Jonathan Biggins is a legendary Australian satirist, actor and writer, who is currently performing his one-man show The Gospel According To Paul – a theatrical biography of the reforming Labor Treasurer and Prime Minister, Paul Keating.
I asked Jonathan about his thoughts on Keating’s complicated legacy – the good and the bad – and how his (often arrogant, but politically effective) leadership contrasts with the shit we have today. We discuss “economic rationalism”, the waging of culture wars and identity politics and Jonathan’s grave concern about the effect that social media technology is having on our society..
I think it was approbation; community in shared loathing. I think it was a cheerful variation on the ritualised “Two Minutes Hate” gatherings in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Orwell wrote: “A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture … seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic.” Or to be slightly less melodramatic about it, I think their laughter was to Ballard’s jokes what applause and chants are at a Trump rally.
Again, we return to the importance of context. No, Holly Lawford-Smith, my comedy does not meet any serious legal or moral definition of “hate speech” — because it is comedy. I wasn’t simply “saying” (that is, not joking) that Liberal voters are “evil demon lizards”, nor was I making sincere “comments” or literally “celebrating the deaths” of COVID victims. I was delivering prepared and considered jokes, tongue firmly in cheek. I thought that this would have been extremely clear. When someone performs a routine that includes a line like “I love democracy, I just think that voting for the Liberal Party should be illegal”, I think there’s good reason to suspect they’re taking the piss.
See what you reckon and tell me that I’m correct and smart, please.
With Australia embarrassing itself on the global stage when it comes to setting actual reduction targets that might actually do something, this was a great chance to check in with where the climate debate is at. Richie lays out just how lacking our commitments are, what they should be and what other countries are doing, as well giving me the rundown on electric vehicles, carbon accounting tricks, just transition models, fossil fuel subsidies and the (relatively straightforward) path to addressing this existential crisis.
Hello! Sorry for the radio silence – I have been busy being too hot for TV and annoying Andrew Bolt. Apologies.
This week’s ep is a slice of a conversation I had with socialist councillor Stephen Jolly and Leftist intellectuals (and previous LIASYO guests) Alison Pennington, Jeff Sparrow and Guy Rundle for Stephen’s new podcast, Melbourne Calling.
We had a wide-ranging chat about the state of the Australian Left in the wake of COVID, the sexual assault crisis in Canberra, workers’ power and ideology.