QED

The Battle is Over. The Bad Guys Won

Recently, Coalition senators voted with One Nation to pass a motion put by Senator Pauline Hanson that called for the government to eject Critical Race Theory (CRT) from the national education curriculum. This echoes a flurry of state-level legislation in the US currently being considered or already passed.

The immediate response from the Australian Left was to scream, hyperventilate and simultaneously claim that:

1/ Critical Race Theory doesn’t exist,

2/ Even if it did exist it isn’t being taught in Australian schools, and

3/ Even if it is being taught in Australian schools it’s essential and the only possible moral way to view Australian history and society. So shut up, you racists.

It’s always nice to watch lefties go frantic as they play their little definition and re-definition games, furiously shifting goalposts when they suspect that they’ve gone too far and the stupid proles might be paying a little too much attention. Senator Hanson has made an entire career over triggering such outbursts. Sadly, this time lefties don’t have much to worry about because the main problem with efforts to ban CRT is that they won’t work. It’s far, far too late for that. The objectionable ideas and worldview of the Left constitutes the dominant belief system of almost everyone in a position of power or influence in the institutions that decide what our culture considers “normal” and what it doesn’t.

The battle is over. The bad guys won.

“Ban” CRT all you like, but the ideas will still be taught by practically every educator, from primary schools all the way to postgrad studies. They might call it something else (in fact they already do) and absolutely nothing any currently elected politician is proposing will make much of a difference.

How did we get here? How did an absurd and hateful worldview most Australians would have scorned — indeed, laughed at — just 30 years ago somehow become so entrenched in the cultural elite’s commanding heights that, even if you somehow managed to stop your local school from teaching it to your kids, they would still likely absorb it through pop-culture osmosis?

The answer comes from the fundamental misunderstanding amongst nearly all Australian’s of conservative bent (and, to be fair, some small chunks of the Left) about where power actually lies and how societies are changed. Consider the  federal Coalition, which has been in power for most of the last quarter century. During this period state governments have tended only slightly towards the left, with significant churn back and forth. The government of NSW, our most populous state, has been overseen by at least a nominally right-of-centre government for the last decade. Theoretically, you would think that, with the Right being so clearly favoured over the Left at the ballot box, Australia’s cultural landscape would have moved at least slightly in that direction (or at least not drifted further leftwards). Yet even to the most half-asleep observer it is gobsmackingly apparent that this has not been the case.

Why on earth should this be so? Clearly, the majority of the population that makes up the Australian voting public is quite happy with right-of-centre ideas, otherwise they wouldn’t keep voting for them. While there has been significant electoral drift in certain areas, such as Victoria, in part due to migration, this shouldn’t have caused such a dramatic cultural-left shift. Recently arrived migrants seem slightly insulated from the general leftward shift of the culture, something indicated by the fact that the gay marriage plebiscite was voted down in Labor-voting migrant-heavy electorates.

In this case demographics appear not to be destiny. Conservatives tend to have larger families. If the old maxim of “the hand the rocks the cradle rules the world” were true you would also be expecting a slow rightward drift. Time after time, statistics show the further left one is politically, the greater the tendency  not to replace oneself through the production of progeny. So the question remains: where are all these new leftists coming from?

Some might dismiss the matter by noting the young are always more likely to lean left, and that children have a tendency to rebel against their parents. The former is a distinctly recent — and, historically, rather an upper-class phenomenon — while the latter ignores the overseas experiences of fecund conservatives gradually outnumbering leftist hedonists in places like Israel and Turkey. In light of these examples (and many others), such excuses sound more like explanations after the fact than any iron rule of history.

The answer is obvious. For over half a century, conservatives have gone to the trouble and expense of having children and sending the best and brightest of them (in ever-increasing numbers) to be tutored by publicly funded activists representing the furthest-left five percent of the population. This has led to the current situation where an intelligent young person cannot hope for a position amongst the political or cultural elite of society without a piece of paper proving that they have spent years being taught that everything their parents believe is not only wrong, but evil.

