AUSTRALIA WAS A nation established behind walls. The outward barriers of racially restrictive immigration, Commonwealth defence, and the desire for an inwardly free trade system protected by external tariffs, were the imperatives for federation. Within the protected economy of the new country, centralised wage fixing and social welfare generated a society of broadly increasing equality and rising prosperity. By the 1950s and sixties, an economy and society had emerged in which the individual and the collective good were in some degree of balance. In a world rent by the great ideological struggles of the twentieth century, Australia seemed to have charted a middle course, with capital and labour in reasonably fair exchange. It was a ‘not quite golden age’ of high levels of employment under generally reasonable wages and conditions, subject only to the dismal tarnish of equal opportunities being denied to women, homosexuals and non-whites, and the egregious treatment of Aboriginal peoples.[i] However, by the end of the sixties it appeared that the new liberation movements would eliminate discrimination, ushering in an era of unadulterated bullion in which the rising equality was available to all.
But then something unexpected happened. The international economic crises of the 1970s created the conditions for the radical transformation of the world economic system. Capitalism was husbanded into a new form that was elusive, transnational, ubiquitous and vastly more powerful. And Australia, ever obedient to the needs of empire, got with the program of redesigning the nation in order to conform to the new way of things. The project was as much metaphysical as economic: the market, it was foretold, would make us free.
The ramparts of the Australian settlement were demolished in a massive renovation of the national political economy. The reforms of the Hawke, Keating and Howard governments swept away the old order, substituting a new open economy. The dollar now bobs around on the sea of currency exchange rates. Tariffs are largely gone. Foreign investment has poured in, often to Australia’s vast resource provinces, which are being exploited at Olympian speeds by transnational corporations. Numerous national institutions have been privatised. Central wage fixing has been replaced by increasingly decentralised and individualised contractual relationships. It is now an often told story, how big backward Australia learned to stop worrying and love the market. And for many, the trust has paid off in pecuniary terms. In the decade to 2007–08, the average disposable weekly household income for people in both low and middle income brackets increased by more than 40 per cent.[ii] The ‘long boom’, we called it – a period of unprecedented economic growth that was only interrupted (and then, so far at least, only just) by the global economic crisis that exploded in 2008 and continues to mutate. And new walls have soared up on the proceeds. In just one of the measures of the extraordinary affluence of the times, by 2011, Australians were building the largest residences in the world – perhaps the biggest average houses of any nation in human history – each to hold no more 2.6 people.[iii] It would all be such a glorious success story, if it were not for the grinding.
WHAT IS LIFE like inside the new walls? In opening the economy, deregulating industry, restructuring industrial relations, privatising public services and introducing competition to numerous spheres of social life, the institutions of the Australian nation and how they are regarded have both been fundamentally altered. The way we think and live has been changed. In May 1981 Margaret Thatcher, then less than two years in to her first term as British prime minister, vented her frustrations to a journalist from the Sunday Times:
What’s irritated me about the whole direction of politics in the last thirty years is that it’s always been towards the collectivist society. People have forgotten about the personal society. And they say: do I count, do I matter? To which the short answer is, yes. And therefore, it isn’t that I set out on economic policies; it’s that I set out really to change the approach, and changing the economics is the means of changing that approach. If you change the approach you really are after the heart and soul of the nation. Economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul.[iv]
The economic program which Thatcher implemented over the course of her time in power did indeed make over the culture of the United Kingdom – a change that continued under the ‘New’ Labour premierships of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and has now accelerated to ‘shock doctrine’ speed under the Conservative David Cameron. Something similar has happened in Australia. Accompanying the economic reforms has been a revolution in national life, as the norms of the new approach have been transmitted to culture and social being. In changing the country’s economics, Hawke, Keating and Howard transformed the heart and soul of Australia.
