Daily Archives: 24 November 2010

Trivial Pursuit

The new Quarterly Essay, Trivial Pursuit by George Megalogenis, has this quote in bold type on the back cover:

Rudd, Gillard and Abbott sought power in 2010 on the same dangerous premise, that no sacrifice is required to secure our future. Government on this basis is never worth it because the promise of painless change can never be kept. The voters knew it, which is why they spared themselves the inevitable let-down by hanging the parliament.

Um, George, that’s not how this kind of democracy works. The ‘voters’ didn’t get together to thrash out the issues and arrive at a consensus, or even a majority vote, to hang the parliament. No one decided to hang the parliament. A certain number of voters decided they wanted their local representative to come from one side of politics. Another certain number decided they preferred the other side. And again a number of voters decided to call down a plague on both their houses. The aggregate entity known as ‘the voters’ doesn’t have motives, or make decisions. It’s like fate, or the hidden hand of the market, or God. Its ways are not human ways.

Given that the essay was capable of such theologising, I decided not to read it.