Counteroffensive on the Western Front

sack of rome IIThere’s no doubt that Western liberal democracies such as Australia, the UK, France, Germany and the United States are under attack.  In Melbourne and Sydney Islamic extremists have killed innocents, and the Islamization of the UK and Europe is leading to ethnic ghettos and home-grown terrorism.

Given such threats the recent decision to establish a foundation to champion Western civilisation, funded by a bequest from the late entrepreneur Paul Ramsay and chaired by John Howard, is significant and timely.

As I argue in The Culture of Freedom whether it is the enemy within, preaching political correctness, identity politics and victimhood, or the enemy without, represented by Islamic terrorism, our way of life is facing an existential threat.

The traditional academic curriculum has been replaced by a rainbow alliance of radical Neo-Marxist, postmodern and gender theories in which Cardinal Newman’s ideal of a education championing “freedom, equitableness, calmness, moderation, and wisdom” is condemned as elitist, inequitable and obsolete,

As noted by the American academic Christopher Lasch, universities are no longer committed to independent critical inquiry “as it is no longer necessary to argue with opponents on intellectual grounds or to enter into their point of view.  It is enough to dismiss them as Eurocentric, racist, sexist, homophobic – in other words as politically suspect”.

Only this month American students at Middlebury College in Vermont violently disrupted a speech by Charles Murray, an academic who argues that genetics play a powerful role in academic performance, chanting “Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Charles Murray go away!”

In England a report by the Adam Smith Institute based on the fact that “50% of the general public supports right-wing or conservative parties compared to 12% of academics” concludes “individuals with left-wing and liberal views are overrepresented in British academia”.

Australian universities, with the occasional exception, are not immune.  In his 1996 Boyer Lecture the ANU academic Pierre Ryckmans bemoaned how universities had also been captured by the cultural-left. After noting one incident where a young academic attacked a speaker, describing him as elitist and bourgeois for daring to make judgements of relative value and worth, Ryckmans concludes “to deny the existence of objective values is to deprive the university of its spiritual means of operation”.

More recently, John Carroll from LaTrobe University details how the cultural-left uses “neo-Marxist categories of exploitation and oppression to find ‘victims’ of their own country’s mendacity – so Australia becomes racist, cruel to refugees, misogynist, homophobic and increasingly riven by inequality.  The tropes endure, with Islam the current exploited and oppressed repository of virtue”.

The school curriculum has also been captured and is being used to promote identity politics and cultural relativism.  Students are told they must embrace diversity and difference and that all cultures must be equally acknowledged and celebrated. Except when it comes to Asian and Indigenous cultures that are given priority at the expense of Western civilisation — especially Judeo-Christianity, where in subjects like history, literature, art and music its treatment is scanty and superficial. As noted by the literary expert Barry Spurr the result is that while students get to study the contribution of Indigenous Australians there is little, if any, recognition of the central importance of the Western literary canon. Greg Melleuish, from the University of Wollongong, is also critical when he argues that the history curriculum does not give enough “importance to the place of Western civilisation in world history, especially over the past two hundred years”.

At the very time Western, liberal democracies are being undermined from within they are also being threatened by Islamic fundamentalism, currently best represented by Islamic State.  Extreme interpretations of the Koran, as detailed by Ayaan Hirsi Ali in The Heretic, are committed to destroying Western nations by establishing an Islamic caliphate and sponsoring acts of terrorism. Incidents like 9/11, the Bali bombings, the attack on the office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the subsequent 2015 attacks in Paris and the genocide against Coptic Christians in Egypt represent a concerted campaign to destroy what the Koran describes as “the unbelievers”.

While the overwhelming majority of Muslims are peaceful and law abiding it is also true that there are elements of the Koran that are hostile to our way of life.  Fundamentalist Islam denies women the freedoms and liberties we take for granted and there is no division between church and state.

Unlike Western civilisation, where Christianity and historical movements such as the Reformation and the Enlightenment have led to the freedoms and liberties we now take for granted, Islam is not as accommodating.

Proven by Islamic terrorism and the cultural-left’s political correctness movement there is much to be done to strengthen and defend Western civilisation against enemies foreign and domestic and the establishment of the Ramsay Foundation provides a beacon of hope.

Kevin Donnelly is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Catholic University and author of The Culture of Freedom, available from the Institute of Public Affairs


21 thoughts on “Counteroffensive on the Western Front

  • Julian says:

    This is fantastic news. On another note, Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind was/is still one of the best texts I’ve seen in fighting our prevailing Leftist relativism and supporting the Western tradition.

