Let’s get the cards on the table. I am a progressive, small “l” liberal who believes in free markets, free trade, firm regulation where it makes sense such as finance, strong public funding where it makes sense such as education, infrastructure and health and free people plus the freedom of speech. It’s not complex, is philosophically justifiable as an expression of enlightenment thinking and reason and, at the risk of a little solipsism, is the value system shared by the majority of western polities, as well as many in the emerging world. It is pro-nation but favours collective action where required.
This frame of reference responds to contemporary issues in a pretty straightforward manner. It sees class inequality as the great evil even though it is post-colonial and pro-multiculturalism. It agrees with public normatives that quash discrimination and is against nearly all efforts by government to control what people say and do in their own homes. It sees the political and race tyranny in China as the greatest threat to this way of life, followed by unfettered capitalism with climate change.
I would describe this view as centrist. It accepts the central tenets of the traditional left and right, and their criticisms of each other, and weaves them together. It accepts that contemporary life is an absolute highpoint in living standards for our species, that there are historical debts to pay, and that there are some very large collective challenges to face.
Yet, this viewpoint is virtually lost to the culture warriors of both the left and right that dominate our politics. More to the point, the recently radicalised left is more out of touch with these basic views than is the loon pond right.
To make the point, let me turn again to the favourite media organs of the radicalised left which, over the weekend, pounded away gleefully as if contact with humanity is very secondary to personal prejudice. Let us start with The Guardian and China:
While the Morrison government is bracing for a protracted standoff with Australia’s largest trading partner in what officials call “strategic patience”, there are fresh questions as to whether Canberra has a comprehensive plan for managing the relationship with an increasingly assertive and powerful China.
“The problem for Canberra is that we are now [at] the point where relatively simple, low-cost options for resetting the relationship have passed us by,” says James Laurenceson, the director of the Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney.
…Labor’s Senate leader and foreign affairs spokesperson, Penny Wong, says Morrison needs to work with allied and aligned nations “to deal with a more assertive China and to strengthen the rules of the road”.
But she contends the government has spent too much time on politics and too little on developing a strategy for the China relationship.
…“Scott Morrison talks a big game about protecting our sovereignty, but the reality is Australia is now more reliant than ever on a single market for our exports.”
…Prof Jane Golley, an economist from the Australian National University and director of its Australian Centre on China in the World, says she can’t see any significant change looming for the state of the relationship.
“There’s been a lot of discussion about how we might reset the relationship in the last few years, but it’s gone beyond that. The question now is how much further things could deteriorate, or whether there is scope around the edges to improve the relationship somewhat.”
Stop right there. That is the sum total of the experts quoted. Where are the counterfactuals and countervailing voices? Where is the debate? There is none.
James Laurenceson runs a think tank that was founded with Bob Carr by the very source of dirty CCP money that destroyed the career of Labor senator Sam Dastayari. ACRI should have been disbanded in disgrace when its major donor, Huang Xiamao, was exiled, not refunded and rebranded. That it wasn’t, only tells us how compromised UTS is by commercial interests with China, including student revenues and research agreements with the CCP’s surveillance state.
That brings us to Jane Golley. Her “think tank” is funded by the Australian Government, an arrangement established under Kevin Rudd. She is a well-known Sinophile, which is entirely fair enough. But it’s also fair to say that her starting pointing is that we should always be engaging with China. As well, operating within unis is again a conflict of interest, though ANU is better than most.
Add Penny Wong to the mix and what we have in this article is a deeply integrated, partisan, singular opinion on China in furious agreement with itself misrepresented as objective reporting.
More of such comes from a second Guardian article on the universities:
Some universities fear losing up to a quarter of their international enrolments with the federal education minister and Victorian premier saying it will be nearly “impossible” for foreign students to return in large numbers this year.
…On Friday, the deputy vice-chancellor (international) of the University of Technology Sydney, Iain Watt, said Australian society as a whole “will be poorer for the absence of international students”.
No, it won’t. Australians will quite literally be richer. As CBA pointed out last week, the absence of population flows will increase Australian wages much quicker this cycle. Iain Wyatt, on the other hand, may have to take a pay cut.
As well, less international students will very likely lift pedagogical standards as local students are not required to nanny poor English-speakers through group learning. There’s an obvious productivity dividend in that.
Why isn’t the “left” Guardian excited about these economic upsides for working people instead? Because The Guardian is not traditional left at all. Its point of view is radicalised progressive. It sees race and sexuality as the central tenet of all politics. It completely ignores the downsides of commercialised universities where markets have all but ruined pedagogical ethics. It spares not one single moment on the class implications of lower wages.
The philosophical underpinnings of this point of view are highly contested, post-modern, French post-structuralist theory made reality: a world view that having lost communism as its loadstone in the seventies and eighties, turned inwards to fight a culture war on truth itself. According to this worldview, there is no such thing as truth, only narrative and discourse, which makes reality in its own image, nearly always to the detriment of various minorities.
And this worldview has the hide to declare the post-truth world of the right a cult!
