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October 04th 2011 print

Bill Muehlenberg

Elite dictatorship

This week: “Greens leader Bob Brown has upped the ante in his calls for stronger state control of media, hinting at a licensing scheme for individual journalists.”

Many leftist academics have long ago abandoned the notion that ordinary citizens are fit for governing. They in fact believe they are unfit, and only “experts” like themselves should be allowed to call the shots and make the rules. Thus many of our elites have a sneering contempt for ordinary men and women.

So prominent is this unfortunate tendency that one Australian writer penned an entire volume on this. David Flint wrote The Twilight of the Elites back in 2003 (Freedom Publishing), and it is still a timely read. In it he documents how our leftist elites keep trying to subvert the will of the people as they seek to push their progressive policies and agendas.

Fortunately when ordinary Australians are actually allowed to speak – and vote – on these radical proposals, the elites often fail miserably. The 1999 vote on a republic is one major example of this. Flint documents many more such examples.

He offers a bit of history here: “Marx gave the elites their mission. He had written that philosophers had hitherto only interpreted the world: the point now was to change it. And who better qualified to change it – and change it ‘intelligently’ – than the elites.”

He also notes how postmodernist thinking underpins so much of the new elites’ worldview. They argue that truth, morality and culture are all relative. They believe that the “concepts of free speech, democracy and human rights are not inherently superior principles – they are merely the product and specific times and specific places.”

We see this played out all the time in Australia and the West. Simply consider how creeping sharia and stealth jihad are undermining the West from within; all aided and abetted by our leftist elites. The recent case of censorship regarding Andrew Bolt is another clear case in point here.

As Miranda Devine rightly commented: “Make no mistake, the Bolt case and the swarm of Left-wing lawyers who have urged it on, acting pro bono or commenting approvingly from the sidelines, are all part of an illiberal movement in Australia to crush dissent. At a time of extraordinary political disharmony following the ousting of Kevin Rudd, the hung Parliament and the rise of the Greens, there is a concerted attempt to shut down conservative voices.”

You can say that again. And it is not just conservative voices, but any voices which are not those of the secular left elites. Two recent examples make this quite clear. Consider this headline of just a few days ago: “Newspapers shouldn’t print opinion from non-experts: Manne”.

The article continues, “Professor Manne says they should report only the views of a ‘core’ of experts in key debates. At a book-signing in Sydney last night, he also urged the media to embrace greater contributions from controversial left-wing commentators such as US linguistics professor Noam Chomsky and Beirut-based commentator Robert Fisk. Professor Manne is facing fierce criticism over his recently published Quarterly Essay, Bad News, in which he alleges that The Australian plays an ‘overbearing’ and ‘unhealthy’ role in national debates by publishing fringe views on controversial topics.”

Wow. So why don’t these pompous, arrogant, lefty academics just come out and say it? They hate democracy and want all of us mere peons to just sit down and shut up, and only let people like them have an opinion. Guys like this really are quite a worry.

The article goes on to say that on topics like climate change, us mere mortals have no right to speak out – only qualified scientists. OK, so since when did Manne become a qualified scientist? It seems he has not been reticent about speaking publicly on such topics in the past.

Another example is found in today’s press. It concerns the ongoing calls by Bob Brown and the Greens to effectively straightjacket and censor the press, so that only views friendly to their own are allowed a free run. As one article begins: “Greens leader Bob Brown has upped the ante in his calls for stronger state control of media, hinting at a licensing scheme for individual journalists.

“Senator Brown has already called for licensing of newspapers, a move Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has refused to rule out. The Greens leader repeated his call at an Intelligence Squared event in Sydney on Saturday, which debated the proposition ‘that the media have no morals’.

“Under questioning from the audience, Senator Brown appeared to back away from a scheme of licensing newspapers in favour of a state-sanctioned practising licence for individual journalists that could be withdrawn. ‘It’s time the crown licensed the press,’ Senator Brown said, before later calling for ‘some point of reference’ to pull up both journalists and proprietors ‘who do the wrong thing in their tracks’.”

But haven’t such clampdowns on the media been tried before? Think Nazi Germany. Think Communist Russia and Eastern Europe. Think Muslim-majority nations. Evidently the lessons of history have not been learned. The truth is, our leftist elites have always had a totalitarian streak.

Indeed, we refer to them as the “coercive utopians”. They want to usher in their version of heaven on earth, but it can only come through the heavy hand of the law and by state suppression of dissenting points of view. These elites simply have no trust in ordinary citizens to govern themselves.

They think we are incapable of ruling ourselves, and we must instead surrender our rights to these elites who know what is best for us. It is a very scary place to be in indeed. I would much rather go with the common man with common sense than with our activist elites.

As William F. Buckley once rightly stated: “I would rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston telephone directory than by the 2,000 members of the Harvard faculty.” Quite so. Egghead intellectuals and arrogant elites think they know so much better than we do. But it seems whenever they start to get into power, they thrive while the rest of us suffer.

Thanks but no thanks, I will side with ordinary Australians any day of the week over the likes of Manne and Brown. That would be a much safer and wiser course of action. As the lefty activists used to shout, “Power to the people!”