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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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August 17, 2011

Janet Albrechtsen in The Australian rails against the ABC as an example of the intellectual class being ideologically blinded in offering a Left-liberal explanation of the recent London riots.

RowsonMpolicing.jpg Martin Rowson

This political class she says, is blind because it avoids the criminal mayhem (pure criminality) of the riots. it also avoids the right of centre 'broken society ' explanation of the poisonous cocktail of welfare dependency, broken schools, the absence of family authority and a vacuum of values that bind communities. This is David Cameron's "slow-motion moral collapse" in Britain's "broken society"---the old theme of civilisational decline.

For Albrechtson social unrest and instability is not difficult to explain. The (elite) ABC journalists, who are obviously out of touch with mainstream Australians, failed:

to cast Aunty's net of analysis wider during the London riots tells us much about the state of debate on important issues in this country. This is a debate that requires some genuine curiosity and courage from the broader political class if we are to learn anything from the riots across London. And there is plenty to learn. Lessons such as what happens when we fail to attribute responsibility to individuals for their actions, when we fail to lay down boundaries for behaviour, when there are too few expectations on people, when generations grow dependent on the state, when they have only a sense of entitlement to handouts rather than a sense of contribution to the community in which they live.

The left liberals are actually to blame for the dumbing down of schools because they failed to implement structure and discipline, build high expectations and instil competition among the kids and help build their motivation.

Albrechtson's column uses the hook of the street riots to bash the liberal left yet again, and to push neo-liberalism's core memes: big intrusive government, individual freedom, accountability and responsibility for our actions as free agents; and acceptance of trickle-down economics and inequalities of income and wealth. There needs to be an end to living off the state.

There is nothing in Albrechtsen's article about how these values have lead the Cameron Government in the UK in an authoritarian direction that ignores the multiplicity of layers in favour of criminality. It has adopted a zero tolerance law and order approach; barring individuals suspected of causing social unrest from Twitter and Facebook, and the eviction of the families of rioters from council houses and to halt benefit payments to offenders.

Secondly, Albrechtson ignores that a "broken society" happens somewhere, and that geography matters in that those people who have been appearing on riot-related charges (typically young males) live in some of the most deprived areas of our largest cities, and in neighbourhoods where the conditions are getting worse rather than better. So we have cities becoming increasingly Balkanised and unequal.

Albrechton's approach does not show any genuine curiosity or a willingness learn anything from the riots across London. She does not bother to explore the link between austerity measures and social unrest because cut-backs usually hit some parts of the society disproportionately more than others; or acknowledge that the neo-liberal view that expenditure cuts can be growth-enhancing is questionable.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:56 AM | | Comments (11)
Comments

Comments

Albrechtson conveniently forgets that neo-liberalism (and its refusal to accept that rich people should be taxed more) is in a long term marriage with social conservatism--- that means homophobia, anti-abortion beliefs, Christianity verging on the evangelical, disbelief in science.

We are yet to hear from the right that their traditional view that alternative families consisting of single moms are the root of most crime.

If Albrechtson were genuine about a public debate that requires some genuine curiosity and courage, then her making the case for personal responsibility would need to acknowledge the causal links that run between deprivation, and crime, disorder and family dysfunction.

She doesn't.

Sue says:

Albrechtson conveniently forgets that neo-liberalism (and its refusal to accept that rich people should be taxed more) is in a long term marriage with social conservatism

And the No Carbon Tax movement, which is Australia's equivalent of the Tea Party in the US, and is the angry fringe of right wing politics claiming on the lawns of parliament that democracy is dead on the lawns of parliament.

The No Carbon Tax movement is marked by paranoia --- the whole world is conspiring against them. They've wandered into a strange loopy land driven by hatred for Labor in general and Gillard in particular.

It's an astro turf group run by those who want unrestrained fossil fuel burning, who deny mainstream science and want a more polluted world. Sure sounds like the Nationals and commercial radio stations (2GB) were busing in pensioners, with Angry Anderson doing his best to get them to keep up the rage and to maintain their anger against the Gillard Government.

Next week its the convoy of truckies full of angst threatening to bring Canberra to a standstill, turn Gillard into a hate object and demand an immediate election.

You would not expect Albrechtson to mention the poor communities that are feeling the effect of deep cuts to social services and community institutions. That's not her job. She is recycling Theodore Dalrymple's claim about the long-term intellectual torpor, moral cowardice, incompetence and careerist opportunism of the British political and intellectual class.

She stays away from the other stuff:

British youth leads the Western world in almost all aspects of social pathology, from teenage pregnancy to drug taking, from drunkenness to violent criminality. There is no form of bad behaviour that our version of the welfare state has not sought out and subsidised.

The riots for Dalrymple are a manifestation of a society in full decomposition etc etc.

Albrechtson says nothing about the initial spark of the English riots---a police killing of a black man who never fired a shot; or the troubled relations between teenagers and the police.

Nan says " We are yet to hear from the right that their traditional view that alternative families consisting of single moms are the root of most crime."

Have a read of Melanie Philips in the Daily Mail on how the riots are caused by Britain's liberal intelligentsia:

The married two-parent family, educational meritocracy, punishment of criminals, national identity, enforcement of the drugs laws and many more fundamental conventions were all smashed by a liberal intelligentsia hell-bent on a revolutionary transformation of society.

All the causes of this sickness was instituted or exacerbated by the Labour government; and at the very heart of these problems lies the breakdown of the traditional family:
For most of these children come from lone-mother households. And the single most crucial factor behind all this mayhem is the willed removal of the most important thing that socialises children and turns them from feral savages into civilised citizens: a father who is a fully committed member of the family unit.

This breaking of the family was further condoned, rewarded and encouraged by the Welfare State which subsidises lone parenthood and the destructive behaviour that fatherlessness brings in its train. Welfare dependency further created the entitlement culture.

And so on and on.

Janet's opinions on personal responsibility and dependency on government handouts were altogether different when the topic was the banks' role in the GFC. She had nothing to say on behavioural boundaries and contributions to the community then.

"...what happens when we fail to attribute responsibility to individuals for their actions, when we fail to lay down boundaries for behaviour..."

Janet, as usual, hasn't got a clue. Is she more concerned about punishing the individuals or their antisocial behaviour? No doubt the "sense of entitlement" displayed by the Canary Wharf crowd is quite understandable.

Come the revolution...

"She is recycling Theodore Dalrymple's claim about the long-term intellectual torpor, moral cowardice, incompetence and careerist opportunism of the British political and intellectual class."

I think Dalrymple left out the bankers.

Albrechtson neglects to mention that the conservatism's authoritarian side responds to public disorder by filling up the prisons. Its deterrence not justice.

Lyn and calyptorhynchus are right.

If there was spontaneous looting of the shops on the streets of London by the teenagers, then there was looting of the public purse by the bankers.

They latter reckoned they were entitled to the massive bailouts, and then they forced the government to pay for the debt incurred by demanding sacrifices from the most vulnerable through austerity measures and disciplining the poor.