Editor's Column

Breaking O’Sullivan’s Law

O’Sullivan’s Law states that all organisations that are not explicitly right-wing will over time become left-wing. With all due respect to the law’s progenitor who was, of course, our former editor and is our current international editor, there is at least one shining exception to his rule. For sixty-eight years, Quadrant has remained true to the purpose for which it was founded. 

Created in 1956 in the depths of the Cold War, the fledgling magazine sought to defend the values and institutions of a free and open society against tyranny armed only with the words of its writers and poets. In those days the chief threat to freedom was a totalitarian creed that proudly styled itself as a dictatorship of the proletariat. These days, free societies such as Australia are under attack from within by an elite that seeks to impose a dictatorship of experts.

How this has happened is a cautionary tale. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was precious little acknowledgment by self-styled progressives that it was Quadrant that was on the right side of history and that they had been the apologists for Stalin’s show trials, the Holodomor, the gulags, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution. Instead, academic Marxists morphed into postmodernists who instructed students to “deconstruct” Western civilisation to expose its supposedly oppressive power structures, denigrate its achievements, deplatform its advocates, and demolish its works. We see their pernicious influence everywhere from the iconoclastic attacks on statues celebrating the extraordinary achievements of Enlightenment heroes such as Captain Cook to the rallies throughout the Western world calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.

Instead of respecting the equal value of all people and protecting the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual from the overreach of the state, today’s progressives champion identity politics and an alphabet soup of intersectional identities that has, regrettably, largely been adopted by the establishment. Thus, the assault on values comes from within institutions which, ironically, only exist because of the traditions of Western civilisation which they despise, in a democracy that they disrespect, funded by taxpayers who they deplore.

This “woke” ideology doesn’t just weaken the West internally, it empowers our enemies. Although the communist threat is now confined to China and a handful of other nations, China, Russia, Iran and North Korea have come together as a new “axis of evil” which was recently dubbed the Crinks and has been turbocharged by the dividends of China’s economic growth over recent decades. There is no doubt that the Crinks are actively and successfully fuelling the toxic ideology of self-loathing that is corroding the West.

Quadrant will continue to push back in these pages against this hydra-headed beast. This month’s lead article is written by emeritus professor Robert Clancy, an international authority on immunology and one of a small group of courageous doctors and scientists to speak up about the corruption of medical and pharmaceutical science in the Covid era. This is a shocking story about the suppression of cheap and effective off-patent treatments for Covid such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, but as Clancy warns it was just a rehearsal. Unfortunately, the WHO and its partners are seeking to shift decision-making from grass-roots medicine to international forces driven by power and financial reward.

Scepticism is at the heart of empirical study and the scientific method but it has become synonymous with denial and anathema in contested domains such as climate change. John O’Sullivan writes from America on the trial of Mark Steyn that concluded last week in which climate scientist Michael Mann sued Steyn for defamation. Steyn was not, of course, attacking Mann but the scientific validity of his hockey-stick graph purporting to show the correlation between rising temperature and carbon dioxide levels over the last 1000 years which underpins the UN’s case for catastrophic manmade global warming and a trillion-dollar industry in energy transformation. 

Scientific controversy has raged about the hockey stick with critics saying Mann used the wrong proxy to measure rising carbon dioxide, the wrong type of statistical analysis, cherrypicked data to “hide the decline” in temperature sets that contradicted his climate narrative, and refused to openly share the data on which the graph was based. After twelve long years, a jury has ruled that Steyn’s arguments caused a dollar’s worth of damage, but daring to denounce the holy hockey stick of catastrophic climate will cost Steyn a million dollars in punitive damages to deter climate “denialism”.

In one fell swoop the trial and its verdict are an assault on freedom of speech, democratic government and the scientific method. As Supreme Court Judge Samuel Alito wrote about the case, if citizens—whether scientists, the media, or the general public—“cannot speak freely and without fear about the most important issues of the day, real self government is not possible”.

Saul Kelly, Visiting Reader of International History at King’s College, London, writes a searing account of the outrage in academia when Bruce Gilley, a professor of political science at Portland State University, had the temerity to make the case for colonialism. Why did Gilley enrage the academy? Kelly writes that Gilley’s sin was “to point out, based on rigorous social scientific research, that many ex-colonies (especially in Africa) had been better off under European rule than under the post-independence governments”.

Michael Evans is deeply concerned that “the generation most likely to be called upon to lead the Australian armed forces in the danse macabre of any future major war” is woefully unprepared because of the inadequate professional education that the ADF provides them and which fails to prepare them for the demands of twenty-first-century warfare.

It is clear in Marc Hendrickx’s article that the racism inherent in identity politics that underpinned the Voice to Parliament has led to Australians being locked out of national parks such as Uluru, Mount Warning and the Grampians. Unfortunately, unless this policy is publicly exposed as inherently unfair, Australians risk being locked out of an increasing number of places of extraordinary beauty that should belong to all, not a favoured few.

Humour is the saving grace of civilised society and has always had a natural home at Quadrant. We are justly proud of our long association with the late Barry Humphries. Long before woke turned cross-dressing into a cudgel to bludgeon the unwary, Dame Edna Everage and her hilarious entourage turned a mirror onto Australians, mocking us mercilessly to our great delight. Les Patterson, cultural attaché to the Court of St James, made his debut on the cover of Quadrant in April 1977 giving his Historic Address to the British. Rowan Dean gives a wonderful account in this month of last laughs with Barry, and Dame Edna’s revenge.

Quadrant will continue to cultivate Australia’s best court jesters. We are delighted to give a regular berth to Tim Blair, the originator of Blair’s Law, defined by the Urban Dictionary as “the ongoing process by which the world’s multiple idiocies are becoming one giant, useless force”. We have had plenty of evidence lately of the immutable truth of this observation. The regular rallies of Greens and Hamas supporters have had their quota of Gays for Palestine in their midst who seem blissfully unaware that were Hamas to “liberate” Palestine, any visit that gays paid to the caliphate that replaced Israel would likely involve a trip to the top of the tallest building—not too many left at the moment—and a rather quicker journey down en plein air.    

We are also pleased to present Simon Collins’s Quad Rant, a cartoon inspired by the antics of academia which this month contemplates the fate on campus of “colonial” trees. Simon is also the author of a poem on page 9 in the style of Allan Sherman.

Under the stewardship of Keith Windschuttle, Quadrant has made an outstanding contribution to the cultural and intellectual life of Australia. His book on Cardinal George Pell was a tour de force, demonstrating his capacity to expose the distortions and lies to which Pell was subjected and reveal his innocence. His work on The Fabrication of Aboriginal History was decades ahead of its time and turned out to be the perfect preparation for him to lead Quadrant’s campaign against the Voice to Parliament. It will stand all Australians in good stead as attempts at “truth-telling” and the wholesale rewriting of our history proceed apace.

It is a great privilege to take on the mantle of editor from such a distinguished predecessor. I intend to remain true to the spirit in which Quadrant was founded and to offer you articles marked by intellectual courage and clarity from our best and brightest. Of course, the most important part of any magazine is you, the readers. I know that people have been stigmatised, isolated, defamed, cancelled and sacked merely for expressing the ideas that are defended on these pages. I hope to counter that by creating a community where the values of Western civilisation are cherished rather than despised and I look forward to increasing the opportunities to bring Quadrant readers together and to meeting you all.

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