The blob

I get suspicious when lots of people like something.

While I quite enjoyed popular phenomena such as KONY 2012, Psy's Gangnam Style and pomme noisettes, I reckon the more people you've got in agreement about how awesome something is, the slower your steps should be towards joining said mob.

Stand back from the masses and you'll find the oft-cited "wisdom of crowds" is near non-existent, with large groups of people more prone to idiocy, aggression and misjudgment than individuals.

Of course, mass-accord is the basis of democracy, so while the "will of the people" is observed, the substance of the arguments and policies that win our support are usually the political equivalent of a cheesy pick-up artist's flattery.

"Hey voter-baby, love your work ethic, how about I buy you a flat screen TV with my stimulus package?"

Like breakfast television, the humour of Rove McManus and Jack Johnson's six indistinguishable albums, the ideas trotted out by modern political leaders are also designed to offend the least number of punters.

In their quest to be all things to all people, politicians thus tend to stick to ideas we're comfortable with; nothin' too fancy, bread and butter principles, though increasingly colourless and ideologically neutral.

As noted many times, if you did a blind examination of the core policies of our two major parties you'd be hard pressed separating which belonged to the Coalition or the ALP.

Our legislators' main aim is to no longer just capture left or right-leaning voters but the big blob in the middle, then use a bit of policy embroidery on the edges to keep their traditional supporter bases convinced there's still philosophical differences between the parties.

Meanwhile "the blob" tells itself democracy has been served while they sit squarely on the fence, a paling of apathy and self-interest buried firmly up its bum.

In Australia and the western world we've fed so long on the plump fruits of freedom - of assembly, religion, speech, media, information - that it's largely incomprehensible to most of us these were all rights once deemed radical, extreme, seditious, heretical or unlawful in much of the world.

It took brave, brilliant minds to simply conceive these principles, let alone see them accepted by church and state to the point where we can belch on the couch and giggle at Rove.

It makes me wonder how Australian voters would react if a leader did come along with a new, confronting, radical or extreme platform - one that called us out of our civic lethargy and demanded we give a shit about more than our family, friends and people who dress like us.

Australia needs dissenters as much as it does iron ore and a Test batting top order, because it's only through the fire of debate and opposition that good ideas prove their durability, the poor ones popping, sizzling and disappearing into the ash.

Increasingly, however, the voting public's moral indifference suggests we'll accept any policy, idea or law as long as it doesn't affect the holy grail of "our standard of living".

On that point, it's worth noting the sin of neutrality - of remaining indifferent about everything - landed you in Hell in Dante's Inferno, The Divine Comedy.

Of these plasticine people the poet Virgil said: "Let us think no more about them, but look once and pass on."

Pity they'll decide our next PM.

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