The transformation of economics and politics that has taken place over the past thirty years is most commonly known as ‘neoliberalism’. In his essential short book A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford University Press, 2005), the political geographer David Harvey defines the ideology as:
A theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterised by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade. The role of the state is to create and preserve an institutional framework appropriate to such practices…and functions required to secure private property rights and to guarantee, by force if need be, the proper functioning of markets. Furthermore, if markets do not exist (in areas such as land, water, education, health care, social security, or environmental pollution) then they must be created, by state action if necessary. But beyond these tasks the state should not venture.[v]
In practice, neoliberalism is not only an ideology, but a project that has been actively pursued by sections of society at the expense of the rest. Paradoxically, a so-called laissez-faire environment can only be enabled by extreme political agency, usually driven by class interests, centrally intervening to impose a ‘free market’ where none existed. Yet once the engine of disembedded capitalism is started the machine is self replicating, as new opportunities for accumulation are essential to maintaining growth on returns, until the system starts to consume the basis of its own functioning. Neoliberalism also – just as Thatcher forecast – has socio-cultural dimensions, as those who live in increasingly marketised, privatised and consumerist societies come to adopt particular subjectivities and social practices. Above all, people are invited to think of themselves as self-made individuals, who are acting in the right when they maximise their own self-interest at the expense of the collective. Neoliberalism also evokes the historical period and condition of post-modern late-capitalism. The great sociologist Zygmunt Bauman has described the age of neoliberalism as being characterised by ‘liquid modernity’, as institutions and social formations have been ‘liquefied’ by the pressures of globalisation, market forces, post-modern mentalities and advanced communications technologies, leaving human beings as anxiously free-floating.[vi]
IN 2011, PRIME Minister Julia Gillard gave a significant speech to the Chifley Research Centre in Canberra.[vii] At the time, the coverage focused more on Gillard’s moderate suggestions for reform of the internal functioning of the Australian Labor Party – a perennial favourite for the press gallery. However, of more enduring interest were the Prime Minister’s efforts at evoking Labor’s essence, the values her party had ‘fought for in the past and that we will fight for to our last breath’. According to Gillard, Labor’s imperishable values are opportunity for all through access to education, leaving nobody behind due to health or disability, and a general sense of intergenerational responsibility, all accompanied by pride in ‘union heritage and union links’. Noble sentiments no doubt; but rather anaemic as an invocation of the Labor vision of the good society, and made even paler by the analysis that followed. Having set out her version of Labor’s values, the Prime Minister then (rightly) contended that one of the central predicaments of our times is that unprecedented liberty of choice has come at the cost of grave insecurity:
We live in an age which at its best is one of individual empowerment and at its worst is one of stress, anxiety and confusion…For too many people, the lived reality of a world of so much promise is actually one of feeling adrift in a sea of information and overwhelmed by too much change. The lived reality is one of feeling that they have lost control of their own lives.
In this context, Gillard argued that the great political problem of the day arises from the tensions between liberty and equality. Her response is to suggest that the emancipative purpose of the latter is straightforwardly to facilitate the former:
[T]oday our ethos of collective action must respond to individual needs and demands for choice and control…Australians want to make their own choices and control their own lives. But this can only happen if the power of collective action, in creating opportunity, sharing risk and not leaving any one behind, is joined to meaningful individual empowerment, joined to personal choices and control. This is our Labor mission today.
Choice, choice, choice. Counting how often a key term is used in a speech can be a crude tool, but not so here. In Gillard’s rendering of Labor’s values, the word ‘society’ is not mentioned once, while the word ‘choice’ appears more than twenty times. In her interpretation of Labor values, the Prime Minister left out any sense of how community – which is essential to an enduring sense of the secure self – is meant to cohere or function in the face of the hurry and instability of liquid modernity. You cannot mend the existential insecurity of too much choice with more choice. In the Prime Minister’s vision of the good society, there is no real sense of the communal as having a value beyond the fulfilment of self, or of any abiding purpose beyond realising gain on the part of individuals. It is a near complete inversion of John F Kennedy’s soaring exhortation: ask not what you can do for your country, but what your country can do for you. The life paths referred to by Gillard are also revealing. She reifies the ‘aspiration’ for a ‘decent job’ and the ‘dream’ of running a ‘decent small business’, but mentions nothing else: vocations, professions, public service, farming and full-time care, for example, are hidden behind more narrowly economic possibilities.
The Australians imagined in Gillard’s speech are also uncannily invulnerable. Care is impliedly conceptualised as resulting from poor fortune, to be provided for as a ‘service’ rather than something essential to realising our humanity. Incapacity is spoken of as a ‘risk’, as if it were somehow possible to never be a baby, or to avoid the mortal need for tender succour that precedes our dying. The implications of Gillard’s choice of words are momentous. So invisible have the assumptions become that the current Labor Prime Minister defends a neoliberal conception of human relations as an expression of imperishable Labor values. The heart and soul of the country have changed.
