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Abstract

As brand Labor, otherwise known as Rudd Labor, begins to look more and more like an extension of the Howard administration, things get stranger and stranger. In one week we had the appointment of Peter Costello to the board overseeing the Future Fund. This so enraged Paul Keating he almost sounded like a class warrior. We had Martin Ferguson telling Sharon Burrow that the ACTU only represented a sectional interest whereas the Government had to act for everyone. We had an unholy squabble between the soft left and the hard left about the future of Martin’s brother Laurie Ferguson. It is most amusing to see factions operating under ideological labels that now have absolutely no meaning – brand Labor has removed ideology and along with it most ideas – battling about a politician whose contribution to Australian political life has been entirely forgettable (and that is putting it mildly). And what is it about family dynasties in the Labor Party? They serve as another useful reminder of Robert Michels’ observation over 100 years ago that the tendency towards aristocracy can be found in all political parties. And then in a truly nauseating moment, we had Defence Minister John Faulkner awarding General David Petraeus an honorary Order of Australia for his brilliant contribution to Iraq. This not only legitimized the invasion of Iraq and its continuing occupation but also confirmed Australia’s role as the cheer squad for American imperialism. A lot of mythology surrounds Petraeus because his surge policy happened to coincide with dramatic changes internally in Iraqi politics. It was those changes more than the surge that produced a marginally less murderous Iraq but only correspondents like Patrick Cockburn of The Independent have pointed that out consistently – much of the media simply replicates the mythology. It must be stressed that this mythology is also meant to obscure the absolute devastation and destruction that the United States has brought to Iraq.

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