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November 23rd 2017 print

Peter O'Brien

Winners? History Isn’t So Sure

Listen to any so-called progressive and, sooner or later, you're bound to hear the trite line that the other side of the argument isn't worth hearing because the tide of events will inevitable scuttle conservative positions. As Malcolm Turnbull demonstrates, it is a fatal mistake to accept and endorse that prognosis

t shirt IIOne of the more asinine charges leftists throw at conservatives is that they ‘are on the wrong side of history’. Thus, for example, do we so often hear CAGW true believers peddle this line when confronted with empirical facts and logical argument, such as the case recently put by Bjorn Lomborg regarding the futility of the Paris agreement.

Facts? Argument? Logic? Why bother with any of those when an argument can be “won”, at least by the standards and to the satisfaction of other leftists, by smugly dismissing those who disagree as being hopelessly out of step with changing times.

Opining on the same-sex marriage debate, Ben Esposito from Buzzfeed joined the throng of commentators pushing the ‘wrong side of history’ meme. And it is not just irredeemable activists for the progressive cause. Here is Chris Kenny, someone with whom I almost always agree: “On gay marriage Abbott was on the wrong side of history.”

Really, I despair.

‘The wrong side of history’ appears ad nauseam in any debate that pits progressives against conservatives, and is never more than intimidatory barracking, as in ‘You’re going to lose anyway so why not give up now and make it easier for all concerned’. It’s the unchanging overture to the symphony of triumphalist celebration which inevitably follows every gain for the progressive cause.

Malcolm Turnbull once was ‘on the right side of history’, according to media spruiker Michelle Grattan. As Zeg and Newspoll both agree, that is no longer the case.

zeg history

Alexander Kerensky wasn’t ‘on the right side of history’– Lenin Stalin and Trotsky were, the last soon finding himself on the wrong side of both history and an ice axe.

The imprisoned Adolf Hitler wrote Mein Kampf, which gained quite a bit of traction with the German people. The Austrian Corporal was ‘on the right side of history’, at least for a while.

There is no moral dimension to history.  The ‘right side of history’ just means the side that happens to be winning at any one moment. Sadly, as the Liberal Party’s bedwetting contingent so wetly demonstrates, there are too few defiant conservatives proud to declare themselves, rightly, on the ‘wrong’ side of history.

Comments [19]

  1. whitelaughter says:

    The 20thC was three way brawl between Fascism, Marxism and the Liberal Democracies – both the Marxists and Fascist claimed to be on the right side of history, and both were swept away. So the right side of history to be on – is the side that doesn’t make stupid claims about it.

  2. Keith Kennelly says:

    The 20 century wars were not just wars between German militarists, the left wing nazis and other socialists opposed by liberal democracies. They were according to James Burnham, symptoms of the emergence and domination of the ‘managerial elites’.

    He predicted the managerial elites would become a class of educated politicians, bureaucrats, corporate monopolists, media entities and academics who would become isolated from wage earners and entrepreneurs. They would talk to themselves, about things that interested them and ensure economy’s served them rather than the people.

    Isn’t that what we have today?

    He also predicted socialism was dead and that eventually the wage earners would combine with the entrepreneurs, uniting behind an entrepreneurial leader and defeat and oust the managerial elites.

    Think gay marriage, political correctness, global warming, ‘free’ trade, UN treaties, human rights, massive immigration programs, and overregulation by big government.

    These are the ideas and causes now pervading both left and right in western liberal democracies.

    Think Merkel, Turnbull, and other western leaders.

    Think also of Trump and his wage earning ‘democrat’ voters who elected him.

  3. Lacebug says:

    I’m a university educated right-wing conservative snob with an arts degree. I work in a creative industry as a writer. I drive a new Mercedes and live in the ‘progressive inner west’. . I don’t particularly like the working class. In fact; I’m not fond of them at all. Neither do I like the people who hang out in the chai tent at Marrickville markets singing kumbaya. I dislike islam intensely. where do i fit within this narrow analysis? Fascist, Marxist, Liberal Democrat?

    • Lacebug says:

      And i voted NO because I don’t like being told what to think.

    • Russell Potter says:

      As an Arts graduate, it might (or might not) interest you to know that when I was studying Engineering, we had a joke: “Q: what what did the Arts student say to the Engineering student? A: ‘would you like fries with that?’” (the idea, if an explanation is needed, being that the only usefulness of Arts degree, and the only jobs on offer, are to be found at McDonald’s)

      • Keith Kennelly says:

        Russell

        My son is from the ‘Dark Arts’ of engineering.
        Sadly fields other than engineering rarely require a period of a couple of years of practical application after the 5 odd years of the study of the theory of their profession. As you have done. The important professions do have this as a rigourous requirement before fully completing their training.

