Just how dishonest, ignorant, self-obsessed, and delusional can the Australian left get? Consider some of its latest contributions to the intellectual and cultural life of Australia.
The recurring theme in these works is that Australia is a fascistic, totalitarian state, as we see in a collection of essays attacking the Howard government for systematically silencing dissent in Australia. Despite the contradiction inherent in such a claim, the contributors apparently picture themselves leading an ideological ‘resistance’ against the oppressive apparatus of the neo-fascist Australian state, perhaps emulating Antonio Gramsci and Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the antipodes. Regrettably for this heroic self-conceit they weren’t taken into custody, and continue their efforts to convert Australia into an ethically perfected socialist paradise run by people like themselves.[i]
And there’s the ongoing campaign against Keith Windschuttle, which consumes a great deal of energy that could have been better invested in the same sort of honest research that allowed Windschuttle to uncover the fabrication of Aboriginal history, with all its disastrous implications, not least for the Aboriginals themselves.
The most recent example of this uniquely Australian sub-genre of Windschuttle-bashing takes a set of impressionistic accounts of the Armenian genocide, the Japanese atrocities in China, the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews, Stalin’s purges in the Soviet Union, the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, and arranges them to culminate in Windschuttle’s book, as if these horrendous events were mere practice runs for the ultimate infamy – Windschuttle’s revelations about the bogus scholarship of eminent Australian historians! Particularly striking here is the author’s hyperbolic claim that all the ‘deniers’ of these events looked for inspiration to various fascistic father figures: Kemal Ataturk, the Emperor of Japan, Hitler, Stalin, Milosevic, and (wait for it!) … John Howard![ii]
And this leads us to a further contribution from the left. In yet another paroxysm of Howard-hatred the authors concerned invent a very telling oxymoron – ‘postmodern conservatism’ – to construct a demented tale about how the Howard government illegitimately took advantage of a series of international crises to not only get itself repeatedly re-elected by a benighted and gullible population but also contrived to “radically reshape Australian public life”, i.e., preside over an extended period of good government.
The authors here are so relentless in their hatred of Howard that they even invent a second oxymoron – ‘deep postmodernism’ – to artlessly demonstrate that they haven’t got a clue what they are talking about, as anyone who actually knows anything about postmodernism would immediately recognize.[iii]
This depressing trawl through the intellectual shallows of the left throws up another pathetic effort. This purports to be a comparative study of the ‘culture wars’ that broke out in America and Australia as people rejected the inanities of the sixties generation.
The standard to which this latest monstrosity descends can be measured by its many absurd claims, including the assertion that the high-rating television show Border Security – Australia’s Frontline “is akin to the Party-sanctioned two minutes of hate in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four … a contrived, yet compelling daily routine designed to whip people into a frenzy of contempt for the ‘enemy’ while exalting the strength and benevolence of Big Brother”. The author of this hyperbolic claim is clearly in touch with no known reality and apparently oblivious to the genuine criminality of people trying to cross Australia’s borders with drug-filled condoms in their stomachs or endangered species in their underwear. On the other hand, who else would our self-styled ‘progressives’ choose to defend?![iv]
Also looming large in this hysterical ideological mishmash are the ‘bogans’, ‘boganism’, ‘cashed up bogans’ (CUBs), and the ‘bogan culture’ that Howard was allegedly able to manipulate to ensure his re-election. This apparently crucial sub-culture had its origins, according to this book, in the 1980s and was best represented then by the television character ‘Kylie Mole’, and more recently by ‘Kath & Kim’ (the authors seem to have overlooked ‘Michelle & Ferret’). According to this laughable attempt at cultural analysis ‘Kylie’ represented the archetypal bogan as she was at school before she went on to achieve material success as the CUBs, ‘Kath & Kim’, with their attendant male counterparts.
According to this piece of cultural snobbery a typical example of the latter, “drives a customized or spec’ed up [sic.] Holden or Ford, cooks snags on a $3000 barbeque/outdoor kitchen, cools his beer in a double-door brushed chrome fridge and watches DVDs on a big plasma flat-screen TV”. As this passage indicates, this exercise in elitism positively pulsates with contempt for ordinary Australian people, especially the ‘Howard battlers’ who took advantage of the Howard years to make something of their lives in the thriving outer suburbs of our cities.
The writers of such work seem to have become so arrogant in their academic and ideological ascendancy that they feel no need to control their hyperbole, or get their facts right, their arguments in order, or their cases balanced. Above all, they perpetuate the intelligentsia’s contempt towards the working people of Australia, who dare to have their own ideas about how the country should be run and refuse to conform to the ideological expectations and demands of the left.
[i] Silencing Dissent, Clive Hamilton & Sarah Maddison (eds.)
[ii] Denial: History Betrayed, Tony Taylor
[iii] The Times Will Suit Them, Geoff Boucher & Matthew Sharpe
[iv] The Culture Wars, Jim George & Kim Huynh (eds.)