Don’t get me wrong, what is “true” is always up for grabs. But, at a certain point, post-truth becomes utterly absurd and paralyses all thought. For instance, Liberalism is born of western thought. That those doing the thinking were white is rather a second-order observation. What matters more is that enlightenment thought is western heritage and given it has dramatically progressed civilisation via reason and science we should cleave to it, not endorse the tyrannical and appallingly racist CCP, nor unlimited international students just because they are not-white.
That is not to say that liberal civilisation does not carry historical burdens of restitution and remorse. It does, just not to the point of self-immolation.
This brings us to Stan Grant and the radicalisation of the ABC, Australia’s other fake leftist media organisation. Stan is an unabashed supporter of CCP engagement despite the 14 conditions that will end Australian self-determination. He argues for this view because he has lost faith in the US, the alliance and western capacity to defend democracy. And how! Why would the ABC denote the following as “analysis” not “opinion”:
It is tempting to be swept up in the post-Trump relief, for that moment to suspend reality, and believe in the myth of American hope.
Biden’s appeal to the better angels of America’s nature is a refrain going back to Abraham Lincoln.
There was a lot of Lincoln in Biden’s speech, particularly Lincoln’s second inaugural. Then, America was torn apart by civil war.
Lincoln, a tired, weary President, called for the nation to finish the work it was in, to bind up its wounds. A month later, President Lincoln was shot dead.
Lincoln had helped free the slaves, yet his successor Andrew Johnson supported white supremacy, empowering the Ku Klux Klan and giving rise to Jim Crow laws that stripped blacks of their rights.
That’s America: a land caught between its better angels and its dark reality.
That’s what Biden faces as he appeals to his people to end their “uncivil war”. It was a challenge beyond even Lincoln — and Biden, for all his decency and his personal struggle over adversity, is no Lincoln.
So, America has not progressed since the Civil War? Today is a moment of comparable magnitude of division? There was no civil rights movement? No progress for black America? No sexual revolution nor mass injection of women into the workforce?
Self-evidently this is dark fantasy unhinged from basic historical fact. It’s certainly not “analysis”.
Rounding us out on the weekend, and bringing together the degree of discombobulation that has seized the Australian left, is Guy Rundle, one of those higher minds that holds a lot of responsibility for the pickle in which today’s pointless left finds itself:
This isn’t the US, and ScoMo ain’t Trump lite. Attempts by progressives to paint him as such simply underscore political failings on the left.
With Trump fading into the distance, the attentions of progressives in Australia have turned back to Scott Morrison, a man who has barely figured for months in the political imagination.
With his comments about Australia Day 1788 — “it wasn’t a particularly flash day for the people on those vessels” — he magnificently brought it all back home and reminded us that, in this new era, we need to talk about ScoMo Derangement Syndrome.
ScoMo is driving progressives nuts — mostly because Labor is failing so absolutely at providing an alternative — which in turn makes progressive politics worse, and so on. The fantasy that the Morrison government is some sort of Trump-lite outfit is utterly distorting a political response.
…Culturally, he’s governing to the left of himself in a country that has avoided the upsurge of a right in anything like the way that has occurred in the US, the UK or continental Europe.
The attempt by elite progressive opinion to construct a sort of imminent Trumpism here is absurd, and is simply a compensating mechanism for the absence of a genuinely left progressive program that should come from a Labor party currently consumed by a new leadership stoush.
Given that the most racist thing going on in Australia at the moment — the Black gulag in NT that it calls a justice system — is Labor bought and sold, there’s a bit to do on our side. This isn’t the US, and ScoMo ain’t Trump lite.
Quite right. What drives ScoMo is corruption. His government is the dirtiest in living memory. It lies routinely to disenfranchise Australian workers and hand economic rents to corporate mates.
Yet, even as Guy Rundle identifies the cultural neurosis of the left that he helped create, he can’t break free from it. The black gulag of the NT is indeed an issue. But, it is not THE issue. It will perturb some Aussie households but it won’t win votes. Certainly not in QLD households or amomg migrants whose connection to such historic grievance is tenuous at best. Wallets win votes: house prices; unemployment; wages etc. That is, class issues are what the left needs to rediscover if it is to escape the thrall of ScoMo, not race or sexuality, which are second-order if still important. After all, how will we ever achieve a colour- and sex-blind society if all we do is obsess about race and sexuality?
The irony of this collective howl from the radicalised Australian left is that the American polity has just lurched towards a traditionally left-wing government. The most of my lifetime. Its explicit goals are to address the three biggest class issues confronting America: the broadening of health care for working people, the doubling of minimum wages, and the repair of the commons in the shape of investment in failing infrastructure. As well, it plans to make the rich and corporations pay for it. This holds out the hope of putting a big dent in inequality and diminishing the underlying drivers of Trumpism as the historical pendulum of progress swings again.
Yet while this is happening, Australia’s unelectable and radicalised left – as it is represented in the closely integrated vertical market of Labor, universities and select media – is campaigning to turn Australia into a giant CCP gulag, as well as to re-crush Aussie wages via a return of mass immigration. All the while it is snowing the grotesque corruptions of the Morrison Government under the falling ashes of culture war.
We can all look forward to a long period of being mercilessly rorted by ScoMo’s rich mates as these useful idiots slowly if ever, catch up.