Inside the walls, the condition of twenty-first century life for the majority of Australians is material abundance, accompanied by tiredness, time-poverty, jadedness and anxiety. Qualities of personal character like trust, loyalty and mutual commitment are eaten away by work that is short-term and ‘flexible’. Institutions have been transformed for the worse by the application of the profit motive. As journalist Nicholas Shaxson has compactly observed, ‘in competitive markets, whatever is possible becomes necessary’, so tax is avoided as commonplace business strategy, and democracy is overwhelmed by lobbyists.[viii] Businesses are driven to ever greater excesses, from the use of neuroscience to market goods to children, to screening scenes of voyeuristic humiliation on prime time television to bring in audiences, to cheapest production costs regardless of the most egregious externalities. In the financial sphere, food speculators literally bet on mass starvation as a legitimate business practice. Everywhere, place and space are colonised by advertising urging us to buy so as to secure our happiness. In order to create demand, adult consumers are enticed into a culture of instant and often narcissistic gratification, rewarding of elements of human nature that are inherently immature. Whole institutions have been privatised and shifted away from ideals of public service to private profit (often at the cost of reduced facilities for citizens) to the great benefit of the financial sector, significantly contributing to the growing venality of politics. Language is enslaved as the patois of economic rationalism, managerial efficiency and personal maximisation have taken over the way we talk to each other and monetary metaphors colonise day-to-day conversation.
The great public goods of health and education have been traduced by a culture of looking after number one through the private system. Medicine is seen by big business as an opportunity for profit rather than a tool to heal the sick. The ethos of education and truth-seeking in universities has been grievously damaged by imperatives to ‘productivity’. The profit motive has entered our most intimate human relations: how our children are reared and the circumstances under which we die are now governed by transactional arrangements. The market has desacralised life, as much that we hold dear has become subject to the rules of profane exchange. The professions, turned businesses, have lost their older vocational identities with resulting loss of public confidence, integrity and prestige. There seems no limit to what might be commoditised, including the natural world itself which, if it is to be saved, will have to be rendered in terms the market can understand.[ix]
NOT EVERY CONSEQUENCE of the neoliberal period is bad, of course, and it is always foolish to exercise an uncritical nostalgia. Indeed, it seems likely that many Australians have became more confident, open to diverse cultural influences and accepting of differences in identity. The long scourges of prejudice feel more under control than ever. It seems probable that parochialism – at least certain varieties – has diminished, not least because of the unprecedented explosion in international travel by Australians. And of course we are materially better off – we have a lot more stuff – though evidence suggests that beyond a certain point, increased material wealth does not lead to greater happiness or contentment. But the list of downsides is long and worsening. The acid of neoliberal policies and attitudes corrodes the bonds of family, community and personal wellbeing and the functioning of democracies. ‘The wages of vicious competition’, wrote DH Lawrence, ‘is the world we live in’. It is the fruit of the attempt to reduce human life to market relations that is the sacerdotal mission of neoliberalism. It is the grinding that we can hear outside our walls, constantly and becoming even louder, everywhere, all the time.