Voting alone won’t do anything to fix this.

As an exercise, imagine a fantasy world in which Mark Latham proves himself the masterful political operator Pauline Hanson clearly isn’t and gains massively at the next NSW state elections. Imagine an even more fantastical world where One Nation manages to win enough seats to govern NSW in its own right and Mr Latham becomes premier on a platform of reforming the NSW education system by dismantling the current matrix of indoctrination. I won’t present a theoretical where the Liberal and National parties do such a thing; some scenarios are beyond the realm of even the most vivid imagination.

This imaginary One Nation government immediately implements a wider-scale version of Mr. Latham’s recently rejected bill to give parents, rather than teachers, the right to teach their children about not only matters pertaining to sex but issues of race and politics as well. What we would see is an education system expected and obliged to focus on the three Rs, with teachers subject to dismissal via act of parliament should they demur. The education unions would shut down the schools but the overwhelming wave of popular opinion in this imaginary world which brought Latham to power forces them to eventually buckle under.

Then what? The teachers overwhelmingly still believe the things they have been told not to teach. Eventually,  a new government is elected and educators will be free to do exactly as they did before (and probably with twice the fervour). Every trained teacher has been educated in the same universities where the theories you’re trying to stamp out came from in the first place. Who wouldn’t expect them to revert the moment the coast is clear?

And it gets worse. A substantial minority of the parents has also been taught the same political lines as the teachers and they, too, will also resist any change. The majority of journalists, lawyers, doctors, political staffers, social workers and other professionals have also been taught the same worldview. Some have rejected it, of course, but most will see it as at least a valid point of view. The entire elite establishment would be working actively or passively to overturn the democratic decision of the deplorable plebs who, simple as they are, don’t know what is best for them.

Egged on by extreme left groups, their cheerleaders in the press amid applause from their professors, university students would likely be herded by anarchist and Trotskyist groups into “spontaneous” protests and a simulacrum of the mass mob violence and destruction seen recently in the US — all excused, of course, by a media that would never, not even for a second, countenance similar lawlessness from the right.

And just say some of the teachers take the government to court? As anyone who has had any familiarity with the wider Australian legal fraternity can tell you, the ideas and cosmologies that make up the ideological backdrop to CRT are possibly more prevalent amongst activist learned friends than anywhere else (outside your local public high school common room of course).

“Banning” Critical Race Theory means nothing because legislative bodies are only one of the institutions that define the culture of a society. Democratic votes don’t actually mean anything unless the universities (and the other institutions staffed by the elites they train) agree. It may come as news to parents, but it is generally understood within the industry that the fundamental principle of the modern Australian education system is that the content taught is decided by education academics and bureaucrats, not democratically elected representatives.

With respect to the classical liberals amongst us, it’s time for the right to realise what the left grasped at about the time Antonio Gramsci was staring at the roof of his prison cell. The marketplace of ideas might be a fine thing, but if you’re trying to set up a lemonade stall next to a Bunnings when Bunnings is giving away free lemonade you’re going to lose.

Institutions matter more than arguments, and if you’re not willing to support a slow “soft purge” of people who disagree with you while making damn sure you’re replacing them with people who do, then you can pass all the bills in the world and it won’t make an iota of difference to the direction of the country. Gramsci understood this, as it what the Left has been doing in a sometimes unconscious, sometimes coordinated, fashion for almost a century now: making sure that for every conservative who retires (or is forced out, a la Geoffrey Blainey) there is a leftist replacement in the wings. It worked. They’ve won.

Efforts to ban the teaching of  CRT both here and overseas get conservatives and other right-of-centre sorts very excited, if only because the manic and sometimes hilariously hysterical reaction from the Left makes us assume that such efforts are effective. After all, the banning of CRT has some of the worst people in our society (Greens, for example) screaming like a snake bit them, so surely some serious damage must have been done?

