Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Medieval Australia perhaps

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-07-17

Perhaps there is something of the Medieval political order emerging in Australia.

In England, two houses fought for supremacy and the ability to collect and redirect taxes and natural resources, both needing support of the same group of people, feudal lords who could switch sides with the promise of greater wealth.

To the peasants, which house was in power made little difference, for both houses had little difference in general policy, although you might occasionally, if only by chance, get a monarch who had a slightly more noble vision of the country, slightly greater intelligence, and/or slightly greater diligence, when not concentrating on battling opposing forces.

We now have the ALP and LNP with only marginally different policies, acting not dissimilarly from the contending medieval houses.  We have them courting well-resourced individuals for support against the other party, but now, we have those commanding capital for donations rather than men-at-arms.  The objective and fickleness of this financial fealty is unchanged – it is determined by the prospect of short-term gain, both from promises of the contenders for power, and the probability of the contender gaining or retaining power.

If trying to find the equivalent of the priestly caste, it would probably be the liberally educated elites of right and left, capable of exerting a kind of moral power, something considered a threat by both medieval kings and the modern major political parties.  Then again, the liberally educated elite also have similarities with the officers of chartered cities.

How would modern parties stymie the liberally educated elites?  What is the answer to the politicians cry "will nothing rid me of these meddlesome minds?".

Perhaps, apart from the appeals to the baser parts of many individuals, education is the key – diminish the liberal education and enlightenment agenda by moving resources away from broad perspectives and abstract ideals, to training for immediate employability, so the population concentrates on production.  In Piaget’s terms, fix people in concrete rather than formal operations.

What is the modern equivalent of the forces of the Enlightenment that rendered the royal houses from powerful to ceremonial?  I cannot see them.  If there is any group that gets uppity against the modern equivalent of the houses of warlords, would it be like Wat Tyler, receiving empty promises and an ugly end at the hands of henchmen?


  • Of the more enlightened policies of medieval English monarchs, it’s worth noting some of the codifications of law and/or decentralization of power such as the Charter of Liberties from Henry I, the legal reforms of Henry II, the Council of the North created by and Richard III.  One could say that the parallel in contemporary Australia would be the excellent efforts of Lindsay Tanner with AGIMO to use modern technology to open up data and make policy the result of thoughtful input from a wider citizenry.

3 Responses to “Medieval Australia perhaps”

  1. Ann O'Dyne said

    ‘To the peasants, which house was in power made little difference’ …
    that would be the reason I yawn.
    whatever changes in the nation, my world remains the same as before.

    The election is apparently to be waged over tax, climate and Incomers.
    My opinion on refugees is to welcome them, but my opinion of the admin., the processing, the way in which Sir Humphrey’s department manages the situation is not positive.
    I refer anyone seeing this, to look in the Business section of the Weekend Australian where a photograph of a ‘mining heiress’s home for sale’ will shock you that it is 4-storeys and clearly 40+ rooms.
    A carbon emission nightmare, that could house a boatload or 2, and proof that a big tax on mining would not have hurt the owner a bit.
    Place ought to be designated a Polling Booth.

  2. I couldn’t agree more Dave.

  3. Dave Bath said

    LE@2: I know you agree about the “houses”/”parties”… but not sure about your opinion on the “meddlesome minds/priests” mapping and the education aspects.

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