Friday, November 30, 2007

Chairman Rudd slays the dragon

IMGP1092-c9950c55-258e-4c40-a301-e56740566f1cThere is definitely a sense of euphoria around Melbourne in the wake of Labor's victory in the polls. But there's also something curious at play in the way China is beginning to loom in Australia's future.

There is a Chinese saying: 'In order to obtain the pearly necklace from the dragon, it is first necessary to find the man to slay the dragon.' Everything is to be done in the correct way and in the correct sequence.

Kevin Rudd has slayed the dragon.

A lifelong Sinophile, Kevin Rudd seems a kind of Anglo-Irish version of a Chinese leader. His victory speech was epic and formalistic - 'this, our great nation'. And he call for fellow MPs to visit homeless shelters has a sound of the cultural revolution about it.

With a nation of such uncertain identity as Australia, it seem to be an easy host for alternative cultural paradigms.

The previous Labor rule under Bob Hawke was characterised by the Scandinavian model. The success of the Accord on which a stable industrial relations was built came from visits to the Volvo factories in Sweden.

So how will Australia now develop under the Chinese model? We've had the battle between cosmopolitanism and parochialism in the dispute between Keating and Howard. Now what will happen to ideological divides?

Will Rudd transcend this with a Confucian respect for hierarchy married with a revolutionary sense of urgency? While it promises an Australia that is more open to the world (not confined by global elites as under Keating), there is the danger that it brooks no argument. Urgency may be used to avoid an acknowledgement of difference, whether ideological or cultural.

We are now on the verge of a bright and glorious future for this, our great nation, under the leadership of our new shiny Prime Minister. Let a thousand laptops bloom.

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