There has always been resistance to neoliberalism in Australia, practised by some intellectuals and politicians, as well as by every citizen who, when faced with some measure designed to economically ‘rationalise’ life in a nonsensical or offensive fashion, rejected the ‘reform’ as just so much bullshit. However, there was a particular moment in the middle of the past decade – even prior to the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 – when it seemed as if a critique of neoliberalism was achieving some semblance of critical political mass. A cadre of high-profile thinkers including Robert Manne, David McKnight, Anne Manne, John Quiggin, Guy Rundle and Clive Hamilton, manifested a significant public intellectual challenge to the orthodoxy of neoliberalism and what it was doing to Australia. The grinding was being heard. Then, in a landmark essay published in November 2006, the anti-neoliberal camp was emphatically joined by the then shadow foreign affairs minister Kevin Rudd. Having quoted extensively from McKnight’s influential primer Beyond Right and Left (Allen & Unwin, 2005), Rudd then proceeded to add his own analysis and a prescription for political action:
Neo-liberals speak of the self-regarding values of security, liberty and property. To these, social democrats would add the other-regarding values of equity, solidarity and sustainability…Working within a comprehensive framework of self-regarding and other-regarding values gives social democrats a rich policy terrain in which to define a role for the state. This includes the security of the people; macro-economic stability; the identification of market failure in critical areas such as infrastructure; the identification of key public goods, including education, health, the environment and the social safety net; the fostering of new forms of social capital; and the protection of the family as the core incubator of human and social capital. These state functions do not interfere with the market; they support the market. But they have their origins in the view that the market is designed for human beings, not vice versa, and this remains the fundamental premise that separates social democrats from neo-liberals.[x]
Rudd’s intervention was deeply significant. Perhaps for the first time since Keating lost office (and for very different reasons), it was ideationally exciting to be inside the Australian Labor Party. As Robert Manne and David McKnight wrote later, Rudd ‘was possibly the first Western leader for many years to launch a direct assault on the sacred cow of free-market economics.’[xi] In Australia and globally, social democracy seemed to have acquired a new champion. There was an alternative.
WHAT HAPPENED OVER the next three years remains bewildering. Having been elevated to the leadership of the Labor Party, Rudd was elected to power in Canberra in 2007 with a decisive mandate. Then, almost immediately, the near collapse of the global financial system offered complete and dramatic validation of the critique of neoliberalism that Rudd had propounded – a legacy of vindication that the prime minister explicitly claimed in another essay published in February 2009:
The current crisis is the culmination of a 30-year domination of economic policy by a free-market ideology that has been variously called neo-liberalism, economic liberalism, economic fundamentalism, Thatcherism or the Washington Consensus. The central thrust of this ideology has been that government activity should be constrained, and ultimately replaced, by market forces. In the past year, we have seen how unchecked market forces have brought capitalism to the precipice.[xii]
The timing could not have been more propitious. The stage seemed set for a political counter-offensive against neoliberalism, led by the Australian prime minister. Instead, less than eighteen months later, Rudd had resigned from office with little achieved to alter the fundamentals of the prevailing system. It was a dispiriting dénouement.
There is already an extensive literature that seeks to account for Rudd’s rapid fall. In the context of this essay, what is most interesting is the political failure of the critique of neoliberalism that he had brought to the heart of the Australian Labor Party. In hindsight, the shallowness of the Rudd insurgency was given prominent showcasing early, at the 2020 Summit held on 19 and 20 April 2008 at Parliament House in Canberra. A thousand participants from across Australia attended the curious event ‘aimed at harnessing the best ideas for building a modern Australia ready for the challenges of the twenty-first century’.[xiii] Enigmatically, it appeared that the man who determinedly confronted neoliberalism in print had come to bury, rather than praise, political contestation:
What we are looking for from this Summit are new directions for our nation’s future…And if we succeed, what we are looking for is also new insights into how we can govern Australia, a new way of governing our nation. Because the old way of governing has long been creaking and groaning. Often a triumph of the short term over the long term. Often a triumph of the trivial over the substantial. Often a triumph of the partisan over the positive. And the truth is all sides of politics, Brendan (Nelson, then opposition leader)’s and mine, we are both guilty of this. It is time we started to try and turn a page…Some say that consensus on anything is impossible because it produces the democratic divide. Whereas I say on certain fundamentals, the challenge is in fact, to build a consensus around those things that really count for the long term.[xiv]
