The advent of a new year is a good time to review the one gone by, to sum it up and balance one’s moral and ethical scorecard. Is the ledger mostly in the black or is red ink splashed all over? Was I a reasonably decent human or an idiot? A genius or a schlemiel? Was I treated well by others? Did I treat others the way I would want to be treated? It does feel like a regular corporate performance review, with the difference being that, as long as we are still alive, there’s always the chance to make things right.
This festive season was unusual for many reasons. The closely placed succession of Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties offered plenty of opportunities for enjoying the unhealthy and sedentary, eating oily or sugary foods (Christmas puddings, stollen, latkes…) and drinking alcohol in amounts considered prejudicial by the moralisers who seem to be popping up at every corner, dubious statistics in hand. (I especially enjoyed having my red wine consumption made the subject of a stern tut-tutting by a chain smoking GP.) Most important, the past weeks offered an opportunity to talk with friends, relatives, children and whoever else came along to celebrate at the festive table. That is where the long-ignored obvious struck and, most importantly, sank in.
Contrary to the long-held convention of not discussing politics, religion and, yes, money, discussions around many a table or a backyard barbeque inevitably turned to Brexit and The Donald’s election victory. In all these exchanges I was a pitiful minority of one, tolerated while treated with the sort of polite and indulgent condescension usually reserved for small children and the mentally unwell or, in my case, a conservative old codger. This patronising came dangerously close to contempt for my presumed moral turpitude: who else but the morally deficient could defend the outrage of those in the UK and America voting other than the way their presumed betters wished and expected? My long-suffering wife succeeded in transmitting the ‘please keep your mouth shut’ signal. All it took for this well-trained husband of 43 years to do as bid was a well-aimed kick under the table. She Who Must Be Obeyed was indeed obeyed, but not before I noticed some peculiarities of the discourse that prompted the thoughts you are reading now.
The Left’s near-total dominance of the political stage in Australia is no news to me, of course. However, the personal experience of being all but openly branded a bigot, a racist and a dangerously unhinged anencephalic, who is also a misogynist, a homophobe and, given a chance, a potential mass-murder of Muslims left me quite shocked. Needless to say – I am none of those things. But perceptions matter and people, like myself, of conservative political leanings are branded morally inadequate precisely on the basis of our convictions, as Quadrant Online contributor Bill Wyndham noted some months ago.
Like all previous generations, ours is faced with the evergreen problem of seemingly unbridgeable conflict of opinion between parents and their children, an inter-generational clash of weltanschauungs. This kind of a conflict is inevitable, as old as humanity itself. Children cannot be carbon copies of their parents; the world is evolving in directions sometimes inimical to parental liking. That is normal. That is how it is and I am not too fussed about that.
This inevitability of societal change reminds me of an excruciatingly funny cartoon. Picture two long-haired hippy parents, equipped with customary guitars, joints and bandanas, sitting on the floor, agog, listening to their child’s angst, formerly their exclusive domain, and telling them, “You are way too old to understand!” O tempora o mores! However, the aim of this piece is not to entertain because there’s nothing funny about the totality of the thorough indoctrination of our population, especially of our youth. It is so near to being complete that any degree of a dissent is regarded as being akin to a crime against humanity.
There used to be a gaping chasm between the beliefs, convictions and responses of the young and those of their more conservative parents. Things are changing though. The truism, ‘If you are 20 and not a Communist, you have no heart; if at 40 you are still a Communist, you have no brain’ still holds true. However, as far as I can see, the timescale to enlightenment is growing longer, so that people who are old enough to know better still espouse the same leftist garbage as in their teens. Whether this is the result of an unwillingness to go against the flow, a manifestation of true belief or, perhaps, a simple desire to avoid harsh words and inter-generational conflict is hard to say. Whatever the reason, the Left’s narrative is now dominant, regarded by those who subscribe to it as what is, or should be, the societal norm.
During this festive season, I was confronted with the stark realisation that our children have absorbed the teachings and beliefs of those whom we, us conservatives, regard with shoulder-shrugging, eyeball-rolling sighs. It is no longer enough to react this way. The changing civic climate brings all of us to the situation which was existing in pre-revolutionary Russia, when not to be on the side of the Revolution meant universal ostracism and contempt, never mind the subsequent horrors inflicted on those who declined to bow before their new masters.
Largely silent at my wife’s command (except for those few moments when I could no longer bite my tongue), I observed the flow of festive-table discourse and was struck by the inability of the young to think independently, their unwillingness to deviate from authorised dogma, be it about global warming, an Australian Republic, immigration and all the many sacred cows of the politically correct. All of these and many other topics were discussed exclusively from the Left’s viewpoint and any variance led to immediate accusations of, you guessed it, bigotry, racism and any other ‘ism’ most suited at any particular moment to silence a dissenting opinion. In the end, I withdrew from discussion, marveling instead at the fine work academia, schools, mass media and our political class had done in placing beyond the pale the free, polite and logical exchange of views. Some sober thoughts emerged between mouthfuls of pudding and I’d like to share them with Quadrant Online readers.
