a famous Henry Lawson short story in which a dog picks up an explosive cartridge, runs past a fire to light the fuse and causes havoc at a gold miner's camp. I couldn't think of a more appropriate mascot for a blog, this blog, which will hopefully carry some ordnance into the Australian political blog scene.

This blog begins with a federal election under way, the culmination of three years of some of the most poisonous political debate ever seen in this country, the details of which I should hopefully not need to explain to you. If not, then you're probably on the wrong blog and I'm not going to explain it to you. Snipers, opportunists, rentseekers, carpetstrollers, lobbyists, ex-journalists and allround yahoos have all had their freedom of speech exercised from the Right, to the detriment of the quality of the national narrative. In this vein, Loaded Dogma is intended to fire back from somewhere more of the Left, not to silence those voices but to answer them, or at least present an alternative point of view. Everyone tends to think their point of view is the Centre, of course!

To expand, I characterise my political views as being an institutionalist. There are a lot of theories that go by this name or variations thereof, especially in sociology, but none that I know of that use it to describe a purely political point of view. This is what I posted about it recently:
I am an institutionalist. I believe society is only as strong as the institutions which define it, and keeping those strong and healthy goes a long way towards ensuring general society gets on. To the extent that you want to label me a lefty as a consequence, be my guest.
Neocons are, by the definition I understand, anti-institutionalists. They share a lot of conservative values with traditional conservatives, but one on which they differ is that neocons want to dismantle large parts of the web of social institutions that go to make up social democracies. In the Australian context, neocons want to tear down a lot of the building blocks of society which Menzies laid in place.
As you can see, it is a definition I make as much in opposition as supposition. While I expect I will have to write a few blog posts filling out this belief structure of mine, I would add here that I am very much a Labor man and have been all my life, albeit never joining the party. In my mind, this is perfectly compatible with trust in institutions as the bedrock of society, something that might otherwise be construed as conservative philosophy. To my way of thinking, it is a measure of the changes in the Right in the last two decades that conserving societal institutions is now the domain of the Left. As I said later in the thread that quote was taken from: Labor is now the party of institutions.

I have spent a lot of time over the past few years at Catallaxy Files, self-labeled as "Australia's leading libertarian and centre-right blog". I have sympathy for libertarian arguments, but it would be fair to say that I have been acting as a troll there, causing arguments and annoying the locals. However, I have a theory about trolls: we are all trolls, to the extent that trolling is merely the desire to elicit a reaction, which is after all the ultimate goal of all human communication. This unscientific classification of humans and trolls is not right. There is a bit of troll in all of us humans, and even a bit of humanity in the most vicious troll. It's a spectrum, like autism. Perhaps it is autism? Whatever it is, I will be posting articles which travel the length and breadth of that spectrum, from heartfelt pleas for humanism all the way through to blaggardly trollistic obloquies.

This does not mean that I will take a laissez-faire approach to comments. Freedom of speech only extends as far as everyone else's freedoms, and once you encroach on the latter you will get moderated. I also retain the right to moderate those who engage in personal abuse.

My next post will be a short biography, for those of you who don't know me from one of my other appearances on the Web.


  1. Brian of MoorabbinAugust 14, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    Best of luck with your blog m0nty.

    Hope you don't mind if I troll through every now and then (in the same spirit as your appearances at Catallaxy Files, of course).