December 13, 2018

November 25, 2018

Please reload

Recent Posts

Political embarrassment

February 16, 2018

Watching politics, it's often difficult not to cringe.

 

Perhaps our most common political emotion is contempt or disgust--but embarrassment is familiar.

 

I wrote about this for the Canberra Times: 'Being embarrassed about Australian politics is a sign we care'.

 

There are many emotions that nations can evoke: pride, anger, disgust, perhaps even arousal. These happen at varying levels of abstraction, from vague stereotypes to specific policies. They can be prompted by leaders, cuisines, literature – from Putin's shirtless machismo, to Japan's twitching squid noodles, to Greece's Freedom and Death, by Nikos Kazantzakis.

 

I want to discuss political embarrassment at Australia. Not because this is the only, or most important, feeling my country provokes. Instead, it is because embarrassment is so rarely examined: a common but often taken-for-granted emotion.

 

Our political embarrassment might arise from a leader's cultural cringe – being a begging lapdog for the United States, for example – but it need not. It comes from a public transgression of custom, decorum, propriety and so on. To feel embarrassed is not be shamed – which is a moral emotion – but suffer a kind of public awkwardness.

 

Witness: it is shameful to become a voice of privileged xenophobic reaction; merely embarrassing to collapse a patio chair. It is shameful to back out of an emissions-trading scheme; merely embarrassing to get caught cry-ranting on video.

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Please reload

Please reload

Archive
Please reload

© 2017 - Damon Young - www.damonyoung.com.au