- The Jesuits have long claimed that a child given unto their guidance until the age of seven will be theirs for life. How did it happen that we allowed our children to be instructed at government-run schools, wherein they are tirelessly indoctrinated in the Left’s ideological framework? Worse than that, why did we allow it to happen with barely a murmur of dissent?
- While we adults of older generations were exchanging views in the voice of reason (some of us anyway), how is that the propagandists of our school systems’ classrooms were allowed to inculcate no opinions and beliefs but their own. How is that even governments deferred to these chalk-dusted commissars of political correctness? Where did the Safe Schools programme come from and how was it allowed to spread everywhere? Why is that only the catastropharian view of climate change is taught, never balanced nor presented as but one perspective among a spectrum of views.
- While we were preaching to the converted — ie., each other — the Left was proselytizing and increasing its constituency everywhere, including via the imported beliefs of immigrants whose view of the relationship between creed and state are at odds with our secular liberties and political traditions.
- While we were proud to deal with facts and figures in our arguments, the Left traded in emotion and used all the manipulative techniques at its disposal to make those lessons stick.
- While we were talking in respectful whispers at civilized conferences, the Left was screaming their heads off on university campuses, which became hot-beds of radicalism and know-nothing nihilism.
- While we understood that democracy is the rule of law, to be honoured by so-called progressives and conservatives alike, the Left promoted mob rule and the howling down of those it knew to the fetid depths of its arrogance should not be allowed to be heard. The support for ‘unfreedom’ remains one of the Left’s articles of faith — a platform from which it is a surprisingly small step to dictatorship and tyranny.
- While we were telling all and sundry that people are responsible for their lives, the Left was fostering a nation of victims. Thus do see women, for example, taking loud 0ffence at what should be normal, civil discourse. A Quadrant contributor not so long wrote an article that incurred the wrath of social-media feminists; their response was not to request equal space, which would have been given, but to web-search the email address of his boss and blitz him an co-workers with slanders and demands that he be fired. He survived the assault but to this day remains shaken by the experience.
- While we were supporting the family as a cornerstone of civilisation, the Left advocated the concepts of ‘free love’, ‘if it feels good do it’, and ‘sex is as natural as drinking a glass of water’, bringing the institution of family close to extinction.
- While we were extolling freedom of speech as the most precious fruit of liberty’s tree, the Left has done its worst to shut it down with Section 18C, projecting a bogus bigotry onto its opponents for fear of open criticism of its inane fantasies and contempt for the common sense.
This list is far from complete and I am certain readers could extend it. The most depressing thought is that we have lost the battle of ideas to the heirs of Karl Marx, Leon Trotsky, Vladimir Lenin and Rosa Luxembourg. That these ideas have been discredited by universal failure and the rivers of blood they spawned matters not at all to their advocates. Winning matters. Control matters. Power for the sake of power matters.
So why is conservatism such a hard sell? Yes, as noted above, the Left’s long march through the institutions has placed its preachers in every pulpit, but there is another reason as well: conservatives are fighting the right war with the wrong tactics. Conservatives do not target such human failings as jealousy, envy, immediate gratification urges and the resentment of success. On a neurophysiological level, conservatives appeal to the pre- and frontal cortex, where the ability to reason resides. The Left, by contrast, appeals to the limbic system, which is responsible for emotions.
Am I suggesting that we should debase our principles by pandering to baser emotions? No, not at all.
What I am saying is that, rather than preaching to our own conservative choir, we need to fight for the truth — fight with the same gusto and determination that characterises the Left. That means teaching our young a real history of the world and of our country, in particular the irresponsibility of the Left and its awful consequences. Take the plight of some Aborigines, for example. We can no longer tolerate the glib simplicity of attributing violence and hopelessness to the First Fleet; rather, we need to highlight — to scream if necessary — that it is a result of a fostered culture of victimhood which denies personal responsibility and underwrites dysfunction with sit-down money and excuses.
To do this, we must confront the teachers and academics whose stock in trade are these and so many other intellectual toxins. Speak up and oppose, say, the Safe Schools agenda and, yes, sure as eggs you will be branded a homophobe, but so what? You’re not a homophobe and you know you’re not, so your conscience is clear. The enmity of the appalling, far from being a gag, should be worn as a badge of honour.
This year, 2017, marks the centenary of the Bolsheviks’ takeover in Moscow and the mass loss of human life and dignity that followed. My hope is that this date will be both a milestone and a cue to teach our young that the seemingly lofty ideas so beloved by the Left are nothing but the tools of slavery and oppression. The task, the necessity and, indeed, the destiny of a healthy conservatism is the inoculation of our young against the malignant virus of totalitarianism and its bodyguard of lies, which the Left spreads with every breath. The only way to do it is through active knowledge of true history.
Will mine be a cry in the wilderness? I hope not.
Dr Michael Galak and his family came to Australia as refugees from the Soviet Union in 1978