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The Perils Of 'Aspiration', Australia's New Favourite Buzzword

Saturday 7 July 2018


From Crikey:


Malcolm Turnbull
Malcolm Turnbull

The perils of ‘aspiration’, Australia’s new favourite buzzword

It's in the government's interest to push the narrative of an "aspirational class", but this wildly obscures what's really going on.

By Benjamin Clark
Freelance writer
July 5, 2018
Copyright © 2018 Crikey

The government has a new favourite buzzword: aspiration. Coalition MPs have been dropping it 20 times a day. Meanwhile, conservative media mourn the supposed death of aspiration in the Australian Labor Party, killed by [Bill] Shorten’s failure to back tax cuts to businesses and the rich.

While this is narrowly conceived, I would not mourn its passing; aspiration is a poor virtue to guide public policy. I’m intimately familiar with the pitfalls of an aspirational life, and cannot recommend it to my fellow Australians.

Aspirations vs pipe dreams

I was once what Malcolm Turnbull might call aspirational. My high school’s motto was “strive for the highest”. I graduated as dux of multiple subjects, and achieved the kind of ATAR score that elicits both tall-poppy-syndrome chagrin, and congratulatory Facebook comments from distant aunts. The first in my family to attend university, I graduated with high distinction.

Then I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. Suddenly, the energy which sustained my striving deserted me. It took all I could muster to simply stay afloat; ascendency was no longer an option. My symptoms have eased and should fade completely, but I am still hesitant to strive in that same way, as my future physical capacity remains unreliable.

Aspiration is a privilege. Aspirations are only distinguished from pipe dreams because one possesses realistic means to achieve them; principally wealth, opportunity and physical stamina. As I learned the hard way, with a poor stroke of luck, any or all of these can suddenly evaporate.


Full article…



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