||Issue No. 124||15 February 2002|
Chickens Come Home
Unions: Winning the Heartland
Interview: Swan's Song
Corporate: Lessons from Enron
Politics: What We Did Last Summer
History: Solidarity in Song
International: A Tale of Two Cities
Poetry: Nobody Told Me
Review: Labor and the Rings
Satire: Rafter Named Bermudan Of The Year For Tax Purposes
The Locker Room
Week in Review
'International Labour's Year in Review' - A Re-View
Collins Gets Cryptic
Labor and the Rings
The movie is set in a mythical world of Hobbits, Dwarfs, Elves and Men. Sauron is the Dark Lord of great magical power. His evil servants include Goblins and Orcs. A thousand years before, Sauron was defeated in a great confrontation between good and evil, however the key to his power, his ring, survived and with it so did his spirit.
The ring has come into the possession of a small creature called Frodo, a Hobbit. When its significance is discovered Frodo is conscripted into a quest to destroy the ring, and end the power of Sauron forever.
Frodo must confront his own darker side as he grapples to make sense of the cataclysmic events of which he has become the focus. Why was he chosen to be the ring bearer? What is it about the ring that those that possess it start to fall under its influence? Why does the ring inevitably become so very "precious" to them?
In the central scene of the first book Frodo offers the ring to the Elf Queen Galadriel, played by Cate Blanchett. Her response - "In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night!" Galadriel recognises that nobody can withstand the corrupting effect of the power of the ring - especially not a great one such as herself.
Frodo has been chosen as the ring-bearer because of his humble nature and purity of spirit. Upon him the corrupting effect of the ring is diminished. - But, as we discover later in the story, even he is not immune. As the confrontation between good and evil plays out on a larger scale Frodo must fight to win this battle within himself if their quest is to succeed.
The underling theme of Tolkien's story is the corrupting nature of power. The lesson provided by Galadriel and Frodo is that nobody is immune from its effect. The point that Tolkien was making is that such a great concentration of power, such as that contained within the ring, cannot be good. Inevitably power will corrupt its possessor - but some may resist its corrupting effect for longer than others.
The analogy for Labor is that having possessed power for thirteen years the Party is yet to acknowledge, and deal with, the corrupting effect that this long period of power has had upon the Party and its leadership.
The Labor Party is an organisation that pursues power - for a purpose. It should be made up of people that seek to lift the standards and to improve the lives of ordinary working people. But there is a further role: to raise peoples' consciousness so that they can take power and responsibility for themselves. This means handing power over - analogous to the eventual need to withstand temptation and voluntarily destroy the ring.
The ultimate result of this was a third successive election loss for Labor. The moral paucity of the Party was laid bare when Howard brought on the refugee issue. The Labor Party demonstrated that it was prepared to abandon its principles to regain power - thus proving itself unworthy of office.
Has the Party become so familiar with the wielding of power that we pursue it for its own sake? Will we sacrifice anything to get it back? Are we so confident that we perceive ourselves as the "natural party of Government"?
It is perhaps time for the movement to critically review its attitude towards power and the reasons why it should be entrusted with it. It is also perhaps time for those that have personally wielded power for so long, to seek to re-make themselves outside the public sphere.
I suspect that as for Frodo, the real battle will be within ourselves - if we are to achieve victory in our quest for electoral success.
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