    Side note #2 – I first encountered Kevin Donnelly’s writings at teachers’ college, where his writing was used as an example of what not to do and think -however, obviously considering the state of tertiary ed, Kevin’s writing was one of the few things of substance worth reading. Keep up the good work.

    • Olihamcam@hotmail.com says:

      I also first encountered Kevin Donnelly studying a teaching degree. He was presented, as you say, as an example of what not to do and think. He was compared to Spady, who was the “correct” example. I was totally ignorant about the material presented, however I remember being confused as I agreed with Donnelly’s position. It was my first year at uni and didn’t know I could disagree with the lecturer. The material wasn’t presented as a discussion point but established fact to new uni students undertaking a teaching degree.

      • Salome says:

        I think it goes without saying that, in such an ‘intellectual’ environment, on this point at least you couldn’t disagree with the lecturer without bringing all manner of destruction on your academic hopes. I hope you’re teaching now–I expect you’d be a good teacher.

      • Julian says:

        Exact same situation happened to me Mon Ami. I assumed that these “enlightened” professors obviously knew more than me and that Kevin Donnelly was obviously a heretic. I was later to learn that I’d stumbled into that postmodern, leftist, relativistic poor excuse for an institute we call the current Western t university.

    • rpickers says:

      Weirdly I first read Bloom in 1988 in China. It was recommended to me by a classic liberal [in the American sense] American professor who was teaching there on exchange at the same time. That was before postmodernism and the PC scourge had really taken off in universities, and when both the liberal left and sensible conservatives could speak the same language based on shared classical liberal [in the usual sense] values.
      Try recommending Keith Windshuttle to education students now and see their lecturers’ responses. Wasn’t a school education person myself, but used to enjoy quoting The Killing of History – and later his Fabrication to ‘educationalists’ just to annoy them. If I was still in the game I’d make The Breakup of Australia required reading – and ask students to argue the issues not just repeat the prejudices they think will get them the best marks.
      As an undergraduate honours student way back last century my best lecturer was an acknowledged Marxist [European theoretical Marxism rather than the British Hobsbawm or EP Thomson empirical variety] who insisted on sound arguments and marked assignments rigorously and without political bias. He was probably tougher on those who shared his views than on those who didn’t.
      But that was an age ago when critical thinking was central to any arts discipline.

      • Julian says:

        Cool, cool. I was lucky enough to come across a good Australian philosophy teacher who was a PhD student of a student of Bloom’s teacher, the famous Mr Strauss. This opened up a whole new path of real intellectual depth and enquiry (as opposed to the

      • Julian says:

        Cool, cool. I was lucky enough to come across a good Australian philosophy teacher who was a PhD student of a student of Bloom’s teacher, the famous Mr Strauss. This opened up a whole new path of real intellectual depth and enquiry (as opposed to the current post-modern nonsense which has, as we all know, unfortunately infected a generation or 2 of students and then thus the surrounding media, society, academy again, and the Political class (the Left side of, obviously, but even the Liberal party isn’t totally immune – see, Turnbull, etc). I consider myself extremely lucky and fortunate to have had this path of Natural Right and classical scholarship opened up for me, as it gives one intellectual support and depth with which one can counter the sophistry of the post-modern left;,however, when one works in education and is surrounded by it, it becomes a lonely existence. Another person I’ve enjoyed is Victor Davis Hanson – it’d be nice to see him in Australia one day.

        • mburke@pcug.org.au says:

          Victor Davis Hanson is compulsory reading for me. I’m on his mailing list. Sadly, another favourite of mine, Thomas Sowell, has retired, although he has broken that a couple of times in recent weeks. We are also fortunate that Anthony Daniels (Theodore Dalrymple) is a frequent contributor to Quadrant.

  • Brett_McS says:

    “The West’s liberal democracies … are also threatened by Islamic fundamentalism”.

    The threat will only grow while we tolerate the intolerant in the name of liberalism.

    Could I suggest a specific project for this new foundation? Let it explain why a ban on Muslim immigration is both the right thing to do and consistent with liberalism. (Egads, could Pauline Hanson be right!?!?!) Perhaps start by imagining if we had banned, not average people from the Soviet Union, but members of the Communist Party. Imagine if we had banned, not German citizens, but members of the Nazi Party. Now imagine that we ban, not people from the Middle East, but members of a supremacist, anti-liberal, hate-filled ideology determined on conquest that is as bad or worse than Communism or Naziism.

    It’s easy if you try.

  • bemartin39@bigpond.com says:

    The above is nothing less than we would expect from Kevin Donnelly.