Sadly no. The damage is negligible, and histrionics are part of the Left Establishment’s business model. Even our fantasy Mark Latham-led government could do no better than to slow them down. Putting a scratch in the paintwork of a Mercedes might make the owner furious, but it doesn’t affect the ability of the car to take a corner.

Thankfully the first step towards actually slowing down what has become an ever-accelerating juggernaut of bad ideas has been taken. By supporting the rejection of CRT some right-of-centre types seem finally to have signalled a faint awareness that ideas are much more than products in a marketplace, they are weapons on a battlefield. The next realisation is figuring out that the battlefield is not level, and that not only is the high ground of the presiding institutions occupied by the enemy, but that we pretty much let them conquer it unopposed.

The step after that is using fire against fire. That will be the hard one. People as accustomed to losing as are those of the Australian right will take a lot of convincing that the point of a culture war is to win it, not just to lose while being a jolly good sport.

L.S. Bergin is a former soldier and teacher. His hobbies include fishing, football, and watching the ever-loopier progression of Australia’s far Left

19 comments
  • ArthurB

    Re the “immediate response from the Australian Left”: I am reminded of the response of Ronnie Kray who, when accused of assault, replied (a) “I never ‘it ‘im” (b) ” ‘e deserved it” (c) “I didn’t ‘urt ‘im’ “.

  • DougD

    The most depressing piece I have read in Quadrant. But Bergin is probably correct.

  • Patrick McCauley

    We will learn to be invaded and live beneath society in the underground like revolutionaries – in the outback where the madness of CRT and LGBTI Gender theory – together with other forms of the hatred of mankind – fizzle out under the demands of nature and home schooling. We will wait for a full frontal attack after their decadence weakens them – in a generation – in the meantime we must continue to conduct guerrilla raids on every crack we can find = from the exposure of Pascoean hoaxes to the Tasmanian fight between the lesbian nightclub and the penised pretenders.We must find new language and new ideas to defeat this monstrous new fascist and racist left wing orthodoxy. The teachers are (and have been for quite awhile) the enemies of the people.

  • Alistair

    I don’t agree with this analysis. It requires too much of a stretch in the definition of “Conservative” Firstly it needs to be acknowledged that the First Culture War – between the “Conservatives” and the “liberals”, was lost in around 1750. We ended up with a fantasy period called the Enlightenment The Second Culture War, between the “liberals” and the “socialists” was lost years ago – in Australia perhaps even before Gough Whitlam, when the Enlightenment morphed into Postmodernism. Anyone who equates the Abbott / Turnbull / Morrison governments with “Conservatism” is dreaming. The idea that they are in any way even “liberals” is ludicrous. – they are small-s socialists to the core. While the political institutions in Australia are dominated by socialists, the grundnorm hovers between liberal and socialist.
    Bergin is correct – the bad guys won.
    But … looking at the trends in the USA, I suggest a new Third Culture War is brewing – between the socialists and the technocratic oligarchs. The Oligarchs have discovered that you can install a dementia patient in the White House and a insane pseudo Marxist as Vice President, and nobody of importance even notices, let alone objects. The socialists are going to have their “democracy” stolen from them too!

  • Michael

    Sad, but true, and well put. A problem, especially with politicians, and even more especially those in government, is that they always think the government should do something, egged on by grievance monger activists. Hence they are all small-s socialists. Because, as Thomas Sowell put it, “Some people seem to think that the answer to all of life’s imperfections is to create a government agency to correct them. If that is your approach, then go straight to totalitarianism.”

    A puppet president.

  • wdr

    The problem is that Scott Morrison doesn’t take the Culture Wars seriously, or probably even know about them beyond a very low level of awareness. He could save hundreds of millions by drastically cutting the ABC’s budget, which would cure a large part of the disease. John Howard and Tony Abbott understood this- Morrison doesn’t. He has his points, but ideological sophistication isn’t among them.

