The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

I Don’t Care About the Great Barrier Reef

Scrolling through my social media feeds recently, an item entitled: “If you care about the Great Barrier Reef, read this article…” popped up. I scrolled past it. This made me realise something. This was that, basically, when you get right down to it, I don’t give a flying toss about the GBR or the environment in general.

If you were to press me for an opinion, I would say that I am in favour of measures (even drastic ones) to protect, conserve and preserve. But if you were to ask me how I felt on the issue, I would honestly have to say that it leaves me cold and indifferent. It simply isn’t one of the things about which I have any deep or visceral feelings. Poverty, injustice, greed, violence, oppression – stuff that involves doing bad stuff to humans – that all makes me gut-twistingly furious. Outrage pours out of me in great, profanity riddled waves on subjects like ignorance, bigotry, racism and conservatism, reliably and instantaneously.

But I’m only one person. And one person can only truly care about so many things. By extension, then, a small group of people may be able to care about a few more things, collectively, but it’s going to be far from comprehensive.

And this is why we all need each other. If we want to live in a world that is moving as fast as it possibly can toward a solution to its many and varied burning issues, then the best likelihood for achieving this is if we all – every single one of us – participates, acts or contributes in some way to the various causes that we as individuals care about.

It is simply unacceptable to subcontract caring and activism to a few organisations and individuals. From a global point of view, we all live in the same house and it is therefore the responsibility of each and every one of us to take a hand in cleaning it. If we leave it up to just a few, things are going to get missed. This kind of communal covering of the bases is one of the key components of the grand experiment of civilisation.

This is why I find the insidious growth of slacktivism, learned helplessness or just straight up selfish apathy to be so disturbing. We can’t expect to concern ourselves only with filling our faces and pimping our investment properties and expect everything to just come up roses. Communities, cities, nations and civilisations are all made of only one tangible working part – the part that gets up off its arses and actually tries to do something to leave the world a better place than they found it.

Oh, is Ian Thorpe gay?

So Ian Thorpe is gay, and everyone seems to have an opinion. Well I have an opinion, too.

Ian Thorpe can do whatever the hell he likes.

He can stay in, or he can come out, and he can do it whenever and wherever he wants to. No one has the right to tell him he did it in the wrong way, or at the wrong time, or to the wrong people. No one. My opinion, then, is that I have no opinion, because I don’t have a right to one.

I do, however, have an opinion on everyone else’s opinions.

To the people who say he shouldn’t have come out at all – I will just say, as politely as I can, fück you.

To the people who say he should have come out sooner (that means you, Kerryn Phelps) – no, he shouldn’t have. Being a supremely gifted athlete doesn’t mean you suddenly have to let the rest of us make your decisions for you. He came out when he wanted to. That’s it.

You might also like to consider if a guilt-trip is the best thing for someone suffering from depression.

To the people who sarcastically say they didn’t see it coming (take a bow, Joe Hildebrand) – your lack of empathy and ability to stereotype is noted.

To the people who say they are sick of all the media attention this sort of thing generates – media companies aren’t manufacturing the market for these stories, they’re exploiting it. If you don’t think it should be a big deal, stop making it a big deal. Because it really isn’t.

To the people who Ian has inspired, to those that are now remembering their own internal struggle, and to Ian Thorpe himself, I say this – I am sorry you live in a society that obsesses over whether someone is gay or not.

Because it’s nobody’s business but yours.

12000 Years Without Boats

Should you ever feel sufficiently bored to pay a visit to Scott Morrison’s website you’ll notice two things. Firstly, you’ll notice that it’s time to take a good, long look at your life and, secondly, you’ll see a series of triumphal proclamations claiming that there have been x number of days without ‘boats’.

Now clearly this statement cannot be taken at face value. Simple logic begs the question – if there have been no boats, what have the Navy been turning back all this time? We therefore come to the conclusion that this statement needs to be examined. So let’s examine it.

Clearly, boats are still arriving. Sources that I am unwilling and unable to name inform me that the pace of boat interceptions hasn’t really changed since I was serving in the comparatively benign Operation Resolute. We have, however, ceased the practice of transporting asylum seekers to Christmas Island and have instead been either sending them back outside our EEZ or taking them to Manus Island. So what’s changed?

