Latham in the closet

In this week’s Spectator, Mark Latham opens his Latham’s Law column with this statement: 

In as much as a quirky, irreverent magazine like The Spectator Australia has an ideology, it would be called conservative. In contributing to these pages, I’m here for the quirkiness, not the political template. I don’t get the whole ‘resistance to change’ thing. 

This sounds awfully like a Bill Clinton defence; “I did not have sex with this magazine”, or something similar. Gee, Mark! Come on— fess up. Don’t come the “I lit The Spectator but I did NOT inhale” bit. You’re with friends now. 

Latham goes on to say: 

I enjoy the scent of upheaval in society, the Hegelian dialectic by which old orders fall apart and new threads of progress arise. By definition, the political life of conservatives is problematic. Social change is inexorable, yet they have tasked themselves with holding out against history. Conservatism strikes me as akin to a shotgun wedding: wanting to be resolute and pure, but knowing that some changes are getting too big and obvious to handle. 

Of course the above analogy regarding a shotgun wedding could just as well refer to ‘socialism’ — which I presume Mark still supports, sort of. But is not Mark Latham better served by coming out of the closet and embracing his true, conservative self? Behind the gruff outer surface of this lifelong socialist, or as they like to be fashionably called nowadays — progressives — surely lurks the yen to be a true conservative. 

One of the hallmarks of a conservative is the desire to think as an individual rather than a group, and Mark Latham certainly thinks for himself. Ideas are not exclusive to either socialists or conservatives, but the better ones, ideas that help societies enrich people’s lives rather than theories to control them, seem, on the whole, to be conservative ideas. 

Peter Coleman points out in his Australian Notes section of the same magazine; “Latham’s ideas of hard work and self-help (‘the ladder of opportunity’), bridging workers and capitalism, helping children read, mentoring boys without fathers”, were part of Latham’s makeup. These notions, it seem to this reader, represent a fairly conservative approach to life which contradicts his claim to “enjoy the scent of upheaval in society …” 

One of the ironies of this country is that we live in the home of the oldest, longest running conservative society in the world. Nothing could be more conservative than the society of Aboriginal Australia which pre-dated white settlement. Nothing much changed in over 60,000 years. 

The curious thing about the country we live in today is that its social conscience didn’t start when a group of white-fellas sat under the ‘Tree of Knowledge” in dusty Barcaldine in 1891to ponder an “upheaval in society”. Rather social conscience began 100 years earlier when thousands of people landed on the shores of New South Wales and began to sort out what to do with their lives. They needed no socialists or progressives to do that. Welcome to conservative Australia! 

Latham says; “Social change is inexorable yet they [conservatives] have tasked themselves with holding out against history.” From this you would imagine that all progress in human society has been the work of socialists (sorry, progressives) but they’ve only been around for 120 years. What socialist/progressives fail to accept is that society works best when “change” is embraced rather that forced upon people. When some old customs are cherished and retained while others fall by the wayside. When people have the choice to decide for themselves what they want to do rather than being told what they have to do. 

The thrust of Mark Latham’s article wasn’t actually conservatism verses socialism, but rather the latest Green inspired political flummery — Gay marriage. The greatest non-issue of our age. 

Again, once the progressives take up a cause, those who have an opposing opinion get branded conservatives — the “holders-out against history”. But conservative Australia is more likely to be supportive of traditional marriage, as being a contract between a man and a woman, because through out history, that has been the way “marriage” is defined. Conservative Australia is more likely to suggest if homosexuals want to devise a form of bonding, that does not steal the status and historical custom of “man/wife” marriage, then it is up to the Gay lobby to devise such a contract for themselves. 

If conservatives were to suggest that traditional Aboriginal ceremonies, traditions and customs were to be changed by parliament, socialist/progressives would be in a frenzy. If conservatives were to suggest that traditions and customs of multicultural sections of Australian society were to have their customs and traditions subject to change by law, the progressives would turn into spitting vipers. Yet these progressives think nothing of sticking their noses into the business of defining marriage. Many people want the idea of marriage, between man and wife, respected. They have history and tradition on their side. 

Which gets us back to Mark’s comment, “Conservatism strikes me as akin to a shot-gun wedding: wanting to be resolute and pure, but knowing that some changes are getting too big and obvious to handle.” 

Come on Mark, admit it. Yell it out, “I’m a conservative”!

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