Right the boss of left

There's an exceptionally insightful and wise article in today's Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, and it's precisely what I've been helping to explain for a number of years.

In our Australian political system, the (ostensibly) left-wing political party "Labor" has been exemplary in producing a strong economy, with low interest rates, AAA credit rating1 and low unemployment -- but none of that mattered sufficiently to keep them in government.

Today's article explains:

"At last. God's in his heaven and all's right with the world. The rightful rulers of this country are back in charge, so now things can only get better."

Ross Gittins (the author of the article) is alluding to our unconscious desire for a firm hierarchical order, with bosses in charge, and workers following orders. And this relates back to our childhood need for strong authority. In other words, we're still children at heart, in terms of our cultural maturity and world-view.

It would seem we're still in stage 3 of our cultural development. Or at least we've slid back, of late, to that stage.

Gittins continues:

...in our unconscious attitudes towards the two main political parties . . . we see the Liberals - the party of the bosses - as the party best suited to run the country. Sometimes enough of us feel sufficiently rebellious to install Labor - the party of the workers - but this leaves many of us uncomfortable and yearning for the return of the masters. And when, sooner or later, it becomes clear Labor isn't doing well, no one is terribly surprised and we rush back to the security of our pater familias.

You don't understand anything about the underlying forces of Australian politics until you understand that. 

and this, right on the money

... of course, the assumption that Liberal governments always manage the economy well - that, in Abbott's revealing phrase, it's in their DNA - is wrong, just as the assumption that Labor governments are always bad at it is wrong.

The hope that all our problems will evaporate now the good guys are back in charge is wishful thinking. But that doesn't stop our deeply held assumption to the contrary - an assumption shared by both Liberal and Labor politicians - from having real effects on our behaviour.

One of the surprising truths of economics is that, to some extent, our expectations are self-fulfilling.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/conscience-vote-lib-victory-all-in-the-min...

  • 1. a credit rating never achieved during the conservative LNP's previous 11-year tenure

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