  • RB

    The author is right.
    A colleague from Denmark advised me to laugh at it all, to consider it entertainment, Monty Pythonesque if you will as the only way to survive. I fear he is right and I shall join the never-ending parade of old men shaking their fists at the sky bemoaning what it is all coming to.
    I shall be in decent company.

  • Lonsdale

    No, don’t be afraid. Screw them!

  • gary@erko

    We don’t know how this ends. Will it end. It’s scary. It has to end or we’re toast,.
    We might be toast, rotted from the insides. At mid 70s should I just watch it for another score years, free of much of it as a retired suburban virtual hermit, or hope for a more soon departure. Can it be turned around – what did it take to turn around the Queen Mary.

  • ianl

    >”We ended up with a fantasy period called the Enlightenment” [Alistair, above]

    Nope. The Enlightenment is the only period where superstitious fantasy was forced to retreat. Now it’s back (the fantasy bit).

    What does puzzle me is why this ugly, nonsense collectivism is so appealing to the self-appointed “elite”. One can posit many reasons of self-interest, but it is guaranteed that asking them only elicits the epithet “You’re a cynic !”, which is designed to kill the exchange.

  • Stephen Due

    What is ‘classical liberalism’ and how is it relevant in Australian politics today?
    The term ‘classical’ is ambiguous – it might refer to the conservative British liberal position that emerged in the 18th century or it might refer to conservatives who trace their philosophical roots back to ancient Greece and Rome. Either way, it is a pagan (if not expressly anti-Christian) position. On the positive side, it supports traditional civil liberties, small government (?) and free (?) markets.
    I do not see the leading conservative voices in Australia as ‘classical liberals’. Some like to use this label, but in practice many are more akin to socialists who want to distance themselves from the totalitarian propensities of the mainstream socialist movement. Realistically, it would be impossible to have significant political influence in Australia today without adhering to a socialist agenda that includes big government, multiculturalism, state-controlled education, and the therapeutic state.
    My personal view is that the roots of the Liberty that we should value as a free people – the Liberty that was encoded in the US Constitution, betrayed by the leaders of the French Revolution, and later symbolised in the iconic statue in New York harbour, is a product of the European Reformation. If the foundational support provided the Christian worldview is removed, by de-Christianising the culture of the West, the edifice of liberalism collapses under its own weight.
    If ‘classical liberalism’ is really classically pagan (thus ‘multicultural’ or ‘secular’) then it lacks the intellectual framework necessary to oppose socialist totalitarianism, which is its true opponent. To use another popular metaphor, the reason liberals are ineffective today is that they have sawn themselves off from the trunk of the tree on which they were once a flourishing branch.

  • Stephen Due

    Apologies – need dash after ‘New York harbour’.

  • Daffy

    The battle cannot be won by legislation, as encouraging and helpful as that might be. The battle is intellectual and those who want conservative outcomes ( that is those which conserve liberty, freedom of conscience, etc.) will need to battle intellectually. CRT is an easy starting point. It is not critical, it is not a theory and is not about that figment ‘race’. Rather it is the latest concontion of a meaningless string of words to be spewed out of the Frankfurt School word grinder in an effort to reward the intellectually lazy with a feel good trope.

  • Elizabeth Beare

    This chain must be broken at souce: within the universities, because it is from there that the future opinion makers and educators will be drawn, resulting in the dog’s breakfast of the cross-core school curriculum which inserts Marxism into every subject. Better teachers need to be raised from scratch as many of the current lot have drunk the Kool-aid of the left. History should be the first discipline to be reclaimed with colonialism and imperialism reviewed in some postive lights to counter the total negativity of the left. The rise of the West should become a central topic, as long as the West is treated as producing freedom and scientific investigation at its core and producing an individualist culture now widely adopted internationally. Socialism should be taught as the communism that it really is, with death counts being attributed. The current dominance of Marxist post-modernism will not depart our culture until it is removed from history. Sociology is a lost cause now; it is full of tenured lgbti academics and writings, which will diminish in significance as the culture elsewhere, with a more honest world perspective, moves on. English literature might still be reclaimed. Psychology – well, it was never much good but it may yet redeem itself. 🙂

  • Rebekah Meredith

    Teachers will not be hired unless they have the necessary letters behind their names, and it’s jolly hard for any decent person to get such letters, because of all the rubbish they have to put up with. I have a friend at UWA who wanted a degree as an English teacher. As a Christian, she simply could not continue the course because of the filth she was required to read. She’s changed to maths–not what she wanted (and a lot less useful if a person were attempting to alter society); but that’s what she had to do.

