Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Political Cheese Platter

Modern political debate is preoccupied with, and as a result stifled by, the left/right division. This bifurcation drastically simplifies the complexities inherent in political systems, debate and ideology. It can also be frustrating on a personal level as, whatever one's actual beliefs, one tends to get lumped in with everybody else on that side of the divide. I for one am tired of being accused of Marxism by association, but until my "Aristocratic anarchist and proud" t-shirt arrives, this appears to be my lot.

Clearly we require labels better able to capture the diversity of the political spectrum. Existing terminology can be confusing - I mean, what exactly are anarcho-syndicalists, and do they give change for parking? Luckily, I have come up with a system that evokes the beliefs, textures, and even smells of most modern ideologies. I call it the Political Cheese Platter, and it looks something like this:

To the political scientist, this platter is an information-rich snapshot of the present-day political spectrum. I understand, however, that many of Sterne's readers are afflicted with learning disabilities and as a consequence may struggle to decode the platter. Here, then, is a brief run through of the most important cheeseologies represented:

Cheddar: Tasteless and bland, cheddars are conservative through apathy rather than conviction. As with the cheese, political cheddars can be both soft and hard, prone to shifting opinions depending on their emotional connection to an issue. John Howard's lower and middle-class support base are, in the main, cheddars, often of the pre-sliced variety.

Feta: Nominally of the left, fetas are mercurial, often crumbling under the slightest pressure. Kim Beazley, for example, is a feta par excellence, although his increasing complicity in the government's campaign against basic civil rights indicates that he is more in the style of an Australian, rather than Greek, feta: that is, he is milder and creamier, and more amenable to being sliced.

Polkolbin: Modern-day "aristocratic anarchists", polkolbins are generally wealthy and influential, part of the fabric of society (i.e. square in shape), but with distinctly counter-conservative values, or, as the jargon has it, "with a sticky, wrinkled rind".

Blue Vein: Pungent social conservatives, blue veins are characterised by their smooth, persuasive political style, and the green-blue veins of mould that run through their beliefs.

Tasmania Highland Chevre Log: Loggies, as analysts call them with not a little irony, are roughly analogous to "greenies". Bob Brown is a particularly good example of a loggie. Moist, lemony, and made of goat's milk, Brown works well in parliament (he is, as we say, a good "table cheese"), but can also rough it as an activist ("good for grilling").

Obviously this list barely peels the rind, so to speak, of the Political Cheese Platter. Research is slow, largely due to the amount of red wine that must be consumed to achieve the best results, but also because certain ideologies or movements - anarcho-syndicalism, for example - are difficult to pin down as fermented milk by-products. Once completed, however, the Political Cheese Platter promises to revolutionise the way we characterise our beliefs, and make politics a more engaging, sophisticated, and better-tasting enterprise for the entire community.

3 comments:

Jon said...

Both genius and revolutionary, my friend. If only Latham had used cheese instead of bodily function/organ/waste-product analogies.

MrLefty said...

How odd. I just spent an unfortunate lunch break with some old barrister trying to convince me that anarcho-syndicalism was in fact the answer to politics.

I know nothing about anarch-syndicalism, so I responded by reciting the peasant scene from the Holy Grail.

Bizarrely, my quoting of Monty Python did not immediately kill the conversation, as I'd hoped and expected.

Tim said...

Anarcho-syndicalism is related to trade unionism. Unions are seen as the best way to a) foment revolution, and b) to structure the post-revolutionary society. See, I remember stuff I've studied! Sometimes.

I have decided to classify anarcho-syndicalism as gorgonzola, because, like anarcho-syndicalism, gorgonzola is hard to spell, nobody is quite sure what it's for, and we could probably all live without it.