        The arts don’t but the arts used to ensure students learned to think … whereas today there is an attitude of teaching what to think.

        I dropped out of uni economics after a very short period because a lecturer tried to ram Keynesian economics down my throat. I’d already read Smith,The Austrian School, Marx, and Keynes.

        I since read the Classics, the great theologians, the great writer and thinkers from the west through the russians, other Europeans, some Mid East, some asiansnd the original scripts from the ancient Egyptians.

        I’ve done an apprenticeship in thinking.

        I’ve never served a hamburger to anybody and always respected those who do. I’ve never thought them arts graduates

        • Russell Potter says:

          Keith,

          Good for you: After finishing my Engineering degree, I started studying graduate Law (never completed due to an intervening ruptured cerebral aneurysm), and the contrast between the two couldn’t be starker.

          While Engineering was four years of 40 contact hours-a-week hard-slog, Law was a leisurely 12, ironically with associated aura of extraordinary, arrogant, smug superiority (from he first week the lecturer would tell us what an “elite” we were)

          And, as for the “Classics” of which you speak: I work as a systems programmer, which is all-consuming so, apart from daily doses of the “Australian” and “Quadrant”, I don’t have the time for such non-keyboard things: in this Internet age, I haven’t even read a book in 20-odd years!

      • Lo says:

        Really Russell, you didn’t have to explain.

      • Jody says:

        “Law, engineering, science; these are all noble pursuits and necessary for life – but music and poetry is what we live for”. (“Dead Poet’s Society”)

      • LBLoveday says:

        We, in the Mathematics Department, had signs above the toilet rolls “BAs – take one”.

    • Keith Kennelly says:

      Laceberg you are hanging onto the old labels.

      So to answer your question is complex.

      Firstly you don’t belong to any of the though you probably exhibit parts of attitudes of each.

      The point is the old classifications don’t fit the new political or social divisions of today.

      Today You are either managerial elite or not. You cannot be both.

      Here are the questions you could answer that would show where you’d pribably fit today

      Have you read or heard of James Burnham?

      Are you an entrepreneur with entrepreneurial attitudes toward the world?
      Are you a wage earner outside the media, bureaucracy, major corporations, academia or government, with a wage earners attitude to the world.

      Do you have empathy with both entrepreneurs and wage earners and their aspirations?

      If you don’t know the aspirations of both, then you are not aligned with them, even if you feel some of their desires are realistic and even admirable.

      If yes to all the above then you probably are not aligned wiith Burnham’s managerial elites.

      Or are your efforts funded either directly or indirectly by taxpayers, major corporations, academia or the media, and do you share or have sympathy For the managerial elites attitudes and their pet causes.

      They tend to see themselves as being the font of all knowledge and support the current social structures of big government big spending, high taxing and meddling in people’s lives.

    • Lo says:

      So what is it that you have that you are snobbish about? The Mercedes?

      • Jody says:

        I’ve got one and am loving it, and not an ‘entry level’ either. And I love talking to all people from the lowest of the low to the most brainy. Because everybody has something of value to say. Here’s something for you to be getting along with – those of you with an Arts degree: (thank god for Shakespeare, Pope, Milton, Austen, Eliot, Dryden, Wilde, James et. al.) Please don’t make jokes about a person with an arts degree who has a consistent Distinction grade average and post-graduate degrees, for which I worked extremely hard: how many of you know about the genesis of this symphony? Have you read Tolstoy or studied and play Beethoven? I couldn’t live without either:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDNucEHy5xo

        • Keith Kennelly says:

          Ahhh Tolstoy especially his short stories.
          But Leskov was far far better but despised because he wasnt ‘educated’.

          In Russia Leskov was as popular and as widely read and loved by the people almost as much as Henry Lawson

      • Keith Kennelly says:

        No merc, A3, T180 or as my mechanic says, souped up vw and Australian built Adams 31, oceangoing of course.

  4. Keith Kennelly says:

    To all those who have pointed out the nasty exchanges in this forum.

    Take note of Jody’s maliciousness.

    This is where the nastiness starts.

    Jody

    It is only incoherent to those who don’t appreciate the finer things in life.

    Ie. Just so you can understand, it is not the owning of the objects themselves but the finer value ode the pleasure one derives from appreciating others pleasures.

    See what you are missing.

  5. Jody says:

    Jordan Peterson; absolutely priceless but right on the mark. He calls it out: AGAIN

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjfClL6nogo

    • Jody says:

      Hilarious Jordan-ism:

      Universities = ‘pleasure island’
      Tinker Bell = “the fairy of porn”
      Captain Hook = “the king of lost boys”

      But you definitely need a sense of humour!