Basically, the LNP is now in a position to say that no boat arrivals set foot on Australian territory. I suppose this is a major triumph and, considering that this is done merely at the cost of turning all boat interceptions from benign to hostile, endangering the lives of asylum seekers and Navy personnel and housing people in a facility that wouldn’t pass muster as an abandoned dog shelter, it’s probably cheap at the price. Largely because the Restricted OP RESOLUTE has turned into the Secret OP SOVEREIGN BORDERS. And any price is cheap, really, if you don’t know you’re paying it.

Of course, there have been a few minor hiccups. An unintentional breach of Indonesian waters generated much derision for the Navy (I’d like to see any of those smarmy commentators navigate a boat out of the harbour, much less the open ocean) and soured not a little our relationship with our Northern neighbours. Allegations of cruelty and torture tarnished the reputation of the Navy somewhat, with a little of the mud splattering our venerable aunty – the ABC. And, of course, a large number of newspapers spent a few glorious weeks misidentifying RAN vessels and splashing pictures of ‘orange’ lifeboats, being curiously obsessed with the fact that they were orange (all lifeboats are orange).

Which is as it should be, I suppose. The task of the military is to enforce and facilitate government policy and, I guess, to absorb the blame along with the hard knocks.  But it’s okay, because it’s been 180 days without boats. Which means what, exactly?

What it means is that due to the population voting for a policy of deliberately treating people so badly that they don’t attempt to seek refuge with us, the government has been able to combine xenophobia with the official secrets act to produce a situation where they can say ‘there are no boats’, when the truth is that there are boats, just not in our troglodytic, provincial, goldfish-brained and fucking stupid backyard. So, the number of boats hasn’t changed. We’ve just misused the military and the secrecy provisions designed to protect the nation in such a way that different rhetoric is now possible. And tapped into poisonous xenophobia in order to secure public buy-in. Which is a tactic as old as civilisation.

So considering that nothing has really changed, why not go the whole hog? The situation we’re in is as old as civilisation so I think that we can justly claim that it has now been 12000 years without boats.

Too: Steve Noyce, Re: Todd Carney

Hi Steve,

My name is Tim, and I’m writing too you too share my thoughts on your recent sacking of Todd Carney.

I should first point out that I’m not a particularly huge fan of the Rugby Leagues, as the scrums are just to fiercely contested for me. Every time I see one I think “OMG they look like they’re actually pushing this time”. It’s very stressful. I’m also not a fan of oceanic mascots for land-based sporting teams. Sorry, Steve, but a shark just isn’t believable. They can’t move backwards, for starters. And I hear they get quite emotional at the sight of blood. Assuming, that is, that they haven’t just suffocated a few seconds after kick-off. Armadillos are land animals, though. And I’m quite good at drawing armadillos. Well, I’m good at tracing them. I’d be happy too trace you a new mascot if you like. His name could be Adillo and he could be accompanied by a speech bubble that says “I’m Adillo”.

As for Todd Carney, well… I don’t know him from a bar of soap. Sorry that’s probably an exaggeration. I’ve never met Todd personally, but I’ve seen photos, and he doesn’t look to much like a bar of soap, so I think I probably would know him from bar of soap. Although I guess it if was dark and the soap was a life-sized replica of Todd Carney, then maybe I’d have too ask them both a few questions too make sure. Whatever. The point is I’d never wash myself with Todd Carney. Not with his mouth anyway, as it’s probably full of urine.

Which brings me too the subject of my letter.

As much as everyone has been asking what was going through Todd’s mind when he pïssed in his mouth, I want too know what was going through your mind when you sacked him for it. Do you remember when you were a kid, and you went too the bubbler on a hot day, and the water came out warm at first, and you let the water run on your hand for a while so you knew when it was cool enough too drink? Well I do, Steve, so naturally my first thought was “Why didn’t Todd piss into his hands first?” I didn’t want too play the blame game though, so I stopped wondering that and just hoped that he hadn’t had any asparagus for dinner. Then I decided that he probably just likes too recycle.

