When studying Australian history at UniSA I was not so much interested in the events that shaped history, but rather, what was in the minds of the people who created it. Particularly so with the early explorers and colonists with regards to their knowledge of the Aboriginal inhabitants. What was the popular consciousness in European thought that gave them the ordained right to place Aborigines lowly on the evolutionary ladder? Simply, what was in their heads?
And so it was when I set out to write this post, The Anatomy of a Backflip, dedicated to that master of backflips, Tony Abbott. “What’s in his head?” I asked. There had to be something in his consciousness too. With all of us, every step ever made, every breath ever taken, every thought ever – in Abbott’s case – bubbled, combine to make us the person we are and delivers us to this moment. Tony Abbott could possibly be no different.
Oh how I clearly over-estimated him.
A satirical statement I stumbled upon on the LessWrong blog site threatened my ideology.
People go funny in the head when talking about politics.
I just knew I was onto something. Further into the blog I found that the author was more than just a satirist, but a genius too.
Politics is an important domain to which we should individually apply our rationality – but it’s a terrible domain in which to learn rationality, or discuss rationality, unless all the discussants are already rational.
Politics is an extension of war by other means. Arguments are soldiers. Once you know which side you’re on, you must support all arguments of that side, and attack all arguments that appear to favor the enemy side; otherwise it’s like stabbing your soldiers in the back – providing aid and comfort to the enemy. People who would be level-headed about even-handedly weighing all sides of an issue in their professional life as scientists, can suddenly turn into slogan-chanting zombies . . .
Does that sound like someone we know?
So there’s the starting point: There’s nothing in his head. I should have known.
OK, so I’ve worked my way into his head. Apart from a mass of blank space there is a head nod button and a backflip button, but not much else. Each are run by macros and have been programmed to respond to life’s ‘what if’ scenarios. Hard what ifs trigger the head nod button. Everything else triggers the backflip button.
Who wrote this brilliant program? I reckon it was this young fellow whose instructions are uncannily familiar to Tony Abbott’s attempted backflip manoeuvres.
Be very careful! It’s easy to hurt yourself permanently by doing a backflip improperly. Make sure you use soft mats whenever you attempt this stunt . . .
That being said, backflips are incredible to watch and do. They’re not as hard as people anticipate, but there are a few tricks that help to make the process smoother.
There are three parts: launch, flip, and landing. Each has to be done a certain way. The jump is easy, though it requires some strength to get relatively high to be able to make the whole flip and still land on your feet. As you jump, throw your legs forward as if you’re falling flat on your back, and swing your arms from your sides over your head. This helps start the momentum of the flip. The flip is the hardest part. It is much like a backwards roll performed on the ground, except with the added difficulty of being in the air. After you complete the launch, continue the motion and bring your legs towards your chest, bending your knees. Do not bring your head towards your knees, as this will counteract the momentum and you will fall on your head. Grab your knees with your hands, and flip! It’ll take a few tries to get it right, but once you get the mechanics right, you should be able to do it. Landing is also easy. Just put your feet down at the completion of the flip, and balance. It helps if you put your arms out straight in front of you to balance out the momentum of your flip.
I’ve seen Tony Abbott perform part one (the launch) perfectly. Here he was caught on film at home practicing the launch.
But like a true fighter he never gives up. Here he is – in disguise of course – attempting to perfect the flip and landing.
Humour aside, Tony Abbott is the master of the political backflip. A backflip is a manoeuver that generally follows a change of mind from a decision that was ill-thought out in the first place.
Tony Abbott is a person allegedly driven by his own beliefs. Conservative, religious, old fashioned, to name a few. Some of these don’t belong in, or struggle to keep up with, a changing 21st century. As the world moves forward, Tony Abbott would like to do whatever it takes to hold it back, hence his famous “No” to everything. This is a defence mechanism that allows him (and other similar to him) to cope with the demands of change:
When we are faced with information that contradicts beliefs we hold, we tend to reject the information or interpret it in a way that allows us to keep our beliefs: “in everyday thinking, the mind is very good at brushing aside information that a logician would regard as being of the utmost importance to correct thinking”.
This doesn’t sound like a good thing. However, this information processing strategy can be seen as a reasonable way for an individual to cope with a vastly complex environment.
Then comes the change of position, or the backflip. They don’t happen immediately and in Abbott’s case they are not accompanied by an explanation of the processes that led to the change of mind. Were they due to shifts in the political wind? A change of heart? Has he been open to persuasion? Was it a result of an honest reassessment or a political recalculation? Either or, as a voter I am convinced they are performed solely for a political purpose and I’m left wondering if he has any true political beliefs at all, and what they are.
Many would argue that backflipping is now an acceptable political tradition. This would appear to be true, as Tony Abbott’s backflips generally go unquestioned by the Australian media. He seems to escape the same media drilling that Julia Gillard constantly endures over something that was once said in the past and is different from what she said or did today, and how those differences are a political issue of national importance. In other words, whilst it’s an acceptable political tradition, it’s only acceptable if it is performed by a conservative politician.
I had anticipated providing a list of Tony Abbott’s backflips for this thread. Try Googling them; there are too many.
Might I suggest there will be many more to come?