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

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July 23, 2005

This Tandberg cartoon kinda captures John Howard's understanding of the connection between the US/UK/Australian invasion and occupation of Iraq and the London bombings:


Robert Pape, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago and author of Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, counters this. He says:

The war on terrorism is heading south. The key reason is that the West's strategy for this war is fundamentally flawed. It presumes that suicide terrorism is mainly a product of an evil ideology called "Islamic fundamentalism" and that this ideology would produce campaigns of suicide terrorism wherever it exists and regardless of our military policies. This presumption is wrong, and is leading towards foreign policies that are making our situation worse.

He adds that the principal factor driving support for suicide terrorism among British Muslims was not an evil ideology, but deep anger over British military policies on the Arabian Peninsula.

That brings multiculturalism to the foreground doesn't it.

In returning there we encounter the conservatism of Miranda Devine's account of fundamentalism in the diaspora:

The increasing permissiveness of Western culture, coupled with a multiculturalism that encourages ethnic ghettoes, can only fuel the inner conflicts of alienated young Muslim men.


By 'increasing permissiveness of Western culture' she means an erasing of the:

"..long-established culture of Australia, permanently rooted as it is in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and replacing it with vapid, secularist nothingness is not going to help. It simply creates a vacuum for radical Islam to rush in and fill.

Gee, we'd better not mention Derrida at this point. Do not the cultural conservatives accuse Derrida of being a foreign agent who has destroyed the humanities; taken the "human" out of the humanities: reduced everything in the world to texts and signifiers, and erased the subjectivity of the individual.Even worse, Derrida has reduced the world to language, to the relativity of linguistic signs—---thereby making the world "meaningless," and so promoting nihilism. Why, Derrida stands for nothingness, in this conservative discourse that would like to see the humanities purged of the "postmodernist cancer."

And by multiculturalism Devine appears to mean "the unreasonable demands of intolerant minorities trying to impose their will on the majority." A secular liberalism is fingered as the problem. Saying that a political and cultural liberal culture is sick and infected, and so lies at the center of the storm, is far more strident than Pauline Hanson ever was.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 4:09 PM | | Comments (5)


Conservatives by nature are hostile to liberty. Cultural expression, including multi-culturalism (as opposed to mono-culturalism which is a conservative goal) are anaethemic to the conservative view of the national culture trumping individual liberty to express their cultural liberty.

Good insight that the conservative commentators are more Hanson than Hanson every was. This might also be why One Nation was so dangerous to the Liberals, hence the funding of the lawsuit which removed them from the ballot. That in my opinion is no different to the Imams in Iran removing candidates from the ballot because they threaten their power.


It would seem that conservatives are more than hostile to individual liberty.

They are increasingly becoming hostile to liberalism itself.

Gary, The Liberal Party was never really liberal though. It has been culturally conservative first, and prepared to be authoritarian to ensure Australia remained that way. Deakin, Menzies and Howard are all of the same stripe.

Liberalism still is the dominant political philosophical current in Australian political life and, up to now, most of the debates have taken place with in the family (or the tradition of) Australian liberalism (eg., between social and economic/classical liberals). I would place Deakin in the social liberal camp, which has its roots in the liberalism of John Stuart Mill and T.H. Green.

The Liberal Party remains a strong defender of economic liberalism, even as it continues to embrace social and political conservatism. It highlights the way that Australian liberalism is individualistic. Tis the Costello camp that is strong (or the hard edge) on economic liberty in the form of neo-liberalism.

And yet the Liberal organisation that Menzies founded gives minimal scope for real policy debate. Deviation from the leader's views is tantamount to disloyalty. It indicates the authoritarianism within loyalty to the leader.

On the other hand, as Judith Brett has pointed out the political culture of the Liberal Party has been one of putting the Protestant moral values of the middle class before self-interest. Strong leadersship has been the way this conflict between individualism and collectivity has been mediated.

Gary, I have Judith Brett's book. I read it once when flying across the pacific. I probably should re-read it and write a book review on it.