But what were you worried about? What concerned you so much that you felt you had too end his career? Did you think his poor aim at the urinal would affect his kicking game? Because if you did, I think I should point out he wasn’t aiming at the urinal, he was aiming at his mouth. So his aim seems pretty good, and you should probably let him kick more. Then maybe you’d stop coming last.

Oh sorry, I just saw your media release! Let’s see if it sheds any light on your motives. You sacked him because you are

committed to building a successful club, a club with strong values and a club which sets and respects high standards in all aspects of its operations and activities.

Is it a shame thing, Steve? Has he brought the Sharks into disrepute? Will people start showing less respect too a bottom-of-the-ladder team that has never won a premiership and was fined $150,000 for salary cap breaches and $1,000,000 for the use of illegal supplements, just because a single person pïssed in his mouth while not at work? Now that I think about it, do you think that maaaaaaybe you might have more reason too terminate your own contact?

Or is it a role model thing? Are you worried that hordes of impressionable young children will start skipping off too the urinal every time they’re thirsty? Because if you’re worried about role models, Steve, there are bigger issues too worry about. For example, you might have too start sacking people who throw to many forward passes. Or who punch another player. Or spear tackle. Those are some pretty heavy issues, Steve. And I haven’t even mentioned the most heaviest.

You may have noticed the odd grammatical error in this letter (if you haven’t, look again, they’re not to hard too find). They make the letter quite difficult too read, don’t they? But it’s not my fault, Steve, it’s Todd’s.

You see, Todd is a huge role model, and has a profound impact on the actions of all impressionable Australians. Well I’m an impressionable Australian. And I saw Todd’s tattoo.

Todd Carney tatt

So yeah, now I write like an idiot, and anyone else who’s seen Todd’s tattoo writes like an idiot to. That’s the real danger here, Steve. People can pïss in their mouths all they like, and they only harm themselves. But bad grammar… bad grammar is infectious, and just to annoying too tolerate.

Think about it, Steve. Take a stand against bad grammar and media hysteria and hypocrisy. Re-hire Todd, make him fix his tattoo, and sack yourself.

Take it from someone who doesn’t care about Rugby League, or the Sharks, or Todd Carney – it’s the right thing too do.

Yours sincerely,

Tim

Left or Right? I’ll Go With Clever, Thankyou…

The relatively recent extreme polarisation of American politics has revealed some disturbing things about Middle America, the influence of evangelical Christianity and End-Times thinking and the ease with which fringe elements can gain traction in a democracy.

One of the most disturbing facts of American politics is the Tea Party – not so much its influence, which I think is a little bit overblown by a panicky liberal media, but rather the very fact of its existence. It is difficult to understand how we can live in a world where ideas like Libertarianism cause any reaction other than incredulous laughter, but the bare fact of it remains, staring us in the face every time we see a poorly spelt banner demanding that some federal government personage be banished from some room in the banner-holder’s house.

But it’s not just the right who appear to have been infected with this particular brand of stupidity. The partisans of the left have begun to show a worrying tendency to look and sound rather like their Tea Party opponents, right down to the poorly spelt, practically meaningless banners being waved about. It’s a phenomenon that has been aptly described as ‘shouting past each other’, where both sides of the political debate take such extreme positions that there are no grounds for discussion on any issue. Which is the opposite of what adversarial politics is supposed to be about.

But only in America, right? Why does any of this matter to us?

Well, you’ll be pleased to know that Australia has caught up with it’s bigger, older cousin and developed a Tea Party all of its very own. And not just that, we have managed to elect one of the most divisive PM’s in our brief history, beginning the alarmingly rapid process of similarly polarising our own political debate.

And here, as in the US, the left is beginning to sound as shrill and loony as the right.

I understand the rationale. The fringe right uses bully-boy tactics, rank and obvious populism and catchy slogans. It must therefore be necessary for the left to do the same, to avoid losing ground, no?

NO!

Our position is always going to be more complex, more subtle, less packagable than the right’s for the simple fact that it is always and without exception a more intelligent and considered position. Okay, so we seem academic and distant by comparison, but this is what happens when you throw away the comforting certainty of thousands of years of prejudice and superstition and attempt to solve problems using the intellect as the primary tool. This is why most Western democracies have become more or less progressive. This is why humanist ideas have so quickly found their way into law and into popular morality, a bare century after their conception. It is because in the real world – the real, complex, difficult world that we live in, cleverness is what is required to make things actually work.

