Sunday, June 27, 2010

Rudd head roll takes pundits by surprise

The speed with which the Gillardtine chopped Kevin Rudd's neck took the punditocracy largely by surprise. Political analyst Mark Bahnisch, proprietor of Leftist political blog Larvatus Prodeo and pretender to the title of the "country’s best read political blog", was no exception, even as the spill was taking place refusing to accept reality, repeatedly referring to the obvious turmoil as an "unchallenge".

It's truly amazing that Bahnisch, a PhD with supposedly superb political insticts, didn't realize Rudd was a goner. His PhD thesis, The phenomenology of utopia: reimagining the political is, afterall, a masterful display of political insight:

This thesis argues that the end of Soviet Marxism and a bipolar global political imaginary at the dissolution of the short Twentieth Century poses an obstacle for anti-systemic political action. Such a blockage of alternate political imaginaries can be discerned by reading the work of Francis Fukuyama and "Endism" as performative invocations of the closure of political alternatives, and thus as an ideological proclamation which enables and constrains forms of social action. It is contended that the search through dialectical thought for a competing universal to posit against "liberal democracy" is a fruitless one, because it reinscribes the terms of teleological theories of history which work to effect closure. Rather, constructing a phenomenological analytic of the political conjuncture, the thesis suggests that the figure of messianism without a Messiah is central to a deconstructive reframing of the possibilities of political action - a reframing attentive to the rhetorical tone of texts. The project of recovering the political is viewed through a phenomenological lens. An agonistic political distinction must be made so as to memorialise the remainders and ghosts of progress, and thus to gesture towards an indeconstructible justice which would serve as a horizon for the articulation of an empty universal. This project is furthered by a return to a certain phenomenology inspired by Cornelius Castoriadis, Claude Lefort, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Ernesto Laclau. The thesis provides a reading of Jacques Derrida and Walter Benjamin as thinkers of a minor universalism, a non-prescriptive utopia, and places their work in the context of new understandings of religion and the political as quasi-transcendentals which can be utilised to think through the aporias of political time in order to grasp shards of meaning. Derrida and Chantal Mouffe's deconstructive critique and supplement to Carl Schmitt's concept of the political is read as suggestive of a reframing of political thought which would leave the political question open and thus enable the articulation of social imaginary significations able to inscribe meaning in the field of political action. Thus, the thesis gestures towards a form of thought which enables rather than constrains action under the sign of justice.

Back at his blog Bahnisch offers Labor head-rolling advice:

This will be highly damaging, coming as it does just at the point when it appeared that things could be turned around for the government. If I were Julia Gillard, I’d urge Rudd to convene a caucus meeting tomorrow morning, and personally move a confidence motion in his leadership. And heads should roll in the ALP. Soon.

Soon followed with:

I'll repeat what I said before: if the ALP dumps Rudd now, it will be the height of stupidity, and be a demonstration of nothing but craven cowardice in the face of a media/mining industry orchestrated campaign, at a time when the polls indicate, despite a low primary vote, the ALP is still odds on to win the election.

Well, a head did roll courtesy of the Gillardtine. Will Rudd's ousting turn out to be, as Bahnisch predicts, a disaster? Quite likely: the ALP is a disaster just waiting to happen.


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