Friday, April 18, 2008

Have you been paying attention to this 2020 thing?

I have been trying to pay attention to Rudd's 2020 Summit, but the flood of media coverage is hard to keep up with it. I've had to keep abreast of some – small – part of the issues for work, but even that is hard.

From what I can gauge, it appears that there are at least a couple of camps on it (probably many more).
One camp seems to think it is a waste of time because it is either a spin-fest by Rudd's Labor government and lacks substance, or because it is just a talk-fest and nothing concrete will emerge from it.

Another camp thinks it is a great opportunity for people with good ideas, ranging from specialists to generalists, to openly discuss what could work best to put Australia on a good track for the next 20 years and beyond – whether that's in tackling global warming, social inequality, Indigenous disadvantage, or making machines that go ping more efficiently.


A significant number of commentators are straddled somewhere between the two responses - and I haven't made up my mind over whether this is fence sitting, or just the nature of critical thinking in an
time and ethos suspicious of political spin. Or maybe because I'm somewhere in the middle on this too.

What about you?

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3 Comments:

At April 18, 2008 6:47 pm, Blogger Kirsty said...

I'm terrible. I haven't been paying attention. I know at least two people who are going as ideas people and I'm glad both of them are there in their respective fields, but that's all I've thought about it.

Just reading your post though, I wouldn't be too quick to side with those who characterise uncertainty as pejorative 'fence-sitting'. We're far too quick to judge any kind of intellectual debate as ineffectual arm chair activism in this country. I think uncertainty is indicative of a level of maturity, and I would differentiate it from indecision.

Let's see what our best and brightest have to say first, and let's welcome a government that wants to stimulate genuine debate rather than shut it down through divisive 'culture wars' rhetoric--oh yes, the power of a 'talk-fest'.

 
At April 19, 2008 9:12 am, Anonymous ben said...

I'm both quite interested, and also couldn't give a fuck. :) My first thought was, "how can we destroy this thing from the inside?"

A lot of people at the event -- especially the last-minute additions -- are incredibly wary and suspicious of their own positioning in the 2020 scheme. Peple like Marcus Westbury, for example, find it both embarrassing and yet also pragmatically an opportunity to canvas more tangential opinions and inject them as a disruptive exercise.

Meanwhile, number8 and talkmachine are Twittering from inside the summit, so feel free to follow them and offer feedback on their thoughts. There are probably others, but I don't know them.

 
At April 19, 2008 10:52 am, Blogger Mark Lawrence said...

Kirsty, I hear what you say about the distinction between indecision and uncertainty. I was trying to capture that by suggesting the 'fence-sitting' was anything but, but I guess I failed.

It is an important point to make, especially as, you point out, the culture wars and the embattledness of the conservative perod required us to immediately take - and champion - sides, rather than be able to say, "I'm still trying to think my way through this muddle, give me a minute".

Now, with a more liberal democratic government taking on some of the agenda of the centre-left, we need just as ever to be wary, uncertain, think critically, and be openly critical where necessary, if only to point out where the affect of the conversation is merely to co-opt critics and defuse dissent (as opposed to heckle and sideline opposition as we've seen previously) as opposed to create the change we need.

I think it will quickly become apparent whether this is a strategy of co-option; if so, ben, I reckon it will destroy itself from within.

 

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