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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

no nuances here « Previous | |Next »
August 5, 2003

I noticed these remarks in The Australian's Scrapbook. It is unclear who is making the remarks about the emotionally-driven mob. So I traced the article by Ross Terrill to the Los Angeles Times

That makes it clear. It is Alexander Downer, Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister, who makes them whilst spelling out Australia's foreign policy to the Americans. The points Downer makes to Terrill are: that Australia rejects a purely regional role, since Australia's interests are global; that Canberra is willing to act unilaterally on occasion; that sovereignty in our view is not absolute, since acting for the benefit of humanity is more important; and that ultimate security against terrorism will come from the spread of democracy and freedom. It is pretty much an affirmation of the Anglo-American position that comes out of Washington these days.

Downer thinks that Australia should be a leader on the world stage. His dream of a powerful Australia interverning in the world as the deputy sheriff of the US is underpinned by an economy to make it happen.

According to Terrill the Howard Government faces opposition at home. Then the whole tone changes when the opposition is described. Thus:

'Professors and columnists accuse Howard of "military adventurism," "slavishness" toward Uncle Sam and moving toward "a repressive national-security state." These angry scribes disliked Howard before Iraq; now they hate him. They do so above all because he is close to Bush.'

Nothing there about the opposition having a different conception of Australia's foreign policy; that some of the assumptions of Howard's foreign policy may be questionable; or that the various ideas are being debated including a re-engagement with Indonesia. Nope. The critics views are reduced to hating John Howard.

Alexander Downer then makes explicit what is implicit in this text. He says:

"The left-wing intellectuals] are obsessed with anti-Americanism...It doesn't worry me, to tell you the truth. But if you're a policymaker, you have to think about consequences. What sort of world would we live in if the U.S. took the advice of the gratuitous left and said it would wash its hands and go back to an earlier tradition of isolation? What would happen to nuclear proliferation? The anti-American mob are emotionally driven, not intellectually driven."

That makes it pretty clear: it's anti-Americanism, isolationism, mob, emotionally-driven. It confirms the argument made on that conservatives have become anti-democratic; deeply anti-democratic.

How ironic. It was only yesterday that Tony Abbott, the Minister of Workplace Relations, was talking about civility as one of conservatism's most attractive features. That was part of his Foreward to David Flint's, Twilight of the Elites. If we accept Abbott's claim that conservatism champions traditional Australian values, then one of those traditional values is anti-democracy.

A key problem with the Howard/Downer view of international relations is the way it constructs the enemy as the Other. The other is based on a simple taxonomy that has been outlined over at EastSouthWestNorth:

'...the new script seems to that they must be foreign terrorists ....Within the reportoire of the United States, there seemed to be mainly three types of bogeymen:
(1) The communist 'red menace' in the domino theory, as in places like Russia, China, Korea, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Grenada, Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Venezuela ....
(2) Mad and/or evil leaders, as in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Panama, Venezuela, Yugoslavia, .[and North Korea].......
(3) American-haters, as in Al Qa'eda (as in "Why do they hate us? They hate our freedoms--our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.")'

You just need to replace 'communist' with 'international terrorists' to bring the script up to date. This enemy of Australia is supported by evil leaders (Saddam Hussein) and they are American haters. We need to limit our freedoms because the American haters are living inside inside Fortress Australia. What pops out is the new version of the reds under the bed.

What does it amount to? The subliminal level of the text arouses fears about the growth of Islamic extremism and terrorism; it connects this to Indonesia; then so constructs Indonesia as a potential threat to Australia. And they are on our doorstop. And if those who live in the dark under rocks become critical of the conservative government through the use of public reason, then that is UnAustralian.

There is a lack of nuance here in the neo-con political unconscious.

No need to worry says Anne Coulter. Conservatives don't need nuances. Its a liberal thing. They remember the time before angry barbarians threatened our national security. They have the moral clarity to punish outsiders who threaten our cherished Anglo-American worldview with savage terrorist attacks. Its all about loving Australia and kneecapping the left-liberal traitors who hate America. Conservatives have no need for nuance because they are right. (Another softer side of Anne Coulter can be found here.

That redescription of Coulter makes contact with the political unconcious embedded in Downer's text. You can see an analytic philosopher---an ex-Marxist---preparing the ground here. It is done through an argument about the moral failure of the left.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:01 AM | | Comments (2) | TrackBacks (1)

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» a tale of confusions from
Aah. At last. We have the beginnings of a debate about conservatism and liberalism in Australia. It was kicked off by the confusions about neo-liberalism and neo-conservative in this article by Wilson de Silva in the Sydney Morning Herald about the Cen... [Read More]



T`would be of interest if Downer were uttering anything other than the script he's been told to learn by rote. It's the unilateral stage show conducted by the US, written, directed, produced, and starring, the Bush Administration Cabal. The fact that Australia has been sucked into the maelstrom simply reinforces the idealistic power of the conservative right at play. Realists see the play for what it is, and are therefore labelled by the right as unpatriotic and out of line, a danger to be thwarted at every turn, else the masses be made to see the truth of the Emperors naked frame.

"the anti-American mob are emotionally driven, not intellectually driven"

as opposed to those who believe in baby Jesus and that the Apocalypse is to visit the earth when the seventh seal is broken?