It has been a folly of the centre-left over recent decades to imagine that, by consulting with a broad range of stakeholders, it is possible to come up with win-win, innovative, evidence-based solutions (the recourse to what Don Watson has called ‘dead language’ is deliberate) thus obviating the need for politics. At the 2020 Summit, Rudd implicitly disavowed embarking on a strategy to take back the heart and soul of the country, preferring the kind of ‘post-politics’ policy-making that has characterised politicians of the centre-left during the neoliberal period. The vision was essentially technocratic: get the smart people in a room and let them figure it out. Symptomatically, there was little democracy in evidence, as the summit’s proceedings were given over to facilitation by management consultants.[xv] Journalist and author David Marr, who attended as a delegate to the governance stream of the summit, recorded that:
Within minutes our bright ideas collided with the needs of the facilitators. We have to build a house, we were told, and out came the butcher’s paper. Ideas make up the foundations – scratch, scratch with a marker pen – the walls are our themes, and the roof is our ambitions. So, we were asked, did we think ’making the constitution say what it means and mean what it says‘ an idea, a theme or an ambition? At that point, we knew we were in trouble. And as we struggled with these vital distinctions, the facilitators hit us with another: ’the articulation of a theme’ which is not quite an idea and not really an ambition. A day of housebuilding reduced many of us in many streams to teeth-grinding frustration.[xvi]
Nothing could have been more ironic or indicative than Rudd trusting management consultants, who are among the leading shock troops and enforcers of neoliberal norms, with the business of generating ideas for Australia’s future. The prime minister eventually measured the success of the summit quantitatively, boasting that the occasion generated ‘more than 900 ideas’.[xvii] A bemused Robert Manne wondered of the event: ‘What will be accomplished by all this, God alone knows.’[xviii]
The Italian socialist Antonio Gramsci believed that the transformation of society required ‘a long march through the institutions’ of a country. Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and John Howard all understood that conflict was required to bed down their visions, and were ruthless in opposing organised sources of opposition including unions, local government, NGOs, universities and public service institutions. In pale contrast, Rudd’s counter-revolution lacked any kind of confrontational strategy. Rudd came to power armed with an intellectual case, but no movement (nor even, arguably, his own party) behind him and no wider plan for how to politically realise his critique. If anything, the prime minister seemed to think that a new era could be ushered in by stakeholder consultation administered by process advisers. It was a mistake – political economy does not work like that. Power and privilege are not given up lightly and neoliberalism is an ideology that has thoroughly benefitted the richest and most invulnerable forces in Australian (and global) society. As celebrity capitalist Warren Buffett famously said, ‘there’s been class warfare going on for the last twenty years, and my class has won’, and the fruits of that victory will not be given up without a fight.[xix] There is no weightless or costless way out: if power is to be redistributed there will be losers. It is magical thinking to imagine that society and economy can be refurbished by ‘progressives’ through natty policy solutions combined with a perfectly pitched communications strategy. Neoliberalism will not be overcome without a brawl: power must be shifted through the application of sustained and substantial political force.[xx]
WHAT IS A NATION for? At the start of the second decade of its second century, the future of Australia – and of individual Australians – lies at the crossroads of the relationship between government and business; the interrelated configuration of state and market. Globally, the danger is that states are reduced to nothing more than enablers of business, facilitating the extension of market relations, often exercised by transnational corporate conglomerates, in to every nook and cranny of human existence. We have desperate need of new paradigms. We must take a fresh look. We must ask old questions again through the eyes of experience. If the neoliberal order is to be overthrown, it is necessary but insufficient to win the intellectual argument. Neither is it enough to simply survey the debacle of the global financial system over the past few years and to conclude that the contradictions of the system have been exposed and the tide has turned. Rather than being dead, as Australian economist John Quiggin has memorably argued, the discredited policy prescriptions of neoliberalism have returned as ‘zombies’ and continue to stalk the land.[xxi] In the UK, the stark political irony is that the Conservative-Liberal coalition government is using the excuse of the financial crisis to rapidly engage in a further neoliberal offensive of extraordinary speed and ferocity against those lingering civic institutions, including tertiary education, welfare, the planning regime and the National Health Service. If Tony Abbott is elected in Australia, we can reasonably expect a similar program of attack on the vestigial remains of the public realm.
If neoliberalism is to be turned on its head, what is required is a comprehensive political and social strategy, prosecuted by a sufficient coalition of forces, and supported by a set of economic practices which offers a genuine alternative. At one level, of course, there’s no choice in all of this because if things keep on as they are, we face environmental collapse. In the recent words of entrepreneur Dick Smith: ‘there is no escaping the truth: with the global economy geared to only one speed, constant exponential growth, we are on an unsustainable trajectory towards doom.’[xxii] But must should never be confused with will: human societies have fallen before, because of an inability to leave the false road before the vehicle hits the wall. It’s all to play for. What is needed, above all, is ambition: to think what for thirty years has felt unthinkable, but in light of extraordinary current events such as the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement, now feels like a new light just over the dark horizon.