We cannot, on the left, lose even the superficial imprimatur of that cleverness. It may be very appealing to put on the warpaint and shout back at the idiots on the other side, but it cannot be done without causing severe damage. Looking and sounding like the Tea Party is not going to convert people of the right – they are largely intransigent. All it will achieve is the alienation of supporters and partisans we already have.

In short – stay classy, progressive left-wingers. It works better in the long run, believe me.

You know what would be better than chaplains?

If there’s one issue that highlights the contempt this government has for the people of this country and the democratic process, it’s the budget. And the treatment of asylum seekers. And the planned destruction of World Heritage areas. And the denial of anthropogenic climate change. And the NBN. And the surfboard Tony gave to Obama. Oh, and the National School Chaplaincy Program.

Lots of people are unhappy about chaplains. One man, Ron Williams, has put his whole life and livelihood on the line to fight against chaplains on our behalf. And Chrys Stevenson has been documenting the idiocy like nobody’s business. But, for some reason, they want to replace chaplains with qualified, secular counsellors and psychologists. Sorry guys, but with all due respect, that’s madness. MADNESS I TELL YOU!

What our vulnerable school students really need are gigolos.

Yes, you heard me – gigolos.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’ve seen the Deuce Bigalow movies, you think all gigolos own huge fish tanks and have giant wangs and have a large collection of ancient weapons. But you’re forgetting about Deuce. He was nice. He looked after all the weirdos and the bullied and the freakishly tall. Which is really what chaplaincy is all about, isn’t it? Nice people being nice and looking after people who maybe aren’t doing as well as the rest of us. Deuce was great at listening and talking and being nice and making people feel better. Sure, the other gigolo in the movie was a dïck, but that’s just your confirmation bias talking. Deuce was nice, focus on him.

But now you’re thinking something else. “Professional gigolos? In schools? That’s a recipe for disaster! They’ll just hit on all the hot schoolgirls and Marist brothers.”

This is, I admit, a real and concerning possibility. But I have the perfect solution.

All we have to do to stop gigolos being gigolos in schools is to make a rule that says they’re not allowed to be gigolos in schools. It’s genius! I’m sure Deuce will follow the rule. He’s nice. And if there’s one thing a terrified, confused, suicidal young transgender person needs, it’s a really nice skilled professional who we’ve asked nicely not to use their professional skill.

Say no to chaplains. Say no to qualified secular counsellors and psychologists. It’s time for a new program. I give you:

The National School Gigolo Program – Gigolos are nice, and we’ve asked them nicely to not be gigolos in school

And it’ll only cost you $200m.

Miranda Devine is a fücking idiot

Well, she is. But don’t worry – I’m not being Mirandaphobic, because “fücking idiot” doesn’t mean what you think it means.

You see, a few weeks ago, a rugby league player called one of his opponents a “fücking gay cünt”. The NRL then suspended him for lack of creativity homophobia. Miranda was outraged:

There was no problem with the players trying to punch each other. No problem with the foul language. No problem with the sexist c-word. But woe betide the player who ­offends the gods of homosexuality. Let’s get one thing straight. “Gay” no longer just means “homosexual”. The word has changed meaning over the last decade. Young people use “gay” to mean lame, or dumb or stupid, as in: “That’s so gay.”

I don’t know who the “god of homosexuality” is, but I think it might be Jesus, since he not only seems to be the one making all the gay people, but can rock a tunic and sandals like nobody’s business. In any case, it would seem that according to Miranda:

  1. Yes, “gay” does mean homosexual; but
  2. It also means “stupid”; so
  3. It’s not homophobic.
  4. P.S. Calling someone a “cünt” is sexist.

That’s all fine, but how does it make Miranda Devine a fücking idiot? Well, to make things easier for us, Miranda claimed that calling someone a “cünt” is sexist. And that allows us to say this:

  1. Yes, “cünt” does mean vagina; but
  2. It also means “fückwit”; so
  3. It’s not sexist.
  4. P.S. Calling someone “gay” is homophobic.

