This morning over at Larvatus Prodeo they're talking about the current recycling in the op ed pages of the mantra 'Labor needs ideas'.
I think 'Labor needs ideas' is a fairly dopey thing to say once, much less over and over again. We all need ideas; it's like saying the sun rises in the east.
But on the other hand, some ideas are really, really bad ideas. In this consumer culture, the notion that 'ideas' are something tangible that you get from the idea shop, and that all one needs is to acquire a mixed half-dozen, is actually quite a dangerous -- erm -- idea.
The unheard word in this mantra is 'new': behind the argument that 'Labor needs (new) ideas', as behind so many other things, lies the assumption that innovation is always a good thing in and of itself. I've never really understood why people think this. Novelty for its own sake is useless at best, and at its worst can be extremely destructive. If, instead of writing about Labor's need to acquire new ideas, the columnists were writing about its need to get rid of some of its old ones, I might think they were on to something.
I think it's entirely possible that various senior members of the Party have lots of (good) 'ideas' that are, for various reasons, not being allowed to see the light of day. But what Labor really needs is a leader who (a) understands the party's diseased and outdated culture, (b) can see that until it's radically reformed they will never reclaim either the worker heartland or the intellectual headland they used to be able to take for granted, and then (c) can do something about it -- without melting down in the process.