In the twenty-first century, a fresh Australian settlement beckons, for a re-envisioned relationship between the state and the market; one which rethinks where we want the forces of economic competition applied, and what we want them to do. The power lies within us to build a very different house to our present circumstances, a shared abode that is warmer, stronger, livelier, and more truly a home, with foundations that will endure. It should be a fundamental purpose of the nation to actively guarantee the liberty and wellbeing of citizens against the depredations of predatory capitalism, recognising that the structuring of market-relations is a matter that properly belongs within the democratic remit of the people.
Let Australia again be the laboratory of the world, demonstrating that the purpose of economics should be to serve rather than master the human condition. Reaching back to a slogan of the sixties, we must be realistic in demanding the impossible, seeking a reconfiguration of society and economy that is more faithfully conducive to our flourishing. Space, time and place must be reclaimed for human relationships; politics and economics reset within environmental limits, and the market re-embedded within society. Hearts can beat warmly again; souls may yet be set free; the fate of the natural world is still redeemable; the grinder can be halted.
[i] The phrase was coined by Robert Reich in a US context in Reich, R.B (2007) Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy and Everyday Life. New York: Knopf 39-40.
[iii] ‘Australian homes still the biggest: report’, ABC News, August 22, 2011: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-08-22/australian-homes-still-biggest/2849430
[iv] Ronald Butt interview with Margaret Thatcher, Sunday Times, 3 May 1981. Available at: http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/104475
[v] At p.2.
[vi] Bauman, Z (2000) Liquid Modernity. London: Polity Press.
[vii] Gillard, J. ‘Labor in Australia is a movement’, Address to the Chifley Research Centre, Canberra, 16 Sept 2011. Available at: http://www.pm.gov.au/press-office/labor-australia-movement-address-chifley-research-centre-canberra. A version of some of this discussion has previously appeared in Ritter, D, 'Labor's Core Values? Take your pick', Crikey, 26 September 2011: http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/09/26/labors-core-values-take-your-pick/#comments
[viii] Shaxson, N. (2011) Treasure Islands: Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens. London: Palgrave MacMillan, 113.
[ix] I’ve discussed this previously in Ritter, D, 'Selling the Forests to save the Trees', Griffith REVIEW 31, Summer, 2011.
[x] Rudd, K ‘Howard’s Brutopia: The battle of ideas in Australian politics’, The Monthly, November 2006: available at: http://www.themonthly.com.au/monthly-essays-kevin-rudd-howard-s-brutopia-battle-ideas-australian-politics-312
[xi] Manne, R. and McKnight D., (2010) ‘Introduction’ in Goodbye to All That? On the Failure of Neoliberalism and the Urgency of Change, Black Inc: Melbourne, p.1.
[xii] Rudd, K ‘The Global Financial Crisis’, The Monthly, Feb 2009: available at: http://www.themonthly.com.au/monthly-essays-kevin-rudd-global-financial-crisis--1421
[xiii] The conference website remains available here: http://www.australia2020.gov.au/
[xv] Rudd, K. ‘Opening Address to the 2020 Summit’, 19 April 2008: available at: http://www.abfoundation.com.au/research_knowledge/contributors/3
[xvi] Marr, D ‘Glimmers of hope survive in the mush’, Sydney Morning Herald, 21 April 2008. Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/glimmers-of-hope-survive-in-the-mush/2008/04/20/1208629731307.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1
[xvii] As quoted on the website: http://www.australia2020.gov.au/
[xviii] Manne, R, ‘Comment: 2020 Hindsight’, The Monthly, May 2008. Available at: http://www.themonthly.com.au/2020-hindsight-comment-robert-manne-923
[xix] Buffett was speaking on CNN. The interview was later quoted in the Washington Post. Available here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/theres-been-class-warfare-for-the-last-20-years-and-my-class-has-won/2011/03/03/gIQApaFbAL_blog.html
[xx] To be absolutely explicit, the expressions ‘brawl’ and ‘force’ are being used metaphorically.
[xxi] Quiggin, J (2010) Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas still walk among us, Princeton University Press: Princeton.
[xxii] Smith, D (2011) Dick Smith’s Population Crisis: The Dangers of Unsustainable Growth for Australia, Allen&Unwin: Crows Nest (NSW), p.124.