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

The Australian bashes the ABC again « Previous | |Next »
December 28, 2006

I see that The Australian is having another 'lets trash the ABC.' This time it is Paul Gray, a columnist with the Herald Sun in Melbourne. The trashing is hard to take seriously as political commentar---it is incoherent and makes little sense--- but it does open a window onto the violence in the political unconscious of Australian conservatives.

In his op-ed Gray says that he has always contended that dealing with the ABC's bias problem at its roots requires nothing less than the complete philosophical re-education of those ABC staff members engaged in intellectual tasks. He adds that short of outright privatisation, this is the only way to arrest the endemic anti-Western bias which, at our ABC, expresses itself as partisan political passion, with the institutions and figureheads of Western liberal democracy as its principal targets.

Gray has his wires mixed up. The ABC works within liberalism not outside it. It works within the tradtion of western liberalism and is not anti-western. Gray's 're-education' call reads like something out of Mao's cultural revolution. Re-education into what?

Gray outlines his reasoning:

The ABC represents the Australian intellectual class in miniature. The journalists, writers and artists who make up that class suffer broadly from the confused values that have characterised Western intellectual elites since the late 19th century. There is political passion without historical knowledge. There is philosophical scepticism, without the well thought-out metaphysical beliefs to make that scepticism useful. There is a nihilistic tendency that goes beyond the call of reason, and summons those afflicted with it to a fundamentalist rejection of the society in which they live, and which on the whole treats them very well.

This reads like a conservative Christian rant, which ignores the existence of conservative intellectual elites and the role they have played in critiquing liberalism. Moreover, Australian intellectual class has been primarily educated into a utilitarian liberalism.

So what does this re-education involve, given that Gray holds the problem is less the creation of ABC culture as such and more a problem of the Australian tertiary-educated middle class? Gray says:

Perhaps those making the coffee at ABC staff cafeterias may be excused from the need to learn the basic outlines of Western metaphysical discourse: the tension between utopian political ideologies and the doctrine of original sin, for example. But any staffer who is paid to write, record, edit or in any other way contribute to the production of verbal output through the media of ABC TV and radio should be trained to recognise the key elements in historical Western intellectual discussion. Re-education, leading to a broadened view of the traditions of Western civilisation itself, is the only way to counter the deep-seated anti-Western hostility that characterises our intellectual elites in the modern era.

We need religion to counter secularism, because the secularism of the tertiary-educated middle class is nihilistic. That means being western is being religious in a conservative way. So how does privatisation and the market ensure a conservative religious re-reducation. Isn't it the market and its consumerism that is ungodly?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:09 AM | | Comments (2)



Nice makeover.

I couldn't agree more with you on this one. I find it nauseating that the Murdoch media and the like get to have free kicks at the ABC, but if the ABC is brave enough to respond, it is accused of left wing bias. I absolutely do not agree with the idea that free television is the answer. Having lived in many countries, I find the ABC to be pretty balanced on issues and presents a wide variety of interesting, entertaining and informative materials. Gagging ABC journalists is not going to move things forward.

thanks for the appraisal re the makeover of public opinion.

The culture wars have become quite devisive---the aim is to polarize Australia on the assumption that a conservative Australia is the majority and the Liberal/National Coalition stays in power.

That implies that is no centre--what Rudd is appealing to.