Ergo, Miranda Devine is a fücking idiot.

Now, at this point, you may be thinking that I’m being Mirandaphobic. But you’d be wrong. You see, dear reader, words can change their meaning over time. And since I started this post, “fücking idiot” no longer just means “a person of colossal stupidity” – it now also means “a person of Devine-like intelligence, capable of both making an argument and defeating it in the same paragraph”.

Which means I’m off the hook.

But she’s still a fücking idiot.

Bashing the ‘Common Man’

In an attempt to sell some books, I very recently ramped up my engagement with the citizens of the internet. Up till now I’ve been quite selective in my web-based circles of acquaintance, but this ceases to be possible when you have a product to whore around the market place. The sort of democratic availability that this entails has brought me into contact with the breathtaking pointy-headedness of the sort of people who generally leave comments on Youtube.

Now, stupid Americans, Britishers, Germans and Iranians are not really my problem as I feel (possibly erroneously) that people being stupid in their mothers’ basements thousands of miles away probably doesn’t affect me. Stupid Australians, on the other hand, are an entirely different matter.

I recently came across a series of videos going the rounds of Facebook. One in particular struck me as a worrying indication of what an actual majority of Australians might be thinking.

The scene: Action shot of a white SUV pelting down a highway, POV being over the shoulder of a Middle Eastern gentleman holding an AK47 in the crook of his arm. As the Middle Eastern gentleman’s vehicle pulls up level with the white SUV, he sticks the rifle out the window and randomly pours fire into it.

The caption: “This is what Moslem immigration will bring to Australia”.

Now, there’s just a few things wrong with this.

Firstly, there is no context for this video – no knowing where it is shot, by whom or even if it is part of some dramatic production. There is an Arabic caption bottom screen left which I and (I am absolutely certain) the video’s poster cannot read. Other than that, and it’s tenuous at best, we have nothing to connect the video with Islam at all.

Secondly, what is ‘Moslem immigration’? From comments below the video, one could be forgiven for thinking that this country is being inundated with a flood of Moslem immigrants arriving by boat from the dreaded land of Moslamia. One commenter evidently held the belief that ‘Moslem’ was an ethnicity originating from a country called Islamabad.

Thirdly, the SUV in the video is not available for sale in this country. A minor point, I know, but I needed a third thing and didn’t think it was necessary to point out that hardly any of the billion Moslems in the world go about firing assault rifles at random vehicles.

All fairly obvious and stupid, right? The problem, however, is that the video showed hundreds of shares and thousands of likes and comments, all on an individual’s stream, indicating that a much wider circulation and approval exists.

Is this really the state of public perception in this country? Does this accurately represent the thinking of ‘The Common Man’? If so, I officially refuse to pay any further attention whatsoever to the gibberings of this ‘Common Man’.

If that is seriously the best he can do, then the best thing he can do for all of us is to keep quiet and read a book. One of mine, maybe. I need the money, after all.

Clarkson’s Big Fat Mouth

So, I am given to understand that some time in the recent past, BBC presenter Jeremy Clarkson used the word N——-. Which is not a word, but a letter with some dashes after it. So why the big fuss?

I can only assume it’s because the word in question is ‘nigger’. Which is a hateful word. Insulting, degrading, breathtakingly racist and, interestingly, a common metric device in certain genres of popular music. Also, it is a word that forms part of a child’s rhyming game. Eeny Meeny Miney Mo, to be precise.

It was in this context that Clarkson apparently used it, in a not for broadcast take where he is clearly at pains to replace it with something else.

Now, I am no fan of racism. I’m also strongly against the sort of casual racism that is made up more of insensitivity than of bigotry (the recent blackface performance on a popular tv show is a good example of this kind of thing), but I am even less of a friend to reactionary hysteria.

I was taught this rhyme with ‘that word’ in it before I even knew what ‘that word’ meant. It is locked, deep in my brain, and when I find myself using the rhyme, I have to make a great mental effort to use the bowdlerised version. I can only assume that Clarkson was in the same predicament. His explanation and his actions chime nicely with this version of the facts. He made strenuous efforts to avoid using an offensive word, took several takes to make sure he didn’t, and then some puerile troublemaker decided to broadcast one of his practice takes.