  • Ian MacKenzie

    I think the author is partly right.
    Having heard the case for the prosecution, I submit two case studies for the defense. The first is Brexit. This is a case whereby ordinary British citizens were able to undo decades of elitist empire building in a single plebiscite. Granted it then took a long fight to complete the process, but the EU institutions are gone from the UK, just as the British public wanted.
    The second case study is the US Supreme Court. By publishing a list of black letter jurists who might be appointed and sticking to that list, Trump changed the Court for a generation. Again, admittedly, he subsequently didn’t get all the decisions he might have wanted, but imagine how much worse it could have been otherwise.
    The common factor in both these cases of institutional change for the better was committed politicians who articulated their strongly held beliefs and then followed through when the opportunity presented itself. Sadly, the only strongly held beliefs with any chance of access to power in Australian politics are those of the Left. One day we’ll get some Coalition leaders with convictions and courage, but not yet it seems.

  • brandee

    Bergin is correct, the bad guys won but they won incrementally, little by little over many years. The conservatives never rolled back any revolutionary increment!
    Sure it may have been difficult to roll back the ‘Dawkins Reform’ and re-establish Colleges of Advanced Education where master teachers taught new teachers. Now those at university, the dreamy Utopian revolutionaries, who could never teach a class of beginners, now talk about ideas for teachers to tech beginners.
    Even at this stage neither Abbott, Turnbull, or Morrison or their Federal education ministers or the state education ministers have rolled back the Gillard inclusion that was put into the curriculum to teach across all school subject environmentalism and aboriginal culture.
    Former Liberal John Ruddick has left that Party for the Liberal Democrats because he was unable over 20 years to reduce the power of the ‘wet’ faction who control preselections and who give power to those such as we now have. Remember how departing PM Turnbull maneuvered Morrison to replace him as PM rather than have Peter Dutton who was the one with the courage to move against the incompetents.

  • Mark

    At least the author realises that universities — the Humanities, at least — are churches of the Left. So many on the Right still do not fully understand or accept this fact, and too many on the Right fight endless losing battles without attempting to remediate the root cause. And the Left has managed to “productionise” universities: Ideas and theories are created, these are taught without any pushback, and disciples are then off to the real world — our institutions — to effect change. The “productionisation” has sped up in recent times with the Left’s gender ideology ineffectively challenged, and now we have CRT. What’s next?

    This is one reason why I’m not a conservative, because conservatives always lose. Why would anyone want to be on the losing side of politics? Conservatives conserve nothing, and they’re mostly leftists driving at the speed limit, as the saying goes. Morrison and Hunt know what the rainbow brigade are doing to children, but they do nothing because they’re cowards.

    Issue after issue, conservatives — since the ’60s — have been completely outdone by the Left. To be frank, it’s embarrassing. The National Curriculum (still not finalised, as far as I know) will be another loss, with conservatives outflanked by Karen Rudd, quite possibly the worst prime minister of modern times.

    The same process has been undertaken in every country of the West. The author is right to say that we lost, but we lost long, long ago.

  • Rebekah Meredith

    Mark,
    If you’re not of the Right, but dislike the Left, then what are you? Surely you haven’t just joined the “winning side”? If you say you’re a libertarian–how often do they win battles in any area that is not more Left than Right? I agree that conservatives bear blame for not fighting hard enough. However, as for seemingly always being defeated–I’d rather be right and losing ground than wrong and winning all the time.

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