    Nevertheless, there is a serious error in his assessment of the threat of Islam to western civilisation, shared by several other equally well respected people addressing the issue. Kevin writes “… liberal democracies are being undermined from within they are also being threatened by Islamic fundamentalism, currently best represented by Islamic State.” The existential threat is not by violent jihadists but by the cultural jihadists skillfully paving the way in western societies for the eventual takeover by Islam. Consider all the special privileges and concessions already enjoyed by Muslims living in western democracies, while the activists continue to claim victimhood and clamour for even more favouritism which is so readily granted to them by supine, politically correct western governments, ever inclined to punish their own non-muslim citizens for simply questioning islamic values and practices. Add Muslim immigration to that and the fact that they outbreed the host society by a number of factors, also that an ever increasing number of western politicians already vigorously court the Muslim vote, and it becomes inescapably obvious that one western nations after another will eventually elect islamist governments and conquered those countries by democratic means. Think of the democratically elected Muslim mayor of London. All the peaceful Muslims are foot soldiers in this impending conquest, whether they realise it or not. This is the real scenario of the peril of Islam for the west, not terrorism.

    • Brett_McS says:

      Indeed, it’s a race between integration into western ideas, which leave fundamentalist Islam out in the cold, and demographics. If the demographics outpace the integration then western ideas will be depreciated through the political process. Halting, or significantly reducing, Islamic immigration will tip the balance in favour of integration.

  • Jody says:

    My son tells me he has been watching Kenneth Clark’s outstanding series “Civilization” (from the early ’70s) and in one program Clark maintained that the way in which a society treated and depicted its women was a measure of its civilization!!

    • mburke@pcug.org.au says:

      What a marvellous series that is! We sat glued to our screen at the time, and I’ve often wondered why it has never, to my knowledge, had a rerun at an accessible time and place.

  • Keith Kennelly says:

    In that case the greatest civilisation was the Egyptian and the worst, Judaism, Christian until the enlightenment and Islam.

    • Brett_McS says:

      Hardly. The Australian aborigines (and probably most tribal societies) treated their women worse than their dogs – and they didn’t treat their dogs well, either.

  • gardner.peter.d says:

    While waiting for an appointment this morning I read an article in a magazine about exploring Mars. Apparently there are no little green men there after all.This caused a great depression to hang over me today. Until then I had been quite optimistic that we would soon discover more intelligent beings who would to come down and take charge here, since we are clearly not capable of organising our life on earth properly ourselves. What are we to do now?

  • gardner.peter.d says:

    Several books have sought to understand why successful nations, countries, civilisations fail. There are common themes, well summarized by Niall Ferguson: decay of their institutions. There are many institutions but at the root of most societies is the family, now in decay in the West. Another book recounting the history of the English, in one passage covering the 1960s onwards covered in rapid succession, feminism, declining rates of marriage, increasing rates of unwanted pregnancies, abortion, single parenthood, divorce, gay marriage, increasing violence, declining free speech. The question of Sharia immediately came to mind. The process is like this: marriage is demoted to trivial relevance, it no longer means anything other than co-habitation, there is no longer connection with bringing up children, then an increasing number of Muslims by-pass the laws of their host countries to adopt Sharia for their own marriages, there is no need to register a civil marriage, and thus polygamy enables all their wives to qualify for public housing, single parent allowances (for three out of the four – normally a single mother is liable to close scrutiny including inspections of the bedding to ensure there is no co-habitation before single parent allowances are paid, no problem for these three but it is for most monogamous single parents), free state education for their average 12 children to the one father, free medical treatment and a host of in-work and other benefits. If working, each wife is entitled to maternity leave, and extra for single parents. The state is under no obligation to recognise these relationships as marriages and confers no advantage were it to do so – because now any relationship of cohabitation counts as married for the purposes of state administration. Neither is the polygamy illegal because they are not civil marriages. This last is true in Australia as well as in UK, from where most of my specifics come.

    I don’t know how well this avenue of taking over Western democracies is recognised in the West. It is certainly recognised by Islamic leaders, whether extreme or not, and is one of the main reasons they encourage Muslim immigration. After all, it is quite legitimate. To take over a democracy all you need is numbers.

  • Keith Kennelly says:

    Gardner. Peter D

    Don’t pray.

    You’d likely only attract a homosexual priest paedophile.

  • Tony Thomas says:

    Kevin may be in error saying the overwhelming majority of Muslims in the West are peaceful and law abiding. When polled in Europe, UK and US, the Muslim communities turn out to be about a quarter comprising fundamentalists, maybe 1/4 to 1/2 wanting sharia law and 5% or so supportive of violent jihads in various guises. see https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/qed/2017/01/reporting-islam-approved-way/
    The US results are mentioned in my piece on ABC’s 7.30 Report a week ago. They are similar.
    I’m not aware of equivalent polls in Australia.

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