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

Quadrant's myopia « Previous | |Next »
September 20, 2008

Quadrant claims that it is Australia's leading intellectual monthly. Is this claim justified? We can explore this by looking at Ian McFayden's Our New Established Religion in the latest issue.

This article refers to climate change and environmentalism, and it works within the conservative tradition that holds environmentalism is a religion and that greens are anti-capitalist and desire a return to pre-modernity. McFayden finishes his article thus:

Environmentalism has, in a mere fifty years, attained the hegemony, political influence and moral authority formerly accorded to the church. We have come the full circle to a pre-Enlightenment society, ruled by an officially sanctioned religion that is as dogmatic, inquisitorial and eschatological as medieval Christianity, where environmental scientists are the clergy, Green is the colour of purity and the central icon is not Jesus suffering on a cross but the image of a tortured planet dying for our sins.

I find it astonishing that conservatives can continue with this fiction in the light of both the public policy being guided by natural science and the policy embrace of an emissions trading scheme to address market failure (eg., externalities of greenhouse pollution) through the use of market mechanisms. What is being argued in public policy circles is the nature of that trading scheme. This locates us firmly within modernity and the ecological Enlightenment.

What then is McFayden's argument. He says:

What is interesting about the debate—what sets is apart from almost every other scientific investigation in the last two centuries—is that within no more than a few years, several people announced that the issue was no longer a debate at all. Despite the fact that climate scientists were still analysing data, revising models and indeed revising modelling methods, it was proclaimed publicly that there was no longer any doubt; the issue was resolved; it had been proved beyond a doubt that the world was getting warmer, humans were to blame, and the world was facing a major catastrophe as a result.

"It had been proved beyond a doubt"? was not the claim by the UN's international panel on climate change. Their talk is in terms of scientific consensus that is constantly being modified as new data comes in.

McFayden goes on to say that:

Whatever the complexities of climate and climate science, one thing is clear: there was a specific point where the theory of global warming ceased to be a scientific hypothesis to be tested over time and became an incontrovertible article of dogma. Indeed it became the critical article of faith that would finally lock all the various environmental issues together in one overarching doctrine and bestow incalculable gravitas on the religion of Environmentalism, finally establishing it as the official religion of Western society.

He argues for this by saying that "just in case this seems to be a wildly rhetorical characterisation, consider the follow [sic] features that Environmentalism shares with religions in general. Just because two different things have similarities does not mean that are not different. What is driving the establishment of an emission trading scheme is economics and the market which is the core part of the liberal Enlightenment and the liberal understanding of modernity.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:08 AM | | Comments (18)


Yes Gary it is unreadable nonsense - trying to follow what the author is arguing is painful. New editor Keith Windschuttle now seems to moving into climate change denialism too I see. As with his other work he seeks attention rather than credibility. I guess the hope that Quadrant would return (?) to readable and sensible conservative arguments is lost.

Conservatives live in the past of their own devising, while their enemies have moved on.

It's a good thing relativism is over too, we can now say they are crap, conservative opinion, conservative viewpoints, are all crap

And we know this is doubly true because conservatives themselves tell us that they are no longer the elite, that we are, we are the elite, and they, poor sods, have given up trying to be good, or better, they just indulge their pet hates in dark damp caves like Quadrant, while we rule the world, completely and utterly. We are dominion.

I guess it's a pity that the conservatives are the only ones to know this.

I really wish these gun totting moose shooting conservatives would get over their inferiority complex and start arguing a case instead of degenerating into labeling stuff as new religion and cultural wars. It really is getting a bit dull.

Blame it on Windshuttle that this nonsense is given serious house room.
Pity. He wasn't always like that. I remember him as a lecturer that was not so hidebound and arrogant.
Of course that was very many moons ago when he also believed in Reynolds!

For all its faults, at least Quadrant has the balls to take on established interests. Props to it for exposing the fraud of "Critical Terrorism Studies," which I see, the OZ and Radio National's Religion Report are exposing.,25197,24374073-31477,00.html

People believe what scientists are telling them, which proves that the world has regressed to pre-Enlightenment thinking. Interesting argument.

"What is interesting about the debate—what sets is apart from almost every other scientific investigation in the last two centuries—is that within no more than a few years, several people announced that the issue was no longer a debate at all."