This being the case, the question has to be asked. What in the actual fuck has Clarkson done wrong and why, by all that’s rational, are we all screaming at him?

It is perhaps because the progressive left, or whatever you want to call the more liberal section of society that tends to be pro fair trade, anti cruelty, anti bigotry and pro environment, would seem to have just as many pig ignorant, mindless, knee-jerk reactionaries as the right.

If true, this is regrettable, not least because it is a section of the community to which I belong. People who sit on the liberal side of the political spectrum should be about thoughtfulness, the application of context and, most importantly, deep repugnance for anything remotely resembling a witch hunt.

Sure, Clarkson has a history of ‘racist’ gaffes – in exactly the same way as my father’s dinner table conversation has. Which is unsurprising, considering that they are roughly the same age. Now, I know that my father’s problem isn’t so much racism as it is generational – he has imperfectly adapted to a world where Social Darwinism is no longer taught to school children as an immutable truth. I was able to adapt, but I think that adaptation was made somewhat easier by the fact that it happened when I was six years old.

So, bearing this in mind, I believe Clarkson’s problem isn’t so much racism as it is foolishness. Which isn’t really problem, when you think about it, because being foolish on camera is what the BBC pays him for. It’s the larger part of his market appeal.

It’s not his blood we should be baying for, but the blood of the traitor who released the clip. It is not he we should be disgusted with – our disgust should be reserved for those troglodytic members of society who seem to live in a constant state of outraged victimhood, made all the more ridiculous by the fact that it is so often vicarious.

And as for Clarkson, let’s just hope that the next time he puts his outsized foot in his larger than life mouth his sins are of a more loveable, laughable kind. And that it doesn’t involve the use of a word that is so rightly charged with such animus, and avoided with such assiduity by all right thinking folk. That is, after all, why we all liked him so much not three days ago.

Unpacking Cory Bernardi’s Dystopia – Part 2

In my last post we had a look at the opening of Cory Bernardi’s book “The Conservative Revolution”. In this opening we discovered new meanings for some very commonly used words and learnt about a crisis in our affairs that seems to have gone unnoticed by all but the conservative portion of society.

Today, I’d like to take a look at what Cory believes are the four fundamental pillars of a conservative society: Faith, Family, Flag and Free Enterprise.

Faith

Like many religious politicians, Senator Bernardi is both confused and confusing when it comes to the role of faith in politics and society. He believes that Australia is a Christian country, citing the preamble of the constitution as evidence of this. He goes on to state that being a Christian country simply means being one of those countries whose cultural, moral and legal basis derives from broader Western Judaeo-Christian roots. So far, so obvious.

Despite the fact that he spends an inordinate amount of time explaining and justifying this -an idea that is pretty well known and accepted by everyone over the age of 9 – there is nothing all that revolutionary about what he has to say so far. Unless, of course, being mind-bendingly dull can be considered revolutionary. It is at this point, however, that he begins to ramble.

Less than two hundred words into his dissertation on faith, he begins to mumble about family, which indicates a worrying inability on the part of the author to think in an orderly manner. The whole discursus on faith is a rambling, confused expedition reminiscent of the picaresque wanderings of a character in one of Sterne’s novels, only without the wit, humour or intelligence. After some careful reading and unpicking, however, I have been able to distill the essence of the ‘argument’ into the following dot points.

  • Australia is a Christian country.
  • People get their faith from their families.
  • It doesn’t matter if your values derive from Christianity or some other source.
  • Only Christian values are acceptable so you should derive your values from Christianity.
  • ADHD is not a real medical condition.
  • Abortion will infallibly lead to state sanctioned mass murder.
  • Islam is an evil cult that is not, in fact, a religion, but a conspiracy to take over the world.

He also points to some trends in modern thought that he describes as ‘alarming’. These include pathology based medicine, secular ethics, pro-choice advocacy and, weirdly, Islam. I, however, think that the most alarming thing about this whole section is the fact that he believes Mosaic law is an appropriate standard by which to order a modern society.

