Another day, another spray. Mark Latham continues to be published for his intelligent, articulate justifications of his own knee-jerk reflexes.  Latham’s native responses resemble the sort of bitterness you might expect when a proud if slightly violent man has been rejected by his party. The party he’d emotionally invested in, thrown flowers at and adored. Like a spurned lover, he seems to be stewing in bile.

37 women have been murdered this year. This is a horrific figure. Rosy Batty has called for an emergency summit to discuss means of reducing violence, but also more money to put put towards combating what she calls family terrorism.

Latham wouldn’t have a bar of it. For him, all roads lead to class differences, and class differences cause all social ills, including family violence.  It’s worth unpacking this specific article, if only for the insight into his thinking and assumptions.

Tim Watts – said to be one of the rising stars of Bill Shorten’s opposition – declared himself to be part of a group called ‘Parliamentarians Against Family’.

I thought: here’s a new brand of commonsense in Labor’s ranks, an MP willing to wind back government intervention in the private affairs of families. Watts must be cut from the same cloth as the late Peter Walsh, a real Labor man with zero tolerance of middle-class family welfare. […] He must be hostile to the bulging army of academics, social workers, inner-city feminists and cultural dietitians constantly telling Australian families how to live their lives.

“Parliamentarians Against Family”. I can not think of any current ideology or political discourse that would declare itself to be anti-family. Latham’s not that stupid. He is attempting humour here, but does it with such a bludgeon that he comes across as unhinged. Who on earth would declare themselves anti-family? Latham apparently is comfortable with it.

In doing so, he reveals a bias against “the bulging army of academics, social workers, inner-city feminists and cultural dietitians constantly telling Australian families how to live their lives”. The “Nanny State” peddlers, who would tell him specifically how to live his life – because this is personal. He has a grudge against these people and refuses to engage with them or their arguments in any way. I mean, what on earth would ivory tower academics who base their opinions on rigorous evidence-based science know that you couldn’t get with a knee-jerk Marxist assumption?

This is what every good government needs: an Attila the Hun figure winding back the excesses of the welfare state. Watts was my man, the founding president and spiritual leader of Parliamentarians Against Family (PAF).

How does Attila the Hun feel about his being sidelined? Not good. It’s not much of a stretch to see that Latham fantasises himself in that mould. Attila the Hun is a decidedly odd hero to pick, but I guess he didn’t want to go the full Godwin.

Latham goes on to express his dismay upon recognising the true name of the group: Parliamentarians Against Family Violence. He notes a clunky sentence in the group’s description and suggests that Watts’ inability to even get the name of the group right demonstrates Watts’ intellectual deficiencies. Perhaps, perhaps not – I haven’t read that material so can’t comment.

The rest of the article is a flimsy construction of straw women and barely veiled assumption.

Somewhere in the 1990s the party abandoned class-based analysis in favour of identity politics. Instead of judging people on the basis of socio-economic need, Australia was subdivided along the lines of ethnicity, gender, sexuality and culture.

“Class-based analysis” contains within it the presumption that salary differences are the only basis of discrimination worth doing anything about and cause all other social ills. For Latham, it is a given; one of those basic building blocks of his analysis that he refuses to question. This limits his ability to see complexities and interactions that exist – the much maligned “intersectionality” described by women of colour, single parents and victims of violence is too subtle for him to comprehend with his categorical system based on income inequality, which trumps everything else.

Someone can be wealthy and well-connected, but if they are also non-Anglo, non-male, non-heterosexual – or, better still, The Artist Formerly Known As Malcolm McGregor – they are said to be doing it tough.

Regrettably, Watts has fallen for the feminist line on domestic violence: that most men are inherently bad and require re-education through “awareness campaigns” and “national summits”.

Foolish feminists, always calling for awareness campaigns without further action – except they’re not. They’re calling for urgent intervention: funding of women’s shelters, beefing up domestic violence laws, educating police and the law, etc etc. Part of that does start with emergency summits and educating children (perhaps teaching them to deal with the frustrations of being in a lower-socioeconomic strata in some other way than beating the crap out of their partners. Like, I don’t know, sport, blogging, trainspotting.) If Latham is correct, and poverty is the sole cause of all domestic violence, then why are the sexes not equally represented in the figures?

But it’s really not worth attempting to engage with Latham. His blinkers are too thick, and the admirable rhetorical skills which he uses to justify them will ensure that he’ll continue to be published, because everyone loves a good hate read.

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