Rubbish. The results of modelling, imperfect as they are, started suggesting the sorts of scary consequences of inaction few were keen to face. The debate will go on as appropriate among the scientists who know what they're talking about. The rest of us have to work with our more rudimentary understandings.

It's not the debate, science or politics that gets up these people's noses. It's that one of their most hated enemies, environmentalists, are getting a hearing.

postmodernism represents established interests? What's the argument for this strange claim?

How can the view that postmodernism----which is defined by Mervyn
Bendle as reality is a social construct and terrorism not primarily as an act of murderous violence in the real world, but a signifier in a discourse--- represent the established interests of the national security state?

Quadrant is very uneven. Nicholas Tonti-Filippini's article, Religion in a secular society is worth looking at. Alas it is not online.

Clarence Girl,
this stuff is similar to what is printed in The Australian's op-ed pages these days.

Recently there was a Brendon O'Neil editor of Spiked magazine saying:

The political promotion of this animal represents the denigration of human desire, the subordination of the human will to the animalistic fearmongering of environmentalism. In a more profound sense, then, the politics of the polar bear represents the disavowal of human interests, which come to be seen as grubby, greedy and destructive.

Spiked Magazine main arguments is that there is a profound anti-humanism in much green thinking, especially that surrounding climate change: there is an underlying hatred for humans and their actions underpins environmentalism.

yes they need to argue a decent case. They could begin by differenting the climate change denniers from those who accept the science but are critical of the economics for instance.

Gary, Please check out an essay and website which is informed by a profound feeling-sensitivity to the non-humans and the "environment" altogether.

Altogether the author points out that destruction of the ecosphere is the inevitable outcome of the drive to total power and control at the root of the entire Western "cultural" project.

The Western fear world---hence the title of the Zoo.

And that this power drive began its final phase at the time of the Reannaisance wherein the cultural asana developed whereby everything and everyone become totally objectified. And in which the mind, consciousness and culture of humankind altogether, thus became trapped in Webers Iron Cage--
the "cathedral" and "religion" within which the Quadrant crew worship.

See also


I'm not sure how much you know about the current state of Arts faculties in Australian universities but I can assure you the hegemony of neo-marxism is suffocating, anti-intellectual, and ultimately infantilising. Anthony Burke is par for the course.

What has neo-marxism got to do with postmodernism. They are two different things.

What have the humanities got to do with the national security state?

"The political promotion of this animal represents the denigration of human desire, the subordination of the human will to the animalistic fearmongering of environmentalism."

Tosh. That's like saying the Christmas tree represents the denigration of spirituality. Or the panda on the WWF logo represents a desire to repress Chinese economic development.

I love the way these guys insist there's no evidentiary basis for climate change, then get all Freudian about it to justify their assessments of greeny self-loathing.

The Burke/Bendle thing is another one of those regular Quadrant/Australian crusades against the postmodern neo-Marxists' long march through our universities.

Obviously Burke is arguing that terrorism is a symptom, rather than the disease, which in some people's imaginations makes him a terrorist-sympathising communist.

Terry Flew's calling in McCarthyism, which seems about right.


What has neo-marxism got to do with postmodernism. They are two different things.

They are and they aren't. But chocolate and biscuits are also two different things. But take up your objections with every Australian academic involed in the "Critical Studies" cult, for it is they who worship at the temple of neo-marxist postmodernism OR if you prefer postmodern neo-marxism.


Terry Flew's calling in McCarthyism, which seems about right.

As Ricky Geaves would say, "are you having a laugh"?
Note that nowhere does Bendel write "Burke is pro-terrorist" yet look at all the Luvvies encouraging Burke to sue! Also note the accusations of "McCarthyism" against Bendle, when it is Burke threatening to bring the law, UNSW, and JCU down upon Bendle for daring to critique! What a fucking world we live in darling!

I occasionally buy Quadrant (in the vain hope it'll be readable - disappointment every time!), and the most recent one I got had two articles about the evil lefty greenies. One was listed on the cover, with no hint of irony, as being about the politicisation of the climate debate. The other, from memory, was about the new green religion, but I may be conflating it with the article you linked to. The thing's been hurled at the wall about half a dozen times now, and I still haven't finished reading it.

Fortunately, now that it's been put online, I won't have to waste any more money.

Nothing submitted to Quadrant is peer reviewed (unlike most quality journals) so the articles aren't vetted before publication. The result appears to be that any old tosh is published as long as it toes the Quadrant party line.