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

the culture wars revisited « Previous | |Next »
May 9, 2013

Nick Cater’s book The Lucky Culture And the Rise of an Australian Ruling Class is the voice of the Murdoch media in Australia, which controls 70% of the press and a fair slice of the screen. Cater speaks for the political power that is centred on big business, the Murdoch global media empire, elite private schools and the Liberal and National Parties.

His book continues the culture wars--it promotes climate change denialism, winding back mass university access, funding state-led economic development through the construction of dams, highlights the cultural divide and attacks the impractical, progressive cosmopolitan inner city elites as being out of touch with suburban Australia and favours endless economic growth.

Cater argues that in the first decade of the 21st century, a new “self-appointed ruling class” emerged in Australia, comprising university graduates who were “cosmopolitan and sophisticated”. These powerful inner city elites did not simply feel better off but held that they were better than their fellow Australians. Australia is under threat from the elitism of a "morally snobbish intellectual class". Labor is part of a new social and political elite, a class of tertiary educated progressives who sneeringly look down their noses at ‘ordinary Australians’.

Cater says that this is:

A class that relies for status on cultural rather than financial capital cannot concede that wealth carries virtue, and resorts to attacking Rinehart’s cultural standing in the most personal terms. It amounts to a crude assertion of cultural refinement … (on) how to handle money and how to arrange their hair. In a society where net wealth is considered a poor guide to character, the sneer is an assertion of class superiority … In a country where cultural superiority becomes important, belittlement of others is an underhand form of self-aggrandisement, a habit that once adopted becomes almost impossible to break.

Cater, in arguing for a narrowing of university access back to the standards of the 1950s, supports a two-class system, with one set of rules for the conservative establishment and a different set of standards for their political rivals.

Behind the culture war sits a neo-liberalism of transnational capital that favours the imposition of austerity regimes in which nation-states are used by the corporate elites as key drivers of neoliberal globalization. This mode of governance criticizes democracy by taking the form of a politics that says that increasing taxes to fund social welfare spending for the poor destroys the incentives for wealth creation through hard work, enterprise and talent. This mode of governance aims to castrate democracy by insulating economic policies from democratic politics.

This politics reconfigures the social contract in the name of ending the age of entitlement and returning the budget to surplus. The welfare state is to be dismantled. Essential public services are to be cut so that the rich may pay less tax. The public realm is privatised and the regulations restraining the ultra-wealthy and the companies they control are made light. It makes a virtue of the high levels of inequality in that it says that inequality encourages people to work harder, and the bigger the gap, the more some people will strive to try to close it. It exploits the language of Australian national identity to justify the dismantling of the welfare state.

When it comes to economic/social justice or democratic accountability, the state is presented by neo-liberals as a life-draining bureaucratic monster to be fought at every opportunity. But when it comes to the military, defence, and the punitive, and national security functions of the state, it is cast as the last bastion of civilization and freedom which brooks no qualification or oversight.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:30 AM | | Comments (11)


"the regulations restraining the ultra-wealthy and the companies they control are made light. "

The rhetoric is "reduce the burden of excessive regulation" rather than "tie up business with yet more red and green tape".

"incentives for wealth creation through hard work, enterprise and talent."

A fairer society is one that rewards people who work hard in an economy where people who work hard are properly rewarded.

"a class of tertiary educated progressives who sneeringly look down their noses at ‘ordinary Australians’. "

For Cater the cosmopolitans, the sophisticated, well-educated, politically aware Australians who live overwhelmingly in inner-city suburbs are the new moral class with a paternalistic ethos.

They are, says Cater, the:

"plastic bag refuseniks and tickers of carbon offset boxes" who claim not to be interested in material wealth, who eat and drink in moderation, all the while casting a censorious eye over the over-spending, junk-food eating, alcohol drinking, television viewing and radio listening habits of their less educated fellow Australians.

Apparently they are the nation's self-appointed moral guardians who watch the ABC for their daily affirmation from a group of like-minded journalists who tend towards the same views on issues such as immigration, global warming, gay marriage and a republic.

If neo-liberlaism has the appearance of libertarianism and individual freedom, then it is one that is propped up by an assault on public space, the construction of vast databases, the propagation of monopolies and the deployment of police force.

power now resides with a global corporate elite( in Australia its BIg Mining) whilst the global economic crisis links our fate across national borders.

We are currently experiencing, in a mild form, comared to those living in Europe or the US, the destructive power of neoliberal globalization and its global network of power.

industrialisation of the 20th century has given way to 'globalisation' of the 21st century

"It exploits the language of Australian national identity to justify the dismantling of the welfare state."

This right-wing national-populist narrative supports fiscal prudency. In this narrative, debt accumulation is something that has been created by big government (Labor) and is by virtue ‘un-Australian’ in its action.

According to this national-populist narrative the true Australian should regard any form of federal debt with disdain, and indeed even argue that the very nature of a national debt is both bad economics and unAustralian.

power now resides with a global corporate elite associated with transnational capital (in Australia its BIg Mining).

the dramatic price drops in solar and the severe disruption to the coal-fired utility business model created by the boom in rooftop solar mean that investments in Australian coal rest on a speculative bubble of climate denial.

The economic reality is that these investments face a destruction in value and stranded assets.

Coincident with this book there is an essay in the latest Quadrant magazine by the round-the-bend-froot-loop Mervyn Bendle titled Remaking Australia As a Frontier Society.

There are of course countless writers etc who would be agin anything Cater has to say. One of the relatively new ones on the block is this one:

Then of course there is our own home grown Sharon Beder via her books:
1. Global Spin
2. Selling the Work Ethic - From Puritan Pulpit to Corporate PR
3. Suiting Themselves - How Corporations Drive the Global Agenda
4. Free Market Missionaries - The Corporate Manipulation of Community Values
5. This Little Kiddy Went To Market - The Corporate Assault on Children

Typical Murdoch viciousness.
How I hate preppies.

Paul, calling Cater's book vicious is a bit harsh.
It is more a combination of Mister Magoo and the Muddle Headed Wombat but without the humour.

Cater is of course a right-wing "catholic" too. Which is doubly ironic because while oft-times pretending otherwise, such "catholics" specialise in telling everyone what to do. They even quite freely accept or use public monies to support their propaganda fests such as the euphemistically named "World" Youth Day celebration (circus event) in Sydney a few years back which even featured their super-star fancy dress clown as the "star" attraction.

At the time all of the usual suspects as the OZ were in over-drive fulsome praise/promotion of this circus event.