Family

Senator Bernardi believes in the nuclear family. He believes so strongly in it that he feels that the increasing prevalence of ‘unconventional’ family units will eventually spell the end of society as we know it. His belief is so strong, in fact, that it blinds him to the distinction between the nuclear family, extended family groups and tribal clan networks. He cites disparate and questionably relevant authorities with gay abandon – no, strike that. There’s nothing gay about the Senator’s vision for the future. It is painfully obvious that, to his mind, anything gay is to be considered an unfortunate anomaly that should be tolerated with Christian fortitude. And possibly eradicated by some humane means that he leaves unspecified.

He trots out the old tired arguments about marriage being the exclusive property of the Church (without specifying one) with the difference that it is unclear whether he is sufficiently intelligent to be deliberately disingenuous about blurring the line between sacrament and legal contract.

If we ignore the strange byways that he wanders down in order to rail at leftists, cultural Marxists, progressives, homosexuals and, weirdly again, Islam, we are left with a sad and simple truth. Cory Bernardi believes that we should all go back to living in a Norman Rockwell painting. He feels that we should go back to a sort of rustic, nuclear family based paradise where the strong, breadwinning father rules a household of compliant women and children, regardless of the fact that such an ideal very probably never existed outside the pages of a Victorian novel. It would appear that, on this front at least, the ‘conservative revolution’ involves the systematic fictionalisation of the entire country’s home and family life. In support of this he cites some very suspect statistics that would seem to indicate that divorce and single parent families are the root cause of all crime and suicide in Australian society.

Flag

I agree with almost everything Cory says in this section. He says that Australia is a great country and that we should be proud of it. Agreed. He says that modern nation states need to be robustly defended. Agreed. He says that trade is the lifeblood of a modern state. Agreed.

My agreement stems partially from the fact that I am a patriot, and partly because disagreeing with truisms is very difficult.

The rest of this section is devoted to an explanation of Australia’s constitutional structure at a primary school level, which is worrying, considering that the author is, in fact, one of our lawmakers.

This is by far the shortest section of the book, which is a shame as it is also the least loopy. It can be summed up as follows.

  • Australia is a democracy.
  • The constitution is important.
  • Diversity should be celebrated.
  • People from diverse backgrounds should assimilate.
  • John Howard was right about everything.

Free Enterprise

This entire section is devoted to an explanation of what free enterprise actually is. Cory painstakingly explains, in terms that are calculated to be understandable to any mentally impaired child, that trade involves the exchange of money for goods and services and that Adam Smith was an economist. He posits the idea that capitalism is essentially a benevolent undertaking, and that we should cease regulating against greed and corruption and allow this benevolence to operate freely at all levels of society.

Breathtakingly stupid as this is, it does pose a few key questions.

  1. Is the Senator using primary school economic theory because he believes it fits the intellectual level of his readers, or because it represents the level of his own understanding?
  2. Is the Senator aware that nearly two centuries of economic history have consistently disproved the notion that laissez faire capitalism will result in a self-regulating market that benefits all through enlightened self interest?
  3. Does the Senator seriously believe that a single employee negotiating with an employer is in a position to bargain on equal terms and therefore gain an equitable outcome?
  4. When the Senator talks about ‘over-regulation’, does he, in fact, have any sort of concrete benchmark that represents an ideal level of regulation or does he, like all other neo-cons, believe that the slogan ‘small government’ is sufficient unto itself?

If my analysis of the meat of Cory’s book has seemed scatter-gun, disordered and fragmentary, I apologise. In my defence, I can only say that one is generally limited by the material that one is given to work with. Reading this book reveals no new information, no new ideas and certainly, no coherent arguments supporting the conservative cause.

The most revealing aspect of this book is the insight that it gives into the confused self-deception of the author’s mental processes. His is the sort of mind that starts with a given set of prejudices and disguises their nature by attaching to them the labels ‘natural law’, ‘custom’ and ‘tradition’. In this respect, I believe the book actually does serve a useful purpose. It lays out clearly, and unmistakeably, the actual mental framework that is operative in the worst and stupidest of reactionary conservatives. If you ever see a conservative saying or doing something unutterably stupid and wonder, “what was he/she actually thinking?”, I would suggest that ‘The Conservative Revolution’ is an excellent place to go in order to discover the answer to that very question.

 

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