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ditching liberal pluralism « Previous | |Next »
August 25, 2005

There is a big cultural shift happening, which undermines the liberal pluralism of Australia, and it is being conducted in the name of Australian values. Leunig notices the conservative attack on Islam and Muslim values:


Recently we had the federal Treasurer in a media interview saying that people thinking of coming to Australia who did not like Australian values, and preferred a society that practised sharia law, should go elsewhere.

Okay. Australia is a secular liberal society and its core values are democracy, the rule of law, an independent judiciary, and personal liberty. But a core value of liberal pluralism is the tolerance of citizen's towards different religions in a liberal polity.

Peter Costello, in a media interview, said that: There is no point in coming to Australia and saying I am offended by your laws or I am offended by your Parliamentary system of democracy. If you are going to be offended by those things, then do not come.

The subtext is pretty much saying that, if you don't like those values, then don't come here, as Australia is not for you, isn't it?It comes close to denying value pluralism. Costello does recoil under questioning to affirm free speech. But the subtext remains sitting there.

Brendan Nelson, the Education Minister, goes further in a doorstop, as he makes the subtext quite explicit. He said:

...we don’t mind where people come from; we don't mind what their religion is or what their particular view of the world is. But if you want to be an Australian, if you want to raise your children in Australia, we fully expect those children to be taught and to accept Australian values and beliefs. We want them to understand our history and our culture, the extent to which we believe in mateship and giving another person a hand up and a fair go, and basically if people don’t want to support and accept and adopt and teach Australian values then they should clear off.

Under the guise of advocating tolerance towards different religions, or views of the world, Nelson is advocating a monoculture in a liberal polity. Value pluralism has been explicitly ditched. Only Australian values are tolerated.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:44 AM | | Comments (4)


When I read Costello's statements I was reminded of the people (Australians) that Greg Egan pillorised in "Distress". He used a stable, anarchic island built on "stolen" IP to contrast his characters and plot. Two of his main characters, both Australian, one from "stateless" and the other from Epping, NSW IIRC end up discussing Australian culture. I have transcribed the relevant bits.

Costello came off sounding like a "professional Australian".

Egan is an amazing author. His best story IMNSHO opinion is "The Moat", it is about immigration and the us and them ethic. It was written in 1996, very, very prophetic. His us and them is also rather horrific.

The paragraph below is very accurate description of the way the Howard government is responding toteh clash of civilizations.They are seeking to:

'...foist a claustrophobic vocabulary of tired nationalist myths and icons on to their audience, while loudly proclaiming themselves to be "defining the national character", and to represent, in person, "a nation finding its voice".'

The talk here is about stipping those who don't accept Australian values of their citizenship; and/or sending them back to back to where they came from--to countries where they will be tortured and killed.

What seems to been forgotten by Senator Ronaldson and his ilk is the Australian value that, if a citizen breaks the law, then you are tried in a court of law and, if found guilty, then send to prison to do your time.

Australian democratic values embodied in the rule of law don't strip people of citizenship because they break the law, offend our values, dislike our society, or even rape and murder people.

So the advocates of stripping radical Muslims of their citizenship rights are trashing the very Australian liberal values they claim they are upholding. The contradiction between their rhetoric and action is lost on them. That is especially ironic in the case of Senator Ronaldson as he was a barrister

These are not just nationalists. They are conservative nationalists not liberal ones; conservatives who trash the rule of law. And those Liberal Senators who are lawyers stay quiet about this trashing.

That is one way in which the Liberal Party is becoming corrupt.

I believe the PM and Premier (as the informal executive) should be term limited to six years (two terms), it is the eighth year that the rot that has set in becomes apparent. The Migration Act Amendment was an example of entrenching arbitrary government through legislation. You are right to call it corruption.

In a replay of what happened in France last year Liberal MP Sophie Panopoulos has backed a ban on Muslim girls wearing headscarves to school in Australia on the grounds it is "more an act of rebellion" than religion.

A "rebellion" against what we can ask? It is not made clear.

The Victorian federal MP did attack "political correctness" orthodoxy apparently. But that only referred to those who say that a ban on allowing Muslim girls to wear headscarves in school should not be publicly debated. Its a straw dog argument.

What Sophia Panopoulos did say was that girls attending school in Australia should wear the official school uniform.

The conservatives are really flexing their muscles against multiculturalism in their attempt to marginalize Muslims and deny ethnic differences. Integration in the form of assimilation is back. They are saying that the assimilationist model is superior to the multicultural one.

No doubt we will soon hear the view that it is important to uphold national values in a globalised world--as opposed to just forgetting about them---with conservative values equated with Australian values. The Judaeo-Christian conservative's eye is not on migrants in general, but on Muslims and the growing sense of Islamic identity among the Muslims living in Australia. They are saying 'You are Muslim, you are not part of Australia.'

What should be on the agenda is helping to create an Australian Islam--one that is modern and liberal.

I'm not sure that the ALP has got to that point yet.It seems to be swinging ever more to the centre and turning away from the urban multicultural left.