The Hon Barry Jones delivered the 20th Don Dunstan Oration, and in covering a lot of ground, brought us two potential political parties of the future: The Courage Party and the Left Behind Party. Given Barry’s from the left I felt I was part of a rumba listening to him in real life deliver this great speech in the beautiful surrounds of my alma mater University of Adelaide’s Bonython Hall as part to the 2016 Festival of Ideas. Originally, the term rumba was used as a synonym for “party” in northern Cuba, and by the late 19th century it was used to denote the complex of secular music styles. You can read and listen to Barry’s speech here.
The Rumba Party
Before there was Labor, Liberal, Greens, Democrats, Republicans, Tories …. there was dance, there was music. There were celebrations, conversations, debate – public discourse in decision-making for the populous. And now we have public decision-making driven by smart phones and focus groups, where decisions are driven by popularity, celebrity and with little attention to facts, or the people with the lived experience effected by those decisions. Those left behind in globalisation are finding their voice in extremism, terrorism and the currency of fear is traded through facebook and twitter. The binary options are simplistic and the craving for simplicity in our deep complexity is strangling the lost art of conversation.
This is my manifesto for the Rumba Party.
I want a Party where people turn up with a plate of food to share. Where the party is hosted by someone who is willing to throw open the doors to their house and share their good fortune of running water, electricity supply, table and chairs with whoever wants to come.
I want a Party where you will find people gathering in corners in twos and threes sharing their lives and working out together how to love and support others in the room over nibbles and a glass of wine.
I want a Party who knows how to turn up the music, get on the dance floor and be willing to not know all the steps and find their rhythm in flickering candlelight while moving to the same beat of the drum and bass line.
I want a Party that knows how to clean up after itself and grabs a bin, a bucket and a mop when the celebrations have died down and the mess starts to form. I want a Party that can do the cleaning up joyfully and sing songs while they work.
I want a Party that has an invitation list and then welcomes anyone who turns up and gives them a welcome as a cherished guest even if they weren’t on the invitation list. I want a Party that respects the elders and can’t wait for the young to get up and speak, share a poem, do a dance, show us their best.
I want a Party. And I want to Party. I want a Party that is a verb not a noun.